Having spent hours among my digital archives for the past two weeks, I’ve come to the realization that I have no proper catalog system to speak of.

On my server, I have folders organized by year, and the contents of those folders are roughly dependent on whatever ordering system I inherited from iPhoto, Aperture, or Lightroom. The organizing principle was whatever the application decided it would be. Thus, some years have neat subfolders organized by month, from 1-12. Others (from later iterations of iPhoto) are arranged in numbered sequential folders beginning with the word Roll; inside some of those years there are other folders of special events, like Ireland or Birth.

Cataloging them all with iPhoto or Aperture is useless, especially as Aperture has been put out to pasture and iPhoto is long dead. When I realized none of these apps were a long-term solution (careful testing revealed these applications got dog slow when cataloging anything over a year’s worth of photos), I backed up the files in the Originals folder Apple hid within the data package. I knew I would lose any metadata I may have carefully added (GPS data, captions, names, face-recognition information) unless I wanted to keep the XMP sidecar files with them, which I ditched.

My current solution is about as old-school as it gets: I’m making contact sheets. Photoshop has an action built in that batch processes folders of photos and lays them out in a user-configurable grid; another custom action I wrote saves them out in sequence. Anything over about 1000 photos (50 pages) brings my machine to a crawl, as Photoshop fills the hard disk for scratch space, so I’ve got to subdivide each year and work on it in chunks. So far I’ve got the first decade of the 2000’s done (2004 has an inexplicable gap, so I have to dig through my DVD’s to find those) and I’m working on 2011. Because I shoot in RAW format, the graph of the size of these folders looks like a hockey stick, so the going is going to get much slower as I get further into this decade.

The resulting JPGs are then combined inside Acrobat to generate a multi-page PDF. They are big files: 2009 is 990MB in size. But at least I don’t need a program with a limited lifespan to quickly page through my photos, and that catalog is quickly and easily copied from the server to my backup drive.

Date posted: August 12, 2017 | Filed under photography | Leave a Comment »

Wow, I could spend days on this site: the Great 78 Project is digitizing old shellac-based 78’s before they disintegrate. There’s a wealth of music here, from Jazz to Blues to everything in between.

Date posted: August 10, 2017 | Filed under music, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »

I’m sitting on the couch trying to figure out how to put the last 72 hours into one coherent narrative. Fuck it, here goes.

Friday: a whirlwind of cleaning and scanning and organizing and shopping. That’s the boring stuff. in the early afternoon I picked up Matt and Sophie, whom I haven’t seen in over 10 years, and slipped back in time as easy as putting on a new shirt. As we got settled in and poured cocktails, Jen got taken down by a migraine, courtesy of the storm system that was gearing up to blow through the area, so Finn and I took them out for dinner and we commenced to catching up.

Saturday we got a slow, easy start to what would be a heavy day. I picked up some bacon egg & cheese sandwiches for my family and fellow NY expats before we all got ourselves ready for the drive over the bridge. Which, as Siri was happy to tell us, was backed up by two and a half hours. We’d left an hour early to get there and set up the slide show. After some WRC-worthy driving from Jen on the back roads, we wound up only a little over an hour late. Finn, who had been napping in the car, spiked a 103˚ fever, so Jen dropped us off and turned right around to go find some children’s ibuprofen. Have I mentioned recently that she is a saint? Meanwhile I hustled to the back of the bar to hook up the displays and then someone slammed a drink in my hand.

So many old friends were there. Charles, looking the same as he always has, tall and tan and bearded. Beth, smiling wide and cheerful. Karean’s whole extended family, her sister, Rob’s brother Steve, who I’d spent two and a half hours catching up with on Wednesday night while picking up photos to scan. Rodney, my Scout and carb guru. A bunch of other guys we went with on that epic rafting trip. The rest of the afternoon was talking with friends, drinking, checking on Finn (who soon recovered and dove into Minecraft with Zachary), and telling stories about Rob.

Karean and Steve got up and said a few words that made the whole house cry.

By dinnertime the crowd had thinned so we got a table and sat down to an exhausted meal with Karean and her family. Finn’s fever spiked up again and an already late night for her was compounded by a drive back over the bridge so we piled in the car and headed home. After getting her into bed (and Jen, whose migraine had returned), Matt, Soph and I stayed up until 3:30 talking and laughing and telling stories.

Sunday morning my internal clock got me up at 8 but I wasn’t functional until I’d had 2 cups of coffee. We got a slow start to the day and roused ourselves for a lazy walk through Patapsco to shake off the cobwebs, then headed over to Tim & Betty’s for an afternoon of cocktails on their deck and some barbecue for dinner. Again, we all slipped into the familiar rhythms of laughter and stories, and I realized even though we’re all greying, wearing reading glasses, and talking about mortgages, we’re all still the same band of fuckup art students who were lucky enough to find each other in one of the country’s most permissive and dangerous cities of the early 90’s.

As the sky got dark (and Game of Thrones loomed on the clock) we packed up the car and headed home to prepare for the Monday workday. I said goodbye to Matt and Soph and we all made a promise not to fall so far out of touch again. This is something I am not good at, but if there is one single takeaway from this whole shit experience, it’s that I don’t have the time to lose sticking my head up my own ass.

I will reach out, call my friends, and ask them how they’re doing. And then I will get better at listening to them.

Date posted: August 7, 2017 | Filed under friends, history | Leave a Comment »

Jalopnik dives into two iconic LEGO Technics sets to determine which cars they were based on. I was given the 8860 set in 1980 and it was one of the best Christmases I ever had. Spoiler: the closest they can figure is that it’s from a Tatra T97, which makes it that much cooler.

Date posted: August 1, 2017 | Filed under cars, history, shortlinks | Leave a Comment »