Getting Organised

Well it isn’t even close to being Spring, but it was time to do some hard drive cleanup, so I’ve spent the past few days sorting through the hard drives of my in-home server, backups and the machine I use for photo editing and video processing. As I wrote here last year,  I have been using the Amazon S3 service as an off-site place to store my photos and I use Bucket Explorer as the front end/user interface. The combination works incredibly well, and so when my brother-in-law John was asking about what off-site storage option he should consider for his several thousands of photos, I had no trouble recommending it to him as an option to explore.

John is the same fellow whom I convinced to by an iMac, as he really wanted to just use a computer rather than have to figure out how it worked, and he has been very pleased with it. I am still running Microsoft’s XP for photo work only because I’ve invested time learning Microsoft Digital Image 10 suite for processing my photos, which is similar to iPhoto on the Mac, and I am comfortable using it. Sadly, Digital Image Pro 10 has been dropped as a standalone product by Microsoft, although some of its elements have since been merged into Vista. While I suppose I could change out XP for Vista, (and I actually do have a couple of copies of Vista sitting in boxes unopened)  based on my experience while working on the pilot to deploy Vista in Shell, it would frankly seem more like a down grade from XP rather than an improvement.  I suppose I’ll either have to wait for Vista’s replacement called Windows 7 to be released  and look at it then (actually not till after at least its first service pack is released of course), or perhaps move fully over to Ubuntu’s version of Linux which is what I have running on most of my other machines – or just buy a Mac and not have to mess around as much as you do with Windows products. We’ll see what happens.

As I started into the disc cleanup, it became quickly obvious that I needed something that would allow me to easily check folders and files for duplications and differences in file size, content, etc. I wanted to be able to ensure the photos were sorted, and at the same time be certain that none of the versions of the photos were lost or possibly over written due to having the same file name and yet be different in some way (colour corrected copies, cropped or scaled copies etc).  There are quite a few utilities available to help you manage these sorts of issues, and it is disappointing that something isn’t built into the MSWindows OS as it is a fairly basic requirement. After doing some checking around, I decided to try  a freeware product called WinMerge, and I have to admit I really like it. It sort of reminds me of another utility I used many years ago called F31, although it is much more sophisticated. You can do light weight comparisons based on just date and size, or more extensive binary file comparisons to determine differences in files sharing the same name, and then synchronising the contents of the directories is a snap. Quite useful.

As I type this, I’m just waiting for my updated photo library uploads into Amazon’s S3 environment to complete, then I’ll refresh the copy that I keep on a removable hard drive which I keep stored in our safety deposit box after which I’ll be ready to start on my next little project – scanning and storing my slides, negatives, family films and also a few audio cassette tapes that my grandparents made for us as children.  As they are long gone these many years, it is nice to still be able to listen to them once and a while – and ideally I’ll get the tapes converted before it becomes impossible to find a way to play them !

I expect this will keep me busy for a little while …….

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