Useful


Writing this down somewhere I know I can find it again, since it’s the second time I’ve had to teach myself:

iPhoto saves a duplicate of rotated photos, because it saves the original untouched copy of all edited photos, and a rotation counts as an edit. Thank you, iPhoto—hard drive space may be really cheap these days, but not on a laptop.

So, when space gets really tight on my laptop, I start rotating photos before I import them into iPhoto. Actually, since iPhoto ’09 stopped re-organizing photos into folders behind the scenes and just using dates for folder names, I now create folders before importing too.

But, when you edit a JPG, it loses quality. So you need something that does lossless rotation. Enter Xee, a lovely little piece of freeware that is a tad underdocumented.

In Xee, open the first image in the folder. Use cmd-arrow to flip through the images. When you get to one that needs rotating:

  • cmd-R to rotate (or cmd-shift-R to rotate the other way)
  • option-0 to resize the image to the window and see what you’ve got (optional)
  • cmd-S to save losslessly
  • cmd-arrow to go to next image.

This is why I didn’t import photos between late September and Christmas—too much friction in the workflow. Sorry to all those people I was supposed to send photos to in the betweentime. Or between Christmas and April. Yeah, my bad.

Advertisements

So, the key to managing information is having it available when you need it, but not letting it clutter your mind or life until then.

A potential approach, for the geeky-minded Mac user. If you’ve ever wondered what use Automator or AppleScript might be, here’s one way I use them. Even then, this post is probably really boring.

I keep notes on the projects and photogifts I am working on in iPhoto, in a quick-to-launch TextEdit file. I never need these notes unless I am actually in iPhoto, doing stuff.

So, I made an Automator workflow that opens my iPhoto Notes file, and saved it in the script menu that always sits in the main Mac menubar.

So—information accessible in two clicks when I need it; but entirely out of the way and not cluttering my OS-wide Favorites menu since I don’t need it that often. Nothing for me to remember about where I saved a file or what I named it (or what words I used in it—full-text search isn’t really the end-all, be-all of file organization, if you ask me). To keep the script menu from becoming cluttered, I saved the workflow in username/Library/Scripts/Applications/iPhoto. Putting it in an application-named folder inside Applications means it will only show up in the script menu when iPhoto is active. (Huh. Maybe you’d think an Apple application might have its own script menu, to make it easier to use AppleScript? Apparently not. Thank you, Apple.)

This is Microsoft’s idea—it’s my attempt to replicate the Work menu in MS Word, which lets you pin certain files that you want quick access to, but that you don’t access enough to keep them in the Recent Documents menu. My Work menu generally consists of my current syllabi, and the Extended CV file where I enter every little thing I’ve done re teaching workshops, showing up at a prospective students day, etc.

The other use I’ve found for this approach is reminding myself to what size I want to crop a photo for my blog header, information I need maybe every 3 months (except for using it 3 times in the last week or so). For this one I used an actual script in Script Editor rather than an Automator workflow (thank you, Apple, for doing a half-assed job with Automator so it isn’t nearly as useful as it could be).

tell application “Acorn”
display dialog “Ocean Mist Theme, default header size is 736×229.”
end tell

“Display dialog” pops up a little dialog instead of launching TextEdit to show me a file, a wee bit quicker for short bits of information.

(I don’t understand how it is that Acorn 1 understands “display dialog” but doesn’t seem to be scriptable such that I could just automate the resize and the crop setting, but okay.)

My dyslexic student came in, in tears. I don’t really think of her as “my dyslexic student” because I don’t have any exams in this class and so it doesn’t make a difference, she’s very bright, a good writer, and gets the reading done fine. She didn’t even bring me the paperwork this semester, I just know because I had her before.

But in this class, I walk them through a research paper based on primary sources.

She wanted to do a medieval Henry VIII topic. [oops! thanks, moria. I know better, too]

It was impossible. Like reading a foreign language.

Anyhow—she switched topics; we worked it out; it’s all fine. But I feel like I should have been able to predict and guide her away, so I am spreading the word.

I am working through the transition period with a new laptop (macbookpro).

I was really excited about merging PDFs in the new version of Preview included with Leopard (OS 10.5), but:

Apple’s PR showed us a clever way to merge PDFs, which apparently isn’t documented anywhere. Open two PDFs in Preview, then choose View | Show Sidebar. When Sidebar pops up, just drag the pages of one PDF to the Sidebar of the other and hit Save. The two are now merged into one PDF doc.

Well, that’s a godawful hassle the minute you get over two documents, or don’t have a huge screen. And how do you make Preview show Sidebar for all open windows at once? No wonder they didn’t bother to put it in Help.

I’ll stick with Combine PDFs, thanks.

Incidentally, the task at hand is sorting, cropping, merging, and converting the high-res tiffs from the digitized volume I got from the archives. I am using Graphic Converter (which came free with my old powerbook) for the cropping and converting, so that I have, for instance, a lovely single PDF document of a petition to the king, nicely zoomable at need.

Again, making a photo book of a big trip, etc, is totally worth the time, and it’s really nice to create something.

***

Report on my ornaments from Snapfish: eh. The color was less vibrant than I hoped, but I guess that’s what happens when you print on porcelain. Three of the seven were unsatisfactory—in one the image was off-center, with the other two I had uploaded a picture with a slight color shift that was unacceptably magnified in the ornament such that one half of the pic looked all washed out. But Snapfish put a credit for three free ornaments in my account within 24 hours of my complaint, and I’ll be happy enough to use them (although it does mean I have to pay shipping again).

However, the packaging was very safe.

For future reference, the post-Christmas clearance sale went to 50%, then vanished by 21 January.

***

It looks like CafePress does the type of magnet I most prefer. Now I just need to find someone who does panoramic photos wrapping around a mug. And learn how to take/make panoramic photos. Cafe Press also has ceramic coasters instead of those cork things—although considering the above re photos on ceramics, I should probably not order seven the first time.

***

I’m really glad iPhoto ’09 came out before I got anywhere with making a photo book of my many road trips . I was totally planning to create map pages, and now it will basically do it for me.

***

I’ll have to check out Mpix, which offers fancy paper which I think meets archival standards. Although I think that the structure of a book is such that even non-archival paper can survive pretty well for a long time.

If I have one piece of advice for people applying to grad school, beginning grad school, or in grad school, it’s this:

Don’t be this guy.

Jerry, via Rate Your Students, is bitter and unhappy because he feels cheated, he did everything right and only now figured out there are no jobs.

You HAVE to get the PhD for yourself, not for the job.* When it stops being for you, it’s time to choose a new path, even if that means walking away in the middle.

*It follows from this that accumulating debt for the PhD is a bad idea.

Alternate title: For Fuck’s Sake, Bloggers, You Are Driving Me Fucking Crazy

Dear Bloggers,

When you write, can you think about someone trying to retrace this discussion next week, or next month, or next year?

How will they do it, when you randomly reference but do not link posts?

This means you have to link exactly to specific posts, not generally to the home page of a blog.

Yes, this also means that sometimes you have to link to yourself. So what? This is a conversation, and you are following the conversation. It’s okay to speak up more than once in a conversation.

Sincerely,

Dance

ETA a year later:
I am a historian, and I revere the archive. The archive we are creating here will be useless without specific links.

Also, it is often possible to link even to specific comments, and worth doing so.

Next Page »