Saturday, May 31, 2008

Free Tools For Photos

Yes, I'm still working on my tlog (remember, the 't' is silent :o) of my wonderful trip. I realized that I actually have twice as many photos as I thought. Originally I estimated about 1500. I arrived at this number because my camera shoots in RAW and basic JPEG, which means for each photo I take, I actually get two image files. The RAW (or .NEF) file is very large, and I can manipulate some settings (color, white balance, etc) without modifying the actual photo that I took. It's like a digital 'negative', if you will. The downside is that it's very large, and it cannot be opened by all image programs. I also take JPEG pictures, which gives me a rough view of my shot, if it came out, etc. So anyway, I saw a picture count as 3110, I figured that included JPEG and NEF files. It turns out that only was counting the JPEG files. So I actually do have 3110 pictures to go through, 869 were taken on 5/16, the day we passed through the Panama Canal! Some that I have briefly glanced at have come out well! The reason for this post is I found three free programs that help to organize and do "cool stuff" with your photos. I want to document it so I don't forget!

I realized that I changed the date and time of my camera's clock when I got to Orlando, matched it to Eastern Daylight Time, but never changed it after that. Oops! Digital cameras embed the date and time information into the photos metadata. It's not a scary techy word, metadata simply means 'data about data' or 'stuff describing stuff' or how about 'data properties', that works too. For digital images, this metadata is called EXIF which probably stands for something, and I'm too lazy to look it up. EXIF holds information such as date and time the image was taken, the picture size, copyright information, photographer, whether the flash fired, what the shutter speed and aperture was, and more. Some cameras even have the ability to embed GPS information into the picture, so that you can plot each of your pictures on a map (a process called GeoTagging, more on this later).

I'm getting off course here, so anyway, my camera's date and time were set accurately in Orlando (EDT), however the trip carried us through 4 different timezones. I forgot to change the time at the appropriate spots. What could I do?

I found an application called ExifTool. For you Perl geeks out there, this is really just a compiled interface to the EXIF libraries in Perl. I was able to run one command, and it changed the time for my pictures. Well not all of them. Some needed to go back an hour, some two, and some three. I haven't yet done the rest. Also, ExifTool has an option to rename files based on their date/time stamp. When I finish editing the EXIF information, I'll rename based the correct information.

The second cool utility I found relates to GeoTagging, or the ability to put GPS information in your pictures. I don't have a fancy attachment on my camera that will do that when I take the picture, however I do have a GPS which knows my location and the date/time. GeoSetter is a free application that takes your group of pictures, your GPS data, and tries to figure out based on the date/time where you were, or the closest GPS point to when the picture was taken. The only hitch is that the date/time of your camera must be very very very close to the GPS, or else the pictures will display in the wrong locations.

The third cool utility is actually not a photo utility, so I guess I lied. I took my AT&T Tilt that I won in Orlando, and installed a program called TrackMe. It uses your GPS device and saves points of where you have been on a given interval (30 seconds, 5 minutes, whatever you want). I had this running my whole trip. Unfortunately, when I tried to export my positions, the program ran out of memory! Luckily I was able to open it up with Visual Studio 2008 (long story). Anyway... If you have GPS points and want to plot them on a map, another awesome fee utility is called GPSVisualizer. This utility will generate your points on Google Maps or Google Earth. How cool is that?!

Ok enough for now, I promise I'm working on that trip report!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Don't you love English?

I've got 1500 pictures to go through from my trip, so pardon me it if takes a few days. Many of them are duplicates, where I shot the same thing about 10 times, 5 of them washed out with a flash and 5 are blurry from lack of light. :o) I think I've got a few gems, a few sunset pics, some beautiful flora, a beach (or two or three), and some panoramic highlights.

A side note (and the unfortunate purpose of my blog post today): Don't you love English (or english)? When choosing the suffix '-able' or '-ible', the rule is that if the root word (everything up until '-able' or '-ible') is an actual word, you would use '-able'. Take for instance, the word 'reasonable'. Since 'reason' is an actual word, you would use '-able' on the end. Take the word 'permissible'. Wait, bad example, it appears that 'permiss' is actually a word (even though spell check disagrees with Webster). So why does it use '-ible'? What about the word 'accessible'? Why not 'accessable', since 'access' is a real word?

I can tie this in with my trip. Sorta. One night, the entertainment was magician Mike Super, who won the American Idol-like magic TV show "Phenomenon" (yes I used spell check on that too). He was doing an illusion, and got off on a tangent. He said he wanted to introduce a new word to everyone's vocabulary, the word 'lavenous', an adjective which means absolutely nothing. However, if you are proud of your 'lavenousness', you can get a lavenous t-shirt to strut your stuff.

Monday, May 26, 2008

...and... we're back!

Well I'm back from my *gasp* 17 day break from reality. I went on the 15-day Disney Magic Westbound Panama Canal repositioning cruise. Boy that's a mouthful! The itinerary went like this:

Sat May 10 - Embark in Port Canaveral, FL
Sun May 11 - Castaway Cay (Gorda Cay), Bahamas
Mon May 12 - At sea
Tue May 14 - At sea
Wed May 15 - Aruba, Netherlands Antilles
Thu May 16 - At sea
Fri May 17 - Through the Panama Canal
Sat May 18 - At sea
Sun May 19 - At sea
Mon May 20 - Acapulco, Mexico
Tue May 21 - At sea
Wed May 22 - Puerto Valliarta, Mexico
Thu May 23 - Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Fri May 24 - At sea
Sat May 25 - At sea
Sun May 26 - Disembark in San Pedro / Los Angeles (with additional visit to Disneyland and California Adventure, overnight stay at Disney's Grand Californian hotel)
Mon May 27 - Back to reality
Tue May 28 - Back to work


Ok well over the next few days I'll post my travel web log, or tblog. or maybe just tlog (the 't' is silent). I took notes several days about our ports of call, especially the day we traveled through the Panama Canal. What an awesome day!! Here are a few tidbits about the trip for the both of you that read my blog. :o)

* Food!
* Special guests Joey Fatone from N'Sync and Alfonso Ribeiro from Fresh Prince of Bel Air!
* Guest speakers: (1) Retired Panama Canal Pilot Capt. Ken Puckett, (2) Disney World senior artist Don "Ducky" Williams, (3) author, Disney consultant, nerd, and former imagineer Jeff Kurtti and more!
* More Food!
* Magician Mike Super
* Did I mention food?
* Palo fine dining
* Lots (and lots) of crazy Hawaiian t-shirts!
* The Cove Cafe
* Even more food!
* Pictures to prove it!

As you can tell, I haven't eaten much in the past few days. :o)

I hope over the next several days to post some of my trip thoughts and share some pictures with you of my 5,700 mile voyage!