Monthly Archives: October 2008

Overload: the biggest problem with digital photography!

Over 9000 images in main folder… about 3000 to go… time for bed. My brain is mush, and so is my mouse clicking finger.

Update 2: Just the process of consolidating my pix into one folder trimmed the size down from over 12,000 to 11,000! That means that there were over 1000 duplicates scattered around. For example, a certain picture of myself may have had one copy in the “Family” folder, another copy in the “Portraits” folder, another copy in the “Trip to Illinois” folder, etc. I expect further processing to eliminate even more.

Update 3: I came to realize that computers don’t really like thousands of files in one folder. Therefore I compromised by creating one folder per year. This gets it down to no more than around 5000 in any one folder, which reduces the load on whatever mechanism the computer has for creating thumbnails, etc.

Our family has gone through some major transitions during recent years. We have moved from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Flint, Michigan, to Florida; from a comfortable home to 2 years in a hotel, to our present mobile home in Florida. Much of that “progress” has been documented with our Nikon Coolpix 5700, and a few other digital cameras. In fact, in the 6 years or so that I have been taking digital photos, I have amassed over 12,000 pictures on my hard drive. Photos are by far the largest portion of my file space.

I have my KDE screen saver set to slide show mode so that it keeps throwing random images up every 20 seconds. (You can do that when you “keep your nose clean!”) It has been fun to have that constant visual reminder of people and places we love. Often we’ll interrupt whatever we’re doing to comment on some random picture… “Who on earth is that??” “Oh, that’s the janitor at the school where Mary Ann taught…”, etc.

The worst part of having a huge digital collection, as you might guess, is getting it organized for easy access, and keeping it that way. My practice has been to create folders that are named according to content. That was great when there were twenty or thirty folders. But now that there are almost 400 (and in some places several levels of subfolders), there is just no way to quickly find what I’m looking for. What looked to me like a promising “scheme” of file and folder structure at the start, has become very cumbersome and problematic when multiplied to exponential proportions.

Enter KPhotoAlbum, which has been designed by Jesper Pedersen to address this exact problem. His solution? Tagging, rather than “foldering.” With KPhotoAlbum’s tagging, you can find almost any picture (that you have tagged) in a matter of seconds. See Jesper’s video demos here. It really works! It really does make the tagging of photo content an efficient process. It’s still work, mind you, but it is efficient work.

I have been using KPhotoAlbum somewhat hit and miss for several years, and I’m quite sure that it is the solution to my photo problem. The only thing keeping me from making it my only solution is the prospect of tagging thousands of pictures.

Here is my plan: I’m going to kick the legs out from under the table. I’m going to burn the bridges behind me. I’m going to motivate myself to get busy tagging by eliminating the folder structure entirely! I’m going to put ALL the pictures in one folder, so that almost the only way to find anything is to get it tagged! I suspect this will motivate me to get rid of a lot of blurry, unnecessary pictures as well!

“On your marks! Get set! GO!”

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Posted by on October 31, 2008 in Uncategorized


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What you can do with Blender…

I got inspired a few days ago to complete a digital chessboard project that I started many moons ago. I had done the chessboard itself, attempting to replicate one that I had built for my family back in the 1990’s. But with the digital version of the board done, it kind of sat there forgotten for the better part of a year, I think. Anyway, here is the completed set, rendered out in full HD (click on the preview above). I’m rather pleased with the results! A few more tweaks with lighting, add a little environment, like a table, a window, a cup of coffee… and “checkmate!”

Just in case you think this is an actual photograph, here’s a little evidence to the contrary…


Posted by on October 28, 2008 in Uncategorized


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Arch Linux Report Card

As I mentioned in a previous post, I trashed my Arch Linux installation in the process of reinstalling Windows Vista (it’s a long story… read it if you like.) Anyway, prior to that event, I had been fairly happy with Arch. Here is a report card I wrote prior to “losing it”:

“I’ve used Kubuntu, Mepis, PCLinuxOS, but was irked by all the bloat, as well as the need to wait for the next “Intrepid Ibex” or whatever. I looked for a trim distro that had up to date KDE 4.1 and rolling release.

I would warn off anyone who is afraid of command line, or who hasn’t done a few Linux installations: this install is not for the faint of heart. You will not do this installation without a considerable amount of reading, learning, and a hiccup or two along the way. If you do not have a second machine available to browse the beginner’s guide during the installation, BE SURE to print it out! It is 45 to 60 pages, depending on how you set your margins, text size, etc. Yes you need it!

I’m quite pleased with the results. After a week or so of messing around, I’ve created a very attractive and functional desktop, with access to cutting edge versions of nearly all the applications I have been accustomed to using: OpenOffice, Gimp, Blender, Firefox, Flashplayer 10 beta, Dolphin file manager, Kmail, etc.

Shaman is a capable replacement for Synaptic, although I despise the name. In addition to pacman there is yaourt, a command line tool which also gives access to Arch Linux’s AUR (Arch User Repository, I think), providing a somewhat automated package building process for a wider range of packages than are available through the normal arch repositories. This is where I had to go for Bibletime and Sword packages.

Nice job, Arch Linux!”

I still feel the same about Arch, I’m just not willing to go through the pain of setting it all up again. The incredible thing about it was that after installing just about everything I needed, I still had less than 700 packages installed. Compare that to my former Kubuntu 8.04 installation at about 1400, or my current Mepis 8 installation with 1043.

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Posted by on October 26, 2008 in Uncategorized


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Minimize Thunderbird to System Tray in Mepis 8

edit: be sure to read Paul’s comment! His way is easier. Thanks Paul!

After having recently moved all my mail to Thunderbird from Kmail, I was dismayed to discover that Thunderbird will not “minimize to tray,” meaning that I would get no new mail notifications and no “Lightning” calendar reminders without TB being open on the desktop or minimized to the taskbar. A little Googling provided the following answer.

  1. In Konsole, login as root and type the following: apt-get install alltray
  2. Find Thunderbird in the KDE menu and RIGHT click on it. Select “Edit Item.”
  3. The KDE Menu Editor will open. In the “Command” field, type the following: alltray -s -l thunderbird %u
  4. Click the save button on the KDE Menu Editor and close it.
  5. Start Thunderbird and follow the instructions that Alltray provides.
  6. Enjoy!

Thanks to Techthrob for this tip!


Posted by on October 22, 2008 in Uncategorized


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Is Linux "Libertarian?"

I watch relatively little television… so I missed this 20/20 segment that aired recently, but I saw a link to it on, and thought it was so good I have to pass it along. It was so well done, and entertaining, I actually watched the whole 30 minutes online… and I recommend it to you as well. For some reason, I was not able to find the 6th segment on ABC’s website, but it can be found on YouTube here.

Do you wonder why I mention this on a Linux-related blog? Let me see if I can explain.

While I would hesitate to call myself a Libertarian, out of a general dislike for using labels, I lean that direction on a number of issues. I think the less government we have, the better, as long as we still cover the essential bases of national defense and a just judicial system. “John Stossel’s politically correct guide to politics” expressed my views quite well. Keep things plain, simple, transparent and free (read: liberty). Government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem!

My enjoyment of Linux and open source software fits into this stream of thought quite nicely. It is the “free: as in Freedom” part that I really appreciate. Keep things plain, simple, transparent and free (read: liberty). Don’t weld the hood shut on my car (operating system), forcing me to bring it in to the dealership (Microsoft) to fix every little hiccup, and to buy every little part for a not so little price.

That’s my view.

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Posted by on October 22, 2008 in Uncategorized


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Mepis 8 screenshot

Here is a screenshot of my current Mepis 8 desktop. I am using KDE 3.5 with the Xaphire theme, as mentioned in a previous post. The Kicker background image I created with Blender because I thought the Xaphire one was less than beautiful. I was trying to make something that looked somewhat similar to the Xaphire window buttons. There surely is room for improvement, but it’s a start.

I am very impressed with Mepis 8 so far. It has been rock-solid, which is a blessing. Thank you, Warren Woodford!

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Posted by on October 18, 2008 in Uncategorized


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Withdrawal symptoms?

Hands shaking… headache… brain fog… internet withdrawal symptoms? Nine days with no internet makes one weak.

The aforementioned modem (which I mistakenly referred to as a “router”) finally quit, and I was forced to (gasp!) go to the public library to find another one on eBay. And then I had to wait for it to arrive. The seller included a setup CD for the wrong modem. Another trip to the library for some necessary info (the modem’s default user name and password, OpenDNS server addresses, etc.) And now, we are back in business.

I can listen to again!

I think I’ll go do a Synaptic update.

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Posted by on October 17, 2008 in Uncategorized


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Migrating Your Kmail to Thunderbird

I have decided to quit Kmail and give Thunderbird a try. I’ve been wanting to do this for ages, but the process for moving mail from Kmail to Thunderbird is rather formidable. I will attempt to document my “method,” much of which I owe to the above linked blogger, TiJaJoMa, and the rest to the creator of the below linked import addon for Thunderbird.

1 ) I installed this add-on for Thunderbird… thanks, Kaosmos! (Click the download link at the bottom of the page, then in Thunderbird you’ll have to click “Tools -> Add-ons -> Install” and then navigate to the .xpi file… on mine it landed on the desktop).

2 ) My Kmail folders were maildir format, so within Kmail I had to do this for each folder:

  • For a folder named Family, I created a new folder named FamilyM or FamilyMbox or whatever. Make sure when you are creating the folder that you select the mbox format!
  • move all the mail from my original folder to the new one.
  • delete the old empty folder, just to avoid confusion

3 ) After all the folders were converted to mbox format I chose to leave them with the temporary name (e.g. FamilyM), so as to make them easy to identify in the next step.

4 ) I created a folder on my desktop called “TempMail.”

5 ) Using the Konqueror file manager to navigate to /home/les/.kde/share/apps/kmail/mail, I copied all the “” folders into the new TempMail directory on the desktop.

6 ) In the new TempMail directory, I deleted the “.” from the beginning of each of these folder names, so they would be visible to the importer script.

7 ) In Thunderbird, I created a new folder named Family (or Whatever) by right clicking on “Local Folders” in the folder tree, and selecting “New Folder”

8 ) Then I right-clicked on the new folder just created, selected “Import/Export,” and “import mbox file,” then “Select a directory where searching the mbox files to import.” (Italian English?)

9 ) A box opened where I had to navigate to the TempMail folder on my desktop, and select one of the “” files therein, and click “Open.”

10 ) I then was asked “Do you want to import the file /home/les/Desktop/TempMail/Whatever?
I clicked “Yes!” and guess what? It worked!

11) Finally it was time to rename all the new Thunderbird folders, because the importer script adds a random 3 digit number to the folder name, to avoid the possibility of overwriting an existing mail folder.

Whew! I know this is going to be automated someday! I hope this helps someone. Let me know if it needs clarification.


Posted by on October 8, 2008 in Uncategorized


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Rationalizing My Discontent – Part 2

Let’s face it: Microsoft Windows carries an enormous amount of excess baggage, no matter what version you are running. Just look at the system tray after a normal startup: you have your “normal” Windows system security programs running, a third party security suite running, quite possibly a file indexer running, and who knows what else.

I work the night shift at a large county agency, and their XP computers are almost useless at times because of all the indexing and security scanning that happens at night. I’ll grant you that they are not the latest whiz-bang machines, but wouldn’t it be nice to side-step a good portion of the minefield of viruses, and all the scanning that goes with it, so you can just do your work?

While I am not implying that there are absolutely no security threats with a Linux system, I have experienced none of them. There are several reasons that I can think of why this is so:

  1. I generally avoid the more hazardous areas of the internet.
  2. I use Gmail, which catches the great majority of spam before it gets to my machine
  3. Linux is simply more secure, because it requires an administrator’s password to install or change system software or files.
  4. Face it: most viruses are written for Windows systems!

I’ve never met a Linux that was slower than Windows XP, let alone Vista.

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Posted by on October 8, 2008 in Uncategorized


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Mepis 8: It’s a beautiful thing!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I used Mepis for quite a while, back in the Mepis 6 days. I have to say that I am very glad to see that they have gone back to using a Debian base and repositories instead of Ubuntu (which is Debian based). Why put one more layer of complexity between you and Debian?

So, in my developing desktop, I am using Mepis 8 beta, KDE 3.5.9, and the beautiful Xaphire theme mentioned in my previous post, which satisfies my need for a dark glassy classy look. Perhaps I don’t need to hurry in reinstalling KDE 4.1!

Mepis 8 also provides the tools to help me with another issue… network configuration. I really don’t have a difficult setup… Verizon dsl, Actiontec router, & ethernet card. Somehow, though, I’ve been having issues, even since the new ethernet card. I’m beginning to wonder if the router is going bad. At any rate, the Mepis Network Assistant has been helpful each time in getting the connection reestablished.

Other tools that I use a lot which are included in Mepis 8, or available in their standard repositories (accessible through Synaptic)–

  • GIMP, (Gnu Image Manipulation Program: an open-source alternative to Photoshop), Blender (3-D modeling and animation),
  • OpenOffice 3.0 (Microsoft Office alternative)
  • Firefox 3.0.1
  • Synaptic 0.62.1, my favorite package manager
  • Bibletime, a great Bible study program

A couple of other nice things:

  • automatic recognition and mounting of usb memory sticks, external hard drives, etc.
  • Flashplayer works perfectly “out of the box” at Youtube, Foxnews, etc.

Stay tuned…


Posted by on October 7, 2008 in Uncategorized


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