Putting Vista’s index to work.

You can go straight to the blogcast if you don't want to read the text ...

Click for Larger imageClick for Larger image Stitched together... click for Larger image Before and after... click for Larger image

Last weekend I went with an old friend, David, and my daughter to watch the "Grand Prix Masters" which is now the only motor sport where the drivers are older than I am. There was a race for historic Formula one cars and, for those with the right tickets (not us), a Katie Melua concert afterwards. It seemed like a good way to spend an August day.

The weather was, "cold and dank and wet" to quote Michael Flanders on August. I had my camera but with rain drops on the filter that protects the lens, and lousy light it wasn't a great photography day. Security was relaxed and we could look around the pits - taking in the two seat GP Masters car - and then "doorstep" the VIP lounge. I was able to do my impression of a member of the paparazzi and snap a couple of the drivers coming and going. Katie Melua emerged in a crush of people and I was (just) on the ball enough to realise the fuss wasn't for a driver and get some reasonable pictures of her. You can see the results on the left. I was told you need a faster camera than mine to grab shots like this; David's camera can focus faster and he didn't get the shot. I did. Ha Ha. Replying to the "faster camera" advocate I said my Pentax can use standard batteries which the faster ones don't: on Sunday I'd forgotten to put freshly charged ones in the camera and ended up using batteries I bought at the track. The best camera is always one you can use.

If you're still reading you may be asking is he going to talk about software at all ?

When we got home, I put the memory card from the Camera into my laptop, and did a couple of quick edits with Microsoft Digital Image Suite - the only fancy thing I did was to make a single picture of the 2 seater car which I'd had to shoot in two halves. Mostly I was just tweaking the contrast curves a little, straightening and/or cropping the images, and retouching out the odd spot. The results are on the left. David asked what I was using. I'll admit that I don't evangelize about Digital Image Suite - I have a bit of an inferiority complex about it, as a serious photographer shouldn't I be using Photoshop ? David's view was different. "This is what I need. Photoshop is too complex, this does just the things that I want". I can recognize that - it was what I talked about with Writer, and I keep saying the best camera is always one you can use.

What I do evangelize about, of course, is Windows Vista. So when David asked "What do you use to organize your photos" he should have guessed what was coming. I said back in May that No photo filing system I've found works, and made the link with my work on the early Sharepoint. I know photographers with a couple of terabytes of space at home. There is only so much you can do with a hierarchical file system - you hit the problem of things that belong in more than one place. Do I want to file the Motor racing pictures by car, or by team or by race meeting ? When you have lots of anything you need search: and you need to search more than just the text. It is not only music, video and photos that need to be found by their properties - I want to find things like "that document of Barry's from last year". Or "The picture of a turtle that Kathy took" or "Nigel Mansell driving a Williams F1 Car" or "Pictures with [my daughter's friend] Alice in them". The problem with cataloging software is that it implements it's own meta data store. The data isn't store in the picture file header - entering it is often painful, and it isn't understood by anything else. By attaching the meta data to the file it becomes sticky (a lesson I learnt with sharepoint). And the search index is accessible to other applications - Daniel gave me a link to where he blogged a couple of sources for information on doing this in Vista. Do explorer and Photo Gallery in Vista amount to the last word in photo management ? No - but anyone developing software to do it in future would be stupid not use the fields that Vista users will enter - and stupid not to use the existing index. That's what a good OS is supposed to - provide great services which allow developers to write fantastic applications.  Did I say I was evangelical about Vista ?

After pushing this post around for a few days I realised you can't appreciate indexing without seeing it.
You can view the resulting blogcast on Vista search here. I had to use remote desktop because Windows media encoder and Vista don't get on at the moment - and te result won't play in my current build of Windows Media Player 11 (though vista's Movie maker will play it ... sigh)

About half way though the video I mention that a couple of tags are out of sequence, and I forgot to go back and explain that Lisa (Friends and Family) is actually \Friends and Family\Lisa and the Windows Vista Photo Gallery will show this as a proper hierarchy - showing all friends and family, and then dividing them into different individuals. Next time maybe I'll work to a script:-) As usual comments are welcome

Tagged as Microsoft Windows Vista Search Photos


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