My current favorite picture

Because I’ve become “one of those people” I’ve been taking a ton of pictures of Finney. When you take lots of pictures you often end up with something you didn’t quite anticipate.

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I took this while he was in the middle of playing with a rope toy. I’ve decided he doesn’t look angry, just mildly insane… and that pleases me.

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What’s entertainment for a greyhound? Paula took a little video to give you a fairly clear picture:

Free music from Harvey Danger, Jane’s Addiction and Nine Inch Nails

It’s been a while since I pulled down some good free music. I stopped obsessing over every Mercedes Benz Mixed tape and haven’t gone on a mash-up bender for years. Yesterday, however, a couple free albums caught my attention.

Harvey Danger – Little by Little

Harvey Danger has put their third album up for a free download in the hopes that you’ll try it, like it and buy it. While the album is free, the band is relying on your honesty to buy it if you like it. I personally like this model, partially because I have a huge tendency to feel guilty about intellectual copyright so I’m sure I’ll pay if I like it. I do hope that enough of the public also steps up and pays because I’d be really cool to see this type of trust continue.

My take? It’s catchy pop/rock with pervasive piano and harmonies giving it a decidedly Beatle-esque feel (which isn’t bad in my book). And, heck, they’re a Seattle band. Note: if you really like it you may want to get the CD since it has 9 more tracks.

Get it!

NIN|JA – Tour Sampler EP

Perhaps they’re touring together because they have similar music, perhaps it’s mutual respect between the bands… I think it’s just because they realized that combining their names creates "NIN|JA". Whatever the reason, Nine Inch Nails and Jane’s Addiction (and Street Sweeper) are offering a free sampler album with two tracks from each band to help promote the tour. Unlike other "check us out, please" free albums, this one is promotional and doesn’t come with the guilt of needing to donate money (other than you should go buy tickets and see them live… unless you’re old like me and would probably break a hip in the mosh pit).

My take? Classic NIN and Jane’s Addiction sound. Turn it up and let your ears bleed freely. I was also pleasantly surprised by Street Sweeper, a nice Industrial/Nu Metal blend with a bit of gansta’ rap special sauce poured on top.

Get it!

Bonus album: At the NIN site you can get The Slip for free too.

Microspotting – A peek behind the Microsoft curtain

Have you ever wondered what kind of people work at MS and what makes them tick? Hop on over to Microspotting to get the dirt. While you’re there you can also really get to know Dan, a great dev who started as an intern on the Entourage team when I was a test lead there, Omar, a PM from the Entourage team (and also, coincidentally an intern there too), MC, who was on Mac office (Entourage was part of Mac Office)…. hey, this is just becoming a trip down memory lane. Clearly my friends haven’t been pimping their fame (or I simply couldn’t be bothered to read their blogs… of course, I blame them).

At any rate, it seems Ariel has a great knack for finding the personalities at Microsoft, and isn’t shy about stalking them to get the story. Geeks and stalking? How can you pass that up?

How to add EXIF data to your cell phone pictures

While my Windows Mobile phone is fantastic at synchronizing data with my PC and operating seamlessly with Exchange, it does lack in some of the non-business areas. Most frustrating for me lately: no EXIF information on the pictures it takes.

What is EXIF data and why does it matter? EXIF (Exchangeable image file format) is a standard that specifies, among other things, the metadata tags included in image files. The key bit of metadata that my camera pictures lack is the date and time I took the pictures. The pictures do have a date & time they were modified, but not having a separate entry for when the picture was taken leads to the date information being lost when the pictures is edited or copied to another PC. As a result, I have a lot of pictures from my camera phone like the example below, created in 2009, modified in 2007 and I have no clue if I took the picture on either of the dates… or some completely different date and time.

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(Oh, by the way, iPhone owners, this is one more thing you can use to taunt your non-iPhone owning friends about: the iPhone adds EXIF data to the pictures.)

While I may have lost the historical data I haven’t given up on my future pictures. I’m now using an excellent app from Phil Harvey, ExifTool. This powerful command line app allows me to preserve the date taken by copying the modified date to the date taken. In the process of adding the date taken I am also adding extra info to indicate what phone I used and correcting the time taken since my pictures are all date stamped in GMT (no, I don’t know why, I’ve stopped being surprised by stuff like this).

Downloading and installing ExifTool

ExifTool is Perl based and will work on Unix, Windows or Mac OS X, your install steps will depend on your platform. From the ExifTool home page you can pick the version you want, Windows and Mac users will want to get the platform-specific version for simplicity. The Windows executable is a single file "install." Unzip the download and you have an EXE file, there is no installation or required dll’s. Clean & simple (monolithic is good, right Jud?).

Creating and/or changing the date taken

Once you have ExifTool, creating date taken info based off the file’s modified date is a simple command line operation.

  1. Open up a command window.  If you’re using Windows, bring up the command line by clicking the start menu and typing "cmd" (for Vista or Windows 7) or selecting run then typing "cmd" (for XP).
  2. Change directories to the location you saved ExifTool (e.g. if it’s in your documents folder, type "CD C:\Users\ME\Documents\ExifToolFolder").
  3. Create a date taken by coping it from date modified like this (you’ll need to specify the path to your picture):
    exiftool.exe -"filemodifydate>datetimeoriginal" c:\Users\Me\Pictures\picture.jpg

Straight forward enough, no?

(Almost) unlimited power

Now that you have the basic info you can go crazy. Unlike the EXIF editing capbilities of most photo software (like PhotoShop or Windows Live Gallery) ExifTool allows you to create/edit fields like the camera’s manufacturer. 

  • ExifTool can make changes to an entire directory of files by replacing the path to a picture with a folder path (e.g. exiftool.exe -"filemodifydate>datetimeoriginal" c:\Users\Me\Pictures\).
  • You can make relative date changes to files with -datetimeoriginal. For example, I need to take 7 hours off the time for all my pictures with -DateTimeOriginal-=7. You can also make changes in years, months and days if your camera clock was reset by mistake .
  • You can move files with the directory parameter, allowing you to move files from a temp directory after they’ve been corrected .
  • Since this is a command line tool it’s really easy to create a batch file to make a whole list of changes .
  • Get plug-ins to use ExifTool from inside your some of your favorite apps like Photoshop or Lightroom.

To help make the process auto-magic for myself I’ve created a batch file which creates the datetimeoriginal data, adds the camera model and maker, corrects the time taken and, finally, copies the pictures from the staging folder to their final location. I have this batch file set to run periodically using a scheduled task. Now I just need to learn to have the scheduled task be triggered by new photos showing in the staging folder. 🙂