Digital Asset Management

I have decided to give Google’s Picasa a try.  I have about 20,000 digital images that need organizing.  Most of them are now stored on a tall stack of CDs and DVDs … a real pain to find a particular image, especially if you can’t remember the approximate date it was created.

I have a 1 TB external hard drive.  I will copy the CDs and DVDs to the external hard drive, download and install Picasa, and let you know my initial thoughts.

If you’d like to play along at home, here is a link to download the Picasa software.

1.  It took about 15 minutes to download and install Picasa, open Picasa, and tell it to not scan my entire computer at this time, but to instead scan only one recent folder of images.  I ran into a problem with Outlook Express, with which I was trying to compose an e-mail while Picasa was installing.  Outlook Express locked up; I should have closed all other applications while installing.

2.  Picasa does not recognize the *.PSP file format which is the native file format for images created with JASC Paint Shop Pro.

3.  Another hour has elapsed during which I have edited one image, created one photo-collage, “tagged” seven images with keywords, created a Picasa Web Albums account, and attempted to upload seven images to Picasa Web Albums.  Although I am able to login to Picasa Web Albums, from Picasa I am getting an error message:  account not enabled for web albums.  Trying to figure out what that means.

OMG!  It takes about 45 minutes to copy the contents of one DVD to my external hard drive via USB.  I don’t know if it would be much faster via Firewire, but my computer doesn’t have a Firewire port.  Firewire (aka IEEE 1394) is just another kind of “wire” (really an interface standard) used to connect electronic components, like USB, RS-232, HDMI, MIDI, SCSI (“scuzzy”), S-video, XLR, and on and on.  You don’t need to know all the differences, just put the plug in the correctly-shaped hole.  In this case, Firewire may have been a little bit faster, but I didn’t have a correctly-shaped hole in my computer.

One cool thing about the Picasa software is its face recognition feature.  Picasa will scan the images and find all of the faces.  This makes it easy to tag the images with the names of the persons pictured.  Picasa is smart enough to group similar faces so you can select all of the “Tracy” images and tag them at once.  Scanning the two DVDs worth of images for face recognition took about 30 minutes (note:  The two 4.7 GB DVDs contained both the *.jpg and the *.nef files for each image.  I only scanned the jpegs (about 15% of the content), so figure about 15 minutes per CD full of jpegs).

Picasa found 46 unique faces (247 faces, total).  Hey, how did Heath Ledger get on my DVD?  Answer:  I took a picture of the TV while we were watching “10 Things I Hate About You.”

Going through all of the images and adding “tags” (e.g., birthday, flowers, jazz) takes quite a while, but when you’re done the filtering process is almost instantaneous … start entering “flowers” in the search box and before you finish typing all of your flower pictures are displayed.

So far, I’ve done the first three-quarters of 2007, all of 2008, and the first half of 2009, a total of about 42 GB.  The last quarter of 2007 is missing; the last half of 2009 hasn’t been burned to DVD yet.  It’s pretty depressing … a lot of crappy photos.  I’ve uploaded a few images to Picasa Web, but you can’t view them unless you have a Google account and are a registered user of Picasa Web.

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