Wed, 29 Jun 2005

Organizing Digital Photography

— SjG @ 9:20 pm

Well, it’s an impossible problem. My digital cameras all have high-speed “spray-and-pray” modes, which are the only reasonable response to the challenge of taking candid pictures of children. One shoots a buffer full of pictures, and in one of them (if one’s lucky), all of the kids will have their eyes open, there will be no fingers stuck up noses, and, if one’s really lucky, there will be nice expressions on all of the visible faces.

But the downside is the proliferation of pictures. One develops a certain Tommygun mentality, and, hey, disk space is cheap. Composition’s easier in Photoshop than through the viewfinder.

In short, I have a digital picture management problem. Apple’s iPhoto is a good start, but it can’t handle the quantities of images I’m throwing at it. Recently, I’ve been using an evaluation version of iView Multimedia’s iView Pro. It seems good, with lots of options and configurability. I’d rather not spend $200, but if I can learn to use it adequately, it’d be worth it. And I certainly don’t have time to write my own (witness the moribund Samuel’s Last Attempted Gallery [SLAG] web application that’s never made it past the schema design phase).

I’ll report here eventually what I find.

Visions of Hell, Part I

— SjG @ 9:09 pm

OK, if you live badly in this life, you will find yourself in an Airport after you die.

Your flight will be leaving from Terminal One, which, due to a support-staff strike, is knee deep in trash and cigarette ashes (smoking’s allowed here). Your flight has been delayed. The terminal is crowded to overflowing, with people standing, sitting on the floor, doing everything but pitching tents. If your sins were relatively minor in the previous life, you get a seat, albeit a seat sticky with spilled milkshake, chewed gum, and other unidentifiable substances. You share your seat with your luggage, which is inexplicably heavy and bulky.

You wait, while a couple has a screaming fight right next to you. A child plays a portable video game that makes electronic beeps and chirps, just loud enough that you cannot sleep. The closest restroom is half a mile away, and you don’t dare visit it because you’ll lose your spot, and be forced to stand in the surly-looking throng over by the window, who are being tormented by the hot sun streaming in. And anyway, you have strong indications that the toilets in that restroom have clearly backed up.

Every few hours, there is an announcement that your flight has been further delayed. It’s always delayed by “just a few minutes.” Voices in many languages are broadcast over the fuzzy PA, thanking you for your patience during construction, warning you to look out for suspicious packages, announcing other flight delays and cancellations, and advertising the various concession stands. The concession stands are all closed due to the strike.

Every third day, or so, there is a gate-change announcement for your flight. You, and two hundred other lost souls, must pick up your belongings and rush to another terminal. Now, this Airport is a vast Airport, but not very well maintained. There are corridors that go off into dead-ends, there are elevators that trap you between floors for days on end. Your heavy baggage bangs against your legs as you frantically run, trying to find this other terminal. The new terminal is no improvement upon the old terminal — if anything, it’s smaller and more crowded. And, upon your arrival there, the flight delayed announcements resume.

Every third week or so, your flight actually boards. You and your weary, stinking fellow travellers crowd onto a airplane that doesn’t look like it’s been cleaned in years. The seats are very small and close together. Once everyone has completed the herculean struggle to cram their bags under seats and into the overhead, you sit. And wait. The air conditioning is not running on the plane, and the air feels like it’s been breathed and exhaled by a hundred tubercular people before it gets to you. After a few hours, the plane finally rolls back from the terminal, and waits in the queue for the runway. It’s positioned so that the hot sun streams through your window. The windowshade is jammed, and the tab by which you should be able to pull it down has been broken off.
After seven or eight hours, there is an announcement that, due to uncontrollable events, this airplane will not be permitted to fly, and that you will need to report to the replacement flight in Terminal Three. Once in Terminal Three, the standard terminal cycle repeats.

Every third month or so, your flight actually departs. Your seat is next to a morbidly obese individual who overflows into half of your seat. Right before takeoff, this individual ruefully mentions a propensity for motion sickness; this announcement is prophetic, as vomiting commences shortly after takeoff. The narcissist businessman in the seat ahead of you tilts back the seat as far as it will go, which leads you to discover that your seat is jammed and will not recline. His cologne was applied using the “more is better” philosophy, and he smokes through the whole flight while berating his trophy wife, flirting overtly with the stewardess, and taunting his wife with stories of his infidelities. She blubbers in misery throughout the flight. The woman across the aisle prays loudly for the whole flight. You discover that the book you had saved for the flight is misprinted, and after the first chapter, the pages are too blurry to read. The stewardess sadly informs everyone that there will be no food or beverage service on this flight.
Behind you sits the child with the video game, and he is so excited by the game that he unconsciously kicks your seat for the whole flight. His baby sister screams and shrieks from the moment you board the plan until the plane lands twelve hours later, and the captain explains that due to technical difficulties, you have been diverted to another airport. Your flight will continue from Terminal Six.

And this is your eternity.