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I’ve discovered the One Good Thing about Vista.

I’ve discovered the One Good Thing about Vista. published on

Its image management. The metadata for JPEGs includes tags. I can tag my photos offline! And Windows Photo Gallery Live allows you to upload to Flickr, and actually works right! (Flickr Uploadr doesn’t seem to work with Vista – I’ve been using jUploadr instead. The problem is probably Microsoft’s fault, but it’s nice that they’ve set up a work-around.)

Also, there’s a feature that allows you to offset the timestamps of a batch of images to correct for inaccurate timestamps. This is A Good Thing – I get this problem a lot due to my habit of switching time zones. (Japan is thirteen hours ahead of Kentucky. I live in the future. Thirteen hours in the future.)

However, as with all things Vista, there are caveats. Cut for caveats. (They’re long.)

The timestamp offset is for some reason limited to 24 hours in either direction (and only in full one-hour increments – no minutes or seconds). This solves my time-zone-switching problems, but doesn’t help with the issue of my camera forgetting what year it is every time the battery dies. (Apparently Exifer and its ilk can deal with that, but for the batch I’m working on now it was faster to just manually change the dates.) I know this is a common problem, so I don’t see any reason to artificially limit this functionality.

Despite Vista having been out, what, two years? – despite that, Photo Gallery is still as glitchy as something in beta. What really drives me crazy is that there’s no indication of when it’s still working on a batch of images and when it’s done, meaning you can start one batch operation while another’s still going on the same photos, making it possible to completely screw up what you’ve been doing. I did this several times without realizing it at first.

Also, the timestamps that appear in Photo Gallery don’t always sync up with the (correct) ones that appear in Windows Explorer. When my camera’s battery dies, the photos always claim to have been taken in 2026. The first time I tried to edit some of these in Photo Gallery, I couldn’t find the photos I was looking for by date because it wasn’t displaying anything taken in 2026. So I looked by filename, and found that the date it was listing them by was January 19, 2009 – you know, today.

I went back to Explorer to make sure I hadn’t changed anything by accident, and I hadn’t – it’s just that Photo Gallery didn’t want to show me the correct dates. After opening and closing it, they did show up, briefly, but after a couple of minutes the program went back to showing today’s date, making me think that this isn’t intended behavior. (I did think it might be for a second – it just has that arbitrary Microsoft je ne sais quoi.)

I didn’t want to make any major edits while this crap was going on, so I went into Explorer and changed the dates (just the days, not the times) to the correct ones from there. (Fortunately I only had five days worth of photos with time-stamp problems, so I only had to change five batches.) My assumption was that Photo Gallery would stop freaking out if the timestamps weren’t in the future.

Then I went back into Photo Gallery to change the times, and found that it was now displaying some apparently random times – I mean, they seemed to be staggered correctly, but they weren’t the timestamps that had been there before. I restarted Photo Gallery again, saw the timestamps I’d expected, and finally was able to do a successful batch edit pushing them back to the accurate time.

This should all only have taken me a few minutes to do, but because of the software’s instability and pointless design limitations, it took close to an hour and a half of experimenting to get the result I wanted. I still haven’t checked to be sure the Flickr upload feature works right – I’m going to do that before I actually start tagging.

Problems with tagging I’ve discovered since writing that a few minutes ago:

* Vista tags – rebelling against all established laws of tagging – don’t recognize commas as dividers.

* You can only type in one tag at a time, a limitation which makes precisely zero sense. (Have these guys ever even used Flickr? There’s a reason it’s popular.)

* Captions (you can also do captions) cannot contain carriage returns, and Windows Live Photo Gallery (the updated version that uploads to Flickr) seems to erase captions created using regular-old Windows Photo Gallery.

* There is a Facebook-esque “Tag a person” feature that allows you to click on somebody’s face and attach a special person-tag to them. It seems obvious to integrate this with Flickr’s “Add Note” feature (or at least give the option of doing so) but the functionality doesn’t seem to be there.

* Also, the “Tag a person” tags are not uploaded to Flickr along with the regular tags. (Why!?) Not a feature I think I’ll be using, thanks.

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