Sunday, May 12, 2013

Picasa wasn't meant for people.

I got a new computer a couple weeks ago, taking the plunge from Windows XP to Windows 8 (which is another story in itself). One of the big things that worried me was my Picasa albums.

The last time I tried transferring to a Windows 7 (sic) computer, Picasa's albums would only restore on the new computer if the filename (including folder structure) was exactly the same, and Windows 7/8 doesn't let you name folders the same way as in XP. In other words, when it opened the album listing, it looked for the photo in the given directory, and promptly removed the photo from the album when it couldn't find it in the non-existent folder.

Luckily, since that time, Picasa for Windows has changed the way it handles albums so that it stores album data in the photo, or in a hidden file in the photo's folder (sic). This meant that my albums were restored. Not only that, but they managed to somehow list many of my photos twice. Which is better than not at all.

But the People albums photos are a different matter. I guess Picasa is meant for people who primarily take photos of other people, whereas mine, for the most part, aren't. I don't want to connect my photos with my Gmail account contacts or my (non-existent) Google plus account. Nevertheless, a while back (before Google plus even existed) I had spent a considerable amount of time putting nametags on people in many of my photos, diligently looking up the names of people I recognized but whose names I didn't remember, etc. As I added more photos, I'd occasionally add nametags to those photos also. This way, I could at least remember these people's names long after I forget who they are. (I also hate inheriting albums full of unannotated photos of people I don't know.)

After using Picasa for a while on this new computer, somehow the people albums caught my eye, and a lot of "person" albums came up that were called "". Each of these contained a handful of photos of people I do know, who had their own "people" album already. Some contain four or five photos of the person I know and a couple of other headshots of people I don't. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to why these photos are like this; most of them aren't in albums or folders I've uploaded (and I haven't yet logged in on Picasa with the new computer), so it's not a permissions thing with my Google account...

After a brief search online, it looks like there's no fixing this, except the hard way: re-naming the people, which I started to do. Tangent:

(It is very difficult to bulk-rename people who are tagged in a Picasa album. You can select them and right-click and select "Move to People Album..." and then a list pops out of the context menu of people, but you can't search this list and the scrolling arrow is horrendously slow. Another way is to go into each photo, find the person in the photo, click on their head and type in their name. The least difficult way is to scroll the left bar to the people album for the desired person and drag the selected photos onto it. But there is no way to simply right click, or click somewhere, and type the name of the person you want to reassign these headshots to.)

Once you're done reassigning these people, you have to individually delete the empty people albums for "". In my case, a few dozen of these. You can't bulk-select them, and it doesn't prompt you to delete them when they are empty. Meanwhile, they clutter up the People album listing (at least they're at the bottom).

Then there's the whole part about "long after I forget who they are". The official Picasa solution of "you'll have to re-tag all these people" breaks down. I tag the people to remind me who they are. If I'm going to re-tag them, I need the nametag to tell me who they are. For example, there is a Citizen photographer in one of my photos whom I had apparently tagged. This is handy, because I can never remember which of them is which. This is why I tagged him. I presume I cross-referenced the Ottawa Citizen's photos of the event at the time and added his name. I can't re-tag him because I don't remember which of the Citizen's three or four regular photographers he is.

Luckily, I still have my old laptop and I haven't deleted my data off of it yet. (In fact, I still have all but my first computer, each of which in various states of preservation)

But of all the stupid things, holy gee! It's things like this that make me paranoid of changing computers, and when changing computers, of changing operating systems. The Windows XP to Windows 8 transition is manageable enough, but damned if I'm going to try switching over to Google Chrome!

I've still got a Windows XP install disc. Maybe I'll try installing that on the new machine and seeing if it doesn't blow up.

- RG>