Daily notes for 2023-03-06

ยท 1112 words ยท 6 minute read

Had an interview today, so this is a short one. -mph

New theme ๐Ÿ”—

I mentioned that I was becoming increasingly uneasy with the slowly mounting pile of add-ons and workarounds I had accreted in the process of shifting my main site to Hugo.

Over the weekend I trialed a few theme options and settled on PaperMod. I dropped a few “features” I built on the old theme until I can figure out how to reimplement them. PaperMod is a more complex theme, and I wish its templates were a little more modular, but I’m figuring it out and I appreciate how little I have to write for myself in terms of core stuff.

What I have now is mostly out of the box. It’s enough to get my existing posts back online and looking okay, with a few personalizing touches, and it’s setting me up for …

Managing old posts ๐Ÿ”—

I finally started picking through the exported posts from my old WordPress blog. I fed them all into micro.blog as a test site a while back, then re-exported them as a Hugo archive, so they have Hugo frontmatter and all the image URLs are relative to micro.blog (and hence easy to re-anchor on another Hugo site on another domain).

I’ve gone through 2002 and most of 2003 at this point, tagging items I’d like to bring forward and looking for patterns. I had a habit of writing a few lines about movies I watched for a few years. They’re not much on their own, but in aggregate I wonder what will emerge.

Workflow-wise, I think I just want to work up a script to turn them all into drafts, add a “Vintage” category, and modify my “old post” automation to include whether a post has been significantly edited. Then I can start working through as I have time, making them live as I clear them.

Photos Workbench ๐Ÿ”—

A few weeks ago I spent some time shifting around a few apps and ended up realizing that, as fraught an idea as it is, I would most prefer to just use whatever ships with iOS and macOS to do most stuff. How often I believe I can do that and remain happy is another question.

I like to read other peoples’ struggles with the tools they use. Sometimes because there’s interesting insight to glean, and sometimes because reading someone struggling to find the right thing is like watching a product team fail to prioritize its backlog and there’s at least a behavioral reminder there.

I also like to read about it when someone stops struggling and decides something is good enough. I don’t always agree with the assessment: Everyone’s got their own tics. I’ve got general things about keyboard orientation, clean import/export, sync, and accommodations for notes. Get into a specialty tool, e.g. a photo editor/organizer or text editor, and the list expands. But sometimes those “I just decided to use this particular tool, here’s why” pieces tip you to functionality you didn’t know existed, or that quietly slipped in since the last time you looked.

A few months ago I gave a solid two day effort to living with just Apple’s Photo tools on iOS/macOS/iPadOS. I don’t have a huge beef with Lightroom, but I do feel like I leave a lot on the table with it. My main uses are:

  • Basic edits (crop, color, light, clarity/midtone contrast, geometry correction for my wider lenses)
  • Macro edits (my own presets and normalizing presets)
  • Organization (rating, keywords, other metadata)
  • Storage

I don’t make prints, I don’t sell, and I don’t care to participate in the social aspects they’re layering into the newer version of Lightroom.

Apple’s Photos stuff, in the meantime, has been progressing.

  • Basic edits? Sure. Even geometry correction works at the “manual eyeball it” level.
  • Storage? Sure. I’d never trust Apple as my sole storage solution, but it is not hard to layer on third-party backup options and I think you can make a Mac store originals, which makes backups more reliable and all-inclusive.

Macro editing – raw processing, user presets, import presets, etc. aren’t there. You can leverage third-party apps with Photos extensions, but on its own Photos hasn’t chosen to do much there, and the third-party apps I’ve seen are generally closed ecosystems. Further, though the outside apps understand edits made by Photos, Photos does not understand edits made by them. So even though the ability to copy edits and paste them onto other Photos is a welcome recent feature addition in Photos, it only works with Photos edits. Finally, Apple is sometimes slow to support certain raw formats, and a lot of that ecosystem, for better or worse, sticks to building on top of Apple’s libraries, so you can wait for many months for some of these apps to process stuff from a newish camera.

Organization? Not quite? You can mark things as a favorite or organize them into albums. You can add titles and captions. There’s location data. Rating, however, is missing, as is the ability to anti-favorite something. That makes triage hard without stretching the semantics of the UI.

This is all to go toward saying that this morning I read a positive review from TidBITS for Photos Workbench by Houdah. I remember them from a long time ago, when I used HoudahGPS alongside a Garmin eTrex to do geotagging for my photos, so there’s a Mac pedigree there. (I’m now sitting here thinking about my little Garmin inReach, which is dead simple to operate and doesn’t see much use out of hikes in remote places, and how much I don’t trust any of the built-in GPS functionality of my cameras and their associated apps. Hm.)

Anyhow, Photos Workbench is meant to address the organizational shortcomings of Apple Photos by providing a UI for keywords, mass retitling, geotagging, ratings, and comparison. At $22 it costs less than three months of my Lightroom plan, so I am pretty sure I am going to demo it for a week, even if all I do is organize my Photos collection, which has been running parallel to Lightroom and has a lot of weird stuff in it, ranging from high-quality exports of photos from Lightroom in order to shuffle them around to other endpoints all the way down to “crumpled receipt for my expense report” and “picture of the floor I was on in the parking garage from 2008.”

There are, of course, always tradeoffs. In this case the big one is that it’s Mac-bound. No iOS or iPadOS app. Increasingly I won’t do Lightroom edits on a mobile platform, but I do like managing initial triage and rating from an iPad.