Doing Some Magick with Photos

If you’ve checked out any of the (many) photos I’ve posted, you might have noticed that I watermark my photos. It’s subtle, but in the bottom right hand corner of every photo it says “”.

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Why do I do this? Well, as much as I’d like to assume that people are good, there are a lot of unscrupulous people out there that will grab photos off the Internet for their own use. By watermarking the photo, I’m decreasing its value to these people. (Yes, the watermark could be removed, but it’d take time and effort to do so. The photo thieves are more likely to just head elsewhere to grab some photos.)

In addition to the watermarking, I also rotate some photos (depending on which way they were taken) and resize them for the web. Unfortunately, when I have a lot of photos to process, this can be a time-consuming pain. Initially, my process looked like this:

  1. Load one photo in Irfanview
  2. Open up Irfanview’s Thumbnail mode
  3. Select all images to process
  4. Use Irfanview’s lossless-JPEG rotate function to auto-rotate all photos
  5. Open up Irfanview’s Batch Conversion mode
  6. Select all photos to process and conversion settings (e.g. new height/width)
  7. Wait until Batch Conversion is done.
  8. Open up Picture Shark.
  9. Select All Photos
  10. Select Watermark
  11. Wait until watermark is applied to all photos
  12. Post photos

You can see how this would make photo posting a pain, but each step was necessary. I couldn’t post sideways photos and couldn’t post full-res pictures either. There’s the download time issue as well as the aforementioned picture thieves.

That’s when I remembered about ImageMagick. ImageMagick is a freeware photo manipulation program that is often used on servers to, well, manipulate images. My server, for example, uses it to make thumbnails out of the photos I upload. The only problem is that ImageMagick doesn’t have an graphical interface. It is run by a series of command line statements. This is perfectly fine for a script running on a server, but not as good for a human user.

Since all I wanted to do was run the same commands over and over, and since I know how to program, I wrote a Photo Processor script. It would let me specify the directory that the photos were in, whether I wanted them resized/rotated/watermarked and even allowed me to select which watermark. This way, B could use the same script for My new photo processing process was:

  1. Run Script
  2. Copy/Paste name of directory with photos
  3. Answer dialogs for resizing/rotating/watermarking photos.
  4. Wait until script finishes
  5. Post photos

Much easier, right?

When Monkey was born to Tarzan and Jane over at HisBoysCanSwim, I noticed that their photos of Monkey merely had some text at the bottom of them. This would be easily stripped out by a picture thief so I offered my Photo Processor script. And while I was working on it, I figured I’d post a version for everyone else out there.

The first thing you’ll need to do is install a copy of ImageMagick on your PC. In the configuration screen during setup (the one with all of the checkboxes), make sure that you check the box for “Install ImageMagickObject OLE Control for VBScript, Visual Basic, and WSH.” (See image below.)

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Once that is done, download my Photo Processor script. When you run the script, first you’ll need to enter the directory of the photos to be processed (e.g. C:\Photos\My Trip To The Beach\). Don’t worry if they’re your originals, the altered versions will be saved in newly created subdirectories. After you enter the directory, simply answer a few Yes/No questions to set whether the photos are rotated and/or resized and sit back and wait for the script to do its job. To add a watermark, put a PNG image in the same directory as the script and name it “Watermark.png.”

If you have any questions about this script, feel free to post them in the comments below.

Freeware Friday: Password Safe

Security is important in today’s online world.  A big part of that security is what password you use for the various websites you frequent.  It is not uncommon for a person to have dozens of different sites, each with their own username and password.  But how to you manage them all?  Setting all of your passwords to be the same (e.g. "12345") isn’t safe.  (I have the same combination on my luggage!)  After all, if someone guesses *one* of your passwords, *all* of your accounts will be compromised.  Writing them on paper and sticking it to your monitor isn’t very safe either.  Anyone passing by your office/cubicle could see the list and gain access to your accounts.  So what should the security conscious web surfer do?  Why, put them in a safe of course!  No, not a fire-proof safe (though that might be a good hard-copy backup method), but inside an application called (appropriately enough) Password Safe.

Using Password Safe is quite easy.  First, you set up a master password.  Make sure you remember this.  It’s very important.  Next, you add passwords to your list in Password Safe.  You can even group them together to make them easy to find.  When you’re done and you save the list, Password Safe encrypts it.  The only way to decrypt it and to get at the passwords again is to enter in your master password.  It is much easier to remember *one* password than it is to remember *one hundred* passwords.

In addition, Password Safe can help you come up with secure passwords.  In the Add Entry screen is a button labeled "Generate."  Click that button and you get a password like "3mGrsgfXEN" (an actual generated password).  This is much more secure than "fluffy7".  You can even store notes about the website in the (where else) Notes section.

There’s even a Portable version of Password Safe.  Stick this on a USB key along with your encrypted password list and you can view your passwords on any computer, no further software required.  I recently used this on a trip to Long Island to see my parents so I wouldn’t need to remember the passwords to my various accounts.  It worked beautifully and now I carry the USB key along with me every day.  You never know when you’ll need to check on someone online and will need to retrieve that password that you just can’t remember at the moment.

Password Safe has become a must-have application on any PC that I use.  I can’t recall how I kept track of all of my passwords before I discovered it.

Freeware Friday: KIDO’Z

I’m going to start a new feature here on Techydad:  Freeware Friday.  Every Friday, I’ll post a short review of a piece of freeware I’ve found that I think is useful to have.  I’ll try to avoid the obvious ones that nearly everyone knows about like and FireFox (at least for now) in favor of applications that might be lesser known.

This week, I’d like to highlight KIDO’Z.  KIDO’Z is a web browser aimed towards kids.  Why do kids need a special web browser, you might ask?  Well, young children, just being introduced to computers, might not know that they can go to the address bar and type in (for example) to get to games and activities on Noggin’s website.  Even if they do, they might misspell it as and wind up at a completely different site.  KIDO’Z, in contrast, is extremely easy.  Children merely select Games, Web Sites, or Videos and then select what they want to see.  Except for any Games/Websites that require keyboard input, all controls are handled by the mouse.  Nice, large, easy-to-understand icons are used for controls (with text for kids who know how to read).

The KIDO’Z team is constantly striving to improve the program.  They’ve recently added Parental Controls so parents can better control what their child sees.  You can block sites that KIDO’Z would normally show to the children (useful if, like me, you have a philisophical opposition to all things Barney) and can add your own sites (like a webpage of family photos).

It’s not perfect, mind you.  Due to the limitations of the platform it was designed on (Adobe AIR), it can’t block kids from CONTROL+TABing to another program.  It can’t keep kids from closing KIDO’Z, firing up Internet Explorer, and browsing to a site you’d rather they didn’t go to.  However, it is very good at giving children an easy to use first browser that puts fun and informative content a few clicks away.  I would definitely recommend this for any computer that a child would use.

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