Article, May 2007
by Bill Moeller, President
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Joe Schork’s fine presentation on Vista at our April meeting showed off very clearly the improved new interface, as well as some of the nice new features that will make life easier and better for its users. It also highlighted a key caveat when Joe had to work around some problems with the JC’s projector—make sure before committing to a new operating system that it won’t obsolete some expensive piece of gear that you already own and love.
But it also pointed out a problem that goes beyond operating systems. Joe has found Vista’s ability to “Tag” a photo file with descriptive information to be very useful for photo organization and retrieval purposes, but there are questions about what it does to the existing file metadata. (For some discussion of this specific problem, see www.find.pcworld.com/56583) When we played around a bit after the meeting, we found that some tagged files contained no other metadata, and that the tag metadata were not visible using Joe’s other image processing software (Paint Shop Pro XI). This very brief encounter with the realities of the virtual proved nothing, but the red flags are a-waving and caution is clearly in order.
I have previously noted that the simple act of saving a photo file using the wrong software (in my case, Paint Shop Pro 5) can lose the file’s original camera metadata , and that metadata entries made using one piece of software can wipe out entries made using another, and in turn may be unreadable by the first. This is true for the two programs that I am currently using, Paint Shop Pro 9 and Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0.
There is a general incompatibility problem here that might or might not be solved in our lifetimes. What to do? I don’t know, but I would suggest at the very least following a standard scientific laboratory and photographic darkroom procedure that has been around from the beginning of time: never, never change the original data. Store the original image file, unchanged (even for its filename), in a secure location where it can be retrieved, then do whatever you like to copies made from that original, including tagging them with metadata..
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