Recovering Pictures

William borrowed my camera to go on his honeymoon. He also lost the photos with a poorly timed crash & drive reformat. So he wants to borrow the card and recover the data. Thankfully I have not used the camera since he returned it despite thinking I should.

Luckily I ran across A Computer Repair Utility Kit You Can Run From a Thumb Drive

I didn’t like the setup of Photorec as it runs through the command line. Navigating the tree was confusing at best. It did recover 1,166 photos / 3.62GB for me.

Not trusting a single method, I also tried Recuva. That worked a little better. It reported 1,395 files found. However, 177 were unrecoverable. Getting 1,218 pictures / 3.78GB back was 52 / 160MB better than Photorec. Though many of the “recovered” pictures just say: Invalid Image. Maybe they really are Raw?

While trying to use Restoration, it crashed the first time. Not sure why. It was fine the next time, though it only found 4 photos.

Filename: Photorec doesn’t restore files with anything like the original name. Recuva and Restoration do.

Meta Data: OSes and image editors know about the EXIF data in pictures. All the Photorec pictures have date taken. Most of the Recuva pictures do. Guess I could see if only 52 pictures are missing the EXIF? That might explain why Photorec lost some of them.

All in all, it was an fun experiment. I am not curious how these stack up against of the proprietary software? Why pay $40 when these are better?

Insect-ival

Got some pictures down at the botanical garden today. Reviewed a few and posted them over at Freelove Photography (tagged Insect-ival). I’ll get everything on Flickr eventually.

Insect-ival was cute. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but 400+ screaming kids wasn’t it. The best part was the butterfly release where the few stragglers who could not escape the kids who got to play with them.

Saw a familiar face I had only seen from afar wielding two SLRs and a utility photograper’s belt. I have yet to sink that far down the photography rabbit hole. Only got his first name, but I think this is his blog: fotodave. Amazing stuff!

A More Usable Usability

Previously I have seen usability describing ease of using a web site. These four essences of usability are interesting.

I believe that to satisfy customers, a Web site must fulfill four distinct needs:

  • Availability: A site that’s unreachable, for any reason, is useless.
  • Responsiveness: Having reached the site, pages that download slowly are likely to drive customers to try an alternate site.
  • Clarity: If the site is sufficiently responsive to keep the customer’s attention, other design qualities come into play. It must be simple and natural to use – easy to learn, predictable, and consistent.
  • Utility: Last comes utility — does the site actually deliver the information or service the customer was looking for in the first place?

Web Usability: A Simple Framework

The first two items deal with system administration issues like the network, server(s), database, or application. Redundancy and proactive dealing with problems before they impact the system hopefully maximizes availibility. Optimization for performance hopefully maximizes responsiveness. An unhealthy database could fail to deliver information.

The last two items deal with design issues. More utility issues are likely based in design than tuning.


UPDATE: In my past life as a “Webmaster,” my fingers were dirty in all four aspects of usability. These were my servers and while not my design, I certainly influenced it by cleaning up the HTML and presentation. We created in-house everything except some outsourced photography and the Apache web server.

Blackboard’s Vista is a proprietary application with decent opportunities for instructional designers to provide clarity and utility. As much as it provides, clients often purchase or create additional applications to integrate with Vista to fill in holes Blackboard left. Okay, technically, WebCT left those holes, but Blackboard took the same model with Academic Suite. Blackboard doesn’t really intend to fill in those holes. They should for issues affecting most of their customers on each platform. This is the same approach taken by open source products with the caveat that third party companies are not filling in the holes, customers are developing their own solutions and providing back to the community.

The declining responsiveness of Vista over time definitely seems to create one frustrating difficulty for some clients. As the database tables get larger, responsiveness of the sites declines. Ouch. Delete it all… Oh, wait… Can we really do that?

To Redact or Cover Up With a Black Box?

If you don’t want someone to have certain data, then don’t send it to them. Cutesy features like placing a colored box on top of text are next to worthless when it comes to protecting sensitive data. Obscuring the ability of the eye to see the data protects it from 90% of people, yes. However, one can usually get to data in a file in multiple ways. Unfortunately, lawyers and legal assistants are not likely the ones to know this.

Maybe this should be a wake up call to Adobe and other PDF software creators to actually devise a means to redact information from PDFs?

AT&T leaks sensitive info in NSA suit | CNET News.com

Lawyers for AT&T accidentally released sensitive information while defending a lawsuit that accuses the company of facilitating a government wiretapping program, CNET News.com has learned.

AT&T’s attorneys this week filed a 25-page legal brief striped with thick black lines that were intended to obscure portions of three pages and render them unreadable….

But the obscured text nevertheless can be copied and pasted inside some PDF readers, including Preview under Apple Computer’s OS X and the xpdf utility used with X11.