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My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #258: Keeping Things Organized

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 02-16-2011 02:17 PM 2425 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 257: Thoughts on the Business Part 258 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 259: Waaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!!! »

I got a large amount of work done yesterday, although it isn’t very exciting to write (or read) about. In preparation for my back up, I wanted to organize my computer and get everything where it belongs. I do this every month or so, but when I am really doing a lot of work it is very easy to have lots of files out of place.

The biggest culprit is my “New Pictures” file. This is where I initially collect my reference photos for drawing. I usually use several photos at once when drawing a design and I have accumulated thousands over time. Many times I use an element from one for one part and an element from another for a different part or look at something just for the basic shape and pretty much draw on my own. I may like a background tree from one photograph or a rock from another and use them that way too. I am sure you get the idea.

Several years ago, when Adobe advanced to their Creative Suite series, they added in a program called “Adobe Bridge”. This was a great little mini program that organized all the folders on your computer, including your picture files. Instead of searching one folder for say a “tiger” it would scan any number of folders – even on different drives and bring up all the files with the word “tiger” in the name. It even brought up text files and documents. I quickly saw the value of this, as I had so many pictures and it seemed that they were scattered all over my computer. I knew I had to tag all of my files to get them in order.

Long story short, I spent literally months tagging every photo and picture on my computer. For those of you who aren’t familiar with computers, it means giving a name to the file that I can call up in a search by using key words. Many had more than one appropriate tag. For instance, a cute kitten in a Christmas stocking could have both the name “cat” and “Christmas”. In this case I would label them with both. I spent a couple hours a night just tagging them and filing them into place. It was a huge amount of work, but has proven to be well worth it.

In windows you cannot have two files in a folder with the same name. You can see that it would be a problem. My “tiger” folder has something like 400 tiger pictures in it. I figured a way to add a number after the word tiger that would make it unique from all the other tiger pictures. The number is actually useless except it gives the file a different name from all the other files. I found if I put the date after the picture, and then a sequential number, I can literally go on forever and have different file names no matter how many pictures of the same subject I acquire. For instance the tiger picture would be “tiger 0216111” because it is February 16 2011. The next tiger picture would be tiger 021620112” and so on. This works great for me.

When I am looking for pictures or find something I like, I often don’t take the time to tag it right away. I find that tagging all at once is much better and keeps me focused on the task at hand at the moment. For that reason, I set up a “New Pictures” folder on my download drive. (I have a separate drive just for downloads where anything I download goes. This keeps downloads off of my “C” drive, which holds all my systems files and reduces the risk of viruses. It also makes it very easy to locate what I download. I usually scan all the .exe files before I open them too and it helps keep my computer clean.) When the “New Pictures” folder gets a lot of pictures in it, I know it is time to tag and file the pictures and put them in their proper folders. When the “New Pictures” folder is empty, it is a good feeling, as I know everything is where it belongs.

I know it sounds like a lot, but for someone like me who uses pictures so much as reference, it is really important to have a good filing system. I don’t use Adobe Bridge anymore, as Windows 7 has its own search system built right in. The work of tagging really paid off because now if I want to see all my tiger pictures, I just type “tiger” at the top of the window in Windows Explorer and any file or picture with “tiger” in the name will come up. It is fast and easy and makes things a breeze.

I have learned that staying on top of things really does help in the long run. It allows me to focus on what I want to do and not be distracted by looking for things that are out of place. I know that this may not particularly pertain to woodworking, but I do think in the long run it is an important part of any business.

Now with that done, I am going to move on to some ‘hands on’ woodworking today. I finished my drawing on the next tray and I will be able to spend some time cutting today. It will be a fine way to spend the day. :)

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"



9 comments so far

View lumberdustjohn's profile

lumberdustjohn

1259 posts in 1919 days


#1 posted 02-16-2011 04:27 PM

To be so organized…Would be great!
I am certain it’s not going to happen anytime soon here…
I just keep on kicking myself looking for stuff.

-- Safety first because someone needs you.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7902 posts in 1673 days


#2 posted 02-16-2011 04:34 PM

It takes an investment in set up time. But once that is done, it is easy. I have a lot of people ask me how I get so much accomplished. I think that stuff like this is the reason I am able to. It really helps to know where everything is and it gets to be a habit. :)

Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View William's profile

William

9287 posts in 1595 days


#3 posted 02-16-2011 04:44 PM

Organizing photos can be a pain. Once it’s done though, for me anyway, it’s just a matter of making sure to take the time to name and tag them when I load them on the computer. I have over ten thousand photos right now. I have duplicated everything in a backup on my external hard drive because there is no way I would want to have to rearrange all of that if something ever happened to my laptop. Most of my patterns are in paper form though, I wish it was as easy to tag things in my filing cabinets as it is on my computer.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7902 posts in 1673 days


#4 posted 02-16-2011 04:57 PM

I am like you, William. I can’t imagine having to reorganize everything. I just checked and my “My Pictures” folder has over 18,000 pictures. Pretty much everything is tagged in that file. That is why I like to clean it up before I do a backup – so if I ever have to restore it, it is all where it should be. Believe me – I learned this from experience. :(

Drives are really cheap now and make wonderful places to back up. I keep Windows and program files on one drive and nothing else. That helps it run clean and keeps it fast. If it ever dies, all of my own files are on another drive altogether and it isn’t a disaster. The programs are backed up on a different drive, as well as my own files, so everything is safe and in two places at least. And my pattern and client files – the heart of my business, are burned periodically on disk and I keep them at a friend’s house. So even if my house burned down, I will still be OK for the most part.

It sounds excessive, but it kind of has to be with running a business. Once set up, it is easy to keep up.

Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View William's profile

William

9287 posts in 1595 days


#5 posted 02-16-2011 05:10 PM

Not excessive at all. My laptop and external drive are at my house, and the frequently updated disks stay at the shop.
WhenI was a young man, my mother bought me a 35mm camera. During that time period, I traveled all over the United States working. At that young age, I didn’t worry about taking photos. The camera mostly stayed at home in my dresser drawer. Now I have kids and can only talk about the sights I’ve seen. It would be wonderful to have photos to show them too. I now know the value of pictures. That’s why I have o many I guess. If I see something, anything, I may want to remember year from now, I take photos. Usually I take many photos. I only wish I had done this when I was younger. All the beautiful things I’ve seen in my life are hard to make others fully understand without photos. I’ve said often that if I had to pick one things that I regret in my life, it would have to be that I never took that photo of the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean Just an example, but I think you can get the point. I can say the same thing about hundreds of other sights. I won’t have those regrets again though.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

View grizzman's profile

grizzman

7192 posts in 2056 days


#6 posted 02-16-2011 05:18 PM

meow…....or should i saw ggggrrrrrrrr…remember tony the tiger….he was the leader for some ceral…well now i want some….........glad your getting all organized….susan is getting ready to rip her craft room apart and re organize…its going to be a major event…....i hope it isnt contagious…........are you having a good week…...i hope so…...grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View grizzman's profile

grizzman

7192 posts in 2056 days


#7 posted 02-16-2011 05:19 PM

JUST REMEMBERED…......FROSTED FLAKES........I WANT A HUGE BOWL…........I DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View BertFlores58's profile

BertFlores58

1646 posts in 1675 days


#8 posted 02-17-2011 02:39 AM

Sheila,
What I am thinking with those photofiles is to link it into a database file system. This will ease the searching pattern. I am not really well in programming but it is just like the project files we have here in LJ. Tags are place on the search… by category and an option to view in pictures thumbnails…
... I think it is much easier to scroll saw… than to scroll up and down the cursor vertically and horizontally using your laptop… LOL.. Take care.

-- Bert

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7902 posts in 1673 days


#9 posted 02-17-2011 02:51 AM

That is exactly what is going on. Windows7 has an indexing system (so did Vista) and you can choose which folders, files and even drives you want included to be indexed. It is continually running in the background and checking for new files and file changes. That is in part why I have my OS drive separated from the photo ones and working drives. Each has their own function and I am not doing work on the indexed drives (indexing can slow things down) That is also why I don’t index my ‘C’ drive because the operating system files are there and it isn’t necessary. I loved Windows XP, but this was one cool feature that won me over with both Vista and 7. Now I don’t know how I survived without it. We have so much more disk space and so many more files now, I think it is necessary.

As far as laptops go – I have one that I am using for when I go to the States, but I can’t type on the keyboard. Be ready for lots of typos! I HATE those little mouse pads on laptops, too. I have a wireless USB mouse that I will be bringing with so at least I can navigate on it. I told my partner that I wanted to bring my wireless keyboard too and he said I may as well just bring my whole desktop computer (LOL) I guess he has a point. :/ My blogs may be severely shorter because I can’t type on those flat keyboards!

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

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