Colin Devroe

Photographer. Podcaster. Blogger. Reverse Engineer.

Me: Lay down for a late-afternoon nap out in the backyard.

Apple Watch, a few minutes into the nap: Time to stand!

What I saw somewhat recently #70: September 24, 2020

  • Song Exploder is coming to Netflix – I’ve been a big fan of Song Exploder for a long time. One of my favorite episodes is Arrival but they are all very good. Now it is coming to Netflix.
  • Long Way Up – I was a huge fan of Long Way Round and Long Way Down (and Jupiter’s Travels – which inspired Ewan to do these trips) and this new series is pretty good. The electric bike bit is starting to wear a little though. All three series are available on Apple TV+ so Eliza and I are going to watch them all.
  • Feynman Lectures on Physics – All three volumes are available for free. Consider my winter reading squared away.
  • Web Stories – Google made a WordPress plugin that allows people to create the Stories format that you see on Instagram, et al for your own web site. I can see the motivation; Google can’t index stories on social networks. I’ll be looking more closely at this.
  • Speedbag videos – I never knew this could be so captivating. Via Kottke.
  • Dos Boat – Meat Eater is back with their fishing YouTube series.

The Blacklight tool that is going around shows that I have no idea if you’re on my web site or not. And I plan to keep it that way.

Stephen Hackett on #iOS14Homescreen

Stephen Hackett:

Customization and expression has always been part of personal technology, from this, to MySpace, to putting an Apple sticker on your car, to even picking what brand of home computer you bought in the 1980s. People have always used technology to project something about themselves into the world — just like people do with tattoos, clothes, cars and more.

I agree with Stephen. This isn’t bad for Apple. Anyone complaining about it is crazy. You don’t need to customize your phone at all if you don’t want to. And Apple’s brand has always been about personality. Owning an Apple product – even though it is more popular now than ever – used to be a statement in and of itself.

How to move referenced originals in Photos for Mac

Warning!! I’ve only just hacked this solution together and I don’t fully understand the ramifications of my actions yet. If there are any, I will update this post.

First, a bit of context on how I use Photos for Mac (Photos).

I do not allow Photos to store my original files within its “package”. I have my reasons. When I import photos I check the box labeled “Keep Folder Organization”. This way, I can keep my photos in a directory structure of my choice rather than how Photos chooses to organize them.

I wanted to take one of my photo libraries (I have two) on the go with me on a portable external hard drive that I can keep in my bag. After much searching I could not find anything that explained how to move my original photos from one external hard drive to another and have Photos recognize this change.

So finally, I had a few moments to spare, and I figured I would dig under the hood of Photos to see how it kept the references to these files and see if I could update those references to the new location.

Photos uses a SQLite database to store much of the information it needs to do what it does. Things like facial recognition, album names, keywords, etc. are all stored in a heap in this database. In a few locations, it turns out, it also stores the path to each individual original photo in your library.

So far (one night, as of this writing) this solution has seemingly worked for me. I will continue to play around with the results to see if I can uncover some adverse side effect. Until then, here are the steps I took to move an entire original photo library onto a portable external hard drive.

Photos’ SQLite database viewed in Sqlitebrowser
  1. Make a copy of your .photoslibrary file. Just in case.
  2. Copy all the original photos from one drive to the other. For me, this was simple. I keep my photo library originals in separate directories so I can copy a single directory and grab them all. For me, this was /Volumes/Hard Drive 1/Carbonite Photo Storage/Photography Projects/ to /Volumes/Hard Drive 2/Photo Archive/Photography Projects/
  3. Open the Photos.sqlite database found within the Photo Library package contents. Secondary-click on your .photoslibrary file, select Open Package Contents and navigate to database/Photos.sqlite (I used Sqlitebrowser)
  4. Update the ZNAME and ZVOLUMEUUIDSTRING fields in the ZFILESYSTEMVOLUME table. To get the new values, open the System Information app on macOS and find the new values for your hard drive under Hardware > Storage. I could not find ZVOLUMEUUID anywhere so I left it as-is. No idea if this will come back to bite me.
  5. Update the ZFILESYSTEMBOOKMARK table with the relative paths to the originals. To do this, I ran the following SQL – UPDATE ZFILESYSTEMBOOKMARK SET ZPATHRELATIVETOVOLUME = REPLACE(ZPATHRELATIVETOVOLUME, 'Carbonite Photo Storage', 'Photo Archive')
  6. Update the ZGENERICASSET table with the new paths for all photos on the ZDIRECTORY field. To do this, I ran the following SQL – UPDATE ZGENERICASSET SET ZDIRECTORY = REPLACE(ZDIRECTORY, 'Hard Drive 1/Carbonite Photo Storage', 'Hard Drive 2/Photo Archive')
  7. Save the Sqlite database file.
  8. Open Photos!

One way to tell if this worked for you is to open Photos, choose a photo from your library, and select “Show Referenced File in Finder”. This will open a Finder window with the selected file in its location. If it opens to the new hard drive you copied your originals to, it worked.

I’m going to be using this library a fair bit in the coming days and so I hope that if there are any issues with this approach I will find them quickly and can update this post. See also the comments in case others try this and leave some feedback.

The #iOS14HomeScreen tag is interesting to watch. Customizing my computer when I was younger helped me to learn so much that led to a career in computing. I wonder if that will be the same for some customizing home screens. keeps growing. You should use it.

In 2014 I linked to a post that showed DuckDuckGo‘s daily search volume at roughly 5 million searches per day. In 2015 they had grown to 12 million per day.

I hadn’t checked in to their stats in a long time until I saw this tweet from them. They are now averaging 67 million searches per day.

Their steady growth is impressive but I think this number should be much, much higher. If you haven’t already done so please consider switching away from Google for the vast majority of your searches on desktop, mobile, and tablet. It is very easy to do.

Why switch away from Google search? Having any one company own search is bad for a variety of reasons. And they are obviously abusing that power. Having eat into that market share even a little will help force Google to be more honest, hopefully. Also, when you use Google they are using that information in ways that are helpful and ways that are creepy. I understand the benefits of making search results that are tailored to you – but the drawbacks outweigh the benefits.

Use for as many searches as you can. Use Google only when can’t find what you’re looking for. For me, that is about 1 or 2 searches per month at this point.

No, this isn’t an ad.

A few basement darkroom test print strips. I’m able to steal a few minutes in the darkroom now and then.

NetNewswire 5.1 for Mac

Excellent update to my preferred desktop feed reader, NetNewswire. I especially like “Reader View”. Here is how it is described.

Some sites only publish extracts of their full articles. Reader View can fetch the full article text and show it to you in NetNewsWire, so you don’t have to go to another app.

There is a button to make this happen but I prefer using Shift + Command + R. I have a number of feeds this is super useful on.

Side note: I still want this fix. After chatting with the developers in Slack over several months and pleading my case it appears I will have to roll up my sleeves and submit a patch myself for this to happen. Which I understand. They have other priorities. But that likely won’t happen until the snow flies. And my guess is that I’ll have to re-learn Swift since it has been so long since I’ve written any.

Goodreads isn’t very good

Sarah Manavis:

After numerous frustrated attempts to find a major new release, to like, comment on, or reply to messages and reviews, to add what they’ve read to their “shelf” or to discover new titles, users know they’ll be forced to give up, confronted with the fact that any basic, expected functionality will evade them. Sometimes even checking what they’ve already read will be next to impossible. Across a huge range of reading habits and preferences, this the one thing that unites millions of Goodreads users: that Goodreads sucks, and is just shy of unbearable.

She goes so far as to say that Goodreads is bad for books.

Goodreads, the app, is terrible. Nearly two years ago, if my memory is correct, they hired a new person to lead product and they “redesigned” the entire app. It did improve, in my opinion, but the app has always been super slow, very difficult to use, and just about the worst app on my phone.

What I saw somewhat recently #69: September 17, 2020

Your iPhone and iPad may suggest updating to iOS 14 today… Based on what I’ve read I would suggest many should wait a few weeks (say, 6 to 8 weeks) before doing the update. That is what I’m going to do.

I verified my site with, turned on cross-posting to Twitter and Mastodon via M.b and also added Eric Meyer’s reply links idea to my feed.

Architectural decay – July & September 2020

Photos of dilapidated buildings, like these two, can be stared at for hours figuring out their histories. What vehicle had that oil leak? Why the plywood? Does that light work? Isn’t anyone missing that dumpster?

Both photos were shot on the Olympus Stylus 35mm point-and-shoot on Kodak Color Max 400 and developed and scanned at home by me. The Stylus is a lovely little thing and I plan on bring it on quick trips (when we start doing those again).

Repost: Scott Jehl on modern web dev

👉 Scott Jehl on Twitter:

modern web dev is an extreme overreaction to not liking some php

I wonder if Apple has too many iPad choices.

Camerajunky on being crazy enough to shoot film

Camerajunky (whose real name I cannot find, so perhaps this is likely on purpose):

Of course there is also the fact that to get from the decisive moment to a print or even to a digital file, there is a lot of work involved. Prepare, shoot, make notes, develop,make notes again, scan, process digitally, catalog, select in multiple rounds, archive, print, publish online.

The entire post does a good job of articulating all of the things we film shooters think about. Is all of this work worth it?

For me, the work is definitely worth it.

First frost.

Jeremy Keith’s proposal for the Web Share API

Jeremy Keith:

So that’s my modest proposal. Extend the list of possible values for the type attribute on the button element to include “share” (or something like that). In supporting browsers, it triggers a very bare-bones handover to the OS (the current URL and the current page title). In non-supporting browsers, it behaves like a button currently behaves.

I’ve contended with the Web Share API for Unmark‘s PWA enough to know that this would be excellent to see happen.

Photography blogs in OPML

Back in August I linked to Jim Grey’s list of photography blogs. At the time I subscribed to nearly every single one with an RSS feed. He has since updated the list a bit so I urge you to check it out.

I’ve created an OPML file of my photography blog subscriptions which includes most of Jim’s list and a few other blogs. I plan on adding the updates Jim has made to his list. This should make it really easy to subscribe to them all in one shot*.

Feel free to update the OPML on Github with more URLs and submit the edits.

/* If you’re on the Mac, and don’t currently subscribe to blogs, I suggest NetNewswire.

Austin Kleon reflects on 15 years of blogging

Austin Kleon:

Every time I start a new post, I never know for sure where it’s going to go. This is what writing and making art is all about: not having something to say, but finding out what you have to say. It’s thinking on the page or the screen or in whatever materials you manipulate. Blogging has taught me to embrace this kind of not-knowing in my other art and my writing.

After 15 years on this domain and 24 years blogging in total I agree with Austin. Writing is how I think.

Blogs are the best.

Let’s all adopt Maine’s light pollution ordinances

I can’t remember where I first read or heard about Maine’s light pollution ordinances but they are something that has been on my mind for many, many years.

Successful designs do not threaten nighttime security, safety and utility, but reduce energy waste, emit less light pollution, and keep skies dark.

Somewhat recently, near our now old apartment building, a new self-storage structure was built. The nighttime lighting of which you can see for nearly 10 miles. It is three simple structures. And is bright neon green. It is, in a word, an abomination. When it first went up it reminded me of these ordinances. (It also made me think of when I was a young man and pretty good with a slingshot.)

I wish all US states/cities would implement similar ordinances for their areas. And many have. Here is a “sample” document from New Jersey. but I doubt are enforced or even encouraged.

Pennsylvania has an Outdoor Lighting Council (POLC) and even has a page on how you can institute an ordinance for your area.

However, I think as important as trying to get local government to recognize this issue is to educate ourselves and make small changes at our homes or businesses as we replace lighting. Over years this could make a big impact.

I urge you to do some Googling or follow the links above. One of the biggest impacts you can have is simply to reduce the wattage of the outdoor lights you have as well as be mindful of any light escaping straight up into the sky. None of that light is doing you any good anyway. Put a cap on top of any light fixtures.

At our new home we have some pretty bright outdoor lighting that came with the home. We rarely have need to turn it on save for the times we need to clean up the yard in the dark. In the first few months of living there I think our outdoor lights have been on a collective 25 minutes. And we don’t keep porch lights on at all.

However, as the need arises I will be mindful in replacing any lights with those that interfere with the night sky as least as possible.

Matt Webb’s 15 rules for blogging

Matt Webb finds himself on a bit of a tear on his personal blog:

I’ve now been writing new posts for 24 consecutive weeks. Multiple posts a week. How on earth? I just calculated it, and I’ve added the live streak count to the site footer. I wonder how long I can keep it up.

He goes on to list his 15 rules for blogging. I prefer to call them goals rather than rules but it is his blog who am I to say?

That said, I don’t personally agree with every single one of his rules. My favorite is likely #14. However, writing is like dieting, do whatever works for you. There are no rules.

Relevant, perhaps, to his list are my personal blogging tips. Maybe you can take what Webb writes and what I’ve written and come up with your own.

What I saw somewhat recently #68: September 10, 2020

Don’t forget, as of this writing there are 67 other lists like this one.

Untappd hits 10

Untappd, the app that helps me track the beers I’ve had, liked, disliked, etc. is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

I signed up to Untappd in 2014 and used it for a little while but then kept forgetting to. But then, a few years ago, I decided to give it another try. The app had improved dramatically. In fact, the entire beer industry had changed also. Beer was getting pricey and having an app to help make some decisions has been a real help.

The app has features that allow you to follow what your friends are having. Which is important if you know the taste of your friend. For instance, I know if Friend A likes something I will too. But I also know if Friend B likes something I can be confident that I won’t. It also makes it easy to find beers at local stores or restaurants that you may want to try. And it is slowly replacing Google Maps for me for finding new breweries to visit.

Untappd helps me make decisions on what to buy at the store. The type of beer we drink (primarily hazy New England Style IPAs at the moment) are not cheap. So rather than spend money guessing if I will like a beer Untappd can give me some insight before buying. I’ve found myself buying a completely different pack after reading some reviews on Untappd.

Its a great, great app and service and I recommend it to anyone that likes beer.

Oh, my trick to remembering to check-in a beer before I drink it is, of course, photography related. I quickly snap a photo of nearly every new beer I have and I add it to Untappd. I also try to have some context in the photo so that I can remember where I was and the time I had when I had the beer. Here are a few photos I’ve added.

🍻 to Untappd.

35mm • Canon AE1-Program • Kodak Color Plus 200

Through the winery window, Keuka Lake, New York – March 2020

A quick snap on film through a winery window. I miss traveling a lot. I think that is why I’m not looking at or posting my own photos as often as I normally would.

Jack Baty gives up on Lightroom

Jack Baty:

I’m here to tell you that I can not make it work for me. There’s too much overhead in having to decide what to add to a synced collection and when. And where to keep any synced originals? Do I do that in both apps? And so on. I seem to end up with duplicates for no reason I can fathom. I’m constantly moving images from the automatic synced folders to their proper place in the filesystem. It often feels like the worst of both worlds. I’ve seen people do it. I’ve watched the videos and read the blog posts. I’ve tried, but nope, it’s all too finicky for me.

I hit a similar corner with Lightroom Classic when I was trying to make it work for me. As an app, photo editor, and manager it is very good. But it is tied to Adobe CC which for me, is a long term deal breaker. And I could not figure out the best way to manage my files for some reason.

I’ve been slowly piecing together my own solution, as you all may know that read this blog on the regular, but it isn’t something I can really share with anyone else.

My current workflow consists of a script or two on my Mac to move files from my digital cameras, film scans, drones, and other devices into their appropriate places and backups and cloud services, combined with two libraries in Photos for Mac* (one for personal photos, one for hobby projects) where the libraries are on my hard drive and the original files are on external storage.

It is working fairly well. But I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. For instance, to edit a photo I have to jump through a fiery hoop or two in order to not end up with a bunch of duplicates. I don’t know how to solve this problem yet but I plan on doing so.

Back to Jack. I’m with him. Some of these apps, especially those he mentions, are almost paralyzing in their commitment levels and features. I just wish all of this photo management was so much easier.

* which I have some issues with.

I do less coding than ever and when I do I enjoy using VS Code. However, Nova looks great and I will buy it the moment Panic allows. We must support paid Mac apps.