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Dahammer Jun 5, 2010 12:38 AM

Storage and Viewing Ideas
Hey guys, I wandered if I might get a little insight from you all in regards to how you store/view your photos. Iíve been out of the tech scene for quite awhile now (life happened), so Iím not up all of the latest and greatest gadgetry available.

I have never really liked how digital cameras arrange photos when you transfer them to a PC. Seems every camera does it differently, as well, which makes it difficult to keep track of. So I wrote a Perl script to fetch my photos from the camera (or memory card) and copy them to an external hard drive, which I can back up to DVD periodically. The script stores them in folders corresponding to the date they were taken, using their EXIF data. For instance, IMG_123456.JPG taken on 6/4/2010 would be placed at /Photos/2010/06/04/IMG_123456.JPG. I think that should work nicely, but before I commit to it too much, I was wandering how you guys handled storage.

Also, Iím interested in getting some sort of media player to use to show our photos & home videos on an HD LCD TV, using the external hard drive Iíve stored them on as the source. I have been looking at something like the WD TV Live. My home theatre (if you can call it that) isnít very high tech, consisting only of the LCD, cable box and DVD player. So Iím not concerned with going through audio boxes or anything like that. I just want a player that can see my archived photos/videos and play them on the TV. But I would like to be able to setup playlists. I just ordered a Panny FZ35, so it would need to work with AVCHD Lite. What are you guys using and do you like it? Have any tips?

For the most part, the whole purpose of doing this is so that 10 years from now, I can play a video of my daughterís first steps with the click of a button on a remote and not have to go searching through countless stacks of DVDs to find it. Or look at a picture I took while vacationing in Hawaii, without having to look for it for days. In other words, an easy way to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

corkpix Jun 5, 2010 4:24 AM


Originally Posted by Dahammer (Post 1103732)

Also, I’m interested in getting some sort of media player to use to show our photos & home videos on an HD LCD TV, using the external hard drive I’ve stored them on as the source.

Have a look at Mplayer. It plays a huge range of video formats. As it is a console app,
it should be easy to write scripts for it. I run it on Linux, but there are builds available for
Mac OS and Windows.

Dahammer Jun 5, 2010 11:01 PM

Well that's software. I was looking more for stand alone hardware device for now. But eventually, I would like to set up a (monitorless/inputless) central server running Slackware and use it to serve media all across the house via my LAN. In fact, I should probably go with a hardware player that has gigabit ethernet so I can eventually use it in that setup as a frontend, instead of the WD TV Live.

VTphotog Jun 6, 2010 12:22 AM

The last two DVD players I bought, one for myself and on as a gift, will play jpeg files as slide shows, MP3s, most video formats other than Windows Media or Quicktime, and were pretty cheap. Not HD, though.
As to finding things, you seem to be on the right track - you probably should have a catalog program to keep track of it though. There are, I believe a number of free and pay programs for this.


JimC Jun 6, 2010 3:19 AM


Originally Posted by Dahammer (Post 1104170)
...But eventually, I would like to set up a (monitorless/inputless) central server running Slackware and use it to serve media all across the house via my LAN. In fact, I should probably go with a hardware player that has gigabit ethernet so I can eventually use it in that setup as a frontend, instead of the WD TV Live.

I plan on doing something similar with MythTV. I've got PC I'm not using anymore I plan on setting up as both a backend and frontend next to a TV in our Den, feeding the TV from it's graphics card. I've already bought a tuner card supporting both analog (NTSC) and digital (ATSC/Clear Channel QAM), as well as an MCE compatible remote for it that should work with MythTV (and you do need to check compatibility carefully when buying things like tuner cards for one to make sure Linux drivers are available and have the features you want). That way, I can record shows using the Tuner Card to feed it, as well as rip video content from DVDs and music, etc., to it's hard drives using it's existing DVD drive to read them. You can also get Gallery Plugins for it so you can have albums of still photos.

That way (same box used as both a front end and back end), I can drive the TV in the Den with it's video card and have a remote to use when watching content there; as well as access the content stored on it's drives from other PCs in my home using MythTV front end software on them (since my wife and I use Linux most of the time anyway and have multiple distros installed on our Desktops and Laptops).

I'll probably just use one of the distros with MythTV, available plugins, latest tuner/graphics card drivers, etc., already preinstalled (like Mythdora or Mythbuntu) for that purpose. Then, just install the MythTV frontend software on our desktops and laptops in distros already installed on them, so we can see content stored on the backend server from them, too.

JimC Jun 6, 2010 6:19 AM

IOW, you may want to consider a small PC for what you need, using free open source software like MythTV (free) with it.

They make some pretty small and inexpensive boxes anymore with room for hard drives in them using micro-ATX motherboards. Just make sure the video card is up to par for HD playback if you want that feature, and has the correct ports to interface with your TV (HDMI, S-Video, etc.), or a card slot to add an inexpensive video card that will interface to it. Both ATI and Nvidia have linux drivers available for their video chipsets, and MCE compatible remote controls that work with MythTV (by attaching an IR receiver that comes with them via a USB port) are cheap. Examples:

Under $10 delivered:

More expensive model (under $15 delivered):

JimC Jun 6, 2010 7:29 AM

Example of a smaller box:

You could buy a little box like this one (refurbished Dell Zino HD) for under $300 after coupon codes from Dell Outlet that would have a several GB of memory, a hard drive, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI out, eSATA ports, USB ports, DVD drive, Win 7, etc. I see them starting out at $259 before any coupon codes for discounts right this minute (and the listings change often, so keep checking for a good deal if you go that route).

Then, get a cheap remote for it (around $10 or $15 - see my last post for details) and install software for use with Windows; or go with a Linux solution like MythTV instead for storing and displaying your images (just connecting the HDMI port to your LCD TV).

Just click on the price column when you get to the listings to sort by lowest price first.

Then, use this coupon code at checkout for an extra 15% off of any refurbished desktop or laptop from Dell Outlet (it's good through June 9th):


They seem to be having these coupon codes for extra discounts on refurbished machines on a more regular basis lately (as sometimes you'd need to wait months before you'd see them on all desktops versus specific models). I got that one via an e-mail alert from them, as I subscribe to them. I've bought 4 refurbished Dell boxes so far (3 desktops and a laptop), always waiting for coupon codes to get more off. They've all arrived in like new condition (indistinguishable from brand new machines). So, I don't mind going that way to save a few bucks.

I'd also check this page on a regular basis for deals

I'd also subscribe to e-mail alerts here: vml

Sometimes the coupon codes they let you know about via e-mail alerts are not on their twitter pages (like the new one above), and vice-versa. I make it a habit never to buy a new Dell PC. Ditto for paying list price for a refurbished machine. I always wait on coupon codes for more discounts. I'm cheap. ;-)

On the downside, that particular box (Dell Inspiron Zeno HD) doesn't have a way to plug in a tuner card for analog signals (although if you're only interested in digital, you could use a USB attached tuner with it or go with something like a dual tuner HD Homerun (fully compatible with MythTV under Linux) solution that's attached via ethernet instead. If you need more flexibility for internal expansion later, I'd look at a larger box instead.

frank-in-toronto Jun 6, 2010 8:03 AM

Let's discuss storage concepts. You're storing by date. That's fine for archiving but lousy for retrieval down-the-road. I store by date and event (I set up an hierarchical directory structure with year-month and inside of month is day-event. inside of day-event i have several more directories: original (by camera body if it applies), movies, editted pics and published.

all this is fine until a few years go by and i want those first steps. finding the pic wouldn't be so easy and if i was trying to show it to somebody, they would get impatient. tags are the answer. i haven't yet investigated a nice smooth method of applying tags to selected files but i'm interested in any suggestions. product will need to be free otherwise i'm not going to use it. windows or linux is fine. I guess just tagging the jpg will be ok. i can always find the associated raw file.

JimC Jun 6, 2010 8:11 AM

An old habit of mine is to use yyyymmdd for folder names. For example, this for today's date:


That way, you can always get a sort by date using any operating system or file manager by sorting by folder name, regardless of how the operating system handles file/folder attributes. ;-)

I'd agree with frank-in-toronto on using tags. Most modern image viewing applications support them (both internally in an image's metadata, as well as externally via .xmp files, dedicated databases, etc.).

Dahammer Jun 6, 2010 4:19 PM

Storing by date:
I wanted to do it that way to specifically avoid storing by event. My reasoning was that a date based system would be more organized, sorted, and easier to maintain programatically. I had planned to handle events using playlists, which I would create manually as I went. For instance, one of my daughter's B'Day's is April 17. So all photos from her party would be located at /Photos/2010/04/17/*. I would then use a playlist file to show a slideshow of the interesting photos from that event. The playlist file would be named accordingly based on the event and would be stored in a playlist folder under the /Photos directory tree. I think most of the media players available today support playlists.

Jim that is my ultimate goal as well. I had looked at doing it a year or so ago, but got put off by the costs involved and decided to put it off. But instead of having a backend/frontend on a single PC, I'd much rather have a backend server and an individual frontend at each TV. That way everyone in the house could watch what they want when they want, all served from the backend server. I had hoped to avoid HTPCs at each TV and instead be able to use the new media players as frontends. I don't really need MythTV's menu system at each TV, since it apparently has a web capable scheduling system. And basically all I'd want MythTV to do is record and then play back what it records over the network. But I'm still researching it and haven't decided which way to go yet, in regards to HTPC frontends or not. I have Comcast Digital cable currently, so I'm not sure how much that complicates MythTV. I got a letter from Comcast last week stating that they were converting all of their channels to digital and that I would need to aquire a digital adapter (or set top cable box) for every TV in house. I currently have 2 cable boxes, 1 HD box and one SD box. The other TVs in the house are just connected directly via coax. But if them going digital also means everything is going to be encrypted so that I can not record it any longer, then I may as well forget about MythTV.

JimC Jun 6, 2010 5:46 PM

I'm glad you mentioned something, as I didn't realize that and I'm a Comcast customer. From what I can tell from their web site, they are planning to change over many areas to digital soon (and have already done that in some areas). I don't know if we got the same letter or not (my wife may not have paid any attention to it since she pays the bill online).

The tuner card I bought has both analog and digital tuners. I was hoping to use both tuners at the same time. But, it looks like I may need to buy a second tuner card if I want to watch one channel and and record another at the same time now. Or, just get one of the little USB tuners that works with Linux instead.

It looks like they'll only offer the basic channels via Clear Channel QAM, and anything more would require their box, although it may vary by area. See this FAQ about what happens if you don't do anything. LOL

See more FAQs on the right side of this page (and they have a long list of more FAQs if you click on the link to see all of them):

But, I did find some forum posts about them already switching over some areas (I found one post that said everything above about channel 30 went away in one area using a digital tuner only versus their box), which means that perhaps more channels will still work than meets the eye compared to the text about it on their site). But, again, that will probably vary by area.

I don't watch much TV anyway, so I don't even subscribe to any premium packages. But, we have multiple TVs in the house that do not have digital tuners built in. Grrrrr

I'll do some digging, find out when they're cutting over my area, if they'll still have analog content for basic channels as well as Clear Channel QAM, etc. Ditto for how Cable Cards are supposed to work (as apparently, that's another way to approach it, but I don't know what kind of software works with them).

Dahammer Jun 8, 2010 12:17 AM

I'm curious as to what all they'll start flagging as "Do Not Copy". The MPAA has already convinced the FCC to force sat/cable companies to shutdown the component video outputs on their boxes when showing newer titles. Here is a link to the article:

Anyway, I'll probably end up buying something like the Dune 3.0 Prime/Base, when my wallet recovers a bit. And build a backend server to feed it. I don't watch much TV either (no time), but I have a house full of kids that do. The MythTV setup would mostly be for them. All I really want is to show photos and/or home videos to relatives when they visit.

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