special purpose scripts and little programs
Wednesday, February 9 2005
Faced with a nearly-unmanageable quantity of images and videoclips from the recent Ecuador trip, today I was looking for ways to automate the handling of as much of this data as I could. One crucial need was for a gizmo that could automatically generate representative thumbnails for my videoclips. Using the life-changing powers of Google, I found just such a program; it's called SnatchIt!, and it has a very capable (if somewhat para-intuitive) batch mode. It's available online under some sort of restrictive shareware arrangement, but of course the crack is also available online, another simple Google search away (of course, running any program from a semi-disreputable source such as a crackz site always throws me into paranoid mode with respect to a possible spyware installation). There is never any reason to want for information so long as Google is at hand. (You can imagine how I craved it while at sea in the Galapagos or in the Rain Forest, when I wanted to know all about the lifestyles of first frigate birds and later conga ants.)
To generate my web photo albums, I used to rely on the Web Photo Gallery feature of Adobe Photoshop. I've subsequently discovered the far-better stand-alone application Web Album Generator, which has many more configuration options and even provisions for captions. It also generates much nicer standards-compliant HTML, the kind that lacks, you know, FONT tags.
Of course, no matter the greatness of the software I'm able to find online, some of my automating tasks can only be handled by writing my own scripts. Today I modified one of my folder crawling VBScripts to do intelligent search and replace on the HTML files created by the Web Album Generator. The kind of search and replace I mean would be impossible with a text editor's search and replace capability. My script had to parse out the name of an image file and then build an HTML link to an image having that same name in another folder, and do it over and over again in hundreds of separate HTML files. It's a suicide-inducingly-repetitive job that would take me four or five hours, but my computer can do it in less than a second once I've written the script.
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