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Chronoshift

I like iPhoto. I find it to be particularly useful. But, like most of the applications I invest myself too heavily in, there are a lot of things about it that chafe me. Keyword handling is one such thing: it was ugly but functional in iPhoto 4 and below, now it’s slightly less ugly, slightly more functional, and slightly less usable in iPhoto 5. I have a lot of keywords —one for every person in every photo I take, and one for every city it’s taken in (so sue me, I like metadata)— so the keyword interface is unusually important to me.

But I’m way off track, and it’s only the second paragraph already.

Have you ever shared your photos with a friend? Assuming you both use iPhoto and are on the same network, it’s a simple enough game: go through their shared collection, grab what you want, stick it in your collection. As the only Mac user amongst my close friends I’m not all that familiar with the process, but it happens nonetheless. We use a slightly different exchange vector: an external hard drive circulating the group accumulating photos, movies, and music like a giant, sticky ball rolling over the city picking up everything it touches. It’s not instantaneous, by any means, but you’re always pleasantly surprised by the crap it’s picked up in its travels; and you should never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of backup tapes.

No matter what the mode of transport, though, there is a certain peril in swapping your snaps with friends. Ever tried sharing photos of an event you were both attending? A birthday? A concert? A world trip? Chances are the timestamps on your photos are slightly off. Or, if your friend is incompetent, the timestamps could be several years off because he never set the time and date on his digital camera. Introducing these photos into your iPhoto collection is a real pain in the ass; five minutes of off chronology can mean the difference between Tommy blowing out his candles and Uncle Rob throwing up on Aunt Maude’s blouse. These are events I’d rather have in order, and thankfully Joe Maller’s iPhoto AppleScripts come to the rescue. Calculate time difference, select peccant photographs, execute AppleScript: all better.

Now if there were only a way to divine the exact moment of snappage on a collection of photos I had digitized from negative, I’d die a happy man.