Shotwell ate my photos

I’m not sure what happened, but when I launched the Shotwell photo management application a couple of days ago, it started deleting my entire library of photos and by the time I realised what was happening, they were gone. Fortunately I have a backup, but that only goes as far as the middle of 2016, for he rest PhotoRec proved to be a life-saver (note to self — next time make sure to uncheck all the file types you don’t want to recover).

What did strike me when recovering my JPGs was the number of files that have been sitting on my hard drive that I had never actively downloaded. Clearly these are all images on various websites that I have visited. While I understand that a browser needs to download the contents of a page in order to display it, I was slightly taken aback at just how much of my browsing history was captured in these deleted files.

For now, though, most of my photos are restored and I am continuing with the slow and painful process of going through the recovered photos, removing duplicates and copying them back into my photos folder.

Once this is done, I shall be uninstalling Shotwell and looking for a safer photo management solution. To be fair, it is possible that I did something foolish when launching Shotwell — although what, I have no idea — but even if that is the case, I am not going to trust an application that starts deleting stuff without warning.

And I really should start thinking about a better backup strategy.

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Kortrijk is watching you

The city of Kortrijk has plans to monitor visitors’ whereabouts in detail. The city will know, to within 10 metres, where you are, what you are doing and where you came from. And they want to capture as much information as they can get away with in order “to take tailor-made decisions” because “Measuring is knowing.”

My first thought, when I read this, was that it sounds like an awfully huge invasion of privacy to try and track a whole city’s worth of people to this level of detail. Of course, I shouldn’t have worried:

They just track smart phones.

I don’t know whether to facepalm or headdesk.

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Taking a long-term approach to fake news

I have previously expressed the view that the only way of realistically dealing with fake news is to encourage more media literacy and stronger critical thinking skills in the population.

With that in mind, I was quite heartened to see this report about an initiative from VRT that aims to give young people a better understanding of news and current affairs. It certainly looks like an effective first step towards tacking the media literacy part.

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The psychology of snap elections

Raj Persaud and Adrian Furnham point to a 2003 study which argues that the timing of an election tells the electorate how confident the government feels about the future. Both the article and the paper are worth a read, but the short version is this:

  • We all know that the government knows more than we know about how things are likely to pan out.
  • So we tend to assume that a competent and confident (or even a strong and stable) government is not going to feel the need to dash to the polls. This is borne out by looking at past election timings.
  • So when a government does call a snap election, it’s because the Prime Minister thinks that things are going to start going very badly in the near future. This is also borne out by past election timings.
  • And deep down, regardless of the ratings when the election is called, we realise this

When Theresa May called the election in April, it was widely assumed that she would win a landslide. What has happened instead is that the electorate called her bluff.

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Understatement of the day

While reporting on the Belgian reaction to the UK election result, and providing a bit of context, VRT mentions that Theresa May called the election in order to strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations by increasing her majority in the British Parliament.

However, things didn’t quite go to plan

Not quite.

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Quote of the Day: On bringing back blood sports

Look, I know a lot of bleeding hearts are always appalled by the sight of the Conservative party in pursuit, as a wounded leader desperately tries to get back to its foxhole. But I’m afraid those hand-wringers simply don’t understand the traditions involved or the wonderful community bonds that are forged over the activity. Well done to May for supporting its return.

Marina Hyde

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A song for Sunday: Shiny Happy People

Today is the first round1 of voting for the French assembly elections and, because I am consistently amused by the fact that Macron’s La Republique En Marche is often abbreviated to REM, here’s REM with their least REMmy single ever.

Footnote

  1. Not entirely true. Voting started on 3rd June in French Polynesia and on Sunday 4 June at French diplomatic missions outside the Americas. But for French voters in France, today is the day.

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Merging multiple PDF files with pdfunite

One thing that using Linux has taught me is to always look for the simplest solution, because it probably exists. As it turned out in this case.

In this case, I was emailed a five page PDF document that I had to print, sign, scan and send back. Printing and signing, of course, was easy enough and I can scan the five pages to get five, separate PDF files. Merging these files back into a single document is where pdfunite comes in, and it really is as simple as:

pdfunite page1.pdf page2.pdf page3.pdf page4.pdf page5.pdf outfile.pdf

You can specify as many source files as you like and the last file is the destination file.

And if I’d known about pdfseperate, I could have probably avoided printing the entire document in the first place.

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