Tuesday, 24 February 2015

How to Rename Picture Files in Bulk Version 1

Development work over the weekend while I was checking that my program worked!
Over the weekend I told you that I had been working on a little project that I was almost ready to share with you and today I'm excited to announce that version 1.0 is finally ready! Now I need your help...

As you should by now know, I take a lot of photos. And I like having photos for a specific event labelled by name. So if I take 500 photos at my birthday party and I want to label them something along the lines of "Caths Birthday 1" all the way through to "Caths Birthday 500". I also want them to be sorted from lest recent photo at number 1 to most recent photo at number 500 (so that I can start looking through my pictures at number 1 and they follow the sequence of photos as they happened). It's also better for blogging to upload more descriptive photos than DSC_0010.jpg. 

I know some photo processing programs do this for you, but I wanted a way to do this by means of a small program dedicated to this. And so I decided to create a program to do this. I've called it "Bulk File Renamer", but if anyone has any better suggestions, please comment below!

I've decided that I want to give you access to this and so I've put this on a public google doc. If you would like to download this FREE program - please click on this link and download the folder named "Bulk File Renamer.zip".

To get started, follow my instructions below:

1. Download the zip file called "Bulk File Renamer.zip" if you haven't done this already.

2. Go to the downloaded zip file "Bulk File Renamer.zip" and right click on it. Select the option to Extract All and when the window pops up asking where you want to extract the files to, specify that you want to extract them to "C:\Program Files". You can also specify "C:\Program Files (x86)" if there is no Program Files folder.

3. Open the Bulk File Renamer folder that is now located in the Program Files folder and copy the file labelled "Bulk_Renamer_App - Shortcut" and paste it to your desktop.

4. Double click on the Bulk_Renamer_App - Shortcut and a screen like the one below should pop up. 

App to rename pictures in bulk

5.1 If you want to rename all pictures in your a particular folder, click the blue "Choose Folder" button and navigate to the folder of pictures you want to rename, when that folder is highlighted, click on OK. The blue button should now say "Folder: <your folder>" where <your folder> is the name of your folder.
App to rename pictures in bulk
After clicking on the blue "Choose Folder" Button
I navigated to my "Test Photos" folder.
I clicked on it once and then clicked on OK.
See my text has changed from "Choose Folder" to
"Folder: Test Photos".
App to rename pictures in bulk
After entering in your details and clicking on the
green "Rename" button, a window pops up telling
you when the action has completed and how
many files were renamed.
5.2. If you want to rename only certain pictures in a particular folder, click the blue "Choose Files" button and navigate to the folder of pictures you want to rename, select the individual pictures (hold down the "Ctrl" key to select more than one picture at a time) and then click on OK.

App to rename pictures in bulk
After clicking on the blue "Choose Files"
button, I selected 3 files I wanted to rename.
Note the text changes from "Choose Files"
to "3 files chosen" since I chose 3 files
that I wanted to rename
App to rename pictures in bulk
After entering in your details and clicking on the
green "Rename" button, a window pops up telling
you when the action has completed and how
many files were renamed.
6 In the "Text Rename" text box, enter in the description you would like all photos to be renamed to. (eg: December Holiday 2014, or 20150201 - Trip to KZN etc).

7. After performing action 5.1 OR 5.2
In the "Starting Number" text box, enter in the number to start at. This defaults to 1 if you leave this field blank. If you decide you rather want to rename these photos start at number 257, then type 257 into the text box.

8. Click the green "Rename" button. Once the program has finished renaming all your files, a notification box will pop up informing you once the file rename has been completed. If there is already a file of a particular name existing in the folder, it will not rename this file and will leave that file with it's original name and move on to the next file.

9. When you've finished all your photo renaming tasks, click the red "Quit" button, or the cross at the top right corner of the window to close the app.

Once you've done all of this, please let me know if it worked or not by commenting below, sending me an e-mail or posting on my facebook page. I would like to improve this, but I can only do this with your feedback. If there are any features that you think would be useful or beneficial, please mention those too.

The renaming facility should work on all files, however I haven't tested the "sort by date" functionality on non-image files. I'll be working on this on my next version of this program. If you test this out and it works, or doesn't work, please comment below to let me know (include what files you tested with - word, excel, powerpoint etc).

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Sunday, 22 February 2015

Waatlemoen Konfyt (Watermelon Jam)

recycle old watermelon rinds to make a jam

It's been a while since I posted a good recipe and I recently made some Waatlemoen Konfyt, so I figured that it would be a good thing to share. This recipe requires quite a bit of waiting around - so plan to make this over a day or two, when you've got other things on the go (but not too much).

Last year some time (or maybe it was even the year before that) I had a watermelon and once I'd finished eating the yummy inside goodness, I remembered about a jam I'd heard about - Waatelmoen Konfyt (Watermelon Jam). This jam/preserve recycles watermelon rinds and turns them into something tasty. I found a recipe on the internet ages ago and can't remember where it was from, but I've modified it a bit and will be sharing my modified version with you.

  • 2 cups peeled and diced watermelon rind
  • 2 spoons bicarb
  • 4 litres of water (separate into 1 litre and 3 litres)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 tsp powdered ginger (or a finely diced ginger root)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 20ml lemon juice
  • Add your diced rind to 3 litres of water and add in the bicarb. Leave the rind to soak for 12-18 hours.
  • After soaking, remove the rind, rinse it and then soak it in fresh water for another 1-2 hours.
  • Rinse the rind and put it in a pot of hot water and bring this to boil. 
  • Boil the rinds, uncovered, until just tender.
  • In a separate pot, prepare the syrup.
  • Add the remaining litre of water, spices, sugar and lemon juice.
  • Put this on a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Bring the syrup mixture to the boil.
  • Drain the rind and add it to the syrup mixture.
  • Boil rapidly until the pieces are tender and translucent and the syrup is thick. (This can take quite a while).
  • Pack the peel into hot, dry, sterilised bottles, fill with syrup and seal immediately.
This is delish on toast or with some cheese and crackers - enjoy!

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Thursday, 19 February 2015

Collaboratory Tools - Working Remotely

My job involves quite a lot of interacting with people across multiple cities in multiple continents in multiple time-zones. This is really exciting, but it also means that sometimes traditional working tools just don't make the cut. Microsoft Word is great...until you're e-mailing the same document back and forth multiple times per day with multiple edits, trying to keep track of who changed what. So here's some suggestions on useful tools, websites and cloud-based applications that I use in order to ensure project success.
  • World Time Buddy - great for figuring out time-zone differences in order to schedule meetings at times that are appropriate for everyone (or almost everyone).
  • Smartsheet - think of project planning tools and you will most probably think of something clunky and difficult to use. Smartsheet is the complete opposite - easy to use and the ability to share it with colleagues anywhere. The plan is stored in one place, but can be edited (or just viewed) by multiple people at one time.
  • Google Docs - again, this is really useful for ensuring that there is only one copy of something, but with the ability for multiple editors (and/or viewers). The Google equivalent of MS Word and MS Excel.
  • Skype - great for clarifying something with a quick skype message or skype call. And if you have a good enough internet connection, it's lovely to be able to see the person you're talking to's face.
  • MS Lync - similar to Skype, which we have used for many of our meetings.
  • KeePass - a password management tool. You can have one file and use it to keep track of all your passwords. Or you can have different files for different "categories" or aspects of your personal or business life, that you need to keep track of.
  • Color-Hex - When specifying colours in coding, it's often difficult to know what a colour is, this is where this website comes in handy - it gives you "computer-readable" colour definitions so you can define which colours you want to use while you're programming.
Have you used any of these or do you have any other useful tools to add to this list?

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Monday, 16 February 2015

Happy (Belated) Valentines Day

Happy belated Valentine's Day everyone. I hope that your Valentines weekend held something special for you - whether it was time spent with that special someone, or time spent with friends.

Frosty and I went away for the weekend to a place called Trout Haven - Dwarsberg Trout Hideaway. This was the first time we've been there, but it definitely won't be the last! With a few cottages and various camping sites, it's a great place to go for the weekend to get some time in the mountains. We were both a bit sick, so we spent the majority of our time chilling, but we did manage to get in two good walks and a lovely drive - so we were able to explore a bit of the area and next time we'll definitely be packing some fishing rods! 

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Wednesday, 11 February 2015

2015 Cape Town Bucket List

This year, Frosty and I have started noting down things for a 2015 Cape Town bucket list. There are so many lesser known things to do, we thought that whenever we are brainstorming ideas on things to do, we'll first refer to our bucket list before we think too hard.

It's a work in progress, but here's what we have so far. 
  • Rondevlei Nature Reserve
  • Slangkoppunt Lighthouse (guided tour)
  • Tobogganing at Cool Runnings
  • Picnicking at Company Gardens
  • Historical Walk at V&A Waterfront
  • Honest Chocolate
  • Muizenberg Moonlight Meander
  • Greenpoint Urban Park
  • Promenade Run
  • Helderberg Nature Reserve
  • Spirit of Just Nuisance Harbour Cruise
  • Coffee at Bean There
  • Dinner at I Love My Laundry
  • World of Birds
  • Rietvlei Nature Reserve
  • Labia Theatre Movies
  • Iziko Museums
  • Mostert's Mill
  • Hout Bay Market
We did our first two bucket list ativities on Sunday - the Hout Bay Market and World of Birds - the market was pretty much like every other market. Cool, quirky things, delicious food and lots of people. The only thing that was different about this market was that every second person had a foreign accent. But otherwise nothing that you couldn't get in markets closer to Cape Town. 

World of Birds was definitely worth the visit! When you walk in, you think it'll take you about an hour and you'll be done, but don't be fooled. This place is massive and offers an amazing variety of birds to interact with, as well as other animals - think monkeys, reptiles, squirrels, tortoises, alpacas and bushbuck. 

Blue and Yellow Parrot

Pink Ibis

Golden, Red and Black bird

Secretary bird - grey black, white orange yellow eyes


Crowned Crane

Eagle Owl

African Fish Eagle

Any suggestions on things to add? Leave a comment below!

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Thursday, 5 February 2015

Rewarding People By Not Making Them Managers

My grandfather, Boet, turned 85 at the beginning of this year and we celebrated with a lovely party thrown at my folks' house. 

During his party, we got chatting to how management can be a blessing or a curse, depending on who is doing the managing and whether they're actually qualified for it or not. Back in the day my grandpa was involved in Agriculture and then he ended up working for the South African Embassy in the USA for a while - so he knows a thing or two about bureaucracy and management. 

Anyway, we had a really good chat about this and our biggest point was that all too often we see people who are doing a great job technically, moving into management because that's the only way to grow (and get a bigger paycheck - because let's face it, we all need a bit of money to survive) within a company. Sometimes these appointments work out. Sometimes they don't. When they don't work out, then the whole department or team suffers as a result.  

The question that Boet and I were chatting about was, how do we retain and reward strong technical people without pushing them into a management role if they aren't interested in management? I don't know if there's a hard and fast answer here, you probably need to take it on a case by case basis. Moving into management often means one won't have a chance to use the skills that have been learnt over the years, which is a waste of knowledge and experience. Managing people is also something that needs a particular skill set - often this is something that either comes naturally to a person or it doesn't. Putting someone without those people skills into manager positions often results in unhappy staff and a disconnect in your team. Putting someone with strong technical skills into a position of mentorship, where they can share their hard earned skills with others is probably a better way to go about things. But this will only work if people feel secure in their jobs and are thus confident in sharing their skills with others, with the objective of improving the skills of all parties.

At my current job, we have two different "management" streams within our teams. The first stream is structured around people management, project management, basic technical ability and client interactions. The other stream is structured around in-depth technical know-how, project execution, helping junior developers with technical problems and technical interactions and specifications with clients. Both "managers" are responsible for the success of the team, however their areas of focus are slightly different, allowing the technical people to retain their experience and allow the technical leads to to what they do best and share that knowledge with others.

I think this is a pretty wide topic, with many different points of view. What are your thoughts on this? Any suggestions for things that have and haven't worked for you in the past in terms of rewarding technical ability without the person having to move into a management role?

Family Picture at Boet's 85th birthday - I printed this picture for him on a canvas
as my gift to him :)

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Sunday, 1 February 2015

Baby, When The Lights Go Out

I read an article the other day on things to do during loadshedding, which I thought was a grand idea!

For those who aren't in South Africa, you may not be aware that we are going through some pretty hectic loadshedding. Some places have it worse than others*, but recently we've been having routine power cuts to certain areas all over the country on a regular basis so that our power distributor can perform maintenance. 

We could get into a whole political argument, point fingers and play the blame game, but the point of the matter is that loadshedding is here for a while, so we may as well suck it up and find something productive to do while we have no power.

Here's my list of things to do when the lights go out.

  1. Make fire your friend. Light some candles. Light a fire for a braai. In winter, light a fire in your fireplace. There's something so cozy about a fire that allows you to enjoy your home an a slightly different ambiance.
  2. Read a book once you've lit up some candles. Or don't light up candles and use a reading device with a backlight, such as a kindle fire or ipad.
  3. Tell a story. Make one up or tell one that everyone is familiar with. To make it even more fun, break out your torches and tell stories next to a fire.
  4. In summer, it may still be light enough to enjoy some time outside. So take your drinks, sit on your lawn and enjoy watching the transition from light to dark without the distraction of electric lights.
  5. Go for a drive. Just because your lights are out, it doesn't mean lights are out everywhere. So go for a drive and explore your city.
  6. Do some sort of exercise. Go for a run, play that game of tennis or squash you've been meaning to play. Even just take a walk around the block.
  7. Have a nap. When there's nothing else for you to do, and it's cold and dark outside, you may as well use this as an excuse to catch up on your beauty sleep.
  8. Take up a hobby that you don't need electricity for. Knitting or fly-tying anyone?
  9. Get a pen and paper out and write or draw. It can be fantasy or true life, abstract or life-like. There's something calming about getting words or pictures on to a piece of paper with pen and ink.
  10. Just sit and chat. Use loadshedding as an excuse to chill out with your friends or family and catch up on life, dreams, things to get excited about or your next holiday.
  11. Break out the old musical instrument you haven't played in years and make some music. You can go with the old classics, or the more contemporary pieces, but either way, jamming with some people is a great way to spend an evening. And if you can't play anything, why not use it as an opportunity to learn!
  12. Take a blanket and go stargazing. When was the last time you took a good long look at the skies and tried your best to find that elusive shooting star?
So, that's my list - what are your suggestions for activities to do when you've got no power?

* I haven't had too many power cuts in my part of the world, but I know that in my folks area they sometimes go for days without power (and sometimes water, but that's another story!)

Two candles and gold bracelet

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