[xplorer˛] — Back to school
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"There was no moon, just diesel trucks" — Was Not Was

August, I love August! Everybody's relaxed, resigned to the fact that no real work is going to be done in the office. The weather is a sunny pleasant 22oC (conversion table for Fahrenheit), London is half abandoned and not a mosquito in sight. You wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world... so how come I ended up in 40oC hell?. Welcome to Las Vegas and family life! On the positive side it was too hot for mosquitos too. And did you know that Elvis is still alive and kicking? I saw him in at least 3 different venues — but it could have been just heat-induced hallucinations.

Now it's September and we all brace ourselves for a "new" round of the daily routine. We left behind the american conveniences of cruise control, valet parking and super trucks and all we're left with is 2000-odd digital pictures of fond memories, not all of them suitable for general consumption. It's time for a quick starter course in digital photography file management.

Nowadays most digital cameras can be connected to a computer via USB port and they are recognized as removable drives, just like any USB stick. When I plug the camera it appears as drive G:\. xplorer˛ can see their contents as any other folder so it can be used to copy out the pictures to a local hard disk folder. You can also use the default windows picture handler to get the pictures. One way or another we are left with a huge folder containing the new pictures.

Let's consider the task "separate good from rubbish pictures", which involves selecting a large number of files. That's simple you may say, but just like building a garden shed is not the same as building canary wharf, large selections can be tricky. You have to press and hold <Ctrl> key as you extend the selection otherwise windows will unselect all but the newly clicked file. How many times have you built a large selection only to watch it disappear in a fleeting moment when you forgot to keep <Ctrl> depressed? xplorer˛ helps keep your blood pressure down with a few selection security mechanisms:

  • Sticky selection. This is a checkbox found under Mark menu. When enabled, clicking or pressing keys will not harm the old selection. It is like you press <Ctrl> all the time without effort.
  • Selection clipboard. This is a set of commands at the end of Mark menu. Once you have a selection of items, you can press <Ctrl+F11> to Store it for later. This can be considered as an insurance policy; if you accidentaly lose the selection you can quickly restore it using <F11> (Selection | Select). There are many more uses for the selection clipboard which we'll consider in a future article.
  • (mini) Scrap container. Why select items when you can just send them to a scrap pane? You examine pictures in the folder, and for those you like you just hit <Ctrl+S> to "store" them in a scrap pane (use View menu for the Mini-scrap). Your selection essentially becomes the content of this pane. Once you are done hand picking, you switch to this pane and deal with them en masse.

To cap it all up, here's a selection primer short demo.

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