Bug in iPhoto 11 with iCal Import for Calendars

This is one of those simple blog posts where I write about a frustrating problem, and how I worked around it.

The Culprit

iPhoto 11 and it’s Calendar feature.

The Issue

When you try to import iCal dates into a Calendar, it frustratingly deletes events if they “collide” on the same date.


Let’s say you have two iCal calendars, one for your family birthdays and events, and one for your friends birthdays and events.  Let’s also say that your brother is born on April 11th, and your friend is born on April 11th.

When you import both iCal calendars into iPhoto, only one of the birthday events will show up.  This does not happen if both birthdays are in the same calendar – only if they are in two different calendars.

What’s worse is that this also affects the native support for holidays.  So any friends or family born on July 4th are definitely out of luck.

Solution / Workaround

It’s not perfect, but here is my solution:

  1. Uncheck the holidays checkbox on the calendar import.  This gets you one “clean” calendar import that won’t hit the bug.
  2. Go to iCal and export each of the calendars that you want to add to your iPhoto calendar.
  3. In iCal, create a new calendar called “2012 iPhoto Calendar” or something like that.
  4. In iCal, import each of the calendars you exported, in the order you want them to appear.  Add them to the new “2012 iPhoto Calendar” calendar.
  5. Once you are done, quit iPhoto.  It only detects iCal changes at launch.
  6. Launch iPhoto
  7. Import the new iCal calendar “2012 iPhoto Calendar”.  All your dates will appear, in the order you combined them.

Hope this helps someone out there.  For my rather elaborate family calendar efforts (which involve five separate family calendars of birthdays, anniversaries, and key dates), this was an essential fix.

iPhoto ’09: Fix for JPEG Files Displaying as Pure Black on Edit

I’m sharing this fix with the world, so that others need not live my pain.

Last night, I returned from Lake Tahoe with 451 beautiful shots of our family snow trip, all taken with my Canon 40D SLR.  Each shot was captured in both large format JPG and RAW format.

Unfortunately, after loading all my images into iPhoto ’09, I ran into a real problem:

When I double-clicked any of the JPG files to edit/view them, they displayed a purely black screen.  It was strange because the thumbnails were fine, the RAW files were fine, and when I opened the JPG files in Photoshop CS3, they were fine.

There was no way around it.  Relaunching iPhoto did not help.  Rebuilding the library did not help.  Rebuilding thumbnails did not help.  Reloading the images from the compact flash card did not help.

I shuddered to think about the wisdom of upgrading to iPhoto ’09.  After all, at least iPhoto ’08 could display JPG files.  My only hope: the Canon 40D is a popular camera, and has been out for a while.  This must be a solved issue.

My searches on Google turned up a few articles and discussions, but nothing convincing.  Some threads on the Apple Discussion forums.  A post or two on other Mac sites.

Fortunately, I found the answer.  But let me first tell you what it wasn’t:

  • It wasn’t the PowerPC (I have an Intel-based Mac Pro)
  • It wasn’t file size
  • It wasn’t iPhoto ’09
  • It wasn’t the Canon 40D

Unfortunately, several sites fingered these things as culprits.  All wild goose chases.

Here is what it was:

  • A corrupted install of Mac OS X 10.5.6

Hard to believe, but the auto-update I had done just before leaving for vacation was the culprit.  Thanks to one tip, I downloaded the full combo installer for the Mac OS X 10.5.6 Upgrade from Apple.

A full re-install of the update, a reboot, and all was well.

I hope this tip finds someone out there in good stead.  Seeing your precious photos reduced to a black screen is frightening to the core, even if you know the photo files themselves are not corrupted.

Holiday Gripe: Family Picture Digital Camera Paparazzi

Since it’s just a few days before New Years, I thought I’d share my absolute, number one pet peeve from this year (and every year’s) big family party: the family picture digital camera paparazzi.

No, my family isn’t so famous that actual Paparazzi stake out my grandmother’s house and hound the streets and yard for photos.  In my family, we are our own paparazzi.

You see, every year, we have a huge family party, and there is a distinct moment in the party where everyone gathers to take photos.  This family.  That family.  The cousins.  The aunts & uncles.  The kids.  The grandkids.  Etc.  It’s a complex form of set theory.

In any case, instead of there being just one camera (a good one) with a photographer, everyone has to have the shot taken “with their camera”.  Sometimes, you get 10 cameras taking the picture at once, with everyone in the shot looking in a different direction, like some sort of carnival funhouse picture.  Other times, one person has several cameras dangling, saying, “OK, now with this one!”

Ridiculous.  At first, it was just annoying.  Then it became upseting.  Now, I just get pissed off.

You see, digital cameras should have solved this problem.  But they didn’t.

One camera.  Many shots.  Files can be shared for free.  Everyone can get their pictures.  There is absolutely no reason for multiple cameras to be used (especially when you have iPhone cameras without auto-focus competing with full digital SLRs).

Yet there they are, every year.  In fact, every year, it seems to get worse.

One theory is that most people don’t know how to download or get digital photos developed.   So they use their camera because they know how to get those pictures.  Problem is, in my family, I know for a fact that many of the people with cameras have never, ever successfully downloaded or developed their own pictures either.  But maybe it’s a safety net… they know that someday, they’ll figure it out.  And then they’ll have those pictures on their camera.

Historically, the only way to really get a picture was to have the negative.  You couldn’t count on someone else getting the role developed and sending you the shots you were in.  So that could explain why baby boomers express this behavior – it’s an anachronism.

But what explains my Gen Y cousins and siblings doing the same thing?  (Besides the obvious upside of irritating me, of course.)  My guess is that the current social assumption is that everyone has a camera, all the shots are terrible, but all are uploaded and shared.  In this worldview, not having “your photos” to share almost means you don’t have an opinion, a voice, something to contribute.   So, once again, everyone has their camera, even in situations like group still photos, where one camera is a much, much better solution.

I’m probably more irritated than most because, in general, as long as Eric isn’t around, I typically am the one that everyone depends on for “high quality” pictures from these events. And it’s sad to find out later that, because everyone was looking a different direction, there is no good picture of one of the families this year.

When I am not irritated, however, I do think about how, despite all these integrated photo editing and uploading services, we’ve still failed as an industry to really solve the photo sharing problem for families.  They are all too techie, all too hard to really use.  And that’s a piece of why, to this day, everyone insists on getting “one more with my camera!”

I’m thinking of banning any other cameras in 2009.  Too heavy handed?  How do other people solve this problem?

Beyond Cool: Striped 120GB SSD RAID in a Macbook Pro

From time to time, I post the technical exploits of my friend Eric here.  I remember the attention he got a while back for hacking his MacBook Pro to support a RAID configuration.

Well, Eric has managed to extend that experimentation to a pair of new OCZ 120GB Solid State Drives (SSD).

Two OCZ Core Series v2 SATA II 120GB SSDs in a MacBook Pro

The blog post is here, with detailed photos and benchmarks.  A must see for any digital photographer and/or Mac geek who is into performance-pushing customer expansion.

My favorite part of the walk through is the brief commentary on the Apple-like packaging for the SSD drives:

The OCZ drives arrived in a plain package, but once the outer cardboard layer was removed, it was clear that OCZ had taken some packaging cues from Apple. The inner packaging was beautiful, and made it clear that you had just purchased a quality product.

That was the part I expected.  This is the part I didn’t:

Even though it was pretty, I don’t like excessive packaging and would have preferred something simple and biodegradable.

For some reason, I have a distinct mental image of Eric’s facial expression when saying this, and it made me laugh out loud.  🙂

Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi (12.2 MegaPixel DSLR)

Canon launched today the latest successor to their successful line of digital SLR cameras, the Rebel XSi:

Gizmodo: Canon Expands Rebel Alliance With Live View 12-Megapixel EOS XSi

The rumors are true. Canon’s took power features from the high-end EOS models and creature comforts from the PowerShot line, and merged them into the 12.2-megapixel EOS Rebel XSi DSLR, with Live View LCD view-finding (previously only seen on EOS-1D Mark III), a 3″ LCD screen with 230,000 pixels, and the Digic III processor found in nearly every new Canon model. There will be two kits, body only for $800 and one with a starter 18-55mm lens for $900.

After over 6 years with point-and-shoot digital cameras, my friend Eric finally gave me the courage to jump to a full SLR a couple of years ago, and I haven’t looked back.  The pictures are so much clearer, the camera so much more responsive, I can visually see in my photo library the line between my pre & post DSLR days.  I can’t imagine going back – I’d rather just use my cell phone camera for quick shots.

I got the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT, which was the 2nd generation.  The XTi moved the bar to 10MP, an updated processor, and some other features, but I could resist the minor upgrade.  The XSi seems pretty compelling, though.

I’ll have to ask Eric about it… 🙂

You Ought to Be in Pictures (on LinkedIn)

A lot of excitement tonight at LinkedIn, as we rolled out our latest release.  The big new feature this week is the debut of a Profile photo.

You can read more about the feature and the thinking behind it on my post on the official LinkedIn blog.

The press coverage has been great, but because my photo is in the sample screenshots, it has been a little strange to see my face everywhere.  Here is a quick snapshot of Techmeme – I think you’ll see what I mean.

Here are some quick links to some of the early pieces on the release.  We’re maintaining a more complete list on the official LinkedIn blog post.

Since this is my personal blog, I have a personal question to ask my readers.  I’m obviously going to upload my photo to my LinkedIn profile, and we’ve even had new headshots taken here internally.  However, there is a little debate going on between myself and our Director of Communications on which photo to use.

So, do you like the photo of Adam, 2004 (from eBay):

Or, the more recent photo of Adam, 2007 (from LinkedIn):

You be the judge.  Let me know in the comments.  Thanks!

Did You Miss the Lunar Eclipse? Gorgeous Photos from Eric.

I was feeling really bad on Tuesday.

A gorgeous lunar eclipse took place that was visible from most of Asia-Pacific, and even stretched to full visibility over California.  But with peak viewing at just past 3:30am, I just couldn’t make it.  One of the liabilities of having two kids under 3 and a full-time gig at a start-up, I guess.  🙂

Fortunately, Eric did stay up, and since he is an incredible photographer, I’m feeling better about it.  Tell me that these aren’t gorgeous shots:

Eric’s full post on how he took them is here.  His web gallery, where you can buy his more famous prints, is here.  Full data from NASA on the eclipse is here.

6 Terabytes (TB) of Storage in a Mac Pro. Jealous Much?

Not sure what to say here but wow.

My friend Eric has done it again.  You may remember my last post here about his efforts to get a 320GB Raid 0 array into a MacBook Pro.

Well, he recently ran out of storage on his Mac Pro, and upgraded it with six (6) 1 TB drives, for a total of 6 TB storage.  Check out this configuration:

Not only does he have 6 drives, but he has an optimized configuration, layering both RAID 1+0 over different partitions to create the optimum mix for system boot, scratch, and photo storage:

A2: 20GB partition x 6 = 120GB RAID 0 (striped) fast partition for PS3/Final Cut scratch
B2: 65GB partition x 6 = 195GB RAID 1+0 (striped over mirrored) boot partition
C2: 850GB partition x 6 = 2.5TB RAID 1+0 (striped over mirrored) data partition

For the full article, with benchmarks, click here. If you want to buy some prints of his more famous photos, go to his new web gallery.

Adam Nash Gets NAS: The Infrant ReadyNAS NV+

It has been a long while since I reviewed any high tech device on this blog, but I am so delighted with my new Infrant ReadyNAS NV+ that I had to post about it.

The Infrant ReadyNAS NV+ is one of the new generation of simple, easy-to-setup storage servers available for home and home office use.  Although individual hard drives are getting cheaper every day (I regularly see 500GB drives for $99 on NewEgg now), storage of large media files (like video and DVDs) are outstripping even the biggest drives.

The Infrant ReadyNAS NV+ is a really interesting solution.  For about $600 you get an shiny, empty case, about the size of two large Harry Potter hardcover books.  The case has a plug for power, 3 USB ports, and a single Gigabit ethernet port.  The little server has a cute little LCD, hidden behind a mirror, which displays status in plain English.  The case has room for up to four SATA hard drives, although it will function with only one if needed.  However, the magic really starts when you install multiple drives.

You see, the Infrant ReadyNAS NV+ is actually a little genius of a server.  It is built to magically turn multiple hard drives into a single, large volume, with professional-class protection from data loss, and the ability to be accessed from anywhere on the network, by any Mac, PC or Unix machine.  For techies out there, the device seamless handles RAID 0, 1, 5 and “RAID X” configurations. By default, the machine comes configured for RAID X.  More on RAID X in a second.

The Infrant ReadyNAS NV+ offers the amazing feature of data protection.  If any one of the hard drives crash, you won’t lose one byte.  In fact, you can just pop out the drive, insert a new one, and voila, everything is back to normal.  Fantastic for anyone who has dealt with the struggles of trying to back up hundreds of gigabytes of data.

Even better, the “RAID X” virtualization software in the ReadyNAS allows you to start out with as few as two drives, and still have complete data protection.  When you run out of space, you can just add a third drive, and voila, more storage!

This data protection costs you in terms of GB… one drive is utilized completely for protection.  So if you have just two drives, you only get access to a single drive worth of storage.  However, drives are cheap, and losing data isn’t, so these days it is worth.

I have had two major hard drive crashes in the past two years – each one was almost tragic.  The first cost me about 5% of my photo library – that may not sound like much, but it meant whole event albums were lost… (sorry, Rebecca, your prom photos are gone).  The second cost me about 1/3 of my music library, leading to many hours of re-ripping CDs.

Those events led me to the conclusion that it was worth spending the extra dollars on more robust storage.  Now that we have multiple computers in the house, and devices like the AppleTV, it makes more sense than ever to have cheap, reliable, massive network storage.

The Infrant ReadyNAS NV+ has a lot of professional-class features.  The OS is on flash, and is thus protected from any drive failure.  The LED gives great status, and the device has a lot of file-server configuration tools on it’s web based administration.  You can even plug an addition USB drive into the device to automatically backup the ReadyNAS!  The NV+ is quieter, and has improved technology for compatibility and speed with Mac OS-based machines.   It supports full duplex Gigabit ethernet with large frames, making it as fast as possible for network storage.

I configured my device with 2 750GB Seagate 7200.10 drives, each with 16MB cache.  Over my Gigabit network (I’m using a NetGear 8-port 1000/100/10 Switch), I am seeing speeds of about 500MB per minute, but the ReadyNAS hasn’t finished synching yet, so I expect speeds may improve a bit.  At this speed, I can do an incremental 1-4GB backup easily in minutes.

The machine is relatively silent, louder than a Tivo though, quieter than a PC.  It’s small, and I’ve actually installed it not next to my computer like a hard drive, but on a shelf near my ethernet switch.

When I mount the drive, I see the shares on my PowerMac G5 just like any other server, with 666GB of storage available.  (Yes, weird how the 750GB drives come out that way… just an artifact of the fact that hard drive manufacturers continue to label their hard drive sizes incorrectly, pretending that 1 Kilobyte is 1000 bytes instead of 1024.)  I paid a lot more for the 750GB drives – about $200 each vs. $100 for the 500GB versions.  Still, this gives me room for an additional 1.5 TB of storage over time, and I really think I’m going to need the space.  At this point, my backup needs about 300GB, and I have 60GB of photos, 100GB of iTunes music & video, and 400GB of ripped DVDs… and that’s just right now!

Anyway, I love the device, despite the cost.  There are cheaper boxes out there, but this server lets me start with the storage I need, and painlessly expand over time.   I also considered the Drobo, which is about $200 cheaper, and connects via USB 2.0.  The Drobo has an even better trick with storage – it will let you use drives of different sizes!  Use 2 500GB drives today, and add 2 1TB drives in a year when those are available.   Still, in the end, I wasn’t comfortable with a drive that had to depend on a computer to be used by other machines – I like betting on the future of Gigabit ethernet more than on USB 2.0.

You could always buy a cheap PC, get a RAID 5 card, and try to build this yourself… but when I priced it out, it was hard for me to save much money, and the time & quality of the end result was just not compelling.  I was able to install the 2 drives and set up the ReadyNAS in less than 45 minutes.  It would have been faster, but I of course insist on tweaking the security and network settings.

Anyway, I can’t say enough good things about the ReadyNAS NV+.  It took a bit of work and confidence to get the drives to slide in properly, but it really is a great product.

Build an eBay Photo Lightbox… out of a Corona Beer Case

Found this blog post today on WordPress.com on how to build an inexpensive eBay photo lightbox.  An amazing find!



I love the ingredient list:

  • Empty Corona 24-pack box (or any cardboard box)
  • Paper towels (I used Bounty quilted)
  • Printer paper (8.5″ x 11″)
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors and/or razor blade
  • Reading lamp (Mine has a 60W bulb)
  • Camera

If you don’t know what a lightbox is, it’s a way of diffusing light to help take flattering images of standard objects.  This can be extremely helpful when you sell online, because giving your photos professional quality framing and lighting can literally add dollars to your bottom line.

I don’t use a lightbox today for my photos, but as I consider selling coins more regularly on eBay, I’ve wondered if I’d need a lightbox to get high quality results.

Consider this a “fun find” if you sell on eBay.

How to Rebuild Your iPhoto Library (iLife ’06)

This is more of a quick tip, just in case you start having the same problem that I did.

I made a mistake recently where I pulled out my compact flash card before the iPhoto import was complete. Instead of handling this gracefully, I ended up with a bunch of images in iPhoto where the thumbnails don’t display. Instead, I get a bunch of white boxes with grey dashed-line borders.

Searching the web, I found out that other people who had this problem were able to solve it by rebuilding their iPhoto Library. Unfortunately, Apple changed the super-secret command key combination to do this between iPhoto 4 and iPhoto 5, and there is no help documentation on it.

Still, for those who are curious, here is the answer:

iPhoto 4: When launching iPhoto, hold down the Shift and Option keys.

iPhoto 5 & 6: When launching iPhoto, hold down the Option & Command keys.

Interestingly enough, if you hold down Shift & Option keys at launch, you can tell iPhoto 6 to use a different library folder… pretty nifty if you wanted to maintain different libraries for some reason.

Here is the web page where I finally found the answer. Looks like this guy wrote a clever “iPhoto Extractor” application based on his experiences with this problem.

A Reef Reflected in a Bubble (courtesy of Eric Cheng)

Eric has posted just an amazing photo on his daily blog, and I thought I’d share it here.

Reef in a Bubble

I think it’s just an amazing shot. Having taken approximately 30,000 shots myself now, I can safely say that inevitably any photos that Eric takes are noticeably better than mine. Thank goodness for our family that he humors us with trips out to the suburbs once in a while.

Most of my shots these days are not of anything quite so exotic. I’ve been spending my time trying to get the perfect shot of my new son, Joseph Isaac Nash.

Blogs I Read: Eric Cheng & Wetpixel

Eric Cheng is a good friend of mine from college, and an extremely interesting person. Like me, he did the co-terminal program at Stanford Univerisity in Computer Science (which involves getting BS and MS degrees) with an emphasis in Human-Computer Interaction. Eric is also an accomplished cello player. After school, he worked for a few years at a software company called E.Piphany, which was pretty much your typical late 1990s success story.

After leaving E.Piphany, Eric decided to pursue his interests in digital photography, becoming one of the first to really specialize professionally in digital underwater photography. He now has one of his pictures hanging in the Smithsonian, and travels the world constantly on diving expeditions.

You can find a blog of his travels and insights at his blog:
Eric Cheng’s Journal

He also runs the site WetPixel, which is dedicated to digital underwater photography.

I’m lucky to count Eric as one of my close friends. If you are interested in either diving or photography, it’s worth subscribing to his feeds.