Reviews

Time of capture metadata bug in iPhone 4 movie clips

Updated 9/12/10: I’m not sure any more if this is an iPhone 4 glitch or an Adobe Lightroom 3.2 bug. A thread has been opened in the Adobe Lightroom Forum, if you’d like to chime in there.

After upgrading the iPhone with iOS 4.1, I recorded a new video clip, imported it and some new photos into Lightroom, and the same wrong date and time appear for it.

According to a comment on my thread in the Apple Support Forums, the correct time of capture is displayed for iPhone 4 video clips elsewhere but Lightroom. And I also noticed that Lightroom displays the very same incorrect date and time of capture for video clips taken with the Nokia N95.

Updated 9/27/10: I’ve been in touch with Adobe, and it turns out this is a “designed” behavior. That is, because movie clips do not have EXIF data (there is no standard for EXIF data when it comes to them), they are assigned a random date and time as they’re imported into Lightroom. HDSLR video files are accompanied by a .THM file which stores the necessary EXIF data, and that’s why they show up properly.

Quoting from Davide M.’s (Adobe) response:

So I then had a look at our bug database and it turns our this is a known issue with mobile phones although somewhat out-with our control. Movie files do not technically have EXIF data or at least the standard has not yet been established. Since the import process can assign a timestamp to a movie file, we ignore this time stamp since it can be inaccurate, as shown by the example of your video file being changed by the simple process of email. Other applications while appearing to work fine, in fact are simply showing you the files creation date. If you were to duplicate the file, you will see that the timestamp in these other applications will change to the time the file duplication took place.

The reason why most DSLRs work is because they create a sidecar file containing that information. Files with no timestamp, such as the ones from the iPhone and the Nokia N95 do not create this and hence default to 1/1/04 when looking at the Loupe information overlay.

In the example you used, the Canon 7D creates a .THM sidecar file with the same name as the video file it generates. This contains all the data associated with the video file.

Still, this is problematic behavior, as it introduces erroneous times of capture in these movie files. So I asked Davide if it would be possible for Lightroom to be updated so that it writes a more accurate time of capture for these movie files. Thankfully, he agreed to log it as a feature request. Time will tell if this will make it into a future LR update. Quoting him below:

That’s certainly something I can log in our feature request list. Because this has been deemed ‘as designed’ by our engineering team (due to the lack of EXIF data in movie files) it is not technically a bug. None the less, I can see that this would be a useful addition to our application. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

Thank you, Davide!

After downloading a few movie clips taken with an iPhone 4 (running iOS 4.0.1) onto my computer, I saw right away that their time of capture was incorrect, even though the iPhone’s time had been set up correctly. I took a few screenshots of the movie clips in Lightroom, which you can see below. Click on each to view them large.

This time metadata error happens when using either the main (back-facing) HD video camera, as shown above, or the front-facing VGA camera, as you can see from the screenshot below.

It looks like iPhone 4 records the same time for all video clips recorded with it, set at 1/1/04 1:44:24 AM.

It goes without saying that any digital video camera worth its salt will record the time of capture properly. The question, naturally, is when Apple will fix this glaring bug?

For comparison purposes, here is a screenshot of a Canon 7D movie clip, also shown in Lightroom. The time of capture was recorded properly, as was to be expected.

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Video Log

The plaster bagworm

We found this tiny little striped bug in South Florida, USA. It had a silken brown cocoon which it dragged behind it. It was a tiny little larva with minuscule legs, and its cocoon had two entrances. It would hide inside, then emerge out of either end to begin moving along.

I’ve never seen a bug like it, and would love to know what it is. Updated 6/4/10: it’s a plaster bagworm, and that wasn’t its cocoon, but its home — and it’s a pest. Thanks Andrew!

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Video Log

The larva of the asian ladybug

We found this strange-looking bug in our garden in Southern Transilvania, Romania. It’s about 1 cm in length, with small hairs that grow out of bumps on its back. It’s got six legs, and it moves fairly fast.

I found out, thanks to beansmail, that it’s the larva of the asian ladybug, also known as Harmonia axyridis.

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How To

Finally, an update for Apple's Bluetooth problems

Updated 8/26/09: It turns out the firmware update didn’t fix the Bluetooth issues. But OS X 10.5.8, which also came out recently, seems to have mostly fixed the problems. I still get the occasional Bluetooth connection error, but it’s nowhere near as often as before.

A software update noticed popped up on my MBP today, telling me Bluetooth Firmware Update 2.0 was available for download and install.

bluetooth-update-1

The update explanation says the following:

“This update provides bug fixes and better compatibility with the Apple Wireless Mighty Mouse and Apple Wireless Keyboard. It installs on all Macintosh systems with Bluetooth based on the Broadcom chipset.”

Finally! If you’re unfamiliar with the Bluetooth crashing problems on Mac computers, then you’re one of the few lucky ones. But the rest of us with late generation laptops like the MacBook Pro have had this issue for at least a few months now. This, for example, is just one of the many threads in the Apple Forums dealing with this persistent Bluetooth issue. On June 9, I’d had enough and vented on FriendFeed about it.

Basically, Bluetooth communications stopped working after a Mac was woken up from sleep mode, necessitating either a turn off/on cycle of the Bluetooth hardware, or another quick sleep/wake cycle. I for one didn’t have too many problems with the keyboard and mouse not working, but I did have a serious issue maintaining connectivity with my Nokia N95 via Bluetooth. My MBP kept refusing to connect to it, and I can’t remember how many times I removed and re-added it from my preferred Bluetooth devices. I even thought my N95 was to blame, until I tried turning Bluetooth off/on and realized my MBP could connect to it just fine after that.

From the looks of things, Apple’s been at work on a fix for the problem, and it’s now available for general install. So, by all means, download away and see if it helps you. I for one will be on the lookout for any more Bluetooth issues, to see if this firmware update has truly fixed the bug.

Before I close, I’d like to point out that even though a restart is not announced for the firmware update, you will most certainly need to restart your Mac. Once the Safari update installs, and your Mac restarts, the following dialog box pops up on the screen, informing you that the Bluetooth update will now begin, and your machine will restart once it’s finished. Just FYI.

bluetooth-update-2

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How To

Connect two Drobo units to your computer at the same time?

Updated 1/14/19: I have revised my opinion of Drobo devices. After experiencing multiple, serious data loss events on multiple Drobo models, even recent ones, I no longer consider them safe for my data.

One of my readers asked me a little more than a month ago if I could post some screenshots of the Drobo Dashboard with two Drobos connected at the same time. Sure, no problem. It’s easily doable, and the Dashboard software automatically differentiates between each of them and displays the proper stats for each, even if they’re name the same. I haven’t tried it yet, but you could probably connect three Drobos at the same time if you wanted to.

Here’s what the drive icons look like on my MBP’s desktop.

mbp-drive-icons

The main screen inside the Drobo Dashboard software will display buttons for each connected Drobo, allowing you to switch between them as needed.

drobo-dashboard-drobo

drobo-dashboard-backup

As you can see, I need to either free up some space on my main Drobo or get some new drives. Using the Drobolator, it turns out I’d need to get two new drives (either 1.5TB or 2TB each) in order to see any increase in the available space.

The Advanced Controls screens inside the Drobo Dashboard show the drive layouts inside each Drobo.

advanced-controls-drobo

advanced-controls-backup

I’d like to point out a possible bug in the Drobo Dashboard software while I’m at this. As you can see on the following screenshot, when I click on the Check for Updates button to see if there’s a firmware upgrade for my Backup Drobo, which is a USB-only unit, I get a message which tells me both the Dashboard and the firmware are up to date, when I know that the firmware is out of date, as you can see from the firmware version itself. I’ve often had to perform manual firmware upgrades to my Drobos, because I keep getting this message in error. I hope this bug can be resolved at some point.

drobo-dashboard-check-for-updates-error

Other than that, the Drobo Dashboard software works as expected, and can work with multiple Drobo units as well. No problems there.

Update: After doing a manual upgrade to firmware version 1.2.4, the automatic check for updates from within the Drobo Dashboard worked, and when my Drobo rebooted, I was prompted to upgrade to 1.3.0. After an initial unsuccesful attempt, I was able to upgrade just fine. One less item on my to-do list. Good.

drobo-dashboard-new-firmware-notice

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Thoughts

WordPress Stats plugin has gone cuckoo

For over a month now, I have been unable to rely on the official WordPress Stats plugin. (I say official because the folks that made WordPress also made this plugin.) It, all of a sudden, started assigning all site visits to the same article, so that all of my stats became completely skewed. Let me explain it with a screenshot:

WordPress Stats has gone cuckoo

Instead of seeing the proper distribution of site visits by titles, which is what happened in the past, almost all of the site visits get assigned to a random post. I have no idea any more which titles get the most traffic for a given day. I know this is wrong because I’m also using Google Analytics. Here’s a screenshot of the 20 most popular titles for the past 30 days.

Google Analytics Content by Title

I like WordPress Stats because they aggregate the data almost instantly, whereas there’s a 3-4 hour delay with Google Analytics. Sometimes they even correct the data a day afterward (this happened to me recently) so you can’t rely on their figures until 24-36 hours after the fact [reference].

I stopped using WordPress Stats for a while, hoping the problem would somehow work itself out, but when I re-activated the plugin, all that happened is that it started assigning all site visits to a different random post. Whoopee…

If someone at WordPress reads this, please let me know if it’s something I’m doing wrong, or if it’s something that you’ve got to work out on your end. I posted about this problem in the WordPress forums, but I have yet to receive a reply there.

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Reviews

Flash Player 10 breaks teh internets

Shortly after upgrading to Adobe’s new Flash Player, version 10, I noticed I could no longer upload photos to my blogs. And I also noticed that FriendFeed’s image uploader didn’t work the same way. I didn’t relate that to the Flash Player upgrade at first, and tried to rule out problems on my own machine. Then I did a bit of research and discovered that others were in the same boat.

Quoting from this thread on the WP forums:

“The new Flash version 10 is incompatible. The latest version 9 of Flash is what you want. There will be a workaround (ugly hack) for this in WordPress 2.7. But since the problem is actually with Flash 10 itself, stick with Flash 9 for the time being. Hopefully, WordPress 2.8 will get rid of the Flash altogether, since Adobe has made it clear that they consider this problem to be a security fix.”

On FriendFeed (FF), people complained about image uploader issues as well. In that same FF thread, I found out that Adobe archives their old versions of the Flash Player, something which is not readily apparent on their site, nor easy to find. I also found that I need to uninstall Flash Player before downgrading — should I decide to do it — using Adobe’s Flash uninstaller.

Now, we’re faced with an issue: stay with Flash 10 and a non-working image uploader on WP sites, or downgrade to Flash 9? I’ll let each of you decide what to do about that. Since there appears to be a security issue in Flash 9, it’s not something you should take lightly, but at least you’ll have options.

You may think I’m joking in my post title when I say that the new Flash Player broke the internet. Not necessarily. When you consider that there are about 3.8 million blogs at WordPress.com, and at least a few hundred thousand self-hosted WP installs from WordPress.org, that makes over 4 million websites whose WP Image Uploader broke when Flash 10 was released. I’m not sure how many FriendFeed (FF) users there are, but there should be 100,000 or more by now.

The FF developers came up with an alternate image uploader fairly quickly when they discovered the problem with Flash Player 10. WP is going to release a workaround in WP 2.7, then possibly do away with Flash for the Image Uploader in WP 2.8. WP also has an alternate way to upload photos, through the old, form-based browser uploader, where you can only do one photo at a time. That’s what I’ve been using while I wait for the new version of WP to come out.

Still, when you consider that over 4 million internet users were negatively impacted by this new version of the Flash Player, that’s not a number to take lightly. I do wish Adobe had worked with WordPress ahead of time to make the transition smoother or to offer them some sort of workaround. I found out about this the hard way, and my guess is you did, too. That’s not the ideal way to do business when you’ve got Silverlight nipping at your heels.

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Reviews

Synkron and I don't see eye to eye

I’ve been using Synkron lately to keep several directories synced up across a couple of external drives — a backup of sorts, just in case one of the drives decides to kick the bucket. I’ve also been cleaning up my drive, and something drove me bonkers: I couldn’t figure out why, in spite of my best efforts to clean up the drive, I couldn’t get 100GB free or more on my MBP (total HD size is 250GB). It just didn’t make sense; after all, I’d been able to do it just a couple of months ago, before I filled up my drive with photos from Austria and Romania. Why couldn’t I do it now?!

I decided to download Disk Inventory X, a drive space analysis tool based on WinDirStat, which I’d already used on a couple of Windows machines. What do you think was the biggest culprit on my MBP’s hard drive? The Synkron cache.

It was eating up 30.6GB of my space, without me even realizing it…

Look, Synkron, you may have a nice, shiny icon, and you may be able to put a nice GUI on rsync or subversion (not sure which you’re built on), but I’m sorry, when you can’t clean up after yourself or at least take up less space on my drive, you’re no good to me — into the Trash you go.

If you’re using Synkron as well, and you’ve noticed your free space shrinking inexplicably, you may want to give Disk Inventory X a try, and to consider whether another utility to sync your files may be a better option. I’m not ruling out Synkron completely, and I hope that its developers decide to fix this cache issue at some point.

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How To

Cannot change WP theme if Turbo mode is enabled

I’ve been wondering what sort of bug I’ve had in my WP installs for the last few weeks, and only now figured out what’s going on.The Turbo mode for WP is done through Google Gears. There’s a bug in the Turbo mode that will not allow you to change your blog’s theme. It works by not displaying the “x” (Close) or the “Activate …” options in the DHTML layer that opens up when you preview a theme.

Try it out if you want. Enable Turbo mode, then go to Design >> Themes and click on a theme that you’d like to preview and possibly activate. It’ll open as a full page instead of opening in a separate layer above the regular page, and the option to activate it will not display. In essence, you’re locked out of switching themes. You have to hit the Back button to get back to the Admin panel, else you’re stuck in a Live Preview mode.

This has nothing to do with file permissions, as I originally thought, or with corrupt theme files. No, it has everything to do with Turbo/Google Gears and the way WP implemented this. It’s a bug that needs to get fixed. The only way to enable theme-switching for now is to disable Turbo mode. After that, things work just fine.

This bug is present even in the latest WP version, 2.6.3. I hope it gets fixed soon.

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How To

If iMovie '08 crashes…

You can try bothering with the preferences files, or the codecs, or the color profiles, as the forums tell you to do, or you can do the following:

  1. Go to your home folder > Movies > iMovie Events. Locate the folder with the last clips you imported. Delete the iMovie Cache and iMovie Thumbnails folders.
  2. Restart iMovie. For most of you, that’s all you’ll need to do.
  3. If it still crashes, that means one or more of the actual clips themselves weren’t closed properly by the video camera (perhaps you ran out of battery, space on the card, etc.). Open them up in Quicktime (if you have Quicktime Pro) or some other application (like the software that came with the camera) and snip 1-2 seconds off the end of each clip. Save them, then delete the iMovie Cache and iMovie Thumbnails folders (in case iMovie re-created them).
  4. Now restart iMovie. It should work fine now.

A few words to explain some things:

  • If a movie clip doesn’t open at all from the Finder, then it is corrupted. Perhaps only its header is messed up for some reason. At any rate, I have not yet found software that will fix those movie clips. I searched enough, and only found spyware that promises to do it.
  • If a movie clip opens and plays fine in Quicktime, but iMovie crashes when trying to import it, then its ending is corrupted, as explained in step #3 above. Cutting 1-2 seconds off the end of the clip in some software other than iMovie will restore its ending and let you import it without crashes in iMovie.
  • The method I described above has worked reliably for me on three occasions now, and this is after I wasted hours on the phone with Apple Support. It only occurred to them to let me re-import video clips after having me try all of that other stuff, including a re-install of iMovie ’08 and also the creation of a new account to see if the problems re-occur there. Pointless. I say go to the root of the problem and take care of it right away, don’t beat around the bush.

Hope this helps you too.

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