Getting organised...

Discussion in 'Location Recording' started by Simmosonic, Feb 28, 2008.

  1. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    I'm looking for a media database that will allow me to catalogue all of my sound recordings and their related images and writings.

    What I'm looking for is something that I can type, for example, "tibetan nuns chanting" and up will come all of my sound recordings of Tibetan nuns singing/chanting, along with any pictures/videos that I might have taken (or otherwise collected), and anything else related to the recordings. It would all be accessible from within the database without requiring me to delve into folders or manually launching other apps. So for the search example above, the sound recordings could be auditioned directly by clicking on them, the pictures would be thumbnails that could be clicked on to view full size, and so on.

    I realise I'd have to do much of the initial indexing, creating key words and so on, but that's unavoidable and therefore not worth complaining about!

    From what I can tell, this is known as Digital Asset Management (DAM). I have found many apps that do it, but most are either designed for corporate/network use (and thereby expensive, requiring dedicated servers and so on) or are focused almost entirely on photographic and video use.

    Does anyone here have any recommendations based on personal experience?
  2. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I've looked for similar tools for completely different purposes. I came to the conclusion that I was looking for a program to force me to do what I already should have been doing within my current operation system: create a good organizational structure withing my folders and subfolders, give files informative names, etc. Most of the programs that I looked at would have been useless if I was as lazy with them as I was with my operating system. Good organization still seems to be a human thing, not a computer thing.

    Of course, I was looking at this stuff several years ago - eternity in computer time. I'll be interested in the responses to see what is out there now.
  3. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    I'm sorely tempted to try to live up to my name here, and offer to code something. However, time and inexperience conspire against me.
    Sounds like one of these things which would be simple to do but noone does it.

    Do you use Vista? That seems to have decent searching/indexing capability built in.
  4. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Absolutely. I've been tossing up whether or not to simply use Windows Explorer, with its built-in search capability and so on. There's something very Zen about that. It automatically launches apps when required, no problem. It seems crazy to go looking for a database application to sort all of these different files when my laptop already has one built in.

    Certainly, up until now that's what I've been using. But now I am finding an increasing need to use a lot of keywords for searching. All of my pics, for example, already have enormous file names that clearly indicate the country, the location, the subject, the name of the photographer and lastly the pic's number (as given by the camera). Very handy, but I can only sort them one way - alphabetically by country name. The names are quite big already, I doubt I want to make them any bigger!

    I have been wondering if I can store a list of keywords or search strings in the Properties box. But I'm not sure that I can search on it.
  5. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Excel could be a candidate for this. (akin to My Big Fat Greek Wedding's all purpose solution of "use Windex" I say "use Excel")

    Columns containing all the tags you need, each row is a file. You can select the data and sort it alphabetically based on any column, and all you need to do is set hyperlinks in one column which point to the file, and that would launch it no questions asked.
    Unfortunately this method will probably have you busy for months creating a massively complex spreadsheet.
  6. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    That's an interesting suggestion, thanks. I'm going to give it some thought...

    I'm definitely interested in using software I've already got!

    I've just started playing with a trial version of a DAM program called MediaDex (no relation to Windex, as far as I can tell). It seems quite powerful, but I've still got a lot to learn about it before I can decide if its what I need.
  7. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Can't figure how to take a directory and export the names of the files into an excel column.
  8. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    To me it's a bit of quick VBscript or something like that.

    I can't say I thought the practicalities through properly. :(
  9. mwacoustic

    mwacoustic Guest

    I would start with dos command to create a text file of the directory:

    dir > path\filename.txt

    Then import the text file into excel. You might need to use the "text to columns" tool, but it should be pretty easy to get a column that has all the filenames listed.
  10. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Very nice. I probably could have figured that out back in 1984.
  11. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Just a thought -
    Are you any good with MS Access Simmo?

    I've built many a tool along this lines using Access or SQL for various applications. While it is quite possible to launch certain objects from within the database (using OLE object linking), for your purposes, it would probably be best and far easier to simply reference the specific file location or the file itself and double-click to launch its resident app.

    I use an Access db to index the contents (or more/less specifically, the projects) on each hard drive. It helps me to be able to find a project. Each hard drive gets a number (which is the Primary Key within the database) and a name (usually referencing the year or portion of a year for which the hard drive was used). In a related and linked table, I list the project contents of each drive (such as Timbuktu Symphony Concerts Jan 2006-Dec 2006).

    Folders themselves can be further indexed, but that gets a little more tricky.

    It really all depends on:
    1 - how good you are with relational databases
    2 - how much time and effort you want to put into creating it
    3 - how much time and effort you want to put into maintaining it (this last one actually is quite a bit...)

  12. Zilla

    Zilla Active Member

    WaveLab has an integrated audio file database. I have not fully explored it, however, so I don't know how well it works in practice.
  13. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Thanks for the thought, but it's better not to bite off more than you can chew! (A problem I often come across and, in fact, am stuck in right now...)

    I'm assuming you mean the OS for Intel machines, not the infrared telescope in Chile (which has amazing searching capability but I can't vouch for its indexing).

    But seriously... No, I'm using XP Pro with SP2 on a three-year-old IBM T43 ThinkPad that's had a hard life and is currently getting crankier by the day - despite my continual fondling and fawning.

    I can't *see* myself using Vista for a while yet, it's a *long way off on the horizon* for me, and I'm too shortsighted to have that kind of *vision*. (Sorry, the bad puns and even worse wordplays were coming thick and fast; I've tried to exercise restraint - I mean, I steadfastly avoided the old obvious 'Hasta la Vista, Baby"...)
  14. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    MS Access? I've never used it. In fact, I'm pleasantly surprised to find that it is actually installed on my laptop (part of MS Office). I didn't think I had any database stuff. Amazing, and even more proof that I need some way to keep all of my stuff under control!

    Right... but my goal here is to launch them from within the organizing app. Maybe I've finally got a reason to dabble with OLE?

    I'm hoping the organising app can audition/view the files internally. As it is, I often find myself burrowing through zillions of folders to find what's wanted/needed in terms of sounds or pictures, opening them to audition/view, and so on. I end up with windows all over the place, and I find myself getting very confused (maybe that's just part of getting older?).

    For now at least, I can still remember where most of the recordings were made when I hear them, and if I can't then I can check the creation date and figure out where I was at that time. But eventually some of those recordings are going to fade out of my memory altogether...

    Which goes to show that there is no substitute for a clever and well-planned file naming system.

    I'm thinking seriously about Bob's earlier comment of using Windows itself. One of the highly-lauded DAMs I downloaded a demo of is actually a replacement for Windows Explorer, with better file management capabilities. I looked at it last night and realised that what I need to do can't be too far removed from what Windows can currently do.

    Sigh. So much to figure out... :)
  15. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Actually, I just realised something...

    This database is for my location recordings and associated pics/videos only. At the moment my content is growing at a slower rate than the growth of readily-available storage media, so it is possible to store all my location recordings, pics and videos on one large hard disk. Prior to my last expedition (November 2007 to January 2008) I could fit everything onto a 750GB drive, which was the largest I could comfortably afford. Now I am seeing drives over 1TB at similar prices, which means I can probably still store all of my stuff on one drive - everything off the 'old' 750GB drive, plus all the new stuff. So maybe I'll never need to adopt a drive numbering system. It would be very cool if all this stuff can be kept in one place, always, and makes the organising a bit easier.
  16. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

    Oh, by the way, some of you might find this interesting...

    The 750GB drive mentioned above was formatted for FAT32, primarily so that it could be read by Mac and Windows machines. Although I'm a Windows user and believe that NTFS is superior, I needed cross-platform compatibility. I'm *so* glad I chose FAT32!

    While in Kathmandu, I had the 750GB drive hooked up to my long suffering ThinkPad when the power went out. Being mains powered, the drive stopped, of course. This happens regularly in Kathmandu (in fact, they have two x four hour blackouts scheduled each day during Winter to conserve electricity).

    Anyway, when the power came back on I found that the 750GB could not be read by my ThinkPad any more. The file allocation table (or similar) had been corrupted, and nothing I can find in Windows is able to fix it. The ThinkPad sees the drive on the USB port, but can't open it or repair it.

    Fortunately, the drive functions perfectly on a Macintosh.

    Correct me if I'm wrong here, but I'm assuming the Mac and the PC create their own file allocation tables or directories or whatever. Obviously, the PC version got corrupted because it was being accessed when the power cut. The Mac directory remained unscathed. I haven't lost anything except the ability to access the data from a Windows machine.

    Now that I'm back to civilisation, I've got to remedy the situation...
  17. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    It's been my personal experience that things in general get crankier WITH fondling and fawning, not in spite of. (At least that's the story according to my wife.) :?
  18. Simmosonic

    Simmosonic Active Member

  19. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member


    Not sure how this reply made it into this thread! I thought I had posted it to another thread. Please ignore.

    Maybe from the server transition???

    One word.... FilemakerPro

    There's a premade database that probably already fits 99% of what you want.

    Lemme know what platform you're on and I can edit it up a bit to be a standalone runtime for you to try out... or run.
  20. JackHenry

    JackHenry Active Member


    In relation to the power outage and your 750 Gb drive being unreadable by the thinkpad, here is a thought.

    When a drive is formatted and the FAT (File allocation tables) are created, the system actually creates two FAT's that mirror each other. The idea is that in the old days, when anyone worth their IT salt could use a disk editing program and repair the corrupt FAT with the good copy.

    Having said that, I wonder if the MAC is just smarter. It may recognise the first FAT as corrupt and automatically look at the copy FAT.

    On the same point it's worth noting that as drives get bigger, the chances of you loosing a LOT of data when it fails increases. I know you probably do, but ALWAYS keep backups. With the cost of drive falling all the time, it is often worth have a duplicate drive with the same data on it (Just in case)

    BTW Love your work.


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