If you’ve read a few of my posts, then I’m sure you’ll have noticed that I like trying to automate things. Partially it’s the idea of saving myself from “thinking” and reducing my cognitive load, so I can make better decisions throughout the day (and not think about unimportant or repetitive things) as well as speeding up processes. But the other aspect, is I find it fun to play around with and love the feeling I get when I make something cool happen.
However, recently I had an experience where I set something up to automate a process with less than desirable results.
Hazel is a Mac app for some pretty interesting file management and basic automation. If you want to set up a paperless workflow where you scan documents and they get sorted to the right place, you should check out Hazel. Or perhaps your into photography and need to keep your pictures organized in a logical way (guilty) then Hazel can do that for you.
And that’s why I wanted to experiment with Hazel (learn more). I had recently switched to shooting both RAW and JPEG pictures when I took a photo and wanted to set up a simple system to import my photos into Lightroom (but only the RAW files). I picked up the trial of Hazel and set up some very basic script to label all my RAW files with one tag and all my JPEG files with another. That way I could organise my folder by tags and see only the raw files to import. Simple and enough to entice me to try more advanced tricks.
After setting up a few more rules to organise my developed photos into files set by month and year and save a backup copy of my RAW images on an external hard drive, I decided to change my importing procedure. Now I wanted to just plug in my SD card and any new file would instantly get imported and clean the SD card, so I knew I had imported the pictures. Great idea right? And one that would certainly help my file management.
When It All Went Wrong
I set up my Hazel rule and it started working. I felt pretty pleased with myself and left it running.
I came back a bit later and noticed it had stopped. When I checked I couldn’t see most of the pictures on the hard drive. What was worse was they weren’t on the SD card either! I had set up the rule incorrectly and I had lost the files! Hazel was even giving me an error message over it.
I resigned myself to the loss of several photos I was really proud of and some snapshots of a couple of great events. I deleted the bad rules and decided I needed to check up how to use Hazel before I attempted it again.
A Few Weeks Later
Yesterday (probably not yesterday when you read this) I looked at my folder which holds undeveloped images and noticed something strange. A file I didn’t recognise that certainly wasn’t a photo. When I looked at it, it turned out to contain all my missing images! They had just been moved to a folder which I couldn’t see at the time.
I was lucky this time and have now set up my Hazel rules correctly, so they will import and sort my images with just me inserting my SD card, but I could easily have got this so very wrong.
My takeaway, when you set up an automation script, make sure you run a safe test first. 😉