Racing to Rescue My Photos

When Narrative announced they had gone out of business, the email referred to the upcoming release of a tool to download all the photos from their servers. It also pointed to a Facebook group for further discussion. Since I'm not on Facebook (and have actually blocked it on some of my devices), I didn't go there and waited for said release of the downloader.

When nothing happened, I did eventually peek into the Facebook group, only to discover that they had announced the downloader tool there and that it was even up to version 1.0.1 already. So I downloaded that tool and let it do its thing.

The downloader app lets you download your photos and videos separately. I started with the videos. I haven't really used that option in the Clip 2 a lot. As it turns out, I had recorded quite a few accidental videos, when I had activated video capture for a special occasion, e.g. a concert, and then forgot to turn it off again. So when I doubled-tapped on the Clip to wake it up or take a photo, it was instead taking a short video clip. The results of me walking along a street somewhere are nauseating to watch. I had no idea humans are swaying so much when walking ...

After the videos, it was time for the photos. Now, I've been a user of Narrative since the Kickstarter days, so there were a lot of those. The downloader happily announced that I had over 300,000 photos and proceeded to download them, starting with the most recent.

Lonely Bike Alas, progress was very slow. At first, I thought it was because the servers were overwhelmed with everybody downloading their photos all at once. So I simply let it run and even went out of town for two nights. When I came back, there was still not a lot of progress (somewhere in the low 20,000s, IIRC).

In the meantime, a new email from Narrative had arrived which, for the first time for those who hadn't been to the Facebook group, announced the availability of the downloader app. It also mentioned October 31, but I missed the importance of that date on the first read. Only when I visited the Facebook group did it dawn on me: They were going to shut down the servers on October 31. So it was really important to get that download to finish until then.

Frustrated with the slow downloader, a few people had written their own downloader tools and announced them on Facebook. I tried one but couldn't get it to work. Fortunately, Narrative (or what's left of them) had released version 1.0.2 of their downloader, which finally worked in an acceptable speed.

Japanese Gate In the end, it took me about a week to download all those 300,000 photos. In the meantime, it occurred to me that I had a second account with Narrative, from the very early days, that actually contained the very first photos from my very first clip, starting December 27, 2013 up until March 12, 2014, when it suddenly stopped working. I got a replacement clip and created a new account for it - the one which in the end had the 300,000 photos from a total of 4 clips. Yes, I got a few more replacements: The second clip had battery problems, the third one developed an ominous black spot, and the fourth one is working just fine to this day. The Clip 2 I got later is also using this account.

So I'm downloading those early photos as I type this and expect it to be done by tomorrow. Then I have at least a complete copy of everything that was on their servers. I'll have to sit down some day and merge that dump with what I already have locally, since I was using the option to keep local copies as much as possible. There were a few hiccups and malfunctions, though, so I'm missing a few moments in my local copies. At the same time, there may have been cases where I only kept a local copy.

I'm also going to try out the alternative downloaders again, since they promise to download some additional meta data that the Narrative one doesn't download. With October 31 looming, it's just a race to download as much data as possible and only look at it later. I'll then have to find a way to store all that data in a safe and accessible way locally. I also have yet to find a routine for me to look at the new photos, which are now only dumped into a directory on my hard drive. The Narrative app and website, which made viewing these easier, will be missed.

Looking Back

Sunshine Watching the download progress over the last week made me appreciate the Narrative Clip for what it is again. It records your life and it helps you remember. I kept looking randomly at the last photos that were just downloaded and discovered events I had long forgotten about: "Hmm, so what did I do on that day? Oh, yes, that's when I was at that event and met these people." And as it went back through time, more and more boring photos of my daily commute to my workplace back then appeared. Which reminded me of one of the reasons why I had finally quit that job (and makes me appreciate the less routine life I have now even more).

So while I'm still the odd one with the camera around here, I'm not regretting getting the Narrative Clip at all. In fact, I'm happy that I got it so that it could record all those moments for me to look back to. I may have had a few gripes with the Clip 2's performance initially, but other than that I only had positive experiences with the product and the people behind it. Thanks, Narrative. Too bad it didn't work out for you.

Creative Commons Licence "Racing to Rescue My Photos" by Dirk Haun is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.


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