Jeffrey Friedl's Blog details a potentially heartbreaking bug in Adobe Lightroom 5 that could conceivably cause you to unintentionally delete master copies of your files—maybe without even realizing it. The "Silent Killer" Bug.
"Bug" is such a small, innocent word. In the auto industry, there are recalls, and there are recalls. One might be because one corner of a floor mat starts to fray on a very small number of cars. Another might be because copious numbers of the affected vehicles are spontaneously erupting in three-story-tall James-Bond-movie fireballs if you tap the wrong place with a ball-peen hammer.
Okay, I'm exaggerating. But thus with bugs: it's a range. My conception of photography is that there is an awful lot of dross and only a little gold—so the rare "hits" you get amongst all the "almosts" become precious; a lot of not-quites go into one genuine success. This bug strikes us as at least shading into the catastrophic end of the range—anything that can end up in the accidental loss of one of those rare, precious, and needed files is very bad behavior on the part of processing software indeed. BEWARE!!!
At least it's not as bad as the 2000 Multidata Systems International bug at the National Cancer Institute in Panama City, Panama, which caused software to miscalculate radiation dosages for patients undergoing radiation therapy. That bug resulted in eight deaths and severe radiation overdoses to at least 20 other patients—and led to the doctors, who were contractually bound to double-check the dosage calculations manually, being indicted for murder.
So, okay—could be worse. But still. Tell your friends.
(Thanks to Michael Tapes)
UPDATE wednesday a.m.: We heard from the Product Manager of the Adobe Lightroom Team, Sharad Mangalick, who says, "We're well aware of this particular issue and are assessing potential options, but I just want to point out a workaround: When viewing images in the Publish Service panel within the Library Module, ensure that you are selecting images using the Filmstrip. This will ensure that the correct images are selected."
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Kenneth Tanaka: "This is unquestionably a potentially hazardous bug that Jeffrey was well justified in calling out last June. It needs to be fixed before the next official release. That said, it certainly does not merit the blanket condemnation of LR. I've always used the Export facility to send images online, and never the newer more push-button Publish facility, and have never encountered a problem."
Mike replies: I was assuming that LR users (of whom I am not one) would care to read the entire piece at the link, and was perhaps remiss in not pointing out that it continues over four pages, through several "Continued here..." links at the bottom of each page. The last update is dated August 2nd concludes that the bug is not fixed in LR 5.2 as even he originally reported.
I absolutely don't agree that this is not very serious. Maybe for you software ninjas it is not, but for ordinary schmoes like me who struggle with software and its Byzantine complexity, the idea of being innocently led into doing something serious to your own archive while a) not meaning to and b) not being aware of it after it's done is the kind of thing I live in horror of. I did it once in 2003, and the memory still stings.
The fact that it lurks in an out-of-the-way corner of the program and is seldom encountered makes it worse, not better, because it increases the chance of accident whereas a front-and-center bug would be better publicized and more widely understood. Serious indeed.
ADDENDUM from Kenneth Tanaka: "It is noteworthy that Adobe lists this as a 'top issue' onits Adobe Labs developmental site. So it has their attention."
daniel francisco valdez: "I was bit by this bug...when I deleted a virtual copy, the original file was also deleted from my hard drive! Luckily I had exported a 16-bit TIFF and I had the original unformatted SD card. I downloaded and installed his plugin so I feel confident deleting files again. Coincidentally, I have been using his Export to Zenfolio plugin since day one and have been supremely satisfied with it and with his update schedule."
Michel: "Back up! It might make an interesting article to cover backup strategies for hobby photographers. Just a thought."
Bojidar replies to Michel: "I've written such an article here. I would be very happy if Mike republishes it and if people help me extend the article and turn it into an active Internet reference.
"Same thing with the article 'Best Practices' for photographers about image security while on the road, available here."