Memories: Relive moments from the past through your photos

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Maybe because I'm not a coder to begin with, it never ceases to amaze me how much you can accomplish with just a few lines of PHP. My freshly-baked Memories PHP script is a case in point. It's so short and simple that it hardly deserves to be called an application. Yet it fulfills a huge need I've had for quite a while. It may have something to do with age, but the older I get, the more I appreciate the joy of reliving memories through my photos. I'm not keen on uploading my entire library to Google Photos or a similar service to make use of their "photos from the past" functionality. Because 1) pushing several terabytes of data would take forever and a day, 2) would be prohibitively expensive, and 3) I'm not enamored with the idea of entrusting my most private data to a third party, no matter how good their privacy protection track record is.

So a couple of years ago I decided to cobble together a utility that would trawl my entire photo library, find all photos taken on the current day in previous years, and render the results as a simple web gallery. After a few attempts, Natsukashii was born. It was far from perfect: it was way too slow, resource-consuming, and had quite a few dependencies. But it did the job, so I've been begrudgingly using it ever since.

I don't know why it took me so long to arrive at the simple idea of writing something similar in PHP. But while recovering from my booster shot (it hit me surprisingly hard), I whipped up a quick prototype and the preliminary tests were encouraging. Not only was it significantly simpler (a bit over 120 lines of code, in fact), it had only one dependency (the php-exif library). More importantly, and rather unexpectedly, it was blazing fast, zipping through my 10.000+ photo library in a mere minute or two (something that took Natsukashii close to half an hour).

So there you have it: another win for yours truly, who can now relive his happy moments from the past, while yet again appreciating the power and simplicity of PHP. I dubbed the fruits of my labors Memories (not the most imaginative name, I know), and if you are interested in trying it yourself, head to the project's GitHub repository. To learn how to install and use Memories, read the Linux Photography book.


© Dmitri Popov