Each Monday immediately after I post a new blog entry, I check to see how it appears on the web. Usually there is nothing I need to change, but last week I’d somehow inserted a photograph upside down. The photo was of a bunch of stacked paint cans on my basement floor. It was a straightforward image with an obvious top and bottom, and I couldn’t figure out how I’d gotten it wrong. Still I must have erred somehow, so I went back into my website software for what I thought would be an easy fix. 

Except that it wasn’t easy. I opened WordPress to rotate the photo and found that I’d uploaded it correctly the first time. For no reason that I could discern, the photograph was right side up in WordPress, but upside down on my website. From a Google search I learned that the most recent version of WordPress evaluates every photograph I upload and rotates anything it determines to be upside down. My task was not to flip an image 180º, but to trick my software into not flipping it for me.

My initial attempt at a solution was to upload the photo upside down and let the autocorrect flip it back to right side up. This, of course, did not work. Once the photo was upside down, the program saw it as right side up and did nothing to change it. 

My second attempt was to add a caption to the bottom of the photo. My thinking here was that if the program recognized the caption as a part of the photograph, it would not take any action that turned written words upside down. This also did not work. The software knows the difference between a photograph and a caption. The caption stayed right side up; the photo did not. 

Finally I went into the software’s “edit photo” feature and changed everything I could find that wouldn’t actually change anything. Something I did, I don’t know what, fooled the software. The photo is now as I want it, but it took a half hour to complete a task I shouldn’t have had to do in the first place.

This small, but annoying inconvenience reminded me of the IT trainings I attended when I was working at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. About once a year, the well-intentioned folks in Information Technology held workshops to explain the upcoming updates to all campus-wide software. The presentations almost always started with the words, “The upgrades will be an adjustment at first, but you’ll like the changes once you get used to them.” More often than not I did not like the changes at all. Who, for example, would want a feature that automatically rotates photographs and sometimes gets it wrong? I miss those annual workshops with the IT guys. While I cannot stop change from happening, I liked having someone warn me when it was coming. Now, in retirement, I am out there on my own. 

Steven Simpson