As any fule kno, a truly universal classification is a near impossibility. New subjects arise, old ones fall into disuse, and what worked for Dewey 125 years ago bears little relation to the modern world – which is why it just gets updated online now instead of being printed.

Last year I scanned in over 2,500 negatives and slides of varying sizes, on top of some I did a year or two earlier. Obviously, they then need filing in some way.

I created a series of folders, such as 1990s, within which was another folder for each year. Then I put the scans, numbered, in them.

It helps that my negatives (at least) I had previously sorted into year order, helped by my photo albums and by having a good memory of when I took my photos… and that the digital ones all have date stamps on them anyway in the EXIF data. Some of the 110mm negatives I took a guess at, but I won’t have been far out.

Anyway: the problem is the naming scheme I used.

I had – sensibly, I thought – scanned the different sorts of negatives at the same time; the 110mm, 35mm, 35mm half-frame and the APS ones. Then I grouped them by year. Then I numbered them sequentially, but leaving gaps when I started a new role of film where it was obvious (it seemed like a good idea, and I only rarely hit 100).

A typical scan might have the filename neg35-1987-48. The 48th (not really) negative of 1987, on 35mm film.

See the problem?

Then I thought I’d convert all of the .tiff scans into .jpegs, so I could upload them to my iPad and iPhone Photos apps. First problem: you can’t have image subfolders, so everything was dumped into one folder, sorted by email address. That meant all of the dig- files came before the neg35- files, for example, even though the 35mm negatives are older.

The second – and more obvious, if I’d paid attention – problem is that now I have a print scanner I can scan the prints I have of the missing negatives. But if I not-unreasonably call them scan-1996-42 (say), it won’t be with the rest of the photos on the iDevices, they will be sorted alhabetically together at the end.

What I should have done was put the year first, then the number, then the original format. That way everything would fall in the correct order in the subfolders as well as on the iDevices.

Oh well. Only 2,500-plus files to rename…