One of the disadvantages to being a pretty active photographer is trying to handle archiving old shoots and being able to quickly locate a certain shot amongst thousands of directories of RAW stills, which may not be present on your local media. Enter the humble contact sheet.
Stretching all the way back to the days of Ansel Adams, the contact sheet has provided a simple way to view large numbers of prints at a glance. With the introduction of digital photography, software packages like Picasa (and iPhoto, for the followers of the Cult of the Bitten Fruit), have enabled large numbers of photos to be viewed at a glance – however, they have the downside of needing the actual photos to be readily accessible (to one degree or another).
My hack is Linux-based, although it will work on any platform supporting bash, dcraw, and ImageMagick’s montage (along with xargs, printf, and a bunch of other bash extensions). It has the additional advantage of being able to resume from whenever it is stopped without losing or repeating work. I wrote it to support my layout, which involves a single directory full of timestamped unique directory names – but it should work as long as the directory names are unique, regardless of the structure.