Articles Tagged: computer hardware

Data Backup on the Road

Data on an SD or CF memory card is pretty safe. If you won’t be traveling long you could just take enough cards to handle the number of photos you’ll shoot and download them when you come back. Memory cards are cheap and don’t crash often, but they are pretty easy to lose. I’m not a fan of huge capacity cards for two reasons. If one does get corrupted you run the risk of losing all your photos. The more important reason is that if you’re shooting on a card that holds thousands of photos, you’re likely to make it through a whole week or trip before you fill one up. That means that your camera, which is the likeliest thing to get stolen that you’re carrying with you, has all your precious photo memories in it. If your camera is lost or stolen the pictures go with it. I prefer to have several cards of smaller capacity and leave the extra cards in the hotel room in plain sight. If they’re tucked away in your camera bag they are likely to be stolen along with everything else. A little paranoia can pay off when protecting digital files.

Get a good memory card holder or wallet. My favorite by far is the Pixel Pocket Rocket by Think Tank. It comes in two sizes, one for CF and one for SD cards. It folds over, holds your cards securely, holds business cards and has a fob with a clip. This is a great idea and one that gives me a lot of peace of mind. I clip that thing to a ring on my camera bag or loop in my jacket and don’t have to worry about accidentally dropping all my memory cards in a river or through a subway grate.

Favorite memory card holder: Pixel Pocket Rocket by Think | Favorite storage device: Samsung T5

If you want to backup your data while you’re traveling, there’s a temptation to just download them into your laptop, then reformat the card and shoot some more. Don’t do this! You have moved your data from a very secure, low theft device like a memory card to the spinning hard drive or SSD memory in your shiny, more-likely-to-be-stolen laptop. If you want to use your laptop, either keep the data on the cards as well or take an external hard drive with you to backup the files on. My favorite storage device is the Samsung T5. It’s available in .5, 1 and 2TB. They are much more expensive than external hard drives but they are tiny, lightweight, fast and completely not prone to physical crashes the way hard drives are. The laptop and hard drive shouldn’t be in the same bag at the same time to avoid a total loss in case of theft. Data backup maxim: Data should be stored in at least two places at all times, and one of those should be in another location.

Gefen DVI Detective

Well, here’s a product I didn’t know existed but was happy to find. About a year ago I built a new machine for the studio, mostly to run Lightroom. I like Lightroom and want to love it, but have had speed problems with it since day one. So I built a quad core machine with 8gb ram, fast ATI card (had conflicts with the Nvidia) and a serious RAID 6 controller from Areca for storage and cache. For my viewing pleasure I got two 27″ displays from Doublesight and glued it all together with Vista 64. The problems began when I had to install a couple of DVI video extension cables to the monitors. Every time the screen blanker kicked in, or when the machine was restarted or came out of sleep mode, the monitors wouldn’t come up at the right resolution or even left to right sequence. About half the time I had to go in and reset the layout and resolution. It was one of those really frustrating things that I let go for two long.

While I was trying to get some HDMI problems solved (another day, another rant!) I asked John Johns, the video wizard at In-Sync, Inc. in Dallas, what he would recommend. He referred me to Gefen, a company that makes a crazy array of video conversion boxes. On their website I found a little box called the DVI Detective and an explanation of what the problem was with my monitors (and my HDMI troubles). Both of those connections transmit an EDID code. According to Wikipedia: “Extended display identification data (EDID) is a data structure provided by a computer display to describe its capabilities to a graphics card. It is what enables a modern personal computer to know what kind of monitor is connected.” As with many things electronic, that doesn’t always work out in practice. What was happening was the EDID wasn’t being picked up and weird things were happening.

The DVI Detective goes inline between the computer and the monitor. You power it up with the included wallwart, push a tiny button on the little box, a light flashes telling you the code is being received and stored, you flip a switch to lock the setting – and you’re done. The power can now be unplugged. I was hesitant to spend 2 x $60 (from Buy.com) on these little gizmos but my problem is completely solved. I love these things.

They are tiny boxes and come with nice, stout turn around DVI patch cables. A solid product that does exactly what it claims to with very little setup. This is what the mess looks like behind my monitors until I dress this up a little:

gefen-dvi-detective2-Dallas-Center-for-PhotographyUPDE: 7-4-09
I’ve been using the Gefen DVI Detective boxes for a few weeks now and I can happily report that they have completely solved the problems I was having! Money well spent.