Friday, March 25, 2011

Rocking the Visio/Picassa Fantastic -or- Back that Thing Up

I've recently been focused on creating lots of Visio diagrams. Visio is one of those apps where you use it on a surface level, but there is a lot more to it for the power user. I've been digging a bit deeper into Visio 2010, and trying to learn things like: effective use of stencils, adding and searching on meta-data for the files, and using ShapeSheets. If you're in the same boat, check out the Microsoft Visio Blog ; it has some great tips, and you can subscribe to the RSS feed to keep up with their posts. I haven't seen many books out on Vis2010 yet, but I keep looking.

Last week I had a pretty good scare with a terabyte external backup drive. It wouldn't boot up for a couple of days. I've got like 11 years worth of photos and artwork on there, not to mention a boatload of music. I was researching data recovery companies, when suddenly, it started working again! I went right out and bought a new giant drive and backed up the data from the first drive. Aaah, crisis averted!

Late last year I switched from Adobe LightRoom (and before that Photoshop Album 1 and 2), to Google Picassa for dealing with my photos. Both have their strong points, but what sealed the deal for me was two things: 1. Picassa has facial recognition. 2. Picassa is FREE. I do miss some of the features from LightRoom. Ironically, LightRoom had better search capabilities, but it still didn't justify the cost. Not only does it cost money, but every major upgrade costs you another $100-plus, just to upgrade. For photos, it just seems like Adobe is holding your photos hostage. I have the same feeling about online storage (aka: cloud storage, or online backup) companies. They get you paying for them as a service and then you're obligated to keep on paying. It is the equivalent of the physical storage locker companies; once you stop paying, what are you going to do with the crap in storage? Would you buy a huge shipping container to house it? Or maybe one of those Home Depot sheds? If you don't pay, they auction your crap off to the highest bidder.
-And for your data, do you lose the electronic data if you stop paying? If you can't afford to keep paying their fee, would you really have enough money to buy another storage drive to house that data?

Related to the backup issues, I've been combing through my photos and adding data about who is in them, and sorting them.I like the ability to label faces, but I'm not sure if the labeling I do for face-identities, is actually kept with the image as metadata or not if I export the image from Picassa. One big feature of Picassa that I rarely use, is sharing. I have so many images and they make it so easy. I'm afraid I'd lose track of what is shared, or that crappy images would inadvertently get shared.
Having lost my mom last year, I realized just how poorly my images were labeled. When she died I really struggled to try to quickly retrieve photos of her. I have lots of images, but finding them proved quite difficult. I was inspired to correct that problem.

Until next time!
Denis

1 comment:

Zeke said...

My photo collection is the single biggest thing that I worry about archiving. Most software can totally afford to be on the bleeding edge and all, but for many of the reasons you mention, it's really hard to find an archiving solution that not only works well now, but will be intact and accessible by computers decades from now. (One of my friends is stuck with the ancient Photoshop Album 2 because he's invested so much time in a 300,000-photo library there.)

I'm paranoid about dependence on a photo library that's a commercial product. I don't want to migrate my entire photo collection every few years to keep it in modern formats. The best solution would be an open library standard with support for tags, albums, and versioning of nondestructive edits.

Since that doesn't seem to be forthcoming, I'm planning to switch my main library over to an open source web app sometime soon. Most of the current reasons for doing it on a local desktop PC are eroding with crazy advancements for rich web apps.