Tag Archives: making

Backup using Homeserver and Carbonite

So you have loads of photos and data on your PC that you can’t afford to lose and need a method to ensure that both your PC and your images are backup up correctly. But you also need to know that you have a copy of the data off-site.

Well here is a simple guide on how I do it and what you need

Firstly this guide is only useful for Windows PC’s on the whole sorry, I know plenty of people use mac’s but currently I don’t but I’m sure you might be able to use elements of this guide.

Windows Homeserver

What is it and why do you need it? Windows Home Server is a piece of software that Microsoft have created specifically for the home. It’s based on Windows 2003 Server edition but with many of the features simplified for the home.  It can be installed on most older PC’s, I’m running it on an old Dell P4 desktop with 1Gb of memory and that’s more than enough.

However if I was buying something dedicated to Home Server (WHS) I’d have a look at one of these Tranquil Homeserver . It costs about £430 and consumes less than 40w of energy ideal for something you are going to want have switched on all the time.

Tranquil

So now you have your Home Server, you have bought it off the shelf or installed it on something you have already got and you are ready to go.

Install WHS connector software on your PC – PC Backup

To get the next feature that you will need you have to install the WHS connector software, this can be found on an additional CD that you should have got or connect to your WHS and go to the Software share and you will find the Homeserver connect Software there. Install this on each PC in your house.

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The WHS Connect software will do several things but the purpose of this guide the main thing is that its the conduate to backup each PC to your home server. Its extremely efficient at storing this data, if it backs up three Vista 32bit machines all with the same patch levels it will only hold one copy of the OS data and just reference it for each machine.

You can log onto the WHS via the connector and configure the backup’s to be done each day, week, month etc. and it will nag you if you miss the backup window by showing the server as ‘Critical’ its not but hey you got to love Microsoft sometimes.

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Important – Don’t use WHS to Backup Photos / music

One point to note, I don’t use the WHS software to backup my images in fact I specifically exclude them from the process. Why? Well speed of the backup for one and control being the other. I use a syncing tool to backup all my images, music and data directly to the home server so it can be viewed by other clients. If you only let the WHS do the backup itself it sits in a special file on the WHS that none of the clients can get access to other than via WHS. Don’t forget using WHS Media Connect software which is DLNA compliant you will be able to view the photos or listen to music via a compatible media player if you sync to the WHS not use the WHS Connector to do the backup.

Syncing Photos, Music to your WHS

To transfer your images and music to the WHS I suggest using something like MS SyncToy V2 you can configure this to your hearts content. Get to sync from the PC to the WHS only or both directions or just detect changes on one end. You can also set up multiple transfers.

I configure my Photos on one sync and Music on another to the corresponding directory on the WHS, I set it off once a week or so when I have carried out any major changes. Then after the sync is complete all the other clients and see the new files and can use them if they need to, he presto you have a media server.

Off-Site backup of your data via Carbonite

So you have constructed and configured your Windows Home Server, added files to it by syncing them from a PC and now you need to take another copy just in case the worst happened, Hard disk failure, fire, theft you name it, do you really want to take lots of lovely photos or rip all your CD’s to lose the lot…… no I thought not.

So you need Carbonite or a similar service. I use carbonite for several reasons, it works on WHS, it allows for unlimited (within reason) backup space and its not expensive. At $49 a year or $89 for 2 and now $135 for 3 years its extremely competitive especially when you consider the storage you can use. Currently I have a none to small 140Gb of space used up and its still growing fast. The data transfer is quick and the restore’s I’ve tried also seem to be ok.

Carbonite WHS Issues

Its not perfect, with WHS there seems to be a small bug when you allow WHS to span data across multiple disks itself, for some reason WHS won’t back them up. Carbonite sees them as if they are on other drives and they stay in a wait state, its a shame but it can be solved. If you store the data on one disk or use RAID so the OS doesn’t know where it is all is fine, so its not a big thing but worth mentioning. You can also start and stop the backup if you need to and even tell it to work on a lower priority so it doesn’t swamp your connection.

If you want to backup video files you will also need to select them individually, a hassle but at least you can do it. I think they are trying to limit the space people will use but if you have a compact camera that makes videos you are going to have to make sure you go through each directory to ensure they are all being backed up.

Backup times for me have been fine but remember that a typical UK broadband upload limit is only 256k not the 6-8Mb (6-8000k) download you enjoy when surfing the net and downloading things. If you can go to one of the newer services from someone like Be Unlimited they offer a service that gives up to 1.5Mb upload speeds very useful when you are using an off-site backup service such as this.

Conclusion

So there you go, you have a triple resilient solution that will have your data living in three places. Your PC, the Home Server and off site. This should be more than good enough for just about anyone. The only other thing that I’d advise to make things very secure is take a backup yourself to another hard drive and take it off site yourself, give it to another family member. This would only be needed if there was an issue with Carbonite of some sort and as anything is possible I might as well mention it.

So you need a Windows Home server, a couple of PC clients, a media player, an internet connection, router, and last but by no means least some great photos or music or other data to take advantage of this easy peasy full backup solution.

Useful Links

We Got Served
Windows Home Server – We Got Served – Widgets
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If anyone has any questions I’d be happy to answer them post away in the comments section.

Need some gift ideas for a photographer?

Ok so your other half or family member has a photography hobby and you don’t know what they want. So here are a few ideas that you might want to buy they.

Less than £50

Crumpler Muffin Top

Crumpler Muffin Top

Crumpler – Muffin top 4000 or 5500Shoulder camera bag – Yes that is what its called, it might have a quirky name (virtually all of there bags do) but its a good bag and they also do a great range. The company is a little off beat but there is nothing wrong with that. I went for a Pretty boy in the past but this is the latest over the shoulder camera bag they offer. The 4000 and 5500 will carry and SLR and a couple of lenses the 5500 could carry a charger and a flash as well perfect to take on a day trip or on holiday to carry a your gear during the day. I went for one of these because it doesn’t look like a camera bag and with hope will attract less attention as a result. On a recent trip around the Med on a cruise to Barcelona and Rome it was perfect. Camera out of site but easily to hand and the padding on the shoulder helps with coping with the weight of an SLR.
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£50-£100 Cleaning

Visible Dust Arctic Butterfly SL724 – Every photographer with an SLR gets a spec of dirt on there sensor at some time or other but how do you clean it without damaging it? Well the Visible dust ‘Arctic Butterfly’ is the answer. This model can be found as part of a kit from Warehouseexpress that also gives a lit sensor viewer and other cleaning swabs and fluids. Basically you get just about everything you need to look after mild marks on the sensor of an SLR camera a perfect gift for someone that hasn’t got all the cleaning bits that has just started out, this is a must have.

Tripod

Manfrotto MN190XPROB Tripod £77 – Just about every photographer needs a tripod at some time or other but to the person that knows nothing about them what do they get? Well with Manfrotto you can’t go far wrong I’d class them as the BMW of the tripod world, well made, handle well but don’t cost a fortune. This model has recently been updated with some new features that makes taking the shot you need easier and faster. The legs release quickly, its not too heavy but it is sturdy and you can make the column go horizontally out from the middle of the tripod to help get close to the subject when taking macro shots which is very useful. My only comment is that it doesn’t go very high, if the person thats going to use it is 5’11 or above then look at the 055XPROB (£110) as it extends higher when required but then it is quite a bit heavier, either are great.

Oh one other thing, you need a head. This is the bit that goes at the top of the tripod that enables you to mount the camera to the tripod. For this level of tripod get a 486RC2 head its about £35-40. You will have a VERY happy photographer if you buy them this combination.

£100+

This is where things can get a little tricky I’ve got one extra thing but note that everything so far doesn’t mention the actual camera. At £100+ you would need to look at getting specific things relating to the camera they have got. Is it a Canon, Nikon or maybe even a Pentax because it makes a huge difference as to what might be best to get and if it will even fit the camera. At this level you need to ask them about what lens they would like or how much something they are looking at is or get ideas from a good camera shop make a note of the model of camera they have got before you go though.

A full Camera Bag

Lowepro Trekker / Trekker AW / Compu – Now this can get tricky, but you need to look at Lowepro. Which exact bag can be down to how much you want to spend and which lenses they have got. As this is most likely a present for someone that doesn’t have too many lenses I’d go for either the Lowepro Nature Trekker II AW Black £140 or the Lowepro Photo Trekker AW II Black £165. Why are they good? Well they have everything; Space, they can fit just about every lens they will ever need to store for the amateur at least. They are waterproof, can hold a tripod on the side of the bag and have more little cubbyholes than you can shake a stick at. They are padded all over the place to protect the equipment and on the back to protect you from the probably substantial weight it might need to hold.

There are so many other ideas I could give I would be going on forever but here are the must haves for a photographer or certainly items like them. Put it this way they are ALL on my Christmas list and I certainly done my research.

Places to buy

If you are looking on the Internet then places like Warehouse Express and Jacobs are good, have a look at the likes of Amazon as well. Be careful with places like Jessops on the high street, they do price match other high street stores but you can and will often pay a premium for the same product, the list above would cost £100 more if bought from them put it that way. Looking for some lenses or equipment and want to get a good deal? then this is the place to check out, I use it all the time highly recommended link to bookmark CameraPriceBuster.

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Oh the joys of a new gadget, this time the PS3 – Review

Yes I know its been out for ages, but I’ve only just got approval from the finance director (read wife) but arrived it has.

Games Console

I’ve only got a few games so far but oh my is it a cracking console. For those that have waited to get one now is the time to go for it. Its whisper quiet and very fast, playing something like Burnout Paradise is a dream, jump on a bike and the sound and graphics are an absolute joy.

Games
Little Big Planet 10/10

What a cracking game. I got this in the bundle and didn’t thing I’d like it, the pictures just don’t do it justice. If you need something to sell getting the PS3 to your other half do it with this. They won’t think its much but get it through the door and they will love it. My better half loves it to bits, its interesting enough and not ‘too’ hard to make it frustrating and the controls are easy peasy. But you just have to love it as its so cute(I’m a bloke and yes I did say that), design your own character from things you pick up from the game or download from the store it just works.

The look and feel of the game as your playing is a joy, it never gets mboring, its a cross between Lemmings and manic minor (yes that was a spectrum game) but then good basic games sometimes do just work. Its this simplicity and purity than make it so special, I think its possibly the must have game on the PS3 at the moment, yes it really is that good.

Burnout Paradise 8.5/10

Well I had heard this was good but its not, its great. The graphics are good and but its the sound and the game play that makes it work. Each car is different and fun but then, you try the quick bike. What a hoot, you can throw it round and take it through tunnels and hear the change it the exhaust note the sounds is spot on, very realistic.

You aren’t going to learn the roads in two minutes its vast, not quite Test Drive vast on the PC but its not that far off. No you don’t kill people and do all the rest like Gran Theft Auto 4 on the PS3 but its still a great driving game, from what I’ve read possibly the best on the PS3. A must have if you like driving games.

Gran Turismo 5 Prologue 7/10

Well this was the big daddy of the PS3 but I won’t hold my punches its a mini game nothing more nothing less. It was the biggest draw to the PS3 and it is a great game but its just over to quickly. Why they don’t have physical damage yet is just plain daft, but then they say its due but thats not going to come until the full game or thats the latest potential.

The graphics are fantastic and a joy to drive through, I think it will get even better in the full game though its just missing that last tenth. The handling model has improved and is a little more tricky as a result, you feel the weight shift more than in the last game especially at high speed. Throw the GTR into a corner at high speed and get it wrong and you can feel the car losing it rather than gripping that just won’t happen in reality. It does mean its a little harder to finish it, I’m still to complete the top two races that seem to have got harder on the latest update. Its good, but with so few challenges and so few cars to play it just doesn’t justify its price tag compared to something as vast as Burnout.

Blu-Ray Player

But its no one trick pony of course, let it suck in a Blu-Ray disk and sit back to amazing depth and quality. Watching SkyHD in the UK is good but this is on a different level. The sounds is great as well on the right disk.

Media Player

More? well how does a media centre sound, yes lock it onto your own media server for me a Windows homeserver and it will immediately show all the tracks in your collection, all the images you have stored and all the movies and video you might have put in the server. It could do with a few tweaks to make it easier to search for the right track or album when you have a large collection, but when you find the right track it does a great job at playing it to the highest quality.

Sound

I’m sending the glorious sound via HDMI to my Onkyo 875 that just laps it up. Everything plays at the highest quality and without problem

Yes it justifies its own title. If you want to get the best from the PS3 you need an internet connection and a fast one at that. But Burnout today and it downloads three updates, how much, well

The Downloads

Yes it does justify its own title. To get the best from the PS3 you need a fast internet connection plain and simple. Take Burnout for instance, it had three updates the first time you put it in, first one 153Mb, second 73Mb and then another 10 at the end. If you have a slow connection thats going to take a while, so always put the new games in well before you might want to play them especially if they have been out for a while. Its not terrible but something that does become apparent. If you have been added into the PS3 Home Beta (A new on-line erm, experience) you will know what I mean, 73Mb to get started, then another updated before it lets you in then 4 other updates to before you can look round everywhere. It does mean a bug can be fixed but it does have its drawbacks.

Conclusion

If you are even remotely considering getting a PS3 go for it. If you have an HD ready TV and want to get the best quality of picture playback then get a PS3, I mean why just get a dedicated player that review after review in top HiFi magazines only put on a par to the PS3, it just doesn’t make sense. The fact that you get a cracking console that has some cracking games and a great media player all in one lovely box for less than £300 is a complete bargain. Its reached the right price point to make it work especially with the current deals, its a must buy for me.

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Alamy takes an extra slice of commission

No sooner than I join they want to take extra money from the money I haven’t yet earned. Ok so its taking more from what I hope to earn but still an extra 5% of my future potential earnings. Alamy are however dropping charges for cheques or paying in other currency but I’m sure they will gain and the photographer pro or otherwise will be loosing out.

More info here on the changes. Is there a better way to try and make money from a photography hobbie I wonder?

Alamy ups commission

Can I make money out of a Photography hobby?

Well thats the question but whats the answer. Well I guess we will see as I’m going to try and find out. I’ve had a good look round and have decided to join Alamy.

Its primarily used by professionals and agencies to sell images. Now some (Pro’s) aren’t too happy that people like myself might be trying to make a few pennies on a hobbie that they love and whilst I can see their point lets see if anything that I take will actually be bought.

I’ve filled out the inital application and have uploaded my first images which thankfully have been accepted. You aren’t meant to play about with sharpening or much like this and the upload and resizing process is a little strange but I will explain more about that another time.

Now I just need to wait for the money to role in, but I’m not holding my breath.

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