September 29, 2014

A Weekend of Computer Play

I turned out spending more time than I had planned on the computer this weekend but it was all at night just as I said I would do last week. I want to spend my computer time after 6pm and be able to enjoy the days outside since the weather is so nice. So I did that but I got more than I bargained for Friday night.

I was up until 4:00am Saturday morning all because of a new external hard drive I bought for continuing my backups. 

Luckily I like that kind of stuff. I like working on computer software that has problems, reading online on how to get it to work if needed and then seeing it eventually work ... so the stories below may sound very frustrating but I enjoy the process of figuring everything out.

Four years ago when I bought my iMac I bought a external hard drive for backing up all my files, the same size as the hard drive. Currently my computer hard drive is barely even filled. The way Apple's "Time Machine" works when backing up, it keeps adding backups with changes as it should but space wise, my external hard drive is full. It will keep backing up and will let you know that for it to complete the backup it will delete the oldest file, which is this case is in 2011. The Time Machine works well as I have gone back into the files and pulled out pictures or older files that I have deleted and wanted back.

So last week when buying the camera, I bought a new external hard drive twice the size of my hard drive as recommended. I thought it would be simple just to move all the backup from my older drive to the new one and then reformat the old drive and use it for backing up something else (system files). I searched on Google to confirm the transfer process and it looked simple, should be no issues.

Due to the size of the file, it took forever to start the transfer of files and eventually stopped although not completed. I started reading about the process again in case I missed something. I found out by reading online that what I was wanting to do should work but a lot of people had problems doing it with the hard drive I had. I found it hard to believe there would be any problems because when you buy the drive it was already formatted for your type of computer, Windows or Mac.

Long story short ... I was up until 4am Friday night / Saturday morning, having fun trying to configure the drive based on what I was reading. The problem was after I got it to work, it took from Saturday morning until earlier this afternoon (Sunday) to complete the transfer.

But it didn't complete the transfer ... after almost a day and a half of non-stop transferring ... it had a problem with a file on the new external drive!!!  I remained calm though and decided I would try Plan B, after almost two days after I started. During the dog walk on Sunday, I decided that I would do one more update on the older drive, take it off Time Machine as the backup drive and disconnect it from the computer with a note to myself that drive has backup files from March 2011 until today.

So far I am into 44.70Gb of backed up files on the new external drive without any problems. IF ... IF it does not finish the job without error, I will return it Monday and buy an external drive with a different brand name. WD does have known issues with Mac computers from what people say on the forums, yet like all things, some people have zero problems with that match up. The new drive is WD My Passport for Mac. No formatting required.

I found out in the early hours of Monday morning, there is a different way to transfer the backup from the old external drive to the new drive. I was on that screen the other night in Disc Utilities, but was hesitant in clicking the "erase" button like I should have. So later tonight I will try that process. I also found out since the time I bought the computer in 2011, updates to the OS has changed what the Time Machine backs up and with the current Maverick OS, it does back up the system files and a lot more.

I am not sure I even need a new drive, if I don't mind having older files deleted on the backup disc from 3 years ago.

Besides seeing that my kitchen counter top in the photo above is the original "vintage" 1975 model, there is an iPad Mini sitting next to the hard drive along with an external CD/DVD drive. A few months back my CD/DVD drive on the iMac started spitting the discs back out once I slid them into the machine. I was in the process of downsizing my music and movies to use while traveling. Once again I did a lot of reading about what the potential problems could be, some do some don't have problems. I personally think it had something to do with the last OS update to Maverick. The optical drive worked on the previous OS, so that is just my guess.

The external CD/DVD drive is part of my "downsizing" ... I am putting a lot, not all of my music on the computer along with some favorite movies that I can take with me when traveling instead of DVDs and a player to use. I also like playing music on my computer while I am on it rather than the stereo in the other room. That drive has worked perfect so far and downloads 4x-5x faster, so transferring a CD does not take long at all.

I bought the first iPad when they first came out and actually used it more than the laptop I had at the time. I also thought I could use it at work for all the meetings I attended plus replace the notebook I would keep during the work day. I didn't think there would be a problem .. the first generation iPad did not have a camera, no way to connect an external drive to download anything or upload from my government computer. There was no way to break the restrictions of using or being around a government computer.

About the second day I had it at work, the department IT guy went ballistic when he saw it on my desk and that it was even in the building. Whereas just two weeks prior I was in a meeting in the corporate office that included high ranking military personnel and the iPad was the machine used to present the meeting.

So it wasn't that big of a deal, I had bought it for home use more than work anyway and I thought for what I did I could use it and sell my home laptop, which I did later on.

Since my iPad is the first generation, Apple quit including that model in their system updates recently ... good business sense ... forces me to buy a new one if I want to take advantage of their latest OS where the iPad, iMac and iPhone will all be synchronized easier and plus all the added features like all three devices using documents and spreadsheets.

I found over the years the 9.5" iPad was too big for reading a book, meaning it was not something you could hold with one hand for long periods of time. You couldn't do that with even the newer lighter Air's or iPad's but I found I could do that easy with the new "Mini" version. I like the mini version and it's still a great replacement for what I used my laptop for which mostly turned into internet browsing, email, photography, and reading electronic books. With the new upgrades I'll be able to synchronize documents from my iMac to the other two devices.

The thing is I spent all my time looking at the one with a retina display and thought that was what I was buying. I wasn't paying attention at the cash register to notice the difference in price and really didn't notice the difference on the box. When I got home and opened the box I realized the sales rep pulled out a iPad Mini with the regular screen which is nice but that retina display is unbelievable. I have used the Mini this weekend but I know that if I don't take it back and exchange it, it will continue to bug me.

I bought some Rockfish camera lens filters at Best Buy today on the clearance shelf. While there I took another look at the iPad Air, a larger screen to work with spreadsheets and a laptop replacement when traveling. I decided to go with the Mini and the Retina display. Of course that not only has a sharper screen but also a faster processor. After a few hours of working with it, the exchange was worth it. I can tell a difference in speed and picture quality, whereas these past few days i wasn't sure the difference would be noticeable.

The next big fiasco this weekend was photograph programs.

I downloaded the disc that came with my camera ... Nikon ViewNX2 ... it's great for photo editing and I think is better than iPhoto that I have been using for the past three years on this blog. I am still in the process of learning how that works, along with how my camera works and how to do things with it besides just taking a picture. I want to get to the manual mode of photography as soon as possible.

But that wasn't the fiasco.

I decided I wanted to backup all of my photos in a 3rd party program like Picasa or Flickr. I had read about Dropbox, iCloud, and some others but I basically decided it was down between Picasa and Flickr as the best programs to use. The fiasco started as soon as Picasa was installed on my computer. It started downloading EVERY photo that had ever been on my computer. For me the problem was in the past I had over 50,000 images of items I sold or loaded on my websites to sell, provided to me from my suppliers. When I stopped that business, I deleted all of those photographs and I thought they were gone.

When I moved to a new computer in 2010, all of those photos were transferred to my new computer and then deleted from their folder and from the iPhoto library ... but Picasa must have started pulling images from my 3 years of backed up files because the photos I was seeing during the upload I had not seen in years and thought they were deleted. I am not sure where Picasa was getting those photos.

I immediately stopped the upload to Picasa and un-installed Picasa from my computer. I went to Google and searched what might be the problem. I posted comments on my blog hoping for some answers. I emailed Al who is a power user of Picasa. During my online reading I was able to find my Picasa account that had been set up automatically when I set up a Google Plus account last summer. Of course I knew that Blogger keeps all the photos uploaded into the blog in Picasa Web Albums. A lot of reading and trying things. I was seeing too many people were complaining about privacy issues after Google Plus was added to the Picasa program. So I was hesitant in using it. The more I read it seemed as if I would need a Google Plus account eventually.

I noticed once I brought up that Picasa file, on the right side was my profile name and when I clicked it, it would move to a screen to upgrade my profile to Google my Picasa was still linked to my old Google Plus account I deactivated last summer. I think think about letting it upload photograph it wanted and then I would spend many many hours deleting photos I did not want or had deleted in the past...such has the 50,000+ sports images of the memorabilia of my past online business. That would take way too much time and I didn't want to do that. I wanted to have control on what I uploaded and could do that with a bulk upload.

I went to check out Flickr and I liked that program. I spent a short time loading around 500 photos of my dogs and VWs, not all of them on the dogs but a lot of them. I'll work with those 500 photos to find out how Flickr works and after I find out how it works I plan on putting all of my photos on my computer into Flickr for a 3rd party storage. They give you 1(Tb) terebyte of free storage. 

Where I almost made a huge mistake was earlier this afternoon when I had bright idea to go through my iPhoto Library and delete any duplicated photos and increase some of my hard drive space plus clean up my photo files before I would upload them to Flickr.

Also the new Apple OS 8.0 update will change iPhoto drastically, moving folders around and naming them something different. I have not read all about it yet but what I saw when glancing at the article there will be some major changes to the photo program. To much info to discuss here.

Well I spent a lot of time going through the Library and deleting duplicates, luckily I didn't not empty the trash and could restore them if I needed to. Well I needed to. The first folder I looked at was Sadie's and 2/3 of her photos were not in the folder. I checked some VWs folder and they had the same result. So I am still in the process of going through photographs and adding them back to their correct folders. When I saw photos missing, I restored all the images I deleted and added them back into the iPhoto Library. They are all there, around ~2,100 of them.

So it was a relaxing weekend but also a lot of unexpected time spent on computer with things that should have been very simple.

I am posting this while I take a break from working with Flickr. I like that program so far.

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