Offsite backup with Crashplan

Posted on Tuesday 11 October 2011

Backup is one of the less glamorous aspects of aspects of computing, and alas one which often goes unconsidered. People keep so much important stuff on computers – photos, documents, videos, address books, accounts, the list goes on and yet many people haven’t figured out what they’ll do when that hard drive dies, or there’s a fire, or their laptop is stolen. At our house we have a number of PCs and laptops which contain a variety of data – some of it important, some less so – and I have some simple scripts which backup once a day to our central server. That means we have at least 2 copies of anything important, as long as it’s not more than a day old, and as long as we don’t lose the original machine and the server at the same time.

That all kind of came into focus a few weeks ago when we were getting ready to evacuate from Hurricane Irene. I realised that the hypothetical total loss was now a real (if remote) possibility – a flood or structural damage could take out the wedding photos, all of our vacation and family pictures, our entire music collection (all 2000 discs) and much more. My best effort at the time was this:

I pulled the backup drives out of the server, put them in waterproof bags, and didn’t let them out of my sight for 3 days. It worked, but not really a practical solution! (more…)

Adam Reeve @ 12:14 am
Filed under: Gadgets
Photo Tips #8 : A Lens Primer (Part 2)

Posted on Sunday 2 October 2011

Last time we talked about lenses we covered length, zoom vs prime and different mounts and manufacturers. Today I’ll be talking about the other big differentiating factor – lens speed (all those weird f numbers). We’ll also cover some other features you’ll see talked about such as autofocus, image stabilization and macro.

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Adam Reeve @ 9:02 pm
Filed under: Gadgets, Photo Tips, Photography
Photo Tips #7 : Crop Factor Revisited

Posted on Monday 12 September 2011

I talked about crop factor in the previous installment, it’s the reason why an identical lens mounted on a camera with a smaller sensor will appear to have a local focal length. I thought that a diagram might help clarify things further, so let’s try this. Imagine you’re looking straight down the lens onto the sensor, mounted at the back of your camera.

Crop Factor Diagram
Crop Factor (Large Sensor)

On the left you see the sensor, represented by the yellow box. You can see that the image projected onto it by the lens is a little larger than the sensor – this is quite normal. Whatever does hit the sensor becomes your final image, shown on the right. Now imagine the sensor is smaller – the lens is exactly the same, so the projected image is the same, but less of it will hit the sensor. The final image is also the same size (we’re assuming that both sensors have the same resolution – the same megapixel count). End result? The final image looks like it’s taken with a longer lens, it’s been magnified. The crop factor is a measure of how much smaller the sensor is, and thus how much longer the lens appears to be. It’s called the crop factor because it has the effect of cropping (trimming) the image.

Crop Factor Diagram
Crop Factor (Smaller Sensor)

Hopefully that makes things a little clearer, if you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments!

Adam Reeve @ 11:27 pm
Filed under: Gadgets, Photo Tips, Photography
Photo Tips #6 : A Lens Primer (Part 1)

Posted on Sunday 11 September 2011

If you have a DSLR you have a choice of hundreds of different lenses, ranging in price from $50 to many thousands (the most expensive I ever saw was a Canon for $100,000 – used!). So how to choose? A lot of that comes down to personal preference and what you want the lens for, as well as factors like budget, but in this article I’ll try to give you a basic primer so you at least can understand the differences.
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Adam Reeve @ 7:57 pm
Filed under: Gadgets, Photo Tips, Photography
Photo Tips #5 : Canon’s Numbering Scheme

Posted on Saturday 10 September 2011

As a follow up to my DSLR guide, here’s a quick explanation of Canon’s DSLR numbering scheme which will hopefully clear up some common confusion!

All Canon DSLRs have a model number starting with 1, 2, 3 or 4 digits and ending in D. For example you have the 5D, the 60D and the 600D. Here’s how to tell what you’re looking at:

  • The fewer digits, the higher end the camera is. So a 1000D is basic, 500D is entry level, 50D is mid range and 5D is pro.
  • Except for the single-digit numbers, higher is newer. So the 40D replaced (and is better than) the 30D, which previously replaced the 20D.
  • For the single digit numbers, lower is better. The 5D is awesome, the 1D is the ultimate. Newer models in this range get suffixes, e.g. the 5D mkII.

I believe Nikon use a similar scheme (although I’m not a Nikon expert) but they put the D at the beginning!

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Adam Reeve @ 11:03 pm
Filed under: Gadgets, Photo Tips, Photography
Photo Tips #4 : Useful Resources

Posted on Saturday 10 September 2011

As a followup to my Which Camera? series I wanted to share some links to useful sites when reading up on cameras and photography. I’d trust anything from these sites, and you should be able to find anything you need in there somewhere!

Adam Reeve @ 10:30 pm
Filed under: Gadgets, Photo Tips, Photography
Photo Tips #3 : Which Camera? (Part 3)

Posted on Saturday 10 September 2011

So far I’ve posted about Compact Cameras, Superzooms, and Micro Four Thirds. Now it’s onto the big boys – the DSLRs. This is what most people think of when they consider a serious or professional-style camera, and while the top end models are still priced for the Pro only, there are now many much more affordable options.

Nikon D300s DSLR

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Adam Reeve @ 10:16 pm
Filed under: Gadgets, Photo Tips, Photography
Photo Tips #2 : Which Camera? (Part 2)

Posted on Wednesday 24 August 2011

In the first part of this series I talked about Compact Cameras, and came to the conclusion that you should probably have one – at least as a second camera for keeping with you all the time. Now it’s time to look at a couple of categories which step it up a bit – the Superzoom and the new Micro Four Thirds format.

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Adam Reeve @ 11:54 pm
Filed under: Gadgets, Photo Tips, Photography
Fixed Comments!

Posted on Wednesday 24 August 2011

Someone let me know that the comments were broken, I think they’re fixed now. If you have any problems let me know using the contact form. Thanks!

Adam Reeve @ 10:03 pm
Filed under: Announcements
Introducing the Photo Tips Series

Posted on Saturday 20 August 2011

People often ask me about photography related things, so I thought I’d write some stuff down! My new Photo Tips series on this blog will start off with basics like choosing a camera and then explain common terms like depth of field, exposure, ISO, and so on. Finally I hope to point out some things that I’ve found useful over the years and maybe cover some gadget and accessory reviews. Expect a new post every few days, and leave a comment if you find anything useful, or want to ask a question. Enjoy!

Adam Reeve @ 5:56 pm
Filed under: Gadgets, Photo Tips, Photography