New Workspace

So now everything is being driven by the laptop.  I’ll put the old PC into storage soon. Click for the big view.  Eventually as the Hard Drives die, I’m going to buy more LaCie drives with a vertical rack they make for it.  But for all the wireless stuff – there’s still a tangle of wires – though this is a lot easier to manage than what I had before when all the wires came from the back of the PC – now they’re mostly in the hub.  I’ve got everything I need from the PC and the laptop is much faster and fault tolerant (so far) than the PC which still gives me a beautiful blue screen every once in a while.  I have to wonder what it would look like if  I was shooting the 21mp 5D II.

My only gripes (minor I guess) about the Dell laptop – is that the video connector doesn’t have screws to keep it attached, and I still need to hookup my “real” keyboard to the laptop because the keyboard on the laptop is a PITA.  The dock is by Toshiba – and although it has a decent video card (not as good as the laptop) in it, I couldn’t see any mode that would turn off the laptop keyboard when the monitor was used.  But the laptop has a good two-monitor aware driver. 

The laptop works pretty well when it goes to hibernate or standby mode – but when it comes back on it starts reading all the drives and this popup auto-something window comes up even though I’ve told it many times not to do that.

As far as taking the laptop on the road – it has everything I need including a built-in cared reader (SD only); and a pretty good DVD burner (I probably should’ve upgraded that but it’s okay). 




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My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a fine art photographer working in New York City.

10 thoughts on “New Workspace”

  1. My suggestion about the desktop is to re-install XP. Soulds like the registry has been damaged. The alternative is to use something like Norton System Works to fix windows. External drives are nice but internal ones are much quicker and that the advantage of teh desktop. Mine has been going OK for about 1 year. The only problem is that some of the programs running are not shown in the taskbar on the right side. I verified that they are indeed running. Eventually I wull run out of internal drive space and use external storage. Right now the externals are used for backup.
    What I am curious about is why the hub seems to work better that when you had external devices hooked up to the desktop.

  2. Ever thought about ditching all those externals for a DROBO? I made the switch to a DROBO a couple of months ago and the physical space saved was worth it. I am running 4TB of storage from one DROBO. Also, just curious but do you store backups off-site in case of emergency?

  3. Genaro – yes. I looked at the DROBO system. It is a possibility, but there was something about it I wasn’t crazy about – though I can’t remember anymore what 🙂

    I’ve had two external drives die over the last two years: one OneTouch and one WD MyBook. Right now my plan is to wait for another one to die and get a second LaCie drive and start stacking them.

    Yes, I have some off-site storage at Amazon (just the production shots) – as well as DVDs of all my digital stuff which I keep at my sisters house.

    The LaCie drive is used for on-site duplication with EMC retrospect. It’s not fancy, but it’s okay and it does copy over whatever is important on a daily schedule.

    In short, I’m pretty careful with the digital files. The ones that are for sale are at Amazon off-site. The others are on DVDs off-site, and on the LaCie on-site.

  4. I have a suggestion for the “busted light.”

    For something less than six figures (definitely five figures with federal rebates under the new stimulus bill) you can install a wind farm on the roof of your building. The electricity generated will not only enable you to replace the light bulb without cost, but will also permit you to occasionally use the can opener to open up Buddy’s food.

    If you can’t afford the start up fee, contact HBC (Helicopter Beanies Corporation), which will provide PWP (Personalized Wind Power) at a reduced cost. The drawback is that you have to maintain a walking pace of 4 MPH for at least six hours a day with your head down.

    Of course you can just wait a few months, when Congress will probably repeal the first law of thermodynamics.

  5. Most wind farm users are waiting for the firmware release of 1.02b which helps prevent the blades from flying off, but there are rumors that the 1.02b version creates a magnetic field which can throw off most GPS system in the area.

    The government has been keeping this under wraps, but there are two cases of RVs making the wrong turn and flying off into the Grand Canyon which is near one of the largest wind farms in the country.

  6. Well, after galfriend vetoed my idea of a compact basement reactor (such a nag about safety, but she also reminded me that I develop my film down there…how could I forget something as important as fogging my film), we’ll have to stick to wind-power-by-proxy, though I still want to know how we know those electrons are coming straight off the “farm” and nowhere else…

    Craig: I’m not certain about Blu-Ray recordable media just yet: just as you never know what you’re getting, longevity-wise, with your typical CD/DVD recordable media (with few exceptions…I only use Verbatim DataLifePlus disks for anything remotely important), I’ve seen nothing regarding archival keeping qualities of a typical Blu-Ray disk from any from the few companies that make them (haven’t cheked with Verbatim yet, and they probably make the media by now).

    Dave: Are all those external drives USB? Are they connected directly to the PC or through a hub? I personally think using hubs for HDs is a bad idea; no scientific data on hand to back this ou, but I’ve seen too many hubs do too many weird things with both HDs and flash-based media to trust them for anything more than connecting something like a printer, scanner or the like. Better to just stick as many USB 2.0 cards in the PC as necessary.

    Another issue is the grade of HDs you’re using. I’ve been inquiring about server-grade/enterprise-class HDs, which purportedly offer a higher MTBF rating than the standard drives on offer. Yes, they cost a bit more, but I wonder if the potential reliability increase might be worth it.

    And, there’s the matter of settings: If you have the PC set up to spin down the disks at short intervals, I wonder if the constant start-stop cycles create additional strain on the disks, as opposed to keeping ’em spinning as long as the computer is powered up.

    Next, voltage regulation: I know most drives have an external power supply that should, theoretically, should the drive from any ConEd-based shenanigans, but I’m not certain. I have a pair of decent surge protectors in place for everything in the system, and sometime in Spring I’ll probably go for a UPS for a dose of true voltage regulation. (Not a bad idea for computer power supplies, too.)

    Finally, data density: Given how cheap 1TB HDs have become, have you wondered how these things pack so much data into these platters (however many there are in a given drive) and still manage to sell ’em dirt-cheap?

    On my Macs, I have a little utility that gives me a full-time heads-up on the SMART status of all my internal drives (one in the PowerBook, four in the G4 tower), but I have to manually inspect the external drive (there’s one so far). I haven’t checked to see if there’s a PC-based equivalent, but I’d be pretty shocked if there wasn’t one.

    – Barrett

  7. Hey Barrett. The PC is in storage. I had many problems with hubs and internal cards as well. But I’m now using this Toshiba dock / hub thingy, and frankly it has been 100% reliable so far. The external drives are all hooked into it via USB 2.0.

    The dock has a graphics card as well, but the card in the laptop is better so I use that. The way it’s set up, you just turn on the laptop and the laptop screen is blank, and output goes to the 22 inch flatscreen. If I want to get fancy, I can span the laptop and 22 inch screen.

    There’s nothing magical about hooking up USB drives to the computer itself or cards – they’ve always been problems for me.

    What intrigues me about this system, is that essentially the laptop is a cpu / memory / OS and hard drive for running programs. All data is on the external drives. So, if tomorrow I were to buy another laptop or PC – the switch over would be fairly easy. It’s also simple to disconnect the dock and take the laptop on the road.

    As far as the external drives go, the best of the lot seems to be the LaCie drive. It is never even warm to the touch, whereas the OneTouch and the MyBook drives have internal fans (which I hear go on and off) and generate a fair amount of heat.

    I can put the laptop into hibernation mode with a touch of a button. All the external and internal drives spin down; and so far I’ve been able to come back from hibernation without any issues so long as I don’t leave any programs open.

    The USB connections in the laptop are used for Tablet, Mouse, Keyboard (I’m thinking of getting a wireless combo there); scanner,and the hookup to the Toshiba Dock.

    This is an interesting setup and makes it easier to see what’s going on with the drives and the cables if something does go wrong.

    I know that some people like a hot swappable setup; but that’s not necessary for me. If one drive goes out, I buy another one and copy the data from my backup drive. And in worse case scenerio, from the DVDs… (I use the same brand as you). And in the worst of all cases I would need to pull some files from Amazon S3 and rescan negs… etc.

  8. In response to Barrett’s comment about spin-down of hard disks, I have been told by my computer service for my office not to do this. Its better to leave the equipment running all the time. Turning the PCs off and on creates more strain than just leaving them running. Screen savers should be used and the monitors can be set to turn off after a few minutes.

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