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Friday, March 02, 2007

photo storage while travelling


"E11" being watched while chilling out in the 'Sea of Love' coffee shop

A quick update on what I've carrying and what's worked out as really useful:
The bane of all travellers these days is digital photos and how to take care of them all. There's multiple choices: lots of memory cards, don't take many photos (?!?!), burn to CD/DVD, online storage, backup to laptop or hard drive (e.g. an iPod).

1) I hate lots of memory cards. It's not a regular complaint, but they're too small so easy to lose!

2) Burn to CD/DVD: A very good option. Lots of people getting double copies. Post one home and keep the other. Since I've met a few people that have received dodgy CD's, I'm nervous of this. Definitely good as a secondary backup though

3) don't take many photos. I'm not going to say anymore :)

4) online storage: I use it myself but since internet connections are notoriously slow, it's only realistic for backing up your favourites, or a selection. Still good though, as it also means you get to share pics in real-time, and distract lots of you from working ;)
Options are with flickr, bebo, myspace, kodak, and a million others (search in Google for the sites I've named if you're interested). Flickr is photo specific so you can do fancier things with the pictures (including backup the original quality photo), but it's an isolated page, whereas bebo/etc. mean that it's all integrated together with your 'friends' and 'blogs' and calendar, etc. To be honest, those sites drive me mad, but that's just my opinion :)

5) Laptop or Hard drive. Loads of people are travelling with laptops. I'm completely amazed at the number - I've been in internet cafés here and seen more personal laptops than computers (that are already in the shop)?! Incredible. I actually considered it for myself, especially as I'm writing so much, but in the end the nerves over lugging around a very expensive piece of electronics put me off. Hard drive option: see that gizmo in the photo above? That's a little portable hard drive. I can plug my camera into it, and copy all the photos across for storing onto it. It's an Archos 604 wifi, I mentioned it ages ago when I bought it.

How's it going? well, it's been great. Every couple of days, I just plug the camera in, suck all the pictures across and that's it done. Brilliantly simple, it just comes up on screen and asks "whether you'd like to copy all files from the camera". Idiot-proof. As you can guess, I still post pictures to the internet for piece of mind (and for y'all :), along with backing up to another walkman I have with me. Pretty over-the-top but we've met so many people now that have lost their photos that I'm paranoid.
With regards to the laptop, I'm actually regretting I didn't buy one now. It would have saved me a fortune in internet bills (especially as I'm now also writing up a couple of articles for another few websites.....), along with less stress due to internet cafe computer's all having viruses, etc. I now spend the first 20 minutes removing all the viruses from whatever computer I'm using (a few people have lost all their pictures because of viruses). Very frustrating!

UPDATE:
To explain how the system works, see the pics below. Unfortunately I can't get a picture of the camera performing a backup as I need a camera to take a picture. Imagine that the camera plugs into the end of the cable for backing up.....


Then, every once in a while, I just take my other walkman (it's also an Archos, but the only reason for that is that it was being sold on special for 110euros just before Christmas) and I backup/copy all the pictures onto this.
See picture below of the two devices hooked up together.
Takes only a minute to copy a hundred or so pictures, very simple. The benefit is that I only need to bring the cheap and cheerful one to internet cafes and around town with me. It's not too fancy looking which means that there's less chance of theft, and even if something is stolen, there's also the second version of everything.




What else has it been used for? Well, the photo above is actually from a rest day. Diarmuid sat down and watched a few movies on it. You'd be surprised how easy it is to watch a film on a 4" screen. It's also been hooked up to a TV for viewing the movies on a big screen.
Speakers built in also so it works as a great jukebox in the hut in the evenings also.

On a side note, it also has wireless internet access (if the internet café has it of course - it's also usually free or cheaper than using one of their computers - one of the benefits that the laptop-carrying-people get also). How's it working? Well, I don't use it all the time but for quick checks of emails, it's perfect. I've actually written a few of the diary entries from it, believe it or not! It's got a touch-screen keyboard (you type by gripping each side and tapping with your thumbs, very quick once you get used to it).

My opinion of the Archos. Good and bad. I still wish there was an external keyboard, just to save hassle sometimes, but as a photo backup device it's been amazing! The other issue is probably more specific to me: since I'm writing so much now (who'd have thought, Ms. Loughran - my old English teacher - that I could write this much :) that the laptop would have been easily justified. I wonder how much a flight to Singapore is.......

all questions are welcome if anyone is intriqued.