Tag Archives: ipod

Technology is great until it fails! How to back up your pictures and other files

In this age where almost everyone has some form of capturing the moment digitally; whether you have a full-on Digital SLR camera, point and click, iPod, iPhone, Android, etc. at some point you’re going to amass lots of pictures and videos.

So what would happen if the device they were on right now failed? Would you lose all your treasured files? What options do you have to backup?

Backing up your PC / Mac

There are so many options here to consider; here’s a brief run-down of the main ones:

Data Transfer Speed Cost to Implement Typically Stored Risk of Failure Comments
Optical Media (CD/DVD) Slow $ On Site Low Long term storage option; Size limitations per Disc (e.g. Single Layer DVD is 4.7GB)
Attached Portable Disk Fast $ On Site Moderate Good for quick archival; risk of disk failure
(in unit) RAID array (non-NAS) Fast $$ On Site Low Provides protection, but risk to data if the entire unit is affected
Single NAS drive Medium * $ On Site Moderate Central location for everyone on a home network to backup to; risk of single disk failure
RAID NAS Drive Medium * $$ On Site Low Central location for everyone on a home network to backup to; risk should the location catch fire, etc.
Free Cloud Offerings Medium * Cloud Low Space is typically limited; very little options in syncing files
Paid Cloud Offerings Medium * $$$ Cloud Low Best compromise  of accessibility, speed, risk and flexibility; Most expensive option long term

Some terminology while we’re here:

NAS = Network Attached Storage; think of it like a portable hard drive that you can put in your home network and anyone on your network can see it

RAID = Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks; most home PCs have one hard drive. if that fails then it’s game over. Some PCs are configured to allow other hard drives to be added which mirror the main hard drive. This doesn’t increase your hard drive space – instead, if the main hard drive fails, you have at least one disk with a backup of your data which you can run from. To read more about RAID, check this wiki article out.

Backing up isn’t just once and done

Backups typically are one of three types. When you are looking to backup your files, you might want to think about using backup software to help automate it, and so you’ll need to consider the following

  • Full – A complete backup of all files is taken each time
  • Incremental – A full backup is taken and then only changes are backed up after that point, resulting in multiple incremental sets of backups
  • Differential – A full backup is taken and then only changes are taken; each time a backup occurs it overwrites the last differential backup and takes all files updated since the full backup. This results in only two backup files being present at any one time.

Many backup services offer a variety of these. To me, differential seems the one I’d pick because in the event of a disk failure, I’m only having to work with two files, otherwise I’m maintaining many files with incremental (unless I’m on the ball with when I do a full backup).

The Need for Speed

When you’re backing up gigabytes of files you want it to happen fairly quickly – if you’re using something like a DVD or slow internet connection it’s going to take a while. That could be a PITA.

What’s the best option for me?

Generally using Cloud for backups is the best compromise – if all you’re doing is backing up and don’t want others to have access to the files. Otherwise, a NAS RAID drive might suit better. Both have pros and cons – think about speed, access, cost and finally – if you’re house were to catch on fire, would you save your RAID NAS drive?

Here’s a comparison of Cloud services to consider. Carbonite, Mozy and Backblaze are typically the most popular premium services, so also check out this.

What about my cell / mobile phone backups?

iPhones have iCloud and iTunes to help with that. You can sync your files to either / both and take care of it.

Android has a slightly different set of options; You can sync your contacts and pictures with Google directly (including Google Picassa) or you can buy some of the apps out there for it. TechHive has a great article on this very topic.

Conclusion

We all need to consider our backup strategy – and have one in place. It also goes hand in hand with being able to organise your files so that if you need to refer back to them, you can. How many times have you seen the folder “DCIM” with image names such as “IMAGE0012.JPG”? Technology still has to solve the ability to catalogue digital images effectively!

So, what do you use for backups?

Apple iPad2 is stepping stone to the next Apple iPad (iPad2 HD)

Steve Jobs while introducing the iPad in San F...
Image via Wikipedia

The news has been awash this week with Apple’s announcement that the iPad2 was being released mid-March 2011. As usual the industry press and “fanboi’s” were all over this like bees to a honey pot – and ironically that’s exactly what I believe this product is, in anticipation of the next iPad Apple is surely developing.

There is quite a bit of information here that leads to the conclusion, so for those of you with a shorter attention span, might want to fast-forward to the end of this post.

Steve Jobs’ Mind Control

If you listen to Steve Jobs’ presentations (see iPad2 presentation) you’ll see he’s a clever salesman. Using his stature and choice of words is almost akin to the techniques that Hitler used to incite many German’s. Not that I’m saying that Mr Jobs should be viewed like he is a modern day Hitler; just his technique has parallels, with clearly different intent.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • When we said the iPad was magical, people laughed at us. But it’s turned out to be magical.” – setting the scene; “us against the world”, then reaffirm position
  • They’re taking advantage of this incredible, magical UI.” – Using positive enforcement
  • Fantastic games, a lot of apps for business and vertical markets. The things people are doing here are amazing.” – more positive enforcement, creating a sense of excitement
  • Having built in all this stuff, one of the striking things about the iPad 2 is that’s dramatically thinner. 33% thinner.” – Use of the word “striking” suggests he’s “one of us” looking at the product for the first time
  • The new iPad 2 is thinner than your iPhone 4.” – you DID buy an iPhone, right? You are part of our “inner circle”, right?
  • When you get your hands on one, it feels totally different.” – Once someone picks up a product, their purchasing potential goes way up. This is basically programming people to go to a store… so you will buy one.
  • This has been tried and tested… iPads get 10 hours of battery life.” – doesn’t every product get tried and tested? Yes, but this is a phrase associated with things that we know are true; used to suggest that significant effort has been made. Significant effort = perception of quality.

The reason I mention the delivery of Jobs’ keynote is because of its’ intent. Combine the setting with the person and their persona, the words they use, the means of delivery including attire (you don’t see him wearing a suit on purpose) and the audience participation causes GroupThink excitement. It becomes infectious and makes you want to believe in the Church of Steve.

This is all done to help sales in anticipation of the next generation iPad (yes, you read that right).

Apple’s Product Pattern

Look at the iPhone and the excitement around that; consider each version (iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4) and how each version incrementally delivers new or updated features. Do you remember the anger and frustration that was made by iPhone 3G users when 3GS was launched? No? See how selective our memories become when we’re indoctrinated into believing things through social and media subliminal pressure.

If you look at the iPhone Wiki, you’ll see a new iPhone was launched every year since 2007. The iPad is following the same trait (see iPad Wiki). However, since the original iPhone launch in 2007, consumers are becoming more and more savvy about what to expect for the next incremental product update.

So based off the product cycle information, it’s suggestive that there’s another iPad product being developed already.

Details on the new iPad – iPad2 HD

Well of course there aren’t any – yet. But read on…

Releasing the iPad2 can be viewed as releasing the iPhone 3G; it’s definitely a step up from the original product but it falls short in a number of areas:

  • Screen resolution is still 1024 x 768 – it’s no Retina display and not the best HD movie experience. I suspect they made this choice as existing iPhone apps would look even worse on an iPad Retina display.
  • The rear-facing camera is not going to be great for still photography – 1280 x 720 = 0.92 megapixels. For this to be anywhere near usable there needs to be at least 3MP.
  • Still has 256mb Memory, just like the original iPad

Apple’s product cycle tends to fall in September, which is when we will see the launch of the iPhone 5 (see “leaked iPhone 5 parts surface“)  and then early 2012 we’ll see iPad 2 HD launch. [postscript: Rumour now is that the iPhone 5 will be announced in June 2011, leaving the door open for other products in September]. The A5 processor is really necessary for the Retina display to handle moving things around the screen and this delay gives Apple enough time to work out what to do with the backward compatibility for existing iPhone apps.

Should you buy an iPad2?

Do you have an iPad? Then no.

Otherwise, consider the iPad and the Motorola Xoom and then see what works best for you. Bear in mind that the Moto Xoom is in early product cycle so may fall down against the iPad2 initially in *some* areas, but Google is committed to making the platform successful so you can almost guarantee future updates will also make it a compelling argument. Right now the Xoom not priced at the right level (although some large volume discount retailers are selling it at discount).

Disclaimer

I take a neutral approach to the Mac vs PC; Android vs iOS debates that rage forums etc. Our household has Macs, PCs, iPads, Android devices and iPods. All of these devices we enjoy using day in and day out. I do dislike iTunes immensely though!


A trick up Apple’s sleeve? iPod Touch 4th Generation

Apple has released two significant products that have generated a great deal of press; the iPad and the iPhone 4 but has been pretty quiet about their iPod product line of late. Why is this?

The iPod helped Apple make it big

No-one can argue that Apple’s iPod product line was a game changer not just for the MP3 player market but also for Apple’s own image. Of course they were already huge in the creative industry (with the help of Adobe with applications such as Photoshop) and had a “edgy” branding in the tech market, but to make it into everyday people’s homes was the huge leap for them – and the iPod made that possible.

iPod Touch 4th Generation released September 2010!

Well, that’s my guess. Apple has traditionally released a new generation around September and given that the iPhone product can lend its’ set of technology back to the Touch, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that this September we’ll also see a new iPod Touch. For Apple to announce that during the furore of iPad and iPhone madness would dilute the message for all the platforms, so I would imagine we’ll see them announce the Touch towards August. In the meantime, existing iPod Touch units can upgrade to iOS4 – if you’ve got a Touch and feel like an upgrade is in order, Apple have an app (well, page) for that.

New Features for the iPod Touch 4G

Here’s the list of potential upgrades I see for the next gen Touch:

  • Camera – For both stills and also video. Because of the iPhone 4G’s video conference capability, it would be great if they could also include this feature for the Touch – but that also blurs the line of what this product is designed to do. I think at best we’ll just see a static camera capability.
  • High Resolution Screen – Using the same technology as the iPhone 4G, the screen resolution will be upped.
  • Longer Battery Life – if the iPhone 4G gets it, why shouldn’t the Touch?
  • Faster Processor – Now Apple manufactures their own processors, as seen in the iPad/iPhone4 products, this could be likely.

Other posts around the webby world suggest they want 3G – I don’ t know this will happen because this starts to make the product a mobile phone like device. Though thinking about it, that could be  the staging of what the Apple product line is headed towards – the vision many have shared that we have a mobile all-in-one device that includes phone, camera, video, media player, games machine…What a bugger it would be if you lose it though… for that to work you would start to need retina scans or finger printing authentication..

Since writing this article Apple did release the iPod Touch which did include the features I suggested; You can also install Skype which gets around the whole 3G/Phone question. The camera isn’t quite up to the iPhone 4 specification but there is a reason for that. In any case the product seems to once again set the standard for mp3 players. I’m sure Microsoft’s Zune will be playing catchup soon…

iPod won’t update from iTunes; Floola rescues then breaks iPod – cue FooBar2000

iPodThe title of the post is pretty descriptive in itself, but here’s the low-down on what happened and how i fixed it.

Adding music to iTunes does not update iPod

Dragging mp3s to my iTunes library would not sync up to the iPod – No error, no clues, no indication why this was happening. Mr Google says that the only way to resolve was either to upgrade to the latest version of iTunes and firmware (already done) and failing that, do a factory reset. Ugh.

Floola to the rescue – sort of…

Floola is a great little application which lets you maintain your iTunes library without the need for iTunes. It’s damn useful when you’re in a spot – no need to install the app, just double-click; no need to register the iPod, it just works.

So Floola let me add files and then re-writes the iTunes library – but what it also does is change the sort algorithm. What this means is that any band starting with “The” will be put in the “T” section – e.g. The Mission used to be in the “M”s by iTunes. Niggle, but nothing to worry about.

However Floola (at least the version I ran) has bugs which means I would strongly recommend NOT using until the dev team fix them – namely:

  • Version 2.8 and lower could and would mix up your album art – so you’d end up with artwork for one artists being assigned to a different artists’ song – Version 2.9 and above apparently fixes this
  • Sometimes the Floola written iTunes Library file would corrupt and you’d lose all access your songs – but they’d still be on the iPod. – This is discussed here: – http://www.floola.com/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=570&forum=2

I got hit by both bugs – the last bug happened twice, with the first being recovered by connecting the iPod to iTunes; the second completely hosed the iPod so that no songs appeared and iTunes said the library was corrupt.

Extract using foobar2000

Because I don’t keep my songs in one location (i.e. not have my iTunes library stored on the same PC that I have iTunes installed on), iI decided to rip all the content off the iPod. To do this, I installed foobar2000, shut down both the iTunes and AppleMobileDevice services (go to Task Manager > Processes in Windows), connect my iPod and then point foobar to the drive letter that the iPod is attached to (click on File > Add Directory > (iPod Drive e.g. G:)/iPod Control/Music).

Once foobar has retrieved the music list, you can drag and drop those files to another location (e.g. your C:\ drive).  Once I did this I reset the iPod to factory settings (from iTunes) then dragged the files back to my iTunes library – Hey presto! iTunes works, iPod works, updates work!

Floola, the iTunes Alternative; DoubleTwist removes DRM

I was looking for an alternative to iTunes the other day as a friend was having issues with theirs. In doing so I came across a great little app called “Floola

To quote from their website : “Floola is a freeware application to efficiently manage your iPod or your Motorola mobile phone (any model supporting iTunes). It’s a standalone application that can be run directly from your iPod and needs no installation under Linux, Mac OS X and Windows

Sounds great eh? The bonus is that it’s lightweight and not resource hungry! You could pop it on a memory stick (the app weighs in at 17.6mb for the Win32 version I am using) and manage your tunes on any compatible computer.

How to run Floola on Windows when you have iTunes already installed

  • taskmgr.jpgFirst, kill the iTunes applications running in the background – to do this, go to the Task Manager and end the AppleMobileDeviceService and iPodService tasks (click the image for details)
  • Plug in your iPod and then run the floola application
  • It will prompt you to select your version of iPod if this is the first time you’ve run this combination of iPod and install
  • It may also say that your iPod is not setup correctly and offer to do this automatically – I said “yes” to this
  • Result! You now have your Floola application configured.

floola.jpg

You can still manage your music, podcasts, etc. The interface is compact so it might seem quirky at first, but I think this is a great solution / alternative to iTunes. You can download Floola from here.

How to remove DRM through DoubleTwist

I’ve also found a great application that removes the DRM from any of your iTunes files – again freeware and spyware free – called DoubleTwist. According to their FAQ “Our mission is to enable consumers to enjoy their digital media on the widest possible range of devices and help them share what they’ve created with friends.

Also from their site : “doubleTwist can automatically convert music you have purchased from the iTunes store to MP3, a universal format supported by all devices that play digital music. doubleTwist does not delete or move the original files. You can only convert files that you have legally purchased and are authorized to play with iTunes.

Aside from the whole argument for and against DRM, those of us who have bought legal songs and want them not just on our iPod, this seems like a great way to be able to listen to them on other devices.