- Entrepreneur de l'année: Jacques-Antoine Granjon, Vente-privée
- Manager de l'année: Frank Esser, PDG SFR
- Personnalité promouvant le numérique de l'année, Jean-Michel Billaut, Fondateur de l'atelier BNP-Paribas
I've been struggling for some time now to get the best performance out of my computers, but also to get the best possible backup strategy suited to my needs. These are 2 fold :
- project my data, MAINLY my photography (originals and modified versions)
- my setup. My computers are very personal to me: I hate lending them or giving access to them to someone else (yeah I know, appointment with Mr. Shrink some time next century). But this is where I work every day, where I spend a lot of time, and my setup is both personal in usability and feature-set. I hate having to re-install a computer as it takes forever to feel at ease again.
Aside of my iPhone, iPad, Blackberry (redundant piece of equipment, but I can't cancel my subscription just yet), AppleTVs, here's what I use.
1) an old DELL Precision 670 running Windows XP (windows Vista was slow on it, Seven doesn't rconize the mother board), and Linux Ubuntu. It doesn't have a backup strategy yet, and I could use maybe a suggestion on what best freeware to use for backing it up. (keep in mind that I also probably have tons of legal licences for backup software with all the hard drives I've bought over the years). My kid uses this computer in his room.
2) an old PowerPC iMac G5. It has a firewire hard drive attached to it, running TimeMachine. Happy with that setup. My other kid uses it to browse the net and play games.
3) my MacPro. As you know from previous posts, it boots off an SSD drive hooked on an eSata card. Fast boot and application launches. Then it has 4x2 TB of disks, running on a stripe of 8TB (RAID0). 2 partitions there for speed (measured up to x5 vs. a single disk). I was scared here, because if one disks fails, I would loose everything. I recently changed ALL the 10 (yes 10!) external disks I had to backup different directories, to an external RAID5 enclosure (love it !), running off an eSata connection (fast !), with 4x3TB disks on a RAID 5 setup (meaning 3 disks are used for data, 1 for security copying parity information. If 1 drive fails, it keeps working, no problem). This gives me 9TB of usable data and I use TimeMachine to backup my 3 partitions (boot on SSD, 2 partitions on internal RAID0) without worrying about backup anymore ! And I also get incremental backups with TimeMachine of certain files, although they are sometimes hard to find (config files, etc.).
And because, just because, I also set up 2x2TB LaCie drives (eSata link) as a RAID1 mirror (hey, I have tons of spare disks now), where i manually update a copy of my Aperture photo database (nothing else) using the built-in Aperture Vault mechanism.
4) now, I also use a MacBook Pro as a travelling laptop. I used to have a very simple setup with 2 external USB drives that would clone the internal disk with SuperDuper. I would do this EVERY single time I was planning on traveling, as in the past, I've had my laptop stolen already. Actually, when my house was broken into last year, I restored a new mac in a matter of hours (just copying the files after 3 clicks). I recently switched my optical drive with a SSD drive, hence I have 2 partitions now, and the capacity of both is greater than my external 2 disks. Maybe I could clone each partition with each disk ?
But I chose to do something different :) I hook up my laptop to my home LAN (cables, yes, but 1 Gb/s ethernet), and now do a TimeMachine from my laptop to the same external RAID5 enclosure. I could automate this (there's a trick described online to do TimeMachine backups over wifi) in order to always have the latest sync, but it's manual for the moment. I now use TimeMachine over WiFi for automatic backups. And for added protection, I also clone each partition, to an external USB disk.
I also do a manual Aperture Vault sync to the RAID1 disks.
Note: I moved my home directory to my DATA disks and they are not anymore on my SSD drives. Explanation on why and how here.
Next steps :
I undertand that my data is now safe from a disk crash (MacPro's SSD + RAID0, MacBookPro's SSD + HD), or if my laptop is stolen, or if my MacPro dies on me. I have 4 copies of my pictures now too (internal disks, RAID5, 2 copies on RAID1 mirror). Even my backups are protected (RAID5 has 1 disk failure tolerance, RAID 1 too).
But my physical backup drives in themselves are not fully protected. My house was broken into last year; what if they had stolen my RAID5 enclosure ? What if I lived in Japan and was struck by a tsunami ? I need a copy of my data elsewhere.
The easiest way would be to go for an online service to backup everything. I wouldn't mind paying. My RAID5 with disks cost me $1,100. But with my current ADSL upload speed (< 1Mb/s), the original backup would take more than 3 months. I could of course send in a disk, but that's a hassle. This is the way of the future though, as soon as I get fiber optic internet at home. I hear CrashPlan is a great service, although there are other options.
In the meantime, the best option would be to get the smallest possible setup to carry elsewhere a full copy of my setup + data. I guess the best option is to get another RAID 5 enclosure with 12 TB, and swap them regularly (say once a month) with the one I have at home (leave them in the office, or with a friend or at the bank). But then I would have 2 RAID5 enclosures at home every now and then... Not good. The answer is to rotate with 3 enclosures, labeling them easily as quarter - month 1, month 2, month 3.
Bottom line, I'm happy now that I've centralized everything on this Raid 5 enclosure with TimeMachine. You can get the same one at MacSales.com, with 4 disks.
Many of you know I enjoy photography as a hobby and as a way to do something unrelated to my work as an internet entrepreneur. It's kind of my way to relax.
Therefore, I usually get many questions from friends on how to take better pictures, on what camera to get, etc.
I tried to give the basics on how to take a picture recently here.
Now about the camera :
- any camera will do. Actually the iPhone4 is a great device for that, because you a. carry it with you all the time b. has a pretty good sensor and resolution (not in low light though), c. has software to enhance the pictures significantly like Hipstamatic, Instagram, Pudding Camera, Incredibooth, Camera+, Picplz, Color, and so on. If you were to have only one, then go for that.
- my blog has tons of info on how to customize your computer for photography workflow, for tuning your computer for speed, etc. Others do this with theirs cars. I got a lot of information from MacPerformanceGuide.
- there's tons of litterature on which point and shoot is the best. I hear the Canon G12 is good. Check dpreview.com and Ken Rockwell for more information on cameras. The important part is that it should be with you at all times, and have a decent resolution. Then it's all about the composition and the moment.
- I buy my gear from Calumet Photo in San Francisco, B&H in NYC, Le Cirque and Maison du Leica in Paris, on Stanley St in Hong Kong. Remember that service, advice and warranties are more important than a buck saved here and there online.
- There are some books I've really enjoyed. I just recommend buying stuff from the classic photographers: Richard Avedon, Ansel Adams, Albert Watson, Helmut Newton, Robert Capa, Henri Cartier Bresson, David Hamilton, Irving Penn, etc. Study their composition, their style, their lighting, and try to figure out how they took their pictures. I also likes 'the moment it clicks' where the photographer explains the background to every picture, and Michael Freeman's books on Light. I have 3 or 4 book shelves full of books. But you don't need all of that. Go to public libraries, explore art galleries, photography exhibitions, and read online (Ken Rockwell is a great place where to start). For Leica stuff, I enjoy reading Thorsten Overgaard and Steve Huff.
Now on to gear (dSLRs) :
- a camera body will usually last 2-3 years. Why? because there's always a new model, more mega-pixels (not that they matter), more features, more options, better screen, whatever.
- a lens will usually lat 15-20 years, until manufacturers come with a better optical formula.
Hence where should you invest? in lenses ! definitively.
You can always start with an entry-level camera, but get the best lenses you can afford, and upgrade your body (photography is an area where you can resell your stuff quite easily, and you should). I did this. I first got a Canon 40D body, then after one year, upgraded to a Canon 5D Mark II. I made sure my lenses where EF quality (not EF-S), meaning they were suited for full-frame bodies as well as APS-C (whereas EF-S lenses - cheaper - will not work with full-frame bodies, ie. are not compatible with your upgrade path).
Some other random thoughts :
I would only buy either Canon or Nikon. No Sony, Olympus and other fancy gear. It's not that these are bad equipment. They are actually competitive in every sense. But serious photographers would go with trusted brands because basically everyone carries them (spare parts, repair shops, new parts such as lenses), and they are very good. ie. you can't go wrong buying Mercedes Benz or BMW. Buying Opel, Audi (if we stick with car analogies) carries a different mindset. Which brand you get doesn't really mind : however both are not compatible, so once you go with one, you're stuck with that product line. Canon tends to have some better lenses, more ergonomic bodies, where Nikon tends to be faster with more options. Check reviews online to suit your taste. The Canon 5D mark II for example is the best for low light photography. The Canon 85mm f/1.2 lens is the best for portrait lenses.
Full frame vs. APS-C. I like doing ultra-vide-angle sometimes (16mm). For a technical reason (Google is your friend here), non APS-C have a multiplication factor built-in. So Nikon APS-C has a 1.5x factor. A 50mm then becomes 75mm. Canon has a 1.6x on entry-level, 1.3x on the top tens, 1x on full-frame. It's great if you're using a 200mm lens and the body gives you a 320mm instead (think sports, conferences, etc.). But it forbids you of using a 16mm lens in 16mm mode :( You choose. I prefer simplicity, hence full-frame all the way ;)
There are ranges in the bodies product line of every brand. Basically to address different price points. Compared to prices of great lenses, the body price is IRRELEVANT. What is relevant though is how well the body fits in your hand (they tend to get bigger with the price, and I have rather big hands), how well protected the body is (only the top of the line can be used in extreme conditions such as sandy places - think Burning Man -, rain, mist, heat - think India roadtrip, etc.), how ergonomic the body is to use (read reviews), and weight (the bigger, the heavier).
Some will only swear with a tripod. I have a small portable one for my Leica; and also a bigger one that I only take occasionally because it's cumbersome. I guess the best is the gorilla pod. You can always add a great head like this Leica one ;)
Photography means photography. Strip out the unnecessary : I don't do video with my dSLR, although it does it very well. You probably don't want one-size-fits-all. My cameras are for photography.
Weight is a big issue for me now because of back problems : carrying the body +2 or 3 lenses gets quickly in the 10Kg range. Carrying all that + cables + a laptop and my back starts hurting very quickly. This is the reason I moved to Leica (at a hefty price though !) : same quality of pictures (or even better), between 35mm and 75mm, but in a very small compact and LIGHT device. I lose flexibility as I can't really use ultra-wide-angles and tele-zooms anymore. It's a different kind of photography.
Software : make sure all the addons you use support your gear. Lightroom or Aperture for picture management on a Mac. Picasa I suppose on PC. Then some people are experts at using Photoshop. I don't use it. But I have plugins such as DxO, Nik Software, etc.
- upgrade your iphone4 with about $20-30 of software to take great pictures. I have no views on Android devices. Blackberry pictures suck big time.
- get a point and shoot or a Leica to be able to take great pictures all the time.
- invest in a dSLR only if you don't have a Leica :). OR if you need tele-lenses, or ultra-wide-photography. Go only Canon or Nikon. Get the best lenses you can, and a decent enough body that you can always upgrade later.
- practice, practice, practice. In full manual mode, of course.