Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Arrgh, Computers

The computer drama in our household seems to be never ending. I say "seems to be" because it is finally possible that there's some light at the end of the tunnel. I say "never ending" because we've been having computer difficulties since last October!

It all started with the purchase of a new laptop for John. Our old faithful Toshiba was getting a little quirky and we felt that it was only a matter of time. To preempt a horrific crash, we decided to purchase and pick up a new computer when John traveled out of the country. He brought it home . . .and immediately started having problems with it. It took almost a week to figure out how to get it to hook up to our wireless router. Then, the "blue screen of death" made frequent appearances, and John had troubles transferring files from the old to the new computer.

Finally, John was able to input our whole Outlook address book and begin using the computer for emails, and that lasted less than three days before the entire computer crashed. After many hours of work and searching (using Old Faithful as a backup), John finally figured out a way to retrieve the new information on the hard drive, despite the encryption we have on it, get the Dell people to give us a new hard drive, and then began the long and arduous work of completely reformatting and setting up the computer. Why "long and arduous"? Just because John didn't really know anything about setting up a computer, nor did he care about rebuilding it to exacting specifications . . .he just wanted a functioning computer! He was able to get most of the programs reinstalled but was still wary of it, and by this time it was late November and we were into the Christmas season with all of its busyness.

So, the new Dell pretty much got shelved for a bit. John was still using Old Faithful for emails, and so just kept on with it. Then, we felt that perhaps I should have a new computer too, so planned to buy one and pick it up when we were out of the country recently. That way, Old Faithful could be permanently retired and John could usually leave his computer at the office, and I would also be able to have a computer at home.

Finally, finally, finally after all this time, John had some time to sort and organize files on the old computer and try to transfer them to the new computer. Unfortunately he also ran into more difficulties due to several versions of Outlook existing on our old computer, but. . . it seems that MAYBE he is finally finished with that process! He had to go back through and manually delete thousands of emails that existed in triplicate (due to a crash and reinstallation back in 2005) before the program could be transferred.

John also got my new computer up and running and I even did a little personalizing last night--set the desktop photo, chose some photos for screen savers, etc. I'm enjoying not having to wait to use the computer! Nice!

Ok, so now my new project is to organize five years of photos that now were transferred to my new computer. They are somewhat organized by date of download, but not any more than that. Any suggestions, anyone? (Sandra, I'm calling your name!) Do I need to store my pictures online or just on my computer and external hard drive? Seriously, I would appreciate any advice any of you would like to give!

I feel a bit about computers like I used to feel about cars in the States: a necessary evil! They can take up lots of time if they're not working properly, but all you really want them for is to USE them--they are supposed to make life easier! I do hope and trust that all this work wasn't in vain and hopefully both of our new computers will prove themselves to be useful tools for a long, long time. Let's hope!


sandra said...

Well, since you called my name...

Yes, I do have a few suggestions.

But first let me say: Bless your heart. I can't believe you've had that much computer drama. I wish I could send Hubs to you. I know healing computers is not listed as a spiritual gift, but in modern times one has to wonder...

Your question: Do I need to store my pictures online or just on my computer and external hard drive?

You DEFINITELY need to store the pictures online. Computers are easily stolen. They easily crash. External harddrives are also easily stolen. They can crash too!

For $25 a year you can have unlimited storage space on Unlimited photos!

You can make the photos public or private. You can hold them private, but still invite people to see your photos by invitation only.

Friends and family members can download photos from Flickr. (No more burning your Mom CD's!)

For photo organization we highly recommend: They have a program called fotoalbum.

You DEFINATELY need a software to organize your photos with. The more photos you have, the less you're doing to be satisfied with putting them in makeshift folders.

With a digital photo software, you're able to browse your photos and search through you photos using tags/keywords.

When we first started using this program, we e-mailed the developers several times and they put our suggestions into place.

Fotoalbum can rename your files according to the picture date. (I.e. instead of dscn1234.jpg they are named 2009-12-25@9-30-45.jpg) This is great for photo organization.

You can also edit the picture, crop it, change the lighting, etc.

It's less bulky (on your hard drive) than some other options.

If you really wanted more you could try Adobe Lightroom, but I think it's probably more program than you need and over $200. I think I see a theme: more!

So you're looking at a two step process,

#1 in fotoalbum:
Once you've renamed you pics (assuming you always kept your digital camera's time set right), you need to caption and tag/keyword your photos. You can batch caption and tag with fotoalbum or you can go through them one by one based off of how specific you want to be. The software makes all of this easy.

#2 in flickr:
Then you upload them to flickr and enjoy a better nights rest knowing your memories are safe forever.

Chris said...

I'll chime in as well. It will probably be a few years before you buy another computer, but I've become a fan of Apple products. We're down to only one PC in the house. It takes a few days to adjust to the Mac OS interface, and although the operating system seems so friendly (and it is) it quickly morphs to being as complex as you need it to be. And nearly all major software is both for PC and Mac. In the current economy, Apple continues to show profits, even though they have a more expensive product.

My wife has grown to love her Mac, and she's using it for far more than she ever used before.

As for software, all Macs come with iLife, and the photo organization of the program is outstanding. We're going to upgrade, as the new version has face recognition, meaning that not only can you organize your photos by date or activity, but by person...somewhat automatically. That's amazing.

And online storage is fine, but I recommend the purchase of a large (1TB) external hard drive, some that can be found under $100 now, such as at Buy dot com. Back up everything at least once a week for peace of mind (Macs also do that automatically, too). The hard drive is a must NOW. The Mac can wait for the future.

jeff_windows_team said...
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