Monday, June 16, 2008

Backing Up for a Disaster

The severe weather warning sirens in my town have been going off more and more lately due to tornadoes. But this isn't what prompted me to write about the importance of backing up your computer.

One of the students I taught in Hawaii packed her computer and backup drive in the same bag. This, of course, is the bag the airline lost when she flew home. She lost everything she had worked on at school.

My cousin works for a large furniture store. They dutifully backed up all their computers; however, they kept the backups in the same store with the computers. One night the store burned to the ground and they lost all their computers and their backups.

I am not even going to go into my losses through the years.

Tornadoes, computer crashes, lost luggage, burglars, floods -- there are a lot of things that can make our important files and photos vanish. So I'd like to talk a bit about planning a system for backing up our computer files.

My Backup System

First, I prefer a permanent backup of important files to CD/DVDs. It is a more stable solution than a hard drive. Hard drives fail more often than CD/DVDs.

I make two copies of these backup CD/DVDs and put them in different locations. I keep one backup with me where I can get to it in a hurry if my computer fails, but I put other copy in a safety deposit box or at a friend’s house.

Second, I have an external hard drive and make regular backups to it. Most external drives come with software designed to help you make backups.

I use this external hard drive to mirror -- completely duplicate -- my computer's hard drive. When my computer dies, I only need to do a restore and everything will be put on the new hard drive or new computer.

Third, I bought yet another backup hard drive. I labeled one A and the other B. I alternate backups between the two. I make sure these A and B drives are rotated, not just with the computer, but the location where I keep them (bank vault, neighbor, etc.)

Another option for backing up important files, like photographs, is to use an online backup. To take advantage of this solution, a high-speed connection is needed. Your first backup takes the longest, but once this is done only the changes to your hard drive from the last backup are needed each time. I program my computer to do this at night after I've gone to bed. It takes longer than backing up to a hard drive connected to a computer, but it is off-site, and it is one more place to keep your data. One such provider is Carbonite, which is only $49.95 a year for unlimited storage.

I stay away from tape backup systems. The computer department where I used to work decided to use a tape system to backup their image library. The system corrupted the files and, after five years of inputting data, everything was lost. After restoring all that had been lost and adding four more years of images, it happened again. As far as I know they never recovered the images from those nine years.

You Need More Than One Safe Place

The estate of President John F. Kennedy's personal photographer, Jacques Lowe, archived all their images in a safe deposit box housed in the vaults at 5 World Trade Center next to the Twin Towers.

I make sure my images and other important files are stored in more than one location.

Now, when I hear a weather alert, I've got one less thing to worry about.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Relationships Help Shape Excellence

Editors note –

Taking better pictures and being a better communicator has a lot to do with working with people. My latest series of e.Newsletters addresses areas which have helped improve my photography. Becoming an expert on people is what helps me to specialize in covering people.

I love to play basketball. Over the years I’ve had the rare opportunity to play with not only good players, but with a few professional basketball players as well. However, just because I played with outstanding players didn’t make me a pro player. It did open my eyes to the potential of a player.

I’m not in the physical condition of my youth, but my improved understanding of the game makes me a better player than I was when I could jump above the rim.

Being around the best in a field will help us learn. On the flip side when we reach out to help others, more often than not, we are blessed at least as much as they are.

I have photographed the homeless in downtown Atlanta and heard them pray for the wealthy people in the suburbs. They’re worried that wealth may cripple the hearts of the rich and harm their relationships with others. They’re not praying for handouts, they are praying for people’s hearts.

I’ve served dinner at an overnight shelter to men who are homeless yet they have jobs at places like UPS. They send their money to their families living in towns where the cost of living is much less.

I’m not sure if I could make some of the sacrifices these homeless are making. Just being around these people teaches me a lot.

Some of my neighbors are from Bosnia, Croatia, Chili, Jamaica, Kenya and Mexico. One family, from Croatia, had to pack in the middle of the night, leave everything they owned and flee from danger - not just once, but twice.

Another neighbor, having already escaped the war and living safely in the US, returned to Bosnia to help his family and friends in the war raging in his home country. Now, back in the US, he spends his time in a wheelchair with a bullet in his back from that war. Last year his wife suffered a heart attack and died.

Just living around these immigrant neighbors teaches me so much about sacrifice. Their determination to make a better life for their children is astounding.

As a photojournalist I have had the opportunity to meet so many people and hear their stories. It has given me a better perspective in life.

Another way I have been able to expand my relationships is through education. Formal education in the classroom forced me to learn about subjects I would have never encountered had the classes not been required. What I gained from my education experience is the desire to learn.

Reading biographies helps me to discover how a person was changed through time and experiences.

The Internet helps me connect with many people and reconnect with friends from the past. Our oldest son went off to college this year. Through the Internet and cell phone was able to remain connected to many of his high school buddies.

This is a major change from when I left for college. Then, with no Internet and cheap long-distance phone service, we just had to sever ties to many of our friends.

I’m learning that in order to improve my game I need to reach up to those who are further along than me, out to those alongside me and down to those who may need my help. I’ve also learned that when I reach down I’m often really reaching up.

Reach out and get connected—it can change your life.

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