Since I’ve been running Android on the Joggler I’ve had a USB stick stuck out of the side, which isn’t ideal. My first attempted improvement wasn’t a great success: a tiny USB stick which turned out to be excruciatingly slow.
Plan B was a big improvement:
I was a little worried that this right angled USB adapter might end up pointing down, but it turned out to be perfect for the job. Result.
Over the weekend I was investigating what technology was available for backing up digital photos while travelling. It’s a long time since our round the world trip, which is when I last looked into such things. Back then I found a HDD caddy/card reader combo that would backup the contents of a variety of memory cards at the push of a button, which worked reasonably well and provided a home for an old laptop drive I had spare.
Sadly it’s not for my holiday but, thanks to a few hints from Ken, Nigel and Iain on twitter, here’s the short list:
Take a laptop: bulky equipment to lug about and susceptible to theft.
Card reader/HDD combo: there doesn’t seem to be many options in this category any more, perhaps because they look comparatively expensive now that memory card prices are lower. Not as bulky as a laptop but still something else taking up luggage space.
USB On-The-Go bridge: much like the last option, although potential to use a USB sticks instead of a hard disk. Not much to choose from here either unfortunately, and no decent looking ones that I could find.
On-line backups: doesn’t seem that practical while travelling, at least not without some effort tracking down internet access, possibly back to taking a laptop/netbook, unless Eye-Fi does the job that is. On the plus side, if anything gets stolen you wouldn’t lose any photos that were already uploaded.
Just buy more memory cards: not a backup as such, but less chance of losing all the photos. Much more affordable than before too, so backing up to free up space on the memory card isn’t such an issue, which may explain why some of the alternatives seem less common now.
Shoot with film as well: a great suggestion from Jenny, although it does involve taking more than one camera, and getting the photos developed! The negatives might make a good long term backup once you get home too.
Taking a few cards seems like the easiest approach but, even though the risk of losing all your holiday snaps is small, I still don’t exactly trust technology. So here’s my suggestion for camera manufacturers: dual memory card slots. For the paranoid these could be configured to store every photo on both cards for an immediate backup, and for trigger happy snappers it would mean more storage before swapping cards. Win win.
It should also be possible to provide adapters for a lot of existing cameras that would do the same thing; something not too dissimilar to a RAID 1 version of a PhotoFast Compact Flash adapter for example. Does such a thing exist already, or do you have any other suggestions for backing up digital photos on the move?
Thanks to Dale, I’ve found something to keep Damn Small Linux companyon my USB key (there is a lot of space left after all!) – like Dale, I have an interest in mobile computing (unlike Dale, I have less gadgets, so PortableApps sounds great to me) and I’ve posted a couple of times before on the subject. At the risk of this weblog turning in to Dave, here’s a repeat:
It sounds like, between them, Scott McNealy and Dan Gillmor have got the right idea about access to my data. Hopefully not actually my data though! Scott wants it on the network, Dan wants it with him, and I just want it.
For years, I’ve quite liked the idea that I could have some sort of rfid tag with me (on my key-ring, in my watch, or somewhere I don’t have to worry about it) that would just log me on to my PC (and phone!) when I’m nearby, locking it again when I move away. It would be even better if it worked with any computer, giving me access to the same desktop where-ever I go. Scott seems to agree, although what’s with having to get out a “smart card” to plug it in? Sounds more like a “daft card” to me.
More recently, with the amount of data I can carry around with me (I suspect I’m actually behind the times here with a meagre 1Gb split between a tiny USB key and an MP3 player!) I’ve been leaning towards Dan’s point of view although, again, fumbling around to find something to plug in is just annoying. This is the 21st century! (Isn’t it?!)
The solution should be simple; I have a nice large lump of storage with me, that can wirelessly connect with any computing device (my desktop, thinkpad, PDA, phone, public kiosk, etc. etc.) giving me access to the same data everywhere. The data is also on the network too, luckily for Scott by the sound of it, so the two copies can be synchronised automatically, allowing me to work when I can’t, or don’t want to (it might be slow, insecure or expensive), connect to a network but providing access when I don’t have my storage with me (I could have left it somewhere deliberately or, not for the first time, lost it!). Even better if my storage is on some existing format expansion card so that I can physically plug it in to a) save having to carry around yet another gadget (just plug it in to a phone/PDA) and b) get faster access to the data if the wireless link is too slow.
Damn Small Linux is a superb Mini Linux distribution which I’ve been using on and off for a while. Like some sort of swiss army knife on steroids, it seems to do everything I expect of much larger distributions despite its tiny size. It is also really well thought out, being remarkably easy to use; this isn’t some bare bones command line only system and everything just seems to work without a struggle.
After getting my latest gadget (see below) I had another look round for alternatives but I’m sticking with DSL. Very handy to have around, and now even easier to carry.
Keeps my old Thinkpad 240 gainfully employed, but I do keep thinking a Damn Small Machine might be fun, or perhaps a Linutop… resist, resist, might as well give in to the iPod Touch temptation at that point!