Archive for January 2006

LaCie Drives are Crap, Crap, Crap

So my first experience with Lacie began about a year ago when I bought two LaCie 500 gigabyte “Big Disks” The idea was that I’d use one for recording TV on my Media Center and the other for mp3s and the what not. Well this did not work out very well — especially when transfering mp3s on to the LaCie drive. It was the worst performing drive that I’d ever dealt with. Copy errors were frequent and it was difficult to get the drive recognized even after multiple re-formats.

Finally I gave up and within my 15 day grace period took the drive back to CompUSA and got my money back. I did hang on to the second LaCie drive (much to my detriment) as within the first few weeks it seemed to be ok for recording television.

This did not last. Soon after my 15 day grace period with CompUSA expired I would find that all of my recorded TV on my LaCie Big Disk would be ruined. The drive simply would not be recognized. The only way to get the drive back was to use the Windows disk management utility and reformat it. After losing TV and reformating it about 8 times I finally gave up on it for my TV, used a different drive and used it instead as a back up drive for my photos.

Then one day about six months into it it just stopped working alltogether. I could not even get it to show up to reformat under Windows disk management tool to reformat.

Because I’m lazy the drive sat around dead and useless for about 5 months and then when I realized that my one year warranty with LaCie was almost up I just recently contacted them and sent the dead drive in for repair. As is typically the case, rather than repair my drive they just mailed me a new 500 gig drive.

And this is where more trouble started. First I could not get any of my four PCs to recognize the drive at all. With most USB drives you simply plug and play. You simply plug them in, Windows recognizes them, you reformat them from Fat32 to NTFS and you are good to go. But not with LaCie. Their drive would not recognize on any of my PCs. Finally I got it to show up under the disk management utility on my laptop. From there I was able to format it (this took about two hours for some ungodly reason) and it was finally recognized by my main PC. The other weird thing about the new drive was that everytime I plugged or unplugged the USB cable the power on the drive would go out. Quirky but I figured as long as it worked who cares.

So last night I spent most of the night transfering my photos on to the new drive. Since I purchased my Canon 5D and shoot in RAW my hard drive space is rapidly disapearing. I have a drive called “scratch” where I keep my unprocessed photos for later processing. I put all of my scratch photos on the LaCie. So far so good. Since it seemed to work I deleted my old scratch drive to use as an actual scratch disk for Photoshop. I have a new 500 gig Seagate drive coming in the mail to me any day so I thought I’d be flying without a net (i.e. without a backup) for only a few days. Super dumb on my part.

This afternoon I came home from work to my dismay to find my “Photograph” labeled LaCie drive not showing up on my PC. And now I can’t get any of my PCs to show the drive using the disk management tool. I couldn’t even reformat it if I wanted to. Of course I’m super bummed to have lost about 2 years worth of unprocessed photographs. These were super important to me and while I can only blame myself for being stupid, it still is awful. I also lost about my last 2 months worth of processed shots although I do have lower res backups on Flickr.

So now not only do I need to send the drive back to LaCie to get yet another replacement but now I need to try and figure out if there isn’t some way to rescue my data on my hard drive and get it back as it represents about 2 years of my every day work. So with the three LaCie drives I’ve worked with now all have been crap, crap, crap. This latest one latest one day. I couldn’t depend on it for the few days that it was taking my Seagate to arrive by mail and now two years worth of my photos are at least temporarily gone.

I curse the day that I ever saw that first LaCie “Big Disk” at CompUSA.

to be continued…

Update: Well after hunting around on the internet for a while tonight I was able to find this. After going through the steps I was able to get my drive back recognized again. I, of course, will spend the rest of the night trying to hobble up a backup until my Seagate arrives in the next few days. These LaCie drives are super frustrating.

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An Open Letter to Myra Borshoff Cook, Tour Organizer for Jack Kerouac’s On the Road Manuscript Scroll

On the Road Manuscript, #3
Jack Kerouac’s original manuscript of “On The Road”

Dear Ms. Borshoff Cook:

Recently I wrote an article expressing my displeasure over not being able to photograph Jack Kerouac’s classic manuscript “On the Road,” currently on display at the San Francisco Public (sic) Library. The current owner of the document, Indianapolis Colt’s owner Jim Irsay, has publicly stated his opinion that the scroll “belongs to the people.” Still, irrespective of this “belongs to the people” assertion, you, as the organizer of the current tour of the scroll, apparently have decided not to allow photography of the document.

You have responded to my original article claiming that although Mr. Irsay owns the manuscript, he does not own the “copyright” to On The Road. This argument is hollow and does not ring true and well wouldn’t Jack be proud. You go on to say that “therefore,” you “had to work with the lawyers representing the holders of the copyright and that is why the photography policy was set.” That’s good information to consider, as I’m sure Jack would have been sure to consult with the attorneys of the railroad cars that he would hop back when he was alive.

Your copyright argument is flawed. I’m not sure how familiar you are with cameras these days, but as a photographer I can assure you that as the scroll is presently displayed, no one would be able to take more than a snippet of text, and only with a macro lens at best. You cannot shoot the words of the scroll clearly underneath the plexi-glass that you have over the document and to shoot through the glass would require sitting a lens on the glass which rests less than a foot from the document itself.

Although you cite “copyright” as your objection I would remind you of the general concept of “fair use,” Nolo Press has a nice write up on it. “Fair use is based on the belief that the public is entitled to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for purposes of commentary and criticism. The fair use privilege is perhaps the most significant limitation on a copyright owner’s exclusive rights.” Further, taking snippets of text from copyrighted materials and quoting them is in fact fair use.

On the Road Manuscript, #2

As you are well aware, it would be difficult if not impossible to copy large portions of the text of this document. Further, someone possessing photographs of the document still in no way reduces the copyright holders rights. The copyright on this document is not on the document itself but on the words contained therin. It would be no different than if I quoted from a paperback version or took a photograph of a paperback version of Jack’s classic text.

So in the spirit of fair use I have decided to disregard your and the San Francisco Public Library’s “no photography” policy and have in fact taken photos of your closely guarded scroll that per Irsay “belongs to the people.” As I’m sure Jack didn’t heed the no jumping rail cars signs I’ll also disregard your “no photography allowed” signs. If, as you suggest, your copyright argument holds I’m sure that I’ll be hearing from your lawyers shortly regarding my illegal use of copyrighted material. That’s what I thought.

On the Road Manuscript, #1

Ms. Borshoff Cook, you have been entrusted with running a tour of one of the great pieces of literature of the written English language. Even more significantly *how* it is written is of great historical import. This document deserves to be shared beyond the confines of a small room in a basement of the San Francisco library. This document deserves to be shared with everyone online. They deserve to see the time worn type and corrections that Jack made to his document to get a sense of the historical uniqueness of it. Rather than allow the public an opportunity to share in this experience, you position weak copyright objections which don’t hold up. Are not most books and documents in the San Francisco Public library copyrighted? In fact is not their own copy of the book “On the Road” back in their shelves copyrighted? And yet I see no sign there prohibiting me from taking photos of the actual book, or any other book in the San Francisco Public Library.

Jack Kerouac On the Road Manuscript Display at the San Francisco Public Library -- a Forbidden Photograph

Your prohibition against photographing Jack’s great work is more about a misguided sense of intellectual protectionism than anything. It is contrary to Jack’s spirit. It flies in the face of Irsay’s claim that Jack’s document belongs to the people, and it is unfortunate that our own San Francisco Public Library has capitulated to your weak argument for copyright protection and have done the public a disservice in closing off a historic document that should be shared beyond the confines of the current tour.

Oh and San Francisco Public Library, thanks for the free wi-fi, I just shot these shots and now I’m publishing them from your wi-fi connection here on the 5th floor.

Yours Truly,

Tom

cc: Electronic Frontier Foundation

FM Media Signs Digg

Disclaimer: I recently joined FM Media and am one of the bloggers in their network.

ChasNote: Is Digg the New Slashdot? In a huge addition to their Network, Chas Edwards, VP for sales and market development at FM Media, has blogged that Digg has recently signed up with FM. Already FM includes some of the top trafficked blogs on the internet including Technorati’s number one rated Boing Boing.

According to Digg CEO Jay Adelson, although they have just begun working with FM, so far they have been “very happy with the results.” Jay added that FM was a “high class operation.”

John Battelle, FM Founder, added, “we love the conversation Digg enables, and are honored to be working with them.”

Having had several of my articles appear on Digg, Slashdot and Boing Boing all three, I can personally attest that Digg is moving traffic these days on par with Boing Boing and Slashdot. Recently I blogged about Digg Founder Kevin Rose’s presentation down at Yahoo! earlier this month. At that presentation Kevin said that at present Digg has about 140,000 registered users and is serving up four to five million page views per day.

Jason Kotke recently did a comparison blogging his own thoughts on the difference between Digg traffic and Slashdot traffic.

I think that FM working with Digg makes sense. For one, FM gives their authors a great amount of freedom over what format, size and type of ads will run on your pages. You as the author in fact have total control over the ads on your site. This should sit well with Kevin’s recent comments on ads appearing on Digg: “It’s (ads) never going to be a part of the site to bombard users with ads. Ads are only on 40% of the available inventory at present. We are trying not to clutter the page with ads.”

At the same time Digg should benefit from FM’s increasing and growing clout with media buyers and their ability to offer advertisers a one stop shop where they can buy significant amount of exposure across multiple blogs and other internet sites. Certainly advertisers would rather deal with one company representing multiple bloggers than deal with 20 bloggers all directly. Also given their size I’d assume that FM would be able to negotiate better terms with advertisers than individual bloggers might be able to do on their own.

Digg’s choice of FM as a partner in their advertising is a testament to the growing influence that blog networks will play but it is also a testament to John Battelle and his team who are setting up their blog network in such a way that leaves independent site owners with significant control over their sites.

Flickr Turns Two!

Upcoming.org: Flickr Turns Two! at Adaptive Path (Saturday, February 11, 2006) If you’re free on Saturday night February 11th you might want to come help Flickr celebrate their second birthday. Info at the link above at upcoming.org.

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Sling Media Gets $46.6 million from Echostar and Others

Sling Media garners $46.6 million from Echostar and others – HD Beat Kevin Tofel is out with a story on everybody’s favorite Slingbox receiving an additional $46.6 million in funding from Goldman, Sachs, Liberty Media Corporation and yep, Echostar Communications. So not only does DISH have the most expansive HDTV lineup now with their recent aquisition of some of now defunct Voom’s HDTV content, but they may be on the way to putting together something interesting with Sling Media for remote viewing.

From HD Beat, “We’re on the cusp of broadband everywhere, which removes one the largest bottlenecks to providing HDTV programming everywhere you want, whenever you want. Once that hurdle becomes nonexistent, we’ll need new and innovative devices like the Slingbox to fully take advantage of the new era in HDTV.”

While I’m still a bit fuzzy on the economics of streaming/downloading bandwidth intensive HDTV here and now today, it would make for an interesting product offering in the future for sure.

It will also be interesting to see how Orb Networks is positioned relative to Sling Media going forward — personally I think Microsoft should just buy Orb (bad blogger, there I go giving more wacky unsolicited acquisition advice with other people’s money).

And and as a totally unrelated topic from Slingbox, what about seeing a DISH offering for HDTV content on Microsoft’s Media Center platform? DirecTV has already announced a partnership with Microsoft and once Vista ships at some point in the future you will be able to have a DirecTV installer upgrade your Media Center PC to get HDTV content from DirecTV. What about Dish?

*track50* – Tracking Bands

my blog: *track50* – Tracking Bands Kevin Rose blogs about a new service called *track50* that lets you sign up for email alerts for when all your favorite bands are coming to town. Although I’ve already seen some of these shows on upcoming.org, it seems like another good resource to make sure you catch your favorite shows. I just set mine up. The bands I’m tracking? So far: Belle & Sebastian, Bright Eyes, Cat Power, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, The Killers, The Shins, The Strokes, The White Stripes, Tom Waits, Ween and Wilco. I know that there are a lot of other bands that I need to add in but these were my initial picks from their top 50.

Impressions on XBox 360 as a Media Center Extender Unit

sMoRTy71.com: Impressions: XBOX 360 & MCE 2005 Shawn Morton is out with his impressions on using your XBox 360 as a Media Center Extender unit and reports, “Overall, I am very pleased with how well the 360 and MCE box play together.”

“Video streaming to the XBOX 360 is awesome! I built a few HTPCs in the past few years and the XBOX 360-as-media-center-extender idea is brilliant. Unlike the HTPCs I built, this one worked without any tinkering with drivers or video card settings.

I have ripped about a dozen DVDs (the ones that I tend to watch a lot) to the Media Center box (look for a post about how to do this later this week). It is great to able to pull those up either in the bedroom on the Media Center box or in the Manroom on the 360.”

Shawn is not running HDTV (yet) and he is running on a wired not wireless network but I think that most people have been pretty happy with the set up so far.

I still have not been able to test it out because I still have not been able to get my hands on an XBox but I’m sure I’ll have a review out before Christmas this year!

I’ll Have a Shot of Old Taylor, I Said

I'll Have a Shot of Old Taylor I Said

Awaken

Awaken

Vegtebles

Vegtables