Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tying down the millennium

"The Millennium Project" was the kind of quaint name I came up with a few years back to describe my collection of photos and videos I wanted to preserve and hand off to some government archive for people like me 50, 100 years from now. It's been on a number of hard drives over the past three or four years as it's expanded. It's currently in the neighbourhood of 460 GB, I think... astounding when I reflect that just around the start of the millennium, a year or two before, I bought my first 1 GB hard drive. Now I have a "project" 460 times that big residing on a couple of drives where it takes up about a quarter of the space. [Addendum: just checked, as I'm now backing up the MP to the new external... 507 GB, 70,136 items... but that includes a few hundred folders as well as photos and videos.]

One of those drives is a Seagate portable. Well, that is to say, it used to be portable, till about half an hour ago. I decided to spend this evening tagging and keywording recent additions to the project... mostly 16th Avenue, Kirkham Road, and Sheppard Avenue's new Agincourt underpass stuff. It's all in the right directories and geotagged, but I haven't added the keywords to the files yet that will be important for people running searches. The drive is always plugged in, but whether it's on or not is controlled by a power bar on my right. I flick a switch and the drive comes on, the computer recognizes it, and off we go.

Only tonight, it didn't come on. I figured the power supply in the case died. It occurred to me nearly at once that a portable drive is really just like any other drive you'd find anchored in your computer, except the interface and power supply is contained with the drive, which is what makes it portable. It was a gamble, but I hacked into the shell, removed the drive, and took the side panel off the "new" computer that's been sitting in my dining room since last March... never has made it over here to ass-groove central in the living room yet. Still typing away on the 5-going-on-6-year-old Gateway here with the two old 20 lb. 18" monitors. There were lots of HD expansion bays and lots of power cables... but I had to go out and get my own SATA data cable. Went and got one. Came back. Plugged it all in. Didn't know if the drive had failed or not, but I was really only gambling six bucks. The new computer said, "Hmmm..." and decided to run CHKDISK on the "new" drive. But that was 90% of the battle right there. If it could find and access the drive, well, clearly the drive was still working. A couple minutes later it was happy; no bad sectors or anything. So it strictly was the power supply. Windows opened, I started Explorer and there was the drive... even had the little portable icon beside it, as if it were still out in the world instead of locked inside a computer chassis. I was really relieved because I ran my last backup on the MP, apparently, last February. I can't say I've added just tons and tons since then, but enough that updating it, splitting all the MPO files again, geotagging everything, etc., etc., would have taken me most of a weekend. I'll have to remember to back up more regularly.

With that in mind, I also picked up a new 3 TB, USB 3.0 portable for just $140 this evening. That's enough space to back up the MP and all my photographs as well, and should suffice for another year or two. This does kind of serve as an impetus to move the utilities I use for working with photos and videos, especially the geotagging stuff, over to the new computer. Oh, but the PhotoTrackr software is so wonky and finicky... it's a wonder I get it working at all on this old heap sometimes. Probably time I gave it a shot, though.

Anyway, adventures in nerddom. :)


jim said...

You're more determined than I. Last time a portable drive crapped out on me here, I just chucked it into the trash and moved on.

barefoot hiker said...

Heya, Jim. :) I figured there wasn't anything wrong with the drive per se... it had been working just fine a couple of days before when I was geotagging the recent shots. I did notice it was tricky getting it powered up, and I thought there might be a break in the cord. When futzing with that and moving to various outlets didn't do the trick, I knew either the cord or the power supply had failed. Possibly the drive, but I had a way to test that, which was getting the $6 data connector and slotting it into the new machine. Oh, by the irreversible means of breaking the shell that made it portable, of course. :)

But the thing is, I didn't have any reason to suspect the hard drive itself wasn't A-OK. I simply needed a means for a computer to talk to it again. I'm glad it turned out to be fine because it saved me a lot of work redoing the recent updates, and, hey, it's a big drive with lots of room to store photos and, especially, HD and 3D videos of places as they change. Though now it'll be the back-up, rather than the primary.