Saturday, October 14, 2017

I think I'll move back to linux

  After writing this post, I started using my old laptop, with Artengos.  And it's been some time since I turned on the Acer laptop.  I did try Manjaro Linux live on it via USB, and honestly browsing was much faster than on windows 10.  I have moved my pictures from Amazon Drive to SmugMug, which was the main reason I decided to get a Windows (10) just because it was already on it, to automate the upload of images.  As I mentioned earlier Amazon changed the plan from $12/year unlimited photo's to $59/year for 1TB.  While, I probably won't reach the 1TB in say 5-10 years, I lost trust in them.  Who knows when will they change again?
  In the mean time, I also found a way to move my backed up images from Amazon Drive, directly into SmuMug, who I've used for quiet some time, now they will be used exclusively for my picture's/memories stories, as their service is top notch, with excellent customer support.  Compared to Amazons support which is below average, it took them about 1 week to reset my account as it was hacked. Each contact from support gave me a round around the corner, and back. Until I took it to twitter, I believe then it was like 4-6 hours to resolution.
  Anyhow that's my rant about my backup strategy, and reasons to dump Windows.  The other, really good reason to dump it, is it's huge upgrades, that take for ever, on a low end machine.  I don't have a powerhouse, I don't need one for home use, but I'd like to have something that isn't a slug.  And apparently it's windows that makes it a slug.  It's not made for low end Celeron machines, two cores is not enough for it. Come to think of it, my phone has more cores :P
  Anyhow, I'm hoping to make the full transition back to fully linux OS at home in a month or so. Just doing the copying and moving of my more important files.  My main backup strategy is Google Drive, and SmugMug for my images.  I don't need more at this time.  Alright :) that's it for now be back once I move totally to linux on the little Acer laptop

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Back to Linux? or not, not sure yet

  I'm really starting to get tired of Windows 10, and it's updates.  I thought I will give it a try, truth be told I bought a cheap hardware, with the option of being able to use it as a tablet since it has a touch screen, Acer 11.6". I've had it for less than 2 years.  The reason I got it was because I couldn't find a way to automatically sync to Amazon Drive, and Google Photo's. Well that didn't work out too well since the Amazon drive client pegged my underpowered CPU, and Amazon wasn't able to help. That was fine I found an alternative, but then Amazon decided to change their pricing plan, so now I lost trust in them. First they had the perfect plan at $12 which I started to use back in March 2015. Well Amazon decided to cancel that plan, and went with a unlimited storage either $79 or $59/year, which really didn't last that long as that plan was also canceled and now it's $59/year for 1 TB of storage.  While I know that it will take me another maybe 10 years to fill it up with pictures, what assurance do I have they won't change again? I'll just stick to SmugMug.  I've been using them for a while, but never thought of them as a backup service, they still offer a great unlimited photo's since 2009, so I trust they will stick to their plan, and honor what they offer.  Great organization possibilities, excellent sharing, and embedding options. Also another plus, they have integration with Amazon Drive, so I can transfer pictures from Amazon Drive to SmugMug.
  Anyhow, back to my rant about the laptop which was so sluggish and slow. I remember once waiting for more than an hour for a Windows update to finish. Not a re-install, but an update. Also surfing the net was becoming annoying, Chrome (I wouldn't dare start) Firefox was kinda OK, but still slow, click on a link and wait for the spinning hour.  My Internet connection is fine, as I tested with my desktop, tablet, and phone.
  I grabbed my old beaten Dell Insprion 1318 laptop, and installed Artengos Linux on it.  And started testing/playing with it, this old laptop was faster than my less than 2 year old one, though spec's wise, they are similar.(I'm actually typing this post on it)  So I grabbed the newer laptop, and tried another Linux distribution. Manjaro Linux live USB.  And it worked fast, browsing was lighting fast compared to browsing on Windows 10.  Is it the anti-virus software?  Well that's required, so un-installing that is not an option.  Background processes were keeping the CPU busy, that's fine, but sometimes to the stage that Firefox becomes un-responsive. And after a bit of digging, it was the windows updates.
  What I'm trying to decide on, is if I need windows10 at all.  I'm contemplating installing Manjaro Linux XFCE on the newer laptop, or Artengos Linux, both are Arch Linux derivatives, which I also used for some time, before I lent the laptop to a relative, for them I installed Ubuntu.
  I like Artengos Linux, works like a charm on this old laptop, even photo processing isn't a pain.  Photo editing software is abundant on Linux, some are great, others have a big learning curve (but they work)

Monday, June 5, 2017

A nightmare to avoid

  I had one of my important accounts hacked.  How, I probably re-used the same username and/or password across too many places, well seems one of them had a breach and they logged in to my amazon account. They changes the email, and I was locked out. I called customer service right away, but they said it will take 48 hours, but the account is locked.  I was like great, I can wait 48 hours no problem.  I then received an email from amazon that I need to call them. Ok, I call them up, just to be told, "Oh, you need to wait another 24 hours, it seems the agent failed to file your information to the correct department"  Needless to say this was after waiting 2 days for some response.  Now I'm talking about you know the huge retail company, and online services provider, that has gazillion computing power, and they need 48 or 24 or 72 hours to reset your account? I understand they outsource their support and customer care, but in this day and age, they can't afford to have, umm let's say 5 paid employees with higher privileges where ever that customer care center is, who can handle this? Naturally I took it on to twitter, and miracles do happen, I did receive an email and got it all sorted out, after 5 or 6 calls to customer support, I spoke to 2 supervisors supposedly, and chatted with their twitter bot a few times.
  The moral of the story, if you have 2 step authentication available, set it up, protect your accounts. It wasn't Amazon's fault, that I did not secure my account properly, but really 3 days to get it sorted out, even if that manager (or so called password department) was on the moon, it shouldn't take 48 hours (as they originally lied) or 72 hours. Stay secure, and use a password manager app.  Not the one that was hacked recently :)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Back to the windows world

  In my previous post, I wrote that I got a Lenovo Windows10 laptop, well since then, I've sold it and got another one.  This one is an Acer, the R3, 11.6", touch screen little white clamshell laptop.  The 14" wasn't to my taste as I prefer smaller screens, and I don't need a beast since I don't do, or use anything that really requires a strong CPU.  I have to admit the two core Celeron processor is a bottleneck at times, but I can live with it, since it's a passive cooling laptop, no fans, no noise.  The one thing I wish it had would be an SSD.  The reason I switched back to Windows was automation, and my hobby.  I love and enjoy taking pictures, of nature, life, and family, and I want to make sure those memories are saved, not just locally or on an external hard drive, but in the cloud as well.  I couldn't achieve that with Linux, since I couldn't find a single automated solution to upload my images to google photo's, amazon, or smugmug.  Currently the google photo's is the only fully automated solution, the amazon client is semi-automatic, as I need to tell it which folder to upload, as is the case with the smugmug solution.  I'm happy with this as I have a great workflow to check out my images, edit if needed, then just drop the pictures in a folder which then get's uploaded. The Chrome-book had one disadvantage, I couldn't sort, and pick my pictures it would just automatically upload all, then I would need to go and pick and choose online.  The linux laptop didn't do the auto backup for me (except when I used Crashplan for backup) but with that I couldn't retrieve and view my images easily as with both the google photos, and amazon photos.  All in all, I am happy with this little laptop, and to my surprise, Windows10 isn't bad either. I stopped actively using windows with Windows XP.  So I could say that Windows10 is a step in the right direction.  I would say I wish they had good tablet offering when I bought my Android tablet, and maybe even a decent phone offering starting to lean towards getting a Lumia, as it's would be well integrated with my laptop.  The Apple eco-system is great, phone/tablet and laptops work great together, but their prices are a bit high to my taste.  This little laptop I got is 1/3 the price of the 11" MacBook Air, and it can do everything the MacBook could, though slower no doubt.
  I think my next move will be either to change my tablet to a Windows10 one or replace my phone.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Contrary to the Blogs Title, I've switched to a Windows10 Laptop

  After years of resisting Windows as my main Operating System on my laptop(s), I gave in, and got myself a Windows 10 laptop.  Lenovo Flex2, 14" being a hybrid, Touch screen, and Cinema mode, which I've tried and works great for watching movies.  I gave chromebook a chance but it doesn't fit my needs. My hobby (photography) didn't work out with the Chromebook.
  Automatic backup, auto uploads, and normal photo applications are a bit behind on Chrome OS. Mainly the automatic backup didn't work well on Chromebook or rather it did not fit in my workflow. And I couldn't find any auto-backup to google photos for Linux. I tried using the browser for my uploads, but my choice of Chromebook in this case, with 2GB of RAM was not the best. I used a tab for uploading images, and then went to another tab to edit my blog, when I checked back, the upload was stopped and had to reload, and restart the uploads. Not a problem usually, but even editing my blog, and switching between tabs it keeps reloading the tabs when switching. I know it's because of the lack of RAM, and buying another Chromebook in Hungary is expensive, and this Flex 2 was a really good deal.  So I went along, bought it, upgraded to Windows 10, and I've been enjoying it so far.  All my photography software work, I can download, rate, pick my pictures, and then only export/upload the best picks.
  So far Windows 10 seems to work great (I did not manage to get a blue screen of death yet).  I will be writing more about my experience with it.  I have to admit my Desktop will still and will always run Ubuntu, but for my hobby, and upgrading my Camera I will use this new laptop.  Until later...

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Starting to lose my cool with my Chromebook

  It's now a little over a year since I started using my Acer C720.  It's been great, with the exception, that lately, it started crashing my tabs on a regular basis.  I upload/download photo's regularly, but it's becoming more difficult.  I start an upload on one tab, switch to another tab to continue editing my WordPress blog.  I check to see how my uploads are, the tab is re-loaded.  Ok fine, I go back to my WordPress editing tab, that get's reloaded as well.... It get's annoying after sometime, even though my blog post is saved as draft, I have to restart the upload, and now wait until it finishes.  I knew the 2 GB of RAM will be limiting, but thought it would be enough for a Chrome OS laptop, after all it's a browser OS.  Apparently it's not, even when I have swapping enabled.  It's becoming annoying, and I started thinking of selling this machine, and getting another cheap hardware and put Linux on it, heck I may as well keep the Windows10 or Windows 8.1 that comes with it.  In Hungary there are no chromebooks, if you find them (rarely) they are more expensive than lower end Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 mini laptop counterparts.  And after my prolonged use of this chromebook, I am starting to realize its limitations and annoyances.  Maybe if I had the 4GB version, I wouldn't face these problems, but the other limitation I bump into is the applications that I need.  I need some sort of normal photo workflow.  Where I can also read/see the EXIF info of pictures, while I did find apps, add-ons to read EXIF, it's still not what you can call a workflow.  I can't preview my images, star/sort them, edit if I need to then upload.
  Anyhow, this is just my rant as I am starting to really consider selling it, and getting my hands on another cheap hardware. I don't really need a big laptop, this form factor fits me perfectly.  But the OS will need to be a bit more than a browser.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

photo editing without a real computer

  I've written about my chromebook experiment, and moving away from using what you would call a "real computer" in a sense of having a powerful computer, with a dedicated OS and dedicated photo processing applications.  Instead I've been processing photo's on my Chromebook, and my Tablet.  My workflow has changed drastically a few times.  New services were introduced that I started using, such as the Amazon Cloud Drive storage for photo's, and Google Photo's with it's unlimited photo storage that I've written a few posts about.  The one thing that I couldn't find mentioned anywhere, is if you upload your photo's to these services, and edit them on a tablet or phone, it's size get reduced drastically.  This is all not a problem if you are using the images for sharing online, on computer screens.  But it does become a problem if you want to print them out.
  It get's kinda tricky when you upload a 12MPixel image, and you edit it on the tablet, and suddenly it becomes 2MPixel.  This can be a problem if you want to print the photo's.  There are tricks around it, but took me a few experimenting to figure out. First, you need to know that there are two apps for Amazon Photo's, and Amazon Cloud Drive.  So for auto-upload Amazon Photo's does a great job, but if you choose to edit directly from Amazon Photo's app the images are resized to smaller size. The trick is to download the image from the Amazon Cloud Drive in full size and edit it in an editor that can handle larger images.  Snapseed will reduce image size automatically, Pixlr can edit larger images and save them in larger resolution.  I also tried picmonkey subscription for about 2 months, but I decided to cancel it, because I didn't really use it that much to justify the $5/month cost, the free options perfectly cover my needs. Plus the fact that I can only use it in a browser that supports flash, which means on a Chromebook, but can't use it on a tablet.
  While snapseed, and Pixlr are great apps, it would be useful to have them properly document file size if editing on tablets or other devices. I can't complain about this, since I choose to move to "cloud computing" using a chromebook, and tablet only.  I say "cloud computing" just because almost all the files are stored in the cloud, except what you download to edit, temporarily it's saved locally, whether it's on the tablet or on my chromebook.
  I still need to see how those photo's edited on those apps look like in print format, I'll surely print some out, and I'll share my experience once I get them. I hope this post helps someone who ran into similar issues with their editing on their tablets, or phones.