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.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Google Photo's new service

  Google decided to yet again give the world a new service called Google Photos not to confuse this with the Google+ Photos. This new service is separate from the old picasa web, and the google + photos.  The idea is great, all your images in one place, from all your devices. Now that I have a chromebook it makes sense.  But interestingly, I need to use the web version of google photos, maybe in a future update the OS will have a new app for it.
  This new service if you will does finally give a URL to share, which I will use to insert a picture here (for testing Purposes) NOTE: it doesn't work on blogger :S
  I usually like uploading my images to my SmugMug account, which does give a shareable link that works just fine on my wordpress photoblog, and here on blogger. I like the fact that so many services are offering free photo storages, but not all are created equal. Flickr, SmugMug (this is not free actually), Google+ Collections, iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive.
   Be aware though even though they say it supports resolutions up to 16MPixel, I've yet to figure out how it's stored.  As I upload via my browser on the chromebook, edit on my tablet.  The resolutions are mixed, I believe that it downloads/edits photo's to the max of the system you use to edit it.  So if I edit using my tablet, I get a 1920x1080. If I edit on my chromebook, using online apps, such as picmonkey, I get yet a different resoltion.  If I use snapseed, or pixlr on my tab, I get mixed resolutions, I can't figure out how it decides/what size to edit/save as.  I know I can manually save the file at a given size, but snapseed doesn't ask, with pickmonkey, and pixlr I save at max size, but I still get small picture sizes.  Which is ok great for web sharing, I still want to have the full resolution incase I want to print.  So experiment, try before you go full Google Photos.  I'll probably stick to using my SmugMug storage for full size images, that stores it at real full resolution.
Just my two cents... happy to hear your experience.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

In my quest for photography workflow with Chromebook

  I've been complaining in my blog about Chromebook not being fit for photography. And by all means I am not a professional, so this is from the perspective of an amature, for fun photographer.
  I started a new workflow. I upload my images to Google Drive, then I add a prefix to the file name, usually a -up, for upload. I then open these pictures up in Picmonkey.  I add a watermark, and I resize it for the web, no need for a full blown 16 Megapixel image for a blog. Then I upload to my PhotoBlog.  I have other blogs on blogger as well, that I am experimenting with to find out what works best for me. Personally I find WordPress more powerful than blogger, but that's my opinion. I also have a SmugMug account where I upload images, better for sharing than Google+ or drive, but doesn't integrate into my workflow like google drive. You just can't have it all :)
  So far I am really happy with my Chromebook, which is causing me this headache with photo workflows. I plan to upgrade to a new one in a year or two. I would definitely get one with 4GB or RAM as I feel the pain when I have too many tabs open. I knew this C720 isn't the top of the line, but it works fine with me. I enjoy using it , it fits the bill perfectly for my home use.
  Until I find a workflow that fits/works for me I'll keep searching and trying new ways, methods to work with my pictures.