Carbonite Has Completed!

Sometime around midnight of December 31st, my initial backup using Carbonite was completed. I actually started the initial backup in mid-November as I commented on in this post.

As the initial backup was being done, I really did not notice any performance hits in using my computer. I did leave my computer on for the most part, which is my usual practice.

So as of right now, I am backing up 148,940 files that consume about 486 Gb of cloud storage. The bulk of those files and the storage space they consume are due to photo images.

Now that I have completed the initial backup, I will find out a bit more about Carbonite itself. For example, my video files, which also take up a lot of local space were not part of the initial backup, but I understand  that I can back them up manually using Carbonite.

As I said earlier, Carbonite is kind of my doomsday backup. I will continue to back up my data files and photos/videos in my normal manner. But it is nice to know that Carbonite has my back.

I am interested in your experience with Carbonite, especially how it worked out for you for recovering destroyed local files. Please share your experience and thoughts in the Comments below.

The Case for Multiple Photoshop Elements Catalogs

My general advice to my students is to use only one Catalog. Do not be tempted to organize your photos into different Catalogs. The Organizer of Photoshop Elements provides a number of ways to help you. The obvious one is to use Categories as a way to separate your media. For example, you could define one high level Category to business photos and another one for your personal photos. And then use Sub-Categories, and Keyword Tags to refine your organization structure beneath each of your two Categories.

Another possibility is to use folders to keep your personal pictures separate from those devoted to your business. Given the significant improvements made to the Folder View in PSE 11/12, this approach has some real merit, especially if you are comfortable using folders and files to organize your other documents. Even Albums and Album Groups can be used.

Any of these methods or a combination of them can be used to organize your media, so that you can find a given item quickly, without the added complications arising from using multiple catalogs.

Well, I’m afraid I do not always practice what I preach, is illustrated in the figure below from clicking on File > Manage Catalogs in my installation of PSE 12.

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I rationalize my use of multiple Catalogs in a variety of ways. After all, I teach Photoshop classes and sometimes I need a Catalog devoted to that. At some point, I felt I needed a separate Catalog just for my video files, or one just for testing. I even have a Catalog that only contains MP3 files I have downloaded over the years – this one has proven quite useful, by the way.

But by and in the large, I have more Catalogs than I need and this has made my life more complicated than need be. Granted, one large Catalog does require long back-up times when using the PSE Backup command. And there are certain dangers of putting all of those photos into the same basket.

All that being said, I recently made yet another Catalog, and it has worked out quite well. Recently, my high school graduating class celebrated our 50th Reunion, and I volunteered to produce a DVD to commemorate the reunion weekend, as well as highlighting what life was like back in the early 60s for us. As part of this project, several of my fellow classmates submitted their pictures to be part of the DVD. Additionally there were photos from our high school years, as well as Super 8 movies. All and all, I had over five hundred files from which to choose for inclusion on our DVD. The project grew to include more than seven hundred items by the time the DVD was completed.

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I have been active on this project for a couple of months. During that time, I have also been taking a ton of personal pictures that I import into my prime photo Catalog. Using a new Catalog for the photos, videos, and music files for my reunion project made keeping everything straight much easier. I used the Backup command quite often throughout the project, since I was constantly changing the content and versions of the photos and video clips quite often. Backing up my prime photo Catalog (about 40K items) takes between three and four hours, while backing up my project catalog takes a matter of minutes.

Now that the project is winding down, and the DVD is completed, another advantage of using a separate catalog is becoming apparent. I have already begun to delete a lot of the content that I did not use to make the DVD. I will retain the photo CDs that were contributed by fellow classmates. Also, the pictures/videos that I took that became part of the project were Exported from my prime Catalog, so they are still part of that. As part of my final wrap-up of this project, I will Move all of the media in the reunion catalog to a DVD or Blu-Ray disk, using the File > Copy/Move to Removable Drive command. I will retain the Catalog, but the disk space it takes will be quite small. If I ever want to resurrect the project, it will be quite simple to get the media back.

So, there is a time and place for using multiple Catalogs. Just don’t overdo it as one could argue I have.

An Aside: As of right now, my initial backup to Carbonite is 56% complete with about 7,550 files to go. See my prior post on this subject.


I’m Giving Carbonite a Try

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If you have followed my blog, you know I have a large collection of pictures and videos that I manage using the Organizer of Photoshop Elements. And I use its Backup/Restore commands to back up my media and the Catalog itself. This has worked well for me over the years. I’ve even described my process in previous posts. Here is the link to one of those posts.

You can find other related posts by searching my blog using the “Search My Blog” text box located further down the page in the right hand column.

I also use an old program called Karen’s Replicator for periodically backing up my other important folders and files. It also has worked well for me.

A couple of weeks ago, the C Drive on my “business” computer (in contrast to my “photos/videos computer) went belly up. This computer contained the data I use in Outlook and Quicken. Because of the crash and my frequency of using the Replicator program, I lost about three days of not-too important data. For some reason when I restored the Outlook data, some data was missing. I think it was more my improperly using the Outlook restore steps rather than the quality of my Replicator backup.

But the whole episode got me thinking about my backup process and whatever vulnerability I have in this area. I decided to give Carbonite a try. I won’t really describe it here, but you can click on the link to find out more about it. Suffis it to say that it basically provides unlimited backup storage on the cloud for $60 a year for a single computer and its internal drives. For additional features and multiple computers, higher price options are available.

I started my initial backup of my photos computer yesterday, which will be about 450 Gb. If I did my math right, considering what has been backed up so far, it will probably take most of a month to complete. But after that, it will only take a few minutes a day to keep the backup current.

While it is doing the initial backup, I have not noticed any measurable slowing down of my computer. I continue my normal backup practices using Elements and Replicator, so I am not too concerned with the length of time the initial backup takes.

Reviews and a few friends that have been using Carbonite have been positive.  I do know that the company has been around for a significant length of time. I’ll keep you posted regarding how the initial backup is progressing.

Comment and let me know what your experience has been using Carbonite or a similar cloud-based product.

Paige Sliding Animation

This is a three image GIF animation of Paige sliding into third base during last weekend’s All Star Tournament in Irvine. Click on the photo to animate it.



Paige’s team took second place in the tournment after playing six games over the weekend, four of them on Sunday!

Off Topic

Normally, I post articles about something related to digital photography or video making. But this post is different.

If you live in or near the South Bay area of Los Angeles, and you like the music of Bob Dylan, you need to come and thoroughly enjoy yourself  at the 23rd Annual Bob Dylanfest in Torrance.

This annual event is hosted by two talented local singer songwriters, Andy Hill and Renee Safier backed by their band, Hard Rain. This all day festival generally features over fifty artists singing songs from Dylan’s huge collection of work, with no song repeated.

This year the almost eight hour festival is on the Torino Plaza at the Torrance Cultural Center on May 5th. Click on the link below to find out more about this great event.


My Camera’s Built-in Flash Failed to Pop Up

I have a Canon 7D, which has a built-in flash that pops up when activated. Most professional photographers recommend not using this flash, because the light is too hard and creates shadows.

I know that and I do have a rotating external flash, but I confess I often use the built-in flash anyway. The other day I went to use it, but it would not pop-up no matter what I did. When I brought up the menu to adjust its options, the message said the menu could not be accessed, because there was another device attached to my hot shoe.

I tried to mount and remove my external flash several times, hoping to unstick the switch. I had already Goggled the symptoms, finding I was not the first one who had experienced such a problem.

I then called Canon technical support. I basically had tried everything they suggested. Fortunately, the Canon Service Repair Center is in Irvine, CA, which is only about 35 miles away.

This morning I drove to the repair station. I thought I knew where I was going, so I did not really follow my GPS as I got closer – a bad idea. I finally arrived and was about seven or eight numbers back in line. The wait did not take long.

I was ready to pay $100 or more and having to find my way back to the repair center after several days when my camera was fixed. I was happily surprised. They replaced the hot shoe while I waited and charged me nothing, even though my camera was significantly out of warranty.

I was very impressed with Canon service, but I have had similar experiences in the past when a Nikon camera I had at the time needed a repair. It too was out of warranty, but Nikon fixed it at no cost.

Speaking of cameras and built-in flashes, I suspect my 7D will be the last DSLR I buy that has one. When the Canon 6D came out, I was tempted to buy one, or least beginning the rationalization process to do so. The 6D, with its full frame sensor and GPS, is very attractive to me. But it does not have a built-in flash, and cannot match the speed of my 7D’s eight frames per second. And then of course, there is the issue of buying all new lenses, if I were to buy a 6D.

For now at least, I’m sticking with my 7D.

Critical Photoshop Elements 11 Back-up Files Gone Missing

As I have stated several times in previous posts of this blog, I back up my photo and video collection using the embedded Backup command that is available in all versions of Photoshop Elements, including PSE 11.

This command and its counterpart, the Restore command, have worked well for me over the last ten-plus years or so. My Catalog currently has over 36,000 items and takes hours to back up to a USB 3.0 external drive. It is my key protection in case disaster strikes.

Back-up Folder Contents
Recently, as is my normal practice I took a quick look at my most recent back-up folder as I was preparing to do a full back-up. A back-up folder generally consists of a series of JPEG images (your photos) that have each been renamed in sequential fashion, beginning with the letter “B”. These files are your full resolution images, which can be opened by double clicking on them.

If your Catalog also includes videos and audio files they will be included in this series of renamed files. There will be most likely a series of .XMP files that contain information about the media files.

At the bottom of this list, there will be two additional files, the catalog.buc and the backup.tly file. These are extremely important. These two files are used to reconstruct your Catalog during the Restore process. Without these two files, all you have is a bunch of photo images that contain little or no information to help you identify them, other than your memory.

The figure below shows a small part of one of my back-ups.


Missing Backup.tly and Catalog.buc Files

When I looked at my last back-up folder, the backup.tly and the catalog.buc folder were not there! That full back-up would have been of little use in restoring my catalog if I had needed to do that.

I have no idea why these two files were missing. Perhaps I shut down my computer while the back-up command was being completed in the background. I had received the PSE 11 message saying my back-up had been completed successfully.

I Now Check for Them

I also looked at other full back-ups I had done with PSE 11, and they all contained these two critical files. I am confident that the program worked properly. But I have now added a new step in my back-up/restore workflow. Once I back up a Catalog, I check to see that there is indeed a .buc and a .tly file listed.

Photoshop Elements on Sale at Costco

For those of you who read my last post and are considering upgrading to PSE 11 or buying it for the first time, you may want to check out the sale price at Costco.

Between Nov 8th and Nov 25th, you can buy PSE 11 at $30 off their regular price of $79.95, or $49.95. No coupons are required.

You are not going find it at a lower price anywhere.

Off to the Sierras & Hanging Out on Google+

Those of you that have been in my classes know I generally take a backpacking trip to the sierras about this time each year. Sunday morning I leave for this year’s trip. Not quite so rugged this year – not that it ever was, really. We’ll be doing a series of day hikes, but the nights will be spent in my friend’s cabin at Mammoth. Rather than being out under the stars at night sitting around the camp fire, the four of us will be hunched over our laptops, cell phones, or iPads.

We normally have lunch on the Friday before leaving to hash out the last minute details. This year we tried something new. We used the Hangout capability of Google+. We sent about 10 minutes talking about our trip and an hour wrestling with the technology. Of the five of us who connected, one could not get his microphone to work, so he wrote messages and held them up to the  screen. Another person was late arriving and had a hard time figuring out how to join a Hangout already in session. Another friend’s audio was awful, but it appeared he had too many duplicate windows open.

But we accomplished our goal, which was more about using Hangouts than trip planning.

With any luck, I may be able to post from the Sierras. I’m not taking my laptop, so we’ll see what I can do with my iPad.

South Lake

Follow Me On Pinterest

I’ve recently started using Pinterest as a quick and effective way to share with my followers there links to websites, videos, images etc that I have found interesting and helpful. It’s much faster to add a pin to one of my boards than it is for me to write a blog post or post the link on my Facebook page. And one of the nice things about it is you do not have to be a member to use it. But I believe you have to be a member to follow someone, but it’s easy and free to join.

Pinterest is relatively new but is growing very rapidly. It’s basically a very visually oriented search site and the links are images generally from the pinned website. I basically just started using it. I have set up five boards so far, as you can see from the figure below. I even have a board that links back to content from my own website. However, most of my boards and their links go to web pages that I have found very helpful. It’s kind of visual version of my Favorites or Bookmarks.


I’m still learning the subtle ways to use Pinterest. For example I do not know exactly what re-pinning is all about. To check out my Pinterest site, go to You’ll find I have pinned this blog post there.

Let me know what you think, ok.