#294 NosillaCast News, Backups, Automator, Zamps, Photography

Introducing the NosillaCast News, NosillaCast highlighted in the LA Times and the Libsyn Blog. Backup discussion after Adam Christianson’s December 29th episode of the MacCast, how Steve and I finally tackled his challenging backup needs, and a really simple Automator Script to back up selected files to Dropbox. Introducing the Zamps art website at zamps.wordpress.com, and in Chit Chat Across the County Victor Cajiao of the Typical Mac User Podcast at typicalmacuser.com and the Typical Shutterbug Podcast at typicalshutterbug.com joins us to give some beginning photography advice.



Today is Sunday January 9th, 2011 and this is show number 294. You might have noticed that ConnorP enjoys nitpicking me for mistakes I make in the show, but last week he did NOT catch me on one till I pointed it out! If you listen carefully I actually forgot to say the year when I started the show. Maybe it was denial about the new year, or the special beer I chose, or perhaps it was the sheer excitement of having Justin Byrne of the MacCraic in the room, but I deeply apologize for the omission.

Befor we dig in here, I wanted to remind you again to sign up for the NosillaCastaways party at Macworld Friday Night the 28th at Jillian’s from 6-8pm, use the link on the right side of podfeet.com to register if you can come!

I’ve told you a bunch of times how much fun it is to watch the live show, and how cool the NosillaCastaways are, right? When we were up in Fresno for Christmas Steve’s sister Linda happened to mention the live show. Out of the blue she says, “you know I need to get back into the live show again, it was really fun. You know what was weird? They were so nice to me. They were actually talking to me!” I loved it – a normal human wouldn’t expect a group of strangers to all be nice and kind and welcoming, but we sort of take it for granted around here, don’t we? If you haven’t come into the live show before, try to make time to stop by at 5pm Pacific Time on a Sunday night. Even if you can’t stay a long time, just stop by podfeet.com/live and say and say hi and you’ll know what Linda was talking about.

NosillaCast News

example html email from NosillaCast NewsI’m very excited to tell you about an enhancement to your NosillaCast experience, you can now sign up for the NosillaCast newsletter, affectionately named the NosillaCast News. Hey wait! What problem does it solve? Let’s use Mr. Peabody and Sherman’s WABAC Machine to illustrate how useful the NosillaCast News would have been. About four years ago, my web hosting company went belly up. Out of the blue, Podfeet.com wouldn’t return a ping. Calls to my webhost went to an answering machine with a little kids voice saying, “we can’t come to the phone right now…” That cold feeling down my spine was horrible.

What was even more horrible was that I couldn’t tell the listeners of that day that I hadn’t quit, I wasn’t a deadbeat. It was awful! I was desperate and panicked! If I’d had people subscribed to the NosillaCast News, I could have told them calmly that we were experiencing technical difficulties and to please stand by for further instructions. That would have given me a peace of mind at least while I struggled with how to dig out of that situation. Just as a historical note, it was during that time that Bart and I became close – he helped me over a Thanksgiving week to transfer my entire site from my old ISP to GoDaddy. He spent probably 20 hours on Skype with me getting that done. I still wonder what he gets out of this relationship, you know?

Ok, let’s not question it, ok? another problem the NosillaCast News would solve is when I goof up the podcast feed. it doesn’t happen all that often, but it does happen. Here’s the scenario. I upload a file to Libsyn who host my audio files, and then I test the link and either Steve or I discover something wrong in the audio file. As fast as my fingers can fly I fix the problem and reupload the file. The problem is that in that brief interval, maybe a half hour long, invariably some people have downloaded the bad file. All I can do is sit back and wait for people to write to me and tell them to delete the feed and resubscribe. I would love to be able to send out a pre-emptive strike email telling people that if they have a problem here’s how to fix it.

There’s a third problem that the NosillaCast News solves, and that’s notification that the show and the blog is up online. Not everyone is a ConnorP who pings me pretty much from 8:30 on asking “is it up yet? is it up yet?” Even on the Christmas week when I came out with the show two days early he did that. With a subscription to the NosillaCast News you’ll know the instant I hit the publish button. Oh Connor, I should mention that after I hit the blog publish button, that’s when I can copy the article link into Feeder so there IS about a 30 second lag for the podcast itself!

Now since I’m so consistent with my blog and podcast postings, the last advantage of a newsletter isn’t so huge. Imagine a normal blogger who’s all over the map on when they blog, for those readers who really just haven’t ever taken to RSS, it would be great if they had an email notification telling them a new blog post is up. I love having this for my daughter’s blog. You will get that automatically with the NosillaCast News but again my anal retentive level of consistency makes this a bit less of a benefit.

And finally there are occasions where I do something interesting on the blog that’s not on schedule – a video interview like the one I did with Rod Roddenberry out at Catalina Island for example – where it would be fun to just let you know there’s something to go enjoy.

So if you’d like to subscribe to the NosillaCast News, just fill out the little form in the right sidebar of podfeet.com and you’ll be in like Flint! Oh, and it’s easy to UNsubscribe if you decide you don’t like it later on. Drop me a line and let me know what you think about the NosillaCast News.

LA Times and Libsyn Blog

As Bart would say, I’m rather chuffed this week by two mentions online. First my podcast was mentioned in some very good company on the LA Times Framework Blog by good friend of the show Robert Lachman. In theory he’s trying to pick his top tech product of 2010 but in his own ADD kind of way he mentions the Mac Geek Gab, Typical Mac User, the Mac ReviewCast and the NosillaCast. Check it out for a very fun read at framework.latimes.com.

The second mention is a plug for my Podcasting on Podcasting series. Over at imake.libsyn.com an unnamed author wrote a podcasting starter kit for absolute newbies. They describe a ton of great online resource for how to start your own podcast, and they included some lovely words about Podcasting on Podcasting! As I said, pretty chuffed about all this, hope you don’t mind my bragging about it!

The MacCast on Backups

Every so often I like to mention backups, not so often that it becomes noise to you but enough to tickle your brain so you think, “oh yeah, I should make sure those are still running”, or “oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to do that, today’s the day to get ‘er done!” This week I happened to listen to Adam Christianson’s December 29th episode of the MacCast where he had science fiction author JC Hutchins on to talk about how his iMac’s hard drive died on him over the holidays. It’s a great episode for so many reasons. First of all JC is an author so he has a fabulous turn of a phrase, he creates such great visual images in your head of the feelings and events that unfurled as this disaster struck him. Secondly if you need the most vivid story of what it feels like to lose ten years worth of data to get you to finally getting started with backups, this is the story you need. I was riveted as I listened to JC describe the knowledge that his hard drive was gone as being like standing at a smoking crater where his life used to be. Go check it out at MacCast.com.


Donald Stein sent in a completely unsolicited email that I just have to read to you. Donald starts right in with:

    I LOVE IT.

    I live on Kelleys Island, a small island in Lake Erie, Ohio. We have about 150 year round residents. In the summer, it grows to several thousand. I am the “Resident Geek” for hte island and have been helping folks for the last 15 years. Mostly Windows @#$!, but I use Mac, Windows, Ubuntu.

    I have been listening to your podcast for many years. Every time I heard you talk about Screen Steps, I said to myself, ” I should get a copy of that program”. Well, I did. I downloaded the trial, made two lessons, emailed them to several friends need help. Told them that I was using a trial version of Screen Steps with the “Trial Version” pasted on each step.

    I told them I was going to buy the full version as soon as I gathered the funds. I mentioned the if this Screen Steps lesson helped, I would cheerfully accept donations through Paypal. Guess what? Two folks did donate a small amount and I was able to purchase the standard version. Now I want to upgrade to the Pro version.

    I am now up to 12 lessons, all the way from showing how to check your version of Firefox, to shutting off the water and winterizing a house (I take digital photos and import into Screen Steps).

    I now use an App called Good Reader to transfer the exported Screen Steps lessons (as pdf) to my new Christmas present… an iPad. I now have all my Screen Steps lessons on my iBook shelf. Thanks so much for your podcast and Screen Steps. To repeat, I LOVE IT.

Wow Donald, this is fantastic! I love that the people you help liked your lessons so much that they helped fund the purchase of ScreenSteps. That really says something for what a good job you did on them. Sounds like you’re a fantastic resource to the island. I’m so glad that ScreenSteps helped you out. To everyone else listening, if you’d like to be as helpful as Donald is to his friends, head on over to ScreenSteps.com and give the free trial a shot. Don’t forget to use my coupon code NOSILLA for 25% off the purchase price of ScreenSteps Desktop Standard or Pro.

Backups for Steve’s Video Production

As I listened I realized that all of my attempts to back up Steve’s computer have failed and that it was time to get back into it and figure it out once and for all. You see, for normal people, Time Machine is a great alternative. it runs in the background while you’re working away, doing an hourly incremental backup and even keeping versions of your material as you change it so you can go back and retrieve a document you accidentally deleted or accidentally changed. That’s fantastic…for normal people. But Steve isn’t normal people, he’s special.

The reason he’s special is because he works on giant video files for our home movies. He takes high def video in AVCHD format, brings it into Final Cut Express and then exports .mov files and finally burns to DVD and now Hi-Def DVDs using his new Blu-Ray burner. Now imagine as he’s working away editing a 3GB file and time machine is keeping hourly incremental backups of all of those files. In just a few days that backup disk is going to be full.

So over the years I’ve tried lots of alternatives, like using a Maxtor One Touch Backup drive, where when you want to run a backup, you simply hit a button on the front of the drive and it copies over any changed files (overwriting the old file) as well as running an automated backup in the background. I use this at work on my PC, and it works like a champ. And for some reason we could NEVER get it to run a second time on Steve’s Mac. It remains a mystery to me why this didn’t work.

I bought him another external drive and tried to run SuperDuper! for him on it running automated backups, but he kept turning the disk off because he said it made a clicking noise that got on his nerves. Ok…I tried running SuperDuper! on the Maxtor, but for some reason I was never able to reformat that drive to let me run the backups. Sometimes Steve turns off the drives because they have a habit of slowing down his machine when he tries to access other disks. For example, he goes to open a file on his internal drive, and he’ll get the spinning pizza wheel of death while OSX spins up the external drive he wasn’t even asking for. To be honest I get that same behavior with my Maxtor disk at work, my mail will suddenly pause while it wakes the darn backup drive up. I found a utility online that keeps the disk awake for Steve so now at least he lets that one disk live…for now.

So now we’re up to this week where we sat down once again to try and develop an automated yet practical backup strategy. For the first time we actually characterized the data types; in the past we’d only characterized where the data lived. I’m going through this by the way in hopes that if you’ve tried to back up and gotten stuck on one bit or another, this will help you to slog through it to success. Steve has three kinds of data:

  • Small data files which change often like spreadsheets and text documents
  • Operating System and Application files
  • Large data files that don’t change. These are the final output files of his projects, the .mov files that get turned into the 2 hour DVDs
  • Large data files that are changing like his Final Cut Express files and iMovie/iDVD files

Once we had his data characterized, it was obvious how to attack the backup problem and it wasn’t with one solution, it was with two. The small data files that change often and the OS/Application files are the perfect data sets for Time Machine. We hooked up that pesky Maxtor drive that was so recalcitrant about reformatting, and told Time Machine to beat it into submission. In about 30 seconds, Time Machine had reformatted and renamed the drive! Then we went into the options and excluded Steve’s giant Movies directory. That left a mere 200GB of files to be backed up onto the 750GB Maxtor. Adam (and others) recommend your backup drive be at least double your data size to use Time Machine effectively, so this was perfect. We told it to run the backup and it immediately set to work.

Next we’ll tackle the big data that doesn’t change often. For that we bought a 2TB external Western Digital MyBook, and set up SuperDuper! to run backups. Now sadly we still can’t practically keep ALL of his video source material, a single 2 hour DVD’s worth of source material is 70GB, and he makes a LOT of these videos. The good news is that a very high resolution .mov version is around 4GB so he can keep that. It wouldn’t give him the ability to edit the movie easily later, but when there’s a new format beyond Blu-Ray then he’ll be ready with the high def versions to convert. For this backup he can have it run much more occasionally, maybe once a week, or even only after he’s completed something major. The downside here is you don’t have versions of your files, but this kind of data doesn’t really have versions. We did also create a small (150GB) partition on the 2TB drive so he can use it as a scratch space to drag over a video project while it’s in work.

Now I can hear Bart yelling at his iPod right now asking how many darn drives will Steve have littered all over his desk by now??? And the answer is four…till I add one more. I bought the cutest little Western Digital portable 500GB drive a while ago, not because I really needed it but because it was adorable, fit all nice in the palm of my hand. I think I’ll donate that to Steve’s cause and let him use that as a place to drag work in progress files from Final Cut Express so he’ll have piece of mind that his time won’t get wasted in the event of a hard drive failure.

So I’m thinking that I need an OmniGraffle Diagram of this now…but at least Steve’s getting backed up! You may ask, “what about offsite backup Allison?” The most important thing on Steve’s drives is the home movies, and they exist on his drives, on a set of DVDs in the house, on a backup drive, on a drive connected to the Mac Mini, AND in the safe deposit box. Some day when I’m not so exhausted I have to figure out offsite backups of his small data files though…

Ron’s Backup Script

Automator icon of a little robot with a metal pipeI have one last thing about backups and it’s a happy story. My buddy Ron was over a couple weeks ago and he was messing around with Automator and AppleScript and in a flippant and demanding moment (I have those a lot!) I said, “Hey Ron, write me a script I can easily launch that will back up my Feeder file!” So here’s the problem – while I have onsite and offsite bootable backups of my MacBook Pro, I write my long drawn out blog posts using Feeder all week long, and I would HANG myself if I lost it mid-week in between backups.

I have gotten in the habit of dragging a copy of my Feeder file to Dropbox once in a while when I think of it but it means opening two Finder windows, drilling down the right folder and dragging it into the right folder in Dropbox. I do it, but not as often as I would like. Ron started with some really complicated ideas, and any developer who is really talented, he kept working on it until it was two really simple easy steps in Automator. The steps are to tell Automator to Get Specified Items from the Finder and then to Copy those files to Dropbox to the exact location while replacing the existing files (writing over the last copy you put there). Well duh, that sounds easy!

Since it was so easy I thought it might be helpful to write a little tutorial (using ScreenSteps of course) on how to create this script for yourself. I put a link in the shownotes to the Automator tutorial and it’s also in the menu bar at podfeet.com under Tutorials. Just in case you’re new to Automator (as I am) I made it really detailed, not skipping any steps so you can follow along. If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at Automator this might be a fun 15 minute project for you to try out. In any case, thanks Ron for the great script, I’m backing up my Feeder file about 5 times a day now instead of a couple times a week!


John's creepy brother, just the eyes showing
My buddy John Zellner is a UNIX system administrator, primarily specializing in managing Sun servers, but he’s also got an amazing talent. John is an artist who draws the most curiously amazing creatures you’ve ever seen. Some of his drawings are delightfully whimsy, some are slightly disturbing, and a few really send a cold chill down your spine, like the picture he painted of his brother. I’ve been a big fan of Johns artwork over the years, and quite a while back I scanned in a pile of his drawings and created a terribly crude website for him. It was my first ever website and it was awful, but he loved that he could show people what he’s created.

That site came down when MobileMe came into play and until last weekend I’d never recreated it for him, even though it was on my mental to do list for literally years. Over the holidays I finally got around to it. Now with the first problem to be solved being getting the art back online, the second problem is funding for a website. I knew without asking that money would be a problem, so I decided to create a WordPress site for him but instead of making him pay for hosting and a domain name, I’d set him up on the free wordpress.com.

This introduces a fair amount of restrictions (no complaints here, just good info to keep in mind) like you don’t have the vast choices of themes, and you can’t install your own plugins. They do have a lot of themes to choose from and I was able to find one that I thought fit the spirit of his artwork. I then had to figure out how to create an image gallery without a plugin, but I finally cracked the code on that. Anyway, I spent a lot of time on it and I’m pretty pleased with how it came out, and best of all John loves it. If you’d like to see John’s amazing drawings, check it out at zamps.wordpress.com

Honda Bob

I’m afraid yet another week has gone by without the need to see Honda Bob. I did get an email from a friend asking whether I could talk Honda Bob into working on her Mini Cooper; she just needed her tail light assembly worked on. I had to tell her that Honda Bob is just what he says, he only works on cars from the Honda Motor Company which luckily includes Acuras but does not include Mini Coopers. I’m sure there are some fine mechanics around the LA area that could help but one of the great luxuries of using Honda Bob for me is I’ve never had to do a search. We found Honda Bob in 1978, and that’s the last time I had to look for a mechanic! Imagine that, one mechanic for 33 years? That’s a real testament to the quality of his work, his honest dealings, and with how effortless it is to have him come to your house and work on your Hondas or Acuras. If you live in the LA or Orange County areas, and you drive a Honda or an Acura, give Honda Bob a call at (562)531-2321 or send him an email at [email protected]. HDA Bob’s Mobile Service is not affiliated with Honda, Acura or Honda Worldwide.

Chit Chat Across the County

I promise you Bart will mend and Chit Chat Across the Pond will be back with him eventually but we still don’t have a feel for how soon that will be. In the mean time, I think we’ve been really lucky to have such amazing talent to come on and fill in for him. This week is no exception.


Typical Mac User header
Chit Chat Across the Pond is with Victor Cajaio of:
Typical Mac User Podcast at typicalmacuser.com and the Typical Shutterbug Podcast at typicalshutterbug.com and on Twitter at @victorcajiao

Why I started the Typical Shutterbug podcast

Some of what I’ve learned

The important most important lesson in photography, is the importance of the image itself, the reason for taking it and the way it looks.

Camera Types and what’s the right decision for us

Compact cameras (or point and shoot cameras)

  • very portable
  • even the cheap ones make great pictures for general use
  • considerations include size, how does it fit in your hand, do you want to carry it in a pocket, a handbag what can you live with and be comfortable
  • how easy is the view finder and menus to use. How big is that view finder screen
  • does it also have a regular view finder (the old type)
  • Does the lens project out of the cameras all the time or does it go back into the camera
  • What kind of power does it use, regular batteries , nicad batteries and how long is that battery life on that camera
  • Does it have a wrist-strap or a place to put a lanyard if you choose to

Two Compact Camera recommendations from me:
At a reasonable Price:

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-T210 at $249.00 is an excellent travel zoom camera.It is a 12.1 megapixel camera with a 12x optical zoom f/3.3-4.9 Leica lens (35mm camera equivalent: 25-300mm)it can shoot in full auto or manual modes it includes GPS tracking.

At the high end of compact cameras that rock is the Canon Powershot S95. Shoots in RAW you can shoot in aperture priority or shutter priority or even fully manual. ISO, aperture and shutter speeds can be all manual of fully auto, It shoots video at 720p movie mode added (24 fps vs 30 for lx5) with stereo recording. at $479 it’s an investment but you could shoot for years with camera and get excellent results . I have a bigger version of this camera the Canon G11 and this one does everything the G11 does but it’s much smaller.

Mobile cameras (those cameras we carry with is in our cellular phones)

  • They are the camera most of us have with us 100% of the time
  • they can be used for simple things like knowing where you parked your car
  • Documenting where you are suppose to meet someone, what is the entrance to where you baseball seats are

pic of steve and kyle standing next to sign that shows mickey mouse and 4C so we can remember where we parked at disneylandThese come from 2Megapixel to about 8. You simply can’t get the same quality as an SLR but boy is it handy to have this with you all the time and we are going to take some time to shoot often and proudly with these cameras.They can be used at anytime to capture events and to practice composing pictures. These days with the higher end phones like the Nokias and the iPhone you can truly make wonderful snapshots with these handy devices that are literally attached to many of us.

I recommend the iPhone 4. It is one of the best cameras that is always with you . However whatever phone you have just shoot with it and use it as the way you practice composition and shooting.

iPhone photo apps:
, AutoStitch for Panoramas ,
Photogene for in phone photo editing, and Magic Hour to find out when the sun is going to rise and set, plus phases of the moon.

Digital Single Lens Reflect Cameras
DSLR are very flexible and High quality but they are not very portable
They have the ability to remove the lens and therefore you can use lenses that are veyry specialized to your needs. Anything from a very wide angle lens to shoot dramatic landscapes, to huge zoom lens to get that shot of the lion while on safari without risking life nor limb. The down side of this is that the lenses (Glass if you want to seem hip) can be as expensive or many times more expensive than the camera itself.

Many DSLRs have built in flashed but you can also use an external flash and even a remote control flash to have endless control of light in an indoor situation.
DSLR cameras are generally faster and provide you with much more finite control of settings (which we won’t go into in detail here)

A couple of the major considerations when dealing with DSLR are size of the camera and size of your budget. These units can range form $300 to$5000 or more.

Two Digital SLR Camera recommendations from me:

At about $600 the Nikon D5000 kit is a camera that you can shoot with for a very long time and get great pictures. 12.3 Megapixel DX format, comes with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR Lens and 2.7-inch Vari-angle LCD screen. In my opinion, the D5000 is THE camera for folks new to DSLRs who need something simple, but with great capabilities and those who want to take a step up in features/capabilities without having to spend over $1000.

If you are ready to Step up in price range then a camera that I would recommend and will likely own very soon is the Nikon D7000. The kit version costs $1500, but this is all the camera all of us would need really. It Includes NIKKOR 18-105mm DX VR Lens, does very good 1080p HD Video Capture with a mic input, it has Twin SD/SDHC/SDXC Card Slots and the of course it’s compatible with over 60 Nikkor lenses. These are hard to get right now but if you really do want to step, every review from people who I admire say, this is the Nikon for us non pro’s to own.

I know there are Canon cameras that are equivalent but I’m a Nikon shooter so I can’t in all honesty recommend one since I have not shot one. I know there are listeners of yours who can write comments and recommend the Canon equivalent cameras.

Software (ways to process and share our photos)
Photoshop Elements, iPhoto, Photoshop
Photography Library applications, like Lightroom, Aperture (at the new lower $80 price) this is what I would recommend even though day to day I use Light Room)
Photography sharing sites like # Picasa # SmugMug and #Flickr

Victor is speaking at MacWorld Expo on January 27th at 1pm, here’s a link to his speech: http://macworldexpo.com/search?s=victor+cajiao

I had sooo much fun with Victor, I had an eye on the clock and I knew we were running long but I was so fascinating by learning from him that I couldn’t bear to stop it! Every time I talk to Victor I learn so much – if it’s the Mac, photography, audio, doesn’t matter he’s brilliant in so many things and such a great teacher he never makes me feel dumb by talking down even though he knows so much more than me. I’m really happy he took the time to join us this week.

That’s going to wind things up for this week, please keep your emails coming with Dumb Questions, comments and suggestions by emailing me at [email protected], and follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/podfeet. Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.

6 thoughts on “#294 NosillaCast News, Backups, Automator, Zamps, Photography

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