Category Archives: Computers and Software

Never Ending Storage Needs

The OWC ThunderBay 8-Bay Enclosure

With the constant need for more storage, when my current storage got down to a few hundred gigabytes of free space, the time came to expand. I was very happy to spot that OWC had brought out a new 8-bay solution, which I had somehow missed. So I ordered the OWC ThunderBay 8-Bay Enclosure to expand my photographic and video storage.

OWC ThunderBay 8 Thunderbolt 3, 8 Bay Storage Enclosure. August 28, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

I’ve been using various OWC external storage boxes for many years now. My current storage for my picture library (including video) was residing on a four bay ThunderBay box, filled with WD 6Tb Enterprise class hard drives. These were all left as individual drives, connected via Thunderbolt 2 to my Mac Pro. Once the fourth drive was down to a few hundred gigabytes of free space, it was time to plan ahead and upgrade.

OWC ThunderBay 8 Thunderbolt 3, 8 Bay Storage Enclosure. The lockable front cover has been taken off, showing the 8 drive trays. August 28, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

Before I continue, a few explanations on why use multiple drive bay enclosure boxes, over getting individual external drives. In a nutshell, its to keep things nice and tidy. Declutter. With a box storing 2, 4 or 8 hard drives, you only need one electricity plug and one connection cable to your computer, not 2, 4 or 8. It also means that my entire picture library is always available; many colleagues have to unplug and plug in various hard drives to try and find more historical work. Lastly, the constantly attached library also means that Cloud backups can happen fully and properly.

OWC ThunderBay 8 Thunderbolt 3, 8 Bay Storage Enclosure. With the thumbscrew undone, the drive tray can easily be slid out. Here, the new 8Tb Toshiba hard drive has been screwed into the tray, ready to be inserted back. August 28, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

The ThunderBay enclosures aren’t hardware RAID boxes, but give you an option of using SoftRAID (a software RAID, available in two versions) by OWC. It’s not something I personally use. All my drives in my ThunderBay enclosures have always been used as individual drives (I do use hardware RAID 5 in other enclosures as backup boxes). These individual hard drives are then backed up to my RAID 5 box using Carbon Copy Cloner, backed up offsite manually (per assignment) and also backed up in the Cloud automatically, using Backblaze. Incidentally, that Backblaze referral link will give us both a free month of Cloud backup, if you’re a new customer.

OWC ThunderBay 8 Thunderbolt 3, 8 Bay Storage Enclosure. I always add a label to the hard drive (make sure never to cover any holes on the hard disk’s case) and also onto each individual tray. This makes future upgrades or swap outs easier and fool proof. August 28, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

Once the OWC ThunderBay 8-Bay TB3 Enclosure arrived, I simply shut down my Mac Pro, took out the four hard drives from my previous ThunderBay 4-bay enclosure, installed them in the 8-bay enclosure and added the fifth, new drive. Each drive screws into its own drive tray using the supplied screws. After some research, I also decided to try a Toshiba Enterprise class hard drive for the first time. I opted for the Toshiba 8.0TB MG05ACA Series SATA Interface Enterprise Class Hard Disk Drive, also available from OWC. This leaves three bays free in the box, for future upgrade needs. It’s an extremely elegant, practical and future proof solution for one’s never ending storage needs.

OWC ThunderBay 8 Thunderbolt 3, 8 Bay Storage Enclosure, next to (on the left) an OWC ThunderBay 4 Mini enclosure, which houses 2.5” SSD drives. All the drives have been fitted, leaving thee vacant for the future and the unit is plugged in. Being a TB3 enclosure, I used an Apple TB2 to TB3 adapter, to allow it to work with my Mac Pro (Late 2013 model). August 28, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

Something worth thinking about, if your current storage involves multiple external drives, with a spaghetti like tangle of cables. If you’re not worried about warranties, you are extremely careful and are happy to take the risk (there is always risk present in doing anything with the innards of computers and related equipment) is to physically transfer those individual SATA hard drives into a ThunderBay box. Declutter and become more efficient. The intelligent design also allows 2.5” drives to be used.

Clockwise: OWC ThunderBay 4 Mini, ThunderBay 8 Thunderbolt 3, G-Technology G-Speed Shuttle XL (in RAID 5 configuration, used as a backup) and my Apple Mac Pro (Late 2013). August 28, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

However, the best option would be to transfer the data onto new hard drives. I tend to swap out hard disks every 4-5 years, as they all have finite life cycles. Also it means that as hard drives increase in size, the physical number of drives needed is less.

OWC ThunderBay 8 Thunderbolt 3, 8 Bay Storage Enclosure has individual LEDs for each drive. August 28, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

Lastly, always backup your work. You need everything on at least two physically different drives, but ideally three. One set being kept in a geographically different location. Ideally, a final layer of safety would be a Cloud backup.

My previous OWC ThunderBay, 4 Bay Storage Enclosure, which has now been retired. August 28, 2020. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

Have A Computer? Help Fight COVID 19

This is so simple! If you have a computer (Mac, PC/Windows or Linux), join me and help beat COVID 19. This takes a couple of minutes to set up, is simple and once done, is automatic.

Many of us have idle time on our computers, in between editing and processing, or when we leave our computers on overnight so Cloud backups can take place.

This project simulates the NSP12 polymerase in the monomeric state from SARS-CoV-2! Polymerases are important for transcribing the viral genome, a necessary step for viral replication it infects a host cell (aka our cells). It uses two co-factors, NSP7 and NSP8, but this project simulates only NSP12 in isolation. Our hope is to identify a potentially druggable site in this polyermase for drug dessign efforts

The general wisdom in computer circles is that computers should be left on, as apart from general housekeeping maintenance that happens automatically in most OSs overnight, it’s also better for the machine’s longevity, compared to the constant on and off states and the associated surges with the computer and connected hard drives. The team at Stanford School of Medicine’s Folding@home has made analysing COVID 19 its top priority and has focused their efforts and the power of distributed computing towards SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) projects.

Folding@home is a project focused on disease research. The problems we’re solving require so many computer calcul­ations – and we need your help to find the cures! Folding@home (FAH or F@h) is a distributed computing project for simulating protein dynamics, including the process of protein folding and the movements of proteins implicated in a variety of diseases. It brings together citizen scientists who volunteer to run simulations of protein dynamics on their personal computers. Insights from this data are helping scientists to better understand biology, and providing new opportunities for developing therapeutics.

Viruses have proteins that they use to suppress our immune systems & reproduce themselves.
Folding@home want to understand how these viral proteins work and how we can design therapeutics to stop them.

To help with this international effort, simply download the free Mac, Linux or PC software and help out: https://foldingathome.org You can run this on a laptop or desktop computer and remember that every bit of computing power can help analyse the virus’s proteins and lead to its defeat.

You can select how much computing power to assign and if your computer should work on the project at all times or just when idle. You can also stop and start at will, if for example you’re editing a complex project that needs more computing power. Its all controlled via a very simple web interface. Just follow the very simple instructions.

Get folding and lets help our scientists figure out how to defeat this awful virus.

Winning Image In The 12th International Color Awards

Merit of Excellence

Light and shadows make patterns and shapes in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall, Bankside. London, UK. April 26, 2018. Photo: Edmond Terakopian

Very happy to share that one of my images has won second place, a “Merit Of Excellence”, in the Professional Category of the Silhouette section, in the 12th International Color Awards. The image was kindly chosen by judges from 7241 entries, from 79 countries.

Many congratulations on all the other winners and nominees and my thanks to the judges for their hard work.

It was shot on my Panasonic Lumix G9 with a Leica DG 50-200mm f2.8-4.0 lens (giving an equivalent of 100-400mm). The raw image was processed using Lightroom and finished in Alienskin Exposure X4 on my Mac Pro, using calibrated Eizo CG monitors for colour accuracy.

Cooling Fans

Keeping Your Hard Drives & Computer Cool

The warmest room by far in most  homes is the home office, mainly because that’s where the computer and the hard drives live. Any creative will generate loads of data (pictures, video or audio) which means loads of hard drives for storage and backup. Even though some external hard drives have fans to keep things cool, once these pile up, pockets of hot air form and have an effect on both the active (fan) and passive (heatsink) cooling of hard drives. Excess heat can result in hard drive failure and on computers erratic behaviour at best or failure of internal components at worst.

A powered USB hub and a pair of USB fans cool down my hard drives. July 18, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakoian

A powered USB hub and a pair of USB fans cool down my hard drives. July 18, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakoian

Server rooms in offices have specific air-conditioning installed to keep the storage arrays cool, but alas most of us won’t be in a position to do that. Next best thing is to move the hot air away from the drives and also to cool the air falling upon and into them.

A powered USB hub and a pair of USB fans cool down my hard drives. July 18, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakoian

A powered USB hub and a pair of USB fans cool down my hard drives. July 18, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakoian

A very simple and cheap solution is to install a powered USB hub and plug in some USB fans. These will cool down the air and also move the air around. Simple, cheap, easy and effective.

A USB fan cools down the air before it get's sucked into my MacPro. July 18, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakoian

A USB fan cools down the air before it get’s sucked into my MacPro. July 18, 2015. Photo: Edmond Terakoian

Another use for the simple USB fan is to have it cool down the air that’s sucked into your computer by it’s own internal cooling fan. By cooling the air outside the computer, the computer’s internal cooling system has a more effective job of keeping the CPU, GPU and internal hard drives cool. Incidentally, having a fan blow cooler air towards the air intake on your laptop will have the same effect (on Apple MacBooks it’s the hinge between the screen and keyboard. On PCs it’s sometimes the same place and sometimes on one of the sides).

Naturally, on hot days, the same technology can be used to cool you down too!

Good places to source this equipment will be Scan, Amazon or Dabs.

Olympus 40MP High Res RAW Plugin

New RAW Plug-in For OM-D E-M5 Mark II High Res Mode

Olympus High Res Shot Raw File Photoshop Plugin

Some great news for Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II owners. We now have a new Photoshop plug-in to allow processing of these astonishing 40MP high resolution images from the raw file. Although relatively simple in interface, it allows the all important setting of white balance and also sharpening at the raw file stage.

A rare Ferrari 288 GTO built in 1985 with only 883 miles on the clock. It is valued at £2,000,000 and available from H.R. Owen in South Kensington, London. Image shot on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II, using the multi shot sensor shift facility, creating a 40 megapixel image. January 30, 2015. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

A rare Ferrari 288 GTO built in 1985 with only 883 miles on the clock. It is valued at £2,000,000 and available from H.R. Owen in South Kensington, London. Image shot on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II, using the multi shot sensor shift facility, creating a 40 megapixel image. January 30, 2015. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

The Olympus High Res Shot Raw File Photoshop Plug-in can be downloaded HERE and the manual is available HERE.

The image of the Ferrari GTO was processed using this plugin. No other processing was done in Photoshop. The image was then sent to Alienskin’s Exposure 7 where I applied a 50% faded and subtle Kodachrome 64 preset. Finally the image had it’s final sharpening done in Nik Software’s Sharpener Pro.

You can view my jpegs from this shoot in my Flickr album.

Detail Shot - A rare Ferrari 288 GTO built in 1985 with only 883 miles on the clock. It is valued at £2,000,000 and available from H.R. Owen in South Kensington, London. Image shot on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II, using the multi shot sensor shift facility, creating a 40 megapixel image. January 30, 2015. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

Detail Shot – A rare Ferrari 288 GTO built in 1985 with only 883 miles on the clock. It is valued at £2,000,000 and available from H.R. Owen in South Kensington, London. Image shot on the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II, using the multi shot sensor shift facility, creating a 40 megapixel image. January 30, 2015. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian

Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet Review

Wacom Intuos 5 Touch Medium TABLET (now called the Intuos Pro)

To Tablet Or Not To Tablet; Long Term Review

The Wacom Intuos Pro family of tablets. Photo: ©Wacom

The Wacom Intuos Pro family of tablets. Photo: ©Wacom

I’ve been a user of Wacom tablets for many years now. I have had an Intuos 2 and Intuos 3. With the introduction of a “touch” surface, I was intrigues so borrowed the new Intuos 5 Touch Medium with wireless adapter for a long term review from Wacom.

Editing "1 Sixpence 1 Play" using FCP X and a Wacom Intuos 5 Touch graphic's tablet and calibrated Eizo CG276 monitors. Still frame from video; ©Edmond Terakopian

Editing “1 Sixpence 1 Play” using FCP X and a Wacom Intuos 5 Touch graphic’s tablet and calibrated Eizo CG276 monitors. Still frame from video; ©Edmond Terakopian

The review didn’t start off too well though. The early software drivers on the Mac weren’t very stable and regardless of wether I was in tethered mode (USB) or wireless (using a wireless USB adapter), the tablet would at some stage during the working day disappear and eventually I just gave up and went back to using the Apple Trackpad on my Mac Pro and Intuos 3, waiting for updates to the software.

The Wacom Intuos Pro small tablet. Photo: ©Wacom

The Wacom Intuos Pro small tablet. Photo: ©Wacom

During a large edit on a big project (around a year ago), I developed a serious wrist pain and decided it was time to get the Wacom Intuos 5 out again. My only issue with using my Intuos 3 all the time is that I’m now so used to the gesture control in the Mac OS that having only a pen or the Wacom mouse is often counter productive. I decided to have a look at the Intuos 5 again and thankfully there was updated software. I updated and switched off the Apple Trackpad and went to the Wacom. Glad to report that the drivers are now solid and there are no more problems.

The Wacom Intuos Pro medium tablet. Photo: ©Wacom

The Wacom Intuos Pro medium tablet. Photo: ©Wacom

The huge positive thing about the Intuos 5 is the fact that it is also a touch pad with gesture control too; the name is kind of a clue here. Some learning is needed to master a few new movements but the system works well; so well that I’ve stuck with it solidly since, without issue. My beloved Apple Trackpad has been tucked away in a cupboard since. There’s also fully customisable control in the way of “ExpressKeys” and added control with the Touch Ring.

Having used it with Aperture, Lightroom, Capture One, Photoshop as well as FCP X on some major projects, several of which have gone on to win awards, the combination of pen and touch not only works extremely well, but is also much kinder physically and doesn’t cause the fatigue or pain that can be associated with heavy mouse or trackpad use. For my general computing, I just use the tablet as a touch device.

The Wacom Intuos Pro medium tablet. Photo: ©Wacom

The Wacom Intuos Pro medium tablet. Photo: ©Wacom

One huge advantage with the pen is also the ability to be much more accurate. Using brushes or moving sliders incrementally can be done with pinpoint accuracy. On top of this, the free flowing pen is suited towards artistic expression, so things like burning in or dodging is a breeze and more akin to the expressiveness one would show in a traditional darkroom. Naturally for the artist, there is no better tool, so if you draw, paint or do graphical design and for some reason haven’t tried a Wacom, just do – you won’t regret it. One thing I can pretty much guarantee is that within weeks of use of a Wacom, you will wonder how you managed without it.

The only gripe I have is the touch surface doesn’t cover the entire tablet and is within a designated area, which is incidentally, clearly marked and roughly around 85% of the surface area. I occasionally find myself just outside the bottom of the area and it’s frustrating as it can lead to errors when using the tablet as a trackpad. One does get used to it, and there are so many positives, that for me, it’s not a deal breaker. I do hope though that Wacom can make the next model touch capable over the entire surface.

Some thoughts on which size; as I use dual monitors at my office, I have always opted for the A4 size in the past, now called the Medium. The larger surface area allows for great control and accuracy when working on small areas (like retouching dust). I think anyone who works on a single screen or works just on a laptop will probably find the Small size to be more than capable. As always though, the best thing is to find your nearest stockist and go and have a try to see what suits you best. Also, for those who have never tried a tablet before, at first it will feel slightly alien the first day; trust me, just persevere as it will revolutionise the way you interact with your computer.

Faster working, pain free use, accurate and versatile with both pen and touch. With the maturing of the software, this is a must have for anyone who spends a lot of time photo, video or audio editing. I can’t recommend this highly enough; your work will improve and your wrist will thank you. Having just sold my Intuos 3 tablet, pen and mouse, I shall be purchasing my own Intuos 5 Touch Medium soon!

The Wacom Intuos 5 family of tablets. As you can see, the new Pro series look almost identical. Photo: ©Wacom

The Wacom Intuos 5 family of tablets. As you can see, the new Pro series look almost identical. Photo: ©Wacom

NB – Since beginning this long term review, the model naming has changed and the Intuos 5 range is now called the Intuos Pro. As far as differences between the unit, they are practically identical with some minor cosmetic differences and a slightly different surface coating. Also, the Pro now comes with the wireless kit as standard (although you can also use a USB connection instead).

On a related issue, as I’m often on the road with my MacBook Pro or 11” MacBook Air, either on assignment, teaching workshops or giving presentations, I decided to get a smaller tablet for mobile use. I opted for the Intuos Pen and Touch in the small size, which is working out well too. Not up to the feel of the Intuos 5, which is a professional grade piece of equipment, but it does work well on the road. One thing’s for sure though; once funds allow, I’ll almost definitely be upgrading that to the small size Intuos Pro Touch.

The Wacom Intuos small tablet. Photo: ©Wacom

The Wacom Intuos small tablet. Photo: ©Wacom

To see the Wacom in action, you can jump to 05:28 where you can see it being used with FCP X to edit our film “1 Sixpence 1 Play“: