Tag Archives: photographer

Backblaze Cuts B2 Download Price In Half

Post Syndicated from Ahin Thomas original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/backblaze-b2-drops-download-price-in-half/

Backblaze B2 downloads now cost 50% less
Backblaze is pleased to announce that, effective immediately, we are reducing the price of Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage downloads by 50%. This means that B2 download pricing drops from $0.02 to $0.01 per GB. As always, the first gigabyte of data downloaded each day remains free.

If some of this sounds familiar, that’s because a little under a year ago, we dropped our download price from $0.05 to $0.02. While that move solidified our position as the affordability leader in the high performance cloud storage space, we continue to innovate on our platform and are excited to provide this additional value to our customers.

This price reduction applies immediately to all existing and new customers. In keeping with Backblaze’s overall approach to providing services, there are no tiers or minimums. It’s automatic and it starts today.

Why Is Backblaze Lowering What Is Already The Industry’s Lowest Price?

Because it makes cloud storage more useful for more people.

When we decided to use Backblaze B2 as our cloud storage service, their download pricing at the time enabled us to offer our broadcasters unlimited audio uploads so they can upload past decades of preaching to our extensive library for streaming and downloading. With Backblaze cutting the bandwidth prices 50% to just one penny a gigabyte, we are excited about offering much higher quality video. — Ian Wagner, Senior Developer, Sermon Audio

Since our founding in 2007, Backblaze’s mission has been to make storing data astonishingly easy and affordable. We have a well documented, relentless pursuit of lowering storage costs — it starts with our storage pods and runs through everything we do. Today, we have over 500 petabytes of customer data stored. B2’s storage pricing already being 14 that of Amazon’s S3 has certainly helped us get there. Today’s pricing reduction puts our download pricing 15 that of S3. The “affordable” part of our story is well established.

I’d like to take a moment to discuss the “easy” part. Our industry has historically done a poor job of putting ourselves in our customers’ shoes. When customers are faced with the decision of where to put their data, price is certainly a factor. But it’s not just the price of storage that customers must consider. There’s a cost to download your data. The business need for providers to charge for this is reasonable — downloading data requires bandwidth, and bandwidth costs money. We discussed that in a prior post on the Cost of Cloud Storage.

But there’s a difference between the costs of bandwidth and what the industry is charging today. There’s a joke that some of the storage clouds are competing to become “Hotel California” — you can check out anytime you want, but your data can never leave.1 Services that make it expensive to restore data or place time lag impediments to data access are reducing the usefulness of your data. Customers should not have to wonder if they can afford to access their own data.

When replacing LTO with StarWind VTL and cloud storage, our customers had only one concern left: the possible cost of data retrieval. Backblaze just wiped this concern out of the way by lowering that cost to just one penny per gig. — Max Kolomyeytsev, Director of Product Management, StarWind

Many businesses have not yet been able to back up their data to the cloud because of the costs. Many of those companies are forced to continue backing up to tape. That tape is an inefficient means for data storage is clear. Solution providers like StarWind VTL specialize in helping businesses move off of antiquated tape libraries. However, as Max Kolomyeytsev, Director of Product Management at StarWind points out, “When replacing LTO with StarWind VTL and cloud storage our customers had only one concern left: the possible cost of data retrieval. Backblaze just wiped this concern out of the way by lowering that cost to just one penny per gig.”

Customers that have already adopted the cloud often are forced to make difficult tradeoffs between data they want to access and the cost associated with that access. Surrendering the use of your own data defeats many of the benefits that “the cloud” brings in the first place. Because of B2’s download price, Ian Wagner, a Senior Developer at Sermon Audio, is able to lower his costs and expand his product offering. “When we decided to use Backblaze B2 as our cloud storage service, their download pricing at the time enabled us to offer our broadcasters unlimited audio uploads so they can upload past decades of preaching to our extensive library for streaming and downloading. With Backblaze cutting the bandwidth prices 50% to just one penny a gigabyte, we are excited about offering much higher quality video.”

Better Download Pricing Also Helps Third Party Applications Deliver Customer Solutions

Many organizations use third party applications or devices to help manage their workflows. Those applications are the hub for customers getting their data to where it needs to go. Leaders in verticals like Media Asset Management, Server & NAS Backup, and Enterprise Storage have already chosen to integrate with B2.

With Backblaze lowering their download price to an amazing one penny a gigabyte, our CloudNAS is even a better fit for photographers, videographers and business owners who need to have their files at their fingertips, with an easy, reliable, low cost way to use Backblaze for unlimited primary storage and active archive. — Paul Tian, CEO, Morro Data

For Paul Tian, founder of Ready NAS and CEO of Morro Data, reasonable download pricing also helps his company better serve its customers. “With Backblaze lowering their download price to an amazing one penny a gigabyte, our CloudNAS is even a better fit for photographers, videographers and business owners who need to have their files at their fingertips, with an easy, reliable, low cost way to use Backblaze for unlimited primary storage and active archive.”

If you use an application that hasn’t yet integrated with B2, please ask your provider to add B2 Cloud Storage and mention the application in the comments below.

 

How Do the Major Cloud Storage Providers Compare on Pricing?

Not only is Backblaze B2 storage 14 the price of Amazon S3, Google Cloud, or Azure, but our download pricing is now 15 their price as well.

Pricing TierBackblaze B2Amazon S3Microsoft AzureGoogle Cloud
First 1 TB$0.01$0.09$0.09$0.12
Next 9 TB$0.01$0.09$0.09$0.11
Next 40 TB$0.01$0.085$0.09$0.08
Next 100 TB$0.01$0.07$0.07$0.08
Next 350 TB+$0.01$0.05$0.05$0.08

Using the chart above, let’s compute a few examples of download costs…

DataBackblaze B2Amazon S3Microsoft AzureGoogle Cloud
1 terabyte$10$90$90$120
10 terabytes$100$900$900$1,200
50 terabytes$500$4,300$4,500$4,310
500 terabytes$5,000$28,800$29,000$40,310
Not only is Backblaze B2 pricing dramatically lower cost, it’s also simple — one price for any amount of data downloaded to anywhere. In comparison, to compute the cost of downloading 500 TB of data with S3 you start with the following formula:
(($0.09 * 10) + ($0.085 * 40) + ($0.07 * 100) + ($0.05 * 350)) * 1,000
Want to see this comparison for the amount of data you manage?
Use our cloud storage calculator.

Customers Want to Avoid Vendor Lock In

Halving the price of downloads is a crazy move — the kind of crazy our customers will be excited about. When using our Transmit 5 app on the Mac to upload their data to B2 Cloud Storage, our users can sleep soundly knowing they’ll be getting a truly affordable price when they need to restore that data. Cool beans, Backblaze. — Cabel Sasser, Co-Founder, Panic

As the cloud storage industry grows, customers are increasingly concerned with getting locked in to one vendor. No business wants to be fully dependent on one vendor for anything. In addition, customers want multiple copies of their data to mitigate against a vendor outage or other issues.

Many vendors offer the ability for customers to replicate data across “regions.” This enables customers to store data in two physical locations of the customer’s choosing. Of course, customers pay for storing both copies of the data and for the data transfer between regions.

At 1¢ per GB, transferring data out of Backblaze is more affordable than transferring data between most other vendor regions. For example, if a customer is storing data in Amazon S3’s Northern California region (US West) and wants to replicate data to S3 in Northern Virginia (US East), she will pay 2¢ per GB to simply move the data.

However, if that same customer wanted to replicate data from Backblaze B2 to S3 in Northern Virginia, she would pay 1¢ per GB to move the data. She can achieve her replication strategy while also mitigating against vendor risk — all while cutting the bandwidth bill by 50%. Of course, this is also before factoring the savings on her storage bill as B2 storage is 14 of the price of S3.

How Is Backblaze Doing This?

Simple. We just changed our pricing table and updated our website.

The longer answer is that the cost of bandwidth is a function of a few factors, including how it’s being used and the volume of usage. With another year of data for B2, over a decade of experience in the cloud storage industry, and data growth exceeding 100 PB per quarter, we know we can sustainably offer this pricing to our customers; we also know how better download pricing can make our customers and partners more effective in their work. So it is an easy call to make.

Our pricing is simple. Storage is $0.005/GB/Month, Download costs are $0.01/GB. There are no tiers or minimums and you can get started any time you wish.

Our desire is to provide a great service at a fair price. We’re proud to be the affordability leader in the Cloud Storage space and hope you’ll give us the opportunity to show you what B2 Cloud Storage can enable for you.

Enjoy the service and I’d love to hear what this price reduction does for you in the comments below…or, if you are attending NAB this year, come by to visit and tell us in person!


1 For those readers who don’t get the Eagles reference there, please click here…I promise you won’t regret the next 7 minutes of your life.

The post Backblaze Cuts B2 Download Price In Half appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

What’s the Best Solution for Managing Digital Photos and Videos?

Post Syndicated from Roderick Bauer original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/discovering-best-solution-for-photo-video-backup/

Digital Asset Management (DAM)

If you have spent any time, as we have, talking to photographers and videographers about how they back up and archive their digital photos and videos, then you know that there’s no one answer or solution that users have discovered to meet their needs.

Based on what we’ve heard, visual media artists are still searching for the best combination of software, hardware, and cloud storage to preserve their media, and to be able to search, retrieve, and reuse that media as easily as possible.

Yes, there are a number of solutions out there, and some users have created combinations of hardware, software, and services to meet their needs, but we have met few who claim to be satisfied with their solution for digital asset management (DAM), or expect that they will be using the same solution in just a year or two.

We’d like to open a dialog with professionals and serious amateurs to learn more about what you’re doing, what you’d like to do, and how Backblaze might fit into that solution.

We have a bit of cred in this field, as we currently have hundreds of petabytes of digital media files in our data centers from users of Backblaze Backup and Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage. We want to make our cloud services as useful as possible for photographers and videographers.

Tell Us Both Your Current Solution and Your Dream Solution

To get started, we’d love to hear from you about how you’re managing your photos and videos. Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, your experiences are valuable and will help us understand how to provide the best cloud component of a digital asset management solution.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are you using direct-attached drives, NAS (Network-Attached Storage), or offline storage for your media?
  • Do you use the cloud for media you’re actively working on?
  • Do you back up or archive to the cloud?
  • Did you have a catalog or record of the media that you’ve archived that you use to search and retrieve media?
  • What’s different about how you work in the field (or traveling) versus how you work in a studio (or at home)?
  • What software and/or hardware currently works for you?
  • What’s the biggest impediment to working in the way you’d really like to?
  • How could the cloud work better for you?

Please Contribute Your Ideas

To contribute, please answer the following two questions in the comments below or send an email to [email protected]. Please comment or email your response by December 22, 2017.

  1. How are you currently backing up your digital photos, video files, and/or file libraries/catalogs? Do you have a backup system that uses attached drives, a local network, the cloud, or offline storage media? Does it work well for you?
  2. Imagine your ideal digital asset backup setup. What would it look like? Don’t be constrained by current products, technologies, brands, or solutions. Invent a technology or product if you wish. Describe an ideal system that would work the way you want it to.

We know you have opinions about managing photos and videos. Bring them on!

We’re soliciting answers far and wide from amateurs and experts, weekend video makers and well-known professional photographers. We have a few amateur and professional photographers and videographers here at Backblaze, and they are contributing their comments, as well.

Once we have gathered all the responses, we’ll write a post on what we learned about how people are currently working and what they would do if anything were possible. Look for that post after the beginning of the year.

Don’t Miss Future Posts on Media Management

We don’t want you to miss our future posts on photography, videography, and digital asset management. To receive email notices of blog updates (and no spam, we promise), enter your email address above using the Join button at the top of the page.

Come Back on Thursday for our Photography Post (and a Special Giveaway, too)

This coming Thursday we’ll have a blog post about the different ways that photographers and videographers are currently managing their digital media assets.

Plus, you’ll have the chance to win a valuable hardware/software combination for digital media management that I am sure you will appreciate. (You’ll have to wait until Thursday to find out what the prize is, but it has a total value of over $700.)

Past Posts on Photography, Videography, and Digital Asset Management

We’ve written a number of blog posts about photos, videos, and managing digital assets. We’ve posted links to some of them below.

Four Tips To Help Photographers and Videographers Get The Most From B2

Four Tips To Help Photographers and Videographers Get The Most From B2

How to Back Up Your Mac’s Photos Library

How to Back Up Your Mac’s Photos Library

How To Back Up Your Flickr Library

How To Back Up Your Flickr Library

Getting Video Archives Out of Your Closet

Getting Video Archives Out of Your Closet

B2 Cloud Storage Roundup

B2 Cloud Storage Roundup

Backing Up Photos While Traveling

Backing up photos while traveling – feedback

Should I Use an External Drive for Backup?

Should I use an external drive for backup?

How to Connect your Synology NAS to B2

How to Connect your Synology NAS to B2

The post What’s the Best Solution for Managing Digital Photos and Videos? appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

[$] Catching up with RawTherapee 5.x

Post Syndicated from corbet original https://lwn.net/Articles/735133/rss

Free-software raw photo editor RawTherapee released a major new
revision earlier this year, followed by a string of incremental
updates. The 5.x series, released at a rapid pace, marks a
significant improvement in the RawTherapee’s development tempo — the
project’s preceding update had landed in 2014. Regardless of the speed of
the releases themselves, however, the improved RawTherapee offers users a
lot of added functionality and may shake up the raw-photo-processing
workflow for many photographers.

How To Back Up Your Flickr Library

Post Syndicated from Peter Cohen original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/how-to-backup-your-flickr-library/

Flickr and cloud backup image

UPDATE May 17, 2018:  On April 20, Flickr announced that is being acquired by the image hosting and sharing service SmugMug. At that time, Flickr users were told that they have until May 25, 2018, to either accept the new terms of service from SmugMug or download their photo files from Flickr and close their accounts. Here is an excerpt from the email that was sent to Flickr users:

We think you are going to love Flickr under SmugMug ownership, but you can choose to not have your Flickr account and data transferred to SmugMug until May 25, 2018. If you want to keep your Flickr account and data from being transferred, you must go to your Flickr account to download the photos and videos you want to keep, then delete your account from your Account Settings by May 25, 2018.

If you do not delete your account by May 25, 2018, your Flickr account and data will transfer to SmugMug and will be governed by SmugMug’s Terms and Privacy Policy.

We wanted to let our readers know of this change, and also help them download their photos if they wish to do so. To that end, we’ve updated a post we published a little over a year ago with instructions on how to download your photos from Flickr. It’s a good idea to have a backup of your photos on Flickr whether or not you plan to continue with the service.

To read more:

You can read Peter’s updated post from March 21, 2017, How to Back Up Your Flickr Library, below.

— Editor

Flickr is a popular photo blogging service used by pro and amateur photographers alike. Flickr helps you archive your photos in the cloud and share them publicly with others. What happens when Flickr is the only place you can find your photos, though?

I hadn’t thought that much of that contingency. I’ve been a Flickr user since the pre-Yahoo days — 2004. I recently took stock of all the photos I’d uploaded to Flickr and realized something unsettling: I didn’t have some of these images on my Mac. It’s been 13 years and probably half a dozen computers since then, so I wasn’t surprised that some photos had fallen through the cracks.

I decided to be better safe than sorry. I set out to backup my entire Flickr library to make sure I had everything. And I’m here to pass along what I learned.

Flickr’s Camera Roll and Album Download Options

Most of Flickr’s workflow — and most of their supported apps — focus on getting images into Flickr, not out of Flickr. That doesn’t mean you can’t download images from Flickr, but it isn’t straightforward.

You can download photos directly from Flickr using their Camera Roll view, which organizes all your photos by the date they were taken. This is Flickr’s file-management interface, letting you select photos for whichever use you wish. Once you’ve selected the photos you want using the check boxes, Flickr will create a ZIP file that you can download. You are limited to 500 photos at a time, so this could take a number of repetitions if you have a lot of photos.

Flickr Camera Roll View screenshot

The download UI once you’ve met your photo selections:

Flickr Camera Roll options

You also can download Flickr Albums. Like the limit for the camera roll, you are limited to the number of photos you can download. In the case of albums, the limit is 5,000 files from albums at a time.

Flickr’s download albums selection dialog:

Flickr download albums

Guidelines from Flickr’s download help page:

screenshot of Flickr's download options

Third-party apps

Some third-party app makers have tapped into Flickr’s API to create various import and export services and apps.

Bulkr is one such app. The app, free to download, lets you download images from your Flickr library with the touch of a button. It’s dependent on Adobe Flash and requires Adobe AIR. Some features are unavailable unless you pay for the “Pro” version ($29).

Bulkr screenshot

Flickr downloadr is another free app that lets you download your Flickr library. It also works on Mac, Windows and Linux systems. No license encumbrances to download extra content — it’s released as open source.

Flickr Downloadr screenshot

I’ve tried them both on my library of over 8,000 images. In either case, I just set up the apps and let them run — they took a while, a couple of hours to grab everything. So if you’re working with a large archive of Flickr images, I’d recommend setting aside some time when you can leave your computer running.

What To Do With Your Flickr Images

You’ve downloaded the images to your local hard drive. What next? Catalog what you have. Both Macs and PCs include such software. The apps for each platform are both called “Photos.” They have the benefit of being free, built-in, and well-supported using existing tools and workflows.

If the Photos apps included with your computer don’t suit you, there are other commercial app options. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is one of the more popular options that work with both Macs and Windows PCs. It’s included with Adobe’s $9.99 per month Creative Cloud Photography subscription (bundled with Photoshop), or you can buy it separately for $149.

Archive Your Backup

Now that you’ve downloaded all of your Flickr images, make sure they’re safe by backing them up. Back them up locally using Time Machine (on the Mac), Windows Backup or whatever means you prefer.

Even though you’ve gotten the images from the cloud by downloading them from Flickr, it’d be a good idea to store a backup copy offsite just in case. That’s keeping with the guidelines of the 3-2-1 Backup Strategy — a solid way to make sure that nothing bad can happen to your data.

Backblaze Backup and Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage are both great options, of course, for backing up and archiving your media, but the main thing is to make sure your photos are safe and sound. If anything happens to your computer or your local backup, you’ll still have a copy of those precious memories stored securely.

Need more tips on how to back up your computer? Check out our Computer Backup Guide for more details.

The post How To Back Up Your Flickr Library appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Four Tips To Help Photographers and Videographers Get The Most From B2

Post Syndicated from Peter Cohen original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/four-b2-tips-photographers-videographers/

B2 for Photographers and Videographers

Photographers and videographers regularly push the limit of data storage and archiving solutions, especially as camera makers constantly increase megapixel sensor density. Network Attached Storage (NAS) systems are indispensable to help store these large amounts of data, whether it’s 20-50 megapixel stills or 1080p, 4K or 8K video footage. Data creep is inevitable. What can you do to get the most out of your NAS and future backup strategy? Enter B2 Cloud Storage.

B2 Cloud Storage can help you make sure your archived photos and videos are safe for as long as you need them in a secure offsite location. B2 is reliable cloud storage available for a fraction of the price of other cloud storage services: One-quarter what you’d pay Amazon. It’s easy to use thanks to a powerful web GUI, an open API and even a CLI.

Here are some tips to get the most out of B2.

1. B2 Integrates With Popular NAS Systems

Synology is one of the most popular vendors of NAS systems currently in use in small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) like like many photography and video businesses. If you’re currently using a Synology NAS, you can begin backing up and syncing to B2 right away. Synology’s Cloud Sync app – available as part of Synology’s DiskStation Manager (DSM) software – supports B2.

CloudBerry is an enormously popular app for backing up Windows Server systems, and it supports B2. CloudBerry makes a version of its software to support Synology and makes apps for other platforms too.

2. A Complete Backup Strategy Will Save Your Bacon

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” At this point, if you’re like many of us, you may not even think about backing up your NAS because it has built-in redundancy. If one drive dies, you can rebuild the NAS by replacing it.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story. What happens in the NAS hardware itself bites the bullet? What happens if there’s a natural disaster like a flood, fire or other calamity that claims the NAS?

To that end, it’s important to avoid relying on any single system, because that makes you dependent on a single point of failure. Make sure your NAS is backed up, and back it up locally before you back it up to the cloud (it’s what we call the 3-2-1 Backup Strategy and it’s worked pretty well for us and our customers over the years).

3. Store What You Need Online

Taking a hybrid approach to data archival and storage can be a smart way to spread the risk and provide alternate access to your work when in a pinch. Hybrid cloud storage offloads some of what you’ve archived to the cloud. You can leave what you need or what you think you might need immediately in local storage. Offload what you don’t need right away to the cloud.

Cloud access can be a time (and life) saver when you unexpectedly need to access archived projects. You don’t have to hunt for optical media such as CDs or DVDs. And if you’re storing archived content offsite, factor in the cost and time needed to deliver such media. Using a B2 cloud repository simplifies and speeds the process greatly. You’ll spend less time finding and restoring projects and more time getting work done.

Worried about backups and archives taking up huge amounts of cloud storage space? Don’t be. B2 supports Lifecycle Rules to make it easier to automatically hide and delete older versions of files. Using B2’s powerful web interface, you can specify whether to keep all versions of a file, keep only the last version of a file, keep prior versions for a specific number of days, or based on other criteria you specify. Lifecycle Rules can be applied to any bucket you create. (A bucket is a B2 file repository, the topmost organizational structure of data stored on B2.)

If you’re interested in a pre-built hybrid cloud solution that works with B2, check out OpenIO.

4. Use B2 To Share Files

With B2, you can create public content to share with others with a web-friendly URL. You can share proofs, rough cuts or other content you’d like to make available to your clients. That means you don’t have to host it locally. So you’re not consuming your own network bandwidth and you aren’t compromising the security of your network to outside users.

Safely contain what you want to share in a public or private bucket. B2 supports your ability to manage content sharing as you see fit. You can change buckets from public to private with a single click from our web interface.

Our web interface is an easy way to upload content to share with others. We also support many third-party apps including Cyberduck and DropShare. More details are available in our help section: How Can I Upload to B2.

If you’re concerned about overrunning your cloud storage budget, take comfort that B2 provides you with data cap and alert management features, so you’ll never be hit with a surprise bill.

Hopefully we’ve given you some ideas of how you can integrate B2 into your own workflow to help ease your archiving burden and make it easier for you to share files securely and safely. Are you a photo or video pro using B2? What are your biggest data storage challenges? Let us know in the comments, and feel free to share other tips and techniques!

The post Four Tips To Help Photographers and Videographers Get The Most From B2 appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

True Tales of Data Loss Horror

Post Syndicated from Peter Cohen original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/true-tales-data-loss-horror/

Data Loss Horror Tales

Just in time for Halloween: Spooky stories to give you a fright! Nothing scares us at Backblaze like stories about people losing data. Here are true tales of data loss horror straight from our customers’ own mouths!

“My wife had tons of pictures of our daughter when she was in the hospital and were kept on a old PC. Basically something happened when I restored my OS that corrupted my storage drives. I was forced to format the drives and tried for five hours using format recovery software but I ended up realizing that those memories were lost and there was nothing I could do about it.” – Jerry

“I’m a wedding photographer. I did a corporate job shooting a design firm’s office space and personnel, meetings and group photos. Somehow got lazy and didn’t copy the data off the Compact Flash card before the weekend’s wedding. As part of my routine, I formatted and stuck the memory card into my backup camera. After shooting a dozen frames at the wedding, I had a flash of panic and realized that I had just started overwriting my corporate photography. I swapped out the memory card then later recovered most of the files, but still had to email and ask to redo some of the photography.” – Sean

“I was using my store management software on a computer that was equipped with two hard-disk drives working like mirrors. The idea was that if one drive broke down the data would have been safe on the other one. The problem is that one drive became faulty and its mirror drive simply read the faults and duplicated them becoming faulty itself, years of accounting date were lost! It turned out that I had to get a new computer and imput all the data manually in it and it took me weeks. I wouldn’t wish this scary story to happen even to my competitors.” – Lorenzo

“One day, working on my computer and listening to my music, a storm began. A power outage burned my computer’s power supply, motherboard, modem and my hard drive with a project I has working on for ONE YEAR.” – George

“I was working at a coffee shop yesterday (my off-site office) on revising a print document and needed to get a PDF to the client for approval. I launched InDesign and soon realized that all of the linked images were on my external drive at home. There was a brief moment of panic, but then it dawned on me — I could restore (via Backblaze) and download! Five minutes later I was back in business.” – Tom

There’s a crucial point in almost every horror movie where you realize if the main character had just done one thing differently, none of the rest of the film’s events would have happened. In this case, Tom did the smart thing.

Don’t be the victim of your own horror story: Use Backblaze to back up your Mac or PC, and rest easy know your data is safe and secure. If you need other backup advice, make sure to check our handy Backup Guide for all the details.

Do you have your own data loss horror story? Share it with us!

The post True Tales of Data Loss Horror appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Introducing PIXEL

Post Syndicated from Simon Long original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/introducing-pixel/

It was just over two years ago when I walked into Pi Towers for the first time. I only had the vaguest idea of what I was going to be doing, but on the first day Eben and I sat down and played with the Raspbian desktop for half an hour, then he asked me “do you think you can make it better?”

origdesk

Bear in mind that at this point I’d barely ever used Linux or Xwindows, never mind made any changes to them, so when I answered “hmmm – I think so”, it was with rather more confidence than I actually felt. It was obvious that there was a lot that could be done in terms of making it a better experience for the user, and I spent many years working in user interface design in previous jobs. But I had no idea where to start in terms of changing Raspbian. I clearly had a bit of a learning curve in front of me…

Well, that was two years ago, and I’ve learnt an awful lot since then. It’s actually surprisingly easy to hack about with the LXDE desktop once you get your head around what all the bits do, and since then I’ve been slowly chipping away at the bits that I felt would most benefit from tweaking. Stuff has slowly been becoming more and more like my original concept for the desktop; with the latest changes, I think the desktop has reached the point where it’s a complete product in its own right and should have its own name. So today, we’re announcing the release of the PIXEL desktop, which will ship with the Foundation’s Raspbian image from now on.

newdesk

PIXEL?

One of the things I said (at least partly in jest) to my colleagues in those first few weeks was that I’d quite like to rename the desktop environment once it was a bit more Pi-specific, and I had the name “pixel” in my mind about two weeks in. It was a nice reminder of my days learning to program in BASIC on the Sinclair ZX81; nowadays, everything from your TV to your phone has pixels on it, but back then it was a uniquely “computer-y” word and concept. I also like crosswords and word games, and once it occurred to me that “pixel” could be made up from the initials of words like Pi and Xwindows, the name stuck in my head and never quite went away. So PIXEL it is, which now officially stands for “Pi Improved Xwindows Environment, Lightweight”.

What’s new?

The latest set of changes are almost entirely to do with the appearance of the desktop; there are some functional changes and a few new applications, about which more below, but this is mostly about making things look nicer.

The first thing you’ll notice on rebooting is that the trail of cryptic boot messages has (mostly) gone, replaced by a splash screen. One feature which has frequently been requested is an obvious version number for our Raspbian image, and this can now be seen at the bottom-right of the splash image. We’ll update this whenever we release a new version of the image, so it should hopefully be slightly easier to know exactly what version you’re running in future.

splash

I should mention that the code for the splash screen has been carefully written and tested, and should not slow down the Pi’s boot process; the time to go from powering on to the desktop appearing is identical, whether the splash is shown or not.

Desktop pictures

Once the desktop appears, the first thing you’ll notice is the rather stunning background image. We’re very fortunate in that Greg Annandale, one of the Foundation’s developers, is also a very talented (and very well-travelled) photographer, and he has kindly allowed us to use some of his work as desktop pictures for PIXEL. There are 16 images to choose from; you can find them in /usr/share/pixel-wallpaper/, and you can use the Appearance Settings application to choose which one you prefer. Do have a look through them, as Greg’s work is well worth seeing! If you’re curious, the EXIF data in each image will tell you where it was taken.

desk2

desk3

desk1

Icons

You’ll also notice that the icons on the taskbar, menu, and file manager have had a makeover. Sam Alder and Alex Carter, the guys responsible for all the cartoons and graphics you see on our website, have been sweating blood over these for the last few months, with Eben providing a watchful eye to make sure every pixel was exactly the right colour! We wanted something that looked businesslike enough to be appropriate for those people who use the Pi desktop for serious work, but with just a touch of playfulness, and Sam and Alex did a great job. (Some of the icons you don’t see immediately are even nicer; it’s almost worth installing some education or engineering applications just so those categories appear in the menu…)

menu

Speaking of icons, the default is now not to show icons in individual application menus. These always made menus look a bit crowded, and didn’t really offer any improvement in usability, not least because it wasn’t always that obvious what the icon was supposed to represent… The menus look cleaner and more readable as a result, since the lack of visual clutter now makes them easier to use.

Finally on the subject of icons, in the past if your Pi was working particularly hard, you might have noticed some yellow and red squares appearing in the top-right corner of the screen, which were indications of overtemperature or undervoltage. These have now been replaced with some new symbols that make it a bit more obvious what’s actually happening; there’s a lightning bolt for undervoltage, and a thermometer for overtemperature.

Windows

If you open a window, you’ll see that the window frame design has now changed significantly. The old window design always looked a bit dated compared to what Apple and Microsoft are now shipping, so I was keen to update it. Windows now have a subtle curve on the corners, a cleaner title bar with new close / minimise / maximise icons, and a much thinner frame. One reason the frame was quite thick on the old windows was so that the grab handles for resizing were big enough to find with the mouse. To avoid this problem, the grab handles now extend slightly outside the window; if you hold the mouse pointer just outside the window which has focus, you’ll see the pointer change to show the handle.

window

Fonts

Steve Jobs said that one thing he was insistent on about the Macintosh was that its typography was good, and it’s true that using the right fonts makes a big difference. We’ve been using the Roboto font in the desktop for the last couple of years; it’s a nice-looking modern font, and it hasn’t changed for this release. However, we have made it look better in PIXEL by including the Infinality font rendering package. This is a library of tweaks and customisations that optimises how fonts are mapped to pixels on the screen; the effect is quite subtle, but it does give a noticeable improvement in some places.

Login

Most people have their Pi set up to automatically log in when the desktop starts, as this is the default setting for a new install. For those who prefer to log in manually each time, the login screen has been redesigned to visually match the rest of the desktop; you now see the login box (known as the “greeter”) over your chosen desktop design, with a seamless transition from greeter to desktop.

login

Wireless power switching

One request we have had in the past is to be able to shut off WiFi and/or Bluetooth completely, particularly on Pi 3. There are now options in the WiFi and Bluetooth menus to turn off the relevant devices. These work on the Pi 3’s onboard wireless hardware; they should also work on most external WiFi and Bluetooth dongles.

You can also now disconnect from an associated wireless access point by clicking on its entry in the WiFi menu.

New applications

There are a couple of new applications now included in the image.

RealVNC have ported their VNC server and viewer applications to Pi, and they are now integrated with the system. To enable the server, select the option on the Interfaces tab in Raspberry Pi Configuration; you’ll see the VNC menu appear on the taskbar, and you can then log in to your Pi and control it remotely from a VNC viewer.

The RealVNC viewer is also included – you can find it from the Internet section of the Applications menu – and it allows you to control other RealVNC clients, including other Pis. Have a look here on RealVNC’s site for more information.

vnc

Please note that if you already use xrdp to remotely access your Pi, this conflicts with the RealVNC server, so you shouldn’t install both at once. If you’re updating an existing image, don’t run the sudo apt-get install realvnc-vnc-server line in the instructions below. If you want to use xrdp on a clean image, first uninstall the RealVNC server with sudo apt-get purge realvnc-vnc-server before installing xrdp. (If the above paragraph means nothing to you, then you probably aren’t using xrdp, so you don’t have to worry about any of it!)

Also included is the new SenseHAT emulator, which was described in a blog post a couple of weeks ago; have a look here for all the details.

sensehat

Updates

There are updates for a number of the built-in applications; these are mostly tweaks and bug fixes, but there have been improvements made to Scratch and Node-RED.

One more thing…

We’ve been shipping the Epiphany web browser for the last couple of years, but it’s now starting to show its age. So for this release (and with many thanks to Gustav Hansen from the forums for his invaluable help with this), we’re including an initial release of Chromium for the Pi. This uses the Pi’s hardware to accelerate playback of streaming video content.

chromium

We’ve preinstalled a couple of extensions; the uBlock Origin adblocker should hopefully keep intrusive adverts from slowing down your browsing experience, and the h264ify extension forces YouTube to serve videos in a format which can be accelerated by the Pi’s hardware.

Chromium is a much more demanding piece of software than Epiphany, but it runs well on Pi 2 and Pi 3; it can struggle slightly on the Pi 1 and Pi Zero, but it’s still usable. (Epiphany is still installed in case you find it useful; launch it from the command line by typing “epiphany-browser”.)

How do I get it?

The Raspbian + PIXEL image is available from the Downloads page on our website now.

To update an existing Jessie image, type the following at the command line:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo apt-get install -y rpi-chromium-mods
sudo apt-get install -y python-sense-emu python3-sense-emu
sudo apt-get install -y python-sense-emu-doc realvnc-vnc-viewer

and then reboot.

If you don’t use xrdp and would like to use the RealVNC server to remotely access your Pi, type the following:

sudo apt-get install -y realvnc-vnc-server

As always, your feedback on the new release is very welcome; feel free to let us know what you think in the comments or on the forums.

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