Friday, February 12, 2010

Sending Files to Clients

I've been working on a small project for a while with many small but important changes throughout the course of working on it. Two ways I've been sending the director approval changes have been File Dropper and Filemail depending on how many files and their sizes.

We've been using Dropbox for a while for small things but when there's a large export or several large files we're exchanging the speeds at File Dropper and Filemail have been pretty decent.

They're all FREE for limited usage but File Dropper has a nice 5GB file limit and Filemail has a handy 2GB file limit. Bookmark 'em because they will come in handy at some point. Plus wilth File Dropper and Filemail there's nothing to install.

If you know or prefer any others let me know.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Western Digital's My Book Studio External HD SUCKS.

I hate these things. These 2TB HD's are becoming more and more the choice of clients it seems since there's a dearth of External FireWire hard drives. At a store today I looked out of curiosity and all I saw for 2TB FireWire Externals was this thing and a Seagate (I think).

The model number is WDBAAJ0020HSL-NESN. Don't buy these.

The My Book Studio has a "Virtual CD" which is persistent. It contains software Western Digital thinks you think you need and when you eject this little non-writable volume it just remounts itself. It's not even shown in the partition of the drive.

What's the Virtual CD?

From their site:

A small portion of drive space on your new My Passport or My Book hard drive has been used to create a Virtual CD (VCD). The VCD contains the WD SmartWare installation software, the encryption and password protection application, User Manuals, and other resource files. The VCD looks like an actual CD volume and appears on the screen each time you connect your WD drive to the computer.

The VCD is necessary if you wish to install WD SmartWare or if you want to use the encryption and password protection features on the drive.

If you don't wish to run WD SmartWare or use the security features, you can disable the VCD following the steps below. The VCD can be re-enabled by running the VCD manager.

WD does provide a simple two step way to remove the Virtual CD (or at least hide it, it's still there lurking) from your sidebar and desktop:

Failure to perform these precautions may cause data corruption/loss and/or drive failure.

That's encouraging. Onto the simple two step process:

STEP 1: Firmware Update: Release 1.032 (11/19/09)

Disconnect all other external drives from the computer except for the My Book or My Passport hard drive you want to update.

Ensure that the My Book or My Passport drive is connected to a USB port on your computer.
Download Firmware Updater for Mac.
Unzip the Firmware Updater and double click WD Essential and Elite Firmware Updater for Mac.
Verify the attached drive's serial number located on the back of the drive.
Select the drive displayed.
Click Update Firmware.
Drag both My Book Drive and WD SmartWare Virtual CD icons to Trash bin.
Click OK.
Click Accept the End User's License Agreement (EULA).
Click Yes.
Once the updater is finished, click Exit.
Turn off the drive - For My Passport, disconnect the USB cable. For My Book disconnect both USB and power cables.
Wait 10 seconds. Reconnect the USB/power cables.
STEP 2: Download and run the VCD Manager

Download VCD Manager for Mac to your desktop.
Unzip the utility and double click to open.
Click Continue to disable the VCD.
Click Accept the End User's License Agreement (EULA).
Click Drive to configure and select your drive.
Verify desired Virtual CD setting.
Once the utility has found your drive, click Configure Drive.
Once the Virtual CD setting is finished, click Exit.
Power cycle the drive - For My Passport, disconnect the USB cable. For My Book disconnect both USB and power cables.
Wait 10 seconds. Reconnect the USB/power cables.
Verify that the VCD no longer appears.

See? Simple. Only Two steps.

If you want to change the VCD from mounting and auto-mounting and re-mounting you have to install their software AND update the firmware on the drive. Ridiculous. If you want to change the eInk display from reading "VIDEOS 09" and display any capacity info you must install their software. If you want to adjust just about ANYTHING on these things you must install their software.

Oh yeah, did I mention that as of this post the firmware updater to remove (hide) the Virtual CD only works with the "Essential" and "Elite" drives and NOT the "Studio" ones?

I hate these things.

Here's what you see when you first mount it:

Oh yeah, did I mention that the one a client handed me appears to have been dropped......BEFORE it was packaged? There's a dent in the plastic on the rear top right (as you face the front) of the drive and the plastic was knocked out of it's snapped-into position. It clicked back audibly when I was looking the case over. The HD was sealed in a bag, the whole mess was still shrink wrapped inside the box. The cardboard box is undamaged as best I can tell.

For more reviews just look these things up on Amazon.

After installing the WD software just to change the text on the label of the drive (which I did on a media server Mac that has nothing mission critical on it and is easy to restore) it brought me to the "WD SmartWare" app and shows this deeply helpful information:

That's 114.3 GBs of run-of-the-mill Final Cut project files, saves, images, music, exports, footage...


The one handy thing?

Too bad not all of WD's drives can do this.

Google's "Buzz" Privacy Concerns

Lots...LOTS of my clients use Gmail so this is kinda related to working with FCS since clients and I tend to email one another often during the course of a project. And sometimes clients are exactly friendly towards one another, especially when they're from competing agencies.

Google's Buzz has a huge potential privacy hole.

Scroll to the bottom of your Gmail page and click "turn off Buzz" unless you want people "following" you.

More in more detail here: Google Buzz Privacy Concerns

I've sent the url to several clients (especially the less tech savvy ones) so they can make the choice themselves.

UPDATE: There's far more involved in turning Buzz off. Read this.

The three steps to turn it off are here.

And check it out, Yahoo had "Buzz" a year before Google. It's even called "Buzz."


Evom is a FREE little app that converts a bunch of video types to various Apple devices or just rip their audio to .mp3. It's tiny and free so it could be a handy tool to have for some quick conversions. So far it'll convert most .avi's and .wmv's.

It's currently in beta and when you first launch it it requires you to download some video components (ffmpeg in your Application Support folder) for the transcoding (reminds me of VisualHub's method, actually).