Category Archives: DAM

Cloud Wars

The competition to provide you with cloud storage is starting to reach a fevered pitch. It’s now possible to add excellent cloud backup to your storage system for a very reasonable cost. Some of these costs remain artificially low, and may therefore not be reliable in the long run. But we’re also seeing the big players in computing (Google and Amazon) offering really low pricing.

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First, a word of caution
We’ve seen some low-cost options for years. This includes services like Carbonite and Backblaze that have claimed “unlimited” storage for prices around $50/year. This means that someone like me with a dozen terabytes of data will be a money-loser for each of these companies. I’ve always been distrustful of these plans, fearing that the companies will go the way of Digital Railroad, which shut its doors with little advance notice in 2008.

Carbonite gets around the super-user problem by limiting the cheap backup service to your internal drive. As you add external disks, the price goes up. (Let’s also take a minute to note that Carbonite does not forecast profitability anywhere on the time horizon, which is problematic.) Backblaze does allow for truly unlimited data, and explains their strategy by saying it will average out between low and high volume users. This is okay for backup, as long as you realize the service may go away someday, and it’s not your only backup.

(Note: I personally use Backblaze for my computers and for my family. I’m currently testing the unlimited storage with my own archive. You can get a discount off Backblaze by clicking my affiliate link.)

The big boys jump in
Last summer, Amazon rocked the world of online storage by offering a new cloud backup and archiving service called Amazon Glacier. The price for the service came in at 1/10th of Amazon’s regular S3 pricing. You can now store a terabyte of data in Amazon’s cloud for $10/month.  This one is a game-changer. Amazon is the 800lb gorilla in cloud service, so the prices that they set will determine what the rest of the market does.

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Amazon Glacier is positioned as a real backup or deep archive solution. They say it may take up to 5 hours to access the data, so it’s definitely not a place to store stuff you expect to access frequently. But it does promise great safety and reliability from a blue-chip company.

(I’ve heard, from a very good source, that Amazon can offer this service because they are making use of some “free” capacity. In order to speed up its regular service, Amazon is using the outer rings of the hard drive platters, which deliver faster data throughput. So the inner rings were sitting on drives unused. They created Glacier to make use of this spare capacity.)

Google responds
A few weeks ago, Google matched Amazon’s bet, and even raised it. Not only did they match the $10/terabyte/month price, they made the offer on Google Drive.  This means that Google is offering the price on storage that is always on, not just a backup service.

DriveOnWhile Google will probably lose money on this specific service, it’s part of a larger strategy from the tech giant.

(Note, I’ve been slogging through Google’s Terms of Service to get an idea of exactly what rights you give to Google Drive, and it’s not totally clear to me. It does look like private data stored on Drive is private. But other stuff, like your public photos on Google+ do seem to give Google a  non-terminable license to republish.)

It’s really about “My Stuff Everywhere”
The real competition at work here is not about collecting money for storage. The real competition here is to become the universal shared storage system which can work across all your devices.

Dropbox has been the category killer for this service, seamlessly  sharing between you, your friends and coworkers, your computer(s) and your phone. It has been able to do this where Apple (and others) have failed numerous times. Dropbox has rocketed up in value, and is poised to become even more valuable.

The companies that become successful in creating a shared filesystem  are well-positioned for long-term success.  This kind of engagement is hard to pull away from, since  you build it into your collaboration and your fundamental relationship with your own media.

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In The DAM Book 3.0, I’ll dive into the use of cloud storage as part of a DAM strategy. This new development in pricing and strategy offers some excellent value for photographers looking for storage, backup and sharing services.

Another Drive Failure – this is getting old

I turned on my computer this morning and got a warning that my hard drive’s SMART data indicates a pending failure. Crap. Shown below is the message from SMART Utility.
FailingDrive

SMART Utility tells you when your drive is failing before your system may alert you. In this case, the relevant numbers are the Bad Sectors. It was 0 yesterday, 16 when I booted up in the morning, and 40 after I updated by backup drive. This should be considered notice of impending failure.

This is the second time in 6 months. The first time was caused by rough treatment of the computer on my part – this one just seems to be drive malfunction. I had a full bootable clone from a week ago on a desktop drive, and another one that was on a small drive from a month or two ago. I updated the older clone, and swapped that drive into the laptop. In all, less than 90 minutes from start to finish. For those keeping score at home, these were Seagate drives. I’m looking forward to installing WD Black Squared drives my laptops soon (combo SSD and Spinning Disk!).

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It’s wise to have a clone of your drive handy so that you can swap out a failing drive. Unibody Macs are very easy to work with – less than 5 minutes to swap drives and put the computer back together. You’ll also want to have another backup, like a Backblaze cloud backup or daily Chronosync backup to a local server. 

Let this be your reminder to have a fresh backup.

The Fire Hose

Dateline SXSW – I’ve written over the last year about how Instagram is creating a commercial service to supply photos for editorial and marketing purposes. The legal foundation was laid in January 2013, the service was turned on as a trickle last fall, and now it’s starting to get traction.

At SXSW, I spoke with some people who are making use of these photo streams. This includes people on the client side who are building campaigns with these services, as well as companies that help clients make sense of the photos and other data.

They have a name for it. The Fire Hose.

The analogy is obvious on one level. There are so many images coming through these services, it’s like the difference between a drinking fountain and a fire hose. These companies are excited to create engagement with their audiences by mining the millions of photos, tweets, Facebook posts and more that make up the world of User Generated Content (UGC). UGC creates a  new kind of media engagement.

And the Fire hose analogy is also useful in another way. In these arrangements, the company does not pay for the “water” (the photos), they pay for the access to the “pipe” (the API.) This allows the service to sell access to the material in a way that denies that the photos have any value. The value being charged for is the underlying access to the Fire hose and the connectvity. (See Getty).

Of course, this has profound implications for the independent creator. If you put your images on sites like Instagram that are part of the Fire hose, they may be republished widely with no money coming to you.  And use of UGC is creating a great deal of excitement for the client companies. It will take an ever larger share of the budget and attention of advertising, marketing and editorial teams.

Even though the use of the Fire hose does not replace the use of professional photography, it will certainly divert money away from it. I believe that it will take a while for companies to understand the best way to get a proper mix of UGC and PCC (Professionally Created Content, to coin a term.)

Still lots unsettled
I can also report that much of what I have previously identified as unsettled remains unsettled. This uncertainty is what is holding back the full blast of the hose. The unsettled issues are, in my view, primarily about the legalities of the TOU agreements.

• Are the rights in these contracts really something that can be sublicensed?
• Are the liability protections in the TOU going to hold up in court?
• Does the user really forfeit the right to terminate the agreement?
• Will there be a public relations nightmare in the early days that makes this a risky tool for marketing?

As we see companies pushing the envelope, we’ll start to find the legal and moral edges of what is considered acceptable use of the Fire hose. I expect that the boundries that we settle on will give Facebook, Twitter and Google an extremely broad right to make money from the Fire hose.

If you are a professional creator, it would be smart to factor this into your business strategy and your long-term planning, carving out a viable value proposition in a world drowning in UGC.

The DAM Book 3.0

Krogh_140218_5460We’re thrilled to announce that work has begun on The DAM Book 3.0.

It’s been nearly five years since The DAM Book Second Edition was released, and I’m really pleased how well it’s held up in that time – the principles and thought processes remain relevant. However, five years is a couple of lifetimes in the tech world.

Cloud services, social media and mobile photography have had a tremendous impact on the way we make, publish, store and organize our photos. And video has also become an important tool for many still photographers.

I’ve continued digging in to the material deeply, particularly over the last year. If you read my blog, you’ll have seen some of my thoughts on where the world of digital photo management is heading.

In The DAM Book 3.0, I’ll be writing about how you can understand and integrate the new tools with your workflow. And the book will help still photographers understand how to get control of the video shooting and management process.

I’ll also be adding a chapter about project management. When your creative needs reach beyond the capabilities of your catalog software, you need to take a different approach to the entire process. I’ll outline how to manage and archive projects when a conventional catalog is not the proper tool.

We’re targeting a July 1, 2014 delivery for The DAM Book 3.0, but we’ll release it as soon as it’s ready.

DAM Book Guides
Another big change is one I’ve already announced. I’m pulling all the software-specific workflow out of the book. That’s the one part of the book that is outdated, and it’s also the part that is best accomplished with multimedia publications. So while the “evergreen” content will remain in The DAM Book, workflow will now be found in The DAM Book Guides.

Splitting the content in this way accomplishes several things. I can target it to a specific task or software package, or even a type of reader. For instance, Organizing Your Photos is written for all Lightroom users, while Multi-Catalog Workflow is written for a much smaller percentage of power users. And I can update these books more regularly.

Upgrade Policy
We know we’re making this announcement much earlier than most publishers would. We consider our relationship to the reader to be a partnership, so we want to keep you informed. And we know that teachers in schools and universities need to do advance planning. So we have a few offers we wanted to let you know about.

If you buy The DAM Book 2 (2009 Edition) after today (March 5th, 2014), you’ll get a $15 coupon toward the purchase of The DAM Book 3.0.

If you have bought The DAM Book 2 (or any of our other books) from us at an earlier date, you’ll get an opportunity to buy the new version at a 20% discount through the first 30 days of release. Yes, that means you get The DAM Book 2e nearly free.

If you bought The DAM Book 2 from someone other than us, Tweet, Facebook, Google+ or email us a photo of yourself with your book, and we’ll put you on the 20%-off coupon list. (Make sure to notify us directly in any case.)

PhotoShelter Webinar tomorrow on OYP with Lightroom

UPDATE: The Webinar is full.
I’m very happy to be bringing my Lightroom organizational philosophy of Store, Tag and Create to PhotoShelter’s popular webinar series tomorrow, Friday February 21st at 4:00pm. I’ll spend some time laying out the foundations of an organized photo library in Lightroom.

PhotoshelterPresentationPhotoShelter provides smart web services for professional photographers and others working with professional imagery. They’ve been focused on making a great service, creating tools to promote, deliver and sell imagery for a decade. For many photographers I know, PhotoShelter provides a turnkey storefront that just keeps getting better. You can see how I use PhotoShelter Beam for my portfolio here.

PhotoShelter has become one of the premier photo education entities in the world, and it’s not even their core business. They understand that professional development benefits the entire community, and they’ve been committed to creating informative white papers, webinars, live presentations and more. I’m very happy to be a part of that effort.

If you can’t make it Friday, you can check out the webinar on-demand.

This video shows how Beam works, and I think it’s a really well-done demonstration. I actually made my new portfolio site using the video below as the only guide. (I also used Lightroom’s Publish Services to upload and update the photos, and I show you how to do that in Organizing Your Photos.)

Lightroom Missing FAQ Now on DAM Useful!

lr5-book1Those of you who have read my books know that I’m a huge fan of Victoria Bampton’s book, Adobe Lightroom 5 – The Missing FAQ. She has created the most comprehensive reference manual detailing the function of each menu item, button, pulldown and right-click in Lightroom. I keep it handy whenever I’m trying to learn some a new trick, teach a class or write a book. I know that even people on the Lightroom team at Adobe sometimes use the book as a reference.

In my recent DAM Book Guides, I have written comprehensive but targeted books which are focused on solving a particular problem. I’ll show you how to use the important tools in the way I suggest you use them, rather than telling you every option possible. That’s because the place you should go to learn about all options is the place I go: The Missing FAQ.

Victoria’s company, The Lightroom Queen, is an independent publisher, as is DAM Useful Publishing. And I’m really happy to announce that we have started a joint marketing venture. We’ve begun by placing our books in each other’s stores. So you can now buy The Missing FAQ here at theDAMBook.com. And we’re also offering her free Quick Start Guide

Until February 25th, we have a discounted bundle featuring Organizing Your Photos with Lightroom 5 along with The Missing FAQ.

It’s an exciting new world of independent publishing, and we’re really happy to be working with someone we admire.

 

February 19 Free Presentation In Gaithersburg, MD

I’ll be making a presentation at Mac Business Solutions in Gaithersburg MD on February 19th as part of a day-long free event called Mac Pro for the Creative Professional.

140210_MBSMBS has long been my favorite place to buy and service my Macs. They are very focused on the needs of photographers, cinematographers, designers and other creative professionals. And they have an excellent Apple-authorized service department that is first rate (and has saved my bacon more than once).

I’ll be speaking about the new book, Organizing Your Photos with Lightroom 5 from 11:45-12:45. (Lunch served right after!). The presentation is free, but you are encouraged to sign up in advance to reserve a place.