Tag Archives: computer

My Copy of Lightroom Got Sick

After a previous update to Lightroom (6.12), it became almost unusable.  Importing would take forever and, once the images were in, it would grind to a halt.  Keywording and editing became a nightmare.  I was struggling to work out what was wrong.  A check on performance showed the processor wasn’t busy but the RAM was maxed out.  I couldn’t understand why.  The first thing I do when Lightroom behaves strangely is to delete the Preferences file.  This file can get corrupted and mess with the performance badly.  Just delete it and restart and things are often fixed.  That didn’t work in this case.  When the new version of Lightroom was released, I hoped this would fix everything but sadly not.  (Meanwhile Photoshop itself is working just fine on this system.)

I had a long session with the Adobe tech support people which got me nowhere.  After telling me this was normal, they realized it was not when our screen sharing crapped out as a result of the machine slowing to a virtual standstill.  They tried a bunch of simple stuff and got no further than I had on my own.  They suggested a second session would be needed and then promptly sent me an email telling me that the issue had been successfully resolved.  Not sure how they concluded that.  Meanwhile, I wondered whether there was an issue with my Windows installation so decided to do a completely clean install.  This had some slight benefits but basically the problem still remained.

I have done a bunch of scanning of similar issues and I found out a technique the support team can use to tweak performance.  There is a config.lua file that can be created in the presets folder to influence the system.  I have added this file and it has certainly made a few things work better.  It has also slowed some things down as well which isn’t ideal.  This was not a solution though.  All it did was make the program slightly more usable.

Another session with Adobe ensued.  This time we got into the permissions for some of the folders that contained the catalogs.  Lots of time to reset these to give greater authority.  I was told this is sometimes an issue with large catalog files.  Lots of time later, I found that nothing had really changed.  The whole thing would still get bogged down very quickly.

Then I read about Lightroom 7.2.  This was a new update that was supposed to address a lot of performance issues.  It was supposed to make better use of multi-core processors as well as larger RAM configs.  I had seen a sequence of updates not improve things – my issues were clearly not the normal performance problems although I had previously experienced some of them too – but I was hoping that, if they had changed the architecture of the software, maybe whatever was causing my machine to have problems might have been tweaked/replaced.  If not, I was seriously considering the need to buy a new system since this was so horribly inefficient.

I waited for the release date to come around when I knew the update was on its way.  Then I got an update to the iPad version and it said the new version of Camera Raw was included.  This must mean it was close.  A day later, the update dropped.  I downloaded it immediately and opened up.  Hurrah!!!  Everything run fast, the RAM levels were moderate and stable, everything was happening as it should.  My system lives!  Let’s hope this isn’t a false dawn.

Demise of a NAS

Moving house means packing up your stuff and hoping it all survives the journey.  Some things you have are not ones you are happy about leaving out of your control so you take them with you.  Since we were driving up, we had a bit of flexibility about what we could take with us.  Aside from the camera gear, I brought my two NAS devices.  These have the backups of all of my stuff so, while the computer went in the truck, I had the backups.  However, when we got to the new place, one of the NAS units wouldn’t fire up.

This rather defeated the purpose of taking my backups with me.  The reason I have two units is that the one I have had the longest is limited in the size of drives it can handle.  2Tb drives are the largest so, as it was getting full, I bought a new unit.  Originally I had planned to just use it but, instead, I kept the one going and added new data to the new unit to avoid having to buy larger drives up front.

I figured at some point I might want to retire the old NAS.  It was far noisier than the new one and was probably over ten years old.  It seems to have made the decision for me.

Now I was in a worrying position.  The newer unit didn’t have enough capacity for all of the data.  However, it could handle most of it.  I immediately backed up what I could.  Meanwhile, I ordered new drives to expand it.  The price of drives has dropped dramatically so the 3Tb units are being replaced by 8Tb items.  That should provide plenty of capacity for a long time!  As the drives get swapped out sequentially and the NAS rebuilds and syncs everything, I gradually got extra capacity and set up the full back up process.  Now I am back to normal.  It does make me wonder about the life cycle of a NAS though.  (As an aside, I do have a tertiary backup of the images to BluRay so, while some elements were vulnerable for a while, the majority did have a fallback option.)

Speeding Up Lightroom

YouTube is a fantastic way to lose track of time.  It may well have an abundance of crap but it also has lots of informative material.  More importantly, watch one thing and you get recommendations of other things, many of which are actually quite useful.  I was watching a video by Tony Northrup on building a computer for photo processing and he was talking about putting the Lightroom catalog on an SSD.  This got me thinking about something.

When I built my system, I installed an SSD to be the drive on which the OS is installed along with the applications.  I have traditional hard drives for the data storage.  One of these was set up with the Lightroom catalogs keeping them separate from the image files to make the response time better.  At the time of the build, a 250Gb SSD was affordable but not cheap so that was what I went with.  With everything installed, that doesn’t have enough space for the catalogs.

I never thought more about it until after this video.  I started thinking about some old SSDs I have and looked at whether the catalogs would fit on either of them.  It turns out that, with all of the preview files, the SSDs were not big enough.  However, I did then have a look at the price of a drive that would be large enough such as another 250Gb drive.  That would have plenty to spare to account for future needs.

While looking at these, I was also able to see 500Gb drives and they are only about $150.  I was unaware just how much the price had fallen.  Consequently, a spare drive bay now holds my Lightroom catalogs.  I only have a relatively small amount of experience with the new configuration but it is safe to say that things are positively zipping along compared to where they were before.  I was wondering whether the system might be in need up upgrade or replacement but this one change seems to have made things significantly better.  I will report further if I discover more but, if you have a similar configuration, this might be the upgrade that makes things noticeably better.

Windows 10 Upgrade Experience

The upgrade to Windows 10 was one I have been thinking about for a while. I wasn’t interested in upgrading straightaway since I figured there would be a bit of debugging of the OS by the early adopters. I also didn’t want to compromise any of the important stuff I have. Therefore, I decided to use my laptop as the prototype for the upgrade to see how it went before upgrading anything else.

The upgrade went surprisingly easily. It downloaded all of the new files when it started which took a fair bit of time but then it went off through the upgrade process with little involvement from me. When everything was done, I went through the options rather than accept the recommended selections an unchecked a bunch of the items that appear to share more information than may be preferable. I shall wait to see whether any of those selections limit any functionality.

The only issue I have had so far related to the trackpad on my laptop. Previously, the trackpad allowed scrolling by running my finger along the right side of the pad. This function has gone away and now I use two fingers to swipe up and down. This is taking me a while to get the hang of since other machines still operate the old way but I think this will be okay in due course. The other issue with the trackpad is that, periodically, it appears to freeze for a moment and the cursor doesn’t move. It then clears itself with no further issue so I suspect it is a minor driver issue that will, hopefully, be updated in due course.

I was also able to copy the old version of the Windows games from Windows 7 to the Windows 10 system. They have updated versions in Windows 10 but, if you like the previous versions, you can keep them. Otherwise, the changes seem pretty reasonable and I haven’t had any issues so I think I will be upgrading the rest of our machines. We shall see whether they also go smoothly. Getting Nancy’s laptop off Windows 8 will probably be a popular move!

Building a New Computer

In my world, computers tell you that they want to die.  They start doing something a little odd as an initial warning and then get progressively more troublesome.  I had been contemplating the replacement of my system for a while but recently, the CPU cooling packed up completely and I was stuck between getting some replacement parts or getting on with the new system.  I went the latter route.  This was helped by having a bunch of components on the old system that had been upgrades and could easily transplant across to the new machine.  This reduced what I needed to buy.

Things did not end up being plain sailing sadly.  I built up the system and got everything ready to run.  A press of the button and nothing happened.  In fact, that isn’t quite true.  There was a brief whirr from the power supply followed by a tiny wisp of smoke.  Great!  A dodgy power supply to start with.  Fortunately, the supply on the old system was good.  It didn’t have as many power plugs and the new one but enough to do the job.  However, the system still didn’t seem to be enthusiastic about starting up.  I gave up and visited a local computer place and they had a quick look.  It turns out my first problem was that a motherboard gets tied in to an OS installation and, since I was now on a new motherboard, it didn’t like the old drive.  That means a clean install which is a bit more time consuming.  However, that did not end the trouble.  The guys in the store couldn’t see anything else wrong so I decided to leave it with them for a longer look.

A problem connector proved to be the issue and then it was a simple process to get the installation of everything done.  Things seemed to be running fine for a while but then, when processing some video, it just shut down.  I thought it might be a memory error so ran a program called Memtest.  it came up with no issues.  I tweaked the BIOS settings for the memory but still it would get upset when working too hard.  I re-ran Memtest and changed it from Default setting to multi-threading and then it quickly failed.  A bit more information but still no solution.

Another trip to the shop and I left it with them.  They tried using one of their power supplies and it passed all of the tests with flying colors.  Turns out old power supplies degrade and often don’t have their full juice anymore.  A new unit with plenty of oomph and now I have the machine up and running.  it chews through things with relative ease.  I have also avoided reinstalling anything superfluous so we have a nice lean machine – at least for now.  Not sure I would build my own machine in future.  It was cheaper and gave me exactly what I wanted but it was a lot more effort than I had planned.  The extra to buy it might be worth it.

Updated Approach to Lightroom Catalogs

I have been a user of Lightroom since Adobe release version 1 quite a few years ago.  It has been a very useful tool for me and something that dominates my workflow.  In the early days, there were issues with the number of images that a catalog could have before it started to respond sluggishly.  Consequently, I created a series of different catalogs for different subject areas.  Military aircraft were in one, civil in another, wildlife in a third, sports in a fourth and so on.  This system was fine to use although it had a few minor drawbacks in that some images would be in more the one catalog.  I would import them to one and then export them to the other.  However, as I edited one version, the other one did not always keep up despite saving the sidecar files to disc.

At some point, Adobe updated the functionality of the application and it was no longer so constrained by the number of files in a catalog.  However, I had a series of catalogs that I was familiar with so I didn’t pay much attention to this change.  However, over time, it occurred to me that I was making my life more complex than it needed to be.  I could probably cut down the number of catalogs dramatically and make the workflow a bit simpler.

I decided to have one catalog for all of my aviation related imagery and the other for everything else.  To do so, I created a new catalog for each of these and started importing from the other catalogs.  This was not as smooth a process as you might have imagined.  There were duplicate images as I knew and you could set the system up to make these virtual copies so nothing got lost along the way.  However, sometimes the import did not go well.  They were large catalogs coming into an even larger catalog and this caused some struggles.  I had to delete and start again at some points but ultimately I got it to work.  I did have to recreate some of the collections which did not transfer so easily in some cases but it is now done.

Did it make life easier?  Yes, it did.  Having just two catalogs is now a lot more straightforward.  Do they run just as well?  No.  The aviation catalog does seem to be a bit sluggish sometimes.  Usually it works fine but it is definitely not as responsive as the individual ones were.  I shall see how this develops over time.  A new machine is in the works so whether that will make a difference or not, we shall see.

Arghh!! Technology Hates Me!

Time for a quick vent.  It seems I have brought down upon myself the curse of technology.  Being a techie type, there are plenty of forms of technology in my life.  Recently, they have been conspiring against me.  I am not a superstitious type of person.  The world has more than enough of those so it doesn’t need me to add to the list.  However, even a rational person could begin to wonder.

First, the TiVo packed up.  It had been misbehaving for a while.  Finally, it gave up and could not be restarted.  It just kept running through the beginning of the start cycle but never got any further.  Time for a new TiVo.  I had been pondering an upgrade for a while so a repair did not seem the way to go.  Plus, I wanted to have TV back quicker than the repair would manage.  While working on this, I go to the computer to look something up and it is off.  It shouldn’t have been.  A reboot brings up a warning about the CPU fan failure.  Crap!  That is a lot cheaper to fix but still, CRAP!

Next day a new TiVo and a new CPU fan are in my possession.  I need cablecards for the TiVo and have two from the previous unit.  Only one is needed for the new one but it has to be the M-Card, not the S-Card.  I start thinking this is going to be the next problem.  I must have the old card type rather than the one I need.  A quick Google on my card tells me it is an M-Card.  Hurrah!  Plug it in and the TiVo is not so convinced.  I need an M-Card.  Quick cal to cable company says no problem.  Place isn’t open until tomorrow but it is an easy swap.  Meanwhile, I can replace the CPU fan.

Next day, a quick swap is performed and I have an M-Card.  The TiVo likes it.  I get some details and call to activate.  Done.  No picture yet but I’m sure it takes a while.  Later on, still no picture.  A call to cable company and we run through some stuff.  Should be working they say.  It isn’t.  All tricks tried.  No luck.  We’ll send out a guy – tomorrow.  Okay.

Next day guy arrives, tries all I tried and no luck.  He is confused.  Calls the office and they un-pair the card and my account and then re-pair them.  Bingo!  We have pictures and sound.  Something is working.  Shame we couldn’t have tried that yesterday but never mind.  Is everything working now.  Appears to be until, oops, a couple of days later, the website – this website – seems to have vanished.  A little tech support from the hosting company and it turns out the database password has miraculously changed to something different in one of the website config files and it is nothing like the password I set up years ago when I created the site.  (This is a password I have not needed since so do you think I know what it is supposed to be??  Of course not.)

All of these things are now fixed.  The question now is, what’s next?  Place your bets on the next thing to go wrong…

Tidying Up a Computer

This one is for those of you that update your computers to add new capabilities and one day find you have created a monster.  I bought my computer with two hard drives installed.  I added other drives and ended up with seven of them in there.  It occurred to me that I probably wasn’t making the best use of the storage I had and I decided to make two changes.  The first was to replace the drive the OS was installed on and the second was to rationalize the drives for storage.

The original OS drive had been an SSD which was barely able to hold the OS and some of the user data.  however, at some point, something became corrupted and a new install was required.  Unfortunately, the install process which is supposed to allow a reformat of the drive as you go, somehow wouldn’t do it.  Since I needed it for work, I swapped it out with a spare normal drive I had.  This worked but took some speed out of the system.  Fixing this was the first goal.

SSD drive prices have fallen a lot so I actually bought a new SSD drive which allowed me to keep more on it without worrying about space.  This was the first part of the upgrade.  A couple of minor problems troubleshot and I was up and running.  The second thing I had to do was something I had prepared for ahead of time.  Reallocating all of my storage requirements.

Originally, I had a bunch of drives that had become part of the system over the years.  Some were in their third machine!  They were not the biggest drives around so I had a lot of space taken up with relatively limited storage capacity.  I worked out the requirements for all of my different data types – photos, documents, videos, Lightroom catalogs etc.  I then decided how I wanted them split up, what growth I needed and what drive sizes would suffice.  I was actually able to make use of drives that I already had – there were a bunch of reasonably large spares that came from updating my NAS a while back.  That also meant I had some large drives to act as intermediaries while I moved everything around.

I will have to update one of the drives in due course but it will suffice for a while.  My culling of old images will also buy me some time there!  Ultimately I got everything migrated across to its new home, the Lightroom catalogs updated to find everything again and I now have two less drives in the box and still plenty of capacity.  A bit of a pain to do but worth it I think.  Let’s hope everything behaves for a while and no further rebuilds are required!

Offline for a bit!

If you are a a regular reader of this blog (and thank you if that is the case) I owe you an apology.  I have had a bit of a gap in my postings.  There are a couple of reasons.  First I have been tied up with a couple of other things that have meant I wasn’t always able to get back to writing something.

However, the bigger problem was that my desktop started to show signs of impending death.  The OS must have been corrupted somehow and so a reinstall was called for.  Never had to do that before and trashing the system to start again was a bit nerve wracking.  Of course, it didn’t go totally smoothly but, courtesy of some good backups I got most things back up and running.

I also took the chance to think about what I really needed on the machine.  Yahoo! Messenger has not made it back on.  When do i ever use that these days?  The priority was getting the most important stuff back up and running so writing blog posts was relegated.  However, things seem to be back to normal (mostly) so hopefully I will be a bit more reliable in future.