Monday, December 06, 2010

geekness - NAS

It's not over yet. Good thing my geekness is in tact. I have a few minor but constant headaches. One is that if you are serious about any computer art, every program, and input device requires a time tuned skill. A mouse feels one way and the digital pen another. Then every program you use feels a certain way depending on your input device. There is that comfort thing and that changing device thing. On top of all that is discovering which program can better do what you want. I could not use just GIMP because Inkscape has already proven to me it can do some things I want to do better. GIMP and Inkscape work very well together. You must spend time with it all.

Pack it in and push it down. This has been a good word to me. Learn it till you are sick of it, then go do something else. Later just go to work and what you have learned kicks in. Sounds simple but when it becomes a habit it is the most useful, almost second nature. But you must apply it while you are using it or it is useless, once you know (via experience) you know, you know!?

There two things a digital artist must develop a habit of doing. Number one is save often. When a system crash happens or you click the wrong button or the cat jumps on the keyboard, having saved work in progress keeps you from starting over, and the cat lives another day. The second thing is backup. Copy to CD, flash drive or use a USB remote hard drive. However you store it not on your PC is a safe resource for you.

I can't recommend it yet as I am still trying to figure it out, but a good solution is a file server, Network Attached Storage or NAS. What is that?? Imagine a PC on your network and all it does is control hard drives. Hey, my PC can do this. Yeah but how easily can all the PCs on your network share the information on your PC? This NAS appears on your file system as another hard drive except that it is not in your PC. Being a separate machine on the network means all your other PCs can access it when they need to. I had an 2nd hand 300gig drive I was going to use. It is too damaged to be reliable, so I am testing the NAS with a 20gig drive. If it works out I'm investing in larger drives.

The software is called OpenFiler. It is free and if you want powerful options and flexibility there are extensions you can buy for it. Another NAS software is called FreeNAS. I am sure there are fans of either. Why use a NAS instead of configuring PCs to interconnect and share? One is the configuration work required on each PC the other is security. As a desktop jockey I don't want to be tweaking each and every piece of hardware I have every time I make a change. I setup a NAS once and forget it and get some artwork done.

It is kind of hard to dedicate a PC to a single purpose. I am so use to a PC being able to do a lot of stuff. Once this NAS is setup it doesn't even need a keyboard or mouse, the interface is via a web browser on another PC the same as routers are managed. The best is to re-purpose an older PC for this server work. It is not too complex, nor too hard, if your geekness is intact.

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