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New computer equipment

Digital photographers experience a steady increase in the need for larger and faster storage with each passing year.  Most photographers accumulate more and more images each year, and the size of each image periodically increases with the introduction of higher resolution cameras.  The change from 3 frames per second at 2.7 megapixels to 5 frames per second at 16.7 megapixels requires a substantially more robust storage system—and no doubt we’ll see 22 or 27 megapixels in a digital SLR within the next year.

I currently offer disktester™ to aid in the evaluation of storage system speed. I will soon offer my IntegrityChecker™ program (see below) to aid in the data-integrity area.  More tools may be forthcoming as time and demand dictate.

I am in the process of converting my disktester program (see 10 Feb entry) to compiling in Apple’s XCode, which will allow me to release a Universal Binary (G5/Intel) version, though it is highly unlikely that native vs non-native execution will produce any measurable difference in results, since all of disktester’s time is spent reading and writing from the disk, which is done in native code by the operating system.  All users will receive a free Universal Binary version upon request (when it becomes available).

I will also be converting my IntegrityChecker program to a Universal Binary, and it will then become available for purchase on this web site.  IntegrityChecker provides a means of detecting changes in files—even single-bit changes—and should be considered essential  for those concerned with robust verification of data integrity, such as with backups.

IntegrityChecker computes the 160-bit SHA1 cryptographic hash of all files within each directory processed.  These hashes are stored within a small text file in each such directory.  Subsequent copies or backups of can then be verified by virtue of the hashes.  For example, if you run IntegrityChecker for data on your hard drive, then burn a DVD with that data, IntegrityChecker can be run on the DVD at that time, or any future time, to check whether any files have changed.  In this manner, you can determine whether your data (original or backup) has changed—with unequivocal certainty. IntegrityChecker can’t tell you what has changed within the file, but you’ll know it has changed—a crucial consideration for a backup.   But it’s also useful for determining which original (non-backup) files have changed so that you can make a backup.

An experience report will follow on this new equipment—please check back regularly.

At the risk of having Murphy’s Law be applied all too soon, whereby Apple would announce PowerMacs based on speedy dual-core Intel workstation processors, I’ve taken the plunge and ordered a PowerMac Quad, on the theory that the Quad will forevermore remain the most powerful G5-based Mac created, and considering that Adobe and other software vendors may take up to a year to produce Intel-based versions of their software.

This time, I’ve decided to pay the premium for ECC memory, for reasons previously discussed.  Ordering ECC memory from Apple comes at a stiff premium, but I’ve found a local source of high-quality memory that claims the modules are the same ones that Apple uses (but at a substantially lower price).  I refer to (please let them know I referred you, though I have no financial interest).  They offer 1GB modules for the PowerMac for $105 (non-ECC) and $130 (ECC)—a premium of 24%—still high considering there are 9X2 chips instead of 8X2, which should mean a 12.5% premium based solely on chip cost. offers fast, responsive service, and if you are local, you can just call ahead and/or drop by—none of the hassles of warehouse-sized stores.

I’ve also decided to setup my main storage as internal to the PowerMac.  Normally, only two SATA drives can be accommodated in the two internal bays (which are nicely pre-cabled, taking only 30 seconds to install a drive).  But several vendors offer products [1 2 3 4 5] that allow mounting additional internal drives.  I went with the  swiftdata 200, an aluminum  mounting bracket which accepts up to 3 drives, and includes power and SATA cables.   A QuickTime movie shows how to install the drives.  Installation of the full complement of 5 drives may have to wait however, because most vendors have not yet released PCI-Express versions of their internal SATA cards (the Quad has only PCI-Express slots).  One exception is the Highpoint Rocket Raid 2320, but that card is back-ordered at all the vendors I checked, and it does not support “sleep” on the PowerMac.  It also may have a problem with volumes larger than 2000 GB (2 terabytes).

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