Landlocked and Near Calamity

So, things have been pretty quiet from the Deauxmayne of late. Why? Read on…

Since December, I’ve been doing all my work on a “late 2008” vintage MacBook Pro. Nice machine, and while I knew it wasn’t gonna be the same kind of horsepower I was used to on my eight-core MacPro, but I figured I could make it work. And I did, for a while. However, with bigger images out of the 7D, and bigger memory footprints needed for bigger Lightroom catalogs, I found myself landlocked. It was obvious that I needed more memory to crank everything through, but my sad little MBP was maxed out at 4GB. (Yeah, yeah, I know. Some folks have had success putting 6GB in ’em, but it’s an unsupported configuration, and as hard as I was stressing the little machine, I figured I’d probably run into trouble.)

How bad was it? Well, for some images, I would try to do an edit in Lightroom or Photoshop, and have to wait minutes between edits. It was bad, bad, bad. And for Lightroom, I couldn’t run with everything in the same catalog, which was hampering my ability to find my images easily.

I’d been looking at the new quad i7-based iMacs, and figured I’d start saving my pennies to get one later this year. However, my laptop was really struggling, and it was taking the joy (and practicality) out of working with images from my camera. It was bad, bad, bad.

Darla came to my rescue on Wednesday, taking me to the Apple Store at West County Mall, and putting a new iMac i7 in my hands! Absolutely wonderful! Now, the default memory complement of the iMac is only 4GB — which is the same as the laptop — so I knew I needed to enhance that almost out of the box.

I spent a lot of Wednesday and Thursday getting the iMac up, and beginning to migrate applications and data from the laptop. I’d decided to install everything fresh, rather than migrating apps from the laptop. This would be the first clean install I’d had in years. Yeah, that’s one big task, but it was mostly done by Friday.

On Friday, OWC graced me with another 8GB of memory, taking me to 12GB overall. I could not believe how well Lightroom and Photoshop CS5 ran under those conditions. I was even able to re-combine my Lightroom annual catalogs together again, making searches across my whole catalog once again possible.


That brings us to the near calamity part of this story. Saturday, my external FW800 drive started failing. I tried different cables, and different power supplies, and nothing seemed to help. I extracted the drive from the enclosure, and dropped it in my Thermatake BlacX. And the drive just churned. I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. I do have a backup strategy, but because of the fiasco with the performance of my laptop, I hadn’t been keeping it up to date over the last few weeks.

The drive eventually came to life, but of course, I didn’t trust it. Becky suggested that we go out this morning, and figure out a replacement strategy. Overnight, I researched the Drobo, thinking that’d be where I’d land. However, I saw some info that implied that there were some folks having problems with them staying mounted on iMacs, and that the performance might not be quite what I was hoping for.

I landed on a pair of 2TB My Book Studio FW800 enclosures, one as a work drive, and a second as a Chronosync’d clone. So today has been spent copying data from my original 2TB drive to the first of the new twins. In retrospect, I’m not as convinced that the old drive was in as much danger as I thought, but getting away from a cobbled-together solution will help me peace of mind.

So… New iMac, and new storage. It’s been a big week at the Deauxmayne!