..: Seat of My Pants :..

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Hello Anyone.

I really fell off the earth there for awhile, huh?

I have moved my space down into the bowels of the building, into the IT section all offishal-like. Previously I was located in Editorial next to the Report on Business magazine crew.

The archive is running well. I crashed it utterly yesterday, though. Had to reboot and rebuild the indices. If anyone there has crashed a server before, you'll know the time I had to take to rebuild. Nicely, it was right pretty much on deadline for all Editorial so I made some more friends upstairs - ha ha. Actually, I look on these sorts of things as forced serendipity. The server really benefited from a restart and it was only out about 15 minutes. I crashed it by trying to delete 147 000 files at once. Yep, you read that right - 147 000 files. 128 000 of them were only 1 or 2 K text files - in this case "ii1" files and so you'd think it would be a walk in the park right? Well, I didn't realize that what the OS does is try to build a delete file containing all the files' reference data before using that file to delete the files themselves. Clearly, there was a memory buffer associated with building a delete file containg 147 000 references and it ran out well before accumulating all the reference data. It just barfed. No worries, all is well again in SQL-land and Unix-land and Windoze-land.

I had originally started this Blog to talk about how digital information and transmittals have replaced what we traditionally think of as Newsroom flow in a major daily. I do plan to get to this, but you perhaps can see how I am somewhat fixated on getting this behemmoth of an archive to become self-sustaining....

We have four staff photographers. Yep, just four. We also maintain a variable stable of freelancers numbering between five and eight or so. "Variable" because there very much is a sort of flavour of the week with regard to freelance photographers.

Our staffers shoot Nikon D1s. We were early adopters of the digital image and it was about a quarter of a million dollars to outfit four staffers back then (early 1999) and so management has, of course, been reluctant to willy-nilly buy them new D1X s or Hs. They have thre or four lenses for each body and a couple of digital flashes. There is some pool equipment, such as 400mm lenses and such that they share when the need arises. We encourage them to shoot full-strength files (max rez, at 7 meg JPEGs making approximately 1.2 Meg files). We have not yet explored manipulating the raw Tiff files for two reasons: One, the 7 meg TIFFS would fill up their memory cards (Sandisk 256 Ultras) faster than a fistful of raisins would a baby's diaper; and two, we just haven't the human resources to explore it right now. But it is definitely on the agenda.

The photogs either email in their photos from a remote location, if they can find a land line, or use their cell phones attached to their Powerbooks (Mac Tis). But this second option is sort of last resort. There does not seem to be a way to overcome the extreme sluggishness of a 14K connection this way. Of course, if its a local shoot, they come back to the Newsroom and either drop their files onto a mounted, networked, NT volume on their Powerbook or save them into it from Photoshop.

More later about the image flow within the building...



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