Archive for January 2012

Tech Tuesday: The Western Digital 'My Passport' Essential Portable Hard Drive

Category: General

My latest acquisition is a new external hard drive. I'm careful about backups and I keep more than one backup of my system and files, so when my spare 250 Gb external drive recently gave up the ghost I decided it was time for a new one.

I've always owned LaCie drives in the past. Mine have been chunky desktop ones and usually live on top of my computer. I don't have a particular need for a portable drive, as such, and this has always suited me. However, when I recently discovered my aunt's Western Digital 'My Passport' drive, I was smitten and decided to get one to replace the drive that was defunct.

The Western Digital My Passport Essential Portable Hard Drive
The Western Digital 'My Passport' Essential Portable Hard Drive

Here's what I like about it…
  • When it comes to operation, the 500 Gb Western Digital 'My Passport' Essential Portable Hard Drive doesn't rely upon a separate power supply and is just as convenient as using a memory stick in a USB port. It also comes with fast USB 3.0 connectivity and is backwards compatible to USB 2.0.
  • The drive is so small and neat and is, quite literally, portable. This, for me, means I don't have to keep it plugged in to my PC all of the time but can disconnect and store it away quickly and easily. In the event that my PC gets a virus or suffers an electrical surge, then it wouldn't affect any backups if the hardware wasn't physically connected at the time.
  • Because of its size and weight, you can easily slip the WD 'My Passport' into your laptop or netbook case, or even your pocket, and go. When not in use, you can put it away in a desk drawer.
The WD My Passport Essential Drive is so neat and small
The WD My Passport Essential Drive is so neat and small

Formatted for Windows, if required, the drive can be reformatted to operate on a Mac. Larger capacity models are also available and you can choose to make use of password protection and encryption for added privacy and security.

I've chosen to keep my 1Tb LaCie drive attached to my PC for daily backups and use my new 'My Passport' drive for additional backups. The 'My Passport' comes with a program which, once set up, will automatically and continuously back up vital files such as your Documents, Pictures, etc. and even your emails, whenever you add or change a file and will keep up to 25 different versions of a file if you choose to. If you make changes without the drive connected then it will perform the backup as soon as you attach it once again. You don't have to think about it at all so, for the technically challenged, this is a doddle. I've tried the software out but, after upgrading to the latest version, it kept continually catagorizing the files and using up lots of system resources so I've uninstalled it. You also need to bear in mind that the software doesn't allow for a full backup of the whole computer system. Nevertheless, I saw on my aunt's Windows 7 computer a Backup program within Windows which did this very thing. I'm still using XP and have been using Acronis True Image Home software for all of my daily, weekly and whole system backup solutions and will continue to use this on the LaCie drive. I will simply use Copy & Paste from time to time to back up data to the 'My Passport'.

The WD My Passport Essential Drive on top of my LaCie Drive
The WD My Passport Essential Drive on top of my LaCie Drive

I can rest easy in the knowledge that all of my family history files and photos are safe, not to mention all of my business data too.

Disclaimer - this is my own personal opinion and I have no affiliation to Western Digital.

[Why Tech Tuesday? This phrase has been included in the title in order to take part in Daily Blogging Prompts at Geneabloggers]

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Tech Tuesday: Quickly transcribe old wills and documents with speech recognition software

Category: General

OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software is very efficient for use in converting the printed word into editable, machine-encoded text. But how do we deal with old, handwritten documents? My husband bought a dictation machine a few weeks ago and I thought I'd put it to the test by transcribing my 5 x great-grandfather's 4-page, handwritten will.

The Olympus VN-8500 PC Dictation Machine
The Olympus VN-8500 PC Dictation Machine
and a copy of James Rice's Will
(Click the image to see a larger version.)

The gadget is the Olympus VN-8500 PC Dictation Machine with Nuance's Dragon NaturallySpeaking Recorder Edition software. Purchased from Argos, the machine itself is amazingly small and as light as a feather......Read more »