Raoul Pop and Tom Lovelock
Video

Romania Through Their Eyes – Tom Lovelock (RTTE-009)

Four years and two months after the first interview with Tom Lovelock, we sit down for a second time and talk about Romania.

Tom Lovelock is a retired sales manager for Jaguar and an ex-policeman from the UK, who moved to Romania together with his wife five years ago (at the time of filming this episode).

This is the ninth episode of “Romania Through Their Eyes”, a show featuring interviews with foreigners living in Romania. The show’s purpose is to get their impressions about the country and to start a dialogue which will lead to a greater understanding of the issues facing Romanians and Romania.

Music: “Ballade no. 4 in F minor, Op. 52″ by Frederic Chopin, performed by Frank Levy. Track is public domain, obtained from Musopen.org.

RTTE-009-EN-HD
Released 4/17/15

Cannot access drive

How I recovered from catastrophic data loss

In late 2012 and right after New Year’s Eve this year, in 2015, I experienced two data loss events, both of which happened on my Drobo storage devices. I’ll write a separate post detailing my experiences in recent years with my Drobos but for now, I wanted to let you know how I recovered my files.

First, what do I mean by “catastrophic data loss”? Simple: the loss of terabytes of my very important data: photos, videos, documents. Among other things, I am a photographer and a filmmaker. Losing my photos and my videos is a catastrophic event, as my libraries and archives include both personal and professional photos and videos. If I were to lose these things, I’d lose both treasured memories and part of my livelihood.

Here I should also point out that all of us are at risk of data loss. Most of our stuff is digital these days (or going that way). What would you do if you’d lose all your photos and videos? Think about that question and put a plan of action in place. Follow through with it and make sure you’re covered.

Now let me get the bad part out of the way: in 2012, I lost somewhere between 25,000 – 30,000 photos and I still haven’t counted how many videos, but it was a lot, probably about 20% of my video library. This is stuff I’ll never get back. It’s gone. Period. Who’s to blame? The Drobo. More on that in a later post.

Earlier this year, I could have lost an untold number of files once more but I didn’t. Why? Partially because the Drobo has improved in the way it’s handling errors but mostly because I had access to good software.

Here are the three methods of data recovery I’ll talk about below:

  • Data Rescue: it’s a piece of software that lets you mount bad drives and get your files backed up somewhere else. This let me copy all of the files it could read off the Drobo, although a lot of them ended up being corrupted, as detailed above.
  • Jeffrey Friedl’s Preview-Cache Image Extraction: this is a Lightroom plugin that allowed me to extract image previews for the lost images directly from my Lightroom catalogs. It’s a niche plugin but it’s super useful. You don’t realize just how good it is until you have to use it and then you thank the heavens that it exists.
  • Flickr and YouTube: I was able to download images and videos I’d published to Flickr and YouTube at their maximum upload resolution. They may not have been my digital negatives or my raw video files, which were lost forever, but at least I had something left. This is why I’ve started to upload to both Flickr and YouTube at the best resolution and quality possible, in case something like this happens again.

If you’re pressed for time, feel free to stop here. Make sure you use the methods outlined above and you’ll fare much better if you should lose your data, particularly if you’re working in visual media like I am. If you want the details, read on.

Data Rescue

Back in 2012, I was able to mount the corrupted Drobo volume using Data Rescue 3 and recover the bulk of my files. As mentioned above, Data Rescue was able to see all of the files, including the corrupted ones and it let me copy them off, but 25,000 – 30,000 of a total of about 130,000 photographs and I don’t know how many videos were corrupted and couldn’t be read by either Lightroom, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro or Quicktime, so they were of no use to me. They were gone. These were original RAW, DNG, TIF and JPG files from my cameras and SD and HD video files (MP4, MOV and AVI) from my video cameras. I also lost a great deal of family videos and films and cartoons I’d painstakingly digitized from VHS tapes and DVDs I’d purchased, as well as shows and films I’d recorded from TV using a DVR and then edited and stored on the Drobo. In most cases, the files just wouldn’t open up at all. In other cases, I could open them but half or more than half of the image was gone, as you see below.

This is one of my wedding photographs. Most of my wedding photographs look like this or worse…

At our weddingHere’s another. This used to be a photograph of a cliff.

Cheile Turului

I could give you many more examples but the point is, they were irreversibly damaged when the Drobo decided to go kaput.

I don’t know what I would have done without Data Rescue. Because I bought it and used it, I was able to save 70-80% of my data after my 1st catastrophic data loss event and 100% of my data during my recent data loss event.

You may say it’s not data loss and it’s not catastrophic if I was able to recover the data. To that I say that I’d have recovered 0% of my data in both cases without Data Rescue and 0% of over 8 TB of data is damned catastrophic in my book.

Jeffrey Friedl’s Preview-Cache Image Extraction

This super-useful and little-known plugin for Lightroom allows you to extract JPG files from the preview images stored in your Lightroom catalogs. That means that even if you lose the original raw files, you can still have the JPGs and that’s a huge thing.

There’s one caveat though: you need to have allowed Lightroom to keep the previews and you also need to have allowed Lightroom to store high-quality previews. I won’t get into the exact terminology here, there are plenty of tutorials on the internet that will teach you how to optimize those settings. Suffice it to say that I now have my catalogs set to create 1:1 previews and to never delete them, just in case I ever experience data loss again.

I didn’t do this in the past, which meant that I was only able to recover thumbnails or smaller JPGs for most of my corrupted photos, but this was still better than nothing. I have precious photos of my wife that are thumbnail-sized, but at least I have those, I was able to get something back from the gaping maw of data loss.

Flickr and YouTube

These two websites aren’t just for sharing photos and videos. They also let you download your originals. Well, Flickr lets you download your originals. YouTube only lets you download MP4 files of your videos but hey, it’s wonderful anyway.

By the way, the Flickr mobile app and the Google Plus mobile app (for iOS and Android) both let you automatically back up the photos taken with that phone to your respective accounts on both services. They’re set to private by default so only you see them. That’s really nice.

Flickr download options

YouTube download options

This is why I now upload all my published photos to Flickr at their highest resolution and quality and why I also upload all my published videos to YouTube at their highest resolution and quality. In case I ever experience data loss in the future, I’ll have part of my photo and video library on these sites and I’ll be able to download it. And this is also why I no longer put watermarks on my photos. It’s no good to be able to download your own original and have a watermark on it. You now either have to crop it or Photoshop it. I have no time for that sort of thing. I’d rather deal with more productive stuff.

Of course, JPGs aren’t DNGs or RAW files but if they’re the highest resolution, dpi and quality available, they’ll do just fine. And an edited 1080p MP4 file isn’t the same thing as the original Final Cut Pro event and project along with the original video and audio files that were used to create it, but if you don’t have those anymore, you’ll be very thankful to have the MP4.

Now, for some less-than-obvious stuff…

But Raoul, why don’t you back up your stuff? That would solve all your problems! 

I do back up my stuff. I’ve been using CrashPlan for years and I also use Time Machine to back up the files on my Mac (but not all my files are on my Mac, they don’t all fit on it). Unfortunately, during my first data loss event in 2012, I was re-structuring my backup sets and the Drobo couldn’t have picked a worst time to fail. If I had relied on my backups, I’d have recovered only about 25% of my data.

This year, I was doing a little better, although I was also re-structuring my backup sets. Somehow these things seem to know when to fail just to cause more headaches (my warranty had also just run out about 3-4 days before it failed). That brought to mind images of planned obsolescence…

This time I’d have recovered about 80% of my data from the backups. Not ideal but much better than before. I can go into my backup strategy at a later time, but it’s much more difficult for me to back up all my stuff than it is for you, simply because I have a ton of data and I always run into bandwidth issues. For example, one of my backup jobs has to keep up with 8.1 TB of data. The other, with 6 TB of data. And I don’t add small amounts of data to those backup sets, I add gigabytes, lots of gigabytes, whenever I have a studio shoot or take a trip, whether it be photos or videos.

But Raoul, why do you keep using the Drobo when it keeps failing? 

The basic premise of a Drobo, that of using SATA drives of different sizes, from different manufacturers in a single array that can show up as a single 16 TB volume on my Mac, and also allow for one (or two) of those drives to fail while keeping the data safe, still cannot be beaten by anything else on the market. If you know of anything else that meets those criteria, let me know. The Drobo has its drawbacks and data corruption is one of them. Drobos also brick themselves quite a lot, just search for that phrase and you’ll see what I mean. They’re not to be relied upon but they provide the basic benefit outlined above.

But Raoul, you could have used photo recovery software to get all those tens of thousands of photos back! Why didn’t you? 

Back in 2012, I knew of no such software. Now I believe there are several options available and some allow for batch processing of corrupted photos. I haven’t tried any of them yet so I can’t tell you anthing about them. I doubt that any software can do much when half of a photo’s pixels are missing. Besides, I didn’t need to use them after my latest data loss, I was able to get it all back with Data Rescue.

But Raoul, you could have sent your Drobo in to a professional data recovery service. Couldn’t they have done a much better job? 

Maybe. I did get a couple of quotes. They ran anywhere from $3,000 – over $10,000 and they couldn’t guarantee they’d get all my data back. What also made things more complicated and expensive was shipping my drives to the US, where these companies were located. I live abroad and the customs are such a headache I try to avoid dealing with them whenever I can.

How to Match Your Tie to Your Outfit

How to match your tie to your outfit

This video was requested quite a few times in recent months and I finally had the chance to record it this weekend, albeit in a somewhat constrained timeframe. Nonetheless, I was able to present general rules about picking ties and then demonstrate how I would pick a tie for one of my own outfits. I hope that it will be of good use to you!

Different techniques for weighted pullups and a new lat exercise(Thumbnail)

Different techniques for weighted pullups and a new lat exercise

In response to multiple requests about my progress with my workouts, I recorded a new video a week and a half ago, where I talked about one of my back workouts.

I’ve been using different techniques for the weighted pullups and chinups and I wanted to share them with you, because they have to do with lower back safety. First, I talked about where it’s good and where it’s not good to attach weights when you do the pullups and also why a popular spotting method for this exercise isn’t such a good idea for the lower back.

Finally, I demonstrated a new lat exercise which I feel works the lat all the way down to its insertion point, developing more of a V-taper. There’s a good chance this exercise isn’t new, but since I figured it out for myself, I’m calling it new — it’s new for me, at any rate.

There’s a second video I made about this exercise, where I show the proper angle of movement. Make sure to watch this one as well:

I hope my advice is helpful to you. Till next time!

Men's Summer Wear Suggestions (Thumbnail)

Men’s Summer Wear Suggestions

Hot summer weather is here (it’s been here for a month or so) and that means it’s nearly impossible to wear a suit during the day. Here are some suggestions I’ve put together for acceptable summer clothes that will keep you cool and presentable. I’ve also included a few pieces of advice such as how to deal with sweat (bring an extra article of clothing to change if needed), the appropriate length for summer shorts and finally, whether or not it’s acceptable to roll up the sleeves of your shirt.

I hope you find it helpful!

High-Rep-Back-Workout

A high-rep back workout

I wanted to share a video from a recent back workout with you (it’s from this past Saturday). I know I haven’t posted workout videos in a few months, so that was one of the reasons I made this video. Another was to show you what a high-rep workout looks like. The popular opinion is that you need to lift heavy with fewer reps in order to work the muscle and put on mass, but that’s not true. You can also go for higher reps at 50-60% of your max, focus on form, proper contraction and extension, go for the pump and you’ll still work the muscle beautifully (two days later I’m still sore) and still put on mass.

What happens when you focus on heavy workouts is two things: you run the risk of injuries constantly because when you’re constantly at the limit, you don’t know what’s going to give (a joint, a muscle, a bone) and second, you will over-exert yourself and over-train. Some people say there’s no such thing as over-training. There is. You can recognize the symptoms easily: lack of power, lack of energy, hitting plateaus frequently, extreme fatigue and soreness after workouts, desire to sleep constantly, injuries (small or serious ones) and so on.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should never do heavy workouts. But it pays to alternate, to do a few heavy workouts until you feel you’re reaching your training limits, then step back and focus on lighter workouts at anywhere from 40% to 80% of your 1-2 rep max on each exercise. How do you know when to step back? You need to listen to your body. As long as you’re feeding it and resting it properly, it’ll give you the proper feedback and results.

A third reason I wanted to make this video was to show my progress. I posted this photo a couple of weeks ago but a video shows how far I’ve come much better. If you still can’t see it, you need to look at one of my early workout videos, like this one for example.

Alright, here’s the video and the workout routine is below:

  • 5 sets of pull-ups: as many as you can on each set, start with palms forward, wide-grip, do as many as you can then switch grip to palms toward you, shoulder-width or so and again do as many as you can to finish the set.
  • 4 sets of T-bar rows: 50-60% of your 1-2 rep max, 20-25 reps per set.
  • 4 sets of close-grip pull-ups: use a parallel grip and pull some extra weight for some of the sets, do as many reps as you can on each set.
  • 4 sets of deadlifts: 40-50% of your 1-2 rep max, 20-25 reps per set.
  • 5 sets of standing high cable rows: this is an exercise I’ve adapted from Athlean-x, who does it with dumbbells attached with rubber bands to a power rack. I did it with handles and a chain attached to a cable and pulleys, works just as well.
  • 4 sets of seated wide-grip pull-downs: 40-50% of your 1-2 rep max, 20-25 reps per set.

Hope this helps you!

8-hour Arm Workout

Killer 8-hour arm workout

I’d like to show you a marathon 8-hour arm workout that is not for the weak of heart (or body). This is for the dedicated few that really want to go the extra mile in order to grow. If you’re thinking of posting a comment complaining that this is too grueling, too taxing, can’t be done without steroids, then this isn’t for you, please go look at photos of kittens.

We all reach certain stages in our workout routines when we need to shock the body and this workout will definitely do the trick — if you can get through it, and most people can’t. I’m thinking of doing it in the near future and will let you know once I get it done.

You’ll understand it best once it’s explained to you in this video featuring Rich Piana. Don’t be fooled by his tattoos and intimidating demeanor, he’s a nice guy who’s been publishing all sorts of informative bodybuilding videos.

Just in case you still haven’t got, I made an infographic, a guide to help you out. Just print it and you’ll be set.

8-hour Arm Workout