Monday, August 6, 2012


Tools are an essential part of modern life. Without spoons, forks, knives, pots and pans, preparing food would be a much more difficult task. Without a lawnmower trimming your lawn would be almost impossible. Without wheels you would be dependent on your feet to get around, and that is slow and tiresome.

These tools we are familiar with, as a carpenter is with a hammer and saw. We know how they function and that knowledge allows us to use these familiar tools effectively, and usually safely. In the last 25 years another set of tools based on electronics and digital technology has been added to our culture. Most of us don’t know very much about them although we buy devices that involve these tools, and extend ourselves well beyond our imagination. I can connect instantly by e-mail or phone with someone in Europe, China or as far away as New Zealand. We are all part of the internet, the so-called global village.

But this village may not be a very friendly community. Just today I read about a fellow journalist who had his iCloud account hacked into and he lost all of his access to and data on his laptop, his cell phone and tablet computer, and more. Sadly, he had not backed-up his computer and devices, so he has become a rather lost person without access to his work and livelihood. Extensions of ourselves through modern digital tools can be dangerous if we use them without thinking of the consequences, of what dangers they bring to us.

It won’t get any better as just this week I was informed of a very useful new app (computer applications): it is called Polkast which allows you to use WiFi electronic communications to have complete access to all of your data files wherever they are, on a iPhone, made with a digital camera or stored in your home computer. You can check out this new digital data tool at Another advertised in my favorite computer magazine and recommended by them is a USB facility of a similar nature called CloudFTP, and it makes any USB storage device wireless to share data files from your camera for instance to a computer or USB thumb drive, and more. You can check this out at Hyperdrive CloudFTP listed on Google shopping, as well as listed by

This is not a warning about a present and future of danger to you. Not at all, but it is an alarm for you to learn about what you are getting into using any of these new and extended communications tools. You do need to understand how they work so you can take the essential precautions to avoid serious consequences. These days I get frequent e-mails from photographers who have adopted digital photography only recently, and often also new to using a computer. That means there is a backlog of essential basic how-to that may be missed by recent converts, that those of us who have used these tools for the last quarter century learned, all too often the hard way, by the knocking about you get when flying by the seat of your pants. 

I am glad to help when someone jumps in and buys a new desktop LCD display to use with a laptop, but did not realize to make it work for creating high quality digital photo prints, the display needs to be adjusted, calibrated and profiled too. Or a photographer wants to edit and save JPEG photo files and does not know the limitations inherent to the JPEG standard file format. But sometimes there is little I can do for someone who has an expensive scanner that is no longer manufactured and sold, because there is little support for the product. The one thing I can say that will help, and that is to become as well informed as possible about the tools you are using and be aware of what precautions they demand to make your world as secure as it can be.

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