Archive for ‘Getting Organized’

June 10, 2011

Saved by Memory Manager…

The headline might be a little dramatic, but I’m so happy that I use  Creative Memories Memory Manager for my photos. Last Saturday while I was working on a project, my external hard drive crashed. And while it was a trifle annoying, I was up and running with all my photos intact in about 20 minutes.

Now, I was actually away from my home computer, so I had to wait until I got home, but once there, I simply rebuilt my photo vault from the shadow copy that Memory Manager creates every time I exit my software. Nothing was lost! No edits, no tags, no folders, everything good as new!

That is my kind of back up!

What is a Shadow Copy? It’s magic! Well, not really, but it felt like magic on Saturday. In researching the term Shadow Copy, I found a long and boring article explaining the technology which I’m pretty sure you don’t care about. So here are the basics.

As you set up Memory Manager you are prompted to create a Shadow Copy. Normally, your photos reside in a folder called a vault on your C: drive and you use an external drive for the Shadow Copy.  Alternatively, you could keep your photo vault on an external drive and the shadow on your c: drive. This is my preference so that I have the vault available to me when I switch to using my laptop at scrapbook events.

When you exit Memory Manager, as long as your shadow copy is configured properly (don’t worry, it’s easy!), Memory Manager AUTOMATICALLY updates the shadow. The Shadow Copy contains a copy of all the photos and all edits, tags, folders… All Everything. When the vault drive crashes (they all crash eventually) nothing is lost!

If you currently use Memory Manager and if your shadow is set up properly, you should see this screen as you exit Memory Manager letting you know that it is backing up any changes you made while the program was open.

If you don’t see the screen, check to make sure the Shadow Copy path is pointing to the correct drive.

On the home screen (welcome page), make sure that there is a green check mark next to the words “Shadow Copy”. In the screen capture below, Shadow Copy is circled in red. I know it’s kind of small, but I wanted you to see the whole screen so you could place where it is. If the check mark isn’t there, there will be an exclamation point. Click on it, and make sure that Memory Manager knows where your shadow copy should be. That’s all!

I can no longer answer questions about Memory Manager. My suggestion is to upgrade to Panstoria’s Historian where support will be provided. Panstoria is the company that developed MM and your vault should transfer into Historian with little or no difficulty.

November 10, 2010

What to do with all those papers that come home from school…

I love this cat picture. Is he cute or what? I pulled this watercolor out of my daughter’s “elementary folder of school stuff” today, so I could scan it and address how to handle all the stuff that comes home from school.

If you have a child in school, especially in elementary school, you are probably overwhelmed with all the papers they bring home.

Their first story, their drawings of your family, the sweet notes they write… it all seems important. Parents often come in two types. There is the kind of parent who saves everything, and the kind who saves nothing. I’m fairly schizophrenic, one day being parent number 1, the next parent number 2. But, because both of these solutions are rooted in being overwhelmed, I’d like to suggest a middle road.

First, let’s layout some of the types of stuff (more officially called memorabilia) that comes home.

  • Tests, Report Cards & Worksheets
  • Creative & Report Writing like this…

The above scan is the first page of a story my daughter wrote in Kindergarten with no spelling correction (duh.) I wish I could say that I found this teaching method (you know, letting them be creative and not correcting spelling) was successful, but to this day, as a 7th grader, spelling is still a very low priority in my child’s writing. But I digress, that is a topic for a different day, and probably a different blog.

  • Artwork like this… love the owl with the night sky also.

  • Notes & Cards like this…

Yes, I do love her with all my hart and heart!

Obviously, these are all items I kept.  They are sweet, emblematic of the age or year, or I just plain liked them. However, there was plenty of art, notes and stories that went in the trash (mostly when she wasn’t looking.)

So, what to keep? I think as always, it comes back to story.

What is your child’s story this year? Are they mastering writing? Have they blossomed as an artist? Does this item help tell the story best?

If so, then by all means keep it. If not, toss it. It’s always better to toss the undesirable stuff sooner than later. I took a class on Organizing Paper Clutter at Simplify 101 and the BEST thing I learned was that much of what we call clutter is simply the result of delayed decision-making. If I can decide now, it can go to an appropriate storage place or go away! Simple.

But, if you are going to keep the memorabilia, then how will you store it?

Memorabilia that is letter sized or smaller is easy. I have an archival expandable folder (sorry I don’t have a recommendation, the one I use is no longer available) for tests, report cards, thank you notes, certificates and writing assignments. For elementary school, I filled an entire folder. I’m thinking that middle and high school will fit into a second one.

If the artwork or project is large like the owl art, you have a couple of choices. There is large flat portfolio type storage and if you have a budding artist on your hands that may be a good option. If anyone has any recommendation for this type of storage, please leave a comment.

If not, then taking photographs of the art may be the way to go. I photographed the owl today.

***TIP*** In order to avoid using flash, I put the art on a black piece of foam board and took it out to my front porch, which meant I had soft, indirect light. I laid the foam board on the porch floor and stood above it, making sure the camera strap and my toes didn’t get into the picture! It isn’t as perfect as a scan might be, but it was a whole lot easier.

If you are looking for more ideas for your kid’s artwork, check out this post. Read the comments section for lots of different ideas. I like this blog post also. The best tip on the second post is to add your child’s name (hadn’t thought of this since I just have one!) and their age to the back of the artwork. (I really wish I’d done that with the larger pieces.)

Do you have a system you love? Please share!

October 28, 2010

Boring Topic Alert! But so important… can you guess?

It’s everybody’s favorite chore – Backing up digital photographs!

When did you last back up your photos? I’m going to tell my story here. This is not an exhaustive look at all the different back-up programs you can use, this is simply how I came to REALLY learn the importance of backing up and what I use to accomplish it.

If you have ever lost photos to a bad hard drive, memory disk crash or other minor disaster, you know exactly what I’m talking about. In 2005, I had a new computer and even though my photo organization software kept asking me “Do you want to back up your photos?, I thought “I’ll do it later”. Well, this four-month-old computer was in an office near my bedroom. At about two in the morning, the computer made a noise that woke me from a sound sleep. I got up to see what had happened and saw the blue screen of death; I decided to go back to sleep, feeling very certain that I and my photos were in big trouble.

The next morning I discovered that, in fact even though I’d been groggy the night before, I was completely correct. My hard drive was unrecoverable. The tech guy who looked at it said, “I can’t even get it to spin up.” He assured me that I could probably spend hundreds of dollars trying to recover my files, but I didn’t have hundreds of dollars available for that purpose. Luckily, I only lost about 4 months of photos and because it was summer, it meant that other people had taken photos that I could have. And even more luckily, I’d printed some of my favorites from that time and made a couple of scrapbook pages. So, for me, my lesson was learned. You can’t trust your photos to one hard drive. Ever.

As soon as I got my hard drive replaced, I purchased an external hard drive. This was five years ago and hard drives weren’t as cheap as they are now. I’m happy to say, that little (80 gig) hard drive is still plugging along. It now has a friend sitting next to it that is much bigger (500 gigs). When I was in the computer training business, we were fond of saying, ” A hard drive crash is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when.” It was true then and it’s true now.

And, it’s not just hard drive crashes that should concern you. There is robbery, yes, a friend lost her computer and back up devices to thieves. Then of course, there is fire, flooding and other natural disasters. Oh my!

With all the potential threats, you need on site and offsite backup.

It also helps if the backing up is automated. Mine is, and I love that I don’t have to remember.

On site backup is the easiest to set up. My biggest concerns are my photos and my financial data. My financial software asks me about a backup regularly, and I always say yes.  My photos are in Creative Memories Memory Manager software (which I sell) and whenever I make changes to my photo vault,  it backs up the changes to a “shadow copy” on my external drive. At any time if I need to rebuild my vault, the shadow copy keeps all the tags and folder structure I’ve arranged within Memory Manager.

Offsite backup is a bit trickier, but very important. Offsite is for all those disaster type scenarios and there are all types of services. I use Mozy. It is simple enough to set up, but if you have a lot of data to back-up, it isn’t fast. And that is an understatement. It can take months to get everything backed up, but once it’s done, it just does an incremental backup whenever changes are made. It’s pretty reasonably priced too.  Some people just upload all their photos to places like Flickr, or Shutterfly or Creative Memories Photo Center. Personally, I need something automatic. If I have to put it on a to do list, there’s a chance it isn’t going to happen. And we know what happens then…

What is your back-up plan? How is it working for you? I’d love to hear about it.

If you don’t have a plan and you need help; contact me. I’ll be happy to get you started with a plan.



September 23, 2010

How do I get started creating a (meaningful) Photo Album?

First, this may be a surprise, but please, don’t start at a store! Starting at the store is very seductive. There are loads of supplies, and they are beautifully displayed. And it feels like you are doing “something”, but you aren’t!

You probably already have purchased “scrapbooking” supplies at one time or other and they are in a closet (maybe still in the bag!) or you sold them in a yard sale. Buying supplies you don’t use, just adds to the guilt we often associate with not doing something with our photos.

Banish the Guilt! Guilt paralyzes, it does not accomplish. Guilt keeps us stuck when we want to move forward. Yup, the first thing you need to do is put aside any guilt you have that your child is 15 and doesn’t have a baby album. (Insert your own guilt story here!)

Once you have vanquished guilt, congratulate yourself and move on to what really matters to you now. Now is probably the perfect time for you to create that special album about your slightly bigger baby!

But, what makes a meaningful photo album? Pictures and your words, c’est tout! Nothing more. Of course, there are so many beautiful albums, papers and embellishments, they can be very enthralling, or overwhelming. If you come down on the side of overwhelming, skip that stuff. If the decorative, crafty stuff is the part that rocks your world, then by all means, have at it. But not yet!

Hopefully, you’ve read the previous article about gathering your photos all in one place.

So, once your photos are gathered, then it is time to look through them and begin to sort. Determine a sorting method, preferably not chronological, and begin. I started making albums after my daughter was born. My husband and I had been married for 8 years already. I’d always been a chronological keeper of photos, but when I decided to make an album about our life before SB was born, I wanted something more general. So I organized by events, vacations, pets, holidays, parties (we like to throw parties!) and family. The only chronology part is about how we met, and decided to marry (which happened pretty quickly!)

Throw out the bad photographs. Throw out the duplicates if you don’t intend to give those away. Everyone orders too many school pictures of their kids with good intentions of sharing them with friends and family, but we often end up with a stack at the end of the year. It is OK to throw all those extras away! If you have a hard time with tossing photos, keep this mantra in mind, “Throwing away photos of loved ones does not equal not loving them.”

Hopefully, as you have sorted your photos, you have begun to imagine the album you most want to create. What would be most meaningful to you? Once you’ve got that in mind, you can begin to think about supplies… but that is a topic for a whole other day!

September 17, 2010

Where Do I Begin (the eternal organizing dilemma)?

A new twitter follower said, “I really would like to do ‘something’ with my photos, but I don’t know where to start!”

She is overwhelmed and I know she is not alone. Once I get overwhelmed, I go into avoidance behavior. (if I pretend it’s not there, maybe it will go away…)

Of course, I know that the avoidance weighs on me, and whatever I was trying to avoid becomes bigger and more powerful.

I say, take back the Power!

Most of the time, once I tackle the project I’ve been avoiding (the task I’m usually avoiding is cleaning my desk), I realize that I made the project bigger and more insurmountable than it really is.

Your photos are no different.

So, here are a few small suggestions for getting started doing SOMETHING with your printed photos. (we’ll cover digital photos in another post)

Although Stephen Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind”, I’m going to suggest that to keep from being overwhelmed, you do step one and two without worrying about the end result. And as you do the first two steps, you may find some inspiration sneaking into place…

One, gather your printed photos in the same temperature-controlled place (see my last article about getting Hurricane Ready… you could insert all other types of disasters here, natural and otherwise.)

Two, buy some type of photo safe container and put the photos in it. They don’t have to be organized, just safe. In my previous post, I recommended a product that I like and sell, however, whatever you choose to purchase, look for these two qualities:

  1. the container should block light (light damages photos so, no clear plastic containers)
  2. made from a material that is non-reactive to photos. (If you want some nerdy details, here is a great link to the National Archives Website)

Once you’ve completed Step 1 & 2, you can begin to think about this question, “What is it that I want to do with my photos?”

If the answer is I’d like them organized in the boxes in some fashion, then that is your next step. Although arranging your photos in chronological order is very tempting, it is the most time-consuming and perhaps the least useful.  Consider arranging by family member, holidays and events, or use Stacy Julian’s Library of Memories approach, it’s up to you! Make it easy, make it fast and don’t sweat over each photo.

If the answer is I’d like to create photo albums, then, ask yourself this question, “Which of these photos means the most to me right now?” If you hear yourself saying “I should”, unless the should is intimately connected to the photos that mean the most, don’t go there! The photos which are most important, that provoke an emotional response are a sure bet for a great album that you can finish. If you have even just one album (scrapbook or slip-in style) of photos you really love, you’ve accomplished something genuinely worthwhile.

If you still feel overwhelmed, get help. Leave me a comment and I’ll see if I can help!

September 13, 2010

It’s Hurricane Season… where are your photos?

It’s officially hurricane season (it has been for a while) and as Scott Simon of NPR tweeted earlier today, a Hurricane named Igor seems a lot scarier than Hurricane named Earl. But, no matter, it’s past time to have a Hurricane Plan. So here are my thoughts.

Flashlights with Fresh Batteries – Check
Enough Fresh Water to Last Several Days (One Gallon Per Person/Per Day) – Oops, I’ve got some but not enough, better put that on the to do list.
Battery Operated Radio (or one that we can wind up to listen to) – Check (thanks to Georgia Public Radio!)
And of course, there is more… but

I think you get the drift (please check here for a comprehensive list of hurricane preparedness tips), because what I really want to talk about is your photos.

First, do you know where your photos are?

Are they scattered all over the house, tucked in drawers, baskets, etc? If they aren’t in a central location – that should be. This is step one.

At Least They Are All In One Place!

For physical photos, I use a Power Sort Box by Creative Memories and Photo Albums. I’m a Creative Memories Consultant, so that is a given. But even if I weren’t, this is a box I’d want.  It features dark storage (benefit = your photos are protected from light, photo’s natural enemy), the material is photo safe (benefit = materials won’t speed up degradation of photos) and it holds 1200 photos (benefit = just enough photos that you can carry it comfortably) with a lid that clasps (benefit = if it drops, the photos mostly stay in place).

If you have to evacuate, you want to access your photos quickly and easily. I probably have too many albums to load all of them in the car, so I’ve been giving some thought to which albums I’d take. I’ve decided I’d take the albums which have “film” photos in them, such as my wedding album, my 12 year old’s baby album, and her first school album. I can’t replace those.  If I can get the dogs and cats to cooperate, I may try to find room for more! Of course, I hope it won’t come to that, but, it’s good to consider these questions now, while my brain isn’t in panic mode.

This Is More Like It!

So, what about all those digital photos?

First, backing up is ESSENTIAL! I use Memory Manager (from Creative Memories… big surprise) and here is the simple reason. It works really well and backs up automatically every time I shut down. In 2005, I lost about three months of photos (on a new computer which completely died). Never Again! As soon as I got my replacement computer I bought an external hard drive and forever after have used the “shadow copy” feature of Memory Manager.

I figure that part of my evacuation plan will be to grab my external hard drive (much easier than trying to grab a tower. Additionally, I am using Mozy to back up to an offsite location. This way I have three copies of all my photos – my originals, my shadow copy and a copy that is not in my house.  Occasionally I back up to CD, but I do this less and less, since I have the other options. There are other great options for offsite photo back up including but not limited to the Creative Memories Photo Center, Shutterfly, and Flickr.

Do you have a hurricane plan for your photos? I’d love to hear your tips… please share your suggestions!

September 7, 2010

Hooray For Evernote

First, a quick thanks to Ali Edwards for my headline!

Today, I added my 100th note to Evernote. Hooray!

And. I. Love. It.      A. Lot.

Not my 100th note, but Evernote!

If you came upon this post because you already love Evernote, you know that 100 notes is laughable, most people have thousands of notes, but I’m just getting started, and celebrating a bit early!

I downloaded it several months ago at the suggestion of Noell & Izzy Hyman from Paperclipping Roundtable, but I never got around to using it. Recently, they mentioned it again and I remembered I had downloaded it to my iPhone. I sprang into action and completed the process of getting downloaded to all possible machines. It works on my iPhone, my laptop and my desktop (and of course, they all sync!). Their logo is an elephant because it remembers Everything in a completely searchable and organized format. I also just realized I haven’t mentioned that it is FREE! Yes, there is a premium version, but I haven’t needed it yet. If I ever do, I’ll happily fork over some $$ to the folks who have created this great product.

Evernote‘s marketing is way more fun and entertaining than I could ever be, so pop over to their site to check it out.

But, what I can share is how I find it so incredibly helpful:

  • Notes for my girls book club… instead of bookmarking the questions I find online for discussion, I get Evernote to “clip” the info and send it to my Evernote account. That way, I don’t have to print notes and I will have them handy on my phone when I’m away from home. It also means I don’t really need a decent internet connection because once my phone syncs to my account the information is residing on my iPhone, not in the cloud! Hooray!
  • Recipes… Evernote rocks as a searchable database for recipes. If I didn’t use it for anything else, this alone would make it worth having. I’m planning a dinner party with a middle eastern theme and as I’m searching and finding recipes, I send them to Evernote via my little elephant icon in my browser. Once in Evernote, the note goes into my Recipes Notebook with the tag “Middle Eastern Dinner”. I think I can remember that! I also add a few other tags, like chicken or lamb, olives, couscous, you get the idea.
  • Notes from/for Shopping… Another incredible use. I use this folder to store my electronic receipts, in stores, I take pictures of products and their prices (so I can figure out the best place to buy the stuff we use a lot). The camera integration works very smoothly and I have the very oldest iPhone.
  • Oh yes, the point of this blog… I use it to keep track of Scrapbooking & Card ideas… I see a design I like & POOF, I push the Evernote Elephant and WHOOSH, the picture goes to my Holding Notebook. Once I get back into Evernote‘, I tag and move it to my Scrapbooking Ideas notebook. Then, when I’m stumped for an idea later, I’ve got a bunch of ideas to inspire my creativity.

And on a final “note”, after listening to the Evernote podcast today, I decided to switch to Google Chrome. The ‘webclipper’ feature was recently updated and has more functionality than in Firefox which I was using.

What do you use to keep your ideas, notes and other “stuff” organized?