Winter Activities; Things To Do Inside When The Weather Won’t Let You Outside Page 2

Good work habits include a regular back-up schedule. As a minimum, save copies of all new work once each month. It's also advisable to create back-up copies of each project, assignment, or event. Ahead Nero Burning software includes an application called InCD which will allow you to use Re-Writable media (DVD-RW or CD-RW) in the same way that you would a hard drive. In other words, you can add files incrementally, delete and re-write, and so forth.

Even with fast DVD recorders and fast media, making back-up copies is a slow process. On the other hand, once the process is initiated it becomes quite hands-off. It's usually a matter of carefully arranging the file list to be saved and then enjoying a cup of coffee in another room. If you have two computers you can work on one while backing up the other--and of course the more often you make backups, the less time you'll need per session.

Update Your Computer Hardware
Where to start? It all depends on your current configuration, of course, but all computers function better with more memory. There is a limit to how much system memory a given computer will support, so check the specifications before you begin. If you have not yet maxed out, check the number of open physical memory banks you have available. In some cases it's necessary to replace all of the memory modules in order to increase capacity--which can be a costly proposition. If in doubt, check with the manufacturer.

Adding a hard drive, either internal or external, is something that most everyone can do themselves. With the ever-increasing file sizes spawned by big megapixel cameras and raw image files, it's always great to have more storage space. Internal drives are cheaper and faster than external. External drives, however, are terrific if you use more than one computer--a desktop and a laptop, for example. Externals greatly facilitate file sharing. And hard drives have never been a better bargain. Internal drives routinely sell for less than a dollar a gigabyte. External models can be found on sale for prices close to that, too. A 200GB Maxtor One Touch II external drive, for example, can be had for less than $200 while its 300GB cousin for $100 more.

Here's another thought: Maybe it's time to replace the old machine with a newer, faster model. Computer prices traditionally bottom out during the cold winter months. If you are leaning toward replacement, plan ahead. Determine how many of your current peripherals can successfully migrate to the new box. If you're handy at all and can arrange one uninterrupted afternoon, think about building a computer yourself. It's amazingly easy. Many retailers sell "bare-bones" kits that include a case, power supply, motherboard, and CPU. If you can transfer your hard drives, optical drives, and video card you won't need to buy much else--just be sure to add as much memory as it will hold.

Clean Out Your Gadget Bags
The list of things that can be found in the bottom of a typical gadget bag is pretty astounding. Recent discoveries in the depths of a well-worn Domke F2 included a Retina Reflex lens cap, a half-eaten granola bar (apple cinnamon), and a ballpoint pen from the Gerald Ford presidential campaign. Unneeded stuff adds weight and wastes valuable space. Plus, extraneous objects can damage lenses and other items if they're in the wrong place at the same time.

If you've outgrown the bag, don't despair. Outmoded gadget bags are a great place to store all of that outdated equipment that you know you'll never use again but can't bear to discard. There have been many advances in manufacturing materials and bag styles in recent years. You'll surely find a new one that's just right for you.

There you have it--five broad categories of photo-related activities to keep you busy when the snow flies. Combined with a dash of daydreaming and a pinch of imagination, these are guaranteed to help you overcome the worst case of cabin fever. The snow shoveling, however, is still up to you.