Sunday, July 24, 2011

Digital Clutter ...

[Guest post from fellow cyclist John Kirk,
who's personal blog can be found here.]

When I was at school, I read a book about time management; one useful tip related to incoming post. I have a tendency to pick up post when I come home, take a quick glance to see whether there's anything important, then put everything else to one side to deal with later. The author's advice was to open every envelope immediately, then decide right away whether I actually want to keep it or dump it. That way, I can avoid having a big pile of junk to sort through. I don't always follow this advice, but I know that it makes sense.

I've found that a similar principle applies to my helmet camera. When I record in HD, it uses roughly 1 GB every 15 minutes (i.e. 4 GB/hour). The camera came with a 2 GB memory card, but that's too small for my purposes: I often cycle for more than 30 minutes in a single journey. I can swap memory cards while I'm out and about, but I need to plug the camera into a computer to delete files. So, I bought 3 x 16 GB cards; they should handle 12 hours of cycling, and I wouldn't want to do more than that in a single day. (During my LEJOG attempt, my longest day involved about 11 hours of cycling.)

My basic policy is that I use the camera on every journey; after all, I don't know in advance what will happen. However, if it's all routine then I'll delete the video afterwards. I only keep videos where something significant has happened: this could be good (e.g. scenic views) or bad (e.g. a collision). Even when I do need to keep the video, I probably only need a few minutes' excerpt rather than the whole thing.

It's important to be diligent about dealing with these video files. If I do it right away, while the trip is fresh in my mind, it's easy to know whether I can delete it. If I want to keep it, I should make a note, e.g. "saw unicycle about 10 mins in". Otherwise, these things quickly fill up the memory card. I can move them to my hard drive, but that only delays the inevitable. I now have a collection of videos that I need to sort through to free up space, which is a tedious job.

So, if you get a helmet camera, learn from my example: stay on top of the data before you drown in it.