Saturday, October 02, 2010

Clever SD cards

I'd been eyeing up those clever orange SD cards which advertise not only storage, but geotagging images in camera (very tasty) and wireless upload to the home network and to public sites like Flickr. It would have been nice.

So, I ordered a 2GB card and unwrapped it eagerly.

First, erm, moment was setting the card up. the management software appears to be online, somewhere in the cloud. So the home router has to be unwound to allow the package to act as a server. There is, no doubt, a perfectly reasonable reason for this - it allows the camera to upload when the computer with the management on it is turned off. The upload then occurs to the cloud. Turn your PC on and back come the images. But security issues aren't made clear, or even addressed in any transparent way. Of course, it has to connect to your WPA secured network, and it needs the WPA key. That isn't stored locally - it's stored "in the manager" - i.e., in the cloud, on the internet. So hang on a minute - I've just given my WPA key to someone I don't know on the internet?

Then I tried to use the card. I've tried it in two cameras - a G9, and a Panasonic G1. In neither case can I get the card to download. You're instructed to change the battery / power settings to prevent the camera turning off, but it still won't play. It's much quicker and less troublesome to take the card out and drop it in the SD slot on my laptop. Wirelessly, it gets about 1/4 the way through then drops out. I can't find a way of kicking it manually.

Then there's geotagging. I might have misunderstood this. I'd (fairly naturally) assumed GPS. But it isn't. It uses the Skyhook system - it locates using a combination of known MAC addresses of wireless networks, and telephone masts. Well, that might be as accurate as GPS, but I have no way of knowing. The Skyhook system, certainly in the UK is pretty patch, and since most of my images are taken in fairly remote locations - certainly well away from wireless networks and often out of cellphone coverage, I have yet to get an image geotagged. If you visit skyhook's coverage map it looks quite good to start with - but zoom in, and reach your own conclusions. I take photographs south west of Shrewsbury, largely....

And finally, flickr. Well, you can get them uploaded to flickr, but it's a subscription service. You have to pay the SD card people annually...

No thanks.