Sunday, 16 August 2015

The Toshiba Air wifi connected SD Card


It takes me a very long while to acquire something - this is the case with the Toshiba Air SD Card - it's been several generations now that modern cameras have built-in wifi and I even have one of these but finally I got myself a wifi connected card for older camera. When I shoot now, I often want the instant gratification of uploading to social networks (G+ or Instagram) soon, without waiting for the journey home. The two market leaders for this type of card is the Toshiba Air and the Eye Fi. I knew that Olympus has an association with distributing Toshiba Air cards, so when I saw much reduced prices on eBay, I took down the local dealer's address and went in person to get one.

Things didn't look good when I inserted the card into either the Olympus E-PM2 or the Panasonic GF-3 - by what I could read from the brief documentation, I expected the card to broadcast a wifi SSID so that my phone or Windows PC could see it as a wifi source.

When you insert the card into any device, the wifi access point should start broadcasting and keep broadcasting for 5 minutes if it is on autostart. However in my case it was not on autostart and was on manual. I needed to set it to autostart.

To set up the card using the computer

  • Insert the card into the the sdcard slot of the computer
  • Run the FlashAir program - it was difficult to find, I found it at this Toshiba webpage.
    • Ensure the Wireless LAN is set to automatic startup
    • Change the connection password for the card to ensure that other cameras and device don't hijack your connection or data.

FlashAir.exe menus and screens

FlashAir Main Menu

FlashAir Network Settings

FlashAir Wireless LAN Startup Menu - ensure that this is set to automatic startup otherwise the card will not broadcast the SSID

FlashAir Drive Setting

FlashAir Initialise / Change - use this to set up the card to factory defaults and write missing or deleted folders and files

More Info

The Toshiba web pages / sites that came up in Google Search were not helpful - they were either describing product from the viewpoint of a manufacturer rather than from the viewpoint of a consumer. Often there were redirects to missing pages or pages written in Japanese. I finally found a Toshiba Singapore webpage that seemed readable. The details eluded me until I found a briefly written pdf hosted on an Olympus website. The document describes both the set up procedure using the FlashAir.exe computer program or the Flash Air mobile device app.

Here's what I discovered.

  1. The SD card appears to the camera or the computer (with SD Card slot) as a storage device.
  2. Certain folders and files are precious and should not be erased or formatted out during file deletion or formatting either in the camera or the computer. If these folders / files are deleted, you need to run FlashAir.exe (or in my case, FlashAir_v3.exe) - available in Windows or Mac variant, to replace these files on the inserted SD Card.
  3. Take care not to eject the SD Card without using the Windows Safely Remove procedure otherwise the special folders or file might be damaged by file system corruption. Of course they can be replaced by a card format but it's just more work.
The files and folders are in this structure

|   |   CACHE.DAT
|   \---AVCHD
|       +---BDMV
|       |   |   INDEX.BDM
|       |   |   MOVIEOBJ.BDM
|       |   |
|       |   +---PLAYLIST
|       |   +---CLIPINF
|       |   \---STREAM
|       \---AVCHDTN
|               THUMB.TID
|               THUMB.TDT
|   \---CARDICON
|          ICON_128.PNG|          ICON_32.PNG|          ICONINF.TXT
|       CONFIG   

\DCIM\100__TSB\FA000001.JPG is an important static file that acts as a flag
Do not delete the folder and file, or you will be unable to change the automatic-manual operation for wireless LAN functionality. 
\SD_WAN\CONFIG is a vital text file containing settings

CONFIG contains text pairs like this:


CID=long hex code

Information on these parameters is available at the FlashAir Developer's website

Factory Default Settings

SSID:  flashair_xxxxxxxxxxxx ( x represents MAC address of the Product) 
Security:  WPA2  security key: 12345678 
Encryption and authentification: WPA2-AES (access point mode) 
IP Address" (access point mode)    

Wireless LAN functional specifications 

 Wireless LAN Standard: IEEE802.11b/g/n 
 Modulation: DSSS/CCK (1, 2, 5.5, 11 Mbps), OFDM (6 to 72.2 Mbps) 
 Wireless LAN Security: WEP, TKIP, AES (WPA/WPA2) 

Monday, 6 April 2015

Why do we have Google Plus Photos repeated on Google Drive?

We're still trying to figure out WHY they created the Google Drive entry door to Google Photos (Google+ Photos).

At the moment, I suspect the designers wanted to offer a tree structure way of accessing your images. Neither the Picasa web interface nor Google Photos nor Picasa desktop client allow you to see a tree structured organisation of your image files.

Google Photos

This webapp has some logic on
a. albums
b. images from posts not in albums
c. autobackup images from phone or computer (guess)
d. images from other sources like hangouts (guess)
e. showing only the currently chosen version (there might be more than one version)
f. properties like date/time stamp and you could choose a timeline view.

You can create virtual copies of an image file between albums.

Google Drive

1. A default hierarchy tree of folders, in year/month naming e.g. Google Photos/2015/03
2. Every image file you produced from all the sources in that month is put in that month folder.
3. You can optionally see and find image files and move / make a different additional hierarchy within that base folder without breaking your G+ text post.
4. You can move image files out of that base folder into one of your own self made folders outside of the base Google Photos folder (does this count as a delete from G+ ? Not sure.
5. You can edit any of those image files with third party photo apps in the Drive menu without affecting your G+ Photos image and G+ text post. There will be Drive multiple versioning of your image file, not just the G+ Undo version.

In other words, you can carry out Drive actions and features that G+ Photos and Picasa Web webapps lack, all without breaking your G+ text posts, except image file deletion.