• Are your photos safe?

    Last night I was chatting with a friend and remembering how years ago as a family we’d visited Wallaroo (on the Yorke Peninsula in country South Australia). I thought it would be nice to look at the photos I’d took when we were there. I opened my phone and used the ‘Places’ view to navigate to Wallaroo (figuring that would be easiest as I couldn’t remember the exact date), but it didn’t show any photos.

    That’s odd. So I then grabbed my laptop and navigated to https://onedrive.live.com (as since my Windows Phone days I’ve made use of the auto-upload to OneDrive feature). It too has a ‘Places’ view (though rather than a map, it’s a list of places you can then drill in to), but again, no Wallaroo.

    I then drilled in to the OneDrive folder structure (under Pictures then Camera Roll), and got a nasty shock.

    OneDrive file listing

    All the non-iOS photos are missing.

    There’s basically no photos before December 2016 (looks like I have two photos from 2014 and 2015 that someone shared with me from their iPhone)

    Windows Phone uses the WP_ prefix for its image filenames. There’s absolutely none under that directory.

    Check back to https://onedrive.live.com - same story.

    Now I’m getting worried.

    I fired up two of my older laptops. Neither of those had any older photos.

    Before I re-installed my older laptop I did make use of the both the “File History” and “Backup and Restore (Windows 7)” system image backup. I found the external drive that was used for those backups and plugged it in.

    The Backup and Restore system image backup has everything on it except the OneDrive folder! In fact it seems to be explicitly excluded from that backup.

    The other problem is that all my Windows OneDrive instances have the Files On-Demand feature enabled - meaning that just placeholders are on the disk until you access the file.

    Same goes for the File History - there’s literally no ‘OneDrive’ folder there. Turns out this is because I had Files On-Demand enabled.

    I also checked the Synology backups - both the full PC backup and the CloudSync I’d set up for my OneDrive.

    My best guess by looking at some of the modification dates of the folders that are still there is that this might have happened quite a while ago, at least a year, if not longer. I don’t look at photos that often, so I’m really not sure.

    The only other backup I have are some CDs and DVDs that I’ve kept, back when I used to do physical backups to optical media. The newest of those I’ve found so far is from 2010. So I think I’ve probably lost a good 6 years of my digital photos.

    What caused all the non iOS photos to be deleted? I honestly don’t know. There are a few old photos that I found elsewhere in OneDrive (ones that I’d copied into different folders), but nothing under the ‘Camera Roll’ directory. Could it have been the iOS OneDrive app? I’m not sure. If I’d noticed them missing soon after they were deleted, I probably could have restored them from OneDrive’s Recycle Bin, but sadly that only keeps the last 30 days, and this seems to pre-date that by quite a while.

    Similarly, OneDrive also has a ‘Restore your OneDrive’ that let you roll back OneDrive to a previous version, but again only within the last 30 days.

    Not surprisingly, I’m feeling a little sad about that - particularly knowing there was photos of the kids when they were little, that I no longer have. At least it’s not all our photos from that time - other family members have their phones and separate backups to mine.

    The moral of this story.

    1. Backup your photos
    2. Check that you’re backing up what you expected.
    3. Have a secondary (or tertiary) backup. Ideally ones that are a snapshot (not dynamically updated), and bonus points for keeping it at a separate location.
    4. Be careful using OneDrive Files On-Demand (and understand that may affect other backup strategies)

    Learn from my mistakes.

  • Speaking at .NET Conference 2022

    I’m excited to be speaking at C# Corner’s .NET Conference 2022 tomorrow.

    .NET Conference 2022 title

    I’ll be presenting my talk “What’s new in .NET 6 and Visual Studio 2022”. Join me online at (depending on your time zone):

    So yes, an early start for me on my Australia Day public holiday!

    It’s free to attend the conference, just head over to here to register.

  • RODE NTUSB Microphone and PSA1 Boom Stand

    My “home office” is working rather well, but I did think it would be nice to go the extra mile and do some minor upgrades, particularly for remote presenting.

    First up is audio recording.

    My requirements were a better microphone on one of those flexible arms, but it needed to fit on my existing desk layout. I have three 27” monitors mounted on a standing desk. Something coming down from above was almost certainly going to obstruct my view, so I figured if it could come in low from the side, that could work. Something that “hovered” above the keyboard so I could still see all three external monitors as well as the laptop display. It might obstruct the keyboard a bit, but I can touch type so that’s not a show-stopper.

    Whilst an XLR microphone would have been nice, that would also require purchasing a separate device to plug into my computer. I didn’t think I could justify the extra expense.

    After a fair bit of research I settled on the following:

    (Affiliate links)

    NTUSB Front view

    RØDE produce world-class audio gear, and it’s pretty cool that they’re actually an Australian company.

    My one hesitation was whether the boom stand was going to be flexible enough and reach far enough. My desk is 1800mm wide, so it would need to span 900mm to get to the middle. Using a measuring tape it sounded like it would, but there’s nothing like actually getting one and trying it out. Good news - it does just reach!

    Boom arm wide

    I was a little surprised at how sensitive the microphone is. I’ll definitely need to keep the door shut when I’m using it. It will also be interesting to see if it picks up a lot of ambient noise (fans, keyboard, etc). I’ve read some comments online that mention getting better results by turning down the gain a lot (eg. 50-60%).

    David speaking into the microphone

    The microphone comes with it’s own 3.5mm audio jack, perfect for plugging in some headphones. This output appears as a USB audio playback/output device in Windows. There are two dials on the side of the microphone for managing the headphone audio. The top dial is used for adjusting the mix between the microphone and other audio. The bottom dial is the volume for the headphones. The documentation mentions that the audio output is “zero latency”, so you’re hearing yourself directly (without the audio having to be processed by the computer and then sent back).

    Side view of NTUSB microphone showing volume and mix controls

    The NTUSB comes with a pop shield - useful for reducing popping sounds and keeping moisture off the microphone. This is optional so you don’t necessarily need to fit it, or you could use different filter.

    Some people like to use a microphone shock mount (those fancy wire cradle things that hold the microphone - often used by radio announcers). I figure I’ll see how I go without that for now.

    Mounting the microphone onto the PSA1 boom stand was straight forward, as was mounting the boom stand on my desk. The stand comes with two options, either a clamp style (which is what I used), or an insert (for a larger desk where you’d drill into the desk and mount it that way). I was able to use the clamp mount, putting it on the left edge of my desk.

    When I’m not using the microphone, the stand folds up sits to the side. In doing so it’s out of my field of view for using the monitors.

    Boom arm collapsed

    Not only does the arm + microphone reach and “hover” as I’d hoped, but it turns out it’s barely (if not at all) in shot when doing video presentations, which is ideal.