Sunday, 28 May 2017

Data woes again

Whoops! I must do a post without pictures!

I'm very nearly up to my monthly data limit with BT, which is 25GB. You'd think this ample for somebody who doesn't stream films, and doesn't even watch much catch-up TV. But ever since starting to use my new smartphone Tigerlily I've been using her camera in preference to my 'proper' camera - which has data-use consequences.

With my 'proper' camera, the Panasonic LX100, I extract the SD card, pop it into the slot on my laptop, and transfer the photos that way (I like to do all my editing on the laptop). You can't do that with the tiny microSD card in the phone. So instead I've used a mixture of two other methods.

One of them is to connect phone and laptop by USB cable, and copy the pictures across. That's actually much the fastest method, and it doesn't involve raiding my data allowance. I use it if I've got more than twenty or so shots to transfer. The potential downside is extra wear and tear on the phone's USB socket, which of course is already in daily use for recharging.

But there are wireless methods too. Bluetooth is one way. Again, you don't eat into your data allowance with Bluetooth. And it's fine for just one or two shots. But it's a pain to transfer a lot of pictures, one by one. It's so slow. Life's too short.

That leaves the Internet, of two kinds: mobile via 4G, and home-based Wi-Fi.

If I have a strong 4G signal, I can use Vodafone's mobile Internet service. I just pop the shots taken with Tigerlily into Dropbox, and up load them to the cloud. Then, at my leisure, I can whip them out of Dropbox and onto the laptop for editing. I now have a 16GB monthly data allowance with Vodafone, which is enough to transfer about 4,000 photos. The only snag is having a good enough 4G connection, which is not always available when I'm on holiday and my caravan is pitched in deep countryside. Nor is it always available in Mid-Sussex, where I live. You city people have it so easy.

At home there is of course BT's Broadband service, the one with the 25GB data allowance. It's quite easy to use half of that up every month on everyday web-surfing, blogging, and updating spreadsheets. But until this month I wasn't using the other half. However, now that I'm getting photos off my phone and into Dropbox using my home Wi-Fi, I'm noticing a difference.

Here's the rough calculation: I've taken 1,400 photos with the phone over the last four weeks. They work out at about 4MB each, so I've uploaded 4 x 1,400 = 5.6GB to the cloud. And after editing, some of that has gone back to the phone (again via Dropbox), consuming yet more of my monthly data allowance. In round terms, I think my data allowance has had to absorb another 7GB of usage, representing photos uploaded, downloaded, and distributed. And suddenly I am in danger of exceeding my limit.

The monthly BT allowance renews on 1st June. That's only four days ahead. But to avoid BT's swingeing excess-limit charges, I'm presently having to ration my use of my home Wi-Fi. And that includes sending friends pictures by email. Grrrr.

I could upgrade my Broadband plan and go for Unlimited Broadband, but I don't see why I should. BT are expensive. They shall not have more.

I think my use of Tigerlily's camera for taking pictures will settle down a bit, and in future months I ought to stay within my 25GB limit with no great problem, but it's clearly something to keep an eye on.

Why, a financial issue like this could compel me to use the Panasonic as much as I used to!

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