Using an Ubuntu 18.04 LTS VM for uploading pictures and video to Google Photos

Ubuntu Bionic Beaver

I’ve been taking a lot more video on the GoPro of late and there is even video that I haven’t even moved over to Google Photos yet and I’ve been struggling to find a good solution on how to upload all those videos without keeping my MacBook Pro on all night. Recently I upgraded my NAS (I blogged about it before) and now I have a ton of extra space on there. With that extra space and the RAM upgrade I was able to install a virtual machine. I chose Ubuntu Linux primarily because it was free and I had dabbled with it in the past. I had all these videos from Breckenridge on an external drive and the old way that I uploaded video was to mount the drive on the MacBook, go to Google Photos on the web, and then do a drag and drop. Since a lot of those videos are pretty big, it would take a long time for it to upload, sometimes days I’d leave that thing on.

Given that I have all this extra storage space, I thought, why not load the videos on the NAS and then fire up the VM and see if I can do it that way? The loading of the videos was only slightly problematic since my external drive is formatted for Mac and it can’t be read by my NAS when I plug it in directly. That forced me to transfer the video using the Mac to the NAS, that was fairly easy and quick. Only took 10 minutes for about 300GB which is fairly fast. The next part was a tad more difficult. I was familiar with mapping drives and everything with Windows but not Linux. Thankfully the GUI interface for Ubuntu is pretty easy and it saw my NAS as a network drive.

Let me just start out saying that the performance on the VM is pretty shitty when you’re using a browser to navigate. I think it would be way more responsive if I used it directly on a monitor but I don’t have the right plugs currently since its an older monitor that uses DVI and not HDMI. I got Google Photos up on Firefox in Ubuntu and started loading the photos and videos. Unfortunately I kept on getting script errors on the page (no clue why that was) but after rebooting the VM and starting over it seemed to be working for uploading the files. Given that the interface was really really slow I wasn’t able to put them in an album after the upload was complete. I was however able to leave the VM running while I went out to the movies and was able to close out of the browser tab with the VM and come back to it hours later.

After this experiment I think I have found at least my best way of getting all the videos from my trips up to Google Photos. instead of loading all the photos and video on my iPad for my next trip, I think I’m just going to leave it on my GoPro and wait until I get home to start reviewing and making combined videos. I don’t want to take a computer with me, just my iPad but transferring all that stuff is also a pain in the ass and I’d like to relax a bit more this trip.


GoPro Take A Photo!

“GoPro take a photo” was one of the phrases that I used a lot during my vacation.  I went skiing with my family in Whistler BC and I took my GoPro Hero 7 Black.  I loaded this up with a 200GB memory card so I wouldn’t have to change cards during the trip.  I had it powered on most of the time and since there was so much awesome scenery, I kept on saying “GoPro, take a photo” as I skied down trails, went zip lining, snowmobiling, and dog sledding.  The GoPro has an excellent camera and I was able to capture some excellent pictures just by using that phrase.

There is another phrase “GoPro, start recording” that I used a lot too.  This would start a video recording hands free.  This gave me the ability to start and stop recording with out even touch the camera most of the time.  The only thing that I really had to manage was the power for the camera.  Every once in a while if I left the camera on for too long it would turn off on its own, there is a setting to wake up the camera with your voice but it drained the battery a lot faster so I kept this option off.

The GoPro Hero 7 Black is definitely a step up from my other GoPro, the Hero 4 Session.  The image stabilization, the video quality, and the photo quality are all improved.  The Hero 4 Session was great because of its very small size but since it didn’t have image stabilization, the video wasn’t the best unless I kept the camera completely still.

I’m adding some of the pictures that I took from my vacation just to show off how awesome the GoPro Hero 7 Black is just for taking still pictures.  I did set it up to take linear pictures rather than wide angle to try and avoid that fish eye effect.


Spring Break in Breckinridge

Once again the family decided to go on a ski trip to Colorado. To change things up we decided to go skiing at Breckinridge instead of Keystone. Both ski resorts are really close to each other and they use the same Epic passes that we purchased last year so we could use the Epic App to track our progress on how many times we went up the mountain.

Similar to our last trip to Colorado, we came in late at night and stayed close to the airport for the night. We ended up going to Keystone anyway first because we wanted to go tubing and to see the snow fort. With the Epic passes we were allowed to do that. I took some good GoPro video of the family tubing. What was kind of scary wasn’t the tubing or anything like that, it was getting to Keystone through Loveland Pass. This pass goes up and down a mountain and is supposedly the fastest way to Keystone from I-70. I don’t recommend it if you have a fear of falling off a mountain in your car. There aren’t any guard rails at all and the mountain is also a ski resort. While at Keystone we had to take in a meal at the top of the mountain because thats the only way to eat.

I will say that for food, Breckinridge wins when compared to Keystone and Snowbird. The town is excellent and has a lot of places to eat. We tried some diversified cuisine such as Thai, Cajun, Pizza, and Italian. There was plenty to eat so this trip was definitely the most expensive in the food department. The mountain itself was pretty impressive, I stuck to Peak 9 and did more intermediates this year than I did last year. My daughter had fun in snowboard school where they had some trails that were set up in the woods on the beginner slopes with some fun obstacles and props. There was also a really cool roller coaster that was built in the woods, I took a GoPro video of that too.

I think the hardest part about Breckinridge was the hotel. It was laid out pretty weird since it was built into the mountain. I had to take 2 different elevators just to get to my hotel room and when you’re wearing ski boots thats pretty tough. An additional elevator was required to get my ski’s from the locker and then a short walk to the slopes. Ideally it would have been better if we were in a ski in ski out sort of hotel. Another thing that annoyed me was the $35 a day I had to pay for valet parking for my car that never left the garage. I think thats kind of a rip off but since Breckinridge is a tourist town everything has a fee attached to it. I don’t know if I would go back to Breckinridge, I’m more partial to Keystone. I enjoyed their trails more and my daughter liked her snowboard instructor there too.

My wife did make a really awesome suggestion for the flight home, since we were traveling at midnight, we decided to stay at a hotel right at the airport. The good thing was that the hotel was a Westin so I could use some hotel points instead of having to pay for the 5 hours we would be using it. It’s not the most economical way to use my points but its definitely the most comfortable. I might as well add some nice scenery pictures to the post, I do like Colorado, maybe I should retire there and be a seasonal ski instructor in my old age.

Jamba House at the Animal Kingdom Lodge

This year the family and I decided to change things up for new years by spending it at Disney. Normally I would burn a ton of points staying at a Starwood or Hilton but in honor of changing things up we decided to actually stay at a Disney property this tme. We chose to go with the Animal Kingdom Lodge so that my daughter could see the animals every day when she woke up and when we came back from the parks.

We ended up getting a 1 bedroom suite upgrade while we were there and had a god view of the man made savannah that Disney built for their habitat. I would saw almost every day we were able to see Giraffes and Zebra’s from our balcony and a few times we saw the Ostriches waling about and eating grass. There was supposed to be this great place at the hotel where we should have been able to see lots of animals but we were able to see more of them from our room.

One of the cooler things that was available was the use of our Magic Bands that Disney has been rolling out. It was connected to our room account so it was easy to buy food and everything else at the park and at Jamba House. With every Disney visit I always come home with at least a t-shirt or some other trinket.

We ate at Boma for one of our meals which was their buffet restaurant. I had generous helpings of Jungle Juice (its passion fruit, guava juice and orange juice). It was your normal breakfast fare but they added a little spice to their food to make it more like African cuisine.

Overall it was a fu experience and the convenience of staying on property was awesome especially when it came to going to the parks using the provided buses. I have a massive amount of points to burn so I’ll be staying off property on my next adventure but I’d do it again at another Disney resort in the future.














It’s going to be a busy summer

Over the last year I have hoarded a lot of my vacation time. I’m expecting a nasty gram probably next month from the HR system at work saying that I need to take some vacation time since I’m almost maxed out for the year. Have no fear HR automated system, my vacations have been booked for the summer!

So far I have a trip scheduled for May, July, and August and I’m taking little chunks here and there and not full weeks so I can save a little time for when I want to take a really big trip next year.

Being the Disney fan that I am (and having an annual pass doesn’t hurt either) I will be heading to the House of Mouse sometime in May to celebrate my 8th wedding anniversary with the family. It’s only been a few months since I’ve been there but it’s always nice to go back once in a while and doing it off peak is key to getting on the good rides.

July is reserved for a cruise to the Bahamas. I’ll be going on Norwegian Cruises which I have never taken before but I’m hoping that they will be better than the “Fun Ships” that I have taken in the past. I’m supposedly making two different stops which I have never done before. Most of the time I just stop at Paradise Island and head over to Atlantis because I love their lazy river. The cabin has a port hole too according to my reservation so I will know when it’s morning instead of waking up to complete darkness.

August I’m going to the Bay Area for my friend Kim’s wedding. I’ve worked in the Bay Area since I had two clients out that way but I never had free time or got out of work early enough to actually explore the area. I’m making her wedding into a mini trip to see a little bit of the Bay Area, stuff myself silly, and visit the Sonoma Valley (I don’t drink wine so I’m not all that interested in seeing Napa).

I definitely excited for the summer since I have so many things planned, it should break up my travel schedule quite nicely for work so I’m not all burned out. Now I just have to wait until the summer gets here 🙂

So close to 1,000,000 HHonors Points!

I’ve been traveling for quite a long time to New Jersey and staying at the DoubleTree there which is a Hilton property. Since I am at Diamond level, I get a lot of points per stay which can translate into a ton of free stays. Just a few weeks ago I was really close to reaching one million points (this is overall reward points and not base points). I think I had something like 973,000 points but I read a travel post that said that Hilton was switching from a 7 tier reward system to a 10 tier system in a couple of days. That would have meant that some of the hotels that I wanted to stay at would be mo expensive in terms of points.

In order to avoid getting the short end of the stick, I decided to book my summer trips to San Francisco and Orlando before they system changed. This resulted in my utilizing over 200,000 points which has set me back a little bit in trying to achieve my 1,000,000 point mark. Nothing special happens when I reach 1,000,000 I just want to see the number in my account just once. I’m down to 738,000 but I think I can get to 1,000,000 by December. It’s almost a little sad how much I do travel but at least I’m getting something out of it.

Almost Time for Hawaii

Only four more days to go until my first family vacation with the Mrs and the baby. I’m looking forward to getting a week off from work to relax and unwind. True to form I’m not going to take my work phone with me so if there is some sort of work emergency, it will have to work itself out without me. I’ve laid out all the clothes that I’m going to take with me but since I’m traveling for work I can’t pack all of it away in my suitcase until I get home on Wednesday. The great part about going to Hawaii is that my father is there so I can do my laundry so I don’t have to pack as much stuff as I would normally pack with me.

We got some neat new toys for E to play with on the plane. We’ve been hiding them from her for the most part so that she is distracted with her new toys while on the 10 hour plane ride to Hawaii. Yesterday we picked up some simple toys like painters tape and some sticky notes since she seemed to enjoy playing with those things and they will keep her hands busy. We’re flying Delta for this trip which is nice since we were able to use a lot of points for the tickets. We are doing the infant in arms thing until E turns 2 and as an added bonus we decided to fly First class so we have the extra room to play with her. I’m hoping she won’t be too fussy on the plane but she’s a little baby so a little fussiness is to be expected on a really long trip like this one.

An added bonus for this trip is that it happens to be my 7th wedding anniversary and the wife’s first mothers day. This will probably be one of the more special trips that we’ve taken to Hawaii even though we go to Hawaii often enough over the last few years. I think my father will also enjoy the fact that he will be able to spend quite a bit of time with his grand daughter since she was baptized in October. In years past I would bring a whole truck load of tech and cameras with me but I’m trying as much as possible to keep it low key by only dragging along my iPads, iPhones, and my water proof camera so I can take pictures of E in the pool.

The real challenge will be trying to keep E on her schedule since we are going to be six hours behind Eastern time. We might have to make some adjustments and hopefully she won’t be too cranky during the day and will be able to sleep through the afternoons or evenings. I made sure that we can stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village during this trip since there is so much there right at the resort so we don’t have to leave the property if we don’t want to. The Hilton is supposed to have a ton of pools that we can take advantage of and it will be good for us to make E practice her swimming that she has been learning over the last week. It also has its own lagoon and beach area so that will be very useful as well if we don’t want to venture too far. I have a feeling we’ll be going out quite a bit just to eat since thats just what we do when we’re on vacation. I personally am looking forward to the penguin habitat at Hilton Hawaiian Village and walking around Waikiki every day to just take in the time I have off while in paradise.

All I have to do is survive the next 4 days at work and then I’ll be checking out for a week! I’ll be missing a large meeting for work but I can deal with that, I think I’ll be having more fun in Hawaii than my co-workers will be having in Chicago.