Back in the early days of digital, we had Piranha. Built by the AP, it was a Windows computer dedicated to extracting photos off multiple camera cards simultaneously. Someone at the AP decided that the name Piranha needed sanitizing, and Piranha eventually became DiscMinder. Now that DiscMinder is gone, along with AP's Technology Marketing division, archiving consultant David Breslauer is paying homage to the days of Piranha with his new device, called Card Shark. Because, after all, isn't a Shark better than a Piranha?
Actually, Card Shark is different than Piranha, because it's built from the ground up for portability, as well as for connection to a Mac or PC. It sports two card readers capable of holding four cards up to Type II PC Card-size simultaneously, up to 36 GB of internal hard drive storage and a CD writer in a 7.5" x 9" x 16" metal case that's half the size of a typical PC tower and weighs about 10 pounds. In keeping with its name, the metal case comes in a shark skin finish. Scheduled to ship this month, Breslauer is already scrambling to fill initial orders with several large U.S. newspapers.
Card Shark (front view)
There are two models of Card Shark: Card Shark, and Card Shark XL. The standard model includes a single 18GB hard drive; the XL model features twin 18GB drives.
Card Shark features
- Two Microtech internal SCSI PC Card readers. These readers will accept up to four Type II PC Cards at the same time, as well as CompactFlash and SmartMedia cards in appropriate adapters.
- Twin 18GB IBM Ultra LVD 10,000 RPM SCSI hard drives in Card Shark XL; one 18GB IBM Ultra LVD drive in the standard model.
- DOS Mounter v3.0 software for the Mac, to enable mounting and access to inserted cards.
- Yamaha 8X write/4X rewrite/24X read CD-RW writer.
- Adaptec Toast (Mac) and EZ CD Creator (Windows) CD writing software.
- A Custom Configurable SCSI (CCS) interface cable that enables Card Shark to be connected to computers with a single SCSI port, such as older Powerbooks or, for best performance, to a dual channel SCSI card in a desktop computer. New Powerbooks without a SCSI port may use a SCSI PC Card such as the Adaptec PowerDomain SlimSCSI 1480.
- Photo Mechanic Pro browsing software (single license).
Card Shark (rear view)
While Card Shark looks to be a well-packaged set of components, an upcoming release of Photo Mechanic will truly bring the device to life. Breslauer is working with Dennis Walker of Camera Bits to make the Pro version of Photo Mechanic act as the front end, enabling users to simply place a check mark next to which cards they want photos extracted from, where they want the photos to go and whether they want those photos batch captioned in the process. In an innovative twist, it will be possible to have the caption information taken either from Photo Mechanic's IPTC Stationery Pad, or directly from an assignment in a JobMinder assignment database. Users will be able to choose to have photos copied to both a main and secondary location, including to both drives in the XL model.
If you have a need to move images quickly off a number of cards during, for example, the upcoming U.S. political conventions, as well as for streamlined CD creation from digital images, check out Card Shark. It's not clear whether its performance will match that of T/ONE's Scrounger 4, which includes a database and search tool. Ultimately, they seem like different rather than competitive products: Card Shark is half the size and price, can connect to a Mac or PC, and is portable; Scrounger 4's software is more fully-featured and scales to meet the needs of even large papers with remote bureaus. Ultimately, it's great to have both to choose from.
Breslauer expects to have a version of Photo Mechanic Pro for Mac (the Windows version will follow the Mac version), with most Card Shark features enabled, to show alongside Card Shark at Visual Edge 2000 later this month in St. Petersburg. Card Shark sells for US$4500; Card Shark XL, US$4995. Contact David Breslauer at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.