Diary 2007-11-12

Posted on November 12, 2007

Oh what a fruitful weekend… Not only did I try to enjoy all the sun and good weather we’re still having (it might not last long!), but I also managed to take care of some things which were nagging me for quite some time now (and still are, but now I’m doing something about them).

Here, then, are the most fruitful activities of the past few days, all condensed and filled to the brim with geek detail.


Spent part of it going over the data on my computers and disks and finally doing something serious about backups.

The thing is that, since I’m currently outsourcing many things in the digital realm anyway –my mail is currently handled by Gmail, comments on my site are handled by HaloScan–, I decided that my backup strategy should also take that route and essentially leave that to someone who knows how to do it better an has better means to deal with the problems that it involves.

So this weekend, apart from burning the obligatory CDs and DVDs with my the latest few months worth of photos (it still frustrates me the amount of time it takes to burn a single stupid DVD full of data), I also tidied up the contents of most of my computers (still have one to go) and started to do the same to the major shared disk at home, in preparation for using Amazon’s S3 service, which comes with all the obvious benefits of scalability, reliability, geographical distribution of content, etc, etc.
The math behind proving that this is the most cost-effective solution for a long-term backup strategy are trivial and I won’t go into that here, so I am now considering how best to go about it on more practical terms.

The computer quick backup part is easy enough, just leave it to Brackup to deal with everything from spotting changes to breaking everything into pieces of the appropriate size to encrypting all the data before sending it (and decrypting it after getting it back). Just do a little command-line configuration and setup a cron job on each machine and you’re done. Nice and easy.

As for the storage of material which I won’t have on-line on my computers (old photos, movies and suchlike –the long-term storage of things which I don’t use very often), I’m not really sure how to deal with that right now.
Brackup is great for PC backups, but for data that isn’t on-line at the source of the backup there is the danger that I will want to issue a brackup-target amazon prune or a brackup-target amazon gc and it will destroy my backups. Of course I just have to remember not to do this for some certain backups while I do it consistently for others (the PC ones) but it is obvious that in there be dragons.
Encrypting these files myself and sending them over to another storage bin at Amazon would be easy, but then I’d have to deal with verifying, restoring and all the other stuff I want to keep well clear of…

Still have to figure that one out.


Even with all the file sorting, media burning, time spent trying to catch all the sun I could and family events, I still found some time to do other stuff like reading.

And so it was that I started reading “Music by Philip Glass”, a book written by Glass himself, describing the evolution of his musical career from the beginnings through to (and this is the part I most yearn to read) the composing and presentation of his operas –“Einstein on the Beach”, “Satyagraha” and “Akhnaten”. Now I’m not a biography fan, never have been and I don’t remember ever having read one, really, but this one seems like it will be really fun and entertaining. I’ve barely started with it and already I have made notes of more than a couple of other authors or works I will want to check out later.

While I’m on the subject of reading, Rui brought this article to my attention and I found it too hilarious not to mention here.
The title is “The Nerd Handbook” and one of the winning passages in it is this one:

[The nerd] sees the world as a system which, given enough time and effort,
is completely knowable. This is a fragile illusion that your nerd has
adopted, but it’s a pleasant one that gets your nerd through the day.

It’s fun and, on some respects, strikingly true for many a good nerd (or, as I prefer to call them: geek).

Other stuff

Other than that, I got through a pile of podcasts I had been collecting for months and which I had been actively ignoring (mostly music-related ones), fretted over not having produced another episode of the Undercover Songs podcast, thought about contributing to the Contrast podcast but decided against it (shuffle just didn’t appeal to me…), gave a first cursory glance at the photos I took in Morocco and knew I will never get them all processed (must put my harshest inner editor at work to select as few as I possibly can), got through quite a few episodes of the TV series I’m semi-following (none of them on portuguese TV, so I have them all pilling up on my PVR) –still didn’t start with the second season of Heroes, though– and listened to some new music (new for me,that is, but mostly stuff that is not that new, like Jan Garbarek or Alla Pollaca).

But the most satisfying thing that happened to me this weekend was finding out that people are already starting to shy away from going out to the beaches and beach-walks and so it is now possible to go over for long walks by the sea and not be worried with all the slalom you have to do to get through the crowds.
Soon now it will get to the point when it is raining and cold and I’ll be mostly alone on those places, with just the occasional sea nut (like me) walking by the shore, lost in thought.
Yes, there definitely are some advantages to winter and cold rainy days!