4/24 Backup followup

 

Wow I really don't have time to write a coherent blog post every day!

Backing up computers and data is hard. It shouldn't be but it is. Mainly because either software is crap or pricing is too weird and not sensible for your usecase. I used crashplan for my machines, but they decided to fsck off out of the consumer backup market and left the rest of us hanging. They were the only real set and forget Linux backup solution. 

So I wrote about my options a while back so I thought I'd mention where I had gotten to.

1) I retired a bunch of machines I don't care about, my partners mac-book, moved my working data between my laptop dual boot partitions to a SD card which both partition could access but only one backs up (my Linux partition because that is the one I care about).

2) I used back-blaze consumer thingy for my partners backup because that's exactly the backup that makes sense for all backup, just back it all up.

3) GET MAD AT B2, SHOUT A LOT, MOAN A LOT, and then decide to set up my own solution because B2 + the shitty none backblaze software is crap.

4) So right now I'm still using crashplan to backup my 30GB of stuff on my laptop to my NAS. This is the only real bit that needs regular backup, just like backblaze. There is no way I'm paying backblaze for this or pissing around with the 3rd party software that supports B2. THIS IS THE BIT I'M MAD ABOUT.

5) In order to back up my NAS I enlisted my friend Mike and we now we both have 12TB HP microservers which sync, encrypting on the machine before transmitting. 

NOTE TO BACKBLAZE!!!! Linux people are users too!!! We don't always want to be a fscking SysAdmin when we want to back up my Linus laptop.

So I now just need a set and forget backup solution for my Linux laptop which only has 30GB free space on the disk (the SSD is a 180GB disk dual boot with Windows and Linux). This should be trivial like crashplan but backblaze are making a real hash of it.

2/24 Adopting a cat the hard way.

 

So I have a cat. My friends know this because 90% of my tweets or Facebook posts are about the damned cat. The thing is he isn't really my cat, he's my partners cat. It's actually because of the cat that we met as the cat was involved in a road traffic accident with a parked car (I think this will probably be another post at some point) and due to the vets bills my partner had to take a second job at my local watering hole to pay for it.

I've always been a cat person. Ben was probably around 4 or 5 when I was born. When he was very old I had to take him to the top of the garden every day so that he'd have to walk back to the house in order for him to get some exercise. He was so proud that if you overtook him he'd stop and wait for you to walk behind him.

Perry (we didn't name him) was the other cat in our lives when I was a kid. Perry was a brilliant white cat with bright blue eyes who was bred as a show cat for stud....however he was afraid of other cats, especially female cats. So he entered our family, a prawn loving, smart clothes ruining, puking ball of fluff. 

This brings us to Rexham (seriously who names these cats?!?!). I've learned a few things the hard way with this one, especially since my partner has over the last couple of years spent prolonged periods of time away from home due to her work and now university masters degree so I am the primary food provider of this one.

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  • The cat only tolerates me. If he sits on me it's because he's cold, not because he likes me. He only likes my partner.
  • Every holiday or weekend away I've had in the last 5 years has involved having to find someone or group of people to come to the house and look after him. This has often been such a faff that it negates the point of going.
  • Whenever someone visits, within five mins he will have a s**t.
  • He's killed almost every plant in the house. This has either been by destroying it or eating them, making himself so ill that it costs a fortune and I then have to throw them out.
  • If you have crucial work to do, such as rebooting a couple of hundred thousand pounds worth of computing equipment remotely after a power-failure, he will want attention and the feel of laptop keys on his belly. If there is ever a compelling case for sudo this is it.
  • Creating anything to entertain him leads to disappointment. What entertains him is annoying me.
  • In order to facilitate getting his breakfast, he will shepherd me down the stairs, stopping one step in front of me every other step all the way down the stairs. Either that or he's trying to trip me so that I break my neck.
  • If I stop him doing what he wants to do, like attacking the elderly blind neighbour cat, he will just rip my leg apart. He actually did this, I have lots of scars!!

But after all of that, he's my cat and I suppose our dysfunctional relationship will continue.  

1/24 Teachers

 

This wasn't going to be the blog-post I was going to write tonight but today I found out that one of my secondary school teachers has died. Ironically he was one of my Biology teachers, a subject I left at GSCE level. Little did I know that 15 years later I'd end up working in biology research. It got me thinking about how much the teachers and the way that subjects were taught has influenced my life and career.

I've been taught by so many teachers, lecturers, tutors and demonstrators over the last thirty-odd years that I've probably forgotten most of them but I will just note a few that particularly influenced me.

During my GCSEs I enjoyed history so much that despite applying for Computer Science courses at for undergraduate I chose History (along with Maths and Physics as my sixth form college didn't offer computing) at A-Level. I did this simply because of the teachers who made the subject fascinating. I still have the printout of Louis XIV that one of the teachers printed for me on an early colour bubblejet printer because he was my favourite French monarch.

University had some fantastic lecturers and tutors, such as the lecturer (who later was one of my PhD examiners) that taught the History of Computing module which we used to call story time, or the lecturer that taught logic who would terrorise any latecomers with answers to truth tables as they'd try to sneak in unseen. It was here that I did my dissertation with my future PhD supervisor. He suggested a particular masters degree, helped me apply for a scholarship and later I went to work with him in Wales for my PhD.

My time in London when working towards my masters degree I met some amazing lecturers and tutors. Some were inspirational but not so much practical like the climate scientist who stormed into the lecturer room, windswept and interesting, with boxes of printed overhead projector slides for all of us....an inch thick each, not printed in order. The first satellite he was principle investigator on blew up on the launchpad a few years earlier but he had raised more funds to build another one which is still now in orbit and has been operating for 7 years.

I certainly would not be doing what I am now without the people who have taught me and I have always enjoyed teaching. I've taught several small courses during my time in Aberystwyth and even did a PGCTHE qualification. It's a shame that teaching at all levels isn't re-guarded as highly as it should. Teachers are underpaid and over worked, lecturers often have high teaching loads and are expected to compete on research and funding, not to mention those in higher education who teach in poor conditions while completing their own studies like my friend Sam who has lost the will;

 

Anyway, it's Friday evening and I will drink a toast to those who have taught me, cheers.

Blog-vent Calendar (0/25)

 

TL:DR I'm gonna do something stupid and commit to writing a blog post every day from December 1st until the 25th. It's kinda like a boring advent calendar.

The Thing!

In the shower this morning I had an idea. Often when I have an idea in the shower it usually fizzles out before I've managed to get downstairs, trip over the cat, feed the cat and boil the kettle. This one didn't though, it persisted all day.

The germ of the idea came by virtue of it being that time of year where people stop doing something for a month (stop-tober) or grow some additional facial hair (movember) and then the recent flurry of black and white pictures with no context I've seen on Facebook recently, something clicked.

I've always wanted to write my blog more but I struggle because I have so many other things to do. So why not make an annoying thing that I can subject my handful of twitter and Facebook friends to? So from the 1st until the 25th of December I will write a daily blog post, like an advent calendar.

What is this all about? Are you okay Hun?

To be honest I've always shied away from this kind of thing, never especially putting myself out there online or participated in the wild west of debate at the bottom half of the internet, but I've always envied those who do. For example, I have one friend who participates in very lively discussion about issues of gender, gender inequality, gender identity and a multitude of varied and diverse topics. Reading the comments and discussions my friend engages in over the last few months I realise I know nothing about these things.

Whenever someone asks my opinion about something I've not thought about my response would often be "I have no opinion on this". Actually this happened a few times with family when asking my opinion or how I feel about something and it wasn't until my partner pointed out to me that responding the same way comes across as quite dismissive of the "something" itself.

I think much of this manifested itself during my History A-Level. I was terrible at forming an opinion because I felt that I could see both (or more) sides of the argument. Whenever my teacher would say something like "what would be Louis XIV's options be at this point?" I would often suggest options no-one would consider as viable (mainly because I always suggested things like war or extreme options). This was not because I thought these were viable, or something that I agreed with, or that I thought it was a good idea, but because I was asked what his options were. The vast number of "options" that could be considered prevented me from making sensible arguments and think this is still the same today. However this helps me write code, because that's what you need to do, consider the odd things that could happen and try to cope with them. A simple bit of code may get you most of the way there;

if(option == "diplomacy")
{
   martin.opinion = "reformer";
}
else if(option == "war")
{
   martin.opinion = "warmonger";
}
else
{
   //no opinion, exit
   return 1;
}

However you can't do this when discussing an argument with people. Or maybe I could use some AI to do this?

My exposure to blogging have usually been about some system config that someone might find useful or my anger at a piece of software that has caused me some grief. I never blog about anything that matters, and maybe I've never thought too much about topics that matter, instead focusing on things I have to get done that day, week, month, year.

So with all this, I am proudly responsible for one of those annoying posts people see on Facebook! Not that anyone will follow suit because I have sensible friends who I actually know IRL, and they're not stupid.

Also, on a random personal note, I've not had an advent calendar for years, mainly because I don't like chocolate, or maybe I'm getting old.

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