Monthly Archives: February 2008

Backups and Why You Should Never Listen to Me

Last night I made some changes to my PC at home and in the process I blew up all my photos for the past 7 years or so. That sucks. I have some backups on DVD and I can eventually track them down. The part that’s doubly stupid is that despite the fact that I am a (semi) professional sysadmin and manage terabytes of data and co-ordinate their associated backups for a living, despite the fact that I rigorously backup the data on the servers you are connected to right now, I have been incredibly neglectful in backing up the data on my own PC.


In any event, there’s really no point in screwing something up badly unless it teaches you a lesson. So today I decided I’d finally get Time Machine working. (Yeah that’s right, I use one of the very few operating systems that ships with a sophisticated native backup tool that does snapshots, yadda, yadda, and I still didn’t have a backup of my data!) I decided I’d start with my work notebook and that means I had to get some sort of external disk.

Herein lies the silver lining, I decided I’d get a Firewire/IEEE1394 disk, not so much because of the performance, though that is nice, but more because I have a low level of confidence in USB disks based on past experience. After a bit of research I decided it was easier just to buy a retail disk instead of an OEM hard drive and a 3rd party enclosure, even if it is a bit more expensive. So after some digging around it turned out that the only place in downtown Toronto that sells a wide range of Firewire disks is the Apple Store. I wasn’t looking forward to the markup, but this problem just can’t wait any longer I need to deal with data protection for my workstations. So off I go to the Apple Store and in the end I decided to buy a 250GB G-DRIVE Q for 200 bones. Not a great deal, but it’s a good disk and I can lock it to the pillar by my desk at work with a simple cable lock and that’s pretty much a requirement in an open office. So I got home about an hour ago and started to set up my backups only to discover that the disk in the box was a 500GB disk. All of a sudden it’s not such a lousy deal. It seems like the gods of data management have taught me a lesson and then quietly blessed my response. So now I’m feeling better about things.

In any event, rambling stories aside: “Don’t be a Gabriel, back up your fucking data!”

Canadian National Debt

I just came across the current Canadian national debt numbers on the StatsCan website. It’s a bit higher than I thought, roughly C$619 billion. According to the chart this is balanced against C$111 billion of assets, but I’m unclear what that actually represents. I’m not sure if I’d consider the net number as actually representative of our real situation. After all, we can’t just pawn Fortress Louisbourg if the US economy tanks.

There Will Be Blood?

I just got home from the late show of There Will Be Blood and I must say I don’t think I enjoyed the movie. In fact it’s the first movie I’ve seen since The Passion of The Christ that I didn’t really feel good about sitting through. Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as The Thirteenth Floor or anything, but it really didn’t make me feel good. Daniel Day-Lewis’ character Plainview is simply too dark for my tastes, he’s a genuine psychopath (probably in the clinical sense) and the acting is a bit too convincing for my taste.

That being said, the acting was excellent and the film, at least as a piece of art in the abstract sense, was quite impressive. I haven’t read Oil!, though from what I gather Paul Thomas Anderson only borrowed loosely from Upton Sinclair’s book so even if I had it might not have prepared me for the tone of the film. I’m a definite fan of Anderson and while I enjoyed his lighter fare (e.g.: Boogie Nights or Magnolia) much more than this film it has done nothing to lower my view of him as a screenwriter or director. I don’t think I’d give it a recommendation but I certainly wouldn’t discourage anybody from seeing it either. A+ in cinema, C for entertainment. Writeup of Microsoft’s Move on Yahoo!

There’s an interesting read on MS’s hostile takeover attempt on Y! over on I’d characterize what Microsoft is up to as more of a race not to be last rather than a move against Google of any real import, but it is to some degree based on my own views of the various technologies. I was once upon a time a Yahoo! regular, but completely replaced it with the early iterations of Google in my own life.

Despite the fact that I have very serious ideological and technical reservations about Google’s collection of information and ad-driven revenue model, I continue to be a very heavy Google user because the service is just that good. The idea that Microsoft who has missed web technology several times and really only has a market share due to non-technical users, bundling and vendor lock-in can somehow salvage itself just by buying Yahoo! runs in the face of my personal impressions of their corporate culture and strategy. It’s too bad really, Google needs competition not somebody to dismantle their only real competitor.

Here’s a Slashdot article on the topic just for good measure.