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breakfast blogging

i’m starting to adopt christina’s sleep schedule.  it’s comprised of: passing out on the couch while watching national geographic documentaries about giant crocodiles around midnight and waking up at 7.00 am to go to work.

since no self-respecting programmer would show up to work at 7.30 am, i’ve decided to just have breakfast at home, waste time on my blog, and do some “computer errands,” which mostly consist of performing my monthly server/laptop backup.

i’m quite happy i’ve settled into a backing up groove.  for some reason, i find it really easy to collect stuff: mp3′s, photos, goat Pr0n, etc.  i hear it’s a guy thing, but my mother has a stunning penchant for saving old mattresses, fading christmas decorations, and children’s toys.  before this post devolves into a nature vs. nurture discourse, i think it’s safe to say that people universally share a certain disregard for what to do after something’s been collected and stuffed in the attic.  how many adults are supposed to be targeted by those creepy “mom-and-dad-do-you-have-your-will-in-order” commercials?

well, when i lost my keys a month or two ago, i was forced to finally appreciate the mortality of my data.  a frightening scenario: a stranger with a heart as mottled as dick cheney’s finds my keychain, follows my “lost keys” signs back to my apartment, and proceeds to steal everything: my server, laptop, and even our defenseless gerbils.  because dick cheney is evil enough to steal adorable pets.  100′s of man-hours devoted to building my website and thousands of irreplaceable digital photos pull a houdini, kind of like dick cheney on draft day.  (hehe, ok, no more poking fun at the penguin.)

determined to head disaster off at the digital pass, i began to consider my options.  i realized that burglars might torture me to find where i hid my backups. since i’ve only got a year of interrogation training, i’d probably crack; i decided it’d be best to store the backups off-site.  (would also be useful in the case of something much less sexy, i.e. apartment fire.)

i came across a bunch of online data repositories, all of which charged a virtually nominal fee (if they charged one at all) to hold my data.  i could even setup an old computer in my lab, and have that constantly mirror my home server’s hard drive.  the only catch: i’d have to upload the data over my home dsl’s pathetically wimpy connection.  i’ll note the speed here – 768 Kbs – so that i can have a good laugh when i re-read this blog in a couple of years.  at that rate, backing up my music collection would take about 10 days.  unacceptable, if only for the energy-wastefulness of leaving a computer on for 10 days, solely to do a backup.

i finally figured out, what in retrospect, was a really simple solution.  i went out on black friday and bought a portable hard drive.  (well, to be more precise, andrew procured the hard drive in the face of hordes of screaming circuit city shoppers.)  now, once a month, i toss the drive in my backpack, plug it into my laptop and run a little shell script that dumps everything from my home server onto the hard drive.  i bring the hard drive back to work the next day.

i just back-of-the-enveloped the data transfer rate for this system and it’s pretty respectable.  for 2 gigabytes of data, it takes 10 minutes to download from my server to the portable hard drive (over 54 Mb wireless).  it takes another 10 minutes for me to bike to school.   that works out to a transfer rate of: 100 MB/min = 1.66 MB/sec = 13.33 Mbs, which is about 2-5X faster than most consumer fiber optic connections and 17X faster than DSL.  weeeeeee!

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3 Responses to “breakfast blogging”

  1. on 31 Jan 2007 at 12:41 pm Alex

    Ahem. I get to work around 7:30/8:00 am. And I respect myself ;-)

  2. on 31 Jan 2007 at 2:16 pm Andrew Louie

    I start working at 8am… if thats any consulation…

    also what shell script do you use? I’ve been really lazy about backing stuff up at home, though i really shouldn’t since I’ve had my PB HD flake out on me twice.

    at work, i use rsync+cron :)

    the problem with backup up my Powerbook, is i have trouble figuirng out what to back up, I’ve had to do a restore by dumping my entire backed up user folder onto a fresh install, but then that made weird permissions problems, and mucked up safari and camino so now they like to hang often on websites that use alot of AJAX (like the personalized google page) I think it was a problem with files in the cache’s but i emptied those…

    Anyway….backing up is cool 8-)

  3. on 01 Feb 2007 at 3:33 am Lawrence David

    ok, i should have written: “any self-respecting programmer who is not motivated by either their greatest genetics experiment or the prospect of earning a real, none-of-this-second-to-the-bottom-tax-bracket, paycheck.” [clearly, my transition into the real world is going to be sandpaper-smooth.]

    i’ve just been using rsync as well. i love unix so so much.

    yea, i just try and backup stuff that i could never get back or would at least take a really, really long time to reproduce.

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