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A replacement for CrashPlan

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017 at 10:16 pm

For a number of years I have been using CrashPlan for backups, so it was a bit annoying to find out last week that it will stop working in a year’s time.

My initial setup involved three computers and two external hard drives:

  • linux box acting as a destination
  • my parents desktop backing up photos/documents/etc over the internet to my linux box
  • my windows desktop backing up photos/records/documents to both the my linux box (which it was sitting next to) and the two external hard drives (one of them kept off-site)

This worked ok, but it had issues. The first (and biggest) being that the upload through my parent’s cable modem could make my adsl connection unusable, so the first change was to pay for a subscription to have my parent’s back up to the cloud. The initial sync of around 100 GB took a while but then worked nicely. (works even nicer now that they have NBN…)

The only issue I had with the linux install was when it failed to update itself. I don’t know how often there were updates, but I know that four times it would get into a loop of downloading the update, failing to install, downloading the update, etc. This would continue until the 10GB root partition would fill up. Each time I would delete the update files, open the app and manually trigger an update.

The pair of external hard drives started out at 500GB, were replaced by a pair of 1TB drives, and then at the end of last year replaced again by a pair of 2TB drives. I keep taking photos, at 25MB per raw file it adds up.

I am also slowly getting around to replacing the current linux box, so I am getting rid of some things to simplify matters. The two external drives have been sufficient, the only trick being remembering to plug one of them in (usually after coming back from taking photos somewhere), letting it sync and then swapping it with the other one which I have been keeping at work.

So now I am being forced to change…

My parent’s desktop is going to be easy as a quick look around shows that backing up a single computer to the cloud is the common use case. Their current subscription expires in February, so I have six months to find an appropriate plan.

Backing up my data isn’t as straightforward, largely due to the quality of internet here in Australia, the reason that I have stuck with a pair of external drives.

My ADSL connection is better than it used to be (almost double the speed and reliability once a tech redid the connections in the junction box out on the pole…), these days around 7000kb/s down and 800kb/s up.

I have 1TB of photos, so over four months for the initial upload to a cloud service. When I take photos I come back with a lot of them, they get culled but the backup is before that. I can easily take 400 photos in a single day, which is 10GB or more than a full day to backup. I can’t see how a cloud service works for me with ADSL.

(But what about NBN? It is available to all of the houses around me, but I’m in a unit which appears to be being left until later… even then I don’t know what tier I am prepared to pay for. I should be able to pay the same as now for 25/5 or $20 more each month for 100/40, these work out to be 5 hours and 30 minutes for that “day” of photos)

As I start to look for a replacement I have been thinking about what I want:

  • local non-cloud and free
  • specify folders to monitor
  • target is multiple external drives
  • service that detects when external drive is connected
  • revision history (not just a basic sync, can recover deleted files)
  • data deduplication (no duplicates when files moved around or renamed)

I have a year until CrashPlan stops working, I wonder what I will find…

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Some possible photo spots

Thursday, July 20th, 2017 at 4:53 pm

At the end of a recent post I mentioned a couple of places that I would like to go/do to to take photos. I have a much longer list and decided that I would list a few of them here:

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Adjustable seating

Saturday, July 15th, 2017 at 11:03 pm

Over the past couple of years I have been to a few events (mostly organised by Think Inc. or Lateral Events) in the Plenary at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Tonight was my second time seeing Neil deGrasse Tyson.

The presentation, chat and Q&A were fantastic as expected, but the other thing that impresses me every time is the venue itself. Its size and how it can be reconfigured, in particular the adjustable seating.

If you don’t know what I mean then skip to 1:15:


MCC Plenary – YouTube

That is the promo video found on the MCEC site, but a bit of searching finds other videos, including this one which shows the mechanism as well as a 3d model animation:


Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre – YouTube

Systems by the same company at other venues:

So where am I going with this? Not anywhere really, except that it is part of my fascination with how things work. I enjoyed a recent Arts Centre Backstage Tour (my photos), I’m considering an Opera House Backstage Tour when I am in Sydney early next year, but first Open House Melbourne is in a few weeks…

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Finding backed up photos in Google Photos

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017 at 10:25 pm

I don’t often take photos on my phone but when I do they are automatically backed up to Google Photos. As well as it being a backup it comes in handy every so often as it is a way to access the photo without copying it off the phone.

Every so often I clear the photos off my phone, incorporating some of them (usually just for future reference) into my photo collection (but not the section that Lightroom looks at). While the photos are no longer in the DCIM folder they all still exist as the backups in Google Photos, which I don’t want. When I look at Google Photos I prefer to only see the photos that I have shared in Albums.

Annoyingly there doesn’t appear to be a way to see all photos not in an album (this is trivial in Flickr and I am not going to get into the future of Flickr now…), despite it being a feature requested by many people over the years.

I have found an alternative that is also the better solution for my actual problem, you search for the following:

#autobackup

This is an undocumented feature (one of probably many) that does what it says…

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A few more pixels

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016 at 9:20 pm

A few months ago I started to notice signs of age on my 24″ display, a solid colour was blotchy, as if the backlight was starting to fail. Oh well, it has given me over ten years of use.

I started to look into a replacement and quickly found that one division of the models is between gaming and non-gaming. For games there were displays with high refresh rates, though the colour range and accuracy wasn’t the best, but they did seem to be on the cheaper side of the scale. The other type typically used “professional” or something about colour in their name, but these were the ones that were coming up on top in reviews of displays for photo/video editing. A downside of the better quality was a higher price, but I got ten years out of the 24″ display, so I need to consider this a long term investment.

Something that I found disappointing was that most displays have settled on a 16:9 aspect ratio. My 24″ was 16:10 which meant a resolution of 1920×1200 pixels. If I got another 24″ display it would likely have a 16:9 aspect ratio which is a resolution of 1920×1080, but the reduction in height was not acceptable. In the 24″ size there were a few with a 2560×1440, yes this is 16:9 but it is greater in both dimensions, but I have briefly used a display of that size/resolution and I found that everything was too small. I know that these days scaling up the interface is a lot better than it used to be, but a 16:9 24″ display would still have a physcially smaller viewing area. This led me to 27″ displays which I found to be only available in 16:9 aspect ratio, but in three resolutions: 1920×1080, 2560×1440, and 3840×2160 (aka 4K). This was a Goldilocks scenario with one being a step down in resolution but larger physically, one that seemed just right, and the final one that was just overkill.

Now that I had a better idea of what type and size of display I wanted it was easier to locate reviews that covered those displays for photo editing. After balancing up the recommended models against price I decided on another Dell (the tipping point was finding a local store that was $200 cheaper than direct from Dell), then I sat on that decision for a while. There ended up being three Dell models I was considering, one released a few years ago, the current model which was similar in price to the earlier one but slightly less well reviewed, and the next model up from last year. My final choice was a UP2716D which I picked up just before Christmas and now my desk looks like this:

Switching to the 27" display

This is the end result of spending all of today of taking everything out, cleaning behind the desk and putting it all back in some kind of order. I do this every couple of years, each time I trying to keep it clean and organised for as long as possible. There are still some boxes to sort through, a tray is miscellaneous stuff and you don’t want to know what is in the drawers…

My old 24″ display had a card reader built into the side, this was very convenient whenever I wanted to transfer photos from my camera, such as when I took the above photo. For now I am using the portable reader that I keep in my camera bag, but I do have a reader in the cupboard that goes in a 3.5″ bay…

Another aside is that for the few days between my impulse purchase of a graphics card and getting the new display was that I was worried that I might have made a mistake. Most of the time the internet says that the maximum resolution of HDMI is 1920×1200, but then later versions of HDMI increased that. All I could find from Dell was that would be the maximum resolution if I used HDMI with the display I wanted to get, I would need to use DisplayPort to use the native 2560×1440 resolution. The new graphics card I got doesn’t have DisplayPort, it has HDMI, VGA, and DVI, so would I have to try to return it and get a different card? Maybe not as other internet searches led me to people listing what resolutions would work between various cards and displays. In the end it worked out fine, but the combination of poor or outdated documentation was annoying.

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