*Coder Blog

Life, Technology, and Meteorology

Month: May 2004

Disabled Writebacks…

I’m sorry to say that I disabled posting writebacks to my blog this morning. In the past several days, I have gotten far more SPAM postings than messages from real people. While I have liked hearing from many of you, it’s just too much work to continue maintaining. I have, however, kept the links to writebacks that have already been posted, so anyone can still read those.

In the future, I welcome comments in the form of email. My email address is in the sidebar.

Personal Backups

Steven Frank of Panic posted an interesting blog entry about making personal backups. This is something that I am very concerned about since I have a lot of data spread across 5 different computers, and I don’t really care to lose it. 🙂 Here’s a listing on how I am covering my bases between machines.

First is my primary outside server, Shadow, which is an older 200Mhz PowerMac 4400 located in California running Linux. This box only has a 2Gb drive in it, so I don’t store much on here. But it’s enough space to serve this blog, the XRG web site, and some other services like Mail and DNS. The data that I do have on this box is rsynced nightly over to Proton, which I mention below. On a side note, this box has definitely served me well over the couple of years that I’ve used it. It’s not too quick at generating dynamic web content, but most pages that I serve (with the exception of this blog) is static content anyway, and it just goes without ever crashing. Right now it’s on an uptime streak of around 140 days (last reboot for an OS upgrade), and I have no plans to reboot it any time soon.

Proton is my other outside server. It’s a old HP with a 300Mhz Celeron which is also running Linux, and located at my office in Arizona. At the moment, it’s only primary service is to run the XRG Weather Server. Other services that it takes care of are secondary, such as Mail (secondary MX), and backups from Shadow. This box has a 4Gb drive in it, which is more than enough for running the weather server, and has plenty of space to spare for backups of Shadow. Since everything on this box can be reproduced fairly easily, I don’t have any backups of this machine. This box is also very reliable just like Shadow. It’s uptime is around 260 days at the moment.

Next is my internal file server at home, Epic, which is a 350Mhz PII running FreeBSD. This box has dual 60Gb drives with a 100Gb RAID 0 partition striped between them. The purpose of this box really is only as a file server running NFS and Samba, and it does the job well. The disks and CPU are plenty fast to saturate a 100Mbit connection and will probably do pretty well with a gigabit network I plan to start using in the future. This is the box that I’m having trouble backing up right now. 100Gb is a large partition to back up. There are a couple of smaller partitions on the disks that I use to back up my really important stuff, but that’s not a lot of protection. A couple of days ago I started hearing a strange noise come out of one of the hard drives, so I just went out and bought another disk (Seagate 120Gb 7200RPM drive) for this system to use as a backup drive. I plan to throw it in there tonight and back up everything I have on that box. I’m sure the drives in there will last awhile longer, but I wanted something else just in case…

Smallfry is a MiniATX 400Mhz PII that I have running Windows 2k. Even though I have a reasonably sized 20Gb disk in there, I don’t have anything important on this box, so there’s nothing to back up. I mostly use this box to sync my Palm (which is backed up on my Tungsten), and test out how web pages I create look in IE.

Finally, my Powerbook G4 is my main personal system. This has an internal 48Gb disk in it which has all my most important stuff. I back up some of this to Epic, and other stuff to an 80Gb external Firewire drive. The Firewire drive has been getting filled with stuff like music and home movies lately, but it will have to do for now.

I like the idea that a commenter on Steven’s blog had with creating a nice RAID 5 with several 250Gb disks. We have a setup similar to that here at my office with 6 250Gb disks giving over a terabyte of storage. It’s definitely nice to have, but I don’t think I need that much space, and it just doesn’t make sense to go out and buy a ton of space that I won’t use for several years.

Also, for those of you who are looking at setting up a decent rsync backup system that will save the state of files across several days, check out this online tutorial.

XRG 1.0 Released

Well, after a couple of months of hard work, I finished version 1.0 of XRG and released it this morning. I’m hoping to submit it as an entry in the Apple Design Awards this year, so I’ll be working on that next week. 🙂 Here’s a description of the changes for this version:

XRG 1.0 contains many new features and bug fixes. The primary new feature is a new machine temperature graph that will graph the temperature of different locations in your computer. Supported CPUs include PowerMac G5s, Aluminum Powerbook G4s, and iBook G4s. Other new features include the addition of uptime statistics to the CPU graph, the ability to drag XTF theme files to the graph to set graph colors*, a re-designed preferences panel with new icons, and the option to hide XRG’s dock icon (through a new contextual menu for the graph title bar). A complete list of changes and bug fixes can be found at http://www.starcoder.com/xrg/changelog.shtml.

As always, comments and suggestions are welcome. Visit the XRG Homepage.

* I’m sure Robb Beal will be happy about this one. With Spring, drag and drop is taken to the extreme (quite nicely might I add), and naturally he requested this feature for XRG. Look for more drag and drop functionality in the future.

CRM for MacOS X

For awhile, I was considered designing a CRM application for the Mac as my next software release. Well, it’s a good thing I haven’t invested any time into it yet, because these guys beat me to it, and their app’s functionality is almost exactly what I had in mind. The application is called Crm4Mac, and it’s released by a small European company called ibizzi. Basically, it keeps all of your contacts, calendars, and mail within the standard Apple apps (Address Book, iCal, and Mail.app), but it provides a way for you to relate items with each other. This way, you can use all the standard iSync and .Mac backup and sharing utilities without having to duplicate the data in a CRM application. You can also attach documents to any contact or group. Overall, it looks pretty cool.

Today they released 1.0b8, and according to their website, they expect to finish 1.0 sometime this month.

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