Scott Hanselman

The Problem of Peristance: Storing and Backing up One's Life a Gigabyte at a Time

May 11, '04 Comments [13] Posted in Africa
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I had a scare this weekend.  Last week I flashed the BIOS on my lovely Intel Motherboard (you remember, the one I got last August for a song) and forgot about it.  A few days later I had to reboot for some reason and after the intial BIOS POST...nothing.  Just a non-blinking hard drive light.  The weird thing is, if I let the box sit for an hour, it boots.  But, if there's trouble, it won't boot again until I let it sit. 

Needless to say, I was a little concerned as I was trying desperately to burn a series of DVDs from the seven hours of digital video I shot in Africa.  I shot all these Digtal 8mm tapes then ripped them to my external firewire drive. It ended up being about 80 gigs of data.  When my C: drive didn't boot, it got me a little panicky and I started thinking about storage.

Here's my setup:

  • 45 gig Western Digital EIDE 7200RPM C: Drive
    • Contains Windows, my desktop and profile. Also Program Files.  No data to speak of.  This is the SYSTEM drive.
  • TWO 20 gig Seagate EIDE 7200 RPMs MIRRORED with a Promise PCI RAID card
    • The RAID card was the shiznit 4 years ago.  It's a FastTrak66.  I'm sure it's obsolete now, but it's non-certified Windows 2000 Drivers work fine in Windows XP. 
    • This array contains a 4 gig partition called DATA with all My Documents and Mo's Documents (her My Documents on her machine points here, although she doesn't know it).  While I'm not a fan of partitions, I keep this at 4gig as I figure that's a good "working size" and it forces me to fit and backup all of the Family's Documents onto one single-layer DVD.  I back this up to a DVD+RW weekly.
    • The remaining 16 gig partition is called STORAGE and is random.  I consider it secondary but persistant storage.  I back this up less frequently, maybe monthly.
  • 200 gig Western Digital External Firewire Z: Drive
    • This is the media drive.  All my Ripped Music is here, all my Video is here, and all my Audible Books are here. 
  • 75 gig No Name External Firewire Drive
    • This drive is largely unused.  I have used it for a Photoshop Scratch Disk or for a Virtual Memory Swap file.  However, once it freaked out (I'm starting to not trust Firewire) and can't count on it.

Here's the issue.  How do I truly back my life up?   As we begin to collect all this 'Media' how to we protect it? 

What to Backup of my Digital Life?

I have a ReplayTV with 80gigs of storage (80 hours of video) but arguably the whole drive is scratch.  If I lost it all, I'd be sad, but hey, it's TV.  There will always be more.  Certainly I don't need to back it up. 

My C: drive? No worries...well, some, but really, I could pave it and start over, as the DATA is on the RAID Array.  I back up the RAID array weekly onto one DVD+RW, and put that in an off site location.

But what about the BIG stuff?  How do I backup 200 gigs?  50 DVDs?  Not feasible.  More and more people are starting to backup their lives on Moving Magnetic Media, and I'm starting to think it's just a ploy to sell more $50 120gig drives. 

No one outside of the enterprise seems to mention Tape Backup for the home.  PC Magazine is much more likely to suggest that the Small Office/Home Office user buy a Network Storage Device (read: another computer with another hard drive) and suggest that it be hidden in the closet. 

But if I really care about my data, how can I protect it?

I Can't Keep Everything

A good example is this recent rip of 80 gigs of video.

Digital 8mm Source Tapes -> 80 gigs of AVIs -> Nero Vision DVD Project -> Rendered DVD Image File -> Final DVD

I certainly can't keep 80 gigs of AVIs around, but if I yank them

Digital 8mm Source Tapes -> DELETED -> Nero Vision DVD Project -> Rendered DVD Image File -> Final DVD

What happens if I have to make a change to the DVD?  Since the Project is really a series of timestamp "pointers" to the original video, do I just rip the video AGAIN and hope the pointers line up?  If I take the advice of the MyLifeBits guy at Microsoft Research, I'd just keep buying Firewire drives and save EVERYTHING.

What do you do to protect your data?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Hooked on Skype

May 10, '04 Comments [2] Posted in Diabetes | Africa
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Ya, even though I’m the one that hooked you on it, it’s worth reiterating.  Skype is SO cool.  The sound quality is disturbingly good.  I’ve talked to Canadians, Africans and Austrians and it’s crystal clear.  I just got off the Skype with John Bristowe and interestingly enough we were both on wireless on our laptops behind Lord knows what firewalls and had a lovely conversation. 

FYI: I’m “glucopilot” on Skype.  Check it out!

Today, Scott "the German who doesn't speak German" Hanselman introduced me to one of best pieces of software I've seen in the last time: Skype [http://www.skype.com]

Skype is a free, non-adware P2P voice over IP application (from the makers of kazaa) which doesn't force you to reconfigure your firewall and which provides voice quality which is better than, or at least comparable to a phone. With no noticeable lag and no blank-out periods like transatlantic phone calls.

It rocks for me because a lot of my friends are distributed amongst five different continents and Skype allows me to keep in touch with them better than IM would allow me to. Today I've already talked to friends in the US and Africa just as easily as using IM. I'm impressed. [Ingo Rammer's Weblog]

Update: I've added a 'Skype me!' badge to the left, underneath the email me.  Skype supports pluggable protocol/custom url handers.  Note the 'callto://' syntax.  Slick. 

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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TechEd 2004 - My Birds of a Feather session was approved!

May 10, '04 Comments [3] Posted in TechEd | Speaking | XML
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Looks like my Birds of a Feather session for TechEd 2004 was approved…Be there or be square!  I’m not sure how this format works, but if they have a projector I’ll show some of the extensions to CodeSmith that we’ve written.  We generate about 100,000 lines of C# code per implementation here at Corillian.  We’ve extended XML Schema with our own attributes and have effectively replaced XSD.exe for our company.  It will be fun to discuss these kinds of efforts.

BOF09 Code Generation: So What? 20 years later and we're still writing the code ourselves. What can we do to generate code? How can technologies like XSD, CodeDom, XSLT, CodeSmith and others save us time as developers?
23-May 7:00PM Room 15A

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Internet Professionals Northwest

May 10, '04 Comments [0] Posted in Web Services | XML
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Looks like fortune has smiled on me (or frowned on another guy, depending on your point of view).  I’m a last minute addition (or lame second choice – depending!) to Phil Weber’s talk at Internet Professionals Northwest this week.  I’ve spoken at IPN before on XML back in the day.

This time, Phil and I will be talking about Web Services in a tag-team format.

Anyway, if you’re interested, come see us at 6pm tomorrow!

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Something Wicked This Way Comes...Thinktecture

May 9, '04 Comments [0] Posted in ASP.NET | Web Services
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Isn't this a harbinger of something?

  • Ralf Westphal:  With only one day to go, I´d say I´m at the door step of an exciting new phase of my professional life. After 12 years of leading my own software company, then after 6 years of freelance work, now from tomorrow on I´ll be part of a new effort where the whole is larger than the sum of its parts.  Although I love to be independent, this team truely is very special, vibrating with ideas, motivation and enthusiasm - and also fun to work with!
  • Christian Weyer:  So, yes, I found this team I talked about earlier on. When you add their work up, it becomes truly impressing. It's amazing. Just one more day for all the details.
  • Christian Nagel: Web Services, ADO.NET, Enterprise Services, .NET Remoting, ASP.NET, Windows Forms, Indigo, Longhorn…. A team with 13 books, 150 articles, 120 conference talks gets together.
    More details tomorrow.
  • Ingo Rammer: There are things, which I just couldn't do on my own.
And a newly minted URL: http://www.thinktecture.com registered to one Ingo Rammer.  Looks like my favorite two Germans and two Austrians are planning to take over the world?
We will find out tommorow!

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.