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Backups, Dead Laptops, Lets take Inventory...

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Apr. 22nd, 2007 | 12:57 pm

"Aw keep my feathers numbered for just such an emergency...."

This is a good time to take inventory, and see what I am doing wrong.

Code The good news is that my code is in tact. I have code broken up into three groups:
  • code
  • tangent
  • mysql

    "code" is source code that make up the one shot programs. I need to test something, I need a simple client application... these were on the backup. And if I lost them? No harm no foul. I know from conversations with Tridge that he loves to keep this stuff around, but frankly I can never see any of mine being of use to anyone other then me.

    "tangent" these are all of my projects. Everything here that has any value is in revision control, except one project... kept meaning to move that one. Oh well. Its lost, and I can probably write it better the second time (a good 40 hours worth of coding... grrr...).

    "mysql" everything here is under revision control, but I had on project, the replication take over code, which was not cloned elsewhere. It was only a few hours of thought and I can reproduce it quickly.

    Documents My documents thankfully made it onto the backup. Losing them would have been a disaster. While most of my writing up put up on the web, my talks are not. Before the day is over they will be placed under revision control. I might even spring for the $99 Mac backup for this collection of files alone.

    SSH Key Security is ssh. My key was encrypted. I should have put it under revision control. Seriously.... my concern with this? What if someone learned how to crack self signed keys? This is the only reason I haven't stored my main key off my laptop. Replacing this key is going to be a pain, but it can be done. In the future though, do I just say screw it, and put self signed keys were someone might be able to get to them?

    Mail I lost all my drafts of email. Those were local on the laptop, so I will be starting from scratch.

    Applications Everything can be downloaded again. This is going to be annoying (and on the borrowed laptop I am already annoyed about the lack of Quicksilver). Hopefully I have the keys for OmniOutliner or that is going to be an issue. I am tempted to write a web variant of OmniOutliner via Edev and just start using that.

    Contacts All saved in my phone and they were in the backup. Losing them would have been a disaster, so they need a better method of backup.

    Music My laptop only holds a partial collection from my main music system (which is backed up daily). I've been thinking about getting rid of it on my harddrive for quite some time. Music either belongs on my ipod, or on the juke box, not on my laptop.

    RSS List I keep an exported copy around that I publish for others. It might be one or two feeds off, but it is intact.

    Photos Most photos I send to my LJ account so I am in good shape (and the rest go to my photo album). I probably lost something important here, but who knows what it was.

    The big annoyance? I can't just grab a new mac and do an upgrade where I push all of my data to the new mac.

    Lessons learned:
  • Documents go into revision control. The entire Document directory will go into revision control the first chance I get today.
  • Best practice is to just commit projects to the central server each time I start them. I normally wait until a project is at least a little ways along... I think I just need to do this from the get go now.
  • Contacts will be duplicated to my central server.
  • Fix mail to store drafts on the server. IMAP can do this, I just need to make it happen.

    Right now I put the cost of the laptop failing at about two days of effort to get a new laptop in place, and probably 60 hours worth of work lost (real hours).

    And another 60 hours if I do something nutty like create a web version of OmniOutliner. Though this could be really fun ;)
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    Comments {7}

    Jonathan M.

    (no subject)

    from: geothermal
    date: Apr. 22nd, 2007 08:00 pm (UTC)

    Sorry for your loss. I know how it feels to lose computer things, data, and memories.


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    (no subject)

    from: dossy
    date: Apr. 22nd, 2007 08:28 pm (UTC)

    "In the future though, do I just say screw it, and put self signed keys were someone might be able to get to them?"

    Burn it to CD, put it in your locked fire chest at home (you have one for your important documents, like your passport and birth certificate, rigt?) ...

    If someone compromises your physical security just to get your SSH key, you've got much bigger problems.

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    Brian "Krow" Aker

    (no subject)

    from: krow
    date: Apr. 22nd, 2007 08:35 pm (UTC)

    The thing is... ssh keys that are encrypted... is there any harm in them being potentially available?

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    (no subject)

    from: dossy
    date: Apr. 22nd, 2007 08:40 pm (UTC)

    In theory, yes. In practice, probably not.

    The idea is that compute power will only continue to grow as time passes. While someone who gains access to your encrypted key may not be able to break it today, who knows what kind of brute force capacity the average computer will have access to in, say, 2 years?

    How long will it take for someone to, say, build a distributed compute cloud on top of Amazon EC2 and sell key-breaking by the CPU minute to the public? "For only $39.95 and 15 days, we will break your 2048-bit RSA or DSA key or your money back!" Not possible? It's only a matter of time ...

    How often do you cycle your SSH keys with new ones? That's probably the best recommendation for security: don't worry if someone acquires your encrypted SSH key as long as you routinely change your key before someone could feasibly break it.

    Of course, I probably still use SSH keys in some places that are at least 5, maybe 8 years old now. :-( heh.

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    Scott Harmon

    (no subject)

    from: scottharmon
    date: Apr. 22nd, 2007 08:37 pm (UTC)

    Sorry for your loss :(

    I've had the experience a few times...and I've finally learned to follow the advice and 'do backups'. Currently, I am rsync'ing my home dir to a remote server. Works like a charm :)

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    (no subject)

    from: irnbru_man
    date: Apr. 23rd, 2007 02:30 am (UTC)

    strangely I have been getting paranoid about doing backups. my main linux file server is a mirrored pair that nightly rsyncs to another disk. I used to rsync from my mac laptop to the file server when ever I was at home and remembered. When the laptop hard failed I recovered almost everything. the only issue were a couple files that used alternative streams which rsync didn't copy over. the most anoying of these were the quicken files. I ended up pulling the hard drive and putting it in an external case and getting the hard drive to spin up long enough to get that file off. so now a year later I am playing with backing up to a external firewire drive but I haven't decided if I am going to buy a copy of retrospect or just use rsync between hard drives which with 10.4 should copy alternative streams since it is mac to mac filesystems. I would be curious what you end up using for mac backups

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    super duper backups .mac and ~/Documents in RC

    from: tf23
    date: May. 5th, 2007 07:03 pm (UTC)

    Sorry about the loss. Those of you w/ mac's and external f/w drives should pickup a copy of 'Superduper'. As long as the externals >= internal's size, w/ a click of the mouse you can set it up to do entire, bootable, backups of your drive. It is convenient, reliable and it "just works".

    Most of my stuff's in cvs repo's on a raid 5'd server in my basement. But even that is daily tarballed, then rsynced to an encrypted disk image on my iPod. So even if the house burns down, I've got a copy of everything that was important on the iPod, which is easy to grab, and nearly always with me.

    I'm curious, however, about how the driving of ~/Documents is going via a revision control system. This is my only bane, because I'm been "meaning to do this" but haven't yet. And now that you've posted this, the odds it'll come back and bite me are far greater then they were a day ago! ;) Which type of control system are you using to do this? svn? Have you run into any problems w/ resource-fork type issues on the local filesystem, that the revision control system can't handle?

    One last item - .mac is your friend. Seriously, for easy backup, you can't beat the price. And if you shop around you can find it as low as $39 for the year. (I have multiple machines, so besides the space to backup, the convenience factor of .mac pays for itself).

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