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Cretaceous Bill

It can't have been two weeks already. It can't.

Thanks to all who have helped with previous ones, which I posted on:

Thanks to zaimoni, tmehlinger and masaga for advice on last week's problems. Thanks also to nikolasco for responding to interim query and pointing me to some POP-based mail clients that can reed Hotmail.

Here's my fortnightly update:

  • 1. File recovery software: masaga showed me a PCI adapter for Dell notebook hard drives; I'm going to order one of these and hope that it works. I've tried more recovery programs since, on the advice of sahtyinepu and illusio, but the ones I've run recently don't even see the file, so I fear that swap and cache files may have ruined it.

  • 2. Skype under Windows 2003 on a COMPAQ iPAQ H3635: tmehlinger and I looked at his iPAQ and I decided to order an h3800 upgrade CD for Sting (the iPAQ H3635). I called HP to try to confirm that it would at least install, i.e., that the h3635 meets the minimum specs, but the speech recognition in the automated system is atrocious:
    "Do you mean All-in One printer?" "No." "Do you mean iPAQ?" "Yes." "Sorry, I can't tell which product you are looking for. Let's try this again. For HP iPAQ, say..." iPAQ! "[lilt] OK, you said `iPAQ'..."

    It was like zurich31 with Verbex Listen for Windows!

  • 3. IP Tunnelling Options: I'm going to try nikolasco's idea first on anduril, and will experiment with Monowall on Vaire as tmehlinger suggested.

Now for the new questions:
Instability: ThinkPad under Windows

Numerramar, my ThinkPad A31p, locked up again today. I wasn't even running Dreamweaver MX this time: I suspect that it's something to do with one or more of the following:

  • The ATI FireGL drivers for 2000/XP

  • Trillian 3.1 (which often becomes unresponsive and resistant to being killed from the Task Manager)

  • Mozilla Firefox (I have 20 tabs in my "Startup" toolbar folder and keep 20-25 tabs open at any given time)

As I've often told people, I get great stability when I upgrade Windows NT 4.0 (or even Windows 98!) to Windows 2000, or from 2000 to XP. My highest Windows uptime (208 days) was a public preview of WinXP that I used to upgrade a copy of Win2K I had installed on Vingilot (a ThinkPad 600E). Yet these days, I can keep my ThinkPads up for more than a week or so.

Transparent backups and file synchronization

Whether I can stabilize my Windows installations or not, but especially if I can't, I need to find a way to automatically back up my files incrementally and synchronize them on demand. CVS and Subversion (which tmehlinger and thekuffs have recommended) are fine as source code control systems. Heck, zurich31, alphenglow and I even used Microsoft Visual SourceSafe for over two years (1996-1998) at the Beckman Institute Knowledge Based Systems (KBS) Group. We even wrote a grant proposal using it, which was funded, despite corruption of the Word style to a degree that necessitated an export to RTF and complete recreation of the style template from scratch.

In any case, I need:

  • 1. An easy-to-use backup utility for Windows. It can be free or it can be commercial, but it must be reasonably easy to use, preferably fully automated and transparent. I am busy, I am lazy, and I am very unlucky. gondhir, taiji_jian, and zengeneral can tell you how jinxed I am. "What the hell?!" is one of the most commonly heard utterances in my research lab, whenever the subject involves my desktop and notebook computers.
    The other thing I need this system to be is assiduous. Every time Windows locks up, I lose 15-90 minutes of work, depend on the last time I saved. Word is good about this, but I don't use a LiveJournal client, and I don't know of one that will, after a sudden (OS or application) crash, recover entries or comments lost during composition.
    I need the backup system to make 15-minute, daily, weekly, and monthly incremental backups. It would be best if the 15-minute backups would take a few seconds and suck down the ephemeral state of system memory as if it were hibernating Windows. I don't know how easy it would be to diff virtual memory pages against a backed-up image on disk, but a fast incremental RAM image would be ideal. Almost all my lost data comes from LJ posts, comments, or e-mails lost mid-composition, or "Untitled" Notepad files. I multitask a lot and am usually cycling among 2-9 documents at a time.</lj>
  • 2. A highly transparent system for version control of files across systems. I have habitually uploaded files to my file server (fingolfin) using Penguinet's SCP interface, but every time I forget to do so, I lose some time tracking files down.
    I specifically need something that will work transparently, even syncing across an available TCP/IP stack connection.
    Does anyone reading this use any file system synchronizer software such as Ben Pierce's Unison? Alley Stoughton recommended Unison to me, and I think I will try it, but I'm very much still shopping for things: Citrix-based, Samba-based, what you will.

Remote Control

This one has become super-critical for me, for the same reasons I need file syncing. I used to use Carbon Copy (c. 1990), Desqview X (1995-1996), and Laplink (1996-1998) for this, and went through a Samba-based file-sharing phase when I first moved to Kansas State, but nowadays I don't have anything. Does anyone use modern versions of any of the above, or pcAnywhere?

I don't have XF86 configured on Telperion (Ubuntu Linux) yet, and I haven't finished my Gentoo installation on Orome, nor do I have IP tunnelling fixed; so Hummingbird Exceed, WRQ Reflection X, XDeep, and Cygwin X are not options. Besides, I need something that works for my Windows sytems, especially Laurelin (in my home office) and Osse (in my campus office).

What do you all use? Citrix? VNC? VPN? GoToMyPC?

To be honest, I'm not sure what does what any more. Time has gotten away from me: I hear a lot of acryonyms and I feel like quite a dinosaur, so any pointer to something that will help me scrape the rust off this part of my technical background would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks very much in advance!



( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 21st, 2005 09:04 am (UTC)
rsync, WebDAV/Subversion, and TightVNC vs. RDC
Wow, that was quick! Thanks.

rsync: Great, I'll check it out. If I want this automated, do I just have to use a cron, or can I have something that monitors files for save operations (and autosave for recvery from GNU Emacs and vi)?

WebDAV/Subversion: Sounds good to me; I'll go look at these. My students convinced me to switch our Eclipse repository from CVS to Subversion.

VNC: OK, I'm sold. That VNC vs. Terminal Services debate is something I vaguely remember, with people arguing about the RPC and passing benign objects vs. insecure remote access.

Sep. 21st, 2005 09:55 am (UTC)
Probably, this isn't of too much help but about backup: I don't know rsync or the windows equivalent but it generally isn't hard to write a very small bash script that you could call from the command line similarly to how nikolasco uses rsync. Such a script (just as rsync) can, and here I only know about Linux but there should be some way under windows as well, automatically be called upon system shut down or after a certain time period (whatever you tell it). You could also call rsync from that script, if that's to your liking (might save a couple of lines).

But from how I read your post, you might be better off with either a serious hardware upgrade in the first place or, well, using two computers - one for, say, lj and email and the other for the rest =) Or is there some other reason that your computer crashes that often apart from using hypermultitasking (although I don't think I could help you in such a case, either...)?

And about the lj-client: I'm using semagic under windows and you can make it save drafts (without naming them) every 10 seconds if you want. So that would at least be of some help with lost entries (not so with comments, though).
Sep. 21st, 2005 10:03 am (UTC)
Many thanks
Backups: I will try your suggestion. I am still looking for a real incremental backups package, though, and suspect I just haven't scored Sourceforge carefully enough. As for syncing: on the advice of three other faculty members, I'm pretty confident that Unison is the way to go.

Hardware upgrade: is coming in February. I've set aside about 20% of the price of my next car for it, the rest for one good 22+" LCD monitor or two 19" ones, and an iPAQ h6315.

Aoto-saving LJ clients: I forget why, but I've installed SEmagic at least three times, about once a year, and have always given up on it after at most one or two entries. It might be the default "correct" dating of entries. I'll try again.

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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