Archive for the 'Spring 2009' Category

Apr 09 2009

Backups

Published by under Spring 2009

For some time now I have been  concerned about adequate backups for our computer data. Since everything we own is in our RV, even though I backup to an external disk on a daily basis, a fire, theft or some other catastrophe could wipe it all out. I have way too much stuff to write it to DVD’s and mail them off somewhere, plus that would be an extreme hassle.  It just would not get done.  On a weekly basis I have always copied some of my most critical financial files to my web site using FTP, but that does not protect all our digital photos (12,000+), my music library and dozens of other important files.  Putting 20 Gig of data on AZNB’s servers was not an option.  Plus, it is a manual process that requires me to stay on top of it.

I decided to look into the online backup services and used Mozy’s free 2 GB plan to do some testing. There are several providers who all do about the same thing for the same price.  My primary concern was the FAP issue.  I use a HughesNet satellite system for internet access.  In order to provide equitable access to all their customers, Hughes has a Fair Access Policy (FAP) that limits the amount of data that can be downloaded during any 24 hour period.  If you exceed the limit, your service is slowed to approximately that of a dial up connection for 24 hours.  This is a very unpleasant penalty!   While everything I read on Hughes’ website was careful to qualify the FAP limits in terms of download, I also read many posts in various forums where it was stated that FAP limits included uploaded data.  I decided to test it for myself.

I have the HughesNet Pro plan so my limit is 375 MB per 24 hours. I chose a day before a planned travel day, so if I got myself into FAP it would not be a big deal. I installed their software and fired up the initial backup with about 1.3 GB of data, and let it run. My system sent about 90 MB per hour to the Mozy backup servers. I let it run almost continuously. It never entered FAP and worked like a champ.  I was able to upload the entire test data in less than 24 hours, including stopping and starting it several times.  I also tested the recovery process and found it worked great.  Mozy keeps previous versions of each file for 30 days so it was easy to retrieve an older version.

Since the test worked fine I decided to sign up for an unlimited account for $4.95 per month. I have now completed the initial backup of over 17 GB. I have scheduled the Mozy Backup process to upload changed files automatically every night.  It takes only an hour or two on a normal night.   The 90 MB being uploaded every hour is very slow compared to most DSL or Cable connections in homes, but it works fine for me at that slow rate.

If I ever need to recover a file or two, the downloading of that small amount would not be a big deal in terms of download FAP limits. Of course, that would not work if I needed to recover everything. In that case, for a fee Mozy will send me everything on DVD. That would obviously be a lot faster anyway.

I use our desktop system as our main “server” and installed Mozy on it.  Most of the time Dianna and I use our laptops but we keep the really big stuff on the desktop system.  It has RAID 1 which means that all data is duplicated on two identical disks.   All the photographs, music and family videos are there. Our laptops contain the stuff we use on a daily basis.  This includes our e-mail, financial software (Quicken), investment tracking data, and Dianna’s genealogy files among other things.  To back up all this data I have an external disk attached to the desktop system.  Every night I use Cobian Backup to save everything from all three machines to the external disk.  I keep three copies for each system.  I keep a daily copy and copies of everything from the past two Sunday mornings.  All three systems are networked and the backups run over wireless G from the laptops to the external disk attached to the desktop.  This local backup provides very good recoverability of data as long as I do not have a catastrophic loss of my entire rig.

I also wanted to back up certain files from our laptops to the Mozy online backup servers.  To install Mozy on each laptop would require $4.95 per month for each of them.  To avoid that cost I created two folders on the desktop system and set up another Cobian Backup  task to make copies of the desired data from the laptops into the folders on the desktop.  The Mozy backup task that runs on the desktop includes those two folders.

So there you have it.  I can now sleep a whole lot better than I used to.  I know all my data is secure and will not be lost through a personal catastrophe.

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Mar 20 2009

A Busy Week in the Verde Valley

Published by under Spring 2009


3/16/09

 

After spending two weeks at Phon D Sutton recreation area at the confluence of the Salt and Verde Rivers just north of Mesa, we moved up river.  We were on the road by about 10:30 and took the 202 to the 101 to I-17, and then north to the Verde Valley.  We pulled into Dead Horse Ranch State Park about 1:30 and were shocked to find that the place was full!  It turns out that this is spring break in much of the Phoenix area and families are taking advantage of it.

 

They put us up in the overflow area for the night.

 

3/17/09

 

I rode the scooter through the campground at 8:30 this morning looking for a vacated spot.  I found one and left the scooter in the site while I walked back to the entrance station to pay for four days.  I hate having to move two days in a row.

 

After getting set up we rode the scooter into Cottonwood so we could buy a few groceries and get Dianna’s prescription filled at the new Super Wal-Mart.  While we were waiting we had lunch at the McDonalds there.  We usually order off the dollar menu.  We each had a McDouble, small fries and senior soft drinks.  The burgers are just about the same amount of meat as a quarter pounder since they have two patties and cheese.  So, for less than $3 apiece including tax, we had lunch.

 

After returning our groceries to the trailer we rode about 3 miles up the road to Tuzigoot National Monument.  We passed through old town Cottonwood, which is now a real tourist trap.  

 

Tuzigoot was an interesting place.  The Verde Valley is a very desirable place to live, and people have been here for thousands of years.  It is warmer than the areas north of here, cooler than the desert south of here, and it has a constant supply of water.  One of the most interesting things about it is the visitor center.  It is one of the few visitor centers that were built by the WPA in the 30’s that is still unchanged and in use.  The National Monument is very small and it takes only about an hour to see everything.

 

We returned to the campground, had dinner, took a short walk, watched TV and went to bed.

 

3/18/09

 

Today we rode up the hill to Jerome.  It was a major mining town at the turn of the 20th century, but all the mines closed by about 1950 and it drifted toward being a ghost town.  Hippies started moving in during the 60’s and turned it into an art gallery/tourist town.  It is perched on the side of the mountain and is still made up of old buildings, some of which have been restored.  It was interesting, but there is really no reason for its existence besides being a tourist trap.

 

After looking around town for an hour or so we continued up the mountain toward Prescott.  We reached the top at Mingus Pass in about 7 miles and were just above 7,000 feet.  There was still snow on the ground in shady spots, although the temperature was in the 70’s.

 

We then returned to Cottonwood and stopped by Wal-Mart to pick up a few groceries and buy me some new jeans.  We watched TV and turned in.

 

3/19/09

 

Today it was Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well National Monuments.  Both are just a couple miles off of I-17 and they are only about 5 miles apart.  We arrived at Montezuma Castle and pulled into the parking lot behind 4 or 5 busses loaded with elementary aged school kids.  Yikes!  The place is not very big and there were kids everywhere. 

 

Montezuma Castle has nothing to do with Montezuma.  It’s just that the Spaniards who first saw it thought the natives could not have built anything so grand, so they gave Montezuma credit for it.  It is one of the best preserved cliff dwellings in the country, built into a limestone cliff alongside Beaver Creek.  It is small, but except for some stabilization it is almost completely preserved in its natural state, which is amazing when you consider that the inhabitants left in about 1400. 

 

Montezuma Castle is worth a stop when you consider that half an hour is all you need to see everything.  Montezuma Well just up the interstate will take at least an hour and is much more interesting.  It is located on a bluff above Beaver Creek.   It is a collapsed limestone cavern that is kept filled with water from an underground spring.  A lot of water.  About 1.2 million gallons a day!  And it was a big cavern.  The pool is about 300 feet across. There are trails down to the waters edge where you can see cliff dwellings and the location where the water disappears into the side of the cliff.  You can then hike back up to the top, then down the bluff to where the water again emerges from the rock just above the creek.  Here the ancient natives built a mile long canal to water their crops downstream.

 

On the way back to the campground we stopped at a gelato shop in town.  It was delicious & inexpensive – always a plus!

 

3/20/09

 

This is our last day here so we took our longest trip today.  We left at 10:30 and rode through Sedona and into Oak Creek Canyon.  Sedona is a beautiful city in a spectacular area, but it is also an extremely overpriced, yuppie, tourist trap.  Oak Creek Canyon is beautiful and lots of fun on a motorcycle.  As we climbed up the Mogollon Rim the temperature dropped and there was quite a bit of snow on the ground as we stopped at the scenic overlook at the top.

 

We then rode into Flagstaff and had lunch, then did something I had wanted to do for a long time.  We visited Lowell Observatory and took the tour.  We got to see Lowell’s 24 inch refracting telescope.  We also saw the telescope Clyde Tombaugh used to discover Pluto.  We were even able to look through the comparator that he used to find it in the photographic plates for the first time.  I know it’s not a planet anymore, but a dwarf planet is still pretty important just the same.  It was an interesting time.

 

We left Flagstaff about 3:30 and retraced our route, arriving home about 5:30 including another stop at Wal-Mart for stuff we won’t be able to find in Quartzsite.  TV tonight and travel tomorrow.

 

 

 

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Feb 28 2009

Nostalgic Drive

Published by under Spring 2009

As I mentioned in the comments to my last post we decided to stay in the Artesia area one more day to let the wind die down.  Friday dawned to no wind and clear skies so it was a perfect day to travel.  We left Artesia and headed west over the Sacramento Mountains through Cloudcroft.  I have a vivid recollection of stopping in Cloudcroft when we made the trip west in the winter of 1958.  We stopped the silver and blue bus at a pull out or service station there and the white sands were visible in the valley below.

Yesterday we did not stop in Cloudcroft and the area is quite a bit more built up than it was 50 years ago, but the view is the same.  We dropped down through Alamagordo and stopped at White Sands National Monument for lunch.  It sure was fun driving up to the gate and showing the ranger my Senior Pass.  He gave us a brochure and waved us through.  I think I am going to like this!  I think I remember having birthday cake while we were there about 50 years ago.  Was that Donnie’s birthday? (I know you are Don now but you were Donnie then.)

We had lunch in the sand dunes and took a short walk, then continued west to Deming where we spent the night in an Escapee park.  This morning we got started late and only drove 150 miles to Roper Lake State Park near Safford.  It is a very nice location and will leave only another 150 miles to travel tomorrow.  We came this way in November so it will be nice to see Globe from the other side.

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Feb 14 2009

Official Senior Citizen

Published by under Spring 2009

Yep.  That’s me.  I start drawing social security as of next month (the month after your 62nd birthday) and will receive my first check about the 15th of April.  Whoopee!  At last I get some of the money back that I have paid in all these years.

I also can now take advantage of the one time $10 purchase of the Golden Age Pass (or whatever they are calling it now) that will provide free entry into most National Parks and Monuments, as well as half price camping in federal campgrounds and many state facilities as well.  That will actually help when we visit Phoenix since it will only cost $3.50 per day instead of $7 to park out by the river.

We will be here only about another week.  We plan to leave on Monday the 23rd for points west.  It will take a few days but we will be in Arizona eventually.  Our travel speed will depend on what route we take, what we stop to see along the way, the weather, the wind and what we feel like at any point in time.

Thanks to all who remembered my birthday and sent their wishes, congratulations or condolences.

15 responses so far