Hello From Kolkata [en]

[fr] En Inde. Des trucs (très) en vrac. Un podcast en français dans les liens.

I’m in India. For a month.

I did it again: didn’t blog immediately about something I wanted to blog about (the rather frightful things I learned about the anti-GMO movement, if you want to know) because of the havoc it wreaked on my facebook wall when I started sharing what I was reading. And as I didn’t blog about that, I didn’t blog about the next thing. And the next.

Steph and Coco

And before I know it I’m leaving for India in two weeks, have students to teach and blogs to grade, and don’t know where to start to write a new blog post.

The weather in Kolkata is OK. The trip to come was exhausting: 20 hours for the flights, add on a bit before and after. I didn’t sleep on the Paris-Mumbai leg because it was “too early”, and spent my four hours of layover in Mumbai domestic airport in a right zombie state. Needless to say there is nowhere there to lie down or curl up, aside from the floor. I particularly appreciated having to go to the domestic airport for my Mumbai-Kolkata flight only to be ferried back to the international airport while boarding, because “Jet Airways flights all leave from the international airport”. But I laughed.

It was a pleasant trip overall. Nearly no queue at immigration. Pleasant interactions with people. And oh my, has Mumbai airport come a long way since my first arrival here over 16 years ago. It was… organized. I followed the signs, followed instructions, just went along with the flow. I’ve grown up too, I guess.

I slept over 12 hours last night. I can’t remember when I did that last. I walked less than 500 steps today, bed to couch and back. I’ve (re)connected with the family pets: Coco the African Grey Parrot, (ex-)Maus the chihuahua-papillon-jack-russel-staffie mix (I can never remember his new Indian name), and the remaining cat, which I’ve decided to call “Minette”, who “gave birth” to two empty amniotic sacs yesterday and is frantically meowing all over the place. Looking for non-existent kittens, or missing her brother, who escaped about a week ago? Hopefully she will calm down soon.

Maus and Minette

I plan to play about with Periscope while I’m here. Everyday life in India seems like a great opportunity to try out live interactive video. Do follow me if you don’t want to miss the fun.

Oh, and don’t panic about the whole “meat causes cancer” thing.

Some random things, listened to recently, and brought to the surface by conversations:

  • Making Sex Offenders Pay — And Pay And Pay And Pay (Freakonomics Radio)
  • Saïd, 10 ans après (Sur Les Docks) — an ex-con, 10 years after, and how hard reinsertion is, when you’re faced with the choice between sleeping outside, unable to get a job, and committing another offense so that you can go back to prison; extremely moving story
  • You Eat What You Are, Part I and Part II (Freakonomics Radio again)
  • When The Boats Arrive (Planet Money) — what happens to the economy when immigrants arrive? it grows, simply;  migrant workers need jobs, of course, but they also very quickly start spending, growing the economy and creating the need for more jobs; the number of available jobs at a given place is not a rigid fixed number

Yep, random, I warned you.

I can now do the Rubik’s cube and have installed Catan on my iDevices, if ever you want to play.

I’ve activated iCloud Photo Library even though I use Lightroom for my “serious” photos. Like the author of the article I just linked to, my iPhone almost never is connected to my Mac anymore. And the photos I need to illustrate blog posts are often photos I’ve just taken with my phone. I end up uploading them to Flickr through the app.

It seems the “photos ecosystem” is slowly getting there, but not quite yet. I’ve just spent a while hunting through my post archives, and I can’t believe I never wrote anything about using Google auto-backup for my photos. At some point I decided to go “all in”, subscribed to 1TB of Google storage, and uploaded my 10+ years of photos there. I loved how it intelligently organized my photos. Well, you know, all the stuff that Google Photos does.

Why am I using the past tense? Because of this: seems automatic upload of a whole bunch of RAW formats has quietly stopped. This is bad. Basically, this paid service is not doing what I chose it for anymore. I hope against reason this will be fixed, but I’m afraid I might be disappointed.

One thing I was not wild about with Google Photos was the inability to spot and process duplicates. And duplication of photos when sharing.

Flickr now has automatic upload and organising. Do I want to try that? Although I dump a lot of stuff in Flickr, I’ve been slack about processing and uploading photos lately. I’m hesitant. Do I want to drown my current albums and photostream in everything I snap? Almost tempted.

I think that’s enough random for now. It’s 10.30 pm and I’m starving, off to the kitchen.

Ménage numérique [fr]

[en] Musings on backups (my first real hard drive failure) and on trying to keep digital stuff (smartphone photos, anyone?) under control. Oh, and Hazel. Try Hazel if you haven't yet.

Entre hier et aujourd’hui, ménage numérique. Il faut que je vous parle du workshop que j’ai donné hier au Swiss Creative Center, mais d’abord, le ménage.

En rentrant de Neuchâtel, j’ai branché Time Machine, parce que ça faisait 2 semaines que je n’avais pas fait de backup, me disait mon ordi, mais surtout, parce que j’avais vu passer un petit tweet de Matt Gemmell un peu plus tôt dans la journée:

Oups, me suis-je dit. Avec toute l’énergie que je mets à encourager mon entourage à faire des sauvegardes, ce serait bête que je ne suive pas mes propres préceptes. Bon, ce ne serait pas la première fois, non plus.

Je branche aussi mon disque dur externe, celui qui contient plus de 10 ans de photos et bien d’autres choses. 600Gb de données. Au bout d’un moment, je me rends compte qu’il couine. Et qu’il n’est toujours pas visible dans le Finder. Re-oups.

Je vous passe les étapes pour vérifier qu’il était bien mort (il l’était). Le coeur battant un peu, je vérifie où en était ma dernière sauvegarde Crashplan (2 jours, ouf). Celle de Time Machine date d’il y a deux semaines… j’ai fait un peu de ménage dans mes photos depuis là. Je lance le “restore”:

  • Crashplan: 10 jours (la sauvegarde est sur mon serveur à l’eclau)
  • Time Machine: 10 heures (la sauvegarde est sur un disque dur externe que je peux brancher direct dans mon ordi)

Je récupère les fichiers dans Time Machine, et ceux “qui manquent” dans Crashplan.  Ça tourne toute la nuit. Aujourd’hui je vais chez STEG pour rendre le disque dur cassé et en ramasser un nouveau (3 mois de durée de vie… heureusement il y a une garantie).

Bref, cette histoire aurait pu être un désastre si mes sauvegardes n’avaient pas été plus ou moins à jour! C’est la première fois de ma vie qu’un disque dur me claque entre les mains. Heureusement ça arrive à une période où j’ai un système de sauvegardes qui roule. Il y a quelques années, j’aurais pu perdre des choses irremplaçables.

Ne jouez pas avec le feu, faites des sauvegardes, et dites-moi si vous voulez mon code Crashplan pour avoir une sauvegarde distante sur mon serveur. Quand on se fait cambrioler ou que notre logement brûle (Dieu nous en garde), c’est déjà assez horrible comme ça sans qu’on ait en plus perdu toutes les photos de nos chats ou de nos enfants.

En parallèle de tout ça, j’ai remis le nez dans IFTTT et Google Plus. Avec iOS7 (ou peut-être même avant mais je dormais), il y a plein de portes intéressantes qui s’ouvrent. Par exemple, Auto Backup uploade automatiquement vos photos de smartphone dans Google Plus (elles sont privées bien sûr, mais on peut ensuite les partager d’un simple clic). J’ai joué donc du coup avec les albums et les photos dans Google Plus. J’aime bien, sauf que j’ai la sale impression que Google Plus duplique les photos quand je les partage, et je n’aime pas sa manie de faire des albums sans me demander quand je partage plusieurs photos d’un coup. Je suis peut-être un peu formattée “Facebook”, mais j’ai l’impression que c’est un peu plus le pétchi.

Autre chose testée, le partage de photos dans Facebook directement depuis l’album photos d’iOS7. J’aime bien, en passant, comment iOS7 regroupe les photos en “moments”. J’aimerais bien que Lightroom en prenne de la graine. (Tiens, peut-être temps de passer à la version 5.)

Le problème récurrent que j’ai avec les photos que je prends sur mon smartphone, c’est que je les partage (Facebook, Google Plus maintenant, et même Flickr) sans qu’elles ne transitent par mon ordinateur. Et mon ordinateur — enfin le fameux disque dur externe qui est mort, là — c’est quand même ma “master copy” de toutes mes photos. Je gère le tout avec Lightroom, qui gère également la publication sur Flickr, Facebook, et Google Plus. Vu que Auto Backup met automatiquement toutes mes photos sur Google Plus, je préférerais par exemple que Lightroom aille les “chercher” là-bas pour les importer dans son catalogue.

L’autre souci, c’est que beaucoup des photos que je prends avec mon iPhone sont vouées à finir leur vie dans Evernote. Photos de tickets, de documents, de livres que je lis… Pas besoin que ça finisse dans Lightroom ni que ça y passe. Jusqu’à maintenant, j’importais de temps en temps les photos de mon téléphone dans Lightroom (avec le câble), puis je triais celles qui allaient dans Evernote, les glissais-déposais dans l’application, et déplaçais les fichiers originaux dans un dossier “dans Evernote”. Comme ça, la prochaine fois que j’importe les photos de mon iPhone dans Lightroom, celui-ci ne me propose pas de les réimporter.

En zieutant les nouveautés de IFTTT (depuis la dernière fois que j’avais regardé), je me dis que je pourrais avoir sur mon iPhone un album Evernote, et une règle IFTTT qui envoie dans Evernote toute photo mise dans cet album. Malheureusement, ma recette ne semble pas fonctionner. Problème d’IFTTT? d’Evernote? d’iOS7? Allez savoir.

Bref, après toutes ces explorations je me dis que je vais rester à mon ancien système un peu manuel, même s’il provoque des doublons de photos partagées sur Facebook et Google Plus.

Alors que je réfléchis à ces questions sur Facebook, un ami m’aiguille sur Hazel. Hazel vous permet d’établir des règles pour votre Mac afin de faire un peu d’ordre dans vos fichiers. Par exemple, toute image qui se trouve dans le dossier téléchargements depuis plus d’un jour sera déplacée dans mon dossier photos. Tout .dmg trainant là depuis plus d’une semaine sera balancé. Vous pouvez tester gratuitement Hazel pendant 14 jours avant de l’acheter (et le prix est raisonnable). Moi, une heure après, je l’aime déjà.

Ada Lovelace Day and Backup Awareness Day: Today! [en]

Completely accidentally, Backup Awareness Day collides with Ada Lovelace Day in March. And it’s today, March 24th.

So, I’m going to ask you (yes you, faithful readers!) — if you have a blog — to write two blog posts today, as I will. They don’t have to be long. They don’t have to be perfect. L’essentiel, c’est de participer — taking part is more important than performance.

I would also be very grateful if you took a few minutes to spread awareness about these two events amongst your friends and network. Post a link on Facebook or Tumblr, tweet about it (hashtags are #ALD10 and #backupday), send an e-mail or two, mention them to your IM buddies.

Thanks a lot for taking part and helping spread the word.

A Year Ago: Backup Awareness Day [en]

A year ago today, I hit the wrong “drop” button in PhpMyAdmin and completely deleted my blog. I couldn’t remember when I had last made a backup.

I’ll cut the long story of recovery short, but it took me nearly two months to get all my data back in place. I could have saved myself a lot of pain and worry and extra work if I had had an up-to-date backup of my blog.

I’ve always been sloppy with backups. Most people who are not IT professionals (and even them) are sometimes even sloppier still. We all know we should make backups more often, but we still live in the hope that we will not die theft, hard drive failures, and dropped databases will not happen to us. Oh yes, we know we’re wrong, but we’ve been lucky so far, haven’t we? Now shoo away those guilty feelings and get on with your life.

Well, no. I decided to make the 24th of every month Backup Awareness Day. A day to

  • blog about the importance of backups
  • give practical tips to actually do them
  • help people around you do backups
  • tell horror stories of lost data
  • do your own backups!
  • put in place automated systems.

You get the idea. A day a month to think about backups, do something about them, and raise awareness in your communities.

Unfortunately, I guess I had too much going on at the time, and I didn’t really follow through (I tweeted a bit, and blogged about it in June, but honestly, these last six months haven’t been very backup-aware).

So, this year, let’s make Backup Awareness Day a real part of our lives. I need your help for that. On the 24th of each month, even if I forget (I’ll try not to, promise!), tweet about it, blog about it, do your backups, and encourage those around you to do so too. Online, and offline. Can I count you in?

I’ve just hit that “Export” button in WordPress, saved a dump of my MySQL database, and plugged in the external hard drive so that Time Machine could have a go at it. You too — do these things now if that’s how you back up your important data, or do whatever you do to make sure your words, photographs, videos, and precious files do not evaporate in the event of a disaster.

I’m now going to mark Backup Awareness Day in my calendar for the coming months. (Of course, next month, Backup Awareness Day coincides with Ada Lovelace Day, which I’ll be telling you more about in a second later today.)

Update: Backup Awareness Day now has its own website at backupawareness.org! I’m going to need help with it, so let me know if you’d be ready to give a hand.

Today: Backup Awareness Day! [en]

[fr] Aujourd'hui, comme le 24 de chaque mois, journée des sauvegardes. Faites les vôtres!

I haven’t done as much as I wanted around Backup Awareness Day yet (and even skipped last month because I was in the mountains at that time), but it will come during the next months.

Backup Awareness Day takes place on the 24th of each month and is the occasion to:

  • do your backups and set up automatic systems to keep your data safe
  • help and encourage others to do so by helping them and blogging about the importance of backups and backup techniques.

If like me you’re having a busy week (busy but good), at least take the time today to:

  • plug in that external hard drive and make sure Time Machine does a backup
  • export your WordPress blog
  • dump your MySQL database
  • if all else fails or is too complicated for you, copy your most precious document folders onto a thumb drive or an external hard drive.

More next month!

Today is Backup Awareness Day! [en]

Two months ago, on February 24th, I hit the wrong “Drop” button in PhpMyAdmin, resulting in the immediate deletion of the blog you’re reading. I didn’t know when I had last backed it up.

The story ends well, though it cost me (and others) many hours (days, actually) of work to get the whole of Climb to the Stars back online again.

I’ve always been careless about backups. Like many of you, probably. We can afford to be careless because accidents don’t happen very often, and as with Black Swans, we are under the mistaken belief that having been safe in the past will keep us safe in the future. Not so. As I like to repeat, the first time a disaster happens, well, it had never happened till then.

So, I’ve decided to declare the 24th of each month “Backup Awareness Day”. Here’s what it’s about:

  • Back up your files.
  • Back up your website.
  • Blog about the importance of backing up (sharing tips, stories, advice).
  • Tell your friends to back up.
  • Help your friends back up.
  • Put in place automatic backup systems.

Bottom-line: decrease the number of people who never back up, or back up so infrequently they’ll be in a real mess if things go wrong.

Now, perfectionism is the biggest enemy to getting things done. Backup Awareness Day does not mean that you have to do all this. Here are a few ideas to get your started (better a bad backup than no backup at all):

  • If Time Machine (or any other regular backup system you use for your computer) has been telling you it hasn’t done a backup in ages, stop what you’re doing right now and plug it in.
  • If you use WordPress, when was the last time you went to Tools > Export to make a quick backup? It’s not the best way to do it, but in my case, it saved CTTS.
  • Do you use something like Mozy to have a remote backup of your most important files? Time to sign up, maybe.
  • Are you working on important documents that exist only on your computer, which is never backed up? At the minimum, pick up a thumb drive and copy them onto it — or send yourself an e-mail with the files as attachment, if your e-mail is stored outside your computer (Gmail, for example).
  • Do you have an automatic backup set up for your database or website? Set some time aside on Backup Awareness Day to figure out cron.
  • When did you make the last dump of your MySQL database? Head over to PhpMyAdmin, or the command line (it’s mysqldump --opt -u user -p databasename > my-dirty-backup.sql)
  • Do you have the backup thing all figured out? Write a post for your readers with a few tips or tutorials to help them along. (Tag your posts “backupawarenessday” — I thought about “BAD” but that wasn’t really optimal ;-))

I’m hoping to develop the concept more over the coming months. If you have ideas, get in touch, and take note of Backup Awareness Day for the month of May: Sunday 24th!

(Now stop reading and go do a few backups.)