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Linksys NSLU2 Update

We are still using the Linksys NSLU2 as our file server, and we still aren’t 100% happy with it. (See Small Business – Server & Backup and Linksys NSLU2 versus ???? for background.)

Some Macs in our office seem to be able to connect via browsing the network, while others require typing in the smb://192.168.0.xx address. At least one Mac seems to see it, and use it, but then not be able to use it, then when you try to dismount, and remount, it says it’s already there and requires some command line magic (or a reboot) to clean things up.

After a recent reboot of the NSLU2, we noticed a few days later the backups were not running anymore. Seems that after the reboot the 1st drive was recognized fine, but the 2nd was not. I was just about to reformat the 2nd drive but thought I should reboot one more time – that fixed it! The 2nd drive was recognized and I just had to re-setup the backup schedule.

I think if we continue to have issues, I may just take a weekend and install Unslung on it.

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Dumb Devices Storing Data

Our devices are dumb. They are not very aware of each other, and they should be.

I was thinking about this after I got home from BarCampMadison, where we talked about storage solutions. The thing that really trigged it was that for about 3 minutes, I thought I lost my digital camera. While you freak out for a minute about losing an object, you also freak out (probably much worse) about losing the data.

What would be nice is a way for devices to talk to each other, and be able to sync and backup data without user intervention. So, I carry around a digital camera, a mobile phone, an iPod, and a laptop. What if the camera could easily communicate with the other devices and say “Hey, I have 30 new photos, who can store these for me?” The laptop might respond “I’m the primary device, I have all the digital photos, give them to me” and then some wireless magic (wifi, bluetooth) would be used to do the right thing.

No laptop present? Perhaps the iPod could say “I’ve got 10 gigs of free space, give me the photos, and I will give them to the master when I get in range and connect.” No iPod? The mobile phone could be the storage device. Meanwhile the phone is talking to the other devices and asking them to sync/backup the new data it has, “Hey iPod, store these new phone numbers I got in the last 4 hours.” And on and on…

The idea is really to spread your data far and wide. We talked about this a lot at BarCampMadison. The situation will only get worse as our digital lives create more and more bits we have to deal with. Those bits need to be saved, and synchornized, and backed up. Doesn’t it seem silly that I need to manually tell my computer to sync with my phone every morning? Shouldn’t they be smart enough to do that when they get in close range of each other? Yes, there can be conflicts in the data, but do all the easy stuff first, then ask me to resolve conflicts. Syncing the iPod is nice, but in the future I hope having to physically plug in a device to have that happen seems just silly. (Sure, today we have issues with wireless communication, large amounts of data, and battery life, but those are all problems we can solve.)

We have automated backup solutions for our regular computers, but these mobile devices we carry are getting more and more important, and holding more and more data, and we need to make sure we don’t just lose it all to the bit bucket.


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BarCampMadison: Archive Your Life

For BarCampMadison, I’ve convinced Matthew Pickard to join me in leading a session titled Archive Your Life.

Last year Mark Pilgrim asked the question: "How do you back up 100 GB of data per year for 50 years? Or even 10 years?"

Does anyone have an answer yet? How can we even test possible solutions?

Matt and I have been archiving things. Things we created, and others have created. We plan to talk about what we’ve done, and what we want to do. Not just for us, but for the future. We believe you can write your own history. If you don’t who will?