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Messages - The Gorn

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All Technology & Tech Help / Re: Lenovo Spyware - update
« on: April 25, 2018, 10:04:36 pm »
Uh, hmmm. My Moto G5 (phone) is made by Lenovo, according to the splash screen. Motorola is now a Lenovo company.

Hmmm. I thought Huawei (state owned electronics concern) was a top contender for Trojan horse style espionage.

The pivot of this mini-project was the package backup-manager. I just figured out a lightweight way to automate the creation of multiple task-specific backup config files.

You must still know a lot to use the generated configs correctly. It's anything BUT a product.

Rsync and straight file copying is a non-starter for backups unless you have total control over the destination backup media and you can format it as a Linux compatible file system. That's what many Linux backup solutions do. Otherwise, you need to use tar (or the more advanced tar replacement dar) if you want to write your backups to anything available.

Amazon doesn't crack down on this because they probably consider product review content to be "caveat emptor". And it would totally piss off legitimate reviewers to be blocked/canceled for suspicion of review gaming. I think it would create many more problems for Amazon than just allowing scammers to run free.

My story...

Since last December I've received a total of 6 or 7 boxes and padded envelope packages from Amazon containing one or more products. I did not order them, there is no gift receipt or note enclosed, and none of them show up on my order history. They are all addressed to me at my street address.

The contents of these packages:

Hair growth supplements @ $40/bottle of 60 day's worth.
A grand total of 3 decent looking Bluetooth headphones.
Several children's sized coiled mosquito/bug repellent bracelets.
A automobile smartphone cradle to attach to the dashboard air vent.
A chintzy looking men's sized medium faux black leather (vinyl) jacket.
Some other crap I forget.

All very random. Some packages came a week or two after I ordered something legitimately.

I've read since then and seen it reported on local TV news that these unwarranted product shipments are intended to cover fake product reviews being posted under the recipient's name by the vendor. I've taken a look on the product listing's reviews and the products I get always have hundreds of reviews in place and no real way to find one posing as me.

The FTC guideline or law on receiving merchandise not ordered is that the vendor is prohibited from requesting or demanding payment or return of the merchandise. They may not bill you for it. (Why: Imagine the "profit potential" if you could sell stuff by forcing people to pay for it.) So right now it's cluttering up a shelf in my garage and in the house.

I think most of the backup tools built for Linux like mintbackup use rsync as a back end.

Rsync generally means that the tool just does file copies. Is not incremental. And Rsync crashes my box.

I love what I'm now using because the output is so general-purpose. You could FTP/SSH the slice files out to a remote server, no problem.

At this point what I have set up almost has an Acronis feel to it - flexible, powerful, pretty fast, and a HELL of a lot more reliable than Acronis. But without the commercial lock-in aspects. And allegedly more robustness so that a disk error won't trash an entire archive.

The specific package is called: "backup-manager". The one on my box is version

dar on my system is v. 2.5.3-1ubuntu1.

backup-manager will use other archivers other than DAR as a back end, but DAR has the best  capability for creating incremental, compressed archives out to any medium.

backup-manager also can do what the rsync-based backup tools do and just copy and sync files out to a backup drive, but you must use a Unix compatible file system on the storage device in order to do that. dar will create incremental backups on anything, even FAT32.

I also customized the "slice size" which is the size of individual created files. Dar will span the slices as need be if, say you have a huge virtual disk file. In the config file:

# With the "dar" filetype, you can choose a maximum slice limit.

About the size of a DVD. Which I have found is a nice size to work with in case I need to copy backups around.

Actually, I already documented the bash script I used to generate these config files:

To add to this info:

There is a non-distribution "wrapper" program for DAR called "DarGUI" that makes it easy to work with the generated backups. It is similar in concept to WinZIP on Windows.

I think I got it here:

One VERY important thing I found about these archives. Once you start a set of archives under a particular master name with a particular backup-manager config file, pointing at ANY of the Dar archives related to that master name on the external hard drive will allow you to see ALL of the backup history of those sets of files.

DAR files are extremely "smart."

In other words, extracting backed up data is not fussy at all.

I use DarGUI because the Dar command like switches are fairly difficult to understand and put together, and DarGUI has that knowledge built in.

You can extract/recover your files to any arbitrary path, not just file system root, so it's possible to pull out backups manually for comparison or manual recovery work.

You can, of course, just recover everything onto a new file system.

All Technology & Tech Help / Linux backup: What's now working for me
« on: April 21, 2018, 05:17:25 am »
Here is what is currently working for me, which I have been using since early March several times:

- The file compression utility package "dar." Dar is included in the package manager for Linux Mint. for more info.

- The backup utility backup-manager. See for details. Also seems to be part of the Mint package set.

DAR has HUGE advantages over all other backup formats. It saves file attributes, and the data storage format is designed to be recoverable even in the event of errors in the archives.

Here is my backup regimen:

Manual, using a portable hard drive. It could be easily automated if I were continuously connected to backup media.

I have created a series of content-specific config files. If you run backup-manager without any arguments it uses a default /etc based config file. Otherwise you can have per-task configs that you pass it on the command line.

I have chopped up backup into about 5 major groups based on total file sizes. The initial master backup of each group took a couple of hours apiece, at least.

- All "business" files: home based directories for email, Quicken/Quickbooks data, website archives, client work directories.
- All "self created media" files: images I take, video clips, etc.
- All downloaded media such as TV programs and movies we watch through streaming
- All Virtualbox hard disk files.
- A backup of /home/gorn but only files NOT covered by above backup groups.

Here's the relevant, important config file statements from the backup-*.conf files hat support my backup style.

# The mounted backup hard drive. Never changes.
export BM_REPOSITORY_ROOT="/media/gorn/SeagateBackup/linuxdesktopbackup"

#This forces incremental backup plus DAR archives (DAR captures all Linux file attributes like ownership, etc
#so I can use any external media such as vfat, SSH based remote drives, etc) Tar does not support many features of DAR.
export BM_ARCHIVE_METHOD="tarball-incremental"

# I left encryption off!

# Example of inclusion of files for a specific backup cluster
export BM_TARBALL_DIRECTORIES="/home/gorn/html /home/gorn/clients /home/gorn/accountingdata /home/gorn/personal /home/gorn/swprojects /home/gorn/agent-email

# For the /home/gorn catchall backup ONLY, I must exclude all of the file paths specified by other backup config files.
# So the following exclusion  statement in the /home/gorn file will look like this:

export BM_TARBALL_BLACKLIST="/home/gorn/images /home/gorn/music /home/gorn/html ...

There is no order in which the various backup configs may be applied. You may also backup some sets of files more frequently than others.

Last night, having an established set of backups already on the external hard drive, I had backup times for each script measuring from a couple of minutes, to 20 minutes for one, to an hour and a half for the 12 GB of changed data for the virtual machine files.

Discussions - Public / Re: Discuss State Of Smart Phone Photography
« on: April 17, 2018, 07:25:19 pm »
I had an old -- 2006 vintage Canon with the Imagine stabilization feature. Now that was nice. It ran on 4xAA batteries. I gave it away because its pictures were not any better than the ones made by modern phones.

I have one 2005 vintage Nikon p&s I use as a secondary/roughing it camera. That is ANCIENT. Image sensors much slower, cameras much much slower in cycle time, etc. That's 12 years ago. Look how laptops have improved in that time. Same thing.

A modern p&s is a monster in terms of quality, speed and features in comparison. However, as the OP observes, 99% of the time the quality differential isn't a big deal for kid, cat meme or holiday pictures.

I gave up on buying a decent p&s that uses AA batteries a LONG time ago. Yeah, the flexibility is great, but  I went through AAs like cheap cologne. The battery pack in the Canon G16 is proprietary, but its charge lifetime is fine, much better than AA rechargables I had to use with older cameras.

Discussions - Public / Candid photography
« on: April 17, 2018, 07:12:36 pm »
There was a whole crop of famous classic candid street photographers in the 20th century such as Henri Cartier-Bresson.

Smartphones are now so common that they make candid photography almost trivial. You can generally disguise your phone or hold it such a way that the subject has absolutely no clue.

Not quite so easy with a 35mm Leica.

Discussions - Public / Re: Discuss State Of Smart Phone Photography
« on: April 17, 2018, 06:42:21 pm »
Great subject for IT people because digital photography intersects computer science and tradtional optics sciences. Plus art.

I believe that smartphones *mostly* replace low end point and shoot cameras. The one factor to keep in mind is the size of the camera sensor. The larger the camera sensor, other things being equal (such as resolution), the less thermal noise introduced into images in low light conditions. Also, again because of better/less noise with larger sensors, they can be "driven" to extremely high ISO ratings and still perform decently.

Digital photography low-light noise looks like colored speckles, which aren't visible or present in normal sunlight or under flash.

Because of the tiny focal length dictated by the thickness of smartphone cases and bodies, their image sensors are commensurately really tiny. So their ISO range is usually pretty limited.

I have a Moto G5 (a 2017 model) phone. The imager is 12 megapixel (3000x4000 roughly.) It amazes me how nice the images are. It does fairly well in available light. But, no tripod socket.

I also own a Canon G16  prosumerish point and shoot  actual camera. I can set it to 12000 ISO. The images are very rough but they are somewhat usable.

At 1600 or 3200 ISO I can take really good nighttime sky exposures with this camera. I could not do that with the phone.

Lastly there is the shooting stance. The Canon "real" camera is easy to hold for steady, sharp images. Smart phones make you adopt goofy, less stable shooting stances. And you're always having to avoid touching the glass so you don't trigger software.

Nighttime July northern sky behind our house a couple of years ago... with the G16. Click to zoom/expand.

A digital SLR would have no visible grain and would be even sharper.  The dark blob at the lower right is not a dark matter nebula. :D It's a neighbor's tree.

The exposure was 15 seconds at 800 ISO.

I'm making a content decision ... threads about technology policy will go into the public technology discussion forum. This includes but is not limited to discussion about social media policies and policy makers.

Here. Here's an antidote to Zuckerberg and normie oppression. Our supreme leader.

<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>

Rodent, lol. He had absolutely no real response to the congresscritter. The example of anti-abortion being lumped in as hate speech is ENTIRELY plausible and this moron is trying to say "no, don't be ridiculous". Fuckerberg doesn't comprehend the issue, which is that the free speech/hate speech line is totally arbitrary - and he's been setting it. 

I want shitposting to become mainstream on Facebook, then I will be happy.  >:D

Tell me how someone not in the tech industry can have anything but utter hatred for this preening narcissist control freak douche.

His kind of attitude is why we techies get the shaft in general business and by brokers. Everyone hates an arrogant know-it-all.

All Technology & Tech Help / Re: The Tech Support Scam
« on: April 10, 2018, 01:45:57 pm »
My IT friend says she called a legitimate vendor for help (they sell tax software) and got directed by them to a bogus tech support number. 

That's REALLY bad. Even  official product support can't tell a bogus support company.

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