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A Humble Assertion…

via Thor Olson

The Best Argument against Global Warming

Matt Groening: bully threatens little guy into saying 'global warming is a myth' via Peter Gleick on SF Gate’s City Brights

Storing Digital Memories (Part 3)

Over a year ago I started a multi-part series of postings about storing digital memories at home. In part 1 I wrote about the importance of frequently using archived files so they don’t get lost due to silent corruption. In part 2 I described how I moved my personal archive into my living room and to make it really easy for my family to view the archive.

This exercise already paid off big time: It turns out one of the most popular ways of using the archive was to simply run a slide show that displayed all archived photos (about 15,000 of them) in random order. During a particularly long run, I noticed that some of the photos had discolored stripes! When I interrupted the slide show and looked at the photos individually, I watched in horror how files would simply disappear! Very distraught, I unmounted the archive, switched off the disk shelf, and tried to figure out what to do next. After an hour or so of great upset I restarted the disk shelf and mounted it again. To my great relief, all photos looked normal, and the files that had previously disappeared were back again. I suspect it was a disk controller problem that only occurred after prolonged usage — maybe due to overheating. This would also explain why the corruption didn’t break the mirror, since I had connected the mirrored pair of disks to the same controller. As long as I didn’t let the disk shelf run too long, I seem to be fine. Of course, for the long term this was unacceptable. I also started to have my doubts whether my soft raid setup (using Apple’s software) would notify me if one of the disks goes bad. Recent research results show that the interconnect (controller and firewire cards in my case) is a dominant source of corruption (see here), and that mirroring (or any other RAID-based checksumming) is not enough to protect against important sources of data corruption (see here).

So last January I finally found a product that inspired confidence in me: Drobo. While probably not incorporating the latest research results (although I did send them pointers to the above papers — so maybe soon) it does put a lot of emphasis on expandability and — most importantly — immediate notification when something goes wrong. My tests confirmed that bright LEDs would quickly tell me which drive to replace, and long durations of using the archive did not introduce corruption. As a nice plus: the archive is now a lot more quiet — so I could run scrubbing programs on it without waking up any guests who usually get to sleep in our living room.

Agitprop web site down

Thanks to Tom Gilson I found that Agitprop is not available anymore. As mentioned earlier Agitprop works quite well for converting iBlog content into something that can be imported into WordPress. This very blog was “rescued” that way. A zipped copy of Agitprop is available here.

7-day hike in and around Dark Canyon

This is the third year that my friend Jeff McWhirter and I go for a multiple-day backpacking trip somewhere in southern Utah. The first trip was in and around the Escalante within the Grand Staircase National Monument, the second in the Grand Gulch (after experiencing the heaviest rains on record near Hanksville), and this year we did Dark Canyon (inspired a year ago by Tom Unger’s report).

This year I was decidedly in less good shape and it was the first 7-day hike instead of our usual 5-day adventures. But I survived well and the experience was well worth it. Jeff put up my pictures and even placed some of them on a Google Map Route.

More Fun than Music

There is an amazing site in Germany called which specializes on getting school mates back in touch again. It really works. I recently hooked up with most of the members of my high school Punk band. Our drummer still had all recordings and some of the pictures we took to promote one of our four concerts that we gave before we broke up. It was extremely fun while it lasted. Only original songs. And it was more about performing than playing music since none of us really knew how to play. Such were the times during the early eighties.

Kaua’i Day 9

Pink CoralToday (New Year’s Eve), Robin, Eric, Torsten, and Jonnu are heading down to the Grand Hyatt in Po’ipÅ« for another four days. But it is our last day on Kaua’i. Our plane doesn’t leave until 8:30PM HST so we still have a full day to enjoy (but we have to check out of our condo at 11AM). Before we leave the north we are trying to sneak in some snorkeling at the Tunnels Beach, directly east of Haena Beach Park. But we get there we see temporary warning signs all over the beach warning of strong currents. We walk a little east where a mother teach her children snorkeling about 10-20 feet into the water. Carefully we test the water, immediately see that it is an exceptional snorkeling spot, but conclude after only 10 minutes that it is way too dangerous. The tow is so strong that we are going backwards while paddling with our fins as strong as we can. What saves us is a wave that temporarily reverses the tow. I can’t imagine to be in the water without fins like these kids are. As we leave the water we watch a surfer struggling to get back to the beach. He finally arrives at the spot where the mother with her children are hanging out and advises them to better leave the water. (Continued)

Kaua’i Day 8

Kalalau Trail View West Mile 1Today is our last day at the northern coast — time to explore the Kalalau trail a little more. Nobody else feels like stumbling along a muddy and slippery trail so I will be doing this expedition on my own. Because of the rain during the previous days I am on one hand concerned that the trail might be impassable but on the other hand hopeful that not many people will feel motivated to hike it today. But after Zulah drops me off at the trail head I am literally standing in line to get on the trail. There is a constant stream of clean people going in and very muddy people coming out. The trail is pretty much a highway until Hanakapi’ai Beach (two miles). I am amazed to see people with flip flops and clogs on one of the most challengening trails I have ever encountered. Some people appear to have spontaneously switched from resort-spotless to primal-mud mode and are wading through knee-deep mud holes, sliding on their butts through some of the more difficult downhill passages while dragging their little shopping mall backpacks along. As usual I’m too shy to take pictures of these great examples of uncompromising fun-seeking. (Continued)

Kaua’i Day 7

Big WavesBoth Zulah and I don’t feel very good this morning. Zulah seems to have come down with a sinus infection and I have a sore throat. Also the waves are still very big — so snorkeling is definitely out. For the morning we hang out at the house and watch waves, whales, and the occasional rain shower approaching from the ocean and then drumming on our roof. (Continued)

Kaua’i Day 6

Waimea CanyonToday is a big wave warning in effect and Zulah is not feeling well (I hope it is just a cold, given that we snorkeled in Hanalei Bay yesterday during major runoff from the previous rain) — so not a good day for snorkeling. So we decide to explore the island’s mountainous regions. It takes us about two hours to get to Waimea Canyon, also called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific — a surprisingly well-deserved title. In some ways Waimea Canyon is even more beautiful than Grand Canyon because of its different shades of rich greens and the glistening streams of water. We watch helicopters fly through the canyon below us and hover at a huge waterfall. This is tempting us to book a ride as well. However, I’m against helicopter rides because they support an industry that introduces noise and pollution to the most beautiful places. (Continued)