Daily Archives: Tuesday, 2nd Oct 2007

This may take a while

As regular readers[1] will have gathered, I’ve been taking lots of pictures since I got my Canon 30D last year. Now this is all very nice, and I’m having lots of fun with the beast, but it does lead to a bit of a problem: backups. I like to keep the original RAW files that come from the camera for all but the most hopeless pictures. This means I can always go back and process an image that I didn’t get round to previously, or do something different (and maybe even better) than I did the first time.

Well, that’s not a problem – I’ve got a nice big external hard drive with plenty of room for my photos. But being the kind of techie geek that I am, I know that there’s no substitute for an off-site backup. I have burnt some of the pictures to CD, and I keep the CDs in the bottom of a drawer at work, but now there are so many files that even if I switch to DVDs, it’ll take too long to get round to making those important backups.

So what I really wanted was a nice online solution. Somewhere I could upload my images and where backups would be Someone Else’s Problem. Well, I looked, and there are some quite nifty services available, at quite reasonable prices. Well, so long as you just want to keep a couple of GB or thereabouts. My photos archive folder is currently around 42GB, which makes any online service that I’ve seen a wee bit too expensive.

Then, on Saturday, I had a :duh: moment. My web hosting at Dreamhost currently gives me 310GB, and that increases by 2GB each week. And as I can create any folders I like on the server, I thought that it would make an ideal off-site backup solution. So I set my FTP client to synchronise my local copy of the photo archive with a new folder on the server. As you can see, it’s going to take a while…

Backups are good

Backups are good

However, it is uploading at somewhere around 700kb/s, which is pretty much what I’m supposed to get from my Virgin 20Mb service. Such a shame that upload speeds are never as fast as download speeds on domestic connections, isn’t it?

The good thing about using synchronise is that if the upload is interrupted[2], it won’t be a problem to upload the rest of the files, and it will be easy to keep it up to date as I add more pictures.

[1] Those lovely mythical creatures. I suspect my readers are more irregular. Or unusual, at the very least. :wave:
[2] It’s been running smoothly for about three whole days, which is pretty good…

Misty morning

When I got up this morning, there was a thick mist obscuring the view from my windows. By the time I was ready to go to work, it had lifted a little, and the sun was beginning to burn through it. So it was a nice morning for a walk. And yes, I walked to work[1]. And as the thinning mist was making things look interesting, I took some pictures along the way. I’ll upload some more when I find a suitable tuit, but here’s one to be going on with – taken in Windmill Hills park in Gateshead. I’ve done very little to this image – the colours and lighting are pretty much as they came from the camera, though I did clone out some telephone wires that were spoiling the view a bit.

Musty

Musty

Today’s weight was down insignificantly compared to yesterday’s, and I was a good boy at lunchtime again. Can I keep this up? Keep reading and find out!

[1] One down, four more required this week

Attention to Detail

It seems I’m not the only one having technical difficulties. At work today, I received a big white envelope from Symantec, which contained a moderately interesting report and some free stuff – a pair of earphones, a small tin containing some very small sweeties, a sticker and a yellow Symantec plastic bag. All very nice, but in the finest tradition of kids who have more fun playing with the box than the toys, I found the best bit was the return address on the label. Sym-who? :lol: :lol:

Sym-what?

Sym-what?

This was also useful as a test of another, rather more interesting[1] new toy. Details will follow….

[1] And slightly[2] more expensive
[2] Understatement :laugh:

Oops, technical difficulties, etc

Apologies to anyone who tried to visit earlier today and was greeted by a friendly message telling you that there was a problem connecting to the database. I’m not entirely sure what happened, but it seems that some bit of code misbehaved and tried to do some Very Strange Things to the database that sits behind all this nonsense. Anyway, the end result of this misbehaviour was that the poor little database was effectively locked up and I couldn’t do a thing about it.

Those nice Dreamhost support people had a look, and disabled the table that seemed to be getting upset, which enabled me to get in and have a look. From the data they supplied, it looks like something Very Odd was going on with WPG2 – it looked like WordPress was doing some weird tag related stuff to the description of a picture, and getting its metaphorical knickers in a knot in the process.

I’ll have to investigate further, but for now I’ve disabled the WPG2 plugin and changed the Gallery link at the top of the page to point directly to Gallery rather than going through the pretty WPG2 page. This does mean that old posts with Gallery images in them will have odd numbers instead of pictures, but I’ll fix that as soon as I can.

UPDATE: It turns out that WPG2 was an innocent bystander. What was happening was that a search engine query was trying to look for a tag page for posts containing tags corresponding to every word in the description of the photo on the WPG2 page in question. As the code that dealt with such queries in WP 2.3 was a bit messy, this led to the poor little database server getting most upset and locking me out of my database.

As it happened, one of the regular people on the WP forums, who goes by the name of HandySolo had exactly the same problem, and reported it to the developers before I did. This led to a replacement for a single WordPress file being created which made certain kinds of query more efficient, and prevented any repetition of the Dreaded database Lockup. I passed details of the update to Dreamhost, so they’d know what to do if any other customers had the same problem.

Dreamhost’s support were very good about this whole thing – they gave me enough information to have a clue as to what was happening, and which helped lead to a solution. Good result all round.