Sunday, July 04, 2010

Fourth of July Fireworks

It’s always been a real joy going to the hometown Fourth of July gathering.   You know, driving around like a predatory shark, looking for a parking place, making the long-hike out to the commons and staking out that last bit of brown grass in the baking sun and coastal humidity, being assaulted by the hawkers of dime-store glow-in-the-dark bands, spinners, and glow-sticks. Slapping down mosquitoes. Listening to the kids whine as everyone awaits the fireworks.  Trudging into line to get a cool beverage and deep fried snackage.  Waiting more.  Finally the firework display; loud, booming, thumping, and all is forgotten under the rainbow of colors and acrid smell of black powder.  Awe.  Then it is over.  And in the drifting haze of post-lift-charge smoke, for just a moment, you stand with your family and a community on the town lawn, unified as a local body, within a beautiful union.  America the beautiful.

Then you hike back to where you probably think you parked the car, wait in the out-flow traffic for another thirty minutes, and go to bed tired, sweaty, and itchy from the grass and insects.

This year?  A Capitol Fourth Concert on PBS. High-Def and in the comfort of our own home.

It’s the “New” American way, baby!

Enjoy these 4th of July poppers….

  • TightVNC 2.0 Released – this new version has been re-coded from the ground up to specifically play nice with Windows 7 (32/64).  See the Download TightVNC and get yours flowing.  I’ve already done two upgrades this morning from the previous version.  Both were done on Win7 Ultimate systems (x64) and the installer put the new version right on top of the current one, retaining all the settings.  Sweet like southern mint tea on a hot summer day.
  • Free RDP manager – Royal TS – 4sysops swears in this intro that the free RDP manager Royal TS is worth checking out.  Compare to the previously mentioned Microsoft Download: Remote Desktop Connection Manager (RDCMan) as well as mRemote and 2X Client Portable.
  • Free Windows Error Reporting (WER) viewing tool – AppCrashView – 4sysops also reminds us of Nir Sofer’s handy AppCrashView freeware utility for troubleshooting.
  • Analyze application failures the easier way with Dependency Walker - Ask the Performance Team provides us another application crash analysis tool.
  • Case of the Unexplained 2010 – TechEd video presentation by Mark Russinovich is available to watch or download in four formats.  Always awesome and always educational in the elite ninja skills of Windows troubleshooting.  See also: Pushing the Limits of Windows and Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008R2 Kernel Changes presentations as well.
  • VideoCacheView is updated to work with downloaded temporary .flv (flash) files of Firefox 3.6.4 – Nir Softer shares some of the behind-the-scenes work on this latest version.  VideoCacheView can be used to find and review and save cached video files from browsing sessions.
  • Network Monitor 3.4 has Released! - Network Monitor – Microsoft has released the final build of Network Monitor, with updated parsers as well.  I’ve used the latest beta version for a while and enjoyed it.  So now go and grab the stable version.  Download: Microsoft Network Monitor 3.4
  • ImDisk Virtual Disk Driver -version 1.3.0 – another update released June 7th in this virtual disk driver for Windows systems.  This update now ships with a “…new registry setting DisallowedDriveLetters that can be used to specify drive letters not allowed to be used for ImDisk virtual disks. It should be a string value containing drive letters to disallow. The value should be created under the key HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\ImDisk\Parameters.”   Olof Lagerkvist rocks.  It is my fav virtual disk driver/mounting app; for good reason.
  • Customize Task Manager colors with Task Manager Modder – Download Squad found a neat little utility to add some jump-n-jive to your task manager; Task Manager Modder.  You can change the colors at will, and then reset them as needed. I always just set Process Explorer to be my new default Task Manager, but some folks like the original.  now you can really make it your own.  ~ Windows XP SP3 x86 and Seven RTM 7600 x86/x64
  • Windows Live Essentials Wave 4 public beta is out – ArsTechnica review and Windows Live Essentials beta – Microsoft download source.  I’m using this new beta version to blog with right now.  It does follow the ubiquitous Windows Ribbon format now, but despite the fact it doesn’t seem as intuitive to use as the previous versions, the controls are much easier to get to, particularly for font and paragraph formatting. It’s got lots of little things I’m still discovering like the fact that if I copied a HTML link code and click the “Hyperlink” button, that copied code is automatically pasted into the correct field of the dialog box.
  • Review: $99 TonidoPlug Linux Home Server, NAS —   I never ended up falling in love with my D-Link DIR-655 D-Link SharePort that came with that wireless router.  In my mind I would hook up a big USB drive for some NAS action but it just was too clunky for my taste.  I never bothered to see if they updated the drivers. (yep—firmware and application updates present in 2010…)  So Paul’s review of the $99 Tonido Plug NAS device was quite interesting. Though I wouldn’t use it for any of the Web applications (he wasn’t much impressed either) the support provided for storage to a USB-connected drive was pretty clever.  So for a no-frills way to deploy a cheap and simple NAS unit, it might be worth looking into.

Setting Dad up for Failure

Dad’s still running his spanking fast HP Pavilion a6000-series Vista system.  It’s been rock-solid for him since Fall 2007.  No issues at all.  He’s not quite interested in jumping up to Windows 7, but I think it is time to roll it over to Win7 x64.  So the planning begins.

In the meantime, little bro was up there and discovered (among other things) that Dad’s backup plan has been to manually copy particular files over to a bitty flash-drive from time to time.  Oh bother.

So he started to get System Backup set up for him, but discovered that the Vista version Dad has is a far and sad cry from that in his Windows 7 Ultimate edition.  So he punted and told Dad to pick up a USB external hard drive and give me a call.

I encouraged him to find a 1 TB Seagate drive that came with FreeAgent for a OEM solution.  I use that on my work laptop and it is nice to not worry about.  So this might be an out of the box solution.  He did come home with a 1 TB something USB, but I’m not clear on the brand yet.

So we then got talking about different backup solutions; he thought he wanted a full system backup solution based on what my brother runs.  That would be good.  I also discussed how that differed from scheduled file backups of particular folders containing critical user-data and whether a incremental or differential plan would be better.  His eyes began to glaze over quick.

So I think we will do both; a full system backup solution for system restore running on a weekly (?) schedule.  Then a file/folder incremental/differential backup solution on a every other day schedule.

I’m really that concerned about the system backup solution.  But the daily backups need to be saved in a format for easy per file/folder extraction and access rather than some proprietary archive format.  That will make it much easier to recover just what we need rather than depend on the same software to do the restoration lifting if we don’t want to.

Here’s what I’m considering for both solutions:

  • Paragon Backup & Recovery Free Edition – Really full featured in terms of looking like it could support both needs (system and files/folders).
  • Comodo Backup – Also seems to support both system and file/folder backup options.
  • Macrium Reflect FREE Edition – The Free edition seems the way to go only for system backups.  Good but not as many options.
  • EASEUS Todo Backup  -- Seems to be a system backup solution, but will let you mount the image file to explore/copy as needed files off.
  • Personal-Backup – This would be more for the specific file/folder (user data) backup needs.  I like the fact that the backups are placed in Zip files for easy access/extraction/restoration.  Lots of features.
  • Cobian Backup – Seems to be a perennial favorite with folks.  New version 10 is now out and supports Windows XP-7 in both x32/x64 flavors.
  • GFI Backup Home Edition – Nice home-user friendly wizards to set up backups, as well as restorations based on Zip formats even without the program being present.  Nice.  Program settings for various common apps are able to be easily backed up/restored.  Takes advantage of the Volume Shadow Copy Service to make backup of files still in use.
  • Sync & Backup Tools (freeware) – a few more offerings from an older GSD post.

And in all this musing, Download Squad found Redo Backup based on the xPud Linux Live distro: Redo Backup is a fast, easy way to image your hard drive.

Of course, that is system backup based on a drive imaging strategy, very similar but a bit different from what we are trying to get Dad set up with.  If that was the case we’d be probably looking at an all-week training session on drive imaging and cloning solutions and ImageX or Clonezilla with him.

We don’t need those kind of fireworks…

Fortunately for everyone involved, I think one or two of the previous strategies will more than suffice.

Happy 4th,

--Claus V.


kahping said...

Nice list of backup software.

It just so happens I've recently been thinking of setting up my sister's computer with a backup routine (currently no backups; bad idea!).

I'll be sure to refer to your list for additional software to consider :)

Mahomed said...

Hi. I came across your blog recently (much by accident) but already have found a few useful tools, so thanks for that. I notice you have Royal TS as your RD manager of choice, but I highly recommend you try out RDTabs from Avianwaves. It's free and simple to use but pretty powerful. I'm just a happy user and thought I'd share :)

Claus said...

@ Mahomed -- Thanks for the tip! I'm actually using as my RD manager of choice now, but I know there is a popular following for RoyalTS as well.

I'd not heard of Avian Waves RD Tabs before your comment so I've got the page bookmarked now and will be checking it out!

I'm glad your finding some of my postings here helpful! So many little time...!



--Claus V.