My Photo Backup Strategy

This is what I do to try to ensure I don’t lose any pictures. 

The first obvious step is I take a picture.  I take all of my pictures with my iPhone.  My wife takes her pictures with a combination of her iPhone and her Canon camera.  

Next, I upload all the pictures to the computer.  I use a cable to connect the phones to the computer and import the photos to iPhoto on our family desktop iMac.  I take the SD card out of the Canon camera and import those photos into iPhoto as well. As iPhoto imports those photos, they are all placed into a central location on the hard drive.

After the photos are imported into iPhoto, several things happen in the background.  The first is that Google Photos looks at that central location on the hard drive and it starts uploading them to their cloud service.   Next, once an hour, the Mac’s built-in backup utility takes all of the new files and adds them to the external hard drive sitting under the monitor.  Finally, every few hours BackBlaze takes everything from the desktop and backs it up to one of their datacenters in the PST. With BackBlaze, I pay every 2 years so it is a nice chunk of change but it works out to be only a few dollars per month.  Having an offsite, full backup is priceless to a neurotic nerd like me. 

When I take pictures on the iPhones, the photos are automatically geo-tagged but any photos from the Canon camera need to be manually geo-tagged.  I have tens of thousands of photos in iPhoto and only a few are not geo-tagged, I am very diligent about doing that and making sure it is as accurate as possible.  I am not as diligent about the “facial-tagging” in iPhoto.  iPhoto can be really hit-or-miss on picking out a face and then knowing which person it is.  I know that small sample size isn’t an issue, it has thousands of pictures of the people in my immediate family.  Google Photos is almost perfect at picking out faces and knowing who it is so I’ve stopped worrying about managing it in iPhoto. 

I am very diligent about getting all of the photos off my phone within a day or two of taking the photo.  That’s not a big deal since I hardly take any photos.  My wife is constantly taking photos and I normally go weeks or months before I can connect her phone to the computer.  So what I do is every few days I will open the Google Photos app on her phone and have it sync to the cloud so they are not only on just her phone.  I’ve noticed that Google Photos has a great deduplication algorithm so if it sees that a photo was already uploaded from the phone and it tries to upload it again from the computer, it will only keep one copy. 

Conferences and Meetups

My two favorite conferences to go to are the Carolina VMUG in Charlotte, NC every June and the Triangle InfoSeCon in Raleigh, NC every October.  Last week I went the Triangle InfoSeCon 2018 and as usual, it was awesome.

I used to go to a lot of local meetups about all kinds of topics but my available time outside of work keeps shrinking with a growing family.  So I try to go to fewer things but make them higher impact.  Also, I am far enough along in my career that I now can get something out of those conferences.  That’s why now I only go to big conferences.  I’d like to start going to some local meetups but with a more narrow focus.

I love going to conferences and meetups so I can meet new people and get new ideas.  At work we sometimes get into a rhythm of doing the same things over and over again.  Hearing how other people are solving the same problem is very cool.  It is ever better when I hear about problems that I’ve never heard of.  It would be nice if there’s a solution to it but I still want to hear about it.

At Tech conferences, almost all of the talks have the same format and they sound like there were written by the marketing department. Part 1 is how something is broken, Part 2 is how our product can fix it.  It makes it even worse since every company has the same handful of major problems so it gets really repetitive.  Most of the conferences are paid for by these vendors so I understand they want to at least break-even, maybe even make a few bucks but can they try and make it a little more interesting.  My favorite talks have funny and/or interesting stories with some product placement sprinkled in.

I know I shouldn’t complain so much because the vendors cover most of the costs.  But I don’t think anyone is going to buy your product if the presentation was so boring that they don’t know what the product does even if they were awake for it.

Most of the time I like a live demo and I don’t care if it goes perfectly.  I know how difficult it is to do a live demo and I really appreciate the effort.  I learn a ton about the product from the demo whether it is successful or not.  An unexpected error with live troubleshooting can turn into presentation gold if handled properly but it is at least entertaining either way if it goes really badly.

Overall I’m really glad that I get out of my shell and go these events.  Hope to see you soon IRL (In Real Life).

So Many Roles in IT

When I was growing up, I was fascinated by computers and technology.  Back then, I knew what programmers were and that was about it. At some point I learned about DBAs but I put that into the programmer bucket since I heard they wrote scripts to manage a database. I always knew about sales and at some point I found out about technology sales but just the thought of commission-only sales still gives me stomach pains.

My first real job out of college was at the Apple Retail Store.  I worked there for almost 4 years and slowly learned from my coworkers and customers about some of the many jobs and roles in IT.  At some point, that Apple Store closed for about two weeks for renovations. Near the end of the renovations, a guy came to work on the network rack.  I can only guess what he was there to do but it fascinated me.

With new technologies constantly being created, new roles are being created to manage those technologies.  Some of those technologies stay around for a while and others quickly disappear. The technologies that stay around for a while will eventually fade away but they never seem to fully go away.  Since they never seem to fade away, those roles never seem to fully go away.

An example is Cobolt.  It seems there will always be a need for Cobolt programmers even though it has been decades since anyone wrote new Cobolt code but someone has to maintain those ancient Cobolt applications.

Now when I think of the IT industry, it’s usually just IT infrastructure and even that is huge now.  Networking, servers, voice, virtualization, data center, security, storage and wireless now adds video, containers, SD-WAN, automation and the cloud.  Each one of those sections has numerous sub-sections and some roles combine multiple of those topics listed above.  We still haven’t even mentioned where everyone starts, the backbone of every IT organization, the helpdesk.  Finally there is the Network Architect that has to bring it all together.

The IT department provides more than just email.  Now it is expected to provide so many services and be available from anywhere on any device at any time.  It will take all these groups working together to make it happen. In order to do that we need to be more friendly to our fellow IT folks, building up walls around our territories is counter-productive (See the Datanauts podcast for more silo-busting).  Also, we need to be welcoming and help train others.  The machines are coming for your job but before that happens, there is a lot of work to do and we need all the help we can get.

Be Honest about your Network Resiliency

Everyone would love to have a network that is always up and available.  The problem is that few people want to design it and absolutely no one wants to pay for it.

There are many ways to make your Network more resilient.  Some are necessary for your organization, others would be nice to have and some are overkill.  A difficult part is to know which solution goes into which bucket (necessary, nice-to-have or overkill).  Then those pieces need to implemented, monitored and maintained.

One example that I have seen at dozens of companies is about the uninterruptible power supply (UPS).  A UPS has a battery that is supposed to “kick in” when the normal power source goes out, kind of like a fancy generator.  The goal is for the critical equipment to stay alive and the non-critical to power-down gracefully.  Most companies have a UPS at their sites but they are not ready for two main reasons, the battery is dead and/or it isn’t cabled properly.  Just like any other battery, over time it won’t hold as much of a charge so the battery needs to be replaced.

Another example is if a branch office invests in two ISPs for redundant internet, make sure everyone knows exactly how redundant it is.  If both ISPs use the same physical path to the branch office, they aren’t as redundant because the same backhoe will still take them both out.  Or if the network isn’t setup for proper failover and failback, then it isn’t as redundant as we thought.

A competent network designer should be able to tell with a high degree of certainty just how resilient the network is and in which ways.  Probably the toughest part is to explain to upper management the pros and cons of the new proposal and get their buy-in.  Management needs to listen and understand what all the scenarios are and their impact so everyone will be informed and aware of the possible situations.  Those meetings are time consuming and can be very boring but they are necessary.  The other option is for the engineer to write all this up and email it out but we all know that no one reads anymore.

T-Mobile Sprint Merger

The FCC should approve the T-Mobile and Sprint merger.  The main argument against it is that the US Wireless market would go from 4 to 3 major carriers and that would lessen competition.

I think allowing the merger to go through would actually increase competition because in reality, the US Wireless market currently has 2 major players, Verizon and AT&T.

T-Mobile and Sprint as of today are too small to be on the same playing field as Verizon and AT&T.  If the T-Mobile Sprint merger went through, the US Wireless market would go from 2 to 3 major carriers and that would lessen competition.  Fewer overall player but an additional player in the top round.  Ask most sports fan, the top level of play is the only one that really matters, almost no one cares about the minor leagues.  The lower levels don’t move the market.

Favorite Podcasts

This is a list of my favorite podcasts. I love listening to podcasts and therefore I listen to a lot of them.  Hopefully you all will get as much enjoyment out of them as I do.  Or atleast use it as jumping off point to find something that you do love.  Podcasts are mostly very friendly and therefore are known for promoting each others shows so I’m always finding more stuff to fill my ears.

One question I often get is how I can listen to so many podcasts. The answer is that I listen to most of them at between 1.5x and 2x speed.  Also, most of them are only weekly.

The list is broken up by categories. Not everything fits neatly into one single category but I tried.

I left off several podcasts that are no longer producing new episodes, that had very short runs and/or I only listen to certain episodes.  I will only include it on this list if I listen to almost every episode but I will still stay subscribed to it.  Also, I omitted podcasts below about politics and religion for hopefully obvious reasons.

Finally a new website should launch soon that promises to be the IMDB but for Podcasts, it is PodChaser.

Updated Nov 2018

Sections
History
Sports
Technology
Media Recaps
Miscellaneous

History

Hardcore History by Dan Carlin- Link
One of the best and most entertaining Podcasts. The podcasts are so long, they are basically audiobooks, amazing juicy audiobooks. Dan Carlin was one of the first and most successful podcasters so it’s not a surprise that most History podcasts sound like his because Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

History on Fire Link

15 Minute History – Link
History professors and grad students from UT Austin

BackStory – Link
American History

Bowery Boys – Link
NYC History

The First: Stories of Inventions Link
Another series from the Bowery Boys

History Author Show – Link
Interviews with authors about new History books.

10 US Presidents featuring Roifield Brown – Link
In depth interviews about the US Presidents and the history of the US Presidency

Stuff You Missed in History Class – Link
High level overview of most history topics in a laidback style

Ben Franklin’s World Link
Early American History

In The Past Lane Link
American History

Scene on Radio Link
American History

Slow Burn Link
American Political Scandals

Fierce City: A London History Podcast Link

Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History Link
Malcolm Gladwell “will go back and reinterpret something from the past: an event, a person, an idea. Something overlooked. Something misunderstood.”

Hit Parade Link
Music History and trivia

Mike Duncan Website
Revolutions Link Each season deep-dive into a major revolution
History of Rome Link

Brad Harris, professional historian
How it Began Link Big picture historical topics
Context Link Book reviews of famous history books and interviews with other famous historians

Lindsay Graham
American History Tellers Link
American Scandals Link

Patrick Wyman
Fall of Rome Link
Tides of History Link

Business Wars Link

Lillian Cunningham Website
Presidental – 45 minute bio of each US President Link
Constitutional – Creation and major changes to the US Constitution Link

Parcast Website
Historical Figures – 45 minute biographies of famous people Link
Assassinations – Famous Assassinations Link

FAQ City Website
Random questions answered about Charlotte NC

Away Message Website
Remote spots in North Carolina

Mental Floss magazine’s Favorite History Podcasts Link
Website with a list of History Podcasts Link

Sports

Baseball Tonight Link
Daily Baseball show from ESPN’s Buster Olney

Baseball PhD Link
Get your PhD in life through Baseball

The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap Link
Mini audio documentaries by the wonderful Jeremy Schaap

Bill Simmons Podcast Link

JJ Redick Podcast Link

Jonah Keri Podcast Link

Technology

PacketPushers Website
Podcast Network with lots of podcasts focusing on the Enterprise Networking Industry. Some of my favorite podcasts from them are:
◊◊ Network Break Link
◊◊ Datanauts Link
◊◊ Full Stack Journey with Scott Lowe Link
◊◊ IPv6 Buzz Link

Zigbits Network Design Link

Network Collective Link

Relay.FM Website
Podcast Network that describes themselves as “an independent podcast network for people who are creative, curious, and maybe even a little obsessive – just like its hosts.” Some of my favorite podcasts from them are:
◊◊ Analog(ue) Link
◊◊ Clockwise Link
◊◊ Subnet Link
◊◊ Under the Radar Link
◊◊ Ungeniused Link
◊◊ Upgrade Link

ATP Link

The Talk Show with John Gruber Link

Vector with Rene Ritchie Link

Internet History Podcast Link

Exponent Link
Two MBAs discussion the technology industry from a business perspective

The Tesla Show Link
Tesla as viewed through the lens of two technologists

Media Recaps

The West Wing Weekly Link
Recap of West Wing Episodes

The Rewatchables Link
Movie Reviews

Myke at the Movies Link
Movie Reviews

The Incomparable Link
Movie Reviews

Robot or Not? Link
Jason Snell asks John Siracusa to rule on the meaning of various words and concepts.

Pod4Ham Link
Hamilton Podcast

The Hamilcast Link
Hamilton Podcast

Broadway Backstory Link
Behind the Music for Broadway shows

Miscellaneous

Freakonomics Radio Link
New ways to look at world from smart people with data

Tell Me Something I Don’t Know Link
Fun and brainy game-show from the Freakonomics crew

Hidden Brain Link
Similar to Freakonomic IMHO

99% Invisible Link

The Memory Palace Link

The Longest Shortest Time Link
Parenting Show

After On Podcast Link
Interviews with scientists who are at the tops of their individual fields