I’m Getting Nervous…

It’s the little things that gradually mount up. A series of changes, often small in themselves, that suddenly align and bring about a situation that can cause a major catastrophe.

Over the years, I’ve built up about 500GB of personal data stored on my computers: documents, emails, photos and videos. Naturally, I have this data backed up, in several locations, both locally and off-site.

Over the years, I’ve used a variety of techniques to make the backups. In the early days, I used writable CDs, then tape cartridges, and then a local data server, backed up to hard drives that were then stored off-site. I’ve also gone through a variety of backup software, ranging from simple to sophisticated. For a long time, I was using Microsoft’s Windows Home Server to take backups of all our home data, and make copies for off-site storage. But as is Microsoft’s habit, Windows Home Server was dropped and no longer supported. As is also Microsoft’s habit, no decent alternative was forthcoming from them at the time.

As a result, I started using Veeam’s Agent for Windows, which was perfectly satisfactory, if not as intelligent as the backup solution in Windows Home Server. VAW would take backups to our local data server, and I would then make copies for offsite storage.

Then came Microsoft pushing the use of OneDrive as cloud storage. Over time, we started to make more use of it, but I also ensured that VAW was also backing up any data we stored in OneDrive.

So far, so good. But then came the next change. Microsoft introduced the Windows 10 Spring Creators Update in April this year (a.k.a. Build 1803), and suddenly, VAW was no longer able to backup any of our data that was being held in OneDrive, and failed giving an error. According to Veeam, it is related to the reparse points mechanisms which are included in the ‘Files On-Demand’ OneDrive feature. This ‘Files On-Demand’ feature was added in the 1803 build and it doesn’t work with Veeam Agent.

So, OK, I thought, OneDrive is itself a form of backup – our data is being held both locally and in the OneDrive cloud, do I need a second backup taken by VAW and a third copy stored offsite? What could possibly go wrong? And so I left things as they were.

In August, Microsoft started pushing a new folder protection feature for OneDrive. Folder protection will offer to automatically sync your documents, pictures, and desktop folders to OneDrive to ensure a PC’s important folders are backed up to Microsoft’s cloud service. It sounded good, so I converted all our PCs to use the service for backing up our local data to OneDrive automatically. It meant that now the majority of our data was being backed up to OneDrive, and very little was being backed up by VAW. What could possibly go wrong?

A week ago, Microsoft released the next major update to Windows 10 – Build 1809 – the Fall Creators Update. I let it be installed on all our PCs – Windows Update said it was available, downloaded it and installed it. And VAW was still failing to backup data held on OneDrive. However, I had the new folder protection feature for OneDrive in place. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, disaster could strike.

During the upgrade process to Build 1809 of Windows 10, Microsoft displays this on your PC:

files-where-you-left-them-800x436

Unfortunately, for some unknown percentage of people who have upgraded to Build 1809, the upgrade process has deleted all of their personal data, so their files are no longer exactly where they left them at all – they have gone – probably for good. They are not in OneDrive, they are not on the local PC, they have shuffled off this mortal coil…

It’s not the first time that Microsoft, as a result of changes to its testing procedures, has released buggy software, which, under Windows 10 design, will be installed on unsuspecting customers’ PCs automatically. But this has to be the final straw. Changes have to be made, and heads will probably roll.

So far, touch wood, we have not lost any of our personal data, but now do you see why I’m getting nervous? I only hope that Veeam Software fix the problem about backing up OneDrive data quickly. One can never have too many backups.

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Selfie Deaths

Selfie deaths – a report. But I disagree strongly with the conclusion. It would only serve to affect the number of Darwin Award winners in a negative fashion.

Posted in Photography, Society | 2 Comments

Here was a Plague

That’s the title of an excellent article by Tom Crewe in the London Review of Books about the history of the Aids crisis.

It seems so long ago now, and I count myself amongst the lucky survivors, but we lost so many friends and lovers in that dark period. It should not be forgotten.

Posted in Health and wellness, LGBT Politics, Society | 2 Comments

Wolves on the March

Interesting article in the Guardian about the return of the wolf into Western Europe – they’re creeping into the Netherlands as well. Cue for impassioned debate about whether, as a protected species, they should be subject to controls.

It’s also a bit ironic, since the damage caused by wolves here amounted to a paltry €10,247 in 2017 (21 dead sheep). In the same year, damage caused by other protected species was €26,201,907 (wild geese) and €1,581,542 caused by Coal tits… Still, for the shepherds concerned, it can’t be pleasant to come across one of your flock with its throat ripped out…

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Typically Dutch

The Dutch have a reputation for being straightforward, bordering on rude, in their interactions with other people. I had a prime example of this in an encounter yesterday.

My Lenovo wireless keyboard and mouse has been giving trouble over the past month or two. The keyboard and mouse become unresponsive at random intervals – and no, it’s not because the batteries are dead. When this happens, the only thing that will cure it is a reboot of the PC. The fault definitely seems to lie in the Lenovo devices, since plugging in a spare mouse and keyboard will immediately work without the need of a reboot. My spare keyboard has one non-working key, and was the reason why I swapped it for the Lenovo keyboard in the first place.

At any rate, when the Lenovo keyboard and mouse froze again yesterday, I thought enough was enough, and resolved to get a replacement keyboard (I already had a spare mouse). I jumped in the car and sped off to the local computer shop in town. Unfortunately, this being a Saturday, the shop closes at 16:00 – as I saw, with a sinking feeling, on the door as I opened it at 15:59.

“Am I too late to buy something?” I asked. “I’ve just cashed up – what do you want?” came the reply. “I need a new keyboard, because my old one has just died”, I said. “I can’t help, I’ve cashed up”, came the rejoinder. No “Sorry”, no sympathy for my plight, just “I can’t help, I’ve cashed up”. I knew that he wouldn’t help, but could he not have softened the blow with a simple “sorry”? That’s so typically Dutch…

Oh well, his loss – I ordered a new keyboard from CoolBlue, and it will be delivered today (on a Sunday!)…

Posted in Computers and Internet, Society | 8 Comments

RIP Lindsay Kemp

Alas, Lindsay Kemp has died. I saw his theatre-piece Flowers (A Pantomime for Jean Genet) in London in the mid 1970s, and was bowled over by it. I’m fairly sure that I saw it on two occasions, one being (I think) in the Bloomsbury Theatre (then called the Collegiate Theatre) in Gower Street, London, but I can’t find a reference to Flowers ever being performed there.

Lindsay, with just ten other performers (including Jack Birkett) created a powerful theatrical experience that remains with me. Thank you, Lindsay.

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Be Careful What You Wish For…

Boris Johnson’s throwaway remark that “Brexit means Brexit and we are going to make a Titanic success of it.” proves a hostage to Fortune.

It’s really not going to end well, I’m afraid.

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