Let’s get the day started off right and watch Canadian National Railway locomotive 2304 plow through deep snow near Salisbury, New Brunswick. You’ll definitely want to put this on HD if you can, just for the fun of it.
Only the first minute or so is taken up with the footage of the train breaking trail; the rest is simply the freight cars passing by. This is one of those things that North Americans take for granted and western Europeans are amazed by—trains that are so long they require several minutes to pass.
In other news, tech blogger Adam Engst proposed that yesterday—Friday the 13th—be designated International Verify Your Backups Day. He brings up an excellent point, which is that most people who have backups set them up once and then forget about them. Until something goes wrong, of course, and then they finally check their backups, find corrupted files, and watch a bad day get even worse.
Backups are great insurance, but they are not impervious to the issues that affect digital files. The software can have a hitch. The connection might be bad. The original file might get corrupted and then you’re backing up bad files one over the other. Anything can happen, and if you never verify your backup, you’ll never know until it’s too late.
Here’s a perfect example from the comments section:
I got hired as IT manager of a small company with 5 stores. Each store had rotating backups on 3 hard drives, one was kept offsite at all times.
So the day after I was hired, the main server drive crashed…I went to the backup drive, it was formatted FAT32, which has a max file size of 2Gb. The backup files were about 12Gb, so only the first 2 gigs were recorded. Every backup of every drive in the company was corrupt, due to incompetent setup. Nobody ever tested this for the 2 years the backup scheme was in place.
To make a long story short, they had to send the drive to a disk recovery company. Cost: $4000.
It was a great system—multiple, rotating backups with one offsite—except for the minor issue of being broken from the very beginning.
It’s easy to verify a backup: just randomly restore some files from different directories. Open them up and make sure they work. Hit all the main media types: a document, a music file, a photo, a video. If you’re like me and you make an entire bootable clone as a backup, then every now and then boot your computer off the clone. Launch a few of the apps and open some files.
Yes, it’s a minor pain, but it only takes a few minutes. And you will thank yourself if you verify your backup and find that it has problems. Because at this point, you can fix it. When your hard drive has failed and you have zero access to your original files, it’s far too late.
For type and font geeks, Frere-Jones is running a series of posts on the art of creating a typeface—an art which most of us take for granted without realizing just how much science, math, and general tweaking goes into it.
For example, lining up letters mathematically doesn’t work, because what counts is what our eyes see, and our eyes see straight lines and curved lines differently. If the O below was the same height as the letters to either side of it, our eyes would perceive it as being smaller. For us to see it as the same size, it must be taller. This is called overshoot.
Typeface mechanics is full of such counterintuitive details, and they’re fascinating. Check out Frere-Jones for the first post in this series, and stay tuned for more.
And finally: It’s Carnaval time! Yesterday was the first day of festivities, when the kids get to have their own parade. I drove through town on an errand and had to stop to let thirty kids cross the street, all wearing matching outfits of dark green pants, red shirts (the colors of the Portuguese flag), and big, curly, bright yellow wigs. It was beyond cute.
Today is the first of the adult parades, which will feature topless women dancing madly—and in what I’ve come to see as tradition, the weather is cold. I think those women dance so frenetically because they’ll turn blue otherwise. Ironically, yesterday was sunny and warm. At least the kids got to stay toasty.
This is also the time when my little town more than doubles in size, and driving anywhere requires a certain level of masochism (or insanity).
I think we’ll walk downtown for lunch and check out all the crazies.