MozyHome – The Never-Ending Backup

I’ve been wanting to look at online backup for a while to backup photos and music and such and to supplement local measures like using a ReadyNAS with RAID and having some spare hard drives for backups.

The other day I signed up for the MozyHome trial account with 2 GB of space. I downloaded the OS X client (version 2.1.0.49) — pretty simple to install. Configuring it was a little strange — when I tell it to not back up a certain folder, it takes a very long time for it to register the change and the UI doesn’t give any impression that it’s working on it. I actually didn’t know for a while whether it was doing anything.

Finally, I kicked off a backup of 1.2 GB of files. This was on the morning of January 10. It’s now almost the morning of January 14 and the backup is only around 75% done. Now I have DSL with a paltry upload speed of 512 Kbps, but still…that should give me 100 megabytes or so per hour, conservatively. That would finish in less than 12 hours.

The strange thing is that Mozy seems to not send data for large stretches of time. Sometimes it is active and sometime there is no outbound network traffic at all (according to iStat Pro).

And taking a look at the history which tells you how much data was transferred per day:

January 10 – Files sent: 2,759; Size sent: 697.2 MB
January 11 – Files sent: 2,452; Size sent: 57.1 MB
January 12 – Files sent: 5,680; Size sent: 37.3 MB

I’m curious what’s going on here. Do they transfer less and less each day or is the speed proportional to how much you have left? Or are the backups limited to a certain number of hours?

Anyone else see this? Is this typical of other online backup services — e.g.: Carbonite (which is next on my list to try)?

Thanks, Lutron

We have Lutron switches and dimmers throughout our home. A few weeks ago one of the rocker switches on one of our Maestro MAW-603 3-way dimmers physically broke and became wobbly. I was worried because these switches can be pricey. And I could only really find the broken dimmer in a pair with a companion dimmer – goes for around $50. I called Lutron to find out if I could buy parts or just the master dimmer without the companion and they offered to replace the dimmer for free. They took down my info and in a week or so I had a new dimmer and they didn’t even want me to send the old one back.

In an age when customer service is so often a disappointment, I am impressed. Thanks, Lutron!

iTunes 10 (Mac) won’t burn to my external DVD writer

My MacBook Pro has a built-in DVD writer (which I have not had success using lately) and I also just purchased a Samsung SE-S084D External USB DVD Writer, because of my trouble burning DVDs with the internal drive.

I’ve got the Samsung burner connected and when I insert a blank disc, I get the pop-up from the OS that asks if I want to launch Finder, iTunes, etc. I can burn files to the drive from Finder (at 6X) just fine. iTunes however…

I have iTunes 10.1.1 (4). I go to File | Library | Back Up to Disc… In the window that comes up, it lets me choose one of the two DVD burners:

MATSHITA DVD-R UJ-857E
TSSTcorp CDDVDW SE-S084D

Clearly the first is the internal drive and the second is the Samsung USB external drive.

If I set it to the second one (the external drive), then iTunes gets stuck on “Please insert a blank disc…”. I’ve tried ejecting and reinserting the disc, inserting the disc before starting iTunes, etc. Nothing works. Then on a whim I wondered if it was really using the drive that I told it to use. So I tried to do another burn to the EXTERNAL drive and when it said “Please insert a blank disc…”, I put a disc in the INTERNAL drive. Voila! The message went away and iTunes proceeded to attempt to burn using the internal drive, which failed in a minute or two (which is the reason why I bought the external DVD writer in the first place!).

I tried many times and even though I choose “TSSTcorp CDDVDW SE-S084D”, iTunes keeps trying to use the internal drive. Then I wondered if iTunes perhaps was displaying the wrong labels for the drives, so I tried to instead selecting “MATSHITA DVD-R UJ-857E”, hoping that iTunes would use the external drive. No dice. iTunes still used the internal drive. By the way, the Samsung shipped with the TS00 version of the firmware – I upgraded the firmware to version TS01 (the latest), but that didn’t help with my iTunes problem.

So it seems to me that I have stumbled on a bug where iTunes DVD burning doesn’t work properly on a system with multiple DVD writers. In the GUI, it offers a choice of DVD writers, but this seems to have no effect.

I suppose if I get desperate, I could try opening up the MacBook Pro and disconnecting the cable from the internal drive, on the hope that iTunes would then only one see DVD writer and would hopefully not get confused. That’s pretty extreme though and I’d rather not open up the computer just to test out a theory.

Known issue? Can anyone verify this? Any other ideas for a software method for convincing iTunes to use the external DVD writer?

Python Evaluator AppleScript

A few weeks ago, I talked about a Bash function and alias combo that lets you evaluate simple Python expressions from the Bash command-line.

In a similar vein, here’s a super simple GUI app, written in AppleScript that evaluates Python expressions.

You can launch AppleScript Editor, paste in the above code, and save it as an application (e.g.: “/Applications/Python Evaluator.app” or the like). Is it going to replace ipython or even the default Python shell? Um, probably not. But it was a fun way to get a bit of experience with AppleScript.

OS X service for posting text to pastebin.com

How I created an OS X service to post text to pastebin.com:

I launched Automator and chose the “Service” template for my new workflow. I dragged in a “Run AppleScript” action and pasted in this AppleScript code. I then dragged in a “Copy to Clipboard” action. At the top of the workflow, I had: “Service receives selected text in any application” and had “Replaces selected text” unchecked. I saved the workflow as Pastebin.com.workflow.

django-admin.py patch to add warning for missing “startproject” subcommand.

A while back, I mentioned that django-admin.py will not show the “startproject” command if you have a DJANGO_SETTINGS_MODULE environment variable set. This behavior is documented, but it can still confuse the heck out of anyone who sees the behavior and doesn’t think to check the manual (i.e.: probably most people).

I finally created a patch to add a warning message and added it to an old ticket at code.djangoproject.com.