Red Bull Crashed Ice

Monday, August 25, 2008 at 23:03
Maybe this isn't that new for people who watch TV, but I hadn't heard of this event until my friend Wayne told me about it last week. Looks like a total rush.

Also, you gotta love those Red Bull folks, their product is expensive, tastes weird and isn't even original, but wow do they know how to back some excitement with their marketing.

Exactly the same except different

Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 21:08
I had two days autocrossing this past weekend at the same location (Namao). I've been using a GPS datalogger to record my runs and help me improve. It took a while to get it working right, but the author of the software was very helpful and it's working really well for me now. One of the neat features is the ability to export a run recording to a .gpx (GPS Exchange) file that I can load into Google Earth and Maps. It's interesting to compare different course layouts at the same location. Here are the courses from the past two days overlaid on each other. Saturday's course (dark blue) was run clockwise around the circuit, Sunday's (teal) was run counter-clockwise.

Edit: Well, that's interesting. Embeddable map widget won't show multiple tracks at the same time. Google Maps itself will.


View Larger Map


View Larger Map

It's a Jungle out there

Friday, August 8, 2008 at 22:41
Over the past few months, I looked at a lot of different options for online backup and data storage. The full list of packages I evaluated and some related articles are listed here. For now, I've settled on using JungleDisk. JungleDisk is built on Amazon's S3 (Simple Storage Service). The actual storage and transfer fees are really reasonable. $0.15 per GB for storage and $0.10 per GB for transfers in, billed automatically to my Amazon Payments account. So far, it's running me about a buck a month for the data I want backed up.

In a nutshell, the reasons I like JungleDisk are:
  1. Native clients for Mac, Windows, Linux. I'm currently backing up a mix of XP, Vista and Mac OSX systems with one consistent backup solution.
  2. Simple configuration of scheduled backups.
  3. Easy access to files from other computers via the local JungleDisk.
  4. My data is encrypted locally, transferred securely via HTTPS and stored in encrypted format on Amazon's server.
  5. The automatic backups keep (by default) a 30 day revision history.
  6. The cost of the software is only $20 for all computers (plus S3 storage fees).
The local disk feature is what makes it really easy to do ad-hoc backups. The JungleDisk installation allows you to create a mapped network drive using the WebDAV protocol that can access a virtual storage space on S3 (called a "bucket"). So copying files up to the S3 cloud can be as easy as drag-and-drop to a local folder. JungleDisk keeps a local cached copy of the data as well, so access is fast. Changes to the local drive are replicated automatically to S3.

I also have automated backups set up to back up the local user folders on each computer to the S3 datastore. Most update daily, but for C's work computer, I have it update hourly. Her connectivity when working on work files tends to be spotty, so this strategy tries to make a backup more often to sync up her document edits as soon as possible after connectivity is restored.

Once copied to the backup "bucket", the backed up files are available to any other computer (4 others in our case) that also has JungleDisk installed. There is an additional feature available for only $1 per month that allows web access to the JungleDisk data as well, so a local installation of JD is not needed. That's not something I need right now, as I can use my webhosting service (unlimited storage space for $7/mo) for keeping handy access to files I might want to access via a browser only.

So, bottom line - JungleDisk rocks, Amazon S3 is affordable, and the system just works to provide simple automated offsite backups for multiple computers.

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