Cloud storage

cloud icon

No such thing as a free lunch?

There is when it comes to your data security.

Until quite recently, if you wished to back up your valuable data without cashing in the family jewels, extra storage drives were the logical choice of medium.

The quandary

The question when backing up to extra internal or external hard drives is where to draw the line. If your main computer hard drive crashes a backup is invaluable, but if you only have one backup drive it can be stolen in a burglary or destroyed in a fire along with your computer. So for total peace of mind you really need two and one should be kept at a remote location. That means regular exchanging of drives, loss of data created since the last backup, and an administrative hassle we could live without.

Do you use more than one computer?

Data management is further complicated if you need to synchronize your files on two or more computers. There is excellent software for this. Microsoft’s free SyncToy and the excellent SyncBack SE are two very good sync utilities.

But running these programs is yet another job that we can do without. If you flip back and forth between your laptop and desktop, or between home and work, it’s a never ending task.

Enter the cloud

An extra hard drive is invaluable at home or in the office. I wouldn’t be without one for backing up my whole system with imaging software, but recently the game has changed for data files. There are services popping up like spring daffodils all over the place clamouring to back up your data files on somebody else’s hard drive in the “Cloudi.e. on a remote Internet site.
Continue reading

ASCII Characters

In Windows programs the individual characters of the ASCII character set can be inserted using the Alt key plus a number pad combination or Alt Code.

The procedure is to hold down the Alt key, tap out the appropriate number (the number in the left column below) on the number pad, then release the Alt key.

Note that—in the second half of the table—most Alt Codes produce a different character when a leading zero is added to the number. i.e. from number 127 upwards, “Alt+0127” and “Alt+127” for example, will each produce different characters.

Alt+189 gives ¢ but Alt+0189 gives ½

So all the characters in the third column are produced by prepending a leading zero to the number.

Hex codes and HTML entities are included in the table for completeness, but a much more extensive and useful listing of the HTML entities is found on this page: HTML Character Set.

Not all of these characters are useable in all fonts. If a character shows up as a square, try changing the font to Arial or Times.
Continue reading

Tāwharanui

Tawharanui map

Tāwharanui Regional ParkTāwharanui

The Social Secretary and I have just returned home after 8 days camping at the beautiful Tāwharanui Regional Park 15km from the lovely village of Matakana just north of Auckland. It’s a fantastic 588 hectares at the end of the Tāwharanui Peninsula in the Hauraki Gulf. Outside of the really busy periods like Summer weekends, Christmas and Waitangi Day the place is 90% empty. It’s astonishing to me that places like this are so little used but it certainly makes it enjoyable for those of us who can live without TV and PlayStation for a few days.

Far from the madding crowd

As you can see from this shot of our campsite (that’s us close to the centre of the image), it’s not exactly over-subscribed in the Springtime.

A pest-proof fence has recently been installed right across the peninsula. As a result, most of the introduced predators: cats, rats, stoats, possums, and hedgehogs have been eliminated and birds rarely seen on the New Zealand mainland have reintroduced themselves or been re-established by conservation organisations.

Looking towards Anchor Bay:

Looking towards Anchor Bay

Continue reading

Entering special characters in Windows programs

Common ASCII codes

In Windows programs the individual characters of the ASCII character set can be inserted into your text by holding down the Alt key and typing a number on the number pad.They don’t work with the numbers along the top of your keyboard.

Make sure NumLock is on.

Here are the ones I find most useful:

Commonly used ASCII symbols from the standard set
Numpad Symbol NumPad Symbol NumPad Symbol
130 é 138 è 0224 à
174 « 175 » 0252 ü
156 £ 0162 ¢ 0165 ¥
0248 ø 158 × 0169 ©
172 ¼ 171 ½ 0190 ¾
0150 0151 0133
167 º 0178 ² 0179 ³

You may have different requirements, check the full set of 200-odd more characters from Alt+32 — Alt+0255 will be on this page along with a broader explanation.

This table shows the less commonly known ones which use Alt+Numpad 1 — Alt+Numpad 31.

ASCII symbols using the number pad 1 to 30
Numpad Symbol NumPad Symbol NumPad Symbol
1 11 21 §
2 12 22
3 13 23
4 14 24
5 15 25
6 16 26
7 17 27
8 18 28
9 19 29
10 20 30
31 145 æ 0177 ±

These are not to be confused with the much more extensive HTML character codes for inserting characters into web pages. See them on this page.

 

Inequality hurts the rich too

How economic inequality harms societies

This remarkable TED talk by Richard Wilkinson should be required watching for every person on the planet, it needs to be shown in schools, it should be understood by every voter and particularly by every politician and economist.

Inequality is one of the most important causes of the woes of the 21st century world.

It’s worth noting that in the developed world, the most unequal societies are generally those of the English-speaking world and the most equal and most contented are in Scandinavia.

Shaky quake appreciation

About earthquakes

There’s been a lot of nonsense in the media over the Canterbury earthquakes and the more recent shakes in Cook Strait off Seddon. Contrary to reports, the “big one” has not yet hit New Zealand. Christchurch did not suffer a 7.1 earthquake in 2010, Darfield did. Christchurch is more than 40km away from Darfield, consequently, the effect on the central city was the equivalent of a quake of significantly less than 7.1.

The more damaging earthquake in February 2011 was magnitude 6.3 and much closer to Christchurch. It was a relatively small shake in the great scheme of things but it nevertheless caused massive structural damage, tragic loss of life, and much subsequent suffering for the people of Christchurch.

When the inevitable big one does hit, it will be far more devastating and it will deal a catastrophic blow to our precarious economy. The economic effects could last for decades.

We will all be victims.

Think about it

Thanks Wikipedia

The late broadcaster Paul Holmes—no stranger to hyperbole and not one to let the facts get in the way of a good story—stated on NewsTalk ZB that it was the “big one” we’d been waiting for. They played his misleading clip over and over several times a day for weeks to reinforce the wrong message.

The Wellington Fault runs smack-bang through the cities of Wellington, Lower Hutt, and Upper Hutt. The inevitable big quake there is yet to come.

It’s not ignorance does so much damage; it’s knowing so darned much that ain’t so. Josh Billings

The first Canterbury earthquake was far smaller than the Wellington or Wairarapa Fault earthquakes are likely to be and the second even smaller. Wellington can look forward to a quake which is likely to be at least an order of magnitude more devastating than the Canterbury quakes. 7.1 on the Richter Scale is at the low end of serious earthquakes.

Here’s why it’s a problem:

Continue reading