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 These days, I mostly post my tech musings on Linkedin.  https://www.linkedin.com/in/seanmcgrath/

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Blue is the new green - IT as a fashion industry

"Normally, we think of the IT industry as being one that is blessed with constant innovation and advancement. It is the endless progress in the field that is responsible for the endless change that we suffer/enjoy. This is certainly true most of the time but it is not - let us be honest here - true all of the time..." -- Blue is the new green -- IT as a Fashion Industry

Monday, March 27, 2006

People, Process and Technology

In the presentation slides of the business process, its all layers and boxes and arrows and things in feng shui-esque harmony.

Under the hood, things often look a little different.

Business process automation is hard because the real world is complex. Business processes are complex. Workflows are complex. And everything keeps changing all the time darn it!

Solving most problems is a combination of People, Process and Technology.

The word "technology" is last on that list for a reason.

(Thanks to Tim for the pointer to the animation.)

Open Source in UK Local Government

Business Week Article about some of my favour software: Open Office, Gimp, Linux featuring phrases like "secure", "robust" and "saves money".


Blogs are great ways to spread memes and a meme worth spreading is the concept of a backup.

I don't do mine as often as I should and I have been bitten in the past by dodgy hard disks and software installs that render machines inoperable.

Herein, my backup strategy. What's yours?

Setup: I run a Thinkpad T42p laptop with a dual boot setup - Ubuntu Linux and Windows XP. I boot most of the time into Linux.
  1. There are about a dozen files on my machine that change very frequently. I create backups of these every week onto a USB key I keep in my bag.
  2. In Propylon, we make extensive use of CVS, SVN, mailing lists (mailman) and WIKI(confluence) technology for project management. In short, no work-critical material lives solely on my machine. Everything important for the company that can be server-side *is* server-side.
  3. Every two months I backup my laptop onto an external 120G USB disk. I have formatted it as a Linux ext3 partition. (It came pre-formatted as VFAT but that is no use for backups because of file size limitations.)
  4. I don't do any backups directly from Windows. Instead, from time to time, I include the Windows partition /media/windows in my backup TAR.
  5. I don't worry about bit-for-bit disaster recovery. The way I see it, by the time my machine goes ga-ga there will be so many new versions and upgrades to this-and-that...its better to upgrade as part of recovery. All I need to get going again is a Linux setup that can read my external USB hard disk. The apps I use most are Thunderbird, OpenOffice, Firefox and Emacs and these are generally pre-installed these days in Linux distros. I can use all of these from Windows too if I need to.
  6. I create backups on the USB disk with date-stamped filenames with this command:
tar cvpzf /media/usbdisk/backupDDMMYYYY.tgz --no-absolute-paths --ignore-sockets --verify --exclude="/media" --exclude "/proc" --exclude "/lost+found" --exclude "/mnt" --exclude "/sys" --exclude-caches / >/media/usbdisk/backupDDMMYYYY.log