Archive for May, 2007|Monthly archive page

Swivel Geography Rolled Out

Wow, that was fast, my suggestion from two weeks ago has already come to fruition.

Swivel announced at Where 2.0 the release of Swivel Geography.

However, when I click on “Post to Blog”, I was hoping to get some html that I could paste here to show the map. Instead, all I get is the same old graph:

Military spending by country

Am I missing something obvious?


Does the World Really need more Lerts?

Be alert. The world needs more lerts.

Or does it?

The NWS sent this rather startling “graphicast” Friday. I live under the second “a” in Area. As of Monday, I’ve gotten an inch of rain. Credibility diminishes when alerts are issued for events that never occur.

While graphicasts are better than the old all-caps alerts, they still miss the mark.

We need alerts that are more specific. Here in the hill country, the primary risk is at low water crossings – not large rectangular areas. The locations of these crossings are known. Models can predict flooding at these crossings, what is needed is a system to broadcast alerts to subscribers.

“Turn around, don’t drown” is a catchy slogan, but if you’re trapped between two low water crossings the best thing to do is sit and wait.

I’ve mentioned before how Google could do something similar for traffic alerts. This same thing could be done for flood alerts.

I would like to receive alerts via IM on my cell phone when any water crossing along the path I plan to travel is expected to flood. Alternate route directions would be nice too.

Mean time, between failures …

I have been using Acronis True Image (TI) to backup my laptop. I’m overdue for a disk crash, last time it was 1995 I believe, so I figure I should verify that my recovery plan is workable.

I backup my entire C: drive to an external Maxtor Onetouch II USB drive. I create a bootable recovery CD using TI 10.0.

I replace my C: drive with a new unformatted disk and boot from the CD.

After TI starts I choose Disk Recovery, and browse to the archive on the USB drive.

The time next to “Total progress” slowly increases, starting from 36 minutes. After about 30 minutes it says time remaining is 2 days. I figure there must be a better way.

BartPE to the Rescue
I research it and find that the issue is Acronis accesses some USB 2.0 disks at a USB 1.0 speed, which is very slow. The solution is to use BartPE to create a bootable CD containing windows drivers.

So I download BartPE and try to install the Acronis plugin. It can only load plugins from .CAB files. Acronis provides a plugin, but no .CAB file. So I use MakeCab from the command prompt, passing Acronis.inf as an argument to create I’m then able to load the plugin using PE builder.

I create a WinPE CD using BartPE, and boot from that. I find TI in the menu under the system tools and start that up. I choose to recover, and browse to the archive on the USB drive. I choose not to verify archive while loading. After 20 minutes it says archive is corrupt. I choose to verify archive, which runs OK, then choose to recover again. In the mean time, I start this blog entry thinking the bad publicity will motivate Acronis to help me when I contact them.

However, the second time through it worked. Total time to restore: about 30 minutes. When I boot from my new disk, it starts fine, and Windows says it has detected new hardware.

I’ve heard Acronis is better than Norton Ghost. I notice a plugin for Ghost already installed BartPE. Sure seems like Acronis could document this recovery process a little better.

Moral to the Story
Don’t wait for a real disaster to verify that your disaster recovery plan works. If my disk had really crashed, I would not have been able to create the WinPE (BartPE) CD since all the drivers it needs are pulled from the C: drive. So go ahead and create the BartPE disk ahead of time and verify that it works.