Saturday, February 28, 2015

Backing-up MS Window Files to Linux on a Dual Boot Computer

Backing up files is one of those onerous tasks that has to be done if you want to preserve your data. Currently, I am running a computer using Linux (Ubuntu) with the capability to boot into MS Window 7.
I assume that many people will have a similar configuration and a need to preserve their MS Windows files. This narrative will review one approach for automatically accomplishing that task.

While most of my work is in Linux, I still have occasional need to boot into MS Windows and modify files that need to be saved. Yes, MS Windows has a backup program that can save your work. The problem, I have never gotten that backup program to function reliably. Next, my duration on MS Windows tends to be very short which circumvents the automatic scheduling of backups. Finally, the stored data is in a proprietary format and is not portable. Consequently I sought out an open source solution from the Linux environment that would accomplish and automatic backup.

As a quick aside, the back-up media that I am using is a Western Digital 2T USB hard drive that is attached to a USB port on my router. This configuration was chosen based on the premise that one should not use the same drive to backup your data. You would lose both your data and the backup should the drive fail.

When operating in Linux, there are a variety of back-up programs. Currently I am using sbackup. I have liked sbackup, but it has proven to be finicky. In this case, it appeared that sbackup was backing-up the MS Windows files. But that turned out not to be the case. The apparent "simple" solution failed. Time for Plan "B".

Plan "B" involved creating a "windows_backup" directory in my Linux home directory, using the Linux copy command, and employing anacron to schedule the backup.

The \etc\anacrontab entry to implement the backup script (program) is below.  
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 1      20      window_backup    nice  bash /home/steve/ShellScripts/windows_backup.sh
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Essentially the syntax above says to run the script (program) found in the file  "windows_backup.sh" once per-day 20 minutes after the computer boots into Linux (Ubuntu). Anacron manual page. The script below copies the MS Windows files into my Linux home directory and places them in the "windows_backup" directory. Sbackup successfully stores the files onto the Western Digital USB hard drive. No manual intervention required. Yea.
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#!/bin/bash
# Executed from /etc/anacrontab

cp -f -R -L "/media/windows/Users/Stephen/My Documents/Access" /home/steve/windows_backup/
cp -f -R -L "/media/windows/Users/Stephen/My Documents/My Garmin" /home/steve/windows_backup/
cp -f -R -L "/media/windows/Users/Stephen/My Documents/POI_Data_Files" /home/steve/windows_backup/

chown -f -R steve:backup /home/steve/windows_backup

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As a conclusionary note, sbackup is only one of many Linux based programs to backup files. I am not that familiar with the other backup programs. Please do not consider my use of sbackup as an indication that it is the backup program that is to be used. You may wish to do your own search. Other Linux based backup programs may be able to successfully copy files from an MS Windows partition without the Plan "B" option noted above.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Intuit - A Despicable Company

Once again Intuit has demonstrated that is a despicable company out to screw its customer base. Prior Intuit Despicable posts here.

In this case, it was recently revealed that some of the standard features included with TurboTax Deluxe have been disappeared. As in removed without informing the customer that these features where no longer available. I had just bought TurboTax Deluxe. Neither the box nor the installation process disclosed that Intuit had downgraded TurboTax Deluxe. Today, I received the following notice.




The prostration by Mr. Goodarzi that: "Intuit has a long history of doing right by our customers, ..." is utter bunk.  I also note that others have seen this misleading slight of hand. Intuit gets greedy, nearly doubles price of TurboTax. Intuit Strips TurboTax Deluxe of Support for Key Tax Forms.

Even more incredulous is the duplicitous gobbledygook statement that: "Here's why we made the change. Over the years, we have worked hard to make it easy for you to choose the TurboTax product that is right for you and your unique tax situation. We want that choice to be clear and confidence inspiring. However, as new online and mobile technologies emerged, our products, and the tax scope and features they included, began to differ, leading to customer confusion. These differences also impeded our ability to introduce new innovations across our entire product line." Mr. Goodarzi seems to believe that Intuit customers are both confused and stupid.

Mr. Goodarzi goes on to state: "But good intent must be matched with great execution, and that is where we let you down. We have heard from many of you that you were surprised when you discovered the change. No one likes this kind of a surprise, so we are taking immediate action to make things right and help you through this transition year." Obviously the "surprise" was trying to pull a fast one on the customer. Well, there are two simple actions that Intuit could have done that would be customer friendly assuming that Intuit was actually ethical.

  1. Restore the features that were secretly removed though an on-line update.
  2. Allow the customer to upgrade to the Premier version for free.

Instead of a simple pro-customer solution Mr. Goodarzi proposes a "bait and switch" style solution where the customer must now pay an additional fee to upgrade to then get $25 back. Intuit apparently has difficulty with the concept of ethical behaviour. Getting your $25 refund. Also review this web-page: More information about the $25 cash back offer. Technologically, both Quicken and TurboTax are excellent products. The problem is that the marketing arm of Intuit is despicable.

Update:  I actually ended up getting a $35 dollar refund after complaining that the on-line upgrade cost more than the offered $25 refund. So Intuit gets  a +1 positive point. Hopefully, next year there will not be a repeat of this year's snafu.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

America: Imagine the World Without Her - A Movie Review

Overall, a good movie. A major plus of this movie is the perspective of D'Souza, who immigrated to the US from India. As such, like Tocqueville, D'Souza presents an "outside" viewpoint.

The movie does have its faults. It spends too much time reviewing the progressive left's distortion and vilification of US history before finally getting around to refuting those erroneous contentions. One could say that that is a positive for the sake of analysis. Nevertheless, one is left waiting for the "punch line". D'Souza, took an inordinate amount of time before finally geting around to mentioning that other cultures have been just as villainous as the US in various regards. Read the Wikipedia review.

One of D'Souza shortcomings, as an apologist for the US, in this film was ignoring Reagan's transgressions. D'Souza took great interest in hyping Reagan's famous quote: "Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem." as a supposed positive message. The problem of course, those were just empty words uttered for the sake of the sound byte. Reagan was unsuccessful in reducing the scope of government.

Rotten Tomatoes had an interesting breakdown concerning the responses to the movie. Eight percent of the critics gave the move a positive review. Which means 92% lambasted the film. Of the audience reviews, the positive percentage was 87%. It appears that the critics were not sympathetic to the conservative message. (I will agree that there were some non-political structural problems with the film.) Those who were motivated to the see the movie were probably conservative so the movie naturally appealed to them. In conclusion, the movie should be seen by all since it analyzes the US within the context of world history.

Finally - Science Fiction Magazine Database Ported to Linux

Finally, I have the Science Fiction magazine database working under Linux (Ubuntu 14.04 and LibreOffice  4.3.3.2). Now I no longer need MS Access for maintaining the database. Completing it has proven to have been more complicated and taken a lot longer than expected. Steep learning curve. Prior posts on this topic.

I do not anticipate embellishing the current rendition, even though it is quite rudimentary.  The next phase will be learning PHP, HTML, and CSS so that the magazine database can be accessed through a web browser. Another multi-year extravaganza?

This project is pretty much a learning experience effort. Much of the data can be readily found on "The Internet Speculative Fiction Database". I would not have been able put this project together without the assistance provide by the "Access2Base" website and the volunteers at the "Apache Open Office Forum". Thank-you.


The Main Form

"Show Author Stories" button pressed.
When the "Show Author Stories" button is pressed, all stories associated with that author are displayed, even if in magazines other than Analog.


"Find an Author" button pressed.
When the button "Find an Author" is pressed, you can initiate a search to display all stories associated with authors possessing the search string.


"Find a Story" button pressed.

When the button "Find a Story" is pressed, all stories containing the search string will be displayed.


"Add an Author" button pressed.

Occasionally, stories have more than one author. The form above allows traditional authors to be assigned to a story.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Obama's Middle East Debacle

Obama continues to play a confused duplicitous losing "Game of Thrones" in the Middle East. ISIS has continued to expand the territory that it controls which has also created a massive refugee crises. In a very slow disorganized response, Obama has initiated some air strikes (which some assert are simply for show) and has deployed some advisers to assist the Iraqi military. The overall summary: "Too slow and too late".

Obama has also claimed to have formed a coalition of various nations to fight ISIS. This coalition appears to be a sham. Beyond the obvious phot-op, the supposed members of the coalition have apparently not made any commitment to supply ground forces to combat ISIS. The situation in Iraq and Syria continues to deteriorate.

The monumental flaw is Turkey. Turkey (a supposed ally) has been acting in a manner supporting ISIS. Turkey has refused to allow the US to use its bases to conduct operations against ISIS. But wait, Susan Rise claimed that an agreement was reached. A success for Obama, no.  Turkey immediately refuted that claim. The Obama administration once again can't get its act together. But I digress from the major significance of Turkey in this ongoing Middle East saga.

Turkey a supposed ally and supposed member of the Obama's faux coalition refuses to participate in the fight against ISIS. Rather than fight ISIS, Turkey has actually bombed the Kurds within Turkey. What gives?

Turkey is on the side of ISIS since ISIS is accomplishing Turkey's dirty work of "ethnic cleansing" of Kurds and Christians. Turkey has had a long history of human rights abuses against the Christians and Kurds.

u-tube video: Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew feels Crucified 
  
Turkey’s violations to human rights towards Kurds: A hindrance on admittance to the EU

Besides the issue that Turkey is really not a friend of the US, the actions of Turkey highlight  Obama's duplicity and repugnant moral relativism. Obama has used his "loudspeaker" to insist that Assad be removed from office in Syria asserting that Assad has "killed his own people"  and that the so-called Syrian "freedom fighters" should receive training and weapons. Well, if that is the case, then Obama should be publicly demanding for the removal of Erdogan and the arming of the Kurdish "freedom fighters". So far, Obama has been silent on Turkish "ethnic cleansing".

As an additional comment concerning Obama shallowness; Obama has labeled Putin's actions in the Ukraine as a violation of international law. Obama's actions toward Syria are just as illegal since Obama is interfering in Syria's sovereignty.

To restore some semblance of a coherent Middle East strategy, the US must support the Kurds and must use its military, economic, and diplomatic power to require any Islamic based regime to be secular and to guarantee human rights for all citizens within their respective countries.