Happiness

May 13, 2019 at 10:01 pm | Posted in Economoney, Health, Psychology, Science | 2 Comments
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In a recent visit to the dentist, I saw an interesting article on Happiness. It was the cover story of the US National Geographic magazine of November 2017.

The article reviewed research on happiness with examples from 3 of the countries ranked top of the annual World Happiness Report.

Broadly, happiness comes from social connection, financial sufficiency, a sense of purpose, connection with our larger community, and physical activity. The article narrowed it down to pleasure, purpose and pride but I’d suggest those are a little narrow and self-serving. As the research shows, chasing a self-serving dream can lead to less satisfaction and more disconnection. A balanced life is key, even if we take time to get there.

How we get there varies widely.

Denmark has a government-supported education, health care, and a financial safety net. They have a built environment that encourages physical activity. Many people live in cooperatives.

Costa Rica has a terrain that discouraged large farms and a powerful land-holding class. The government could bring in education, medical, and social security. People have rich social lives, sleep well, are active and eat fresh whole food.

Singapore is a global city but rooted in traditional Asian values of harmony, respect, and hard work. Financial success is important but also well supported.

But none of these arise from passivity. We have to move towards happiness. We can find purpose through meaningful work, success, or volunteering and our role in the community. Social connections and close friendships have to be cultured and supported. We can also culture activity, as in walking to work.

And this can be strongly influenced by government policy.

“…three-quarters of human happiness is driven by six factors: strong economic growth, healthy life expectancy, quality social relationships, generosity, trust, and freedom to live the life that’s right for you. These factors don’t materialize by chance; they are intimately related to a country’s government and its cultural values. In other words the happiest places incubate happiness for their people.” – World Happiness Report researchers

If we don’t feel secure and don’t have opportunities for education, work, and a role in our community, it will be very difficult to create a supportive life that creates happiness. This is basic Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Key also is the ability to maximize joy while minimizing stress. The N. American work environment has been deteriorating lately, pushing longer hours and higher stress. Corporations are structured to maximize profits. But if they do not recognize that they’re ultimately for people, they can become dysfunctional. “Money can’t buy happiness.” It’s good to have enough but chasing money for it’s own sake becomes a fool’s game we lose in the end. How can you support relationships and community if you’re always working? How can a company support people if it ruins their health?

And a small tidbit: “Several types of evidence are used to link rising use of digital media with falling happiness.” For example, Facebook research found that people were depressed by comparing their lives with those portrayed by others, who were only sharing the good times.

The article also talked about 3 types of happiness:
1 – Experienced happiness or positive affect, happiness from the pleasure of daily living (Costa Rica example)
2 – Eudaimonic happiness, from a life of meaning and purpose (Danish example)
3 – Life satisfaction or evaluative happiness, from perceived accomplishments (Singapore example)

In my experience, real happiness comes from within. By supporting those aspects of our life that allow us to grow and thrive, happiness will arise naturally.

Links for more:
The current World Happiness Report

Best places in the US. The 2017 article above put Boulder, CO on top.

David

The Science of Fat

May 13, 2019 at 9:48 pm | Posted in Books, Health, Science | Leave a comment
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Recently, I read The Secret Life of Fat, a book by Sylvia Tara on modern fat science. Some content is commonly understood but a lot of details are not, even in modern medicine.

For example, we can consider fat an organ that supports our immune system and bones. We need fat and our body keeps a store on hand for times of shortage. Fat works to sustain itself and the body around it.

But belly fat crowds and overloads organs so is seen as the most problematic.

It’s well-known that as we age, our metabolism gradually slows. We often get less active as well so need less food to meet our energy needs. Yet our food habits can be deeply ingrained. As a result, it’s common to gain weight in our middle years.

It’s also become clear that our hormones change substantially in the same period (for men too) which exacerbates the problem.

Not to mention career progress into more desk-oriented work.

Weight is thus gained more easily while also becoming harder to lose. Things that worked for us before become much less effective.

The electric light allows us to stay up later and be perpetually tired. Being tired also slows our metabolism while reducing quality of life.

Stress increases metabolism but encourages fat (energy) retention. Emotional repression can also lead to fat buildup as a natural protective response. Similarly, Highly Sensitive Persons (HSP‘s) often carry extra weight as an ineffective kind of “protection.”

Genetics is another area that influences our tendency to gain weight. Ease at gaining, losing, or not gaining can all be seen in our DNA, if you’ve been tested. Genetics also influences where we put weight on. We’ll usually see examples in our family around us.

Our microbiome has a larger population than all the cells in our body. Many live in the gut and help us with digestion. The kinds of food we eat culture our gut bacteria. They’ll signal the brain went they want more, making it more challenging to change our food habits. They create a momentum to our diet. We have found some kinds of bacteria and viruses shift the bodies tendencies to store fat too. They can affect the bodies hormones and thus our mood and motivations.

Fat can also store toxins. If we’ve had a “leaky gut” problem, there is a tendency for toxins to leach into the blood stream. The liver will then try to store these toxins in fat. If we lose weight, the fat can release the toxins again so the body may work to restore fat as a toxin repository. Toxic load can thus create resistance to weight loss.

Similarly, plastics, pesticides and preservatives can all create a tendency to keep fat. Some chemicals behave enough like hormones to change our behaviour.

As we gain weight, our fat system will create a new set point and seek to sustain itself, despite our efforts otherwise. Obesity drifts into becoming a chronic disease and a major contributor to our largest health issues.

Overall, we have a growing list of influences outside of diet and lifestyle that can influence our tendency to gain and retain fat. Also, refined carbs and sugars are addictive.

The last section of the Secret Life book talks about ways to lose weight and keep it off using vigorous exercise and counting calories. This part of the book is weaker and based on older science.

Curiously, she closes with her own process, some of which conflicts with the previous section. Personally, I’ve never found “fighting” with my physiology productive. Instead, it’s more useful to get to know your body and understand what it needs and what throws it off. Each of us need our own formula to find balance.

Once middle aged, we usually have to move beyond dieting and shift into lifestyle changes or we won’t be able to keep excess weight off.

This isn’t just a personal issue. Our common diet is destroying our health and our environment. It’s unsustainable in multiple ways. Obesity contributes to our most common serious illnesses. It’s a preventable epidemic and yet there is strong medical and industry resistance to change.

The Lancet British medical journal published EAT-Lancet, the “Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems.” They titled it “Food in the Anthropocene.”

They recommend a revolution in our modern diet towards a goal of a “healthy reference diet” of 2,500 calories a day based on whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans, lentils, and peas), with just 150 calories from animal protein like beef, pork, lamb, poultry, eggs, and fish. In short, a diet that emphasizes whole, plant-based, unprocessed foods. This matches the CHIP program I’ve also written about.

Does that sound like starvation? In 2015 the average American consumed over 3,600 calories daily. In 1961, they consumed just 2,880. Canadians are close behind. In the rush away from dietary fat and an increase in processed foods, we shifted to sugar and low-quality carbs, considerably increasing out daily caloric intake.

Canada has updated its Food Guide, similarly reducing the emphasis on dairy and meat.

The CHIP program and the more stringent Ornish program emphasize changes in lifestyle that supports health:
– a whole foods, plant-based diet. This is naturally low in fat, refined carbs and sugar.
– moderate exercise, like walking. CHIP suggests working up to 10k steps a day.
– stress reduction, such as through meditation and yoga asana
– healing emotionally and culturing close relationships

The benefit of such an approach corresponds to the degree to which you adopt it.

NutritionFacts website has a free phone app for tracking a dietary balance of 12 food groups. The idea is helping you transition to a healthier diet. They also offer a free downloadable eating guide from this page.

Ayurveda
I next read The Prime, a book by Kulreet Chaudhary. “Give up the fight and win the war.” She’s a neurologist who had to take some medication she prescribed her patients and realized how badly it served them. Her mother recommended an Ayurvedic doctor she went to in desperation. Long story short, Ayurveda worked, she ended up referring patients, then training as an Ayurvedic doctor herself.

She brings up many similar points to the Fat book, but with less background science and more application. She covers food addictions, neuroadaption, the buildup of ama (undigested sludge), and why that leads to inflammation, weight gain, and other issues.

While Western medicine is very good for broken bones and infections, it’s much less effective at systemic issues as it doesn’t know how to balance the physiology as a whole. That is where Ayurveda shines. It focuses on restoring balance so the body can heal itself.

Dr. Chaudhary realized that many of her neurological patients were also losing weight because of restoring balance through Ayurveda. No dieting, just a natural restorative healing. She ended up developing a 4-step program for weight loss without dieting or exercise. Instead, gentle detoxification, healing, and balance bring weight loss as a side effect.

More broadly, Ayurveda recommends a vegetarian diet and recognizes we all have different physiologies that are supported by somewhat different diets. A gentle approach like The Prime, supplemented with points like CHIP above will place you in good stead long term.

If you have the opportunity, I recommend an Ayurvedic cleanse. It’s a great way to jump-start the restoration of balance and health.

The ideal is panchakarma in a spa or clinic. This is a more focused and personalized treatment including warm oil massage, steaming, and related treatments. Several friends have traveled to India for less expensive treatment but there are spas in N. America and Europe. You have to be careful their Vaidyas are properly trained and the herbs well-sourced. Those trained in Maharishi Ayurveda have high standards and use a milder approach suitable for westerners.

But such things are not cheap and can take time and attention. The Prime is a simple approach and a good way to get started.

I’ve also found it’s good to have support during and after a program so you sustain the lifestyle changes. Otherwise, you have more influences to fall back again and undo the benefits in short order.
David

Smart Homes

July 20, 2018 at 11:39 am | Posted in Economoney, Security, Software, Technology | Leave a comment
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Modern “Smart” technology is a wonderful thing. Smart phones do vastly more than just make telephone calls. They give you information power unheard of until recently. That technology has also moved forward into TV’s, household appliances, and “personal assistants.”

However, the technology has also picked up bad habits. Many web sites exchanged free applications for your usage data and demographics for targeted marketing. This is the operating principle of Facebook, for example. Google picked this up then it migrated onto smart phones in a big way. Some applications use your paid monthly data to feed you ads and collect your information. It’s hard to find applications that don’t track you now. Even simple things like flashlights want to track your browsing history, calling history, and more. Pay attention to those permissions.

Ah, not a big deal you say – I give up a little privacy in exchange for convenience. Yet most people do not understand how much information is being collected about them,  from how many devices, and how it skews their world-view. Companies have been working to aggregate the data from multiple sources too. Now people are paying for “personal assistants” that essentially bug your home. Just who is this smart for?

In a recent TED talk, journalists Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu describe an experiment they ran. They speak of the ways supposed convenience is used to collect your personal habits and send it to corporations. That data is then used to manipulate you into buying more and is sold to unknown third parties. Your personal life has become a product without you knowing.

Much as companies may plead that no personally identifiable information is being saved, how hard is it to ID you if they also know who bought their products? Just one piece of data like your IP address can connect all the dots. You leave your IP address on every website you visit, sometimes with your contact info, photo, and so forth. If you use a router, your devices use the same IP.

Keep in mind this is being done without your informed consent and your life is being shared with companies you’ve never heard of, often off-shore. This is unregulated territory. Your email address has more protection than your sleep and sex habits.

Smart power meters are a simpler example. Power consumption itself doesn’t give a lot of information about you. But smart meters track patterns of consumption throughout the day. This maps your personal routines in detail. My hydro provider lets me look at my usage graphs and can make surprisingly informed suggestions to save money. But I have less concern about them than I do multinationals with little to no regulatory oversight.

Zeynep Tufekci talked at TED about artificial intelligence and the hazards of unconstrained tracking. For example, even if you don’t log in, YouTube will offer you “suggested” videos. Web sites feed us what they think will keep us there longer. This drifts to extremes, leading into dark corners and a very distorted view of the world. I’ve been surprised by the weirdness YouTube suggests if I watch a few clips, for example. News sites do the same thing in much less obvious ways.

The talk mentions how Facebook’s testing revealed small changes in posts changed the voting behaviour of hundreds of thousands of users. In the US election, this was more than the difference between the parties. And yet the vast majority of users don’t realize they’re being manipulated this way. Confirmation bias is unconscious.

Minimizing our use of biased platforms can help. Balanced news sources, non-tracking search engines, browser plug-ins that reduce tracking, and similar tools can help us get a more neutral view. But only if we’re informed and discriminating.

The EU has been more proactive about clamping down on some of this behaviour. But the Internet is still largely an open highway. That’s a good thing but remember the hazards of the open road.
David

An Ayurvedic Cleanse

April 12, 2018 at 9:26 pm | Posted in Health, Science | 1 Comment
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Many people treat their cars better than their bodies. They’d never consider putting a coke in their gas tank and yet all sorts of dubious things end up in their mouths. Even if we have good intentions, sludge builds up in the physiology over time. This gradually leads to chronic health issues. But that sludge can be flushed periodically. This flushing is known as a cleanse. Consider it routine maintenance.

Want to know if you have crud buildup? Just look at your tongue. Is it perfectly pink? Or does it have a white overlay? Just in the middle back or all over? This is one indication of “ama” or gunk buildup. (The tongue also shows some other issues.)

There are lots of possible cleanses you can do out there, from simple water fasting to complex and expensive programs. But most are designed to do one thing and are not very integrative. Few recognize differences in body type leading to benefits for some but imbalance and side-effects for others. You need to understand your particular type and what is suitable for you first.

For example, an extended fast or raw vegan diet is detrimental for those with a Vata constitution. But they can have benefits for another body type.

This is from Ayurveda, the Indian science of health. It takes a whole body approach. From this perspective, you both clean things out and restore balance based on your physiology. Then the body can maintain health.

Recent science has been backing up some of these ancient practices. Our gut biome or the balance of digestive bacteria within make a big difference in how well we digest. It also affects our mind and moods. Turns out the digestive system has more neurons than the brain in our heads, hence the term “gut brain.” They’ve also discovered the issue of “leaky gut” where stuff that should be eliminated leaks out of the digestive system to get deposited elsewhere.

On top of the gradual buildup of crud, the cycles of time also influence our health. Seasons of the year have certain qualities, like winter is dry and cold in many places. Over the season, those qualities build within. If we lack those qualities, this can be balancing. But if we’re prone to excess, for example dry skin, winter can make it worse. Thus, Ayurveda recommends a cleanse in the spring and fall to clear up seasonal imbalances.

But trips to an Ayurvedic clinic or spa for treatment can be costly. Some people go on long trips to cheaper places in India but this requires care and research.

Now you can buy at-home cleanse kits such as Douillard’s “Colorado Cleanse.” However, a pre-packaged kit doesn’t recognize our personal balance points that have somewhat different treatment needs. Most don’t have the knowledge to adjust their program correctly to their current body. A consultation and a customized package based on your specific needs is much superior.

For example, I had excess heat. A standard oil like sesame will increase that heat. But an alternative oil like coconut offers similar benefits with a cooling effect. Depending on degree, we can make a blend to combine the benefits of different oils and moderate effects.

Even better is to add therapies that aid the cleanse, especially in the second phase. Not only is a warm oil massage quite delicious, it can be deeply healing. Moreso if the practitioner is awake. I recently did such a program at Amrit Dhara.

The art of these long-tested programs is surprising. For example, in a juice fast you often have 2-3 days of cravings from cutting sugar and low quality carbs. But on these programs, the Sugar Balance herbal blend cuts the usual cravings, smoothing the process.

Another example is taking ghee (clarified butter) first thing in the morning during a diet without fat (Phase 2). This causes the body to burn unnecessary body fat (in the context of the cleanse) without effort. It was very effective for me.

A good program is full of details like this.

For an at-home cleanse, it’s good to read instructions carefully and have support. Because of the thoroughness of the treatments, they can be time consuming. There is a simplified diet, herbal formulas, hydration therapy, liquefaction, tissue treatments, and more. Follow the links above for more information.

If you’d like an introduction to Ayurveda as a whole, I can recommend Dr Lad’s book Ayurveda, the Science of Self Healing. I’ve been referring to this small book for decades.

Diets really don’t work. Many of us need to change our lifestyle to support health & well-being. Yet that can be difficult. Not only do we have strong habits and unhealthy influences around us but the foods we eat culture a gut biome that wants more of the same. Unless we change our biome, we’ll find unconscious drivers pulling us off the path.

A cleanse is a great way to reset. With time off from bad habits and a moderate cleaning out, it’s much easier to develop better habits and begin anew. We’ll see how well I do. (laughs)
David

Going Secure with your Website

March 23, 2018 at 7:47 pm | Posted in uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Once upon a time on the Internet, you only needed to secure your website if you were selling on-line. Often you linked to another website to do this for you. Yet browsing any unsecured website, especially on public WiFi, can easily be snooped. To make your activity more secure, web browsers are increasing their warnings about ANY site that doesn’t have a security certificate. The little “i” beside the web address is soon to go red and add warnings on many, many websites.

As this initiative is being driven partly by Google, having a certificate also helps search engine rankings. If you have a free blog like this one on WordPress.com or on Blogger or similar, you’ll see they’ve gone to https already.

But if you host your own website, you may want to consider securing your site with an SSL certificate so this issue will not chase away viewers.

This Webnames article talks about the changes and what the browser warnings will look like.

This article talks about the kinds of certificates that are available. If you have a simple informational site, you’ll just need a basic domain validation type. But if you use sub-domains or have multiple sites, other options are available.

You can get a free certificate, but they have to be renewed often and have no support or insurance. If you have forms of any kind, including subscription or contact, paid will be more reliable. A basic paid certificate is a similar price to a domain name which makes it worth the small cost.

While you can install any certificate on your site, it’s easier to go with the options your hosting provider offers. This way, you also get their support and they’ll describe the steps on their servers. The process is fussy so that’s valuable. Give yourself time to sort out the bugs.

Here is a typical process. It will vary by host, server OS, and security vendor.

Step 1: Ordering the certificate you need. For example, I went to the SSL section of my host’s website and ordered there.

Step 2: Certificate Signing Request key: Typically, you’ll generate a CSR, then enter it into a form with your organizational info. This may be in 2 places on your host’s site.

Step 3: Often, there is then steps to set the certificate up in your website Control Panel under SSL or Security.

Step 4: Verify with the certificate provider. For example, they’ll email you a code to paste into a form to verify yourself. The certificate will then be Issued and emailed to you. Your site back end will be updated as well.

Step 5: Install the certificate. You then need to upload the certificate you received, usually into the form in step 3. Then you can select the certificate for your domain in your hosting control panel. Thus your site is certified secure.

Step 6: Site seal. You can then place a logo on your site to show your certification. This requires Header code, so I installed the “Insert Headers and Footers” plugin. (This can also be used for Google Analytics, Facebook pixel and so forth.)

You’re now officially secured. Run an SSL checker like this one, this one or this certificate detailed one to make sure everything is correct. Each reports a little differently.

But…
Odds are good that your site is full of old http addresses like images and back links. Thus, you’ll get a “mixed content” error and still won’t get the green lock or similar in a web browser – even if the SSL checks out perfectly.

This article lists some of the fixes needed (you can ignore the Cloudflare section if you’re not using them – skip to Enforcing SSL).

The temporary fix here was:
a) installing “SSL Insecure context fixer” plugin.
(Run the test first. It’s in the Dashboard, Tools menu. That tells you how to set it.)

b) In my case, the Custom HTML widgets needed to be updated to https links too.

If you’re still having issues, this tool identifies specific link errors.

As the above article mentions, you also want to update your website address on Dashboard, Settings, General to https. Also update your website links on social media sites.

Later, I’ll run a ‘search and replace‘ on the database to update all those image and internal links from http://domain.ca to https://domain.ca. Then I won’t need the plugin.

You can also use the “Broken Links Checker” plugin to check for redirected links, but I wouldn’t leave this plugin activated as it pumps the database too much and will slow your site.

Safe Surfing!
David

UPDATE:
When I migrated another site to a new domain a few years ago, I logged into the database, installed a special program, and ran a search and replace to update the domain for all the internal links. I then removed the program for security reasons.

This time, I took a newer, easier route and installed Better Search Replace plugin inside WordPress. After exporting the database as a backup, I ran a test. It found over 12,000 links to update (from http://domain.com to https://domain.com). I then ran the update and in a couple of minutes all was done.

I then deactivated the SSL Insecure Context Fixer plugin and ran a few SSL checking tools (all mentioned above) to confirm all was fixed.

I then activated Broken Links Checker to do a once over and fix random errors, like incorrect URLs entered into comment forms. I’ll deactivate this afterwards as it tends to bog a site down.

Had I known about the search and replace plug-ins sooner, I would have skipped the “temporary fix” above and done this directly. However, if there is an issue with the results, the SSL Fixer plugin can still be a great help to keep your lock green.

The Changing Landscape of Employment

March 23, 2018 at 6:45 pm | Posted in uncategorized | Leave a comment

Periodically, I write about trends in work and the economy. For example, The New Unemployed or Changing Jobs.

Fully half of all current jobs are expected to be automated or replaced by new technology within the next decade. I recently posted a related article about changes to energy and transportation.

In a TED talk by economist Daniel Susskind, he explores misconceptions and consequences of automation. How do we distribute wealth other than through work?
(For some reason the talk video is not posted on YouTube and the TED code doesn’t work now.)

In this TED talk, Anthony Goldbloom explores which jobs we’ll lose and which not. Machine learning makes the difference – is the task novel or is it about frequent, high-volume tasks a machine can learn? Already, computers can diagnose disease and mark exams better than humans. They’re learning to drive cars and anticipate our desires too.

On YouTube

I’d recommend people get much better guidance on their skills and aptitudes. Often, these are not obvious without considerable experimentation. We can be blind to what comes naturally to us. Yet working at what we’re naturally good at can make a huge difference in quality of life and benefit to society.

We would all benefit immensely if talented creatives, philosophers, healers and spiritual adepts didn’t have to seek other paid work to support themselves.
How all this will play out remains to be seen.
David

Epigenetics

March 23, 2018 at 6:01 pm | Posted in Health, Media, Psychology, Science | Leave a comment
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Epigenetics is a fascinating field. I first heard about it through geneticist Bruce Lipton. At the time it was not an accepted branch of biology.

We’re all born with a fixed set of DNA that comes roughly half from our mothers genome and half from our fathers. If you and one of your parents get a DNA test, you’ll know which of them gave you what. Each of our siblings also has a similar proportion, but each has a different mix.

Essentially, our genes are sequences of chemical combinations that are a blueprint to create specific proteins used as the building blocks of our body. However, the genes also have a protein cover that other chemicals open and close in various ways. When sections are exposed, a protein recipe is revealed for replication. When sections 17-19 are exposed, it produces a different protein than when just 17-18 are out.

This distinction is key for understanding epigenetics, the study of external control of DNA expression. It also means our genes are not determinism. Rather, DNA is a blueprint for replicating proteins, but it doesn’t control their expression. It is not our destiny.
Identical twins with matching DNA can have different life and health outcomes. What you do with what you have is more important than what you have.

Bruce talked about the influence of the mothers environment during pregnancy. Is she stressed and in danger? Or is she relaxed and listening to classical music? For the baby to survive in the world to come, it will respond to the levels of stress by developing more muscles or more forebrain. Ayurveda also talks of the importance of nutrition during pregnancy.

In the TED talk below by epigeneticist Moshe Szyf, he speaks of how early life experiences can program gene expression too. In other words, the process continues after birth. Food availability, threats, care, social status, and more can program our response. If food is uncertain, we’re programmed to binge or store it as fat. Yet this adaptation may not serve us well when food is very available. Our programs becomes a maladaption that affects our quality of life and may also affect gene expression.

Scientists tested if they could deprogram the automatic adaption response. In the example case, could they break cocaine addiction? In animal research, they could break the pattern with a single treatment.

While DNA is an old blueprint, gene expression is flexible and adaptive. Gradually, we’re learning how to correct programmed behaviours that are not in our best interest. It’s fascinating to consider.

On YouTube
David

Backup Updated

February 17, 2018 at 4:53 pm | Posted in Backup, Computers, Software | Leave a comment

I’ve written several articles on computer backup over the years. For example:

Backup That Counts reviewed types and locations of backups

Backup That Works talks about why you want a backup, and why you want to choose the system carefully.

However, many of the programs I’ve recommended have not been upgraded for more recent Windows versions. It’s time for a new article.

For my work computer, I have 3 kinds of backup:
– weekly system image of the boot drive
– daily data backup of changed files – a differential with monthly full, 3 months kept.
backup on save (real time or file sync) of key files or folders from my current projects, with versions.

The first ensures I can recover my system and get up and running quickly. Standard backups don’t work well for restoring operating systems – you want imaging for that. The second ensures I have copies and quick access to everything I’ve worked on or collected. The third makes a copy each time I save the file, ensuring I lose little time if key files are corrupted, deleted in error, or similar. I can get working quickly even if the whole system died.

While I’ve not needed these backups often, they make a huge difference when I do. There are some files that could not be recovered.

While Windows 10 has a backup tool included, I don’t like the approach. It’s hard to check if you don’t know what it’s doing. Other tools I’ve used have become out-of-date or insufficient.

I found maintaining 3 different programs annoying so I ended up migrating to AOMEI Backupper to get the first 2 types of backup. This includes a tool to create a bootable disk so you can access your backup without the software installed, like in moving to a new system. Then after testing, I upgraded to the paid version to get the third, File Sync. The paid version also has some useful tools I wanted. AOMEI has served me well for awhile now.

I’ve not found other tools that combine these techniques. AOMEI isn’t perfect. It’s not always clear what some settings mean. But their web site covers the process for configuring most options. Most importantly, the software has been very reliable. Once it’s set up and scheduled, it’s simply worked.
David

Talk on Book Publishing

January 5, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Posted in Books, Writing | Leave a comment
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I’ll be speaking at the North Island Writers Conference later this month on a panel discussing bringing your work to the market. See Concept to Completion in Session 2.

NIW_Conference_11x17_poster (Medium)

See the related articles here.
For more info on the conference.

How Many Stars Are There?

October 9, 2017 at 11:28 am | Posted in Science, Space, uncategorized | 2 Comments

I’ve always enjoyed things that bring perspective on our place in the universe and the nature of space around us. I’ve posted on The Ultra Deep Field, How Our Solar System Actually Moves, Lanikea: Our Home Supercluster, Across the Universe, Quite Enough (on scale), and more.

A new treat: The European Southern Observatory is hosting a Gigapixel image of the Milky Way. You can shift it to full screen if you like. As you zoom and zoom, more and more stars show at every point. You can click and drag the image or use the tools across the bottom. Consider this a photo of our galactic neighborhood. It gives you more of a sense of just how large it is. Many of those points of light have planets.
David

 

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