Thoughts about backup of personal stuff

Lately, I’ve been thinking about backup of my personal stuff. Things I know I always want to have at hand.

My fiance has been talking about it for some time now but it might have been the death of my father that made me plan stuff. I have pictures of him that is and will always be priceless.

I’m currently thinking about having the backup routine work in several stages. First, setting up a raspberry pi with an external harddrive that I’ll backup stuff directly to. Doing it like this makes it possible for me to send my data to a machine that can be on all the time or cycle on and off depending on at what time I want my backup routine to run.

I would also like that the raspberry pi upload stuff to dropbox, working as my off-site solution. This can be easily done with symlink like I did with my minecraft backup system. I’m going to look into throttling the bandwidth, because I rather have it upload slow than having any impact on my network.

Last stage is doing physical backups and storage. I’m thinking just using a 32GB usb drive for data and putting photos in a protective case which I then but in a flame retardant box down in the basement.

I know that, for most people, this sounds crazy and way too complicated but I think everyone gets to a certain point in life where you cannot bare the thought of something being gone.

This is the only things left that really connect me to my father and I need for it to be protected. I think I’ll start with setting up the raspberry pi when I get home.

2014-10-18 09_45_14-Program Manager

Free software KVM

Use one mouse and keyboard for several computers? And without having to buy a KVM switch or any other hardware solution? If you’re in a Microsoft environment, this might be for you.

At home I have 3 screens, shared between two PCs and therefor have two mice and keyboards. This isn’t exactly the most perfect solution and that’s why I started to think about KVM switches.

First of, the only KVM switch I own is at least 10 years old and use PS/2 so that wouldn’t exactly work for me. Second, I didn’t want to go and buy something for a setup that might not be permanent.

So I started looking for software that would “link” together computers and I’ve tried a couple of weird ones that had a lot of issues and generally didn’t work well. But what I didn’t realize is that Microsoft had a free alternative.

2014-10-18 09_57_23-Download Microsoft Garage Mouse without Borders from Official Microsoft DownloadMouse without Borders, besides having a great name, looks to work perfectly for what I want. Like the official text says, you can use it on up to four computers which is more than I need at the moment.

The only problem with this is that it can only be used on Windows operating systems. No support for Linux or OS X, which is not an issue at the moment but I could see myself adding another screen to my setup later with debian on it or something.

But for right now, this works and is free. It’s also extremely easy to get started with. You can find Mouse without Borders here and let me know what you think.

gsheader

Greenshot: Last print screen program you’ll ever need

I’d like to start this post by saying that I’ve never, ever even imagined downloading a program to handle print screen. I’d just press print screen, open mspaint and paste it in there and crop out the part that I wanted the screenshot of.

When I got my job, the first thing I noticed is that many (if not all) of the employes here had all these fancy stuff happening on screen when they wanted to take screenshots. After looking through the programs on our appserver I found Greenshot, which is a program I’ve never heard of but I will never stop using.

What it Greenshot:

Greenshot is basically around to make it easier for you to take full control of how you take screenshots. It comes with many tools like region selection, directly save as your preferred image format or directly uploading to imgur. Really handy.

For me, the best part is the region selection. If I press PrtScn, I get a new cursor so that I can select the area I want to screenshot. This makes it a lot easier to crop out funny e-mails from russian brides that know that they are perfect for me..

Easy to highlight what you'd like to take a screenshot of and lots of selections after you take a screenshot.

Easy to highlight what you’d like to take a screenshot of and lots of selections after you take a screenshot.

The menu you’ll get after taking a screenshot has the usual stuff going on and depending on what you have installed on your computer, it will populate the menu with everything from cloud services to programs in the office package.

Greenshot comes with it’s own lightweight image editor which you can use to highlight text or draw simple shapes with. I do however use it so that I can keep my screenshot up temporary, like if I need to remember something on one tab in Firefox that I need to input into another tab. It saved me a bunch of times at work all ready.

All I can say about Greenshot is that you just need to have it. It should be a mandatory first install on every freshly formatted computer. It’s free, lightweight and easy to use. I highly recommend it.

Download Greenshot here.

2014-06-18 10.08.15

My dual PC streaming project: Almost finished update

So I’ve gotten everything except for the RAM so I just stole half of the RAM from my main computer just to be able to test the streaming PC and everything works fine. At the moment I’m remote desktop’ing into the streaming PC but I have an old monitor at my parents house that I could use for the streaming machine.

I am experimenting somewhat with settings and I can get it up to a medium preset without it burning up but quality wise it’s not a whole lot more than fast preset, so I think I’ll stick to that. Did experience with 720p but today I’m going to set it to 1080 and we’ll see how that works out. Main thing for me with streaming at 720 while playing at 1080 is that the text on stream looks horrible.

I’m going to see how 1080p, 30 fps, fast preset and 2500 bitrate work out. I just wish I was a Twitch partner so I could go for something more like 3500 without loosing the audience.

If you want to follow the progress, please check out my twitch.tv page and follow me. I’m on often playing a bunch of different games.

My dual PC streaming project: The setup, explained

streamshowAs the picture above explains, my gaming computer will go directly into the AVerMedia Live Gamer HD which in turn put out the video signal on my monitor. You can go for a dual screen solution and clone the main screen to the second which is going into the Live Gamer HD but I haven’t tested this so I don’t know how much of a difference it’ll make. I’ll be sure to try it out though.

The streaming computer will be running OBS (it can be Xsplit if you’d like) and most all of the peripherals will be connected to it like the microphone and headset. To hear the sound from the gaming PC you need to have OBS up and running. I do plan to have the streaming computer up and running most of the time when my main computer is on and turn everything off when it’s not in use.

Only thing I’m missing right now is a small screen that I could turn vertical for my streaming PC, only to be able to see how the streaming processor is doing and if everything is up and running. But for now I think I have to just use two sources on my secondary screen for that.

Well, I’m off to pick up my new hardware! I’m not sure if I can build it right this moment but I’ll sure take some pictures and post them for you. I’m extremely excited :D

VoCore: A coin-sized Linux computer

If it’s one think that I love, it’s new gadgets. Recently, there has been more and more awesome stuff posted on IndieGoGo that made me dust of the old Paypal account and it doesn’t get more awesome than this. A coin-sized Linux computer, with wifi.. I mean,  how cool is that? When I look at stuff like this I can’t stop thinking about all the cool stuff someone could do with this.

I personally just spent $45 on this to get one with a dock that adds ethernet to it. If nothing else, it is a cool thing to have laying around the house as a conversation starter.

If you want one, go over to indiegogo and throw cash at this project. Looking forward to all the cool stuff people will use this tiny computer for. It’s an awesome little gadget.

Avermedia Live Gamer HD box content

My dual PC streaming project: The capture cards

Yesterday, I wrote about most of the hardware going into my new streaming computer except for the things that actually make something like this possible: capture cards.

I’m going to be sporting two different capture cards in my computer. The AVerMedia Live Gamer HD and the BlackMagic Design Intensity Pro. I bought the Intensity Pro first as a way to capture consoles before I had the internet connection to stream. The Live Gamer HD is a common capture cards for PC streamers as it allows you to watch whatever you’re playing in 1080p at 60 frames per second while capturing 1080p at 30 fps or 720p at 60 fps.

Realistically, 1080p at 60 frames per second is not going to work at all with certain popular streaming services due to them using flash. Flash is extremely resource intensive so trying to have flash play 60 frames is likely going to fry some of the viewers computers. At the moment I stream 720p at 40 fps and I’m happy with how that looks with fast moving games.

For consoles, I’ll still use my Intensity Pro. I really enjoy having both cards so that I don’t have to switch all the cables around all the time. Or, as if it would happen, I get famous and I want to use a good quality camera for as a “studio” camera I could use the Intensity Pro for that. I’d be limited to one camera though so at that point I’d probably change to a more expensive BlackMagic card with more ports.

The only problem with the Intensity Pro is that it doesn’t support some of the older consoles, like the SNES and NES. It’s only in the last couple of generations of consoles that games always hit the target resolution from the console and older consoles usually did some trickery with that to give themselves better performance. SNES games might be “480p” even though they run at a lower resolution. The Intensity Pro can’t really detect those resolutions but I’ll see if I can find a workaround for that. I might just have to use one of my older capture cards for those consoles.

Tomorrow I’ll get back to you with the specifics on how this set up will work.

My dual PC streaming project: Introduction

One of the worst things for me about streaming is the fact that my computer gets hit real hard from encoding the video as well as running the game. Some games, this isn’t really a problem. Encoding doesn’t take anything in particular away from playing Diablo 3, for instance. I would really like to play something like Metro: Last light without burning my computer up so I am going for a dual PC streaming solution.

Before I continue with the rest of the post, I have to share this with you. I usually am the one that tell people to pay close attention before ordering. But during ordering, I had to cancel the order once to fix a mistake and now that it’s sent I noticed that I’ve done another error. Double, triple or quadruple check your shit.. Seriously. Even me, who has been building machines for 13-14 years still screw up if I can’t focus on what I’m doing and now I have to send back a case so I can get a new one.

The hardware

When you search for game stream machines or hardware suggestions, you’ll basically only get people talking about intel. I would mostly argue for an i7 when it comes to streaming or.. actually computing in general but as someone who haven’t got the most money in the world, going for a cheaper 8-core AMD is the way I’m going.

 

The complete list of hardware for the encoding PC, explanation follows:

  • AMD FX-8350 Black EditionAMD FX-8350 Black Edition
  • MSI 970A-G43
  • Corsair Vengeance 1600 MHz CL9
  • Crucial M500 SSD 120GB
  • AMD HD 5770 1GB
  • AVerMedia Live Gamer HD
  • BlackMagic Design Intensity Pro

So for CPU I’m going with an AMD FX-8350 Black Edition. Even though 8-cores doesn’t make up for not having hyperthreading, the price alternative for me is an i5-4440 (at time of ordering) and for multicore encoding the AMD will do a whole lot better. Across the board, the i5 is doing quite good in comparison with the FX-8350 but for my use the AMD looks like it’s going to crush the alternative.

The motherboard is basically the cheapest motherboard I could get for the AM3+ socket. This is a technique that I’ve developed throughout the years; Buy the cheapest you can get that has all the features that you need. I am glad that I’m getting an MSI board however as I really enjoy MSI as a producer of hardware.

RAM-wise I’m getting 8 GB of the Corsair Vengeance memory sticks. Well, I am getting 16 GB but I had to order 8 right now so it’ll have to do the next couple of weeks. I got these simply because, again, it’s the cheapest alternative. Hopefully I’ll be able to take off the heatsink or I might (most likely) have issues with the Noctua NH-U12S that I’m going to put on the CPU.

Crucial M500, because I just need a quick and reliable disc for the OS and it was the cheapest at the moment of ordering. I’ve only had one SSD from Crucial and it died but that was a while ago. The M500 is a relative fast reader but a relative slow writer which is fine by me as I only need to read programs of SSD and not create a whole lot of files.

The HD 5770 is just a random card that I used a while ago in my main PC. This PC doesn’t need a whole lot of GPU power but I thought I’d might as well use the cards I have laying around.

Read this post for an introduction to the capture cards I’ll be using in this build.

dropbox

Backup folders in debian or ubuntu with dropbox and symbolic linking

Just a quick guide for those who’d like to use dropbox to backup something automatically in debian or ubuntu. All you need is dropbox (…) and you’re set to go. Go over to dropbox.com and download your .deb file then run this command to install dropbox:

sudo dpkg -i dropbox.deb

Now you’ll have a dropbox folder in your home folder. We should make a new folder in dropbox that we could link to the folder that we’d like to backup and set up a symbolic link to the folder.

cd Dropbox

mkdir YourBackupFolder

ln -s /path/to/your/folder ~/Dropbox/YourBackupFolder

Now, do a dropbox start to make sure Dropbox is actually running and you’re set to go.