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Scott's Column
iPad Games and Apps... and Scott's Paranoia About Backups

September 2, 2012
By Scott Lewis

This past month has been a slow one... at least for tech items for this column. I did go thorough my backup strategy when reading about a writer for Wired that lost his data to hackers. I also provide a quick update on the iPad games and apps I use most often.

Current Topics:

iPad Games & Apps

Two apps take up almost all my time with the iPad. Flipboard and Zynga Poker. It is terrible. This iPad is a total time suck. I find it hard to sit and watch TV without picking it up and playing poker. I usually use Flipboard in the morning before going to work. Again... I can't even watch the local news without also flipping through headlines on the iPad.

Who came up with this crazy thing. I am addicted. What can I do?

OK. So I also use the iPad to watch videos with AV Player HD and to hold photos.

I am off to New York for a short trip in September. I will report back how well the iPad does on battery life and trying to find Free WiFi when away from home.

I finally found a good offline poker game for the iPad. It is called Poker: Hold'em Championship HD and it is by Glu. This is the same game as the original WSOP Hold'em game I had for my iPod and Android phone. It is not branded WSOP anymore, and this time it is free. I feel bad about that because it is so good I have no trouble pay for it. There is a non-HD version for the iPhone as well. Highly recommended.

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Backups

By now many of you have already read about Mat Honan's loss of data from having his Apple ID account hacked.

I took this as a tiny wake up call. I am not as guilty as Mat in the protection of my data, but his tale caused me to double check that I was doing the right thing... especially since I have not made any changes to my backup strategy since getting an iPad. Granted, having an iPad is no reason to worry about backups. After all, the data on my iPad comes from my PC when it is synced.

I was mainly concerned because I established a folder on my main PC to hold photos and sync those photos to my iPad. These are copies of some of my own photos... as well as pictures I have downloaded from the Internet. For the most part these files are not important. The photos I took I have the originals that are already being backed up. However, to prevent having duplicates all over my computer I moved all photos I downloaded from the internet to the folder I sync with my iPad. I did need to insure this folder was included in my backup plan.

Another iPad related item... I imported all my music from my Zune to iTunes. With this comes the chore of rating all my music... again. Zune and iTunes save their ratings differently in the meta data of the MP3 files. This meant I had to re-rate all my songs. I would do it anyway because iTunes has 1-5 stars, which means 6 ratings if you count no rating as having meaning. Zune only has 2 ratings, Love It or Hate It. So they have 3 if you also count not rated.

Bottom line is this... I took this time to make sure I was backing up everything important. If Mat Honan could lose his data maybe I could.

And I have.

Yes... I said it... I lost a lot of data a few months ago. I was moving a piece of furniture. I had two external hard drives on this furniture. I went to move the drives gently to a near by shelf. But the dummy that I am... I did not power down those drives before moving them. I accidentally bumped one of the drives. It is dead now. There was a lot of information on that drive. So I have saved it. I may pay to have the data recovered from a service some day.

I lost all my installs. This is minor, but it included the license key for my copy of Photoshop. I should still have that in an email, so I just need to look for it.

The irreplaceable stuff I lost was all the digital photos I had from the first two digital cameras we owned. There was about 8 years of photos. All the photos of my kids growing up. Eventually I will try to get that data retrieved.

I did not think about that drive previously. It was a low priority drive. Those were really old photos, and I have been backing up all the photos I take with my current camera. In fact, that drive I lost was the backup drive. It held copies of my current photo folder. The problem really came down to this... when I built my current PC two years ago... I didn't bother to bring back those really old photos. I just left them on the backup drive. Oops!

I bought a new external drive... and created the following backup strategy:

  1. My PC is backed up with a command file (batch file) to a folder on the internal drive of my server.
  2. My server's internal drive is backed up to an external drive attached to the server.
  3. Critical files from the server are backed up to a second external hard drive.

If you follow that... then you know my PC is backed up twice... both to an internal and external drive on the server. With the critical files from the server itself backed up to both external hard drives. That means I have three copies of all my important files.

I typically run these backups once in a while. But after reading about Mat Honan, I decided to take it to the next level. Time to double check that my iTunes data is backed up, and time to schedule the backups to run regularly.

I do not leave my PC on all the time. I used to, but find it a little annoying since it is in my bedroom. And I find it a waste of electricity. Not that I am a green, save the planet kind of person. Quite the opposite. I have no trouble heating up my oven to warm a single slice of pizza or some garlic toast. But leaving the PC running all night and all day when I am at work... Why? I would do it if it was doing something worthwhile. But what would it do except fetch emails?

However, I do tend to leave the computer running all weekend long. So... I set the backup of my PC to happen at 4:00 AM every Sunday. I then set my server to backup every Monday at 9:00 AM. My server is on all the time... but I just assume it does its backups while I am at work. After all, it is in my bedroom too.

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Conclusion

I bought a new Harmony 650 remote... and with that comes a story. Come back next month for my take on these "activity" based remotes.

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