Returns with Seagate

While I’ve mostly switched away from Seagate hard drives after losing three hard drives to the firmware bug that hit the 500 GB models a few years back (although I was able to recover 2 of them after building one of these). I had to do a warranty return for one of my customers the other day, and had an excellent experience.

For $10, and a simple warranty validation check, Seagate shipped out a replacement drive with a return shipping label. The new drive shipped out right away and arrived earlier than expected. Since I’d already recovered the data from the old drive, all that I had to do was pop it in the box especially designed for the return, slap the return shipping label on and drop it of at the FedEx depot.

All in all, a very pleasant experience, and well worth the $10 – much cheaper than the shipping alone would have cost me.

Goodbye Prism, Hello Fluid

Well, it’s finally happened. Google has dropped support in Gmail for the version of Gecko used by Mozilla Prism. This means that Gmail has to fall back on basic html mode. So, clicking on an email causes it to open up a new Firefox window for the email – rendering Prism completely unusable.

Of course, it was just a matter of time. Prism hasn’t been updated in almost 4 years – ever since Mozilla stopped developing an embeddable version of Gecko, and tied it into Firefox development. And, it seems like the idea of Site-Specific Browsers (SSBs) never took off.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of the concept. For rich web-apps like Gmail, it just makes so much sense! I love having a dedicated Gmail window that is sandboxed from the rest of my browsing environment, giving me the full power of the Gmail web client, without having to keep my main browser signed into Google. It also means that I can put it up on it’s own monitor!

Fortunately, while the concept hasn’t really taken off, there is still a solution, at least for the Mac. For $5, I picked up a copy of Fluid, which allows me to set up a sandboxed SSB using a modern version of WebKit, giving me my Gmail app back. There are still a couple of quirks that I need to get used to, but it’s nice to know that I’m not going to have to drastically change my workflow.

An Ode to Source Control (or On The Importance of Backups)

It’s amazing how the time slips away on you – it’s been almost a month since I’ve posted anything – and I meant to post this for World Backup Day on March 31st.

I almost lost the code for FeedSpider the other day – or at least I would have if I didn’t have a proper source control system set up. I was making some changes, and accidentally deleted the wrong file. This could have been disastrous, but fortunately, I had the changes committed to Git. But it got me to thinking…

I have what I like to think of as a robust backup system. My code is backed up to source control (separate from everything else), and all of the computers are backed up to the local server, which, in turn, is backed up to cloud based storage using CrashPlan so that I can still retrieve it in case of a catastrophic emergency.

This has saved me more than once – one time my laptop wouldn’t boot and the troubleshooting advice from Apple boiled down to “You’re screwed. Format and reinstall.” Fortunately, I had a time capsule backup from the previous night, so I did just that and went on with my day. In another situation, one of our guys accidentally clicked on a phishing link in an email, and got infected. He still had to change all of his stored passwords, but rather than try and “clean” his computer, I just stuck in the restore CD and restored it from the previous night’s backup.

It’s nice to be in a situation where I have enough redundancy where I don’t have to lose sleep at night worrying about something happening to my hardware. But many people don’t, and in my years of tech work, I’ve seen more data lost due to a lack of backups than I would care to remember. So, in the spirit of World Backup Day, I’m here to help. Let me know what your situation is, and I can help you come up with a backup solution that works for you.