Backup Often… But Not Too Often!

This past weekend was a busy one.  It all started on Saturday night.  I came home to find an e-mail in my inbox alerting me to a problem with my dedicated server.  It seems as though had somehow filled up the partition by growing to 44GB large!

Now, (along with TheAngelForever and the other sites I run) don’t usually take up that much room.  Not nearly that much.  I began performing some backups and looking at some old databases that might be taking up the extra space.  At first, I couldn’t find anything.

Then, I located it.  The directory where I backed up my mySQL databases was about 39GB large.  As I looked through the directory, I realized what went wrong.  The previous day, I had noticed that my daily backup routine was failing to e-mail me the file.  Thinking that it might be the size of the backups, I altered which databases were backed up.  Then, realizing that I’d need to wait a day to see the results, I set the backup to occur every 15 minutes.

Then, I made my big mistake: I got distracted.  Other matters came up and I forgot all about testing the backups.  But the backups didn’t forget.  They kept going.  Every 15 minutes they would complete another backup.  Every hour, 4 backups would be done.  In no time at all, megabytes of backups turned into gigabytes until the entire disk was flooded.

Thankfully, once the server was running properly again (thanks to plenty of help from a friend of mine), fixing the root cause was easy.  I set the backups to run once a day and I deleted the extra backup files.  Before long, we were back to normal operations.

There are three lessons to be learned here.  First, everyone messes up, including Techy Dads.  Second, backup often… but not too often.  And third, don’t get distracted when you’re doing important work!

A Look Back At 2011

2011Now that the new year is here, it’s time to look forward to the year ahead.  Of course, I never really got a chance to look back over the previous year.  So I’m figured I’d do that now.

2011 began with me resolving to finish what I started.  (Sadly, I wasn’t completely successful with this.)  I also began my yearly pledge to lose 20 pounds in 20 weeks.  Spoiler alert: I hit my goal and passed it.  Follow-up: I spent the rest of the year packing those 20 pounds back on.  And they brought some friends with them.  Going to need another one of these series this year also.

January also saw too much snow and ice, an EdenFantasys giveaway which had a record (for me) 116 entries (pssst…. Another one might be coming up soon), NHL expressing fear of dying, and me beginning my search for ideas for a trip for our upcoming 10th anniversary.

In February, we went to see the Albany Devils and NHL caught a hockey puck.  I also mentioned how I felt like I was repeating myself too often.  JSL engaged in some scientific inquiry and my boys and I got drawn into a guest post over at NoodleKnobs.

By March, I was ready for winter to be over.  Not only that, but I came down with a case of bloggy writer’s block. Luckily, a trip to Disney World for the Disney Social Media Moms conference was just the thing to cure both ills.  We went hunting for character autographs, saw some Disney Class in the form of Belle, found a lot of hidden Mickeys, got up close and personal with some butterflies, and saw some sand art get made.

April found me wondering how people handle stress.  We also took a semi-gross journey through the body and I mentioned how parenthood has shifted my concept of "gross".  As spring arrived, so did the birds and the bees (the latter of which were quite "busy").  I got to review the Green Lantern Colossal Cannon (great outdoors, a bit too much for an inside toy) and we celebrated Passover.  I also looked back on our Disney trip during April, including The Great Epcot Twitter Experiment, meeting Jen and John from CakeWrecks, getting jabbed in the arm by B for taking a certain photo on Small World, and riding Kilimanjaro Safari.

In May, spring flourished and we headed outdoors to review Aerobie Sprint Flying Rings and to have a Green Lantern Party.  On Mother’s Day, we went to see the circus.  When B went on a Mom Field Trip to see Rene Syler, I took the boys to Free Comic Day.  Sadly, May was also when B & I went public with a bullying incident that happened to NHL.  We wound up having to switch schools thanks to this.  On a bright note, JSL received a camera for his 4th birthday party, something he had been asking for for at least a month.  I also tried out a new grill only to fail before succeeding.  Finally, TwitPic changed their terms of service which some people thought might give them the right to sell people’s photos.  This led some folks to switch services, but I decided to go another route.  I set up my blog to receive photos from my phone, allowing me to "TwitPic" right to my blog.

As June rolled around, I reviewed the George Foreman Next Grilleration™ Removable Plate Grill.  We’re still using it to this day.  The boys and I also went on a photo shoot where we walked 100 steps from our front door and took 10 photos each.  We also made some smoothies and I donated blood.  Our tenth anniversary rolled around so we had a date night.  Finally, our plants were sprouting nicely, including plenty of peppermint.  (I have lots in the freezer to use during the winter.)

As July rolled around, we went cherry picking (we walked away with 45.2 pounds) and visited Niagara Falls.  I didn’t shy away from controversy when I pitted Nutella against Dark Chocolate peanut butter.  I talked about the Netflix Apocalypse and gave Netflix some tips to improve their service.  We also ended our long search for a tenth anniversary trip by making plans to go to DIsney World without the kids.  Right after we made those plans, though, our bedroom television decided to break requiring us to buy a new one.  Finally, I ruminated on the newly launched Google+,  I mentioned why it’s requirement to use real names (as opposed to pseudonyms like "TechyDad") might keep me away as well as how Google could fix the issue.  Later on, though, Google released Google+ Pages and I was able to make a TechyDad Google+ page.

August began with my birthday.  (Peanut Avacado Sushi is delicious!) The month also saw my boys (and my) Phineas and Ferb obsession hit overdrive with the Phineas and Ferb movie,  (I think we annoyed B a bit with the excited yelling during the Robot Riot sequence.)  NHL delved into Harry Potter and the Smurfs.  They also designed their own superheroes using Hero Machine.  Stress relating to our upcoming vacation and piling expenses took their toll.  NHL celebrated his eighth birthday and I moved our sites to a new server and host.  As August came to a close, we experienced an earthquake (well, some of us did – my office appears to be earthquake-proof) and a hurricane.  The latter forced us to cancel our 10th anniversary trip to Disney World.

In September, we recovered from some self-inflicted Hurricane Irene wounds.  I also gave a travelogue of the trip that Irene cancelled.  On the lighter side, we discussed why mommy was ‘broken’, I celebrated 3 years of blogging, avoided itch cream after some ninja mosquitos attacked, and talked like a pirate Disney-style.  Netflix reloaded after shooting themselves in the foot and shot themselves in the other foot.  We ate some apples and honey to celebrate Rosh Hashana.  In a display of spontaneity, B made last minutes plans to attend SheStreams, leaving the boys and I to have some adventures on our own.

October began with me taking animation lessons from JC Little (aka TheAnimatedWoman) and then giving those lessons to NHL.  Around Yom Kippur, a foolish PR vice-president challenged TheBloggess who demonstrated her relevancy.  After picking 39 pounds of apples, NHL and I went on a photo walk.  Netflix backed out of their splitting plan, but not before we ditched the DVD plans.  I introduced the other woman in our bed, had some trouble with proprietary plugs and irritating interfaces, and made Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream.  I also launched my super secret Twitter application Rout,  Finally, in time for Halloween, we were all turned into Zombies.  (Don’t worry, the zombification only lasted one day.  A case of the 24 hour zombie flu, if you will.)

The highlight of November was my release of my real Twitter Application: FollowerHQ.  I also had some more time with my boys when B went to a bridal shower.  This one didn’t go as smoothly, though.  I thought about how one should always speak up when confronted by bullying and had my parents visit.  (No, those two items are not related.)  Finally, I dealt with a deluge of spam.

As December arrived, and the year wound to a close, I re-introduced Rout.  This time, upgraded as PlusRout.  We also saw The Muppets and went to the New York State Museum.  I reviewed a magic set that NHL got as an early Chanukah present and NHL painted an Angry Bird.  I also decided to take some inspiration from the story of the Maccabees to stand up to someone who was (and continues to) harass bloggers and companies.  On the cooking front, I made a very tasty Spaghetti Squash sauté.  Finally, we did some bunk bed shopping.

This has been a very busy year and I can’t wait to see what 2012 has to bring.

How did last year go for you?

Why So Spammy?

When blogging, it can be discouraging to post day after day and see little to no comments.  Almost worse than no comments, however, are tons of comments.  Tons of spam comments, that is.  Since I last deleted the spam comments (on November 9th), this blog has gotten over 1,600 spam comments.  That’s over 130 per day or 1 spam comment every 11 minutes!  Here’s a graph of my spam comments day to day.




That big red line shows how many spam comments I got daily.  The green line hugging zero?  Those are my non-spam comments.  If only I could transform spam comments into real comments, I’d have more comments than I could reply to.  Of course, if I had that ability, I think I’d use it on all of those “Nigerian Princes” and “European Lotteries” that keep e-mailing me.

Thankfully, Akismet snags most of the spam comments.  Sadly, some slip through.  This means that spammy comments are visible on my blog until I take them down.  I think I need to find some WordPress plugins to help reduce my spam load.

What do you do to reduce spam comments?  Also, any guesses on how many spam comments this post will get?

Aloha Friday: Three Years of Blogging

Tomorrow is my Blogoversary.  Since I usually don’t post on Saturdays, I’m going to celebrate it today.  It’s been a wild ride since the early days.  Back then, I didn’t post often.  Part of it was because I hated using WordPress’ Admin panel to edit blog posts.  Part of it was because I’d feel like my blog posts weren’t reaching anybody.

Over time, I found Zoundry Raven and then Windows Live Writer.  This helped with the composing of posts.  Suddenly, creating blog posts wasn’t a chore.  Recently, I even hooked my blog up to get mobile photos from my phone.  So now, instead of using TwitPic or a similar service, I can post a photo right to my blog while on the go.

As far as readership goes, I reminded myself that I couldn’t expect to open a blog and suddenly get thousands of readers.  I dove into the social media community.  I commented on other blogs.  Of course, I also tried to put only the very best content on my blog.  (It doesn’t matter how much “promoting” you do.  If the content’s not good, people won’t come back.)  Slowly, but surely, the number of readers to my blog increased.

I owe a lot of exposure to my wife also.  She got into blogging before me (well, at least under this pseudonym) so her “social reach” was far greater than mine.  When she promoted a post of mine, it went further than if I promoted it alone.  I believe the gap between us has slimmed a bit, though she still has over a thousand more Twitter followers than I do.

It’s been a wild ride these past 3 years.  I wonder what the next 3 years will bring.

My Aloha Friday question for today is: What do you think the future of blogging/social media will look like?  Where do you think we’ll be in 3 years?

Don’t forget to enter my Hot Wheels Nitro Speeders giveaway!

Thanks to Kailani at An Island Life for starting this fun for Friday. Please be sure to head over to her blog to say hello and sign the linky there if you are participating.

Aloha Friday by Kailani at An Island Life

Aloha #104

Server Moves, Birthday Parties, Exhaustion, and Hava Nagilla

On Saturday night, after the kids were in bed, I began moving and from our old host to our new host.  This meant first backing up all of the files from the old host’s servers.  (I usually keep backups locally, but they had gotten out of date.)  This alone took some time.  Then, I backed up the databases.  Finally, I restored the whole thing onto the new hosts’ server.  A connection string change (to point to the new database) and name server update later, and our websites were up and running.

If I make it sound like a quick job, however, it wasn’t.  I began work at around 9pm and went to bed at 1:30 am.  At this point, I had about 4 hours worth of file transfers to go.  Luckily, these weren’t essential files.  Had you been able to see at this point, you might have noticed photos missing in blog posts or images missing from the sidebars.  Still, the blog posts would have been readable and WordPress would have functioned just fine.

Since I didn’t need to be present for this file transfer to run, I left my computer on and went to bed, falling asleep at about 2am.  At about 5am, I was woken up by B.  She wasn’t feeling good (horrible headache) and needed my help.  I got her some medicine and she went back to sleep.  Despite my exhaustion, however, I just couldn’t fall asleep.

I finally fell back to sleep around 6am only to be woken back up at 7am.  I laid in bed for as long as I could, but sleeping in was not an option.  We needed to get ready for NHL’s birthday party.

There were several moments during the party where I found myself unable to focus and/or dizzy.  Many times when I’d have liked to have snuck away for a “short” nap.  (Short meaning telling yourself only 5 minutes and then waking up 3 hours later.)  After the party was over, I felt the crash come hard.  Still, I pushed off exhaustion.

As I sit typing this, B is sitting with the boys, trying to get them to go to sleep.  I’m thinking that I really should process some of the photos from the party for a blog post.  I just can’t think straight enough, though.  Instead, here’s B’s post about the party.  (Mine will come later.)

I won’t leave you empty handed, though.  Thanks to a recent gift from Mimi to JSL, I think the Hava Nagilla will be sung quite a bit in our household:


Hopefully, by the time you read this, I’ll be well rested and coherent.  If I am, then hava nagilla (let us rejoice)!

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