Can Of Code

Category Archives: General

Backing up

Backing up? who cares..

For the last two weeks i have be working on my final year project for uni. One of the clear messages that has come across is the unnecessary dangers of not backing work up. If I’m honest i have never bothered with backing up because the Windows backup utility takes around 2 years to perform a backup and I’ve been too lazy to look for alternative solutions however this time i have more to lose.

Where to start..

The first area I looked into was backing up my files. During my project I’m likely to be creating a number of Word documents and images so these will need to be backed up.

I first considered keeping all the files on a pen drive and then manually backing the pen drive every so often. This approach meant that I could take all my files with me if I were to go and work on the project at uni however if I lost the pen drive I would be screwed as I could guarantee that I would forget to backup regularly.

The second approach I considered was the geek-out method of creating some .BAT files that would make copies of the project files to a backup location. This approach however was risky because I rarely plug in an external drive and backing up the files on the same drive would be pointless if the whole drive failed, something which is likely to happen with how unstable the SSD hardrive I’m using is.

The third and final brainwave was to let someone else to the hard work by using some third party software to do all the backing up for me. This seam the safest approach as it does rely upon me to do anything however I would be putting faith in the software to do what its supposed to.

Enter MOZY. They are what you could call a cloud backup provider which offer software the runs on your computer and backs the files up in the background into their online storage. I have been using it for a few weeks now without issue.

 

The annoying MOZY status screen

The annoying MOZY status screen

The good points:

  •  Simple to setup
  •  Easy to select the files you want to backup, includes common file groups like emails or photos.
  • generous level of free storage (2GB)
  • Can select different versions of the file to backup, ideal if the document gets corrupted at some point and then backed up
  • Can access backed up files from their software, website or app.

The bad points:

  •  A screen pops up every time its finished backing up which seams pointless
  •  Doesn’t allow you to backup any external hardrives or flash drives.
  • Since i signed up with MOZY, every website i seam to visit is displaying ads for MOZY, Like I’m being stalked by them!

To backup files for the project i have selected MOZY. Later i will write a post on which method i used to backup the source code.

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How to make a LED light up, The programers way

In my quest for avoiding what i should be doing I had discovered a rather fun bit of kit. The kit is called Arduino and for around £20 you get a circuit board that can plug into your usb port. As you can tell from my last sentence, I know absolutely nothing about electronics but that is the great thing about this kit.

Arduino Uno Device

Arduino Uno Device

 

What is it?

Well its a device that plugs into your USB port and allows you to program the outputs. That means that you can control almost anything that’s connected to the outputs by programming it. So yes you guessed it, you can make LEDs flash! What i like most about it is that it comes with its own IDE. This IDE and framework makes programming the Arduino nice and simple, ideal for those who have never done any electronics like I hadn’t. The Arduino site also has tons of learning material and a strong community eager to help.

Where to get it

I got my Arduino Uno device from a great online shop called oomlout. The site also does a really handy Breadboard kit so you can put your LEDs and resistors on it easily without having to solder anything. They also sell a lot of other components to play around with which come with nice and simple instructions on how to use them.

What can you make with it

Well almost anything!  Although with my rather limited knowledge of electronics all i have managed to make is a traffic light out of LEDs. Don’t let that dishearten you all you need to do is search youtube to so what people are doing with them. What i really like is you can just have a go without worrying about blowing anything up as the board turns off if you do anything silly.

For any fellow programmers, I highly recommend picking up a Arduino, once you do your be hooked!

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Why I Stopped Playing Xbox and Became More Productive

After moving into the world of  full time work over a year ago i quickly discovered the value of my time when 40 hours a week were spent at work (many more commuting). After finishing work i found myself sitting down in front of the box and playing the Xbox. Don’t get me wrong i think the Xbox is great but in retrospect i spent a lot of time playing for the sake of it and even more time getting frustrated with it which resulted in many broken controllers, an expensive activity at £25 a piece.

So what kept me playing this marvelous machine even though it led to a bad experience a majority of the time? Achievements! That’s right, that little box that pops up on the screen saying you’ve achieved something.

Achievements

This was a very cleaver idea of Microsoft! Make people feel they have gained something by playing  games and they will keep on playing. It worked with me for sure, i would keep playing a game even though the enjoyment factor had been long lost just so i could get that last achievement.

If achievements were so addictive, why did i stop playing?  I achieved too much!  This meant every new achievement had less reward value to it. I got to the stage where i would have no emotion when getting a new achievement and i started to feel that actually i wasn’t achieving anything. just adding to a number on the screen.

It was at this point when  i decided to pack away the Xbox and try and achieve more meaningful achievements. At first i was lost, what could i do with all this time i had gained? But slowly i found things to do such as learning something new on the guitar/piano or do some programming for fun (yes, for fun!). I also started working towards a MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist) Certification which has greatly helped my understanding of .NET and properly made me a better developer. I also read a lot more now which is never a bad thing.

What i learn`t  from the whole experience is that Microsoft are rather good at hooking in consumers, and perhaps i need to set my own real world achievements to keep myself hooked in. I can even reward myself when gaining a achievement by buying myself something Ive wanted for a while.

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