Geeky Thought

The internet contains a vast number of interesting web sites. If you are like me you categorically bookmark your favorites. One site in particular that I visit often (and tend to get a chuckle out of their apparel) is ThinkGeek.com. They have quit a few gadgets and their t-shirts convey messages quite nicely. Although I can’t have them all (I do wish I had most of them) I did receive a Binary People and SQL query. Next on my wish list is WTF?, No, I will not fix your computer and Dead Hex People.

Any other favorites out there?

Ode to Backup

Backing up your files is probably one of the most important things you could do. There is nothing worse than the feeling of loosing everything once your computer is on the fritz (I have received dozens of frantic phone calls asking how to, or if I can restore files). There are many commercial, shareware and freeware backup programs that are capable of accomplishing appropriate backups.

XCOPY has been included in the Microsoft® OS family since the DOS days. This little command prompt program copies file and folder information based upon the selection of a number of parameter options. This utility is lightweight and consists of a simple executable file. This is actually what I use for incremental backups of my personal system.

Open a command prompt and type xcopy /?. This displays a list of the xcopy.exe parameter options and their meaning. From the command prompt you can easily type in your xcopy command with the necessary parameters and you’ll be on your way. Personally I have a small batch file called backup.bat. This eliminates a lot of typing and the need to remember the options. This batch file is simple but extremely effective in giving me copies of the files I need. It consists of one line:

xcopy *.* c:\wutemp /S /C /I /M /F /R /H /K /Y /EXCLUDE:exclude.txt

My backup.bat file is located in the root of my profile directory, for this example we’ll say C:\Documents and Settings\BP. If you follow the parameters you’ll notice that I copy all the changed (archive bit set) files to C:\wutemp. This batch file will process the current folder and with the appropriate parameter set (/S) all subfolders as well. Once the backup batch is complete I them manually copy the files to DVD. If you are running a ‘full’ backup you would remove the /M parameter option.
I am fairly structured and organized when it comes to my files. I try to get everything that I need somewhere within the tree of my profile directory. Most applications these days store personal information in the Application Data of your profile directory or allow you to specify a ‘storage’ location. A lot of applications also store temporary or unimportant (unimportant in the sense of need to restore files in the event of a need to recover files) files in your profile directory as well. This is where the /EXCLUDE parameter comes into play. After all, it is really wasteful both time and space wise to back up all those temporary files.
My exclude.txt file looks something like this:

\DOCUME~1\BP\Templates
\DOCUME~1\BP\Start Menu
\DOCUME~1\BP\Recent
\DOCUME~1\BP\SENDTO
\DOCUME~1\BP\PrintHood
\DOCUME~1\BP\NetHood
\DOCUME~1\BP\Windows
\DOCUME~1\BP\Cookies
\DOCUME~1\BP\MY DOCUMENTS\MY MUSIC
\DOCUME~1\BP\LOCAL SETTINGS\TEMPORARY INTERNET FILES
\DOCUME~1\BP\LOCAL SETTINGS\TEMP
\DOCUME~1\BP\LOCAL SETTINGS\HISTORY

This is just an example on how I use XCOPY to back up my important files on my personal computer. In my opinion this is fast, lightweight and effective when it comes to storing those must have files. I hope this gives you some ideas on how you could possibly implement a simple backup solution.

What’s in a word?

Language is truly a fascinating form of communication. The way individual words have meaning and that those same words can be put together to form sentences is ingenious. Have you ever thought about the origin of language? Who came up with the different words and their meanings?

A few years ago I started browsing through the dictionary for additional words to add to my vocabulary. The English language is comprised of an abundance of words, some of my favorites include: malodorous, pusillanimous, recreant, fustigate, nescience and panjandrum. (There are many more, however, that would force this to display well beyond physical limits.) Through my journeys I was elated when I had come across the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Not only does this site contain a searchable dictionary and Thesaurus, but it also includes a Word of the Day. What better way is there to increase your vocabulary?

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is available online and you can also subscribe to the Word of the Day list and have the word delivered to your e-mail daily. The listing includes the word, its definition and a sample use of the word. I have entries in my Word of the Day email folder that date back to 2003. I am one that actually tries to use the word of the day in my normal course of action. I look forward to seeing what word appears each morning.

I highly recommend subscribing to the Merriam-Webster Word of the Day. It is a great way to pick up some of the neat words within the English language.