Archive for the ‘internet’ Category

My Cloud Backup Approach

I have continously talked about my drive to never lose a file again, after I lost my first file to a failed floppy disk drive in 1996. The fanatical backup approach has been used to work as follows:

  1. Create a new version of whatever I am working on everyday – for files add the date, for web application development (create a new folder)
  2. For development create a separate folder for staging and production files adding to them as needed
  3. For files whenever I am to make a significant change I create a version too, even if it is for the same day so that I can track when I made made major pivots
  4. Backup to a shared magnetic backup drive (before 2010)
  5. Move backups to a cold storage hard drive which is only used for that purpose

Overall I used to end up with 3 different copies of any file over time, and storage is cheap so duplication was not an issue.

The cloud came and all I had to do was adapt my workflow as the primary, secondary and cold storage are all cloud based

  1. Primary work
    • Dropbox and Google for personal use, these are fast syncing for regular use. I have 13GB in Dropbox gained from various offers at the time of launch, and have a 200GB Google One subscription (the 2TB next package does not add value due to being higher for unused space)
    • Box – for ofice use
  2. Primary Backup – this is Google Drive, with a 200GB Google One subscription where I place archived projects, home photos and miscellaneous files that I need to maintain
  3. Cold Storage – Apple iCloud 50GB where I zip files that I do not expect to use for a long time

What I have learnt:

  1. I work directly in the cloud service folders, therefore do not need to remember to backup or synchronize the files
  2. All cloud services are set to automatically startup on machine reboot so are always active
  3. The primary cloud service you use depends on what you are comfortable with
  4. Most cloud service providers charge about $20 per year for 200GB then $99 per year for 2TB, I found the price jump not justifiable hence the move to iCloud for my cold storage
  5. The power and Internet services in Uganda are not very stable and consistent so the option for a NAS

What’s your approach to backups, what tips and tricks have you learnt along your journey?

Wish List: My Telecom Service Provider Needs

Looks like the economy is back in the open, but the lingering effects of the COVID19 pandemic have driven a more digital focus on life and work. Looks like our local service providers have not really made any moves over the last 2 years

Here is my checklist based on my exposure across the places I have lived

  1. Having a buffet of services that are paid off at a regular cadence (rythmn)
    • Voice minutes for on-network and off-network – removes the need for multiple simcards
    • Data – mobile data and broadband data
    • SMS messages (yes I still use them)
  2. Family plan to help me manage my household telecom needs (I have teenagers who are due to get their own phones and numbers)
    • Ability to add and remove numbers to a plan, I would be happy to pay for batches of 5 numbers
    • Happy to pay a service fee for each number added to the plan – I already do this when gifting airtime and data
    • Shared pool of minutes across the plan both on and off network
  3. Tax invoices as they are required by URA for tax purposes and/or clients for reimbursements
  4. Weekly/Monthly plan options since this helps manage cash flows and cater for usage pattern changes like school and holidays
  5. Ability to measure usage by different members – who is using the services the most, this is by the default account on the plan. Better if it is an online dashboard so that I can check it regularly and adjust accordingly
  6. Unlimited Internet access in the suburbs outside the CBD with fairly high FUP (350GB and above per month)

What are your telecom service needs – what are they doing right or not?

TechTip: Installing Airtel Uganda Huawei E3131 on MacOS Sierra

If you are like me, there comes a time when you need to whip out old tech tools to solve a need. In my case it was Internet access in Hoima, which has MTN and Airtel as useable networks.

I have an old modem, which intially had a data simcard gone bad (that is a story for another day) however it was discontinued in 2012, so there were no drivers for Mac. The installation package terminates with errors so I was stumped.

Step 1 was finding the model which involved opening up the modem as below

img_20170725_110050.jpg

Step 2 was to find an installation package, which after about an hour of Googling and reading involved using an Huawei Mobile Partner (https://www.dropbox.com/s/v33lsoe7qok0zsl/MobilePartner-MAC-V200R003B015D16SP00C983.zip?dl=0)

Once installed you can now use your modem readily. Hope this saves someone else some pain…

Tech Tip: Reducing pain while moving from Yahoo to Gmail

Its official that Yahoo has been hacked, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/14/technology/yahoo-hack.html?_r=0, and it is time to make that change from Yahoo to another email address. For a free service, looks like Gmail is the best there is at this time.

My quick guide to reducing the migration pain is as follows:

Step 1: Start adding your Gmail to all correspondences and signatures, plus start giving it out instead of yahoo

Step 2: Setup your Gmail to start receiving email from your yahoo address see How to Access Yahoo! Mail in Gmail

Step 3: Respond to all your correspondences via Gmail

While the cut over is immediate, to get your correspondents will take some time to finally start using the new address, probably 3 to 6 months, so be patient

Alternate Approach to Legal Independent Election Tallying

The Uganda elections are more or less over with less than 6 hours for the Uganda Electoral Commission (EC) to announce the results for the presidential elections.

Given all the time on our hands, with no social media, the team at Styx Technology Group designed the following alternative approach to independent electoral vote tallying for future elections that provides inbuilt mechanisms for audit and verification of results.

The primary data sources for the process are:

  1. Official EC list of polling stations and voters per polling station
  2. Photos of the signed election tally sheets from each polling station. To ensure that the photos are not tampered with and provide an audit trail:
    • Each photograph has to be taken with information on the camera, the GPS coordinates of where the photo was taken, date and time when the photo was taken which is available in many cameras that share it using the Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF)
    • Two separate photos of the tally sheets have to be taken by different cameras
    • The cameras taking equipment may be registered beforehand to provide validation of the source of the information
    • The signatures of the returning officers and stamp must be clear and visible in the photo

The architecture for the technology solution is as follows:

  1. Web based solution accessible via any browser. Due to poor Internet connectivity in many areas of the country, an Android app would be provided to assist in data collection, then data sent once the user gets into an area with Internet.
  2. The field officers who capture the photos would also be provided with an option of entering the candidate vote tallies.
  3. In the tallying center, candidate vote tallies are entered from the photos received and vote tallies entered by data clerks. In order to reduce errors the following approach would be used:
    • The clerks are randomly assigned photos as they come in
    • The tally for a station must be entered correctly by two separate data entry clerks, then approved by a supervisor. This process is formally called the two-pass verification method or double data entry.
  4. All correctly entered data is shared with the rest of the world for download and analysis.

This system is mission-critical having to be available for the entire vote counting period of 48 hours,  so the architecture includes the following paths for data collection:

  1.  Multiple access IP addresses and domains for the website in case some are blocked off
  2. Any data collected via the Android app can be sent via email to a dedicated tallying center address. To ensure that only data from the app is received and not changed in transit, encryption is used.

The inspiration came from a quote by Ghandi “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, disproving the myth that there is no local capability to design and implement such solutions and most of all that such solutions have to be complex.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions…

%d bloggers like this: