Entries from August 2007 ↓

Inexpensive, Automated Online Backups

I’m a huge believer that the more stuff you have on your mind the more stress you will have in your life. I’ve done everything in my power to automate my bills, outsource repetitive tasks, stop buying junk I don’t need, get rid of junk I already own, and be on a constant search for services that make my life simpler.

About 4 months ago a friend of mine recommended Mozy, an online backup service. He said the installation was super simple, and that he had forgotten he had it installed until he accidentally deleted a file and was able to restore it in a few seconds. The hair on my neck stood up as I thought about the backup solutions I’ve previously investigated – solutions involving software with genome-esque complexity, or setting Outlook reminders and handling the process manually each day/week/month/never (the latter in my case).

I’ve been on an ongoing search for an inexpensive, completely automated solution that will backup my PCs to a secure, remote location. My laptop only has 70GB of data including my MP3s, but backing it up remotely with the solutions I’ve seen would involve a hefty monthly storage fee (not to mention my desktop I use for video editing with the 500GB hard drive). The beauty of Mozy, and the reason I decided to try it, is the $5/month per computer for unlimited storage.

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The Two Fundamental, No Frills, Square One Rules of Exception Handling

When I was a coding newbie I thought applications should never crash. I wrote code that caught and ignored errors because I didn’t know how else to handle them. I didn’t want the user to see an error page, and figured a running application was always better than an error page. Oh, how wrong I was. On one application alone (not written by me) I wasted 50+ hours over the course of a few months because of exceptions that were caught and not properly handled. Don’t let this happen to you.

I’ve found this mindset to be so common among new developers that I’ve distilled the basics down to two fundamental rules a new developer should follow to the letter. I’m exhausted with cracking open code and seeing a Try/Catch block with no action after the catch. Whether you’re using a language with actual exceptions is beside the point – what matters is that you read through these few simple paragraphs and never, ever obfuscate your application errors.

Picture this (in C#):


‘ Application code here

‘ Do nothing

What happens when an exception is thrown from the application code? Nothing…and that’s a problem.

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