Fast Backup for SD Cards

by Dmitry Kirsanov 12. July 2019 08:59

If you are photographer (as in – snapping pics often) or have dashcam / drone / similar photo/video device, you may know the problem of having a one-button copy of just the files you need to where you need them.

For example, I have a directory in home NAS (Network Attached Storage), where I keep videos from car dashcam, so if I would suddenly receive a fine for speeding, I could prove that I didn’t. I don’t like bringing the dashcam  microSD card from garage, as there is a good chance I’ll forget to bring it back, and will waste time later. Ideally would be to move the card from dashcam, insert it into the phone or tablet using external card reader, and press the button to copy only the video files.

In case of photo camera, I’d like to do the same – just press the button, and let all jpg and mp4 files be moved to local drive, hence removing them from SD card.

In case of dashcam, I’d like to keep the last video file intact. The reason is – the GPS device may take awhile to refresh the time from satellites, and will not reset the time if there is at least one video file with newer timestamp.

In case of force majeure I would want to only copy files that were made during last few minutes, and that should be an option too.

Since I want to copy files from external card, I’d like that card to be automatically dismounted when done. In some cases I’d like the local copy of files to be encrypted (say, if copying to relatively public computer, or the nature of images is sensitive). And if I’m copying them to cloud drive, I may want to reduce the bandwidth to particular amount – e.g. even if the card is full, move only 5 Gb a time.

And last, but not least, since we have so many options, and they are likely to be unique per source, I’d like to save this configuration to each external card, so it would be loaded next time the card is inserted. I’d also like this configuration to be editable in normal text editor, hence let it be a JSON file.

I tried to find an app that would do this, and even asked professional photographers, but it appears that they do it manually. There is also a hardware button on some NAS that copies all files from external drive, but you can never be sure it happened, and files aren’t removed from external drive. So, once again, I had to do it myself.

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Fixing yet another problem in Google Chrome

by Dmitry Kirsanov 10. June 2019 07:31

While digging into the problem with Chrome extension today, found that Chrome took around 700Mb of space for temporary files, which looked like CrashpadMetrics.pma~XXX.TMP. These files are 1Mb in size each, and there were literally over 700 of them.

Chrome creates these files to send to Google even if you disable this feature. Files aren’t sent, but created and never cleaned up.

I have a cleanup batch file on each computer, that executes every week, and it deals with drive(s) cleanup, synchronisation and stuff. I added this line:

ttl.exe "C:\Users\[my user name]\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data" /subs /days:30 /mask:*.tmp

This uses my TTL application to delete files older than 30 days. I could simply write “del crash*.tmp”, but what if there is a temporary file that’s currently being written, or might be used. Hence the TTL and generous 30 days.

The first run freed 685Mb on system drive.

Building social platform for everyone - a free speech utopia brainstorm

by Dmitry Kirsanov 15. May 2019 01:08

We have seen it often, with almost every known social network and platform built to express yourself - at some point it gets to a milestone which changes the platform to the opposite of its original vision.

"Don't be evil" becomes THE evil, the outlaw becomes the law enforcer, independent form alliances and neutral become ferocious fighters against neutrality. There are still islands of free speech, where borders are wide enough to call it unbiased, but they are doing it with serious personal risk and at significant expenses.

In this essay I'll try to analyse the history, trends and risks of self-expression platforms, and provide some food for thought for those who will attempt to build the next platform.

The most important aspect of this work is technology, second is sociology and third - economy. We'll scrape the law a bit, but the main premise will be that whatever you are doing is illegal somewhere, and if not - then content certainly will be. And so we'll use technology to obey the law when possible, and protect from it when it's not.

But first - let's look at existing platforms and their pitfalls. This will help us to list the known problems and caveats, and see how titans fell and why.  More...

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Analytics | Other | Social

A few words about mobile apps

by Dmitry Kirsanov 30. April 2019 11:28

Recently I analysed logs of some of my mobile apps, mostly enterprise with backend web services. And some thoughts that result from it are well worth sharing. That mainly concerns architects and developers of corporate apps, rather than game or standalone apps – network-related problems are harder to solve, as you don’t control the environment.

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File Backup automation tool

by Dmitry Kirsanov 7. March 2019 12:44

I think every system administrator is doing this often enough to think about automating it. When you make changes to file, deploy a new version and not sure if you’ll need to revert, and there is a number of previous copies that you would like to keep track of.

This little command line utility does exactly that – it creates the .bak file for whatever file, maintains any number of older backups (.bak1, .bak2 and so on), restores from .bak (this will also rename .bak2 to .bak1 and all older versions too), deletes all backups if needed, and can also keep backups in different directory – for cases when you are modifying file in publicly available directory or just don’t like clutter.

Get more information and binary on utility page

FTP uploader utility

by Dmitry Kirsanov 15. February 2019 14:04

Here is a small utility I made to facilitate integrations, log and backup shipping between servers, but would love to have it years ago. A command-line ftp uploader. I’ll add some additional features to it, though it already covers all bases for me.

Available here.

If the link above doesn’t work, just take a look at “Side Projects” link at the bottom of right column.

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Software

Making Chrome great again. Or, at least, bearable

by Dmitry Kirsanov 7. February 2019 11:27

One of the most hated parts of Google Chrome is it's Software Reporter Tool. This executable file is started by Chrome and supposedly is providing Google with logs from your computer. Either way, it's the fastest way to drain your laptop battery, make computer stutter and noisy. People often ask about the way to get rid of this software reporter tool, but the best advice they get is to modify the security permissions on executable file. Basically, the most common advice is to open the file settings, go to Security tab, ensure the security settings are not propagated from parent (in this case - directory) and then remove all access rights, making this file non-readable. Well, it only works till the next time Google Chrome updates.

A bit better way to lock this (or any other annoying) executable file is by using your Windows Group Policies. More...

Small utility for batch files–Waiting X seconds between commands

by Dmitry Kirsanov 21. March 2018 08:25

Alright, here is a bit embarrassing release, because this application is just 45 lines long. That’s including blank ones. This little tool is for using in batch (.bat or .cmd) files so that you could wait X seconds between issuing commands. It’s printing the countdown and then exits.

I would like to thank Microsoft for making this lifetime project possible. Without them it wouldn’t be.

Usage:

wait.exe [X]
where X is number of seconds to wait, e.g. wait 5

The app is compiled for .NET Framework 4 Client Profile, so it’s compatible with Windows XP and up. Zip file contains both binary and source file.

Note:

If you are using Windows 7 or up, you can simply type “timeout 5” in your batch file to wait 4-5 seconds. Yes, it’s not as precise as this amazing tool, but do we really need it to be? In Windows XP, there is no timeout alternative, so using of this tool is reasonable.

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Better Password Generator

by Dmitry Kirsanov 15. March 2018 18:58

The Why

Like a pro system administrator, I have to reset and generate passwords. A few per day. They are for different purposes and of different kind – PINs, short passwords, long password, the ones for web services, terminals, windows users – you name it.

Previously, to generate the password I was using Password Safe – the password managing utility originally made by Bruce Schneier. Everything was more or less fine, but in order to use specific policy (or set of rules) I would have to open my password safe, and I would prefer not to.

I wanted to have more flexible tool, fast and compact, that would do everything I want and then some more. Eventually I’ve got a few hours to invest into it.

The What

PG1
I copied the UI of password generation dialogue from Password Safe, as it’s both ergonomic and habitual. And then I added few elements which made this app unique and, let’s be honest, better tool.

The new features are:

  • Ability to add Cyrillic (Russian) and Chinese (Simplified) characters – either as an addition (mix) or replacement to English alphabet.
  • Use adjacent characters on standard QWERTY keyboard.
  • Automatically copy generated passwords to clipboard.
  • Some tweaks to how passwords are generated.

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Windows Azure Storage performance benchmark and options

by Dmitry Kirsanov 9. April 2017 02:55

cstJust recently I had to assign a new virtual machine for yet another project, and this presented a perfect opportunity to try the recently introduced feature of Azure storage – the SSD drives.

As you know (and if you don’t – you can read about it here), the type of memory used in SSD drives provides not only faster way to write and read data, but more importantly – to read non-sequential data, hence promising a better performance for database and web caching. But, of course, I had to test it before putting any eggs into that basket.

One thing that raised some suspicion was the IOPS limit mentioned in each virtual machine “size” chart. The “size” of virtual machine, in Azure jargon, is the specs. Usually the name of the “size” consists of the literal and a cipher. The first tells us about the purpose of the machine and the second – how powerful and expensive it is.

I’ve selected the virtual machine that had “SSD 7Gb” on it, wondering what it means. Turned out that it means that you’ll get the temporary drive (the one with contents wiped time after time) with total size of 7Gb, but part of it will be taken by the virtual memory file. Still, you’ll get over 5Gb left and I never needed even that much on a temporary drive. More...

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