Something to Think About – Puzzle of Sorts

Here’s a puzzle (of sorts) for JBRish readers.

Preface: We live in N. Phoenix which is near Scottsdale, AZ. This area thrives on the winter vacation and part-time resident crowd and thus there are a multitude of restaurants. We have eaten at our share of the nearby eateries over the years and the last time we visited a local establishment that is popular with the locals and tourists alike, I looked in the dispenser that held the sugar packets and this is what I saw

NOTE – I have removed some of the markings to make this a bit of a challenge.

Have you ever seen one of these? Do you know what it is?



Don’t feel bad, it took me a minute and I had the entire form to look at. Here it is with one more clue added



By now you have probably guessed, so here is the rest of the item as I saw it when I took it from the container.



If you haven’t guessed by now, it is for diners to place their gum on this cardboard to be folded and discarded. Apparently, as confirmed by our waitress, so many people stick their gum under the table that it has created a big problem for staff who have to scrape and clean the bottom of the tables. Who would have thought?!


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All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017


My Computer’s Near Death Experience

– Part 3 –

If you missed the first two parts of this series, you can read it at these links:

My Computer’s Near Death Experience – Part 1

My Computer’s Near Death Experience – Part 2


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At this point in the saga, my computer’s hard drive has been repaired and I have restored a number of files including all of my music. Now the rest of the story…

I was more nervous about my photographs. These are very important to me as they go back years and hold so much history as well as much of my work from my photography hobby. A couple of days later, I worked up the courage and began the restore process overnight. Now I am a very conservative person in such matters so before I began to restore the encrypted files from the Crashplan (CP) backup drive, I copied the CP file to the new internal Mac hard drive so I had a backup of the backup; just in case. This isn’t so weird when you realize a good portion of your digital and/or recreational life resides on a small device represented by a series of bits and bytes!

I was pleased the next morning to learn that all my photographs had been saved and were safely restored. I now had to place them in the correct folders on the hard drive so they would be recognized by my photography software. This was not easy and I had to do some research along with trial-and-error, but I was successful. I was glad to learn that only a few of my most recent edits were missing. All my files and photographs appeared to be there. The edits and revisions can be recreated if needed.

I realize that I dodged a bullet and this situation could have been much worse.

***** Lessons Learned *****


Positive:

  • I was well aware and appreciated a need for a backup of my computer files because they represented important aspects of my life.
  • I had taken several actions necessary to insure my files would be available if needed. I had two copies, one old, and one slightly old, of my most precious files – music and photographs.
  • I did not ignore my need for a backup when my original backup failed. I used Crashplan to make a backup of my hard drive. It was free, it was time-consuming to configure, but it saved the day.
  • I tested the recoverability of the files after I decided to use CP’s backup storage system to make sure it worked..and it did.
  • I called support and interfaced with them via email to assure they would be attentive to my needs…and they were.

Negative:

  • I procrastinated too long in re-establishing my Time Machine backup system.
  • As I understand it, this would have provided a plug-and-play solution for my problem and I would most likely not have had any data loss.
  • I should have made a more recent, raw backup of all my data files so I wouldn’t lose any data. This was not critical, but annoying.

Overall Lessons Learned:

  • Some of the missing files and data could be recovered by filtering emails to download certain documents and information. This was an especially important process I followed to recover data going back to 2009 that was important to one of my hobbies. Having email copies and archiving those emails saved the day for this project.
  • I am now studying a more effective and efficient backup system that will have redundancy and flexibility. BTW, I also tried iDrive via a 90% off offer, but their cloud backup would have taken just as long. I believe leaving my computer running for days on end trying to backup to the cloud caused, at least in part, my initial hard drive failure. I am not currently using a cloud service.
  • What I am now doing is making two backups of all my data and using Time Machine over two hard drives. From time-to-time I bring one of my two backups to a friend’s house to cover me in the event of total disaster. That’s the best I can do and I am happy with it.
  • I have learned of a good service for helping resolve my technology issues which thankfully have been few and far between.


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All content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017


My Computer’s Near Death Experience

– Part 2 –

If you missed the first part of this series, you can read it at this link:

My Computer’s Near Death Experience – Part 1

I packed my ailing Mac into the car and off to the Apple Store we went. I had called Apple’s corporate support team and tried to get them to help me arrange support. They interfaced with one of the local Apple stores in Scottsdale, AZ to determine that if I could get there within forty minutes, there was a chance they could look at my computer. There was no guarantee as they were booked with appointments, but there weren’t too many walk-ins so I might have some luck.

A half hour later I was at the Apple Store. Oh, no, my Mac was too old! Apple no longer supported repair for my five-year-old iMac. It was legacy and it wasn’t worthy! The Apple employee offered an alternative authorized repair shop that wasn’t too far away. It was rush hour which is quite an experience in this area of Scottsdale/Phoenix, but I was on a mission.

I was headed to MACMEDIA, INC., 6928 E 5th Ave #1, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Another forty minutes and I was carrying the seat of all my creative endeavors in to the repair shop. The staff was busy with other customers, but made me feel welcome and relaxed. I walked around the store and then settled in to listen to the conversations going on around me. I could tell by the manner in which the staff was interacting with the other customers and by the conversation that I was, indeed, at the proper place for what was ailing my computer.

Sure enough within a half hour or so, they confirmed my suspicion that the computer could not be immediately recovered and that the fix was not going to be quick. There was a $95 Diagnostic fee which would be applied to any repair if I decided to proceed.; and I did.

I received a call later that afternoon indicating that indeed it was my hard drive. The options, I was told were that they could replace my 1 TB drive with another for a total of $270 +/- OR…I could get a 2TB hard drive for just thirty dollars more. With the 2TB model would come an upgrade to the very latest system software as well. I had to think hard about that wrinkle, but decided to go ahead with it as they recommended. BTW, not all my legacy apps are running perfectly with the new system, but good enough!

The machine was ready for pickup the next day. The hard drive had a three year warranty and the labor was covered for thirty days. I thought the 30 days was a bit on the short side, but it is within industry standards.

Now came the dicey part. I was hesitant to even try this, but I had to get my Firefox (web browser) up and running and then I needed to try to restore the file with all of my passwords. I was hoping that Crashplan’s (CP) local backup had copied it and I was strongly hoping that it could be restored. Remember that I did try to restore a couple of files and had success so I was optimistic.

I plugged in the CP local backup drive, used the CP software to locate the file I needed and selected RESTORE. A few minutes later, Voila! The file was restored. The keys to the kingdom were back in my pocket and I was on my way.

I now had access to all my passwords and my main email accounts. Once again, I relied on CP’s staff to help me answer a few questions about restoring my files. Understand, this was not a clone of my computer. I just had my files in organized folders which I then had to copy on to the new hard drive. While I would rather not have had this experience, I used it to eliminate some of the detritus that lives on any computer that is more than a year old. I deleted some very old outdated files.

The first restoration I made was of my documents folder. After a while I could tell that most of the files were recovered. There were a few I couldn’t locate immediately, but later were found via a system level search for file name and properties. Sadly, there were a few folders and files that didn’t make it to the complete backup and are now gone, but these were not essential and can certainly be recreated or replaced anew.

The first major test was to restore my music files. That took quite a while. I let my computer run overnight and I was pleased the next day to see that all of my music was there!

To read Part 1 of this series, follow this link: My Computer’s Near Death Experience – Part 1


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All content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017


My Computer’s Near Death Experience

– Part 1 –


Mother hummingbird with baby – look in the middle.”

Followers of JBRish might have seen a posting a couple of months ago that my computer was out of service and postings were temporarily halted. Having a computer crash is never fun; not even for the most casual or the most experience technology user for that matter. For someone like me who relies on the computer for his blog, photography and other creative needs, it is an extreme situation; a nuisance of great magnitude.

Unfortunately, there were circumstances that happened in the recent past that made this potentially even more devastating. I use an iMac. It is a five year old plus machine. To refer to it as a legacy machine is being kind. A month prior to my computer incident, I inadvertently plugged my 3TB Time Machine backup drive into my wife’s PC and for some reason my iMac would no longer read from it.

I tried every Mac utility I had on the machine with no luck. My wife’s PC would not recognize it either. I tried and tried over a period of days to get it to work, but no dice! I then tried to reformat it on the Mac…dead end there too. It wouldn’t even reformat on the PC. The drive was dead. The drive too may have been a bit old, but I cannot explain why it would no longer work based on the actions taken.

I recently read that external 3TB drives, for one reason or another, were more prone to malfunctioning. The article didn’t seem to pin down the exact culprit, but reported the devastating statistics. You can read more about 3TB drives here (Full disclosure – I did not read these specific articles.)

I never did get around to replacing that malfunctioning drive. My most precious files (see bird picture above) are my more than ten thousand photographs and my large music collection. Other than that, any loss of my other documents would not be devastating It would definitely be a problem and a great nuisance, but not devastating. I had two older backups of both my music and my photographs. The music was current, but the photo backups were three months old and I would lose my most current edits if I could not restore my most recent Lightroom files. Not tragic, but certainly not good either.

Realizing I was riding a potential disaster roller coaster, I decided to follow the trend to backup to the cloud using Crashplan. Crashplan (CP) and other cloud companies offer software to use to make a backup of your computer to a local drive as well.

Why did I choose Crashplan? – The Best Online Cloud Backup Service

As it turned out, this was a life saving move. All right, not life saving, but definitely a time and file saver.

Let me digress and say a few words about Crashplan. The reason I chose Crashplan was because they offered a thirty day free trial and, this is important, software to backup document, photograph and music files to a local drive. I configured my computer to do both. I began to backup to CPs cloud service and to a local hard drive I had connected to the iMac. This would not be a clone, just a safeguard against data loss.

During the configuration process, and to test the validity of the back up, I restored several files along the way to see if it worked. I needed to call CP’s support several times. Each time, I was given prompt support. There were a few delays perhaps because I was not as clear as I could have been. Nevertheless, all my issues were resolved and my backups seemed to be working.

This was a learning experience. I had never backed up a large number of files to any cloud service. The closest I had come was using Dropbox to store a series of photographs for family and friends to view. I was quite surprised almost bordering on shock that the estimated time to backup my 1 TB internal hard drive to the cloud was estimated to take between 45-60 days. I understand I have some large files and I am sure CP uses some algorithm to check for errors which slows down this process, but I had no idea of the amount of time it would take to place my data in the cloud.

NOTE – I also have a DSL line which, by nature, is slower than most cable companies and this almost assuredly increased the amount of backup time needed.

I decided to let the cloud option lapse when the trial period expired because I wasn’t sure this was the most efficient service for my needs and I still had days to go. To CPs credit, they continue to allow users to backup to their local drive via their software whether or not they are cloud-paying customers and I continued to take advantage of that option. This too was slow, but not as slow as backing up to the cloud.



Within a short time period, my computer completely failed. I knew it was the hard drive. After my heart returned to its normal rhythm, I began to think of my options. I did have two older hard drives with outdated backups of my most precious files, but there were a lot of documents I would miss. One example is an extensive checklist I have created for long hiking trips which reminds me of all the little things I need to take with me on my hiking vacations such as head lamps, hotel night light, bandages, instant coffee, etc. I even have a version for a short get-away trip. Yeah, that would be annoying to lose.

My most important document is a “coded” text tile with all my logons and passwords. They can be recreated, but what a mess that would be. I have several email accounts and my blog to keep up with almost immediately. Oh well!


<--- TO BE CONTINUED --->


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All content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross – 2017


Taliesin West Evening Tour Photo Essay

Part 9

On the way to the Cabaret Theater, we walked past the room pictured in the two photos below. It appears to be a mixture of formal and informal touches designed for meeting and/or eating.


Apparent mixed-decor meeting or dining area
This room appeared to be a mixed-decor meeting or dining area


Apparent mixed-decor meeting or dining area

The evening tour ended with a final visit to the Cabaret Theater. This is an area (below) where movies were shown or smaller concerts held.


The Cabaaret Theater
The Cabaaret Theater – overwhelmingly red


Geometric lighting fixture in the Cabaret Theater
Once again we notice a Geometric lighting fixture in the Cabaret Theater

 
NOTE – Keep in mind that this series represents only a partial exploration of the evening tour at Taliesin West. There was much more included with many stories and insights offered. The docent was very experienced and knowledgeable.

We will end this photo essay with a quote by Wright himself:

“The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

 

Read more about Taiesin West HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Taliesin West series in chronological order:


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All content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross



#taliesin #taliesinwest #franklloydwright #music

Taliesin West Evening Tour Photo Essay

Part 8

What motivates many people to take tours such as that offered at Taliesin West, is the interesting discoveries that await. There are so many nooks and crannies at Wright’s Arizona estate, that one never knows what will be found in the next room or just around the corner.

The picture below shows a detailed oriental sculpture that sat upon a dentil shelf in the Kiva Room that was used for conferences, etc. This evening they served cookies and juice.


The Kiva conference roo
A detail from the Kiva (conference room)

Taliesin has its own Music Pavilion.


The Pavilion theater
The Music Pavilion

This mural (below) in the Music Pavilion is called “City by the Sea” which some explain was Frank Lloyd Wright’s interpretation of the Chicago skyline.


City by the Sea mural in the Music Pavilion
City by the Sea mural in the Music Pavilion

 

Read more about Taiesin West HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Taliesin West series in chronological order:


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All content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross



Taliesin West Evening Tour Photo Essay

Part 7

Taliesin West has a wide variety of plant material both inside and out. Below is a picture of one of the office fireplaces that now serves to display houseplants which fit in well with the ceramic and metal pots.


Office fireplace with plants
Fireplace now holds houseplants


Refelecting pool outside the Kiva
Visitors walked past a reflecting pool on the way to the Kiva


Decorative dragon breathing fire
Decorative, sculpted dragon breathing fire (upper-left)

One of the “teasers” for the evening tour was this evening only event where the flame is lit to enable the sculpted dragon to “breathe fire.” You can find a daytime photograph with the details a bit more visible at this Deviant Art webpage – Click HERE.

 

Read more about Taiesin West HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Taliesin West series in chronological order:


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All content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross



Taliesin West Evening Tour Photo Essay

Part 6

While sitting in the Living Room at Taliesin West and looking at a good number of lighting fixtures and other elements, it was obvious that Wright favored geometric shapes especially the triangle.


Pyramidal shaped light fixtures
Pyramidal shaped light fixtures and square stools near the stone fireplace


Pyramidal light fixtures closer view
A closer view of the Pyramidal light fixtures


Another geometric light fixture
Another geometric inspired light fixture

 

Read more about Taiesin West HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Taliesin West series in chronological order:


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All content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross



Taliesin West Evening Tour Photo Essay – Part 5

Frank Lloyd Wright understood that a building cannot be a home without appropriate furnishings. He was concerned about decorating the rooms in a style that would enhance the overall architecture and aesthetic of each area.


Decorative Chinese theater scene
An example of the decorative ceramic Chinese theater scenes

Chinese theater scenes are placed throughout the estate with some used to mark transitions from one area to another.


Taliesin West wall of art
Room-separating artwork wall with sculptures and stones


The living room at Taliesin West
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West living room

 

Read more about Taiesin West HERE.

Previous posts and photographs in the Taliesin West series in chronological order:


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All content on this blog is copyrighted by Jeffrey B. Ross with ALL Rights Reserved. While reference links back to JBRish.com are appreciated and encouraged, please acquire approval for any reproduction of original content from this website.

©Jeffrey B. Ross