Welcome to the lab.
Full disclosure: macminicolo.net sponsors hosting for this website. This, however, is not a sponsored post.
I’ve been wanting to “own” my cloud backup for a while. Amazon S3 and Glacier provide solid solutions, but restoring a backup from S3 is slow, and from Glacier it’s downright painful. S3 also seems cheap at first, but gets expensive quickly. Plus, there are privacy and security issues with any third party cloud storage.
Arq 4 recently came out and added the ability to backup up over SFTP. I already have a macminicolo.net box (a service that runs my Mac mini from a rack in Las Vegas with full remote/internet access), so I purchased a 4TB Backup Plus Fast Portable Drive1, had it added to my colocated mini2, and pointed Arq 4 to it.
Arq allows you to control bandwidth usage, so if the bandwidth of your remote machine is a concern, you can throttle it. In my case, macminicolo provides more than enough bandwidth to run a few websites3 and do a full-speed cloud backup at the same time.
To set up an Arq 4 backup to a remote SFTP server:
- Create a public/private key pair for the remote
- On your remote machine, create a backup folder on the external backup hard drive
- Add a “Target” in Arq 4, pointed to your server/backup folder using the private SSH key you created in step 1
- Add local folders to the backup target in Arq
For additional peace of mind, you could mirror your backup drive, but I also back up locally and only need one remote backup storage device.
If you have storage space and a dedicated machine, there are additional options like CrashPlan, too. You can also use CarbonCopyCloner to clone a drive over an intranet or the internet, but I don’t think it provides any versioning. You could potentially combine it with Time Machine for that.
I experimented with BitTorrent Sync for large backups a bit. It’s fast, but there’s no versioning. You can combine BitTorrent Sync with Time Machine, too, but that requires even more drive space and I’m afraid I’d eventually run into issues and might not even know about them until it was time to attempt a restore. Arq handles all of the backup, versioning and restore functions, so it was a good choice for me.
Arq 4 is $39.99. It also backs up to Amazon S3, Amazon Glacier, GreenQloud, DreamObjects, Google Cloud Storage and more. You can have multiple targets if you like.
macminicolo.net has 100Mb/s connections, with plans starting at $35 per month if you provide your own Mac mini. You can purchase a machine from them starting at $599 (same as Apple prices), and add external drives, additional RAM and SSD drives as needed. You get a static IP and, depending on your plan, Remote Reboot, advanced statistics and other features. The service and support are outstanding. It might be a steep investment if all you want to do is run backups, but a single machine can do much more. Run a media server, FTP server, web sites, WebDAV services, personal bookmarking services4, wikis… anything you can do on your Mac but fully internet accessible, always-on and with faster speeds and higher bandwidth than anything comparable that you could run locally.
Compared to services like Backblaze, the monthly charges for this backup are higher. There’s a steeper initial investment in Arq, the hard drive and the Mac mini, but
no monthly charge (correction, $10 monthly charge for hosting an external hard drive) for your storage space and you get the peace of mind of completely owning your backup system.
This backup solution is working out great for me. I’d love to hear about any other self-hosted offsite solutions you’ve tested or are using, so feel free to highlight them in the comments! Also, I spent a good 15 minutes on that post image, so feel free to validate my effort and tweet me about its awesomeness5.
I’ve just added a couple of extensions to the PopClip collection. They lengthen short urls and clean query strings out. One (LinkCleaner) is for replacing text in an editor, and the other (CopyCleanLinks) is for copying to the clipboard.
Both of them have the same set of modifier keys:
- Holding down Option will strip all query strings. By default it will only strip Google Analytics strings (UTM).
- Holding down Command will strip all text except for URLs, returning the cleaned versions of any urls in the text as a newline-separated list
- Holding down both will do — surprise — both.
The scripts use LongURL to lengthen any short urls found, and then a basic regex to find Google query strings and other “?x=y” type of query strings.
Download the bunch and install what you like! The source is up on GitHub.
Some posts of interest from the last week:
- Sponsor: AeroPress Timer (Feb 27th)
- A big thanks to AeroPress Timer for sponsoring BrettTerpstra.com this week. AeroPress users should be checking this out.
- Marked 2.2 825 with Passive Voice detection (Mar 3rd)
- Marked was updated this week with Passive Voice detection, allowing you to further improve your writing!
- Systematic 86 with Nick Honko (Mar 4th)
- I had a great chat with Nick about travel, study habits and more.
- Collaborative text editor roundup (Mar 5th)
- A roundup of some of the currently-available collaborative text editing solutions.
Recaps are a quick, curated summary of one week’s posts on this site. You can keep up on the site with RSS, or subscribe specifically to the Recaps and get weekly updates in digest format.
This is the “collaborative text editors” edition. It’s a problem I’ve been looking into for a while now, and would love to hear about any additions you have to the list. I’m leaving comments open on this one, so feel free to pimp your favorite solutions.
While I’m partial to Markdown and plain text in this quest, I’m open to other non-Word options.
Collaborative text editors
- Still my favorite, and constantly growing with new features and active development. I’m using it to collaborate on a book right now, as well as a means to share my longer blog pieces with editors and proofreaders.
- Another one to add to the list. Nice keyboard shortcuts for Markdown editing, and great collaboration features with merging and differentials.
- Start projects, invite collaborators and share public documents. I love the interface, but haven’t done any extensive testing with it yet.
- Gingko App
- A way to collaborate on document structure using a “Tree” system. Good keyboard navigation and some interesting features.
- I’ve mentioned this one before, but it’s a Dropbox-style document collaboration system using Git. It looks like it would be automated enough to get non-technical writers involved without too much hassle.
- It’s not live collaboration, but with the right tools it’s possible to do some interesting things. MultiMarkdown Composer makes generating the markup, previewing and accepting/rejecting changes simple, and Marked makes it easy for all parties to see changes and before/after views.
- I have to include Quip (for iOS), despite it being a rich text editor with a proprietary format. The collaboration features are excellent.
- This is a late addition, I forgot about it when first editing this post. Hackpad is a web-based rich text editor with excellent collaboration features. Thanks to Mr Ka for reminding me.
- Starting to Demo the Wolfram Language—Wolfram Blog
- For users like me, this video should come with a clear “pornography” warning.
I was joined on Systematic this week by Nick Honko, a med student with a background in tech. He’s been to 30+ countries in his lifetime and we talked about travel and travel tips, as well as a dive into study habits and tricks.
Nick was easy to talk to and had a lot to share. It was, for me, a great conversation and a great episode. Check it out at 5by5!
Among a few fixes and new features, Marked 2 now has Passive Voice detection included in the Keyword Highlighting feature (⌘⇧K). I’ve also expanded the default “Use Alternate” dictionary, which highlights words that you may want to find an alternate, less ambiguous or complex word for. To update your word list, you can copy any words you’ve added, use the “Reset to Defaults” button, and paste back in any customizations.
Get the update through Marked’s auto-update feature (Marked->Check for Updates), or download a trial version at Marked2App.com. As I mentioned last time, if you’re a Marked 1 customer looking for upgrade pricing, just shoot me an email.
I’m working on incorporating detection of long sentences, per HemingwayApp, but it’s a bit more complex to do in Marked’s web preview than it is in a textarea. I have a solution worked out, but it remains to be seen if it’s practical (and useful enough to warrant the effort). The App Store version is coming along, and that takes higher priority at this point.
Yes, this is a somewhat cheesy sales pitch, but I think it’s important to get the word out… forgive me.
Do you use a Markdown workflow at work? Do you want to speed up the process and get everyone on board? Marked is a great way to make sure everyone can see documents the same way as they evolve, effectively proofread them and even easily incorporate your unique scripts and tools into the process. It makes it possible to create consistent exports and document branding, all while working in plain text documents that don’t require any special software or word processors.
Marked 2 now has site licensing options available. Several companies have already taken advantage of this, but I wanted to make a public announcement about it and make sure everyone had the opportunity. You can buy whatever quantity you like, and there are tiered discounts available:
- 5–9, 10% off
- 10–19, 12% off
- 20–49, 15% off
- 50+, 20% off
If you’d like to take advantage of site licensing for Marked, just drop me a line and I’ll provide a special purchase link for the quantity requested with the discount built in.
As I mentioned previously, Realmac is making an effort to “clear” up confusion surrounding multiple versions of their app Clear. They plan to make the new, consolidated version of Clear available for free for two 24-hour periods, and the first one just started.
Grab Clear in the next 24 hours and it’s free. If you’ve been one of the customers who was confused (or even annoyed) by the co-existence of Clear and Clear+, use this opportunity to get on track with the new version.
This will only happen twice, as explained in Realmac’s letter to customers.