It was a dark night and the sea was raging

Seas were running 70 feet and even in the dark of night we could see glimmers of light as the typhoon whipped spray from the tops of wave crests and they were bathed in the occasional moonlight that escaped the cloud cover.

kitty-hawk-cva-63-1967-ships-insigniaIt was July 1969 and from the navigation bridge of the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk, CVA-63, even the might of the 90,000 ton carrier with its cargo that included 5,000 sailors and marines was yielding to the mighty force of the typhoon.

The ‘Hawk had  been at anchor in Hong Kong harbor with at least 3,000 of its 5,000 men ashore enjoying a well-deserved R&R of six days or so.

Sailors had dispersed throughout Hong Kong whether seeking inexpensive (but finely tailored) clothes, sight-seeing or exploring for wine, women and song. The ship had departed San Diego on New Year’s Eve 1968 and on Jan 1 was enroute to Pearl Harbor.yankee_station_location_1

By Jan 25 we were on Yankee Station off of Viet Nam so the R&R was a hit!

We still had a day left in Hong Kong. That’s when the news came. Typhoon Viola had been well out beyond the Philippine Sea in the Pacific but now had turned and was headed straight for Taiwan and the Northern tip of the Philippine Islands and … toward Hong Kong. Now the last place an aircraft carrier needs to be in heavy weather is in a harbor. No amount of anchoring could guarantee that an anchor might not drag, or lose its hold entirely, possibly allowing the ship to be run aground in the harbor and — no doubt — wiping out everything in its path.

Viola has been described this way:

Large Super Typhoon Viola, which formed on July 22 east of the Philippines, brushed northern Luzon with winds of 150 mph on the 26th. It continued to the northwest, and weakened due to lack of inflow. Viola hit southeastern China as a minimal typhoon on the 28th, and dissipated the next day. The typhoon caused 11 deaths, with 17 missing. (emphasis added)

From via accessed Feb 28, 2009.

The call went out for all hands to return to the ship. All 3,000+ of them who were now scattered all over Hong Kong and Kowloon. Navy Shore Patrol scooped sailors off of the streets and out of bars and brothels.   It was July 27, 1969 when we got underway.

As one of several underway Officers of the Deck (what is an Officer of the Deck?), it happened I had the watch that dark night as we sought to escape the wrath of the storm. My recollection is that we simply slipped out to the South China Sea between Hong Kong and the island of Taiwan and headed South. We were running downwind with two “cans” in company — those were the escort destroyers who had ported with us in Hong Kong. Off our port beam was another carrier with her two destroyers and we were all running before the 70 foot seas.

We were fortunate on the carrier with its 1081 foot length and 275 foot beam amidships. We were pitching into the wave troughs and rolling about 10 degrees side-to-side, but the destroyers would disappear from sight in the troughs and were rolling 30-50 degrees side-to-side. They were frequently scribing a 90 degree arc as they rolled from left to right and back again. We were lucky, they were miserable.

I had the evening watch, 8 to midnight. We were some hours into my watch when the radio-telephone barked and aroused us from the monotony of watching the bow dip into the approaching wave with “green” water occasionally breaking over the bow. USS KITTY HAWK (CV 63)

Back to the radio in a moment, but you need to appreciate the fact that the bow on the carrier is 90 feet off the water.

The term “green” water refers to enough water to have the green look of the deep sea — in other words, a LOT of water!

Our aft lookout had informed the bridge that he thought he saw an extra red mastlight astern of us. We could sometimes see more of the destroyers, but often we could only identify their red lights at the very top of the mast. But this was yet another light. Again the lookout called up to the bridge and this time he was certain that from the rolling, deep swells shrouded by driving rain and blowing spray, he could see a ship gaining on our group from astern, coming up between us and the other carrier which was about 500 yards off our port beam.

Radar was of no use as the “sea return” was such that all surface contact images were obliterated. We could not confirm the lookout’s report.

The radio call started with our tactical callsign “Pawtucket.” But that was the last normal part of the call.  Even over the howling wind surrounding the glass-enclosed bridge some 135 feet above the water line, the speaker blared “Pawtucket, this is the U.S.S.R. Cerchenko (making up the name as I don’t recall it). You know us as the Russian trawler. We are approaching you from astern.”  The voice on the other end – identifying as a Russian – was in perfect, unbroken midwestern English. “We request to steam in company with you during the storm” the English/Russian voice continued. In perfect English, using our tactical callsign, I had an enemy ship (it was still the “cold” war, remember) trying to talk to me!

What the &^#%^& I thought! What now? I’m in charge of this ship and it’s 5,000 men, it’s the middle of the night, there is nothing in my training about this scenario and the Captain is sound asleep in his at-sea cabin.  This so-called “trawler” was the electronic surveillance vessel that shadowed ships on Yankee Station. They would not only collect electronic intelligence but also harassed with such capers as trying to cross our bow as we started flight operations, in violation of the international rules of the road.

“Quartermaster” I called to the sailor across the bridge, “please wake the Captain.” The Captain instructed me to have the trawler continue and to take station directly on our port beam, midway between the two carriers. He was unconcerned because, as dictated by the traditions at sea, any ship and its sailors will come to the aid of another. Those trawlers were not large vessels and she sought, and received from the United States Navy, the safety of company during the storm.

“USSR Cerchenko this is the USS Kitty Hawk, please take station on our port beam between the two carriers and keep station on us” I reported back to the trawler. And there she stayed for, as I recall, a couple of days until the weather abated. You see, the storm was chasing us so we stayed in it for a long while. We kept an eye on her, and she on the ‘Hawk.  Later, as luck would have it, I was back on the bridge when I took the final call.  “Kitty Hawk, this is USSR Cerchenko. Thank you very much. Request permission to depart company.” So here, again in perfect English, this Russian is requesting permission to leave? Like she needed it. But that was the polite thing to do in the context, and once again I picked up the black plastic handset to the radio circuit, pushed the button, and said simply “permission granted.”

The upshot of that was that had the trawler been a US Navy ship we would have tactical command of that ship while it is part of our formation so I guess I can claim that for a short while, I had tactical command of a Russian ship!  🙂

It was an interesting episode. Interesting about our two countries — the United States and Russia — in that the usual adversarial encounter of the electronic surveillance they conducted on us off of Yankee Station was set aside in the context of the potential jeopardy of the seas; and interesting about the humans involved to conduct that simple event with genuine interest for the other as if it were a daily occurrence.

Here is the Hong Kong harbor — while it appears protected, it would be a dangerous harbor for a carrier to be caught in.


Contextual thinking in the age of information abundance

Life was once simple:  I am hungry. I have a club. I know how to use the club. There is an animal. Whack! Now I have dinner. Move forward several eons and now: I am hungry. I know how to drive a car. The car has gas in it. I want a steak. I know a restaurant that serves steak. The economy is bad. I may get laid off. I have minimal savings. There is leftover pizza in the fridge. I can eat the pizza a save money.

That present-day decision is made in the context of a large amount of data, filtered by my ability to understand and process the data, colored by my political opinion about the competency of the current government, and tempered by my subjective desires for a steak and my objective concern to have enough resources to live through what I conclude to be the dangerous economic period.

There is an abundance of information available to bear upon the contextual target, in my silly example, satisfying hunger.  All of that information can be processed for a lot of different reasons and to varying ends, but in the context of a meal the relationships among the data points that result in a meal choice are one thing while the relationships among them that bear upon who to vote for in the fall are quite different.

Therefore, with an abundance of information available — much of it right from the web — how do we capture or tabulate the information in a way to remember it, to see the various relationships, to look for meaning in the data to answer the particular question at hand — that is the chore.

“Contextual thinking” has been pushed in the corporate and academic worlds for sometime as an improved methodology for decision-making. What is contextual thinking? See a short explanation here:

ContextThinking is the accelerated development of skilled judgment or observation by looking at the story surrounding a fact to achieve understanding, evaluate viewpoints, and solve problems.

ContextThinking develops your awareness of the requirements, capabilities, standards, and timelines that you will need to make a better decision. ContextThinking uses Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Levels of Thinking to identify where you are in your life according to sound psychological principles.

ContextThinking also uses your ability to sense what is right for you, set controls that can be measured, and allows you to respond to pressures with the right answer at the right time.

“What is Context Thinking” Retrieved Feb. 26, 2009 from

It seems obvious that if you can enhance your awareness of the requirements, capabilities, standards, and timelines of the problem at hand, you can arrive at a better solution sooner, and one that transitions from theory, to design, to action more quickly. But exactly how you do that is the problem.

A large component of the problem is knowledge management. Gathering data from the myriad of available sources of information is only one phase of working toward a solution to a given problem. Managing that data in an analytical manner is a huge problem. We can pretty easily gather a lot of information and store it in any number of database systems, but languishing in the database, that data does not aid in decision-making.

I seem to be forever searching for solutions to this problem — this gathering, storage, retrieval and analysis of information — the effective analysis of multiple datapoints gathered from disparate sources. And understand this further complication:  I speak of “datapoints” primarily in the contextual of abstract thought in the form of laws as interpreted by the judicial system, not mathematical or scientifically measured data that can be digitized and ordered, plotted and charted for analysis.

My current experimentation can be found in the attempt to understand how to use two computerized tools:

Why is it important, if it is, to worry about this perceived problem of “contextual thinking in the age of information abundance?” Because it’s information overabundance with which we are faced. Effective contextual thinking must take place immersed in information:  information about the requirements, capabilities and standards necessary to solving any problem; and the contextual information affecting the timeline, the 4th component of contextual thinking, can be even more overwhelming.

If we don’t develop effective information management techniques at the personal level we will be devoured by information overload.

For a succinct discussion on contextual thinking, see Graham,  Joseph W.  ( January 2, 2009) Context Thinking Training for Executives.  Retrieved Feb. 26, 2009 from

Movie review: Fireproof

This is a movie everyone should watch if they are in a relationship.  It’s by the same producers of “Facing the Giantsand I promise you won’t be disappointed.

On IMDb “Fireproof” only gets a 5.5/10 rating but on Netflix it gets 5/5 stars. There’s no accounting for taste. Jen and I give it a solid 5/5. Ok, guys, at first you’ll think it’s a chick flick. And it does start off a little slowly but the early wait is worth it.

Watch it with someone you love is all I can say. Especially if you dare to continue loving them. There is a related resource at which is worth looking at whether your marriage is rock solid or rocky. More below. CAUTION — movie spoiler below.

These are the films done by the church that uses all volunteers other than a handful of experienced professionals at movie-making. They have another one in the works and they’re all worth owning, in my opinion.

At the “fireproof” website noted above is also a link to the Love Dare book shown in the movie. Its use is a most interesting concept that I think would go a long way toward both assisting recovery of a marriage in trouble and boosting the level of even the most solid of marriages. I may buy an extra copy to lend out … and a lot of lawyers, churches and social professionals could do the same.

The link to the book
has more information about it and the process. Here is a snippet from the site:

About The Love Dare

Too many marriages end when someone says “I’ve fallen out of love with you” or “I don’t love you anymore.” In reality, such statements reveal a lack of understanding about the fundamental nature of true love.

The Love Dare, as featured in the new movie Fireproof (starring Kirk Cameron and from the team that brought us the #1 best selling DVD Facing the Giants), is a forty-day guided devotional experience that will lead your heart back to truly loving your spouse while learning more about the design, nature, and source of true love.

Each day’s entry discusses a unique aspect of love, presents a specific “dare” to do for your spouse (some will be very easy, others very challenging), and gives you a journaling area to chart the progress that you will be making.

It’s time to learn the keys to finding true intimacy and developing a dynamic marriage. Take the dare!

Read a Sample Chapter…

Sources and influences of religion in modern law

As a Christian and a judge of 12 years and lawyer licensed since 1973 (gee, that sounds like a long time ago), it is no surprise that, as with many lawyers, I have an interest in the influence of religious principles and history on the law.  I was asked to talk in our adult forum at church tomorrow about religion and the law and put together a written piece to guide the discussion. Besides, everyone likes a party favor. The PDF of the document is in my shared files and you’re welcome to read it and I invite your comments here.

I briefly discuss what is undoubtedly the earliest recorded roots of our modern jurisprudence, the Code of Hammurabi — an early king of Babylonia. The Ten Commandments are briefly compared. There then follows an outline of some of the principles of our modern procedural rules that existed during the trials of Christ — all of which were broken in order to ensure his conviction and crucifixion.


We have to say goodbye, R.I.P. Vogey

(the following was used as one of many remembrances at Robert’s funeral on February 16, 2009.)

Robert Voglino
Robert Voglino

Goodbye, Vogey, but thanks for the richness you gave to our lives. Our friend Robert Voglino may be gone but he was the sort of fellow never to be forgotten.

People who have died are often eulogized as having been special in various ways. In Vogey’s case it’s true. His Italian heritage (thus his “Godfather” nickname in Rotary) created an often bigger than life persona, yet gentle as a teddy bear with a charisma we will all remember.

How he came into my life was literally to define our years together and he, and those connections, are worth remembering and sharing. I want to share a unique view of Vogey from that perspective.

It was the spring of 2002 and a motorcycle tour through the Davis Mountains in far West Texas was planned. Mike Atkinson suggested that a friend of his come along, riding one of Mike’s extra bikes. Mike always had extra bikes. So along come Robert and Beth — unknown to me at the time — and away we go.

As motorcycling is more about the ride than the destination we rode and enjoyed the stimulation of seeing God’s world in that special way. Not much visiting, but a lot of riding. Until dinner at the Olympia in Fort Davis.

Serendipitiously seated together, the conversation naturally was a recap of the ride and compliments to the meal we were enjoying, and then, then the conversation turned to religion and church. We quickly discovered that we both were churchmen (little did I know the extent of his involvement) and talked of spiritual things. I soon asked “where do you attend church?” Robert answered: “Trinity, in Marble Falls.” “You’re kidding,” I said.

Laughing, it turned out that they had been attending the 10:30 service for about a year while Jennifer and I always attended the 8:30 service. I would eventually discover the depth of Robert’s spirituality.

An adult Sunday School class was eventually formed — and they let both of us attend! 🙂  I then discovered Robert’s knowledge and understanding of the Bible and of God’s will. He would often become quite emotional when speaking of his God. You see, they had a tight relationship — an unbreakable bond.

We would come to spend weeks at a time on motorcycle camping tours covering thousands of miles at a time and encompassing the entire United States west of the Mississippi.

At Eureka Springs, AR
At Eureka Springs, AR

Sharing that many meals and campsite venues meant sharing a lot of stories and feelings. We quickly became the best of friends and I understood was a large man this was, this robust Italian fellow nicknamed “the Godfather” who was truly a son of God.

You know, God must ride a motorcycle. Robert and I always marvelled at God’s world as revealed from atop the throbbing machines as we alternately dipped into valleys and crested mountain tops.

Jim Bridger National Forest
Jim Bridger National Forest

We saw God’s hand in the outdoor vistas we soaked up and in the characters we always met out on the road. But God has a sense of humor, even on the road.

It was 2004 and we had just left a wonderful vacation time with our families in Lake City, CO. Headed north and eventually to go Westerly, we passed up our intended stop for the night and pushed onward toward Craig, CO located on the northern plains of Colorado. It got dark on us, not a good thing in Colorado, and when we finally approached a town and saw a KOA we instinctively pulled in. We pitched our tents (mine as far as possible from his — you see, Robert could snore with the best of them), took warm showers and turned into our respective tents. ” ‘night Robert.”  “Goodnight, Gil – God bless.” (as Robert was prone to do).

Within 30 minutes, only exchanging a few quick reminisces of the day, we were both asleep. I could tell he was asleep, you see. Remember the snoring thing? Earplugs back in, I was soon also asleep. Then it began.

First a faint clatter. Then I heard the whistle. The clickety-clack. The distinctive clickety-clack and whistle of a train. And suddenly it was clear that it was whizzing past us just yards away. It was so close my initial fear was that we had pitched tents ON the tracks! Clickety-clack, clickety-clack, woo-whoo and on and on. And on.

We shouted to one another and laughed about our choice of campsite. We remarked about the length of the train. Clickety-clack, clickety-clack, woo-whoo and on and on. And on. Then the laughter began. He laughed, I laughed, and then it became contagious as this train of at least 2,000, maybe 3,000 cars rolled by. Clickety-clack, clickety-clack, woo-whoo and on and on. And on. By now our laughter was not only contagious but hysterically out of control.

We laughed often, but that one took the cake for all time. And we had more adventures than time here allows. And we always talked. We talked of God, country and family. Always family.

We all know what a multi-dimensional person Robert was, but he could be summed up in a single term: integrity. His moral compass pointed one direction – straight up – and nobody questioned his integrity.

My only regret is not knowing Robert, Beth, Jackie and their entire family — sooner. But I treasure the years we had. You see he was the kind of fella that if God had come along and said “I want to send a guy into your life who will become your best friend, one with whom you can share your faith and your love of the open road, one with whom you can be totally comfortable —  but here’s the deal, you can only have him for about six years because after that, I’ll need a little better class of Italian biker up here” — would I have taken the deal?

You bet I would. God speed, Vogey. May your engine stay in tune with that throb of the motor and gentle purr of the exhaust with the wind always at your back and the sun on your face, as you wind along God’s highway.

The obituary:

Robert Voglino

May 19, 1947 – February 12, 2009
Robert Voglino, 61, of Kingsland, went home to be with God on Thursday, February 12, 2009. He passed away at home surrounded by his family, after a courageous battle with brain cancer.
Robert was born May 19, 1947 in Hamilton, Texas to Jackie and Albert “Shorty” Voglino. He grew up in Odessa, graduated from Permian High School in 1965, and from Howard Payne University in 1970. There he met Beth Gardner, his wife to be for 38 years. The couple moved to Ft. Worth, Texas where Robert attended Southwestern Theological Seminary.
In 1972 Robert joined the U. S. Air Force and served in Big Spring, Texas. He remained in the Air Force reserves, retiring with the rank of 1st Lieutenant in 1982. Robert, Beth and their family remained in West Texas moving to Kingsland in 1985, to enjoy living in the Texas Hill Country.
Robert enjoyed a successful career in sales, and retired in 2000 from Central Transportation in Austin as a moving consultant. He joined the Century 21 Real Estate team in Kingsland, building a clientele until his illness. Robert was a charter member of the Daybreak Rotary Club of Marble Falls.
He is survived by his wife, Beth Voglino; daughters: April Burney and husband Brian; Annah Jimenez and husband Anthony; Esther McCormick and husband David; granddaughter Avah Jimenez; mother Jackie Voglino; brother Richard Voglino; sisters Toni Freels, Roslyn Voglino; many uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, and numerous friends.
Robert lived his life fully and deeply. He enjoyed a personal relationship with God and shared this with many others. He loved spending time with his family. In a recent prayer he thanked God saying he was a “blessed man, more than [he] could possibly have dreamed.”
God gave Robert a beautiful singing voice. He sang with wonderful friends and groups throughout his life, the first being the Sherwood Singers of Odessa, the final one being the Hill Country Blenders.
Robert impacted many lives throughout his journey on earth. His passion for life, his steady personal strength, his ability to be a true friend, his being the light in his wife’s eyes, and his love, guidance and faith as a dad, will all be greatly missed.

The brain as an exercise regimen

This is pretty interesting. Read the whole article. Happened to bump across this contemporaneously with my experimentation with the PersonalBrain knowledge management software.

People have long envisaged the brain as being like a computer on standby, lying dormant until called upon to do a task, such as solving a Sudoku, reading a newspaper, or looking for a face in a crowd. Sokoloff’s experiment provided the first glimpse of a different truth: that the brain enjoys a rich private life. This amazing organ, which accounts for only 2 per cent of our body mass but devours 20 per cent of the calories we eat, fritters away much of that energy doing, as far as we can tell, absolutely nothing.

via The secret life of the brain – life – 05 November 2008 – New Scientist.

If I offload a lot of the brain work to the software will I gain weight?

Evernote — remember everything

Evernote: A very most special super program that gets rid of yellow stickies, or better, the grease pencil notes on the screen! Evernote’s site banner:


And it really does all of that. And does it well. I am terribly torn (read “confused”) at present between Evernote which I’ve been using, and a very different paradigm presented by PersonalBrain. I think I’ll be using both but I have to be careful about that.

I like EN so much I bought the premium membership, partly to help the product with my $40. They’re winning awards and have recent funding, but it’s still a start-up.

Testing MyOtherDrive

OK, here we go again, testing yet another online backup system. All of you ARE backing up your computers, aren’t you? For those of you out there in the cybersphere who are not, you know I’ll know who you are eventually. You’ll be the ones asking “My hard drive crashed … what do I do now?”

MyOtherDrive is now on the testing launch pad. They were reading my blog on ElephantDrive and noted that I had recently given up on it. So on this coolish “wannabe winter but not really” morning with a fresh cup of hazelnut flavored coffee, here we go.

(Feb 21 2009) Final conclusion

I’m going with MyOtherDrive. It has some rough edges in the FAQs and Help stuff, and the interface could be a little better in places, but the funtionality and utility is excellent. They’re a small company but have been around for a couple of years and the support from them has been nothing but exemplary. I hope they keep that flavor as they grow and if they do, they will succeed.  Windows XP Home caution: the system requires the file “schtasks.exe” on the computer for the unattended backup to work, but XP home does not include that. Here is a link to it on my shared MyOtherDrive. Drop it in your c:windows directory and the MyOtherDrive unattended backup works great.

The details follow starting with my original foray into MOD

No software to download. It’s a java applet. Signup is easy. The initial screen is a bit off-putting with busy-ness but I immediately sort of “get it.” I first click on “Settings.” Seems logical but you are not explicitly directed there.

I select each day for an unattended backup and keep the default for “2” as the time — I’m guessing that’s 2:00a.m. Upon clicking “select folders” a popup appears with some of the logical file groups such as “My Documents” and for a test I click on that. Applying the backup settings then asks for the Windows password setting for the java applet to be able to run the backup later. Not sure I like that. Hopefully that is stored locally in an encrypted cookie. Update: it’s not transmitted, and not stored. Sets up a scheduled task.

So how do I start a backup right now? Hmmm, not certain but I try “Backup” and there is my backup selection and away it goes.  Update: That’s just a test backup. Have to use the Upload to blast it right up to begin with. I see the “My Files” tree with some of my files already. Appears that I should have named a “My Documents” directory for MyOtherDrive (MOD) first. MOD gave me a root (i.e. “”) selection by default rather than mirroring my selection from the local drive. No, just start at the root and the system preserves the full path under “Files.”

Now I discover that there is a desktop client. Had to stumble across it. It’s a java applet also and installs quickly. Now I discover that I had not actually selected any files so I select the same dataset as for the unattended backup and it starts at 5:57a.m. Having navigated away from the applet to continue this blog entry, I go back … to nothing. The applet that had been showing file upload progress is gone. So I restart it and I have no files uploaded.

I’ll now select one folder instead of all, watch it all the way through to completing the upload. Starting about 6:04. Without batting an eye (or moving the mouse), the applet disappears while uploading the first file. Update: As noted elsewhere, this was my misunderstanding (read the manual) — here’s how you do an initial manual upload:  Restart, and this time choose the “Upload” icon — small folder with 3 files and it completes. I’m even able to alt-tab away and come back. What’s going on?

Alright, I’ll go ahead and purchase a month’s worth of the 100gb service to really try it out.

With my upgrade in place, now I select to do the full backup. It starts and after about 6 files (that were uploading quickly) … boom. Applet quits.  Restart. Use the “Upload” route again and it seems to start ok and continue even when navigating away from the applet.

I now note that the program populates the subdirectory (My Documents) under the “Files” directory on MOD so it’s not necessary to set up the “fake” My Documents (I used “_My Documents”) that I did before since the backup did not appear to be doing that. Maybe it did and I was fooled by the applet quitting.

The Upload is running. Started about 6:20, now with the full account so it should be as fast as the system allows and I would guess the traffic on the net is not too bad right now. Happily, I’m not seeing any impact on the computer. Memory usage is 89.9mb. CPU is staying around 20% and disk activity is varying 20-40% of total. Network usage is right at 100% whenever I glance at it.

(6:41) Now I’m about to get impressed. Ran a Speed Test and got almost my normal speeds (was 5.4 out of 6gig download and .6 out of 1gig up) while running MOD. Ran another and got 5.1 and .9 (impressive). Watching the network usage Firefox shot up to about 98% and MOD dropped to about 1.5% of the total usage, but watching MOD which was then uploading a large group of pretty small Word files (2-5k each), visually it appeared to slow down just slightly.

Can you log into the MOD website and look at the files while the desktop client is running? Yep. That’s pretty handy. Download via the web interface while still uploading via the client? Yep. Did a whole directory of small files. That is truly handy.

(8:18) Actually forgot that the upload was running. No impact at all on using the computer. The desktop client applet is still running and the web interface is still open.

(2:27p.m.) Upload continues. The document set is quite large, the majority of what I will eventually backup. Bar graph shows about 20% done. Also just read an email from MOD with some explanations of a few things which cleared up some questions:

I also forgot to mention about how MOD supports using the same account from multiple machines.  Many of our competitors, like Mozy, will offer you “unlimited” storage, yet if you want to use it on a second computer, you would need a second, third, etc. account.  With MOD, we have many customers with the common laptop and desktop, or husband and wife laptops, backing up into one MOD account.

Let me explain about Backup and maybe this will clear things up, and with your hints, we can upgrade our help to make this clearer.

When you use the “Backup” toolbar button, that is like a trial backup.  It lets you select the files and folders from your local computer to backup.  These are kept for the automated “unattended” backup under the settings.  But the Backup toolbar button allows you to “fine tune” your backup data set first.

The “destination” folder is any MOD folder you would like all of these local files to “hang off of.”  When using the “immediate mode toolbar button” commands, the destination defaults to the currently selected folder.  When using the Settings dialog, it is kept locally and never changes unless you explicitly change it.

The reason for the windows username password prompt is so that it can create a Schedule OS Task.  Windows requires this to be an administrator account.  These entered credentials are not stored on your computer or sent to MOD – they are only needed to execute the command that creates the scheduled task.

As for running – once configured, the Windows Task Scheduler will wake up our backup program, it will run, do the backup, and then finish.  Only new and changed files are backed up.  Files that have not changed (determined by an MD5 checksum of the file against the server) are skipped.  This means the initial backup is the tough one, and then subsequent backups are quick (usually not that many files change). (from John)

I had a question about encryption and received this response:

Yes, the files are encrypted on your PC before they are sent to MOD. They are then stored on our computers in encrypted (unreadable) format. On download you are prompted for the encrytion password and the files are decrypted on your computer, after they are downloaded from MOD. With our approach no one but you can read your encrypted files. If you lose your encryption password, there is nothing we could do to restore them. (FromJohn) (emphasis added by me)

Sounds good to me.

(7:10am, Day 2) Upload still running. Graph shows about 40-45% done. I wish I knew how big this upload dataset is — it’s big. Guessing 25-40mb total is likely. It’s all of My Documents with documents, multimedia, tons of photos, etc. My 100gb drive has a total of 80gb of programs and data.

(9:45am) Discovered the backups were not continuing.  (see update below) Clicked Cancel which resulted in the following screen


Need to figure out how to resume. Not sure where that means it left off, or how to re-start. The last files dealt with were in the Sarah McLachian album, last completed is “I Love You.” Saved a full log in NoteTab file.  Internet connection had not been lost. If the session timed out it was on the MOD end.

Could not get (using the applet) the Refresh to work. Could not view files. Killed and restarted the applet. I’m thinking it stalled. Now can see files. Cannot get the backup to start unattended.

UPDATE: My bad. In a quick reply from the MOD folks this was caused by my logging into the applet from two Firefox tabs, thus killing the session in the active upload. MOD gives several ways to look at the site in multiple instances, if necessary.

(11:51) Starting identical upload. It’s skipping the already done files. Running from the website, not the applet.

(Day 3, 9:00pm) Upload still running. I’d say 80% done looking at the graph bar indicator. This really is a big upload and some time was lost when I had to restart it due to my glitch above in starting a second session of the applet.

(Day 4 about midnight) Not sure, guessing when it completed. Says

Processed 29449 files successfully, transfered 15,437,159,137 bytes.  That’s in the 2nd upload. Total was 22gb.


  • How does MOD handle file versions and archiving? Does it keep multiple versions? Is there an archive? What if a file is deleted locally … does it eventually delete from MOD? Answer: No versioning for now, therefore no archive. Just does changes and additions.
  • Are the files being encrypted on the fly? The connection is NOT a secure one. Answer: Yes, see support response above.
  • If during a long backup or upload (they’re different) you click Cancel, what happens? Does the upload know where to start back? Any difference in cancellation of a backup? Seems to me there should be a Pause button.

Suggestions & possible bugs

  • Calculate and display the total upload/backup.
  • Display % done and estimated time to complete.
  • Display upload speed — help understand if time required is due to slow connection.
  • Need a “Pause” button during upload/backup.
  • BUG: changing backup settings via the applet does not change on the website.
    • Answer: (from John) the Settings that you change regarding online backup days of week, time of day, files to backup, and destination folder on MyOtherDrive – those are all stored on the local machine.  If you are switching between the applet and the desktop client, you will not see the changes take place unless you logout and back in.

(this is a continuing entry … come back often to see the updates ….)

Chuck Schumer, the American People DO Care

The arrogance of Sen. Schumer is almost beyond belief. In case you missed it, he said

And let me say this, to all of the chattering class, that so much focuses on those little, tiny — yes, porky — amendments: The American people really don’t care.

and to really understand the arrogance, here’s the video:

Let’s put into perspective just what he’s talking about when referring to “those little, tiny — yes, porky — amendments ….”

Maybe when you’re a member of the political elite in charge of the nation’s massive budget you lose perspective of what is and is not tiny, but I’m looking at the list of pork projects included in the “stimulus” and they don’t see so tiny to me.  Here’s one list Ed Morrissey put together:

$2 billion earmark for FutureGen near zero emissions powerplant in Mattoon, IL
$39 billion slush fund for “state fiscal stabilization” bailout
$5.5 billion for making federal buildings “green” (including $448 million for DHS HQ)
$200 million for workplace safety in USDA facilities
$275 million for flood prevention
$65 million for watershed rehabilitation
$200 million for public computer centers at community colleges and libraries
$650 million for the DTV transition coupon program
$307 million for constructing NIST office buildings
$1 billion for administrative costs and construction of NOAA office buildings
$100 million for constructing U.S. Marshalls office buildings
$300 million for constructing FBI office buildings
$800 million for constructing Federal Prison System buildings and facilities
$10 million to fight Mexican gunrunners
$1.3 billion for NASA (including $450 million for “science” at NASA)
$100 million to clean up sites used in early U.S. atomic energy program
$10 million for urban canals
$2 billion for manufacturing advanced batteries for hybrid cars
$1.5 billion for carbon capture projects under sec. 703 of P.L. 110-140 (though section only authorizes $1 billion for five years)
$300 million for hybrid and electric cars for federal employees
$198 million to design and furnish the DHS headquarters
$255 million for “priority procurements” at Coast Guard (polar ice breaker)
$500 million for State and local fire stations
$180 million for construction of Bureau of Land Management facilities
$500 million for wildland fire management
$110 million for construction for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
$522 million for construction for the Bureau of Indian Affairs
$650 million for abandoned mine sites
$75 million for the Smithsonian Institution
$1.2 billion for summer jobs for youth
$412 million for CDC headquarters
$500 million earmark for NIH facilities in Bethesda, MD
$160 million for “volunteers” at the Corp. for National and Community Service
$750 earmark for the National Computer Center in MD
$224 million for International Boundary and Water Commission – U.S. and Mexico
$850 million for Amtrak
$100 million for lead paint hazard reduction

A few hundred million here, a few billion there, and pretty soon we’re talking about real money.  And you can find much, much more at

From the Say Anything blog (accessed 2/11/09)

We’re not talking about little or tiny, but it IS pork.

It is clear from our founding fathers construction of this representative republic that the intent was that regular people, citizens with a stake in the county, would serve in Congress for a short time. This was especially true in the House of Representatives and perhaps less so in the Senate, but that was nevertheless the intent. That is, that we had citizen-representation and not professional politicians — yet that’s what we have today.

What’s wrong with that? They lose touch with the people and become totally out of touch with reality. The polls indicated what, that around 75% of the American public did not want the bailout?

Yes, Chuck, they DO care.

The Brain — PersonalBrain that is

PersonalBrain is a fascinating program designed as a morph, or perhaps a better term is amalgamation, of a note-taking, knowledge-basing, mind-mapping, diagramming system. Succinctly, it is billed as “TheBrain – Visual Information Management.”

For an educational and truly amazing example of the system, watch the videos where James Burke is showing a mind-bending use of the system to demonstrate connections of people and events going back in history for centuries. The intro

Special Web Event with Best Selling Author and Famous Historian James Burke

TheBrain proudly presents a special Web event with James Burke, British science historian and author of the Connections television series. This seminar will help you learn how to think innovatively, how to enhance the value of what you know by giving it context and relevance, and how dynamic structures like PersonalBrain are likely to be used in the near future to change many aspects of living, learning and working.

Burke’s knowledge web has thousands of “Thoughts” (as each piece of data is termed) with interrelationships that look like a million spiders on steroids must been weaving webs in a meth-induced frenzy! You gotta watch it.

From their site, you find these snippets

Helping People See Connections

Connections and relationships within your information make the difference between static content and actionable knowledge. For instance, sales personnel need to see how decision makers are connected to close a deal. Business managers need to see how brands and products fit into their industry landscape to make decisions. IT managers need to see relationships between their servers and applications to support user communities effectively. People need to understand the context of their information before taking action.

Containers Versus Links

Conventional file directory trees confine information to a strict hierarchical organization and are incapable of expressing the multi-layered relationships that exist in the real world.

These systems are incapable of expressing relationships the way you naturally think about them. TheBrain takes the opposite approach-it enables you to link information into a network of logical associations.

The Power of Association

TheBrain is an associative information organization system-any piece of information can be linked to any other piece. The power of TheBrain lies in the flexibility of these links. You can quickly create structures of information that reflect the way you think about your information. Each item triggers related items, bringing relevant information together as you need it.

There is a free personal version that for 30 days has all the features of their Pro system. I’m presently playing with it as an experiment to compare it with Evernote which is another powerful program that takes a different approach to information management.  I am presently using it and have written about it briefly.