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Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Microfocus (HP) Data Protector, Azure backups and archiving

DataProtector can only restore from Azure container blobs that have an access tier of Cool or Hot. This is a pity, because Archive is so much cheaper, particularly if you buy it up-front. If the media you are trying to restore from is in the Archive tier, you will get an error like this:

[Normal] From: [email protected] ""  Time: 16/06/2020 11:06:26 AM
Restore session 2020/06/16-8 started.

[Normal] From: [email protected] "Azure_gw_via_cellmgr [GW 6588:0:16462780082409836283]"  Time: 16/06/2020 11:06:27 AM
STARTING Media Agent "Azure_gw_via_cellmgr [GW 6588:0:16462780082409836283]"

[Normal] From: [email protected] "Azure_gw_via_cellmgr [GW 6588:0:16462780082409836283]"  Time: 16/06/2020 11:06:28 AM
Loading medium from slot \\\general\531504b0_5ee2f861_04e4_038f to device Azure_gw_via_cellmgr [GW 6588:0:16462780082409836283]

[Major] From: [email protected] "Azure_gw_via_cellmgr [GW 6588:0:16462780082409836283]"  Time: 16/06/2020 11:06:29 AM
[90:54]  \\\general\531504b0_5ee2f861_04e4_038f
Cannot open device (System error)

[Normal] From: [email protected] "Azure_gw_via_cellmgr [GW 6588:0:16462780082409836283]"  Time: 16/06/2020 11:06:29 AM
Unloading medium to slot \\\general\531504b0_5ee2f861_04e4_038f from device Azure_gw_via_cellmgr [GW 6588:0:16462780082409836283]

[Normal] From: [email protected] "Azure_gw_via_dc1hdp01 [GW 6588:0:16462780082409836283]"  Time: 16/06/2020 11:06:29 AM
ABORTED Media Agent "Azure_gw_via_cellmgr [GW 6588:0:16462780082409836283]"
It’s not a big deal, you just have to find the corresponding blob(s) in the azure portal and bring them out of archive.
If you are reading this blog post because you’ve just seen that error, it’s pretty straightforward to find what you need to fix. The medium it is loading is: \\\general\531504b0_5ee2f861_04e4_038f
 ... which corresponds to the name of the name of the blob, except for the _0 on the end. (Azure has limitations on the size of a blob, so Data Protector media can span several blobs.)


On the other hand, if you are reading this blog because you are writing procedures for the future, then go to the Media tab, select "All media" and expand the column until you can see the medium id.

Then you can double-check in the Azure portal that it is in the right tier.

Saturday, 30 May 2020

What's the etiquette for greetings on video calls?

When you meet face-to-face, you can start with “good morning” or “good afternoon”. This can be achieved with a subtle check of your watch, or some convenient clock, or even — and I’ve heard of people doing this — actually looking outside to see where the sun is.
But when it’s a video call (or even a telephone call) where the other person is in a different time zone do you still say “good morning” (because it is your morning) or should you say “good afternoon” (if it’s their afternoon)? What do you say when you join a call with people in many different time zones for whom it might even be the middle of the night? Is the appropriate thing to do to keep an almanac of all the world’s timezones on hand (including Summer / Winter daylight savings time changes), so that you can give the right greeting?
And on that, is there a way of subtly emphasising that you had to get up at some ungodly hour (like 8:30am) to make the call at a time convenient for everyone else? Is this a situation where you should deliberately put the video on so that everyone can see you are still in your pyjamas, or is that a bit too unsubtle to get sympathy?

Monday, 25 May 2020

Looking on the bright side

Since 2007, even in boom times our emissions have declined, just very slowly.

During times of recession though, Australia's greenhouse gas emissions decline more quickly (e.g. 1991-1992).

So would a long protracted covid-19 recession get us on track for the Paris accord?

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

How I teach classes remotely

I’ve been teaching classes remotely for over a decade now — mostly to adult learners — and so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned. With a lot of schools and universities having to switch to remote classes, here’s what I can suggest:
  • One of the most useful tools is Krisp.AI. (Affiliate link to get one month free: ; link for the free version for students and educators ) — this automatically removes background noise, so you can be delivering a class in a noisy coffee shop and it sounds to your listeners like you are in a quiet recording studio. It is free to students and educators at this time.
  • The second most useful tool is a good quality microphone. I use the Blue Yeti (affiliate link Blue Yeti ; direct link and it is very, very good. You can then use cheap earphones to listen, because the Yeti has a good phone-out audio monitor.
  • If you have a modern laptop, you can use it to remove the background behind you automatically. Otherwise you can make a green screen very cheaply: (affiliate link: tension wire, direct link ). Either way it means that you can run a class from your bedroom (or wherever) without much invasion of privacy.
  • If you are presenting a computer desktop (e.g. I teach programming classes, so I do a lot of this), then get your IT department to organise an Amazon Workspace for you. Join the conference call twice — once from your laptop, and once from the Workspaces session. Share the Workspaces screen, not your home laptop. That way, if a message pops up on your screen, the students won’t see it.
  • If you are low on bandwidth (which shouldn’t be the case in Australia, as Optus and Telstra have lifted their link speeds for everyone), you can use Workspaces & phone in to the call. Your telephone voice has priority over data, so your voice will be clear and crisp. Your Workspaces computer will never be affected by low bandwidth.
  • Remote classes scale up better than face-to-face. It is a brave teacher who would be willing to teach a 60-person face-to-face, but it can be done remotely. So ideally, pair up with another teacher teaching the same class at the same time: one of you will deliver the lesson, and the other teacher will handle audio muting, responding to comments in the chat channel and keeping the class on track. I’ve generally done this with a model of senior instructor + junior support teacher.
  • Depending on the class, you can do open-mike for everyone, or otherwise do a structured question asking: e.g. if you want to ask a question, flag in the conferencing tool, or ask the question in the chat channel. Then your support instructor can interrupt the class with the question.
  • It is OK to watch a video (e.g. from Khan Academy who have got daily schedules organised) together, and then discuss it afterwards. It’s OK to admit that there is a resource on the internet that can be better than you at explaining something through a computer screen.
  • You need to have some kind of “exit tickets” from each lesson (or at least each week) where students tell you what the lesson was about, and any questions that they have. It is often quite enlightening.
  • The chat channel in Zoom and google hangouts doesn’t quite work; but they are definitely the right choice for running the video session as you can mute participants, create breakout rooms and so on. Slack or Discord can work better as a chat channel, particularly if you have a co-instructor monitoring it for you.