Robyn freshman year SMS girls soccer team 2015

Thanks to Lee Jarrell for all the videotaping…

Tourney-SMS vs BVN 1st half

Tourney-SMS vs BVN 2nd half

Tourney-SMS vs OE first half 2015

Tourney-SMS vs OE 2nd half 2015

Tourney-SMS vs SMW 1st half 2015

Tourney-SMS vs SMW 2nd half 2015

Tourney-SMS vs SMW overtime 2015

SMS vs OE 1st Half-2015

SMS vs OE 2nd Half-2015

SMS vs Olathe North 1st Half-2015

SMS vs Pembroke 1st Half 2015

SMS vs Pembroke 2nd Half 2015

SMS vs SMW 1st Half 2015

SMS vs SMW 2nd Half 2015

SMS vs SMNW 1st Half 2015

SMS vs SMNW Overtime 2015

SMS vs SMNW 2nd Half 2015

SMS vs SME 1st half 2015

SMS vs SME 2nd Half 2015

SMS vs ONW 1st Half 2015

SMS vs ONW 2nd Half 2015

SMS vs Olathe South 1st Half 2015

SMS vs Olathe South 2nd Half 2015

SMS vs Olathe South Overtime 1 2015

SMS vs Olathe South Overtime 2 2015

SMS vs Leavenworth 1st Half 2015

SMS vs Leavenworth 2nd Half 2015

SMS vs Lawrence End of 1st Half 2015

SMS vs Lawrence 1st Half 2015

SMS vs Lawrence 2nd Half 2015

SMS vs SM North 1st Half 2015

SMS vs Olathe South 2nd Half Regionals 2015

SMS vs Olathe South 1st Half Regionals 2015

Robyn on TV

As a freshman athlete, Robyn has been in a couple of TV broadcasts. Using this page to keep track of the links.

First, she played in a basketball tournament in Topeka. They won an upset on Thursday, and this was the loss on Friday to the home team and favorite. “I’m loving it.”

Then the SMSD broadcast the home game between SMS and SMN. We won, and Robyn played a significant part in it.

And this was the pre-season school video they showed at the Pep Rally.

The soccer team promo

Hy Vee Player of the Week

Robyn freshman class art project

The assignment was a 3-D self-portrait of oneself in a scene of something the student did. Robyn picked basketball. It was displayed in the SMS hallway.

I took a series of photographs at different angles, used gimp to remove the background, hugin to align the images, then gimp to produce the final animated gif. No doubt my part could be much improved, but I time-boxed only 2 hours and it took 4. Fun learning for me and I’m proud of her.

Robyn's basketball self-portrait 2014

An Accurate and Efficient Procedure for Estimating Process Design Reliability

My PhD thesis has been languishing on my computer in Word format since 1993. Every once in a while I’d mess with converting it to pdf, but my computer horsepower was a bit weak and the conversion had problems. Well I finally tried again and the result is good enough to release. There are lots of little problems: (1) The page numbers in the Table of Contents aren’t quite right. The chart symbols are screwed up (you’ll see letters when you should see shapes), and some of the complex pictures are off. But hey, good enough.

The subject is designing distillation columns with optimum safety factors.

Download the pdf here

Farewell to cabins 7 and 8

We got the call we’d been dreading: Steve had sold the land next to Sebago Resort. Worse, demolition of cabins 7 and 8 was to begin within days. Nothing to do but gather the troops, dash to Nisswa, and salvage what we could. Doug bought his “awesome set of tools”, fun was had, and nobody got hurt.

We extracted the hard wood floors in cabin 7. Original 1920s flooring. Pieces up to 21 foot long. Impossible to get anything like that today.

Below is the interior of cabin 8 with the flooring removed.
Interior of cabin 8 with flooring removed







Color Crushing when deinterlacing DVi using AVANTI, FFMPEG and AVISynth

Edit Alert! This posts describes obsolete tools. I suggest not trying to use AVANTI. Instead, try something newer like Mediacoder.

I use an old version of Sony Vegas for my video work (the upgrades became cost-prohibitive). The tool works fine with avi files from the old video cameras, DV(SD), but that is about it. No real support for mpeg and/or mp4 formats.

To make the best possible video, I use the MEGUI+Debugmode+Avisynth approach. This has a superior deinterlacing tool called QTGMC. Normally this is sufficient.

I’m currently doing a project which has to combine 1280x720p and 1920x1080p footage, along with my 720x480i. Because I don’t want the progressive footage to be rendered in an interface chain, the whole project has to become progressive, and I now have to convert the interlaced avi files into progressive format (because I don’t want to use default vegas deinterlacing).

The above process can only output mp4, which as I said, Vegas cannot import. So I had to dig into the AVISynth scripts. I was expecting it to be simple: It wasn’t, as AVISynth doesn’t support the output formats I need. FFMPEG does, so I was led to the AVANTI tool. Also a bit long in the tooth. So old I have to run it in administrative mode with windows 7, and the UI mangles the icons on the buttons.

Although aging, AVANTI is a really nice tool that uses both AVISynth and FFMPEG. You configure the settings you want and it creates the scripts and runs them.

I ran into several problems. First, I could not reuse the “DV(SD)” codec for the resultant deinterlaced files, as I was using sizes and colorspaces that were not supported. In particular, the colorspace was yuv12p but needed to be yuv22p, or something like that. I did not know how to change this. Perhaps a simple extra line in the AVISYynth script file, but I don’t know. So I had to use the lossless HUFFYUV codec, with the resultant multi-hundred-GB files. C’est la guerre, but I’m not lossy.

Next, I discovered that the conversion to HUFFYUV was crushing the colors (see the above link and 16-235 color bits expanding to 0-255). I didn’t think it should have been doing this but it did, so I had to adjust them in the AVANTI settings.

Next, even when I had added a script to the AVISynth panel, AVANTI didn’t think it needed to run it. So I had to choose the “FORCE” option, which means the Avisynch script will be processed upstream of ffmpeg.

All hours and hour of frustration. But it did work. Below is the main screen. Source and destination fields are self-explanatory. I wasn’t using audio as I had demuxed them earlier (you of course can enable audio). In the video option, I have selected the HUFFYUV Codec, with all other settings coming from Source.

The “Deinterlace” option presents a real problem. If we don’t select it, file readers will think the video is interlaced, even if it isn’t (or maybe the tool will save a deinterlaced video as interlaced, I don’t know). But checking the button means the yadif tool in ffmpeg is called, and I want to use the qtgmc tool in avisynth instead. From tests, I know that the button HAS to be checked (else the video is interlaced). Hopefully setting the “Deinterlace AUTO” option will work and yadif is smart enough not to deinterlace a deinterlaced image (or make it worse.)

(Aside: Don’t worry about the missing buttons and corrupted images in the menu system. This is what AVANTI looks like in windows 7.)


Now for the “Color correction page” panel. Note that I have selected the option to “Change Levels from…PC->TV and specified that it be performed in Avisynth.


I changed nothing in the “crop-scale-pad” panel. (Actually, I wanted to use lanczos to up-rez them, but I only have a free TB to work with.)

In the “AviSynth Script Editor”, I use the following script:

ConvertToYV12(interlaced=true, matrix="PC.709")
QTGMC(Preset="medium", FPSDivisor=2)

Screen is shown below:


Very important: I also had to right-click in the script text field and choose “Enable AviSynth FORCE mode”. Unless I did that, AVANTI kept running the script with only ffmpeg. (Note that the selected option is shown greyed out, while the unselected options are black). See screen shot below:


And that is it. Input is “AVI DV(SD) interlaced” and output is “huffyuv deinteraced avi container”, the latter of which Vegas can read. And the colors aren’t crushed.

Robyn’s Poem Assignment, 7th Grade

Use the information to write the first draft of a ballad.

  • Make a when, what, and where statement, and then add more information about what is happening. Arrange the information in a rhyming pattern (ABCB).
  • Continue the story in rhyme describing what happens next. This can be one or more stanzas. Use as many as you need to tell your story. (IT MUST BE 3-4 STANZAS TOTAL.)
  • Describe how the story ends. Finish the stanza with a thoughtful line to end your ballad.
  • Title: Obama

    Around November 2008
    Obama was elected.
    All the blacks and all the whites
    where majorly affected.

    All the Presidents before him
    where very pale and white.
    But Barack Obama is black
    Even in the light.

    The first time he ran against
    Palin with McCain.
    He beat them in 2008
    And began his way to fame.

    He was President for 4 years,
    and number 44.
    His term was over in 2012.
    But the people wanted more.

    Elected again, President now,
    and never will be alone.
    The first African American President
    will always be remembered and known.

    Buying an electric pressure cooker

    I decided to buy a pressure cooker. The initial research showed that I had to choose between electric and stovetop. The stovetop is better, but it makes me nervous to leave an unattended stove, so I picked electric.

    The first review websites I ran into showed the Emeril CY4000001 ($120) and the Cuisinart CPC-600 ($100) as the two best units. The Emeril was a little better because it did not lose as much liquids from evaporation, but the difference is small (3% vs 2% or so). Now the Cuisinart can be found in local stores, but the Emeril has to be bought online, and it actually seems to be out of stock in some cases.

    Then I found the “Instant Pot”. Made by Canadians, and the reviewers say the company is very responsive and always improving the product. You have to buy it off amazon, and it can be delivered for about $130.

    Their current model is the Instant Pot IP-LUX60, but check their website at Instant Pot.

    So either get the Cuisinart from a local store or the Instant Pot from Amazon. I went with the cuisinart because I wanted it now. Got it from Dillards.

    Recommend Bill the treadmill guy in Kansas City

    Just wanted to leave an internet trail to recommend Bill the Treadmill Guy in Kansas City. His website is . If you need in-home service for your treadmill, I highly recommend him.

    He was fully booked when I called, so it took a couple weeks to schedule a visit. His price was $95 minimum for the visit, plus parts. He saw that our old treadmill (I bought it for $50 off craigslist) just needed a new belt, so he replaced the belt and gave everything a clean and tuneup. Total price $140.

    Can’t beat that. Nice guy and professional work. Highly recommended.

    Mike Royko on Doctor Salaries

    Mike Royko was the best newspaper columnist in the country in my lifetime. He had no tolerance for stupidity. This was one of his best pieces:

    Poll about doctors’ earnings reflects a sick society

    Mike Royko

    ON A STUPIDITY scale, a recent poll about doctors’ earnings is right up there. It almost scored a perfect brain-dead 10.

    It was commissioned by some whiny consumers group called Families USA.

    The poll tells us that the majority of Americans believe that doctors make too much money.

    The pollsters also asked what a fair income would be for physicians. Those polled said, oh, about $80,000 a year would be OK.

    How generous. How sporting. How stupid.

    Why is this poll stupid? Because it is based on resentment and envy, two emotions that ran hot during the political campaign and are still simmering.

    YOU COULD conduct the same kind of poll about any group that earns $100,000-plus and get the same results. Since the majority of Americans don’t make those bucks, they assume that those who do are stealing it from them.

    Maybe the Berlin Wall came down, but don’t kid yourself, Karl Marx lives.

    It’s also stupid because it didn’t ask key questions, such as: Do you know how much education and training it takes to become a physician?

    If those polled said, no, they didn’t know, then they should have been disqualified. If they gave the wrong answers, they should have been dropped. What good are their views on how much a doctor should earn if they don’t know what it takes to become a doctor?

    Or maybe a question should have been phrased this way: “How much should a person earn if he or she must (a) get excellent grades and a fine educational foundation in high school in order to (b) be accepted by a good college and spend four years taking courses heavy in math, physics, chemistry and other lab work and maintain a 3.5 average or better, and (c) spend four more years of grinding study in medical school, with the 3rd and 4th years in clinical training, working 80 to 100 hours a week, and (d) spend another year as a low-pay, hard-work intern, and (e) put in another 3 to 10 years of post-graduate training, depending on your specialty and (f) maybe wind up $100,000 in debt after medical school and (g) then work an average of 60 hours a week, with many family doctors putting in 70 hours or more until they retire or fall over?”

    AS YOU HAVE probably guessed by now, I have considerably more respect for doctors than does the law firm of Clinton and Clinton, and all the lawyers and insurance executives they have called together to remake America’s health care.

    Based on what doctors contribute to society, they are far more useful than the power-happy, ego-tripping, program spewing, social tinkerers who will probably give us a medical plan that is to health what Clinton’s first budget is to frugality.

    But propaganda works. And, as the stupid poll indicates, many Americans wrongly believe that profiteering doctors are the major cause of high medical costs.

    Of course doctors are well compensated. They should be. Americans now live longer than ever. But who is responsible for our longevity–lawyers, Congress, or the guy flipping burgers in a McDonald’s?

    And the doctors prolong our lives despite our having become a nation of self-indulgent, lard-butted, TV-gaping couch cabbages.

    AH, THAT IS not something you heard President Clinton or Super Spouse talk about during the campaign or since. But instead of trying to turn the medical profession into a villain, they might have been more honest if they had said:

    “Let us talk about medical care and, one of the biggest problems we have. That problem is you, my fellow American. Yes, you, eating too much and eating the wrong foods; many of you guzzling too much hooch; still puffing away at $2.50 a pack; getting your daily exercise by lumbering from the fridge to the microwave to the couch; doing dope and bringing crack babies into the world; filling the big city emergency rooms with gunshot victims; engaging in unsafe sex and catching a deadly disease while blaming the world for not finding an instant cure.

    “You and your habits, not the doctors, are the single biggest health problem in this country. If anything, it is amazing that the doc’s keep you alive as long as they do. In fact, I don’t understand how they can stand looking at your blubbery bods all day.

    So as your president, I call upon you to stop whining and start living cleanly. Now I must go get myself a triple cheesy-greasy with double fries. Do as I say, not as I do.”

    BUT FOR THOSE who truly believe that doctors are overpaid, there is another solution: Don’t use them.

    That’s right. You don’t feel well? Then try one of those spine poppers, needle twirlers, or have Rev. Bubba lay his hands upon your head and declare you fit.

    Or there is the do-it-yourself approach. You have chest pains? Then sit in front of a mirror, make a slit here, a slit there, and pop in a couple of valves.

    You’re going to have a kid? Why throw your money at that overpaid sawbones, so he can buy a better car and a bigger house than you will ever have (while paying more in taxes and malpractice insurance than you will ever earn)?

    Just have the kid the old-fashioned way. Squat and do it. And if it survives, you can go to the library and find a book on how to give it its shots.

    By the way, has anyone ever done a poll on how much pollsters should earn?

    Looking for a new windows computer backup system – a rant

    I’ve used Retrospect since their first days in the Mac business. Spent a few hundred dollars a few times too many on upgrades. About the time CDs were becoming available, Retrospect was realizing there was no more money to be made, so they cut development to the bone and there were many years that CD backup never worked properly. This continued into DVD backups. Sorta works, but often not. And then they had one really bad release that made everyone furious, and they lost their way.

    Well now I have 2TB in video file archives and Retrospect is getting wonky. Too many coasters (Could be my software, of course, but that is the problem innit?) Damn thing fails to do an incremental backup to DVD. I have an old x2 pioneer dvd, and I even bought an external usb dvd to see if that could fix the problem.

    Is it time for something new? Yes. Oh dear, this is going to suck…

    The thing about backup systems is that it only sounds easy. The truth is, behind “easy” is a rats-nest of potential problems. You have to be a really good programmer and you have to be good at hardware issues, and that is rare. For example, say you backup your files from “A” to “B”. All is good if it works. But what if your computer crashes while copying these files, and when you reboot you discover that “A” is corrupted and “B” is corrupted? You’re screwed. The problem with the free stuff and the poorly written stuff is that you’re at risk for precisely this kind of thing.

    This is my current backup need:

    1) I have one primary computer (windows xp) which contains all the important stuff. This has to be backed up every night. It is an old (year 2000) hand-built system and is flaky, so I may be forced to rebuild this computer at any time. I cannot lose the data. The computer has a 600GB raid 0 hard drive. I have a backup drive with 120 GB, and a second backup drive with 700GB.

    2) I have other laptop computers which I don’t really care about. As long as I can rebuild them in case of a meltdown, that is good enough. Would be nice to back them up if it was easy and free, but not otherwise.

    3) I do a lot of video editing. I have a folder called “Video Editing” where all my final work is saved. When that folder gets very large, I save it all to DVD, then delete the contents and start over. I have 2 TB of data in that folder that I have archived to DVD. I need to be able to search and retrieve anything that was ever there.

    4) If my house burns down tonight, the really important files need to survive. Currently I backup these files to DVD every month or so and take the DVDs to work, but it is a pita and I forget. The latest backup software lets me backup to “the cloud”, so I could store my critical files on the web automatically and be sure they are safe. Now those files need to be secure, i.e., no one else can read them.

    I do not have a “network storage system” or NAS. All computers have their own hard drives, and sharing is done via “shared folders”. NAS are terrific but expensive, and I am cheap.

    Three weeks ago, I had one too many frustrations with Retrospect screwing up DVD archiving, so I decided to look around. I saw plenty of reviews, but all of them were BS. “Fluffy” tech writers who check stuff off feature lists and don’t get it. I read good reviews on software that I knew was junk within 10 seconds.

    I don’t have to time to put together my own feature list, but I do have time to write long meandering posts. So that is what I’ll do. If you want to know my recommendations, skip to the end. Or read the next sentence: Truth is, Retrospect is still the best, provided your computer is new enough to avoid the hardware frustrations. And a tentative recommendation for NovaBackup.


    System Restore: The ability to rebuild your computer after a catastrophic crash. It is one thing to recover files, but all that installed software, all those custom settings … without it you could easily spend a week trying and failing to get back to where you were before. An advanced variant of this is System Restore to different hardware, where one recovers to a different computer.

    Session You don’t backup something once. Usually you back everything up once, then back it up incrementally many more times. Each of these times is called a Session.

    Full vs. Incremental backup: Say you backup everything on Monday. On Tuesday you want  to backup again. You could do everything all over again (full), or you could just backup the things that changed since Monday (incremental) It is a given that you might want to recover back to either Monday or Tuesday.

    Network vs. Local backup: Are you backing up one computer or a network of computers?

    Offsite backup: If the house burns down, can you recover? Some software vendors offer cloud storage where they let you upload to the internet for a monthly fee. Some software has FTP-storage, where you upload to an ftp-server. This is terrific because I have a website with an ftp-server that gives me unlimited storage.

    3rd party recoverable: Do you need the backup software installed in order to recover the data? Sounds simple, but I have been archiving my videos for over 12 yrs. If the computer goes bankrupt and I move to a new operating system (where the software no longer works), I’m screwed.

    File filters When you backup a hard drive or folder, you may want to include or exclude certain files. For example, who needs the temporary “tmp” files? So you can add a filter that says “never store files with names matching the pattern “*.tmp”. This is practically a must-have feature, but some apps don’t support it.

    Validate After writing the backup, read it back and verify that everything was written correctly.

    I begin the search

    The first thing is to find a good list of options. I google searched for “windows backup software”. This gave me a good list from wikipedia and some horrible review sites. I looked at everything. Several tools are more applicable to large networks and really expensive stuff, which I won’t cover. I’m just going to bag on all the other options.


    I bought Retrospect when it first came out for the Mac around 1990. It was rock-solid and far ahead of it’s peers. This was first-rate engineering. However, when CD burners appeared, support was very poor, and this continued into the DVD world. I suspect all the good engineers are gone and they only have support personnel left. Retrospect does not have FTP-storage, and stores everything is a custom format. Also it is relatively expensive at $119.

    GFI Backup Freeware

    This is a product that has been turned into freeware. Meaning the company could not make enough money on it, so they are giving it away. Meaning that they will soon stop supporting it. Meaning you can stop right here.

    Now I did try it and the experience was bizarre. From my original notes…. “While burning DVDs, it seemed to be working nicely but I don’t really know what it was doing. Poor visual progress feedback. Makes a compressed copy somewhere else then burns it. I don’t like that it can’t do it on the fly and I don’t like that I don’t know where the file is and I don’t like that it is really slow (compressing 6GB takes over 1 hr before it even decides to burn to DVD?). I think … I really don’t know. Somehow it seemed to archive 6GB to a 4.3GB DVD, which is impossible. Then I added another 6GB and it ejected the DVD, which I visually inspected to see that it did not completely fill the DVD. And it completely confuses Windows. When I do a “properties” inspect on the mounted DVD, it says I have used 986MB with 0 available. And this on a 6GB backup! I probably can figure this out, but too much under the covers so far, so let us move on.”

     Norton Ghost

    Hell, I couldn’t get FTP setup properly. Also, ghost backs up systems, not individual folders.


    Moving on to paragon software. At least they charge $40 so we can trust them, right? Inspection of the manual looks positive. But damn, what an ugly UI. Simple crappy options for the noob user, an “advanced” tab with more crappy options. Your conventional “wizard” interface for the boobs that is unexplained, and a conventional expert interface that has all the options that the expert needs and no help figuring out where they are.

    I tried to select a folder and back it up to DVD, but it would not let me. Apparently this is not allowed? DVD backup only for disk or partition backups? Are you kidding me? Huh, this is a must-have feature and should be obviously supported. Hmm, lookup the website for support, but there is no help. Try and submit a question, but their website is so buggy that it puts me into an infinite loop. I have to specify the particular product, but the particular product does not show in their dropdown. Doesn’t matter because no matter what I select, it is refused and sends me back to the same place.. Leave a nasty message on their facebook page and see if they respond. Seriously, this is exhibit A for terribly designed and unhelpful interface. Separate issue from whether or not it works properly under the covers, but how can I find out? P.S. The help buttons don’t actually do anything. Wow. Moving on…

    Note: I did eventually get a response from my support question. You cannot write a folder to DVD. Just a bizarre omission.


    Initially I was really encouraged. This is one of the best designed apps. (You can tell the UI programmers were good.) It would have been a clear winner, except it has no system restore. And then I was testing some backups to DVD and it locked up the DVD during an incremental backup. After reboot, the error was not recoverable. Imagine crashing on your 100th DVD, then not being able to tell the system that your 100th DVD was bad and can we continue with #101? The tool could not recover. It thought it had backed up files it hadn’t. Fatal flaw.

    Acronis True Image

    Extremely buggy.. I created some files filters, and they disappeared when I saved and reopened the app. It ejected a DVD I was writing to, thought for about 5 min, then gave me an error. I eventually discovered that if you ran the backup project (called an “archive”) immediately after creating it, then it saved correctly. However, if you saved it and then ran it, it failed to save properly..

    The default is not to validate after storage. This is really dumb.

    When testing recovery of a DVD archive, it failed and gave me a weird error message (something like “Error 31. See website”). When I looked up the website, the error code said “The DVD must be in the drive before starting the restore”. Are you kidding me?

    The problems went on and on. I could not believe what a PISA this app was, since it is so popular (almost 24,000 likes on their FB page) and is often highly recommended. Then again, many of the posts in FB go something like this: “Anyone that uses this product needs their heads examined. It is, by far, the worst product ever to hit the net.”


    I started with high hopes, but got into trouble fast. First, I discovered that system restore only works in full backup mode and copies the User Documents and Program Files folders only. You can add folders, but you have to do it manually every time and there is no incremental backup with it. This is really dumb. I asked a question of their support and was told that this was the way it should work and any other way would not work. Which was odd, as I have 20 yrs experience to the contrary.

    During that backup test, I had 60GB available on my target hard drive, but needed to backup 61GB. Genie told me it was probably compress to 40GB, but even then refused to continue with the backup. Jeez software; try and fail, but don’t refuse to try.

    During DVD backup, if you start the project without a blank  DVD inserted in the drive, the tool simply fails silently with any kind of warning or error message. It got into trouble when it ejected the DVD then windows immediately complained and I had to reinsert it. More than a few times.

    The real big problem was that it does not come with “packet writing” support for DVD. This is the ability to write half a DVD during one session, then fill up the other half during the next session. So when I first tried this, it tried to format the (non-formattable, already burned) previous DVD, causing a ruined backup. Windows 7 and up is supposed to come with this built-in, but XP requires some free software add-on. Free but not reliable, unfortunately, and it can screw up other tools that use your DVD. I tried for a couple of days to fix all this, but I eventually gave up. I hereby reject any backup software which does not handle this internally. You should too.

    NTI Backup Now

    No file filtering on system backup. Backup the entire hard drive or nothing at all. No thanks.


    Simple free tool using the 7zip utility. Nice, but it cannot write to DVD. Not a real solution.


    Comodo give you 5GB free backup on the web. However, it’s DVD backup failed when I tried to store files in zip format and only worked in it’s native format. Ok, but then it only allowed me to write a single backup. I could not append a backup in a second session. Next…


    Now this is really interesting. A free java tool that lets computers back themselves up to other computers in a network. This might be a way to backup multiple computers. Very cool, and I will be exploring this in the future. However, crashplan does not do system restore and it cannot backup to DVD.


    My first thought was “how ugly is this?” This tool also suffers from needing 3rd-party packet-writing software, so I did not bother any further.


    Sorry. No trial version, no try.

    Macrium Reflect

    The free version cannot backup folders, so I could not test it. The DVD burning needs packet-writing software. You cannot do an image backup of the hard drive, but only select a subset of folders.

    Shadow Protect

    Image backup and system restore only


    Finalizes the DVD after the first session. Cannot do append. Tries to overwrite the DVD on the second session. Restores only the last backup. OMG!


    Cannot write to DVD.


    Ultrabac specializes in server software, so I had high hopes they had competent engineering. The setup was annoying as the UI was very clunky, and demanded I supply a User Account with a non-blank password. Most annoying.

    There was no file-filtering capability. The UI layout was extremely unfriendly. For example, it was nearly impossible to figure out how to change a project’s backup properties. The tool’s awareness of full vs. incremental backup seemed to consist of a dropdown where one selected “all files” or “Modified”. I can handle unfriendly UIs but this was downright hostile.

    And then I did a 2nd incremental backup to DVD and discovered there was no “Find files” search capability as part of the restore. Far far worse, I had to look at each session individually. Imagine having to look through 300 sessions to find the one where you stored your file? And then I noticed that the help files were different from my own. In the help files, the “Database” icon was activated, and you could click that to do multi-session backup (I think; the writeup was pretty poor so I wasn’t positive). But then following that link, I discovered I needed to install MYSql or SqlServer-Express to have this capability. Granted this is free software, but really! I actually started down this part, but got into trouble on the configuration (something I’m actually pretty experienced with) and eventually said the hell with it after an hr. Sorry, Ultrabac, but you’re too high maintenance.

    Novastor / Novabackup

    Novabackup appears to have all the features and is only $45. The initial look and feel is promising, and it’s feature set is practically complete. My review is confused. When I reviewed this two weeks ago, I initially liked it and then I had a fatal problem in the backup: Some files were missing, even though the logs said everything worked fine. So I made a small writeup and moved on. A few hrs later I accidentally lost my writeup (never trust a wordview draft apparently), and so I cannot remember exactly the circumstances. However, more recently I tried again and it is working fine. About the only missing feature I’d really like is a file-search capability in the restore. With 2TB of video, sometimes I need to file a file and all I have is a fragment of a name.

    So provisionally, I am going to give Novabackup another chance. It has an FTP capability. The system restore looks good (although untested; but see below). The DVD archive seems ok, except for the one problem I cannot reproduce.

    Back to Retrospect

    If it isn’t obvious, I was really depressed at how bad all this software is (Novabackup on provisional probation). Seemed like each tool had some brain-dead missing feature or just sloppily coded something. Nothing as good as I had with Retrospect. So I decided to see if I could eliminate my DVD woes by using a different computer. I have a dell laptop with windows XP and a newer internal dvd sitting idle. Perhaps this will work?

    Well, the good news is that it seems to. Sometimes problems only show up after a while, but I have had a full day’s worth of incremental DVD archiving and it all worked solidly. So perhaps I don’t need any new backup software after all. As of now, my primary archiving to DVD has been moved to the more reliable computer and continues to use Retrospect. However, I plan to buy the $45 Novabackup and continue to test it as an eventually successor.

    UPDATE: Back to Novabackup

    As I said above, backup to dvd seems to be going smoothly now. I have to see how it works when I experience a crash in the middle of an operation before I can give final approval. But moving on to restore, it is confusing. The restore button shows you a “restore files by device” window. But who the hell wants that? I want to restore a backup, not a device! And devices are hardware and hardware dies. What if I write to one DVD and want to restore to a different DVD. Will it still work?

    Anyway, expanding the device I happened to store my backup on, I see every backup session. I don’t want that though, as I’ll have hundreds of sessions eventually.

    After a while I noticed a “To Time Mode”, and this shows you some more options, i.e., “Restore Files By Time”. At least I can restore a folder from a device to a certain point in time. But what if I archived that folder to multiple devices? Again, I want my MTV and I want my “Restore Files By Backup”. Who would want anything else? I don’t get it.

    Worse, I finally ran into a bug. I had written three sessions to DVD. Came time to restore and the time slider showed only two. Simple bug their code and probably quite easy to fix. I have a support ticket with the report and we shall see. More later.


    UPDATE: 9/16/2012

    Well the Novabackup tech support response went into my “bulk” folder so I missed it until now. The response may work. Problem is that the tryout deadline has passed so I cannot run any more tests. More later…

    Liese Ridgeway Vanatta

    I was at a remarkable funeral yesterday for my friend Liese. Remarkable for far more than the fact that I heard a Metallica song played by a string trio. Remarkable because so few people contain a glimpse of sainthood. And she did. Always a sparkle in her daily activity. In her gladness to see you and give you her full attention. In her eternal optimism. She was one of the people you don’t believe exist until you meet one in person.

    Her friend Gar Demo asked her how she wanted to be remembered. She answered:

    Tell them how much faith I have.
    Tell them how much I love God and I love creation.
    Tell them how much I love my Husband. And my children. And my parents. My family.
    Tell them how much I love them…And then tell them to live.
    Tell them the gift that they have.
    Tell them the light that is dwelling within them.
    Tell them to rock on.
    Tell them to celebrate.
    Tell them to root for KU.


    Audio transcript