Disaster Recovery Workflow

Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery Workflow and Planning

Michael D. Baxter
 Note:  This is meant as something to get you thinking about disaster recovery.  Consult with an IT professional to have them help you devise a disaster recovery plan for your business.

A disaster recovery workflow can be complicated depending on the types of systems you are backing up.  If the site in question is a small office that can be a challenge.   Small business use peer to peer networking and file sharing as opposed to a central file server for their data in most cases.  Disaster recovery in that case can actually be a bigger challenge than a large office or enterprise with a central file server.  With the small office you might want to deploy a NAS or small PC/linux system to act as a central repository for local and shared files.  Then implement a backup solution that takes that data and securely replicates it off site.  In a large enterprise environment you have more options to easily manage the data that is used on site.

 Are You Really in Compliance?

In an enterprise environment you would hope that the IT infrastructure that is in place has followed best practices.  In theory the data files should be stored on a central server and then that server should be backed up regularly.  It is alarming how many IT shops do not have a proper backup plan in place.  Often they think they do and check it off on their business insurance that they do.  More often than not they don’t and are shocked to find out that they are not in compliance with the Sarbanes Oxley or HIPPA standards.  Most businesses have to rebuild their disaster recovery workflow from the ground up following IT best practices.  That is the only way to make sure they are in compliance with federal regulations and have the proper redundancies in place to ensure data consistency and security.  For enterprise environments a solution like Bizinuity offers a variety of all-in-one products.  The Bizinuity product line offers tools that back up one or multiple servers locally and off site as well to a secure cloud.

 Small Business Solutions

For the small business or the home office that operates on the peer to peer level the Bizinuity solution may not be the best fit.  There are ways to set up a disaster recovery workflow that would solve the needs of the small business.  Often email is one of the biggest issues.  A lot of small business firms use POP or IMAP services from their web hosting provider or ISP.  Almost always there is not a good backup of the email in place within small businesses.  For the small business that can’t afford a domain or exchange server there is hosted exchange.  That allows for data redundancy because the email is stored locally on the PC and also in the cloud within the host’s server.  The host is also responsible for making redundant copies of the email data more often than not.  That data is stored securely and usually meets HIPAA and SOX requirements.

 Affordable Off-Site Storage for Small Business

User data itself can be handled in a lot of different ways.  The easiest way is using someone like backblaze for offsite file level backups and central shared point for local pc backups using windows backup.  Backblaze is affordable and in some cases scalable depending on the data load.  For Windows backup you would need to set up a pc that has an extra large hard drive, preferably in a raid configuration, that will allow those backups to be stored with some redundancy.  Then do a backup of those backups to a medium that you can store securely somewhere off site for redundancy and security.  It adds a layer of complication but for the small business without a server that is one of the easiest way to get data off site.  But it does open you up to risks as well because everyone’s opinion of “secure” is different and some have a very laissez faire attitude about it.  In the end it is up to the IT professional to educate the end user on information security and the importance of disaster recovery.

 

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Finding Your Path

 (2-17-2015 – Note:  This was posted on the original site and thehighcalling.org website.  This did not make it over from the original site and was lost when the hosting data disappeared.  Fortunately I was able to bring it back thanks to it being posted at The High Calling.  As I read this post again I painfully realize how I have lost site of what this post is talking about.  In the last year or so I have let life happen to me as opposed to the other way around.  As of this writing I had been unemployed for almost 5 months until recently.  And I think a lot of that was because I had been fighting God’s plan for a little while now.   What my original post says is true.   And I wonder how the last three years would have gone if I was consistent in following my own advice.  This is what you call a Mea Culpa moment for me.)

Begin Original Post

Finding Your Path

1-15-2012

Fall On the Blue Ridge Parkway

Dave Ramsey has often said that “People who live deeply rich lives do so with great intentionality 100% of the time.”  He has also often said that “Those who become wealthy in life do so with great intentionality 100% of the time.”  When Dave is talking about this kind of stuff he usually says, “Happen to your life.  Don’t let your life happen to you.”  When we let life happen to us we usually end up saying things like “woe is me” or “how could something like this happen?”  Some will even say, “Why would God let something like this happen to me?”  I find that life happens to me when I am not walking with God.

God has a plan for each of us.  Sometime we fight God’s plan and try to do our own thing.  The way I have tried to visualize life when not walking with God goes like this.  When we are not walking with God we are being dragged along in the general direction he wants us to go getting bumps and bruises until we decide to stand up and walk with him.  I think about all the times I was not walking with God is when the worst things that could have happen to me have happened.  Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  God only wants you to be successful in the endeavors he has planned for you.

Being consistent in prayer is the key to anyone’s relationship with God.  If you are trying to “happen to your life” and the lives around you for God you need to be in communication with God.  Psalm 32:8 (NIV) says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you.”  You have to be talking to God to be receptive to his guidance.  If people come to you with great advice about which way you should go in your life you should talk to God about it.  Psalm 118:8 (NIV) says, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.”  Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  If you put your faith in God you will never be lead astray.  Proverbs 16:9 (NIV) “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

Proverbs 2:6-9 (NLT) ” For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go.”

You can hear great biblically based financial wisdom from Dave Ramsey daily on Positive Hit Radio the Current WJLZ 88.5 FM or at currentfm.com.  You can read more from Mike Baxter at his main blog site mikebaxter.us.

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Bi-Weekly Mileage Report Created With Google Sheets

 

How to Add Auto-Advancing Dates to a Spreadsheet Created With Google Sheets

(And how to create a basic mileage and related expenses spreadsheet for that matter.)

Bi-Weekly Mileage-Toll-Parking Expense Report

 

The Quest

I needed to find an expense report template that could calculate mileage based on the current federal rate in a bi-weekly format.  I also wanted it to automatically populate the dates in the daily fields based on the report start date.  I couldn’t find one.  So I made one.

Advancing the Date in a Google Docs Spreadsheet

I spent a little time looking through forums and help sites to find a way to automatically advance a date based on a starting date within a field.  I couldn’t really find anything that told you how to do it so I guessed.  I tried having the first line of the report populate the date from the report start date and then manually advancing the date by one day on the following line.  I then hit the “+” on the bottom right corner of the cell and dragged the formula down to the last line of date entry.  Google Docs did not get what I was trying to do.  So I tried a simple formula.  I took the cell that the report starting date was in, “B2,” and wrote the formula “=B2+1” in the first cell that I wanted the date to advance.  Low and behold it worked!  So for the next date I wrote “B2+2.”  The date advance by two.  So I did a +3, +4, +5, +6…. and so on till all the dates advanced the way I wanted it to.  I used the date populated for the final entry date to populate the period ending date as well.  This example is presented in the template link at the bottom of the page.

I was also able to advance the date another way as well by modifying how I calculated it.  This is a slightly easier method best explained by screen caps.

Step 1:  I populated the first daily date field with “=B2+0.”  You could also populate it with just “=b2.”  B2 is the cell location of the starting date of the report in the top line of the spreadsheet.

date1a

Step 2: I used the formula “=A4+1” to populate the next daily date entry.


date1b.

Step 3: I then used the corner drag method to auto populate the rest of the daily date fields.  I grabbed the corner with the mouse (Left Clicked”).  Once the cursor turned into a large plus sign I dragged the formula down the length of the daily date entry fields and the proper formula series was replicated to properly advance the date.

date1d

So there you have two methods to advance a date in Google Sheets.

 

The Rest of the Math

If you have come across this article then you more than likely know how to make it add up the miles, tolls and how the multiplication formulas work.  You can click on each total and look at the formula used in the formula entry area and easily figure it out if you don’t.    This spreadsheet is for basic interoffice use and the colors won’t be seen by the staff since I am printing it to a black and white printer.  You are free to change and modify it as you see fit.  You can find the link to the Google Docs template below:

Mileage Expense Report Template

Final Note To Help You Save The Date

To change the start date of the report you don’t need to manually enter the date.  Just double click on it and it will give you a calendar that you can use to select the date.  When you change the date all the other dates affected by that cell will change accordingly.

Calendar

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Richmond Frost Fest 2015

Last Saturday, 2-7-2015,  the annual Richmond, VA Frost Fest took place at the Richmond International Raceway (RIR)  complex.  It was one of the best ham fests I have attended in years.  There were a lot of national vendors as well as some regional ones.  They had a good set of speakers including the inventor of APRS, Bob Bruninga (WB4APR), and the current ARRL President Kay Craigie (N3KN).  I found some great deals for myself and had the opportunity to meet and talk with Bob Bruninga.  He is a pretty sharp guy and a real asset to the hobby.

Bob Bruninga (WB4APR) & Mike Baxter (WB4BAX)

Bob Bruninga (WB4APR) & Mike Baxter (WB4BAX)

Over the last two decades ham fests all over the country have been downsizing or disappearing altogether.  What was very encouraging about the 2015 Richmond Frost Fest was that it was packed almost as soon as the doors opened.  It took me almost two and a half hours to get from one side of the exhibit hall to the other.  I also found some great deals.  Which I have not had time to play with yet.   There were many hams from all over the mid-Atlantic region at this ham fest. It was certainly very encouraging to see all of the people that were there.

The Amateur Radio hobby is seeing a resurgence.  However it seems that the same people who are spearheading the major ham events are same guys who were my Elmers when I was a young ham.  They are getting older and it is my generation, the 30-40 somethings (20 somethings too for that matter), that need to step up and offer to carry the torch.  Bob Bruninga did many awesome things for the hobby over the last three decades and continues to innovate today.  Where are the Bob Bruninga’s of my generation?  I can’t think of anyone in my age group that has made that kind of impact on the hobby or even has the potential to do so.

If Amateur Radio is to continue we need people of all ages to step up and take leadership and mentor ship roles.  When I was a teenager the hobby made an impact on my life.  It lead me to the path that my professional careers would take.  Some say that ham radio is a dying hobby.  I don’t believe that it is true.  However, those who are involved in the hobby today need to innovate to attract continued  interest and involvement.  If we don’t act the hobby will fade away.  Corporations are eager for our spectrum and the QRM is getting louder thanks to the same technological advancements that bring us sub $50 Dual Band HT’s.  Hams still impact the community and its citizens for good every day.   The only question left to ask yourself is, “What kind of impact am I going to make with Ham Radio today and for the generations to come?”

Pictures From Frost Fest 2015

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Air Traffic Control – Explained

Pope Field Air Traffic Control Tower

Air Traffic Control explained so everyone can understand it.

A few years ago I was presented with one of the best “live” explanations of the air traffic control system (ATC).  A docent at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center, whose name is Roscoe, did a most excellent commentary of the interaction between the pilot and ATC.  He did this in time with supporting images from the prerecorded flight data of the interaction between ATC and the pilot in the background.  You can find the video that I recorded of Roscoe’s excellent demonstration  below.  Also, you can listen to two live ATC streams I provide for Norfolk International Airport and NAS Norfolk Chamber’s Field by clicking on the highlighted links.

Also you may want to listen to other Live ATC on the net:

www.broadcastify.com

liveATC.net

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If You Use These Guys Its a Sure Sign Your Marriage Will Go To The Dumps Pretty Quick

Always consult with a wedding entertainment professional, like Gwin Entertainment, when your plan your wedding.  They will recommend the best vendors and make sure your wedding experience does not lead you to the dumps.

Dumpster Company Caters Weddings Too

Photo Courtesy of Kim Sacks

Likewise you need a competent and professional broadcast consulting engineer, such as Kim Sacks of Optimod Refurbishing.  A professional broadcast engineer will help you prevent your broadcasting equipment from looking like this…

bad_xmitter

And if it does end up looking like this they have the skills to fix it right or refer you to someone who can.

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The History of the Virginia Ferry Corporation

My Father, William (Butch) Baxter, has had an interest in the Chesapeake Bay Ferries since he was a kid.  In recent years he has been able to research and learn a great deal about the ferries of the Virginia Ferry Corporation.  He loves to tell people about the ferries that crossed the Chesapeake Bay between the Norfolk/Hampton region of south east Virginia and the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  Over the past few years he has written articles about the Chesapeake Bay Ferries for PowerShips Magazine (The Journal for the Steamship Historical Society of America) as well as appearing as a featured speaker about the subject at the Cape Charles, VA history museum. The video featured below was produced by Jim Garrison, the grandson of VFC CEO Leland Garrison, and features my Dad talking about the history of the Virginia Ferry Corporation.

cbs_amazon

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QuickBooks Error 3371: Could not initialize license properties – And how to fix it.

Quickbooks and its internal licensing can be a quirky thing.  It can get extra quirky if you clone a hard drive that it is installed on to a new one.  I had a client upgrading to a larger SSD drive.  After the cloning was completed I booted to the new drive and was greeted with this message, “(Error 3371, StatusCode -11118)  Quickbooks could not load the license data.  This may be caused by missing or damaged files…”

Capture_qb

I followed the troubleshooting steps presented at www.quickbooks.com/support/register.html and was not able to resolve the issue.  I ended up at the QuickBooks support page, Error 3371: Could not initialize license properties.  I ran the Quickbooks Component Repair Tool, I uninstalled QuickBooks and ran the Clean Install Utility and then re-installed QuickBooks.  I initially skipped the step of recreating the damaged EntitlementDataStore.ecml file because I had read in some other forums that doing that made matters worse.  And to only run the QuickBooks Component Repair Tool or uninstall the program and then re-install after running the Clean Install Utility to resolve the issue.  Those options did not work in my case so I began looking more into recreating the damaged EntitlementDataStore.ecml files.

I came across a few forums that said recreating the damaged EntitlementDataStore.ecml file was the way to go and those forums reported good results.  The C.O.D. forum had a post on that process as well and they usually have good and useful info on that forum so I decided it was safe to give it a try.  Since all versions of QuickBooks on this pc were yielding the same error I had to delete a few EntitlementDataStore.ecml files.  More often than not you will find the EntitlementDataStore.ecml file for your version of QuickBooks in this location, C:\ProgramData\Intuit\Entitlement Client\, with a “v3” or a “v6.0” or something along those lines depending on your version of QuickBooks I just did a search for the EntitlementDataStore.ecml file and deleted all the ones it found.

After I deleted the files I reopened QuickBooks and it loaded as normal.  Unfortunately, you have to re-register the program so it is a good idea to have your registration information handy.  And since there were five different version of the program on this PC a lot of registering had to take place.  After re-registering the product everything worked just fine and the client was happy.  And at the end of the day you want a happy client.


 

 

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Va Beach Model Train Show 2014

I had the opportunity to go to the Va Beach Model Train Show at the Va Beach Convention Center on September, 27th 2014.  I had a great time.  My dad and I went with a mutual friend of ours. We saw a lot of great layouts.  It is an expensive hobby.  We had fun looking.  My phone got to ride along the fantastic layout the Atlantic Coast S Gaugers had set up at the Train Show.  Special thanks to Ken from the Tidewater Division for humoring me and letting me run around the layout to push the buttons to turn on the displays as the camera rolled by.  You can find more about the Atlantic Coast S Gaugers by going to their website, www.trainweb.org/acsg.

 

 


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I agree with Apolitical Kitten…

Apolitical Kitten is over the election ads.

 

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