Wednesday, February 21, 2007

10 Days Without the Little Monster...

Quit smoking 10 days ago (Sunday, Feb 11th, 9am Grenada time), after smoking for most of the last 20 years.

Funny thing is, it wasn't that tough! After years and years of never buying cartons of cigarettes, hoping I would quit soon, and knowing that any impetus to quit would run into the road block of having 5 packs of cigarettes left. So let's just say quiting has been in the back of my mind for 15 years or so.

Browsing through Amazon about a month ago, I found a book called "The Easy Way to Stop Smoking", and using Amazon's "Look Inside" (nifty feature), read one page where it said that smoking isn't a habit, it's an addiction, and to stop, you need to deal somewhat with the physical withdrawal, but mostly undoing the brainwashing, cultural and autonomic.
Looked interesting / different enough to pay the $12 for it (less than 3 packs of smokes), and let it sit on the night-stand for a few weeks. I like to think that it was because I was busy, and / or was into the book(s) I was currently reading. But, brought it to Grenada with us on vacation. Delayed not reading it on vacation for about a week, but finally cracked it open and started to read.

Good book - somewhat repetitive, with lots of little examples / discussions on the all the arguments you might have on a given statement or so. Interestingly, it tells you to *not* stop smoking / cut down while reading the book. Mostly because it wants you to finish the book, and think through everything it wants you to think through, before you quit. Logic is if you think you're ready half-way through and quit, and it doesn't work, you're not as likely to go back and read the whole book, thinking it didn't work. So, I read the whole book - usually an hour at a time, smoking a cig or two while reading it.

One of the big fallacies it exposed for me was the "smoking helps me relax". This is part of the cultural brainwashing, and the autonomic - my brain tells me smoking helps me relax. In truth, (a) smoking is a physical addiction, and (b) a short time after you stop smoking, you start going through some withdrawal pains - usually within 30 minutes or so. That "relaxing" feel you get is from feeding the addiction (the little monster) - you were OK, you started going through withdrawal, and you gave your body the drug it was missing, which feels a lot like relaxing. Except that the "relaxed" state you get is how relaxed you'd be if you never smoked - you're not any more relaxed than a non-smoker in that situation, just more relaxed than a junkie who needs a fix.

That worked for me. 10 days w/o a smoke - only had 4 or 5 urges for a smoke, and they only lasted a few seconds before my brain reminded me about all the BS (no, it doesn't taste good, you think it does cause it feeds the little monster; no, it doesn't relax you, you think it does cause it feeds the little monster; no, you can have a break without having to feed the little monster).

Cross your fingers, but pretty soon, I expect to have the epiphany where I say to myself, "Self, you're not a smoker anymore". (with credits to CherkyB for 'say to myself, "Self'...)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I'll get around to it...

New laptop is working fine. And I've changed my backup strategy, which was to do a backup, but leave the backup on the laptop itself, and write to a CD every month or so, when I got around to it.

That worked for a while (once or twice), but it'd been over 10 months since I'd dumped the backup off the old laptop when it died, so the "I'll get around to it" strategy wasn't very good for me.

Got an 300GB external/USB harddrive (300GB Seagate PushButton), but the backup software that came with it was bizarre.

There's software that's written by engineers, and does the job, but may not have the most user friendly interface, then there's software that's designed by human interface engineers, like Apple's, and it's really easy to use, and useful.

Then there's the BounceBack Express software, that got bundled with the Seagate hard drive. It's neither logic or elegant or useful. It tries to be easy to use, but is unintuitive. Want to create a backup? Sure - you can say everything, or pick the data yourself. If you pick the data yourself, for every data source you pick, you have to pick a backup destination as well. If I wanted to backup folder XYZ in one job, and folder 123 in another, I'd make seperate jobs. Why do I need to specify a target for each folder I want to backup? I want a backup. Why can't there be something in between everything in 1 file, and what you want, but seperate backup files per folder, and you have to keep selecting what / where / etc.

And the UI - they didn't go for the engineer "utilitarian" view, or the Windows XP "we're trying to be Apple", but came up with something new, and honestly, crappy.

BUT, the thing that really blew my mind was it was butt slow. Think of my Corolla, going uphill, with 4 Benoits (or the usual lunch crew) in it. That's faster than this software will ever be.

So I went out, scoured the reviews, read some reports, and ended up getting a highly rated one, which was also what Scooter told me he used, Acronis True Image.

Really paranoid? You can make an exact clone of your drive, and if something bad happens, your just a few clicks away either booting from the backup, or just re-writing everything the way it was.

Just want to do data? There's a 1 button setting for that, or you can select the files and folders you want, and it'll do just them. Incremental or differential. First full backup of 40-50G took just an hour or two (vs. over 12hrs w/ the BounceBack crap), and the nitely incrementals are in the 15-30 minute range. And none of this you need to specify a different destination for every folder you select.

Acronis gave me a 20% off coupon for anything else I, or my friends / family want for the next few weeks, so if anyone is looking for backup software, and is interested in Acronis, try this link to see if you can still save 20%.

Unfortunately, Acronis is a "1 license per machine" type of software, so the new laptop is using WinBackup - something we had on the previous laptop, and was "good enough". It now writes directly to the USB drive hooked up to the desktop as well, so that the backup isn't on the same machine as the original data. Doh.

And, both machines have Mozy - an online backup solution. Mozy will give you 2GB of free online backup space (plus 250MB for you and every friend you refer when they do their first backup).

Why would anyone give you 2GB of free space? Simple - 2GB isn't that much backup space, and costs the company just pennies. Unless you're backing up just critical files (maybe your mailbox, and quicken/turbotax files), you probably won't fit into 2GB, so , they hope, you'll go for the $5/month unlimited space backup. Not a bad deal - for the $150 for the hard drive and $50 for the Acronis backup software, I could have had 20 months of unlimited backups for both the desktop and laptop. Mozy also probably figures those folks that'll manage in the ~2GB of space are more likely to be better than average users, who would recommend Mozy to their less computer savvy friends also, so it's still cheap, targetted, personal advertizing.

I'm happy w/ my harddrive / Mozy combo - I've got 300GB of on-site backup, and 2+GB for critical files off-site. I'm willing to (actually, I enjoy it) set up the software for both, making sure they're all working, and picking what I do and don't want to backup when / where / how. But, for $5 a month, someone who's not computer savy, and has a broadband internet connection, Mozy Unlimited is probably a good choice.

Best of all, you can get 2GB (+250MB extra for you, and for me, if you use the referral) for free, and either "try it out", or just backup those critical files. So that's 2.25GB for you now, and +250MB for me. Here's the Mozy Referral.