Wiki Contributions


How does your data backup solution setup work?

I'm in the process of building my own backup solution.

What I have now are three encrypted external hard drives where I put all the passwords, writing, tax documents, photos, videos, and anything that I want to hold onto. Every three months or so, I will use rsync to update the backups and md5sum to check their integrity. I also have three pen drives that contain my passwords, gpg and ssh keys, and the most important documents. These I backup whenever there's been a few changes to these files and I keep one on my desk, one in my backback, and one in my car.

This setup gives me some reasonable protection from hardware failure. The pen drives also give me a little bit of safety from keeping some data offsite.

All of this is driven using LUKS encryption, rsync, and md5sum because I don't want to worry about tools/formats becoming abandonware and I also want to avoid coding custom solutions as much as possible.

Going forward, I want to:

  1. Automate the manual bits, so I can run these backups at least once a month. More often for the pen drives. It would be great if I could just plug these into a hub and run a script that would copy all the right files to the right places and run some integrity checks.
  2. Look into an offsite solution. I looks like it's possible to get a VPS for <$60/year, which I could use as an offsite, encrypted hard drive essentially. I could then use this as a "hot" backup, updating it even every few days, and use the physical backups and "cooler" backups, which I backup once a month.
We need a new philosophy of progress

I've been trying to wrap my head around this ever since I read Francis Fukuyama's "The End of History", wherein he brings up "techno-pessimism" as something that exploded during the 20th century on account of both world wars. You could probably trace it back to Romanticism, but I haven't gotten that deep into the rabbit hole.

What captured my attention about anti-progess is how pervasive this meme is. Subjectively, it appears to span countries, cultures, political ideologies, and age brackets. I know people who flinch away progress because it destroys family traditions. I know people who flinch away from it because all it does is produce pollution, surveillance, drones, etc. The older people in my life complain about the speed of change and the destruction of values. The younger seem to focus mostly on the destruction of the environment.

I think the part the worries me specifically is that this feels like such a utopian view. That if we only "went back" to an earlier stage, all would be good. Or if we somehow got to keep our ipads, but switched to hunting wild game instead of eating processed meat. But all of these seem to ignore how complex and deeply rooted progress is and how reverting a few larger pieces may involve the premature ending of hundreds of millions of human lives.

I'll follow rootsofprogress as I'm curious about the broader pro-progress landscape.

A Better Web is Coming

So Wust is only an idea from a paper, it's not a website you can use now?

Yes, as far as I can tell, that github repo is the implementation of Wust created by the author of the paper I describe.

They also linked to related projects.

Wow, thanks for sharing these. I'll spend some time going down this rabbit hole as soon as I get a chance.

A Better Web is Coming

That said, I think that the problems of the current version of the web largely stem not from the inaccessibility of these tools, but from the fact that an enormous number of users genuinely demand what is being supplied to them. They want free internet, and they get that through submitting to advertisements. They want memes, and the internet can pretty much inject them directly into their veins at this point. They want a feeling of righteous anger, and that's as available to them as oxygen.

But do they genuinely demand this? If one were to think along the lines of "revealed preference curves", then the answer would be yes - people spend time injecting themselves with memes because this exactly what they want. However, this reminds of a book review posted on ACX about addictions:

Underlying Schüll’s foil is a fairly common instinct that people have about the difference between substance addictions (to drugs, alcohol, or nicotine) and behavioral addictions (to gambling, eating, or exercising). Most people think that substance addictions are caused by things, but behavioral addictions are caused by people.

In other words, if most people hear a story about a kindly old grandmother who was prescribed opioids for a backache, and became an opioid addict, they blame the opioids for causing her addictions. Without the opioids, she would still be that kindly old grandmother. In contrast, if most people hear a story about a kindly old grandmother who started going to casinos to have fun on slot machines, and became a gambling addict, they blame the grandmother for having a defective character. Even if she hadn’t visited casinos, she would always have had that character defect.

So is the bad web like opioids or like casinos? Or, where is the line where instead of blaming users, we would blame the designers and builders of addicting web sites?

A Better Web is Coming

I think Wust-like systems are heading in a different direction.

The stackexchange network is about questions and answers. While a lot can be accomplished in that format, many things don't fit it well. For example, most questions/answers there are under 1000 words (if I were to give a rough guess, I'd say the median is around 100-150 words). This makes it great for accumulating short bits of knowledge, but I highly doubt that these sites can generate new, interesting knowledge. Additionally, the format of these sites is extremely rigid -- I doubt that StackOverflow would even accept questions about topics like AI risk, for example. And the community has little say in this.

Because of this, I imagine Wust-like systems to be more similar to LessWrong. Places where people can post longform pieces, where whole new domains can be cracked open and explored.

Living with a homeopath - how?

Changing someone's mind is an incredibly difficult thing to do. In this situation, I would ask myself: is this what I want to pour my time and effort into? Is this the most important thing for me to do right now?

What has worked for me in the past is re-evaluating the situation. Assuming that neither of you will budge, is there an equilibrium you can reach--both now and when you move away? "Walking away" often feels like the only viable option, but in reality, there is usually a whole spectrum of possible options. What would work for you? What are the topics you care and that you want to share with your mother? What are the topics she cares about and wants to share with you? (Is there overlap?) The answers might lead you to finding a new equilibrium, even if it's "meeting my mother twice a year, talking only about food and pets."

Also, because I read the last sentence of your post in a somewhat struggling tone (which may not be true, because words on a screen), I can share that doing a few sessions of talk therapy can be really helpful in a situation like this.

Social media: designed to be bad for you & for society

Wow, thanks for those links. I've spent a few hours going down the garden/stream rabbithole. I can't believe I hadn't seen it before - though I've seen tools like Roam or the Zettelkasten and such, and of course I've read the Vanevar Bush article, but somehow it never occurred to me that maybe we already have working, albeit relatively not so popular, systems that work very differently than Facebook.

Social media: designed to be bad for you & for society

That's a good point. Another way to look at the difference between Facebook and X would be that Facebook/Twitter/etc. lean heavily on self-expression. Very little of the content on those sites actually aim to contribute to something, like a dialogue or body of knowledge. I think this is why communities focused around specific goals, say, writers, weight lifters, or rationalists do not do their work over Facebook/Twitter/etc. Some might use those to stay in touch, but the serious work gets done on yee old phpbb forums and the like, where self-expression is not the main point.

rohinmshah's Shortform

If you look at my posting history, you'll see that all posts I've made on LW (two!) are negative toward social media and one calls out recommender systems explicitly. This post has made me reconsider some of my beliefs, thank you.

I realized that, while I have heard Tristan Harris, read The Attention Merchants, and perused other, similar sources, I haven't looked for studies or data to back it all up. It makes sense on a gut level--that these systems can feed carefully curated information to softly steer a brain toward what the algorithm is optimizing for--but without more solid data, I found I can't quite tell if this is real or if it's just "old man yells at cloud."

Subjectively, I've seen friends and family get sucked into social media and change into more toxic versions of themselves. Or maybe they were always assholes, and social media just lent them a specific, hivemind kind of flavor, which triggered my alarms? Hard to say.

Josephine's Shortform

I'm impressed by how accurately this describes learning complex skills.

I'm practicing writing and I feel the same way most of the points describe: as if I'm exploring a system of caves without a map, finding bits and pieces of other explorers (sometimes even meeting them), but it's all walking a complicated, 3d structure and constantly bumping into unknown unknowns. Let me illustrate it this way: about 3 years ago, when I started on this journey, I thought I would read 1-2 books about writing and I'll be good. Now, I'm standing in sub-cave system #416, taking a hard look at "creativity"/"new ideas" and chuckling at my younger self who thought that sub-cave system #18 "good sentences" will lead him to the exit.

And even though I haven't practices Brazilian Jiu Jitsu since the pandemic began, I see a lot of similarities there. At first, I thought I just have to practice a move. Then I noticed that there are many small variations depending on my energy level, the opponents size and weight, etc. Then I noticed that I could fake moves to lure my opponent into making mistakes, but I should avoid mistakes myself. Then I noticed that my opponents were better in at some moves than others. Then I noticed that my own build gave me certain advantages and disadvantages. Then I noticed...

At the end, just before the lockdowns, I learned a lot about humility and began to discard all the "factual knowledge" I got from youtube videos or books and instead began focusing on sets of small details to explore how they worked in different situations. Then, just practiced it over and over until I saw "the thing".

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