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Email will inevitably fail so if you foolishly depend on it, learn to back it up and restore it

Submitted by Roland on Tue, 2013-02-19 01:17

If you insist on using email as a file management system, archive system, CRM, database, contact system, knowledge management system , etc then learn how to backup your email and practise restoring your email because it will inevitably fail no matter how reliable your email server and client are. If you don't have time, then pay somebody or do the right thing and move stuff out of email to CRM, blogs, wikis, to-do systems, etc!

Backup your public Flickr photo metadata to MongoDB using backupPublicPhotoMetadataByDateAndUser

Submitted by Roland on Mon, 2012-02-27 01:19

If you know how to run MongoDB and ruby on your computer or your server, then backupPublicPhotoMetadataByDateAndUser.rb is a simple Ruby script to backup your Flickr metadata for yours (or anybody else's) Flickr public photos for a given time period. Simple (it doesn't replicate flickr's richness nearly as comprehensively as Aaron's parallel flickr) but effective because then you can with very very simple programming use the MongoDB query language to do useful Flickr queries such as:

1. give me all the photos in gastown

2. give me the square 75x75url of all photos in Vancouver tagged "yellow"

3. give me all the photos geo-tagged in the city of Vancouver taken in 2011 during the morning rush hour (e.g. if you wanted to do Eric Fisher-like  maps)


  1. Start up MongoDB and create some indexes: /Applications/mongodb-osx-x86_64-2.0.2/bin/mongo
    1. >{id:1});
  2. Set Environment variables to point to your MongoDB and your flickr api key and the userid e.g.
    1. export MONGO_PORT=27017
    2. export MONGO_HOST=
    3. export FLICKR_DB=rtflickr # your flickr database name in Mongo DB
    4. export FLICKR_USER=yourfunnyFlickruserIdendinging@01
    5. create a flickr.conf file like this:
      1. Roland-Tanglaos-MacBook-Pro-2:mongoflickrbackup rolandtanglao$ cat flickr.conf
        api_key = a3b9eeatbeefdecafbad
  3. specify time and date to backup e.g. to backup your 2009 public photos:
    1. ./backupPublicPhotoMetadataByDateAndUser.rb 2009 1 1 2009 12 31  >backup.2009.stdout.txt 2>backup.2009.stderr.txt

2010 Social Media Predictions aka Know your rights, aggregate & own your stuff and back it up

Submitted by Roland on Sun, 2010-01-03 20:14

I have been blogging for 10 years, started Dec 1999 ( which sadly died a few years back due to my own negligence) so some  2010 social media long term predictions and gratuitous advice which again is worth what you paid for it

Social Media 2010 predictions and gratuitous advice:

  1. Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Tumblr and other walled gardens are over in the long term; an open solution will replace them in 5 years or less.
  2. Don't be afraid to use and experiment with the walled gardens but recognize that your stuff can be deleted at any time and unless you have backed it up to an open format like HTML, it won't last forever (most likely scenarios: service goes out of business or your account is deleted for an arbitrary reason). I wouldn't shed a tear if all my tweets were deleted, YMMV. If you have fun with the walled gardens, get your domain and start a blog, videoblog,podcast, etc., you won't regret having an online presence you own and control
  3. If you care about your closed garden stuff, back it up to an open format. If you aren't geeky enough to figure this out, ask a geek, there's lots of them, just don't ask me :-)
  4. Have a "hook" and nurture and grow it. Not good enough in 2010 to be a jack of all trades social media whatevah :-) You actually need to *know* something. Most people do (they just don't realize it!) so that's not a problem.
  5. Don't know why I have to write this in 2010 department: Don't trust reviews or content on Urban Spoon, Yelp (i like the idea of yelp & other aggregators  but in practise most of the reviews are shall we say not helpful), Gowalla, Facebook etc unless you know the person in real life or have read their stuff over a period of time. Most restaurant reviews like most content on the Internet are wildly biased but that's a good thing because objectivity in food reviews is ridiculous.
  6. Get your most valued content out of the walled gardens and your email (email rocks but it's not a place for long term knowledge storage and retrieval) and back it up. The best way to back up is to put the content in an open format like HTML on your own domain and backup all the stuff on your domain. Again, ask a geek. And really most people's stuff that is truly valuable is not a lot, myself included :-)  e.g. I bet my best emails, best photos, videos and blog posts for the last 5 years could fit on 1 DVD!
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