And just like that, my last year in grad school comes to a close. I recently defended my dissertation, bringing me ever closer to that elusive Ph.D. degree that I have been chasing down for the last several years. I have yet to submit the final version of my dissertation to the University, but I will have that done in the next week or so.

The end of this journey has brought about a barrage of emotions. There was a sigh of relief after I finished. A feeling of amazement as I still cannot believe that I had finally arrived at this point which at times I thought would never come. More than once I have woken up and thought, “I’m a PhD???”

I am overwhelmed with gratitude to many, as I would not be here without many individuals who supported me so well over the last several years. There is also a feeling of anxiety and excitement as I don’t know what the future holds for me after I finish up the summer. The search is on for the next step in me and my family’s life. It’s been an adventure, and yet, the adventure continues.

And so with that, I am also making the decision to end this blog. I started this blog on the first day of grad school through my now defunct Blogger site, and later transitioned to using this personal site which I built and designed using the open source Joomla! software. So this blog marks a season in my life which I have been happy to share with you, the readers. Thanks for keeping up with me, many of you not just online, but in person as well. Though I may not blog here anymore, I hope to continue to keep up with you in other ways in the future.

Kindest regards,


College Buddies

Over Memorial Day we had the good pleasure of having some Hopkins buddies in Austin for fun. The last time we had a little Hopkins reunion in Austin was about 3 years ago when everyone was here for our wedding.

The Man and Sarah came in on Thursday night having completed half of their cross-country journey. The Paus came in on Friday and we had a delicious meal over at Jack Allen's Kitchen. On Saturday morning, we spent a good couple of hours taking in the cool refreshing waters of Barton Springs pool. Hard to believe, but that was actually my first time at Barton Springs pool. Yes, I have lived in Austin for almost my entire life!

We then said good-bye shortly afterwards as our friends headed down to San Antonio for some more adventures. All of us are moving off to different places and entereing new and different stages of life this summer, so it was good to be able to see each other once again before all of our big transitions.


About a year and a half ago I started getting really worried about having adequate backups for my computers both at home and in the lab. I was a part of an initiative to purchase and configure a 7 bay Thecus network drive for our lab which we filled with seven 2 Tb hard drives with RAID5. At home, I started using to backup my data to the cloud. I used Mozy because of the good reviews, but also because of the cheap price. For $5/month you got unlimited online storage which backed up incremental changes on whatever schedule you wanted it to. I ended up with almost 400 GB of data, mostly from my growing digital photo collection. It was nice that Mozy offered unlimited space, as I could just keep growing my data collection non-stop.

However, with all things that are too good to be true, the steady increase of customers backing their huge media collection at only $5/month proved to be too much for and they eventually got rid of their unlimited plan. At their current rates, it would have been way too costly for me to backup my photo collection to them, so I started shopping for another option. What I ended up finding was a standalone NAS server for home use. The D-Link DNS-323 seemed to fit the bill for me. I loaded it up with two 2TB hard drives which were mirrored using RAID2. If one hard drive fails, the other one will still work. Though this has the safety and security necessary in a backup system, it is not as safe as backing up to the cloud. Fire, theft or natural disaster are some examples that could wipe out both your main computer and the backup in your house. But for everything else it seems to work pretty well. I've tried to restore some data and each time I was able to retrieve any lost data.

The only problem is that the DNS-323 does not natively support Time Machine so you can't use it with Macs. However, the D-Link is run on some open-source software, which has really built up a nice community online surrounding the D-Link drives. Windows uses the Samba or uPnP protocol to connect to network drives, whereas Time Machine only uses AFP. So a few extra installation steps and then magically the drive supports Time Machine which means Carolyn's Macbook can now connect to it. Time Machine is one of the easiest backup programs out there, so I was glad to still be able to use it.

All in all, with the steady downward drop in hard drive prices, I've found it pretty cost-effective to have a home backup solution. The upside is that any large restores are fairly fast on your home LAN. However, the risk of fire or flood has the potential of wiping out all the data in your home. One way around this is to find another backup solution as a precaution to this. But that's up to you to assess that risk. The recurring message that I continue to hear with that you just need to do something. Don't wait till something disasterous happen to figure out what to do.



Can't believe it's almost been a year.




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I take stuff apart, I put it back together.
In between, I take photographs of it.

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