The Landwave COOP Model

May 16, 2012
/ / /

Several times this year, friends of mine have reported catastrophic failures of their personal computer equipment.  As we all become untethered from our offices–and expand our computer abilities–we also disconnect from the silent lifesaving service of carefree backups.  These backups are implemented by organizations with sound information technology policies – and staff adept enough to make it happen.  The policy here is COOP (continuity of operations) in the event of some catastrophe.  The retail space really hasn’t gone far enough to provide one stop coverage.  The pieces are there.  But you are on your own to assemble them.

I have been hit like everyone else with numerous workstation and laptop failures since I began my firm in 2001.  Because of this scheme, I have been able to recover 100% of my functionality within hours.  I recommend it for small commercial and personal use.  There are downsides that I will note as I go along.  Compared to having to rebuild over the course of weeks, I’ll take every downside on the list.

Here’s my solution.

General Principles

  • Never, Ever Put Your Data On Your Computer’s Hard Drive.  Your hard-drive is for your operating system and installed software.  That’s it.  With terabyte drives becoming derigeur in workstations and laptops, this seems absurd on the face of it.  Apparently you haven’t suffered enough.  They install big hard drives because it’s no more expensive for them and they make a feature out of it.  Considering how cheap external storage is, don’t give it a second thought.Implementing this is tricky.  I don’t know how it is for Mac users, but on PC’s this is a really insidious issue.  Windows is monumentally persistent about the use of My Documents on your C: drive.  There’s a fix to that.
  • One Backup Isn’t Enough. Two is better. Plus one in the cloud is best.  Hard drives fail too.  For no reason.  So backup your backup.  This scheme covers a Modified Two Solution
  • Backup Frequently.  Frequency depends on a) how often you change your data and b) how much data you are willing to lose.  For years I backed everything up daily.  I’ve adjusted to only backup certain folders daily and the rest every three days.
  • Your music and software are part of the scheme.  To get up and running fast, I keep all the uninstalled editions of my software on my system.  That way I don’t have to nurse CD collections through re-installation.  Ditto music.
  • Accommodates Mobile Activities.  When I’m on the road, I need the same level of recovery and access.  On the road I still don’t put data on my local drive. This is physically cumbersome, but better than being stranded the day before a presentation.
  • Each Backup Is an Exact Replica  If you want complications, do partial backups.  I don’t know about you, but in an emergency I want effective, clean resolutions.  And because I can, I also don’t want to have to “clean it up later” because frankly I’m unlikely to get to it once I’ve recovered enough functionality to get moving.

What You’ll Need

  • A Rough Capacity Calculation

    • Start with a rough calculation of how much space you’re currently consuming. The file system can report this or JDiskReport is an outstanding utility for this.
    • Add 50Gigs for software for starters.  Adjust as required.
    • Add your music
    • Double your answer for a three year horizon, triple for a five year.  This is how big all your external hard drives should be
  • Three external hard drives.  Yup.  That’s what I said.  Three.  Too much money?  Apparently you haven’t suffered enough.  One as your primary storage and two backups.  I will not get into hard drive specs.  Way too much information that all borders on the Ford-Chevy pastimes. Just get some drives.
  • For PCs, Windows Task Scheduler and a lack of fear about DOS.  I will show you how to use both, so you don’t have to know them right now.  I just need you to be unafraid of them.  Someone can take me to school about automated file copying in the Mac environment.
  • A touch of desk space for external hard drives
  • Enough USB ports for your drives. If you need to, get a USB hub.
  • Labels for your drives.  Mark each one with it’s volume name and drive letter.  That way you know which one is which.

Set It Up

  • Plug in your drives.
  • Name the volumes, note the drive letters.  Next Level:  Change drive letter so desktop and laptop shortcuts match at home and in the field.
  • Set up your backups.
    This gets lengthy.  Come back in a while I’ll have it written up.  If my version of “a while” is too long, poke me and I’ll pick up the pace.
  • Next Level: Organize Your Folders
    We have four classes of folders:  Personal, Archives, References and Software. 
    • Personal:  for each person in our system, they have their own folder.  They can organize it any way they wish.
    • Archives:  organized by person and year, these are documents no longer regularly accessed.
    • References:  We have three:  Library, Music and Folios.
      • The Library is for cool stuff we like that made by other people or should be available to everyone.  ADVANCED:  I’ve tried to use this also as the Windows Program Data for certain applications.  I’ve had limited success.
      • Music is, well, music.  It’s a common repository for everyone to use.
      • Folios is stuff we create that’s for sharing.  It’s organized by subject and year.
    • Software:  There’s a folder for every product line in current use.  When we upgrade or replace, we retire previous editions if we can.  Some upgrade sequences require the previous versions be installed.  We keep our serial numbers and keys here too.  This is a security risk by the way.  Not much to be done about it if you want the functionality.
  • Load Your Primary Drive  Copy all of your data, music and uninstalled software to your primary drive.
  • Run Your Backup to load the other drives and test your backup.


Come back in a while I’ll have it written up.  If my version of “a while” is too long, poke me and I’ll pick up the pace.

  • Daily
  • On Crash
  • Archiving
  • Mobility
  • Downloads from the web, your camera and your mobiles.

Improvements I’d Love

  • Cloud Backup. So … You can pay Dropbox or Carbon Leaf an annual fee.  But wait.  Google says I have oodles of space. Great. Can I use some for my backups? I also have a web hosting service with unlimited storage. Uploading 500G is gonna take me the better part of a year via the FTP Put command. HELP!

Take Me to School

I’d love a simpler way. Show me.



Copyright 2012, Frank Ebbert, Landwave AE.  If you have developed this idea and hold rights to it, please contact me for proper attribution.

Read More

Why Houzz

May 14, 2012
/ / /

Houzz works. It does exactly what I need it to do: offer inspirations I can scrapbook, comment on, collaborate over and share with my colleagues and clients. I do the exact same thing with my hard copy library. The desktop interface is deft, efficient and complete.

The site would be nowhere without the content though. Houzz’s advantage is the volume and quality of contributors. If the content had been, say, 30% less, it wouldn’t be as useful. Ditto quality. Pros have been stocking and curating this. That makes a big difference in the consistency and fidelity of ideas. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate a collection of well composed images in telling the story of designing a simple staircase.

If you’re a home design or construction pro, or a homeowner looking to design, Houzz is a wonderful, useful resource. It won’t–and shouldn’t–be your only resource. It will be a reliable one.

Feature Requests
. iPhone App: would like to edit my ideabook notes.
. Predefined fields and guidelines for attributions. I have dozens of hard copy resources I don’t dare scan and post because I’m hazy on attribution and copyright. If there was a sensible way to protect and share, that could be really wonderful.
. Though perhaps better suited as a companion site(s), it would be wonderful to use this tool suite for technical information such as building code tips, green resourcing and best planning practices. In other words, co-opt the international Code Council, Dwell, USGBC and Taunton Press as contributors.
. Tag menus. I have the same issue w twitter and tumblr. I love tags, use them frequently. I hate developing them. I hate finding out I tagged things with slight variations–porch and porches for instance. Someone get smart about this. Soon. Please?

Read More

Hey, That’s It!

May 13, 2012
/ / /

So I had a vision sometime ago of a shelving project for kids with disabilities. It involved creating standards (vertical shelf supports) that were textured. Kids with some vision impairment might enjoy the tactile experience. If I played my cards right it would be fun to look at. If I really played my cards right, it’d be made from scrap wood.

Here’s the sketch.

Don’t you know, on the way to the restaurant bathroom with the kids I found an example of it.





Decorative panel inset, Busboys & Poets, Shirlington, Arlington Co, Va

Read More

That’s Refreshing

May 13, 2012
/ / /

A good example of structural efficiency and open minded storm water management.

Imagine the water pouring out in a graceful arc from the gutter. Not sure where it lands. But it’d be fun to watch. You could dump it into a cistern.

As for structural efficiency, notice how the roofing extends beyond the rafter. This costs very little, protects the beam and column better and provides more shelter. That’s a great trade when you can get it.


Barcroft Recreation Facilities, Arlington County, Va

Read More

Categories & Tags

May 11, 2012
/ / /

What I’m watching for and talking about.


experience, listen, observe, flow, choose, detail, deploy, chronicle, grand principles of information design,


residential, commercial, tenant improvement, retail rollouts, civic space, standards development, project management, quality assurance


strategy, policy, information systems conceptualization, analysis, process development, information design,  application requirements analysis, information systems visualization, program management, project management, user experience, interface design, quality management


narrative, places, tools, play, triumph, epic, being, now


Ocean health, carbon emissions, behavior change, evaluation



Infrastructure, Urban Design, Green Architecture, Progressive Design, Transformative Spaces and Places, O&M, Materials, Products,
Graphic Design
Posters, Stickers, Data Visualization, Typography, Color, Art Direction, Compositions, CSS Websites, Type, Do This, Don’t Do That, Illustration, Photography
Industrial Design
Music Composition
MIDI, Sampling, Drumming, Progressive Rock, concept projects, storytelling
Conceptual Illustration
Digital, traditional media
Physical & Earth Sciences
Physics, meterology, oceanography
Social Sciences
Group Dynamics, Organizational Development,


Read More

The Shifting Sands of Work Life

May 8, 2012
/ / /

If you’re going to ask me to sacrifice QOL for an idea, it had better be an ideal instead. If you’re going to ask me to sacrifice QOL money, you need a better idea. If you’re going to ask me to sacrifice QOL for doing business dev, you don’t have a good idea.

Pixar has a good idea and ideals.

Read More

STEAM: Between Silence & Light

November 3, 2011
/ / /

I spend a lot of time heads down in the daily work of making a living an, raising my kids and enjoying my life.  I spend a bunch of other time in the heady world of ideas.  That world takes me home, to our little island planet in the far arm of a tiny galaxy.  And what I see happening to our planet, because of us, scares me enough to hunger for action.  But the daily grind frustrates my efforts to focus my productivity.  I end up adrift.  There is a middle ground – STEAM education and industry.  Within these realms are the projects of a lifetime: creating a feedback and decision infrastructure for planetary sustainability.

Read More

"Cities In Challenging Times"

September 30, 2009
/ / /

I just heard the On Point Radio show on how some cities are dealing with the recession. Newark, NJ mayor Cory Booker and Washington, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty both discussed their administrations approaches to problems unique to deep recessions such as this. Additionally both cities face what might be seen as “common” urban problems: crime and education gaps.

What was remarkable about the narratives that both men brought out were their refusal to let the circumstances of the day – be it economic downturns, thinly veiled corruption or entrenched bureaucracies – obstruct the outcomes of creating wonderful places to live. While I will not make this blog political by saying I do or don’t agree with their politics, I will say this: both men deserve a lot of credit for envisioning a better future and energizing members of their communities to constructively engage in the creation of great places to live.

Read More