Crashplan Home replacements and alternatives

Crashplan, my favorite backup software, recently announced they would be discontinuing the consumer or “home” product from their lineup and will just focus on business customers instead. This sucks as I had settled on using their product for all my backups some time ago, and have it running on a number of machines. The good for me/bad for them feature that I really liked is the p2p backup options- I have a number of friends I use crashplan with to back up each others’ data to each other. Good for me because I don’t have to pay for cloud storage. Bad for crashplan, because they don’t make any rev off of me… so maybe I’m part of the reason they’re discontinuing?

I’d love to see a p2p focused product like crashplan replace it, but I’d really love to see it as an open project. (This guy kinda read my mind on the topic –

Crashplan, if you read this, are you interested in selling off the consumer part of your service? I see you are currently referring these customers to another service that I won’t name here.. hate to see that happen as well. Give me a call guys. brady dot moritz at gee mail dot com. (as if bots can’t figure that email out nowdays…)

Anyway- I’ll be researching and updating here for what alternatives are out there. Comment if you have any input.

Update: This isn’t a replacement, but this page goes into detail about recovering your data *after* crashplan does shut down- this could be a headache for users who need to restore their data after crashplan officially shuts things down and effectively (in theory will block you out of your own data:

Sedis Kickstarter by Nefer Games

Nefer Games is running a kickstarter for their first gaming system called Sedis- think of a six sided dominos, add a pile of math, and you get the new Sedis tile system. It’s claimed to be only the 4th generic gaming system in the world, behind dominos, dice, and cards. Go check out the kickstarter and make a pledge to get this project cranking!

6÷2(1+2)=? How do you solve this?

6÷2(1+2) is one of those order of operations problems that pops up on social media occasionally and causes people to disagree on the answer and get all angry about it 😉

The reason the disagreements occur is based in order of operations. Most of us know to complete the inside of the parenthesis before applying the other operators, but after doing this, we effectively go from 6÷2(1+2) to 6÷2(3), or 6÷2×3

Now, if we apply PEMDAS, we see M goes before D, so do the multiplication first and then apply the division, and this gives us an answer of 1. Done!

But wait- PEMDAS has this sneaky little misunderstanding- it actually has MD and AS grouped together. So really it should be PE(MD)(AS). Because we do Multiplication *and* Division in the same pass, from left to right. Same applies to Addition and Subtraction, but we’re not concerned with that right now. SO- solving from left to right gives us 9.

And 9.. is the correct answer.

Reference for PEMDAS – See the mnemonic section here:
And the specific quote from the page is: “These mnemonics may be misleading when written this way, especially if the user is not aware that multiplication and division are of equal precedence, as are addition and subtraction. Using any of the above rules in the order ‘addition first, subtraction afterward’ would incorrectly evaluate the expression

So now you either owe your friends an apology, or it’s time to gloat.. but don’t go overboard if the latter, ok?

Silverlight in Edge Browser

I found out this evening (or likely knew before but had forgotten) that Edge browser does not and will not support the Silverlight plugin from Microsoft. So if you had any awesome .net code you could run inside a browser, you’ll need to fire up an old version of Internet Explorer, or possibly run Firefox (last I heard, it still supports it, but Chrome does not now either). Weird times.

You can check your version of Silverlight by going to and download the latest Silverlight at  https://espanolc..ico/… but don’t bother doing either of these if you’re using Edge browser!

Moving Google Analytics property to a different account

If you buy a website with a long history online, you’ll likely want to preserve the google analytics account history. If the previous owner can’t give you control of the account with this history, things can get a little weird. The options I’ve found so far are:

-The prior owner can just add your login to the account in analytics. This works fine, but if they only give you a read-only login, you don’t have control over this and they could delete your access at any time.

-I’ve seen an option for moving a property to a new account in my analytics account, so I have a theory that if I create a new account and give the original owner’s login full admin access to this newly created account, they might be able to move control to it. I haven’t been able to test this, and I think it might be a new feature.

-You can create a new analytics tracker in your own account and add it to the site. If combined with the first option above, you can view the old account for historical data, but also start gathering all new data in your new account. Not the best solution, but better than nothing. Here is sample code showing how to do two trackers at once – notice you have to give a tracker name to the second one, as they can’t both be the default tracker. In this example, “clientTracker” is the name given to the second one. THEN be sure to include it in the send command, by PREPENDING the tracker name + “.” to the send command. See below.

ga('create', 'UA-XXXXX-Y', 'auto');
ga('create', 'UA-XXXXX-Z', 'auto', 'clientTracker');

ga('send', 'pageview');
ga('clientTracker.send', 'pageview');

Margarita Recipe

My latest rendition is: the “3 man margarita” – serves about 3 men (wow?)

4 shots tequila
2 shots triple
1 lime
1 small orange
1 big squeeze lime juice (or, more limes)
splash of truvia- powder is good, liquid is ok
giant spoon of orange concentrate (really big)
3 tall glasses of crushed ice
blend it for long time

PHP code for Bing/Microsoft/Azure translator

Microsoft has yet again changed the API service for the translator api they offer (formerly known as Bing translator, Microsoft Translator, Azure Translator?). It’s now been moved to Azure, and is under the “Cognitive Services” offerings. Maybe it will stay here for more than a couple months before they mess with it again?

I needed to update a PHP app that calls the bing translator API, and couldn’t find anything that did the trick. Prior to the full Azure move, the service has been put under a data market portal, and later the simple basic auth api was updated to use OAuth for security. The latest iteration still uses Oath, but it’s simplified now to the point that all you need to pass is the secret key to get the authorization token – as opposed to previously requiring an app name, some domain scope thing, etc- a lot of moving parts. Now all that is needed to get a token is this:

Option 1: Pass key using header

curl --header 'Ocp-Apim-Subscription-Key: ' --data "" ''

Option 2: Pass key using query string parameter
curl --data "" ''

The body of the request is the token you use- so you don’t need to parse a JSON result or anything.

Here is a PHP class you can use with the latest greatest api- Note that this code hits the issuetoken request with every request, the tokens are good for a period of time (30 minutes if I recall) so this code could use caching to only request a new token after it expires. I’ll update this later. Also the code is pretty hackish, needs a lot of cleanup.

Edit the file to with your actual key. Then create an instance of AzureTranslator, set properties for the src and dest languages, and the phrase to translate. Call getTranslateByCurl() and it will return your translated phrase.

class AccessTokenAuthentication {

function getTokens2($clientKey, $authUrl){
try {
//Initialize the Curl Session.
$ch = curl_init();
//Set the Curl URL.
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_URL, $authUrl . '?Subscription-Key=' . $clientKey);
//Set HTTP POST Request.
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POST, TRUE);
//Set data to POST in HTTP "POST" Operation.
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS, ""); // $paramArr);
//CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER- TRUE to return the transfer as a string of the return value of curl_exec().
//CURLOPT_SSL_VERIFYPEER- Set FALSE to stop cURL from verifying the peer's certificate.
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_SSL_VERIFYPEER, false);
//Execute the cURL session.
$strResponse = curl_exec($ch);
//Get the Error Code returned by Curl.
$curlErrno = curl_errno($ch);
$curlError = curl_error($ch);
throw new Exception($curlError);
//Close the Curl Session.
return $strResponse ;
} catch (Exception $e) {
return ""; // echo "Exception-".$e->getMessage();

* Class:AzureTranslator
* Processing the translator request.
Class AzureTranslator {

private $clientSecret = "";
private $authUrl = "";
private $phrase = null;
private $sourceLang = "";
private $targetLang = "";

public function setPhrase ($phrase = "")
$this->phrase = "";
if (!empty($phrase))
$this->phrase = trim($phrase);

public function setSourceLang ($sLang = "")
$this->sourceLang = "";
if (!empty($sLang))
$this->sourceLang = trim($sLang);

public function setTargetLang ($tLang = "")
$this->targetLang = "";
if (!empty($tLang))
$this->targetLang = trim($tLang);

public function getTranslateByCurl()
try {

//Create the AccessTokenAuthentication object.
$authObj = new AccessTokenAuthentication();

$accessToken = $authObj->getTokens2($this->clientSecret, $this->authUrl);
//Create the authorization Header string.
$authHeader = "Authorization: Bearer ". $accessToken;

$contentType = 'text/plain';
$category = 'general';

$params = "text=".urlencode($this->phrase)."&to=".$this->targetLang."&from=".$this->sourceLang;

$translateUrl = "$params";

//Get the curlResponse.
$curlResponse = $this->curlRequest($translateUrl, $authHeader);

//Interprets a string of XML into an object.
$xmlObj = simplexml_load_string($curlResponse);
foreach((array)$xmlObj[0] as $val){
$translatedStr = $val;

return $translatedStr;
//return $curlResponse;

} catch (Exception $e) {
return "";
//return $e->getMessage();

* Create and execute the HTTP CURL request.
* @param string $url HTTP Url.
* @param string $authHeader Authorization Header string.
* @param string $postData Data to post.
* @return string.
function curlRequest($url, $authHeader, $postData=''){
//Initialize the Curl Session.
$ch = curl_init();
//Set the Curl url.
curl_setopt ($ch, CURLOPT_URL, $url);
//Set the HTTP HEADER Fields.
curl_setopt ($ch, CURLOPT_HTTPHEADER, array($authHeader,"Content-Type: text/xml"));
//CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER- TRUE to return the transfer as a string of the return value of curl_exec().
//CURLOPT_SSL_VERIFYPEER- Set FALSE to stop cURL from verifying the peer's certificate.
curl_setopt ($ch, CURLOPT_SSL_VERIFYPEER, False);
if($postData) {
//Set HTTP POST Request.
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POST, TRUE);
//Set data to POST in HTTP "POST" Operation.
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_POSTFIELDS, $postData);
//Execute the cURL session.
$curlResponse = curl_exec($ch);
//Get the Error Code returned by Curl.
$curlErrno = curl_errno($ch);
if ($curlErrno) {
$curlError = curl_error($ch);
throw new Exception($curlError);
//Close a cURL session.
return $curlResponse;


Oculus Rift Green Screen Mixed Reality

If anyone needs me, I’ll be in my green screen vr room for the next year 😉 I’ll need to try this same setup with one of the dirt/rally sims I prefer to run instead of the more usual road racing variety.

I’d thought this kind of thing would be awesome, to use the oculus camera and do some kind of mixed reality, almost like a reversed AR (?), but I’d assumed the camera processing was not performant enough to make it work well. This demo seems to prove otherwise. New ideas much

How to be an Online Broadcaster

I casually asked TK today about online broadcasting, and he managed to deliver a lot of knowledge on the topic. I didn’t even know he was into that kinda thing 😉 I’d asked about after seeing an article able using twitch to control paintbrushes to create painting, in a strange crowd-sourced kind of artwork (article at  I’m logging all this here for my own future reference, or for any other lonely stranger who may come across it.

Most important thing I’ve seen that make for a great show is
-a good mic
-a compressor (so you don’t get too loud)
-good lighting
-an ability to talk to chat.

(The last item refers to the live chat in mediums such as provides. it can get distracting trying to do a show while also interacting with chats, especially when they come in a fast rate.)

I don’t even think having a great camera makes as much of a difference as the mic and compressor.

(doing ok in the mic department – see pic below!)

Blue Yeti mic on arm and vibration isolation mount
Blue Yeti mic on arm and vibration isolation mount

If you are loud with hissing and popping no one is watching you.

Info on sound compression, to smooth out the hiss/pop sounds:

Basically you want to do whatever you can to have that radio DJ sound, not annoying, just one even level of volume.

This link is the OBS Project – Open source casting software –
It’s used by just about everyone, supports scenes / multi inputs.. supports youtube streaming as well as twitch and others.

Another trick is to use a dedicated monitor devoted to chat, put in portrait mode if possible. Twitch chat is built on IRC so you can use an irc client to connect to chat, makes it much easier to read and can fill this devoted screen easily.

Oh and get good moderators for chat. Even with good mods, I’ve seen streams come to a halt because the streamer happened to see an inappropriate message in chat before it could be deleted.
One streamer even recently talked about this, how that out of 1k people watching and having a good time, you just latch on to that one negative comment and your whole stream is ruined.

Will add more here as more is discovered. Still need to cover lighting topic a bit more.

I’m on hold song on

Called into an uberconference conference call today and was a little early. Noticed the hold music was a little different than what I’m used to.
Then I noticed the guy singing mentioned being “on hold, for a conference call” and “wonder where my friends are”. Awesome! A bit of googling found this is the song I heard on soundcloud

So far I’m impressed with, their basic service is free and their call quality has been adequate so far. I’d like to find out if they have an uberconference affiliate program so I can try sending some referrals their way (call me, guys).

Using GIT with Visual Studio and a Local project

Git usage with visual studio has become easier in recent times, but I always still have a bit of a headache remembering a few basic items. For instance, I use for a lot of private repositories, and I often will have source code on my local machine that I’d like to add to git and then sycn with bitbucket. Visual studio seems to not like creating a new git repository in a folder that has files in it already, but I don’t usually want to move files into a new folder. Apparently I have to drop to the commandline and run:

cd <my project path>
git init

After this, you can go back into visual studio and add the newly initialized git repo to it, while you already have the solution open: go to Add, then navigate to the folder and add it.

Then, do a commit.

Then, you can go to sync, to sync it with bitbucket- but you’ll need to go to bitbucket and create the repo there first, then copy the url to the repo. Enter this in the visual studio prompt and then complete the sync. – Pokémon Go finder map app

A lot of these “pokemon finder” apps have popped up since the pokemon go app became such a big deal. Check out the app for a good example of a pokemon finder (aka pokefind).

A blog is going live soon on the site so you can keep up with both news about pokefind as well as the pokemon go game in general.

Updating here as more is available as well.

Pistol Gun Emoji in Apple iOS and Windows

Big news today was Apple replacing the “pistol” emoji with a water gun design, apparently in an effort to make fonts less violent? The old and new emoji’s look like this:

Pistol on Apple iOS 9.3
Apple iOS original Pistol
Apple iOS Squirt Gun

But, what I didn’t see in the news is that the major “Windows 10 Anniversary Update” released today, does the exact opposite- Windows 10 (and maybe 8? 7?) has had a space-man style pew-pew gun instead of the typical revolver.. but the update today actually changed this back to a traditional revolver desgin.

Pistol on Microsoft Windows 10
Windows 10 original “space man” pistol
Pistol on Microsoft Windows 10 Anniversary Update
Windows 10 Anniversary Update pistol

I suspect this was accidental on Microsoft’s part, as they did a big overhaul of the emoji system in general and probably overlooked this. The timing of the two company’s swapping these designs is pretty funny/spooky though.

Amazon CPM versus Adsense Ads

Been testing Amazon CPM ads on a couple sites lately to see how they perform. So far, my main test was to place it in a lower quality position on a site that has a techie audience, so the visitors typically have very low click rates on adsense ads. The cpm rate for the one ad has settles in at over $1, which actually compares favorably with adsense and may even beat it for this one spot. The next step is to try replacing the remaining adsense ads on this site and see if my overall earnings increase or not. But I’m being hampered by Amazon shortcoming #1:

-Con: Amazon CPM ads do not offer a responsive ad unit option

The current site has responsive ads, so the page can resize and they will resize with it. Amazon only offers the standard sizes like 728×90, 160×600, 350×200 etc. These are great, but I can’t just swap out the responsive ads with them, so I’d have to add some coding to determine if the user is mobile and skip the amazon ads in these instances. This is too much effort at the point so I haven’t gotten around to doing it. (Maybe this could be a future service offering?)

A few other observed Pro’s and Cons:

-Pro (or Con?) – Amazon is CPM based only, and requires you place backup ad code and set a CPM floor for the ads.

This is considered a more advanced option for many users, so it makes implementation a bit more of a headache. You can set up an adsense ad to fill in for the cpm one if it doesnt have anything to show, but this will be driven by the floor cpm you set- go too high, and nothing will show- too low, and you’ll likely loose out on revenue. So, it becomes something you have to watch and fiddle with a bit to optimize, instead of the set-it-and-forget-it way that adsense typically works.

-Con- Amazon Javascript is not async?

I haven’t fully checked this out, but the code script provided by amazon cpm ads appears to not be asyncronous. This could potentially cause your site to load slower than before. Async is almost a basic requirement for sites nowdays, so it’s strange that Amazon would do things this way.

-Con- Reporting – Amazon  reporting for the cpm ads is pretty basic

Overall, it feels like this ad offering was rushed out and perhaps amazon will continue to improve upon it over time. Even the other affiliate ad offerings from amazon are pretty polished nowdays, so the cpm one is lagging even against other amazon offerings.

But in the end, the main thing we care about is- will Amazon make more revenue for you than Adsense? My initial testing looks like it’s a good way to make some extra revenue off your website without diminishing your adsense revenue dramatically- so, the answer is “Yes, sorta”. It may even outperform Adsense on sites that get a lot of traffic but the visitors tend to not click ads, since Amazon is CPM based and not as concerned about actual clicks. But overall, (sigh), at least for now, Adsense still seems to be king.

What is this weird URL that seems to show up in the strangest places? is a redirect url used by Commission Junction ( to sort of anonymize links to individual offers on their platform. So when you post a link to an affiliate offer from CJ (for instance, ), they use this link to make it less obvious that the link is an affiliate link. Or at least that’s what I assume.