Falling Leaves: the Ardes blog

Archives filed under "Business"


Ray Drainville

Last year, Facebook on its own purchased WhatsApp and Oculus Rift for a total investment of $21 billion. In contrast, over the course of several decades, a collection of industrial nations have pooled $20 billion into creating ITER, a nuclear fusion engine—which, if successful, would point the way to virtually limitless, clean energy.

This contrast, in a nutshell, is exactly what is wrong with capitalism today.


Ray Drainville

That the move from one server to another hasn’t been nearly as successful as I had originally thought.

Moving again

Ray Drainville

After a lot of work the old ArDes server has been shut down & the blog has been put on a new platform. It’s a truism about blogging that most posts are apologising for not updating & then explaining the shift to a new platform. This post is no different in that regard. But this is really good news.

I did not relish managing a server myself; and with the recent revelations about security holes in SSH and so many platforms, it sapped a lot of mental energy just trying (trying, trying) to keep up-to-date with server gubbins that you don’t know you have and don’t know are out of date. Plus, running a server is expensive for what you get out of it; and chasing clients for hosting invoices is not my idea of fun. I got into this to make pretty things. Chasing up invoices is not pretty. So I’m happy to have that out of my thinning hair.

Another reason to not write on the blog was to evaluate what I wanted to do with it. We used the Rails-based Mephisto for quite a while, but that has become abandonware. Like managing a server with ageing gubbins, managing an ageing blog is no fun—it presents you with a lot of potential security dangers as well as the worry that it’ll fall over at any point due to a minor update. I’m happy with the change & very pleased with the notion of writing again.

Name Change

Ray Drainville

As of today, we’re changing the name of our company from Argument from Design to Ardes.

Why are we doing this?

There are many reasons for the change. Let’s go through them:

  • The URL for the company’s website has been ardes.com for virtually its entire history;
  • Ardes has always been our shorthand name for the company;
  • You’d be surprised how few people know how to spell “argument”;
  • The connection between the philosophical concept of the “argument from design” & religious people has only grown stronger over the years, and I didn’t want to be associated with that.

That last point deserves a little more explanation. My rather wilful interpretation of the argument from design was that it needn’t be a religious argument, but rather merely evidence of a conscious decision process: that something clearly & beautifully presented was evidence of a conscious hand & not the product of chance. Many people use it in an attempt to prove the existence of god, and that’s become something of an issue for me, because I’m not religious.

Anyway, I’m getting over my head, and the point is that that isn’t what we’re about. We’re all about making beautiful & easily-usable things.

Soon the blog will reflect not only the Ardes.com redesign, but its name change as well.

Slimming Time Machine Backups, Redux

Ray Drainville

I’ve written before about slimming Time Machine backups. Without careful pruning of the system, developers can find that their Time Machine backups become huge. For instance, if you’re developing Rails apps, you’ll likely want to not back up your logs directories. And everyone will probably want to exclude up their Cache directories, which of course are scattered throughout the system: I’ve counted /Library/Caches/, /System/Library/Caches/, and ~/Library/Caches/; and this doesn’t cover specialised caches you can find in */Library/Application Support/, for instance, for Flash. Remember this location, and note the asterisk: these become important later.

Well, since I’ve slimmed my Time Machine backups, I’ve noticed the occasional baffling 450MB or so backup in the morning, and periodically throughout the day. I couldn’t figure out what it was—remember, Apple doesn’t let you know what you’re backing up—and I was really worried that someone had broken into my machine and was using it to relay something really unsavoury.

Enter Time Tracker by Charlesoft, the author of Pacifist (I’ve since discovered BackupLoupe, which does much the same thing). Time Tracker is a very basic app that lets you view what, specifically, has been backed up, and how big it is. It’s a big help, and it helped me identify the culprit: Roxio’s Retrospect, which I use to create monthly backups of my work.

It turns out that even if you aren’t using it to back up your entire system, Retrospect creates a huge tally of your work. It’s located in /Library/Application Support/Retrospect/ and for me at least the files there tally usually in the region of 400–600MB in size. Which is backed up periodically throughout the day by Time Machine. Yes, the backups are backing up the backups. It’s backups all the way down, people.

So, uh, if you’re paranoid like me & use Retrospect for monthly backups (because, you know, hourly backups aren’t enough), then you’ll want to exclude this from your backups. Since then, my backups are a lot saner in size, and my backup drive is no longer filling up with alarming speed.