VPS hosting is available, affordable, and just a little bit scary.  In order to alleviate some of risk that is taken when moving to a VPS that is not under our benevolent control, we need to set up a reliable data backup solution.  The setup that I incorporated involves a server in the cloud backing up to my box.com account.  To accomplish this on CentOS 6, you can just use the following commands in a script that is executed periodically:


echo “Files backup to cloud”
eval $(gpg-agent –daemon)
export PASSPHRASE=””
export FTP_PASSWORD=”your password”
echo “Files backup to cloud”
duplicity –use-agent –encrypt-key YOUR_ENCRYPTION_KEY –full-if-older-than 4M /var/spool/duplicity/ webdavs://YOUR_BOX_COM_ACCOUNT@dav.box.com/dav/lynetSky/duplicity && duplicity –use-agent –encrypt-key YOUR_ENCRYPTION_KEY remove-all-but-n-full 4 –force webdavs://YOUR_BOX_COM_ACCOUNT@dav.box.com/dav/lynetSky/duplicity && duplicity –use-agent –encrypt-key YOUR_ENCRYPTION_KEY remove-all-inc-of-but-n-full 2 –force webdavs://YOUR_BOX_COM_ACCOUNT@dav.box.com/dav/lynetSky/duplicity
echo “Database backup to cloud”
duplicity –use-agent –encrypt-key YOUR_ENCRYPTION_KEY –full-if-older-than 4M /var/spool/holland/ webdavs://YOUR_BOX_COM_ACCOUNT@dav.box.com/dav/lynetSky/holland && duplicity –use-agent –encrypt-key YOUR_ENCRYPTION_KEY remove-all-but-n-full 4 –force webdavs://YOUR_BOX_COM_ACCOUNT@dav.box.com/dav/lynetSky/holland && duplicity –use-agent –encrypt-key YOUR_ENCRYPTION_KEY remove-all-inc-of-but-n-full 2 –force webdavs://YOUR_BOX_COM_ACCOUNT@dav.box.com/dav/lynetSky/holland


These commands will instruct duplicity to make a full backup every four months (–full-if-older-than 4M).  When this script runs in the in-between times (say 2 months after the last full backup), it will create an incremental backup.  Duplicity will keep four full backups.  This is specified by the remove-all-but-n-full 4 directive in the command.  Specifying remove-all-inc-of-but-n-full 1 tells duplicity to remove all incremental updates except in the case of the last two backup set.  A backup set includes the last full backup and its incremental backups.  Yes, this is a bit complicated.  Yes, it is worth it.

The end result is this: in sixteen months, there will be four full backups (a new full backup is created every four months).  The newest two of these will have the incremental backups as well as the full backups.  This way, file history will be completely preserved for the most recent eight month period.  If we are really desperate, we can recover a file that twelve months old or sixteen months old.

We need to consider what happens at month seventeen.  We will have four full backups, the oldest full backup will be seventeen months old.  We should not expect to be able to recover files that are over sixteen months old.  When we continue on to our twentieth month  the oldest full backup will be removed and we will be back to only having sixteen months of recoverable data.  Always think of your maximum time to recover a file as (–full-if-older-than 4M * remove-all-but-n-full 4 == 4 months * 4 full backups = 16 months of full backups).

Storing four full copies of the data on a backup is (most likely) overkill for what I am doing.  These options were added when I decided that a full backup on another server lacked one thing: files that were deleted on the server were never deleted in the backup location.  Then, of course, my mind wondered into using rsync instead of duplicity.  It’s true, if all we need is a single backup of the files, rsync can provide a better solution (I do this with my personal photos and videos at home).  However, the point in time snapshot duplicity provides can be used for forensics and change tracking.  This solution as scripted above isn’t one size fits all.  Use the tools and settings that work the best for you.

This setup absolutely saved this site and the other sites I run.  The SAN that this VPS (at the time of this writing) is running on became corrupted and all of the data would’ve been lost had I not used an external site for backups.  If you are someone who is worried about the security of your backups, remember that duplicity has an automatic encryption algorithm built in.  Security of your data is there, just make sure to backup your keys so you can read the files.

To conclude: backups can save you important information; the cloud is a great place to store your backups; duplicity is a great tool that can automate this process.

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Toastmasters do things in threes.  In that vein, here is a third thing that every Toastmasters club President must do.  They must know what resources are available.

(Note that the Toastmasters web site doesn’t always add the .pdf file extension to its files.  You may have to manually add it to open these files)

The Club Success Plan is a way of applying goals that follow the SMART requirements.  They are a great way to lead your club forward.  Get it here.  This is a great way to set expectations for the year for both your club and your members.  Following the Club Success Plan keeps your club from being stale while also providing a great leadership experience for its club officers.  Do it.  Make your club better.

The Club Leadership Handbook is something that I always have with me.  What, exactly, is the job of the Club Secretary?  That question and most every other question about running a club is covered.  Get the handbook here.  People like leaders who know what they are doing or know where to find the answers.  The handbook will make you look like a genius.  Read it and carry it to every meeting.  Toastmasters International even has training material for every officer role in the club.

Who is your Area Governor?  Do you know what an Area Governor is?  There are people who are specifically assigned to aid clubs and guide them to success.  If you do not know who your Area Governor is, they are supposed to visit your club twice a year.  If they are not visiting, and you didn’t see them at a speech contest, and you didn’t see them at officer training, and you fear they or your club may be or become deceased, check out the web page for your District.  If you want to know more about leadership at the District level, there is a handbook for that too.

Toastmasters has the answers for just about every question a club President comes across during their time of service.  By using these resources, you and your club will be successful.

About Toastmasters International
Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Founded in October 1924, the organization currently has more than 280,000 members in 13,500-plus clubs in 116 countries. Each week, Toastmasters helps more than a quarter million people of every ethnicity, education level and profession build their competence in communication so they can gain the confidence to lead others. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit www.toastmasters.org. Follow @Toastmasters International on Twitter.


If you followed my last post, you are now keeping track of your member’s achievements.  That’s great!  It is a primary task in order to reach the distinguished club goal.  The story doesn’t end there.  There is another thing that I see as being a huge factor in the success of a club.  The club President must be invested in the success of club and its members.

That statement means a lot of things.  For me, this comes across in a few ways:

  • Follow-up is easy

Asking someone to come back to the club after they have missed a couple of meetings is only a chore if you do not want them there.  There is not a single member of the club that I do not want at every single meeting.  Each of them adds something that is missing if they are not in attendance.

  • Appreciation is honest

What is better for the entire club than the success of its members?  By appreciating every award, every first step of an individual member, the entire club benefits.  There is no way to earn distinguished status with only a few people.  Every little bit helps and is appreciated.

  • The President must be the example

If the club President is not present, who are they to offer suggestions?  Attendance is a must for any club President and it nearly goes without saying.

It is also best if the President is someone who is actively working towards a speaking and leadership goal.  It is a double standard to request that others give speeches and then watch the club President sit on the sidelines week after week.

It is just about time for nominations in your Toastmasters club.  If you are invested in the club, run for an officer role.  If you don’t have the experience, don’t worry.  Toastmasters attracts high-achieving people who desire to help others.  You don’t have to do it alone.


About Toastmasters International
Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Founded in October 1924, the organization currently has more than 280,000 members in 13,500-plus clubs in 116 countries. Each week, Toastmasters helps more than a quarter million people of every ethnicity, education level and profession build their competence in communication so they can gain the confidence to lead others. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit www.toastmasters.org. Follow @Toastmasters International on Twitter.


You are now a Toastmasters Club President. Now what?  In order to succeed there is one thing that I have done that has put our club in a great position to become President’s Distinguished this year.  What could that one thing be?

It all comes down to tracking your member’s progress and providing follow-up discussions on it.  Yes, really, that is all.  How can a club expect to obtain the two competent communicator awards if no one is working on the manual.  If they are working on a manual, how far are they?  Will they make it by June 30th?

There are chart you can purchase from the Toastmaster International web site that will keep track of your member’s progress.  We have never been able to make these work.  The only way I see them working is if you are very intentional and set time during a meeting to fill out the chart.

Although having a chart is a great solution, if kept up to date, we do things a little differently at club 3637.  We have a shared spreadsheet in the cloud that the President and the Vice President of Education share.  The columns are listed below:

  • Member Name
  • Educational Awards Earned
  • Date of Last Speech
  • Date of Last Attendance
  • Next Speaking Award
  • Progress Towards Speaking Award
  • Next Leadership Award
  • Progress Towards Leadership Award
  • Mentor
  • Last Contact by Pres or VP Ed
  • Reason for Contact
  • Date Joined

If the column for last attendance is over two meetings ago, the member gets an email.  If the last speech is over four meetings ago, the member gets an email.  I have been known to send an email out to a member simply stating that they are missed.

That’s all there is to being a distinguished club.  All the club officers have to do is line up your member’s goals with the goals outlined in the Distinguished Club Program.  People will wonder why your club is doing so well.  It’s not really a secret.  By tracking your member’s progress, and providing follow-up you are well on your way to becoming the President of a distinguished club.

About Toastmasters International
Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Founded in October 1924, the organization currently has more than 280,000 members in 13,500-plus clubs in 116 countries. Each week, Toastmasters helps more than a quarter million people of every ethnicity, education level and profession build their competence in communication so they can gain the confidence to lead others. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit www.toastmasters.org. Follow @Toastmasters International on Twitter.


Ah yes, time to get back to technology.  Today, I will try to persuade you to only buy a Chromebook if you are in a very select group of individuals.  This group is smaller than I had thought before.  In fact, I would say that the OS on these devices are crippled.

A Chromebook will work if you use all Google products and that is all you would like to use.  All others should look elsewhere.  Yes, there is a convenience factor as well.  The niceties fade quickly though.

My first though was that the device would make a good media player.  It is a good media player — if and only if you only watch videos from the Internet.  If you have your own media files you would like to play, they may or may not work.  The only video player you get is the one provided with the device.  It is limited in its capabilities.  It would play some of my home movies with video and no audio.

One of the biggest disappointments with Chrome OS is that it is strictly an Internet OS.  Note that it is not an Intranet OS.  You cannot share files through common methods with computers on your local network.  Please keep that in mind.  It is one of the biggest differentiators between Chrome OS and a typical OS.  For me, it is a deal-breaker.

The other flaw of the device is hardware related.  There should not be a fan in any Chromebook.  We are used to not expecting fans in these cheap devices.  We have the expectation of silence.  Some Chromebooks deliver on this, others don’t.

Chromebooks are cheap and provide good hardware for the money.  At the end of the day, it comes down to the question, “Can I be productive with this device?”.  My recommendation would be to go with a device based on Android instead.  An Android device is far more capable and will, most likely, enable you to be more productive.

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TapouT XT — Fin

It is time to wrap this series up.   A good way to do so is to list out the workouts and give a brief description of them.

  • Cross Core Combat — Fun.  It does a good job of working the core.  I like the mix up of exercises from burpees, to knee strikes, to general ab moves.
  • Competition Core — Similar to Cross Core Combat in its goals.  Again, it is fun.  These workouts mix things up and are entertaining.
  • Yoga XT — Probably, my least favorite.  Lots of plank.  It is a good stretching workout for before a run.  That doesn’t mean that it is fun to sit in plank for that long.
  • Plyo XT — The toughest and longest workout.  It is a leg burner.  I like it because it is a challenge and you are sweating (unlike Yoga XT).
  • Strength and Force Upper — How much you like bands for strength training will determine how much you like this workout.  For me, weights would’ve made this much better.
  • Ripped Conditioning — As Competition Core is to Cross Core Combat, so is Ripped Conditioning to Strength and Force Upper.  It keeps things fresh and interesting.
  • Power Strike & 5 minute Knockout — Never did these.  They are not in the 90-day schedule.  Short workouts probably created to boost the infomercial (yes, that is an opinion:)).
  • Strike Training — Wish I would’ve watched this first.  It is an instructional video on how to do some of the moves.
  • Sprawl and Brawl — One of my favorites.  This workout is great with weighted gloves on.  Lots of kicks and punches and burpees.
  • Buns and Guns XT — Uses the leg bands.  I do like the exercises they do.  It worked out areas of my body that are commonly ignored.
  • Legs and Back — Another workout with leg bands.  I feel the same way about it as I do Buns and Guns XT.
  • Muay Thai — Punches and kicks.  Wear your gloves.  This is one of my favorites.  It is the easiest of the workouts.
  • Cardio XT — Didn’t like this workout at first.  Grew to like it at the end.  You will sweat; if you do it at a high level of intensity.  It seems like this was filmed as an afterthought.  It is filmed in a different location than the other workouts.
  • Ultimate ABS XT — Ah yes, the ab workout.  It’s just ok.  The ab workout from P90X is more effective.  It is the right length for an ab workout.  It just doesn’t have the intensity.

That’s a wrap.  If you are considering this workout, please ask me any questions you may have.  My overall view of this workout program is highly positive.  It is a great program for someone looking get someone in the habit of fitness.

Everything is in place.  The diet is set.  The proper habits were in place.  The only thing left to do was to finish.  The final 30 days had me run up against something that was new for this workout, boredom.  During the final 30 days, the workouts were going without a hitch.  There was no new goal to reach for.  So I made my own.

There is a decision that has to be made before a new goal can be set.  That is, we cannot not lose site of what we are doing in the first place.  Keep it going.  By the way, we are adding something new to keep things interesting.  That is how I decided it to be.  I would not quit the workouts.  I would dominate the workouts.  Oh, and at the end I decided to do something that was impossible before I started.

Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., was killed in Afghanistan June 28th, 2005.  In his memory, a workout was crafted that will live in infamy forever.  It is known as The Murph.   It was perfect.

First, I had to get to day 91.  Like I had mentioned before, the workouts were conquered and starting to get repetitive.  Boredom was setting it.  There is nothing that can ‘fix’ these things.  I had to make the decision to push as hard as possible during the workouts no matter what.  It was a state of mind.  This was another time where mental strength was more important than physical strength.  The only other time where I had to push as hard to just get downstairs and do the workout was during the first week after changing my sleep schedule.

In the end, yeah, I did it.  Just as I said I would.  On day 91, I completed The Murph in just under 50 minutes.

If you are up to the task of a 90-day workout, plan a day 91.  Plan a workout that shows just how much you have grown over the course of the training.  Plan on ending on a high note (and video tape it).  There is nothing like it.  If you have done this, please let me know.  I would enjoy hearing your story!

After the first 30 days of Tapout XT, I had the routine.  During the second 30 days of Tapout XT, I focused on my diet.

What is the best diet anyway?  If you have ever researched a diet, you will find out that for every person who says a diet is awesome, there is another who tells of how awful it is.  At some point you have to accept that everything causes cancer and move on with a diet that works for you.

What works for me?  Firstly, I cannot cut calories.  I am unwilling to lose muscle mass that I had spent two years building up.  Secondly, I would like to lean out.  These two goals are totally contradictory unless you are an intermittent faster.

I discovered intermittent fasting through the writings of James Clear.  It met the goals that I wanted to accomplish to I gave it a shot.  At first, I fasted for 14 hour periods to test the waters a bit.  After two weeks, I had noticed a few affects that were tolerable and upped the fast to 15 hours.

Toward the end of a daily fast, I notice a few things.  Firstly, it is difficult to keep your emotions in check when you are hungry.  I noticed little things bothering me more than normal.  This is a problem that most people have with intermittent fasting.  For me, this wasn’t a huge problem.  It is possible that it even helped me to achieve a higher level of self control.  I am more in tune with those feelings and what to do with them.  The second thing that I noticed is that I wasn’t hungry.  This is something that I do not truly understand.  When I workout in the morning, I am not hungry in the morning.  There is nothing I have read that explains this.

The workouts were routine by this time.  I finally made it through the hardest workout, Yoga XT.  Twenty minutes of plank was more than I could handle.  Even 60 days in, the workouts were enjoyable.

At this point, I had gained 4 lean pounds and was as fit as I have ever been.  If you are considering doing something similar, I encourage you to do it.  You will see results in a short amount of time.  Just stick with it!

In May of this year, I made an intentional decision to complete a 90-day training program.  Now, it is reflection time.

My first few days with TapOut XT were tough.  They don’t have stages that progress from easy to hard.  You get the hard exercises up front.  Plyo XT is, probably, the hardest workout.  The first time that Plyo XT is on the schedule is day 3.  I could not complete it at the beginning of the training.

TapOut XT is not as demanding on cardio as Insanity.  If you are used to the intensity of Insanity and want a change, go for TapOut XT 2.   I recommend TapOut XT as a good balance of cardio and strength. TapOut XT is a good middle ground.  As a side note,  I also appreciate that the women in TapOut XT are more conservatively dressed then in Insanity.

Mike Karpenko is a great trainer.  He keeps things interesting with his commentary and mix of exercises.  At few points during a workout did I feel like it was dragging on.

I recommend anyone to take on a 90-day training program.  After I committed to the program, I began to look at other areas of my life to see what I could change to make the program more effective.  This led to an examination of my diet and my lunch workouts.  By the end of the program, I had altered my diet, the time I wake up in the morning, and felt great.

This was a prime example of how committing to growth in one area helped me to develop positive habits that affect me in all areas of my life.  It isn’t just about doing a training program; it is about developing the discipline to perform consistently.  It isn’t an easy task.  Most tasks that are worth doing are not easy.

Not much to this post.  I stuck with the MSI card because it stressed quietness and coolness.  Some people have found out that the MSI card is too big for their case.  It isn’t really that much bigger than the EVGA card.

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