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DavidHertzberg

PSA: Wikipedia article on Retrospect going away in current form

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What I see here is:
- Someone is attempting to use WikiPedia as a wiki platform for writing Retrospect user-generated info of various kinds

I would suggest backing off from that. As others have noted, Wikipedia isn't a particularly trusted platform anyway, and they dislike misuse/abuse of the platform.

Alternatives include:

- Perhaps Retrospect could implement wiki.retrospect.com

- Or, just make a shared Google Drive folder. Easy peasy.

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wiki.retrospect.com sounds like a good idea. User contributed articles can be aggregated in a single place instead of scattered across the forums. Combine it with the forums and the same login could be used for both.

The problem I see with Google Drive is for the users who have no prior investment in that ecosystem.

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MrPete,

Thank you for trying to help.  However the criticisms you raise have been already dealt with extensively in the preceding posts of this thread.

DovidBenAvraham, back in the fall of 2016, was indeed "attempting to use WikiPedia as a wiki platform for writing Retrospect ... info of various kinds", but the info was originally mostly from Retrospect Inc. documents and was intended as a concise introduction to Retrospect's features—historically organized.  By the fall of 2017 other Wikipedia editors were strenuously objecting to the article's length—originally 9.5 screen pages—and its user-generated "inferences and asides" about inadequacies in the User's Guides.  DBA had already eliminated these "inferences and asides" by the time the OP in this thread was written, cutting the article to a 7.5-page version preserved here

This was still too long and too much like a user's guide for other WP editors, so in November 2017  DBA ditched the historical organization and—per this post above—split the article into two articles.  The "Retrospect (software)" WP article is less than 2 screen pages.  The second article is a a new section at the back of the "Backup" article, and is written so as to describe features common to all enterprise client-server backup applications.  That section contains links to descriptions of corresponding features in two other enterprise backup applications, hereinafter referred to as NB and BE, and is 2.2 screen pages long.  As for "misuse/abuse of the platform", DBA has conducted painstaking discussions of the contents of these articles—which you are welcome to read on their WP Talk pages.  It suffices to say that there have been no objections from other WP editors to any Retrospect-related item DBA has written since March 2018.

That's not to say that there hasn't been "misuse/abuse of the platform" in the WP articles about the other two enterprise client-server applications mentioned in the preceding paragraph.  The NB article isn't too long; it's only 2.5 screen pages—and was 2 screen pages in 2015.  The BE article, however, is 6.5 screen pages long; it was 2 pages long in 2015.  The reason I mention 2015 is that it seems to have been the time at which a new spirit took over at Wikipedia, trying to make it a "particularly trusted platform" by demanding more explanatory links and more references in articles in place of what has been called Making Stuff Up from industry-transmitted wisdom.  The two articles DBA wrote were obliged to comply with the new spirit, but IMHO the NB and BE articles seem to have been "grandfathered in"—and are rather incomprehensible to anyone not already familiar with the terminology of the applications they describe.

Exclusive of immediately after a revision to the "Retrospect (software)" article has been made—when it seems as if the entire working population of Walnut Creek CA wants to read it, that article gets an average of 20 views per day.  The BE article gets an average of 100 views per day, as does the NB article.  DBA and I would like to believe that the 20 views per day represent potential customers for Retrospect.

 

Edited by DavidHertzberg
In 4th prgf., changed "Making Things Up" to "Making Stuff Up"

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On 10/18/2018 at 4:50 PM, Scillonian said:

wiki.retrospect.com sounds like a good idea. User contributed articles can be aggregated in a single place instead of scattered across the forums. Combine it with the forums and the same login could be used for both.

The problem I see with Google Drive is for the users who have no prior investment in that ecosystem.

Scillonian and MrPete,

Let's start with two simple questions about user-contributed articles:

  1. What kind of content will be allowed in these articles, and who is going to be the moderator(s)?
  2. What makes you think Retrospect Inc. will pay for this, or support it on this website?

Before anyone starts answering these questions, he/she should carefully read this section of the "Retrospect (software)" article—preferably including the referenced articles by DeLong 2012 and Engst 2009 and Friedman 2010 (currently refs 5, 11, and 12) , and should read between the lines applying any experience in an organization he/she may have had.  The conclusion he/she will undoubtedly reach is that anyone working on Retrospect for EMC/Roxio/Rovi from 2007 through 2011 suffered through a near-death employment experience (The Register author Ashlee Vance went on to write for the New York Times), which seems to have left those people—many of whom now work for Retrospect Inc.—with what I would call a form of PTSD.  (If you think this is too strong a statement, notice that the head of Retrospect Tech Support—an employee since 1994—posted this link to the DeLong 2012 article as the second thread in the newly-established Latest News forum in 2012.)

What that means is that IME Retrospect Inc. has absolutely no tolerance for criticism of Retrospect Inc. or its products on this website.  An example from October 2017 is a post of mine the head of RTS deleted, referred to in the parenthesized last sentence of the first paragraph of this post.  The sarcasm referred to was a clumsy riff on the "flying saucers" reference in this previous post in the same thread, which IMHO should have easily been understood by anyone with a sense of humor as a joke.  It wasn't, and that's my one occurrence of "abusive behavior".  If the head of RTS doesn't in fact have a sense of humor, how do you explain this previous post in this thread—especially given my reply two posts below it?  I think my "abusive behavior" was really an easily-understood too-sharp reference to the "famous Documentation committee".  I've been more careful to avoid criticism in my posts ever since, which is why I don't think any user-contributed articles that are at all critical (other than bug-reporting posts that are now ignored unless turned into Support Requests) will be allowed on the Retrospect Inc. website—or paid for by Retrospect Inc. on another website.

Why do you think Retrospect Inc.'s Support Request system doesn't allow any customer except the one who submitted a Support Request to see it?  I know that the people in Retrospect Sales have such a capability, and so do customers using other software companies' equivalent systems.  IMHO the reason is that, stemming from its employees' collective PTSD, Retrospect Inc. doesn't want to take the chance that potential customers—or even existing customers—might see how many existing bugs there are.  That might, in Retrospect Inc.'s view, also amount to criticism of its products and/or organization.

So what kind of user-contributed content, other than what is already on the Forums or in the Wikipedia articles, does that leave?  We could have systematic discussions of information about features that are planned or not fully operational, which DovidBenAvraham is not allowed to put in the WP articles.  But we already have such discussions on the Forums; I've contributed to a few of them on the Product Suggestions Forums and elsewhere.  In fact the second paragraph of the preceding post in this thread I've linked to two sentences above is an attempt to start such a discussion about the beta Storage Groups feature.  But we don't get any participation now in those discussions from anyone working for Retrospect Inc., per a statement e-mailed to me by JG Heithcock which I first quoted in the second paragraph here.  That wouldn't change with user-contributed articles, so again I don't see any advantage to be gained.

Edited by DavidHertzberg
Added fifth paragraph; in 2nd prgf. added link to The Register story about mass layoffs at EMC Walnut Creek

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DovidBenAvraham has now manged to do two things:

First, by adding a second paragraph to this sub-section of the WP "Backup" article, he has managed to describe snapshot-based backup applications as a variant of enterprise client-server backup applications.  That has allowed him to put in references to R.V., although the WP rules for that article do not permit him to actually mention the name R. V..  Moreover DBA has actually managed to mention the existence and name of R. V. in this section of the "Retrospect (software)" article, although he was obliged to say "that separate product, with totally different code,  is not discussed in this article."  Incidentally the non-marketing documentation for R.V., consisting of a handful of YouTube videos, is so sparse as to make it impossible for DBA to discuss it on WP.  Somebody in Retrospect Inc. Marketing had better get a third-party author to write a review, but the review can't be on TidBITS because R.V. doesn't backup Macs.

Second, based on the discovery by JamesOakley that "under 15.x for Windows, even Desktop edition gets multiple execution units,"  I was able to verify that the same is true for "activity threads" under Retrospect Mac 15.0—using the test version Retrospect Tech Support had given me for diagnostic logging of -530 bugs.  (I still run production backups using the Retrospect Mac 14.6 "backup server" and the 14.1 Client, because later versions disable my -530 workarounds.)  DBA has now managed to work an announcement of that feature into this section of the "Retrospect (software)" article.  The new feature, of course, is simply a disabling of the Desktop Edition code that previously reset the number of units/threads to 1 every time the Engine was started—thus forcing Desktop Edition to mimic the non-multithreaded Retrospect Windows/Mac 6.  :rolleyes:  Retrospect Inc. is apparently so reluctant to mention this improvement that DBA had to reference it with a roundabout bug fix note in the cumulative Retrospect Windows Release Notes. <_<

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On 3/20/2018 at 4:54 PM, Scillonian said:

It'll be interesting to see how they will define what are 'server-level Linux distributions'.

Motivated by the discovery that Version 15 has removed the disabling of multi-threading for Desktop Edition, I started this thread on the Ars Technica Linux Kung Fu forum to ask about the technical feasibility of:

  • creating a Retrospect Client for Linux x64 Server that will run on what it determines is a server distribution
  • making the Retrospect Client for Linux x64 unable to run on what it determines is a server distribution
  • having the Retrospect Client for Linux x64 Server identify itself to the "backup server" as requiring an additional expensive license code

You can look at the linked-to Ars Technica thread for the technical outline of methods other posters suggested for how a Retrospect Client could determine whether it is running on a server distribution of Linux.  However one poster replied:

Quote

In the Linux world, there's a wide variety of stuff that might be called a "server", so I'm not sure market segmentation based on server/client makes much sense. Say,

a) A monster box sitting in some data center. - Yes, a server.

b) A small NAS box sitting in somebody's closet - also a server.

c) A container image, one of dozens or even hundreds running on the same piece of hardware. - also a server.

Most modern distros have an os-release file in a standard location and format which describes, among other things, the name and version of the distro.

My tentative conclusion takes into account that Retrospect Inc.'s problem would be customers who fall into that poster's category b). Is that "small NAS box sitting in somebody's closet - also a server" being used merely by a multi-computer family that just wants to store still pictures and videos etc. in a common accessible location? Or does someone in the family also/instead run a small business administered using more than one computer? In the first case, the family certainly would legitimately argue that it shouldn't pay an extra US$500 for a Server backup license. In the second case, the family might also argue that, because of the size of the business, it shouldn't pay an extra US$500 for a Server backup license.

However it also takes into account a response from another poster saying "Debian is frequently used on servers, but I have also used it as a desktop system. So that OS file may not really be of help."  I conclude that Retrospect Inc. may have now realized engineers would at the minimum be required to continually update the Retrospect Client for Linux x64 Server code to keep up with changing Linux distributions.  Moreover IMHO engineers would want to "fail safe" by treating a distro Retrospect Client for Linux x64 Server couldn't recognize as one for which it needn't charge extra, rather than "fail unsafe" by insisting on charging extra to back up that client.  Whether Retrospect Inc. will try to implement charging extra for backing up 'server-level Linux distributions' is IMHO anybody's guess.

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There have been further contributions from other posters to the Ars Technica Linux Kung Fu forum thread I started on the technical feasibility of enforcing "In a future update, Linux clients running on server-level Linux distributions will be treated as server clients."  The last poster came up with the idea of a "combined-score version" of the Retrospect Client for Linux x64, but then said:

Quote

Not worth it for any software developer to spend a lot of time/money on anti-circumvention technology for their products on Linux, because of all the major platforms, Linux users are the most skilled, knowledgeable and resourceful. I was just talking about hypotheticals. The developer could hypothetically check, but they probably won't. There's a lot of software out there that's licensed in different ways for different users/machine configurations, and the only "enforcement" is on honour basis. For example, Teamviewer asks when installing you if you are using it as a home or commercial user, and will ask for a license key for the latter, but they don't actually audit you to see that you are a home user. They just trust you that when you check "Home", you're not going to use it in a commercial environment. I'd say MOST software that's dual licensed, or has different tiers of licensing/pricing (based on number of seats, for example) is probably enforced on an honour system, in fact.

The reason that Microsoft actually goes out and physically audits companies for license compliance is that Microsoft software installation base is in the billions, so if a small number of enterprise users cheat the system (they only audit enterprise users, they don't really check small businesses, and definitely not for home users), they lose A LOT of money. Most software doesn't have such a large installation base.

I then said, in the single Ars Technica Macintoshian Achaia thread where I'm allowed to name Retrospect:

Quote

I conclude from those posts that it would be impractical for Retrospect Inc. to actually enforce "In a future update, Linux clients running on server-level Linux distributions will be treated as server clients." So all they could do actually is to either charge all customers using the Retrospect Client for Linux x64 a fee that I hope would be rather small, or to put all such customers on the honor system for paying a larger fee if their Retrospect Clients for Linux x64 are being used to back up large-scale servers.

 

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On 11/1/2018 at 1:27 AM, DavidHertzberg said:

DovidBenAvraham has now manged to do two things:

....

Second, based on the discovery by JamesOakley that "under 15.x for Windows, even Desktop edition gets multiple execution units,"  I was able to verify that the same is true for "activity threads" under Retrospect Mac 15.0—using the test version Retrospect Tech Support had given me for diagnostic logging of -530 bugs.  (I still run production backups using the Retrospect Mac 14.6 "backup server" and the 14.1 Client, because later versions disable my -530 workarounds.)  DBA has now managed to work an announcement of that feature into this section of the "Retrospect (software)" article.  The new feature, of course, is simply a disabling of the Desktop Edition code that previously reset the number of units/threads to 1 every time the Engine was started—thus forcing Desktop Edition to mimic the non-multithreaded Retrospect Windows/Mac 6.  :rolleyes:  Retrospect Inc. is apparently so reluctant to mention this improvement that DBA had to reference it with a roundabout bug fix note in the cumulative Retrospect Windows Release Notes. <_<

Retrospect Mac administrators,

When the Retrospect Inc. engineers corrected Retrospect Windows 15.1 so  that "Fixed: Desktop can now reduce its maximum execution units (#7317)", they didn't look at the Retrospect Mac 15 Console.  Running Retrospect Mac 15.6.1, if I set General->Preferences Allow n Activity Threads to set n lower than 16, it snaps back to 16 whenever I reboot my "backup server"—thus restarting the Engine.  However if I merely quit the Console and then restart it again, that preference stays where I set it.

I'll file a Support Case.

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Version 16 has been released, and once again DovidBenAvraham has the same kind of problems with adding the new features to the Wikipedia articles that he had for Retrospect 15—as described in this up-thread post. B)  The august Retrospect Inc. Documentation Committee has wiped out the previous contents of the User's Guide "What's New" chapter (as has been its practice since Retrospect Mac 13/Windows 11) and replaced it with new marketing fluff (as has been its practice since Retrospect 15), which DBA cannot use as a reference for the WP articles.

Pending another TidBITS review, DBA can at least use this Knowledge Base article and this one as references for the Management Console—including the Shared Scripts Add-On feature.  It's debatable whether the Deployment Tools are too nuts-and-bolts to deserve much of a mention in the WP articles, even though there are "White Paper" KB articles.   But the real problem is the Storage Groups feature.  The new KB article on Storage Groups leaves out a key detail, which may be because that part of the feature has not yet been developed.  To quote part of my own post here:

Quote

Like a mathematical set, a Media Set is a concept—one that was (under the name of Backup Set, which is still used in Retrospect Windows) thought up by someone at Dantz Development Corp. more than 30 years ago—which exists only in the GUI.  The physical embodiment of a Media Set is a Catalog File plus Member folders.  A Storage Group, a concept new with Retrospect 16, is a set of Media Sets that the GUI treats for most purposes as if it were a single Media Set.  The physical embodiment of a Storage Group is a pseudo-folder—by default within the  Library -> Application  Support -> Retrospect -> Catalogs folder—that encloses several Catalog Files and can somehow be made to generate more Catalog Files.

As the "Under the Hood" section of the KB article says "You can treat the Storage Group like a Backup Set that allows simultaneous writes to it."  The "Data Deduplication" section of the KB article says "The architecture for Storage Groups allows simultaneous operations to the same destination because each volume is a different backup set under the hood.  However, this workflow also prevents data deduplication across volumes."  But what is the GUI for making the Storage Group pseudo-folder generate additional Media Set/Backup Set Catalog Files that are part of an existing Storage Group?  Have the Retrospect Inc. engineers even developed such a GUI?  And if they haven't, shouldn't DBA treat Storage Sets as he treated the 15.5 Management Console beta—as a Retrospect feature still under development that didn't yet belong in the Wikipedia articles?

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Dovid Ben Avraham has now updated the Wikipedia articles with mentions of the Management Console, but he had to go out on a limb to do it.

The problem is that the Shared Script feature (AKA Distributed Management) requires the Management Console Add-On, but that Add-On is not yet available for online purchase via the Product Configurator as of this evening.  So any administrator basing his/her actions on this section of the Retrospect article is likely to have a rude awakening if he/she does an online upgrade to version 16.0 and then tries to create one or more Shared Scripts. :rolleyes:   Oh well, more work for Retrospect Inc. Tech Support and Sales—to manually supply new license codes that include the Management Console Add-On. B)

I spoke by phone late last week with the head of North American Sales, and he said someone is working on updating the Configurator.  AFAIK the only modifications to Add-On items in the Configurator over the last couple of years have been the deletion of the one for VMware server (which has been replaced by the R. V. product I am forbidden by the head of Retrospect Tech Support from naming in these Forums).  I can understand that no engineer retains a recent memory of how to add Add-On items to the Configurator, but I hope they haven't lost the source code. :(

FYI this problem will mostly affect Retrospect Windows administrators, who have been pleading for years for the equivalent of Shared Scripts.  Ordinary Retrospect Mac administrators—as opposed to consultants—will probably not attempt to use Shared Scripts, since the good old non-Web Console application available since Retrospect Mac 8 in 2009 can create more-varied scripts on one or more Engines than Shared Scripts can as of 16.0.

P.S.:  In this post in another thread, here's a quoted further comment by DBA about the possible reason why the Management Console Add-On —required for Shared Scripts—is not yet in the Configurator.  I don't want to commit the sin of double-posting, and that comment seems most applicable to the subject of the other thread.

Edited by DavidHertzberg
Added P.S. linking to DBA's comment on why Management Console Add-On isn't yet in the Configurator

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After further thought over the weekend, I have realized that I was a little hasty in complaining about Storage Groups in the last two paragraphs (including the quote) of this up-thread post, but that I had been misled by imprecision in this Knowledge Base article.  I came to my realization by thinking about what a Retrospect Inc. Sales person (I don't remember who) had briefly told me late last week about the reason Storage Groups were developed.

The Storage Groups feature was developed because organizations with a large number of machines being backed up via Proactive scripts have two interlocking problems.  If the script designates a choice of several Backup/Media Sets as destinations, the administrator—when running a Restore—has no precise idea on which Set(s) a particular machine has been backed up to on a particular occasion.  If OTOH the administrator designates only a single Backup/Media Set as the destination, he/she has to either worry about inter-machine timing conflict when two or more machines are being backed up to the same Set, or else designate—and keep records of—a separate Set for each machine being backed up.

The Storage Groups feature essentially automates the very last option described in the third sentence in the preceding paragraph, and at the same time eliminates any need for designating a multi-Set destination that would create the problem described in the second sentence there.  A Storage Group folder has a doohickey within it that keeps track of the names of each Backup/Media Set whose Catalog File is contained within it.  The names of the Catalog Files are apparently suffixed (I can't tell, because the names of the individual Catalog Files have been obliterated in the Retrospect Windows screenshots in the KB article) with the name of the individual source machine and drive name.  If the administrator runs a Proactive script that backs up a machine and/or drive previously unknown to its Storage Group destination, the doohickey is used to automatically create a new Backup/Media Set Catalog File within the Storage Group folder.  If OTOH a Proactive script backs up a machine and drive previously known to its Storage Group destination, the doohickey simply redirects the destination of the backup to the appropriate existing Backup/Media Set Catalog File . 

So "the GUI for making the Storage Group pseudo-folder generate additional Media Set/Backup Set Catalog Files that are part of an existing Storage Group" appears to be unnecessary, because the doohickey does it automatically when needed.  All this confusion could IMHO have been avoided if the writer of the KB article had simply replaced the word "volume" in the KB article, which appears in 4 places, with the words "source volume".

DovidBenAvraham has now updated the "Proactive scripts" paragraph in this section of the Wikipedia article with a brief mention of Storage Groups.

 

 

 

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DovidBenAvraham has been faced with a new problem by this revised Knowledge Base article, which now says:

Quote

Known Issues

  • Retrospect cannot perform a bootable restore or bootable duplicate for an APFS destination volume. We are in touch with Apple to resolve this issue.

  • Instant Scan is not compatible with APFS.

The second issue sounds as if it is a permanent result of design differences between Apple's old HFS+ filesystem and its new APFS filesystem (with one result that Retrospect Mac administrators have already discussed in this Macintosh 9+ thread).   The first issue, however,  sounds as if it's something for which the Retrospect Inc. engineers may eventually develop a workaround.  Therefore DBA has chosen to put mentions of the second issue into the Wikipedia articles here and here, but to treat the first issue as a "temporary bug" that need not be mentioned in the articles.

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Despite the lack of non-Partner-applicable progress (other than "Pause/Unpause/Stop support", which I think may be already in Retrospect for iOS) described in the last paragraph of this post in another Forum, DovidBenAvraham will try to keep the mentions of Shared Scripts here and here in the Wikipedia article.  If the promised deployment enhancements aren't in Retrospect 16.5—expected in early September 2019—however, DBA's afraid those mentions are going to have to be removed. :(

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I spoke by phone with the head of North America  Retrospect Sales earlier this afternoon.  He said there are no immediate plans for instituting a charge for the Linux client.  I told you so (last quote). :)

He also said that further enhancements to Shared Scripts in the Web-based Management Console are now scheduled for September 2019. B)

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I've noticed a recent rapid uptick in the number of views of this thread. I'm guessing that's because a number of you have noticed drastic changes to the ""Backup"" article, including deletion or total-dumbing-down of two paragraphs in the "Performance" sub-section of its "Enterprise client-server backup" section (described here).  DovidBenAvraham is now trying to remove the article from the clutches of what he and I would describe as a "neatnik near-nut-case".  If any of you are Wikipedia editors, please don't interfere at this stage—which consists of getting a Third Opinion from a WP outside volunteer.

To quote DBA [edited slightly]:

Quote

The overall picture that emerges [in immediately-preceding paragraphs by DBA on the article's Talk page] is of Pi314m [the "handle" of the other editor] deciding without any discussion to consolidate a whole series of related articles into a single article that conforms to his concept of the subject matter. He can technologically get away with this flouting of Wikipedia rules, apparently because because he is doing a copy-paste of the merged-in article's text followed by replacing that text with a redirect to the moved-to article. The only reason I [DBA] caught Pi314m is because he did copy-pastes between a sub-section of the "Enterprise client-server backup" section and preceding sections of the same Backup article. As is his custom, he did not discuss these "merges" on that article's Talk page; if he had, I [DBA] would have carefully explained (as I [DBA] now have on Pi314m's personal Talk page as well as in the [article Talk page] section above this) that application feature descriptions in the last section of that article may seem like duplicates of the same-named feature descriptions in preceding sections of the article—but they're not.

IM[DBA's]HO the underlying problem is that—as I {DBA] have shown in the preceding [article Talk page] paragraphs—Pi314m believes that Wikipedia gives him the right to be the sole decider of the subject and contents of an article, even when it's partly about subject matter of which he knows nothing. That would explain why he has not responded to my [DBA's] subject-related comments in the [article Talk page] section above, and why he reverted my [DBA's] 26 May edits that put back the two feature-description paragraphs he had deleted from the "Performance" subsection of the "Enterprise client-server backup" section; he considers that I [DBA] have no right to second-guess his decisions.

 

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After 3 tries, DovidBenAvraham has created a sufficiently neutral-sounding Request for Comment section on the "Backup" article's Talk page that several other Wikipedia editors have commented.  All of them so far, plus DBA, have reluctantly voted to split off the "Enterprise client-server backup" section into a separate article.  DBA's justification is that only doing the split-off will allow him to file an Administrators' Noticeboard request to ban Pi314m from editing the new separate article.  Pi314m promised in his own voting statement to act as if such a ban is in effect, but DBA pointed out that the promise is worded so as to likely expire within a day.

Anybody who is already a Wikipedia editor can come over to the Request for Comment section on the "Backup" article's Talk page, in order to vote on and/or discuss DBA's request.  Actually you don't already need to be a WP editor, but by the time you learn to use the idiosyncratic WP editing system DBA will have already filed his Administrators' Noticeboard request—so your input may not count for much.

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It sounds as if two other editors participating in the RfC discussion are also Wikipedia administrators, and they’ve promised to support DovidBenAvraham in an Administrators’ Noticeboard request for partially or totally banning Pi314m if he does anything destructive to the articles.  So DBA finished doing the split-off yesterday evening, after re-creating the two “related" articles which Pi314m had destructively merged-in.

DBA has updated the "Retrospect" article links that go to the former "Enterprise client-server backup" section of  the "Backup" article or its sub-sections to go to the split-off Enterprise client-server backup article.  I'll have to go through my posts on these Forums and do the same, but not today.  Meanwhile, if you want to read what the split-off article says about enterprise client-server backup features, go directly to it (there's now a link to it at the end of the first paragraph in the lead of the "Backup" article) or go via the "Retrospect" article.

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I have moved this thread from the Professional area to "General use", which seems like a more appropriate area since this topic does not involve any troubleshooting. 

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5 hours ago, Mayoff said:

I have moved this thread from the Professional area to "General use", which seems like a more appropriate area since this topic does not involve any troubleshooting. 

Oh goody!  Now that we have the attention of the head of Retrospect Tech Support, maybe he can take some time out of his very-busy schedule to tell us when the august Documentation Committee (to which, as he has told us, he is not permitted to belong) is going to straighten out the mess the User's Guides have been in for the past 3 years.:rolleyes:

In this thread alone, in chronological order, I've discussed that mess here and here and here and here; a notable discussion in another thread is here.  Frankly I'm getting tired of answering administrators' troubleshooting questions stemming from that mess. :angry:  And I'd assume the head of Retrospect Tech Support is also tired of (and made very busy) answering such questions, either personally or via his subordinates.  After all, you can't gently suggest that an administrator RTFM when the answer to the administrator's question has been over-written in TFM—or from Retrospect 15 on has never appeared in TFM (because the "What's New" chapters now consist of marketing blurbs that are over-written in every major release).

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Why not publish your own? "Hertzberg's Guide to Retrospect for Busy Backup Admins".

I'd buy that for a dollar!

I'm actually semi-serious here. You know your stuff and write well. It might be worth a pitch to the Take Control guys (who you may know of from the TidBITS mailing list/magazine). Retrospect got a mention in "Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac", but there's nothing else in any depth.

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14 hours ago, Nigel Smith said:

Why not publish your own? "Hertzberg's Guide to Retrospect for Busy Backup Admins".

I'd buy that for a dollar!

I'm actually semi-serious here. You know your stuff and write well. It might be worth a pitch to the Take Control guys (who you may know of from the TidBITS mailing list/magazine). Retrospect got a mention in "Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac", but there's nothing else in any depth.

Thank you, Nigel, but DovidBenAvraham already wrote a "Guide to Retrospect for Busy Backup Admins"—as linked to at the bottom of the first substantial paragraph in this up-thread post.  The second substantial paragraph explains what happened to that "Guide"; you can still follow the link to the permalinked old version of the article, but the "Guide" only runs through Retrospect Mac 14 and Windows 12.

As for Kissell's "Take Control of Backing Up Your Mac", both the existing "Backup" article (now split to create the new "Enterprise client-server backup" article) and the "Retrospect" article use an old freely-available 2007 edition (title slightly changed) of that book as a reference.  The description of the UI in that edition, because it is based on Retrospect Mac 6, has recently served me as an introduction to the Retrospect Windows UI.

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Since the head of Retrospect Tech Support is apparently too busy (or too uninformed) to post about the e-mail we all received this afternoon, that task initially falls to me.  It is a fit subject for this thread, since obviously the news of Retrospect Inc. joining with Drobo and Nexsan as subsidiaries of StorCentric needs to be added to the "Retrospect" Wikipedia article.  Here and here are articles on the merger; IMHO the TechTarget article looks more promising as a WP ref, but the channelbuzz.ca article will be interesting to Retrospect administrators for the merger rationales expressed by J.G. Heithcock (who will be "General Manager") and Mihir Shah (who will continue to be StorCentric CEO).

The TechTarget article says Retrospect Inc. has 20 full-time employees, which is about what I had guessed and IIRC is about the same number it had when it was spun off from Rovi in late 2011.  The channelbuzz.ca article quotes Heithcock saying Retrospect Inc. is "a virtual business, with fewer engineers than at EMC, who use Google Chat for meetings."  No wonder it takes the engineers so long to fix bugs, since it sounds as if there may not be an extensive centralized test facility!:o  OTOH the last paragraph of the TechTarget article quotes Shah as saying "the StorCentric roadmap involves making select transactions to build value during the next several years, potentially leading to an initial [my emphasis] public offering", so if StorCentric paid a lot of money for Retrospect Inc. it's not clear where that money came from.

My impression from a quick Advanced Search of the Ars Technica Mac Forum is that Drobo storage devices were more popular some years ago than they are now, because of the criticism recounted here in the Wikipedia article on those devices.  This would explain Shah's expressed intention to "combine Retrospect within Drobo software to create an easy to use backup appliance that is robust ... But they will still be able to purchase both products separately if they want to do that."  This series of comments on the WP article's Talk page indicates access to the Drobo support forums was closed to non-customers even in 2010, and my tests of the links listed in those comments show that they are—if anything—more restricted now.  So no matter how Tech-Support-policed the Retrospect Inc. forums are now, it's likely to get worse under Shah.

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13 hours ago, DavidHertzberg said:

Thank you, Nigel, but DovidBenAvraham already wrote a "Guide to Retrospect for Busy Backup Admins"

Nah -- long on detail, short on practical examples. For most of the questions about RS (indeed, software in general) the answer are already there or can be inferred from available information, but the questioner can't frame the query to meet a technical writer's expectations.

Instead of "our software does this using this menu item" (kind of obvious *if* you know the software author's name for the function you require) you could do a more Q&A "operations" based approach -- "You want to back up? -> using a cloud service to store your data; -> using a NAS; -> using an external drive" or similar. A "busy admin" doesn't want to know the technicalities behind block-level backups, he wants to know how to use path filters in the real world.

But I'm guessing I won't be able to persuade you to write this -- which is a shame.

Also:

10 hours ago, DavidHertzberg said:

My impression from a quick Advanced Search of the Ars Technica Mac Forum is that Drobo storage devices were more popular some years ago than they are now, because of the criticism recounted here in the Wikipedia article on those devices.

Similar criticisms can be levelled at Synology, QNAP, our Isilon cluster...

We had some Drobos, and their USP at the time was BeyondRAID's incremental expandability. Unit full of disks but need more space? Pop a disk, install a bigger one, let it rebuild while still having access to your data. Much cheaper, easier, and *much* less downtime than backing up your entire RAID, replacing *all* the disks with higher capacity versions, restoring your data. Struggling grant holders could spend just enough money for this year's data capacity and upgrade when the next year's funding came through.

But HDs and enclosures were a lot more expensive then, relative capacity increases larger, software-based volume expansion more common, and client (rather than Drobo) performance tended to be the speed bottleneck. Other companies introduced their own ways of adding disks without the hassle of reformatting. Things have changed and, for similar usage, we now tend towards over-provisioned desktop RAID arrays (single machine use) or NASs (multi-user), making sure they are not only full of big disks but can also be expanded across multiple units if required.

Drobo's models, especially "business", are looking a little long-in-the-tooth now -- I was hoping for more after their merger with Nexsan. And we've always been interested in Nexsan, if only so we could say "I've got to go check the Beast in the Server Room" 🙂 but, unfortunately, the units are too deep for our sealed racks.

The optimist in me would love to see Drobo's innovation on Nexsan hardware running optimised Retrospect -- an excellent turn-key on-prem backup solution for SMB (even if I wouldn't buy it for here). The pessimist says "Oh God, it's EMC all over again...". The pragmatist thinks that, as long as Retrospect gets some love, I don't care who owns it.

Time will tell, I guess.

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Now that I think more about the StorCentric acquisition, the best news about it for us Retrospect administrators may be from the channelbuzz.ca article—which quotes the StorCentric CEO Mihir Shah.  “We will sell Drobo and Retrospect products individually until we have identified an integration point,” he said. “Then we will combine Retrospect within Drobo software to create an easy to use backup appliance that is robust. We will focus on what customers want. But they will still be able to purchase both products separately if they want to do that.”

This means that Rod Harrison, CTO of StorCentric, will be looking at the actual usability of a version of Retrospect on Drobo hardware.  I don't think he'll be happy to hear from a subordinate who doesn't report to J.G. Heithcock that the User's Guides are out of date because of the "overwrite the feature description instead of moving it" syndrome.  I also don't think he'll be happy to learn from the same subordinate about the recent  lack of robust alpha testing of new versions, which stems from a now-evident attitude on the part of the engineers "The new version works between our home workstations and the Walnut Creek backup server, so it must be ready for release." :rolleyes:   The overall result is that Retrospect will finally have software-and-documentation beta testing, with the beta testers reporting their results to Heithcock's boss.  The 2009-2010 Retrospect Mac debacle (which IME caused drastic damage to Retrospect's reputation) wasn't enough to persuade the Retrospect engineers to institute software-and-documentation beta testing (they no doubt said to each other "EMC management didn't give us time in 2009"), but it appears the acquisition will do that.

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My first reaction to this merger announcement was that it means the "go big or go home" strategy instituted by Retrospect Inc.'s Product Management team last year is failing.  My guess is that R. V. is not selling well, and that the new features have failed to get consultants (whom they term "Partners") interested in selling Retrospect non-V. to larger enterprises.  IMHO Retrospect Inc. might have been able to convince more "Partners" if the two-way features of the Web-based Retrospect Management Console had been fully working by Spring 2019, but the engineers lost 3 months or more of development time on those in Spring 2018—because they were diverted to enhancing the "automated data grooming" facility to permit exclusion compliance with the GDPR "right of erasure".  Oh yeah, and some engineers were diverted in January 2019 for a month or so, because Retrospect Mac's good old non-Web-based Console turned out to have a "year 2019" bug. :rolleyes:

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