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PSA: Wikipedia article on Retrospect going away in current form

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Getting back to the latest problems with the Wikipedia articles, DovidBenAvraham has done further work—which Pi314m has left alone so far.  It looks as if the fact that other WP editors, who may be administrators, took DBA's side in the latest Request for Comments has at least temporarily persuaded Pi314m to go mess with some other articles instead.

Actually it now appears that Pi314m's heart was in the right place when he merged the "Continuous Data Protection" article into the "Backup" article.  The difficulty is that there are two types of backup applications that are called "CDP".   One is "true CDP", which was invented in 1989 but is only implemented in a handful of applications.  "True CDP" applications must get their "fingers" into an OS filesystem at the level where actual disk writes take place; they do so either by requiring that the OS be run inside a virtual machine so that they can get their "fingers" into the VM, or by requiring that special disk driver software with built-in "fingers" be installed.  "True CDP" backup can restore interactive applications to precisely the point where the system failed, but they're too expensive in money and complications for ordinary home/SME installations.   R. V. (whose spelled-out name I am forbidden to mention on these Forums) may be a "true CDP" backup application, but I can't tell.

Much more common and less expensive are "near-CDP" backup applications, which were introduced after the front 7 screen pages of the "Backup" article were written.  AFAIK the first of these was Apple's Time Machine, which automatically does an incremental backup once an hour without a script.  They are made possible by intent-logging features that are now in all commercial OSs' filesystems, and are made non-burdensome by "snapshotting" facilities that are also in such filesystems (at long last for Apple's APFS, which was introduced at least partly because Apple couldn't bolt "snapshotting" onto its older HFS+).  "Near-CDP" backup applications can with proper add-ons restore interactive applications to the last point at which an incremental backup was done, possibly as little as 10 minutes ago, which is close enough for Microsoft Exchange and some database applications.  Retrospect non-V. can backup hourly, if you schedule a script accordingly, but it doesn't (so far) do so from "snapshots"  (not to be confused with Retrospect Snapshots, which are a different feature named a decade before the industry-wide OS feature appeared—at which point EMC dropped the use of the term Snapshot with Retrospect Mac 8 but not with Retrospect Windows).

So DBA had to write three different versions of the above exposition.  The first version revises the re-established "Continuous Data Protection" article, with added quotes from the references because Pi314m evidently can't read technical English at a senior-high-school level (possibly as a result of his apparent sub-culture, in which boys past the age of 13 are educated—without any math or science classes—almost entirely in a non-modern European language).  The second version is the "Near-CDP" sub-subsection of the "Backup" article, which omits everything but a mention of "real CDP" because ordinary readers will never encounter it.  The third version is the "Backing up interactive applications via true Continuous Data Protection" paragraphs of the "Enterprise client-server backup" article, which can omit any mention of "near CDP" because it refers readers to the "Continuous Data Protection" article.


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  • 3 weeks later...

I'll end my comments on the merger with a bit of pure speculation on what the synergy might be for Drobo.  I found this 7-year-old blog post, briefly updated over two years ago.  Its "Why I'm done with drobo" section basically says that if your Drobo box dies, you have no choice other than to replace it with another Drobo box because its BeyondRaid formatting is proprietary.  In the meantime the data on the HDDs that were contained in that Drobo box are inaccessible; one commenter on that blog said 4 years ago that she couldn't get files off her crashed Drobo, a model that is out of production with no parts available, so her only option was purchasing a new Drobo model.  The Wikipedia article on Drobo has the same criticism.

There is one backup application whose maker partners with Drobo, but it only backs up to the cloud—which may be rather expensive for an administrator with many large files on their Drobo.  So why not give Retrospect Inc., now a subsidiary of Drobo's parent company, the proprietary format for BeyondRaid—enabling backup of a Drobo to tapes or a big-but-non-RAID HDD?  I'm not saying the Retrospect engineers could add this capability in a week, but they've already done the equivalent for Avid Media Composer.

"And now that you've paid US$49 [ or maybe nothing—my marketing genius tendencies are telling me to double-cross the maker of the cloud-only backup application  :)  ] for your license to Retrospect Solo with Drobo Capability, how about upgrading to Retrospect Desktop Edition with Drobo Capability for another US$35?"

P.S.: A Forums search indicates Retrospect has long been able to use a shared Drobo as a source, although some Retrospect Mac administrators have reported problems here and here.  By a not-so-strange coincidence, a new Knowledge Base article has just been posted—whose "Retrospect Setup: Add Drobo as a Source" section consists of two YouTube videos narrated in the dulcet voice of the head of Technical Support.  So my speculation about Retrospect needing Drobo's proprietary format information seems wide of the mark.

Edited by DavidHertzberg
Add P.S. saying Retrospect has long been able to use a shared Drobo as a source.
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  • 1 month later...

In applicable Wikipedia news,  an kindly Australian woman editor with the "handle" Melcous did extensive edits to the "Backup" article on 10 August and 18 August 2019.  She somewhat over-simplified the "Near-CDP" sub-subsection, but DovidBenAvraham later rectified that to clarify that personal (non-client-server) backup applications at most have a near-CDP capability.  Retrospect non-V. doesn't have even that—since scripts can only be scheduled to run as frequently as once an hour; that's probably because Apple's venerable HFS+ filesystem doesn't have a "snapshotting" capability—which Apple's new APFS filesystem finally adds.  R. V. does near-CDP, not true CDP—a feature of only a handful of very-expensive and tricky enterprise applications.

DBA has now made each of the feature descriptions in the "Enterprise client-server backup" article a separate Wikipedia subsection.  This has enabled him to make direct links to these features from the "Backup" article, eliminating the wordiness of previous links that had text allowing a reader to find the proper feature description within a link to its section—a pet Melcous peeve.  DBA has also changed such links in the "Retrospect" article, and in internal links in the 3 articles.

DBA's posting of an Administrative Noticeboard Incident seems to have scared Pi314m out of trying to merge the "Enterprise client-server backup" article back into the "Backup" article.  The ANI was not successful in getting any kind of banning imposed on Pi314m, IMHO primarily because—having never posted an ANI before—DBA made his first paragraphs too wordy for the WP administrators.  However DBA later added a couple of concise paragraphs detailing Pi314m's merging of 10 related articles into the "Outsourcing" article in early 2019, deleting most of the text of those articles without prior discussion.  That kind of merging appears to be a violation of Wikipedia rules, and we're sure Pi314m realizes that DBA will bring it up again if some kind of post-holiday letdown leads Pi314m to try merging again in early 2020.


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Briefly returning to motivation for the merger, this very-interesting article based on a phone interview with Mihir Shah has actually been linked to on the "Latest News" PR section of this website—which you can view by signing on to your Portal.  A quote says  "The big vendors focus on $30m-per-year customers and 'forget about everyone else', according to Shah."  That sounds to me like a criticism of the "go big or go home" strategy that, in a previous post in this thread, I suggested Retrospect Product Management was trying to follow—evidently without great sales success.  The next quote says "StorCentric will focus on selling affordable products to the everyone elses, said Shah. Things that just work."

But IMHO here's the really interesting indirect quote from the interview: "What next? Surya Varanasi, co-founder and CTO of Vexata, is developing a technology roadmap for StorCentric. Shah didn’t expand on that, apart from saying two new Drobo products are due in the next six months and a Drobo+Retrospect backup appliance is being considered [my emphasis]."  Since I corrected a previous post in this thread because I found out that Retrospect can already use a Drobo as either a source or destination for a backup, I can only assume what is being considered is using a Drobo as a "backup server".:o

Drobo appliances apparently already use a version of Linux as their OS, so it doesn't seem impossible for the Retrospect engineers to convert the source code for the Retrospect Mac "backup server"—which is already running on a macOS that is mostly enhanced BSD Unix underneath the GUI.  Starting in the early 2000s with a "backup server" that ran only under Linux/Unix, the TOLIS engineers developed a version of BRU that runs on macOS.  If the Retrospect engineers make the converted "backup server" code run on other versions of Linux besides the Drobo, that would be a "go wide or go home" marketing solution.

And I'll bet a cheap add-to-your-LAN-then-install-user-Clients Drobo+Retrospect backup appliance would sell like hotcakes to under-funded local government organizations, which must be worried about this all-too-real menace. IMHO forced client-server backup of users' computers is much easier to implement than a 100%-effective "don't click on any links in e-mails" training program.

Obviously DovidBenAvraham can't yet discuss this in the "Retrospect" article, because discussing software under development is taboo for a Wikipedia article.  However he can probably get away with using the interview article as a reference, since it has a section that recapitulates the past history of StorCentric.:)

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  • 5 weeks later...

Some of you may have noticed that on 12 September 2019 the old Retrospect article was greatly cut down, losing all 3 of its features sections and having its History section greatly simplified.  This is AFAICT an outcome of a long-running political dispute among Wikipedia editors, including some who are administrators.

There is a subset of Wikipedia editors who function as "Spitfire pilots".   I use that term because these editors take it upon themselves to make fast passes at someone else's articles and "machine gun" any references they consider to be improper—as if those articles are possible incoming German bombers.  The "Spitfire pilots" do perform a necessary function for articles left over from Wikipedia's "good old days", when editors wrote some articles whose thin-on-the-ground references were to pure Public Relations sources.  It can be time-consuming work to actually read the references in other editors' articles, and a subset of the "Spitfire pilot" editors (IME predominantly Brits) have long wanted to make their work easier—by a method conceptually similar to insisting (via Swiss intermediaries; no Royal Air Force officer was actually foolish enough to do so) that Hermann Goering have all Luftwaffe bombers trail large banners with the high-visibility form of the Balkenkreuz  (so real Spitfire pilots wouldn't need to study aircraft identification).

This subset of "Spitfire pilot" editors proposed some years ago that, to enforce Reliable Source requirements, all primary-source references be banned from WP articles.  An article stating that rule was deleted, because among other legitimate careful uses of primary sources are in an article about a business.  Nevertheless editor JzG—who prefers to be known as Guy, along with other editors such as Scope_creep (who caused DovidBenAvraham a fair amount of grief back in 2017-2018), believe that primary-source references should be not allowed for features of company-developed software.  DBA had originally made quite a few citations of several user-instruction documents on the Retrospect.com website, but by 12 September had cut these down to 14 out of 100 total citations in the article.  Remaining citations were to the Retrospect Mac 14 and Retrospect Windows 12 User's Guides, to the cumulative Retrospect Windows Release Notes, and to various Knowledge Base articles (listed in the article master reference as if they were named chapters in a book).  For any WP editor having—like Guy and Scope_creep—IT employment experience who would classify these multi-hundred-page documents as PR material, 5 minutes of thought about the enduring popularity of the phrase "Read The F**king Manual" would IMHO prove enlightening (because user-instruction "manuals" aren't anywhere near as pleasant to read as PR documents).:)

Guy, on his own Talk page, in answer to DBA's question, wrote "Remove anything that's sourced to their own websites or to press releases", and later "It's really quite simple. Only include reliable independent secondary soruces [sic]. Don't include anything that independent commentators haven't thought significant enotgh [sic] to cover. Don't inlcude [sic]sources that are obviously based on press releases (aka churnalism). Don't include WP:HOWTO or other manual-like content."   He then made the major cut-down of the article, on the basis that—since DBA had not immediately removed the 14 remaining primary-source citations, he would oblige DBA to justify that the sources for the other 86 citations were not to secondary-sources that are PR documents.  Being someone who apparently has only Windows experience, Guy is claiming that the 29-year-old Macintosh-focused TidBITS is a PR website.:o

DBA is proceeding cautiously but methodically to solve the problem.  He may eventually have to create a WP Administrators' Noticeboard Incident, because for an editor who is a WP administrator to do what Guy has done could well be considered vandalism even in Wikipedia's carefully-restricted definition.  However TidBITS may solve the problem by publishing a review of the soon-to-be-released Retrospect 16.5, which among other things will remove DBA's need for the Retrospect Windows GUI-deficiency primary-source references.

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  • 1 month later...

The Retrospect article will have to remain in its current feature-less state, because I've been blocked indefinitely from Wikipedia editing.😖  I say "I" because—as I'm sure most of you have guessed—"DovidBenAvraham" is merely my Wikipedia "handle" . I pretended DBA was a separate person to have a fig-leaf of deniability in the face of the possible wrath of the head of Retrospect Technical Support (my 2016-2017 version of the article's "Documentation" section, deleted because comparing different versions of the Retrospect Mac User's Guide is considered Original Research—a Wikipedia no-no, was implicitly critical of Retrospect Inc.).

Eliminating all first-party references, which I did in this 08:56, 27 October 2019 revision, was not enough for Guy—as I knew it would be.  I tried to get him to accept this 04:41, 29 October 2019 revision, which only mentioned the unique-to-Retrospect (it was patented by Dantz in 1996) Proactive feature, but he reverted that revision—resulting in what you see now, giving as his Edit Summary "Reverted good faith edits by DovidBenAvraham (talk): Promotional edits, primary sourceing [sic], usual problems".  I chose to go down fighting, created an Administrative Noticeboard Incident, and was "blocked indefinitely from editing for disruptive editing".

Guy denounced in the ANI discussion "claims of novelty sourced to a patent (a canonical primary source)", but the real issue is "promotional edits".  A coterie of Wikipedia administrators is determined to clamp down on articles written to promote particular companies, and is going so far as to eliminate mentions of features of application software products unless these features are "unique"—without giving any indication of how to prove "uniqueness" with a reference.😲  Somehow articles written about really-expensive enterprise client-server backup applications, such as Backup Exec and NetBackup and EMC Networker and IBM Tivoli Storage Manager, are exempt under some kind of "grandfather clause".🤣  I think there's no hope of prevailing against this coterie, so I won't try to get the block lifted.


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