Doomsday Biotech Gene Bank – a redundant server farm protecting biodiversity

Sometimes technology works against nature. Other times it works for it. Now, finally, technology is being used to protect the earth. The Doomsday gene bank in Norway is using modern technology that functions like a back-up server for the world’s biodiversity cache. The server-like Svalbard Seed Vault was recently given an infusion of seeds, and cash, that has widely broadened its scope.

A much-needed infusion that is helping protect many of the gene and seed backups destroyed by the Afghan and Iraq wars, more recently the fire-destroyed Philippines facility and the suspected issues with the gene bank in Syria. The vault’s architect, American Cary Fowler, welcomed the 25,000+ new seed samples with open arms, before he cranked up the cold (to a frigid -18°C) and sealed the door of the vault. If there was ever an eco ranger-based video game, the epic battle led by character Cary would surely by fought at the Svalbard Vault.

The technology behind the vault is nothing short of a modern technological wonder, using advanced software- and hardware-based security measures like the two airlocks that seal off the end of the 160-meter tunnel that buries the facility deep into Norway’s permafrost. The carefully-chosen location at Longyearbyen, one of the world’s most northern habituated areas, takes advantage of the area’s natural cooling abilities to cut down on cooling costs, similar to the way heat and cold need to be carefully managed on a server farm. The architecture was also built to withstand the force of a full missile strike, security that led to its ‘Doomsday Vault’ nickname.

With only 4 years in operation the Svalbard Vault already provides backup for the world’s 1,750 seed banks, a scope so epic its the bio-equivalent of backing-up the entire world’s financial system and records. It is estimated the Svalbard has backed-up two-thirds of the world’s remaining biodiversity.
“When I see this [seed consignment],” says Fowler,”I just think, ‘thank goodness, they’re safe.” Fowler’s sentiment is well-deserved although he undoubtedly begrudges the loss of over 75% of the world’s biodiversity that occurred before the facility’s opening.

The importance of the project and technology are being recognized for their uses far beyond the scope of being a simple bio catalog. “If we ignore genetic diversity while we develop GMO products, we risk a disease or pest emerging that will wipe those types out,” says John Soper, who heads up the crop genetics research department at chemicals giant DuPont. The Svalbard Vault is expected to be needed in the not-so-distant future to fight crop-destroying agents, global warming, pests and diseases.

Size DOES matter – Just Ask IBM About Their New 120 PETABYTE Storage system

In the never-ending race to build the biggest and most bitchin’ hardware on the planet, IBM has taken the lead. Again!

IBM’s newest pet is their 120 petabyte (120 million gigabytes) storage array system, a disk drive system made up of 200,000 drives. It will hold 1 trillion files. This far surpasses the current title holder of the world’s-largest-storage array, that has a measly 15 petabytes.

To put the ridiculously large number of 120 petabytes into proportion, it could hold 24 billion standard MP3 files, or replicate 60 times over the current biggest backup of the Internet from WayBack Machine’s 150 billion stored webpages.

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Bulkr – Access and Backup your Flickr Photos (Mac, Windows & Linux)

Veronica Belmont, at Tekzilla, on the features and awesomeness of Bulkr.

Bulkr is a no-frill, easy to use backup solution for your Flickr Photos. Flickr, an awesome Photo service from Yahoo!, lacks data liberation — you cannot download your Photos once uploaded. Of course, you can go to each photo to download them but that isn’t the right way to do!

Bulkr PRO (which sells for $40) is available for just 50% on at just $19.99. Buy Bulkr PRO by clicking the Bulkr Banner (look at the top right corner). Valid from Sep 1-15, 2011.

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Look Out! Security for your Smartphone

The smartphone has today surpassed the PC as the new and true personal computer. This has brought of course concerns over privacy and security. Lookout is an application that protects your phone from mobile threats with award-winning security that’s easy to use and available on multiple platforms.


Mobile threats are different and Lookout is uniquely designed for smartphones to protect against malware, spyware threats and apps that violate privacy. Lightweight and efficient, Lookout stays connected to ensure up-to-date, comprehensive protection. Scans can be initiated real-time or scheduled. The Privacy Advisor provides clear insight into which apps access private data like location, messages and personal information, as well as scan every app you download to see what data it accesses. Lookout also allows you to remotely lock your phone from the web if it’s lost or stolen and even offers remotely deleting all personal data from it — including the SD card.

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5 Easy Backup Solutions for Linux

Backup your data

Photo by Daniel Montesinos

Back-upI wish i could have the data backed up as easily!

Be it noobs or a geeks – computers are indispensable for either of the clans. With the trend of increasingly high storage devices – both USB and otherwise, the amount of data which resides in the form of nibbles and bits is enormous. Backing up your data is of prime importance from work/business point of view.

A lot of people lose their data due to system crashes which is very likely over a long run. This indicates that backing up your files is crucial. We have evangelized Linux to a good extent in our previous articles and we’ve shown our love to FOSS. Continuing to showcase our strong feelings for alternative Operating Systems and applications, we hereby present a few Linux backup solutions which shall help you save and recover your data periodically.

  1. rsync: We’ve already introduced this amazing tool in one of our earlier articles. A Linux user/administrator can generate customized rsync scripts to handle incremental backups automatically on a daily/weekly/monthly schedule. rsync is pretty similar to rcp but comes bundled with a lot more options. It uses the rsync remote-update protocol to speed up file transfers while the destination file is being updated. The rsync remote-update protocol allows rsync to transfer just the differences between two sets of files across the network connection, using an efficient checksum-search algorithm described in the technical report that accompanies this package.
  2. AMANDA: It’s an acronym for Advanced Maryland Automatic Network Disk Archiver, a backup system which allows the administrator to set up a single master backup server to back up several hosts over a network to disks/tape drives/changers/optical media. It uses native dump along with GNU tar facilities. It is capable in backing up a large number of workstations running multiple versions of Unix. Amanda can also back up Microsoft Windows desktops and servers using Samba or Cygwin.
  3. Mondo Rescue: It’s yet another GPL disaster recovery solution which supports Linux (i386, x86_64, ia64) and FreeBSD (i386). It’s packaged for multiple distributions (RedHat, RHEL, SuSE, SLES, Mandriva, Debian, Gentoo) and help you back up your GNU/Linux server or workstation to a lo of media options like tapes, hard disks, network or optical disks. In case of catastrophic data loss, you shall be able to restore your data selectively. You may use Mondo Rescue to create backups of your system on DVDs, periodically. Mondo Rescue also has an active mailing list for novice as well as pro users.
  4. Bacula: It is a Client/Server based backup suite which allows the system administrators to manage backup, recovery. It also helps verify the data across a network. Owing to its modular design, Bacula is scalable from a single computer system to systems which form a part of a large network. Bacula is capable of backingup data on to various media, including tapes and disks. However, Bacula is quite complex for a newbie and has a huge 750 page manual to help ou gear up. I’ve been in touch with a few users and they their kind advice is to read the manual before you jump into it. On the positive side, it seems like it is easily the best way to keep a distributed backup system.
  5. Simple Backup Suite: Now if you’re a home user and run Gnome as your choice of desktop environment, Simple Backup Suite, or sbackup for short is a god choice. Simple Backup Suite is intended for desktop use and can backup any subset of files/directories. You can also define exclusions by regular expressions. Maximum individual file size limit can also be defined from within the interface. To save the backup, you may use any local/remote directories which are supported by gnome-vfs. It also have a cool Gnome GUI interface for configure and restore. Check out the community page to get it in and out!

These were few of the most compelling backup options you would like to use at some point of time. If you have more suggestions, make sure you follow up via the comments section of this post. More about adapting to GNU/Linux and Open Source, very soon! Stay tuned.