Category Archives: General

Leaving Crashplan

Back in August, Crashplan announced they were leaving the consumer business. This is disappointing to me because I’ve had a family plan subscription for five years. Their service bailed me out when we had an apartment fire that destroyed our computers.

Michael Tsai has a great roundup of the community’s response, and the consensus opinion seems to be that BackBlaze is the best option for most people. For me, though, BackBlaze would be a substantial increase in price, since they don’t offer a family plan.

Over the five years I subscribed to Crashplan, I spent an average of $99/year1 for unlimited storage space for up to ten computers. I only ever connected seven computers to the service, and they ranged in space requirements from 1.4 GB to 3.7 TB; in total, my cost worked out to $0.0016 per month per GB.

I’ve been considering my options:

  • I can stay on Crashplan. On their small business plan, the cost becomes $10/month/computer, for a total of $840/year (although they’re offering 75% off for a year, so $210 for the next twelve months).
  • I can switch to BackBlaze. To connect those seven computers would cost $420/year; this is still a substantial increase.
  • I could try a more DIY solution, using Arq to backup to B2. Their price is $0.005/GB/month; this would cost me $304/year.

What I’ve settled on is a combination of the above. If I exclude the one computer with 3.7 TB of data, I can backup the other six computers to B2 for $82/year. For one year, I can continue backing up the large computer to Crashplan for $30/year ($2.50/month), for a total of $112/year2. This is the lowest cost option I’ve seen, and keeps the price increase to a minimum.

After the first year, I’ll likely switch the large computer over to BackBlaze, since it will be half the cost (at $5/month) of staying on Crashplan Small Business (at $10/month). That will bring my annual costs to around $140/year.

This is a fairly substantial price hike, but the value of cloud backups is well worth this price increase. However, having been burned once, I’d avoid Crashplan at all costs if I were considering solutions for a small business.

  1. The list price was $150/year, but I would extend my subscription when they had sales. 

  2. The tipping point is 500 GB; a computer larger than that is cheaper to store on Crashplan for $2.50/month, smaller than that is cheaper to store on B2. 

macOS Adaptive Firewall

After that last post on enabling SSH back to my iMac, I realized I should do a little more research into security precautions. I stumbled onto information about the macOS Server Adaptive Firewall.

Enabling it couldn’t be much easier. It’s two commands; first to self-configure, and then to start the firewall:

sudo /Applications/ -c
sudo /Applications/ -f has a more thorough explanation of how to use the Adaptive Firewall, but I feel a little better knowing it’s running.

SSH to Mac

I’ve taken a bold step: I’ve enabled SSH back to my home computer.

Enable SSH in macOS Server -> Settings

For OPSEC, I’ve disabled all authentication methods except Public Key, with the hope that I can have a secure, reliable, SFTP connection my home machine from anywhere.

To make this change:

  1. I added my public key to ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
    • You can run this command: ssh-copy-id -i ~/
    • …or just copy ~/.ssh/ into ~/.ssh/authorized_keys/
  2. I enabled Remote Login in System Preferences
  3. To disable password-based authentication, I edited /etc/ssh/sshd_config with these changes:
    • ChallengeResponseAuthentication no
    • PasswordAuthentication no
    • UsePAM no1

That tutorial also recommends setting KbdInteractiveAuthentication no, but according to

Specified whether keyboard-interactive authentication is allowed. By default, the value of ChallengeResponseAuthentication is used.

Since it takes the value of ChallengeResponseAuthentication by default, I haven’t specified a value for KbdInteractiveAuthentication.

After making these changes, it’s important to restart ssh:

sudo launchctl stop com.openssh.sshd

If it looks like I’ve done something foolish, please let me know!

  1. This isn’t called out in that tutorial, but disabling PAM seems like the most prudent thing here. 

Farewell, 32-bit Apps

iOS 11 is the 32-bit Appocalypse. Before pulling the trigger on the update, I took a look at the apps on my phone that won’t survive the transition1:

  • Star Wars: Tiny Death Star: This was a really fun game; a Star Wars-themed re-skin of Tiny Tower. It was only supported for a year, and received its last update back in 2014. I’ll miss it, but Tiny Tower is still going strong if I want a fix.
  • Chesspuzzles: According to my iTunes Purchase History, I downloaded this on November 1, 2008. It was made by Eric Peng, but I can’t find any information about it now. It was never updated for Retina or 4” screens, let alone iOS 7. The app is filling this need for me these days.
  • Monopoly Here & Now: The World Edition: I think this was the only version of Monopoly available on iOS when I bought it back in February of 2009. Macworld gave it four mice. Someone thought to preserve the gameplay for posterity. The next time I have a Monopoly craving, I’ll spring for this version instead.
  • Super MAMC: This is still up on the store, as of this writing, but the last update it received was back in 2012. I think I first heard of this game from Brett Terpstra on his Systematic Podcast, before he jumped from 5by5. I’m glad the Apple Watch didn’t exist the last time I played this; I’d be terrified to see what it did to my heart rate. You can see the gameplay here.
  • Words HD Free: Letterpress filled the void Words With Friends left for me years ago. Good riddance.
  • UE SPL: This was a basic SPL meter. I haven’t needed a replacement yet, and I never even bothered to verify the accuracy of this one.
  • MusicConv: This was a basic Frequency to Note Name to Midi Number calculator. It was really useful for some projects years ago, but it doesn’t even seem to launch on iOS 10.
  • Canopener: This is a great standalone music player, with some simple spatialization algorithms. GoodHertz still sells an AU and AAX plugin with the same spatial processing.
  • Nord Beat 2: A MIDI step sequencer, last updated in 2014. I was mostly using it for drums, and apps like Elastic Drums had replaced it for me.
  • This service used to be the best way to see what shows and movies were on each streaming service, but JustWatch is now providing this service for me.
  • TaskPaper for iOS: Jesse Grosjean stopped supporting this app four years ago. Now I use Editorial for most of my iOS TaskPaper needs.

Thank you for your service. I’m sorry I can’t take you into the future with me; you’ll be missed.

  1. You can see this for yourself by heading to Settings ➡️ General ➡️ About ➡️ Applications.