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April 28th, 2023

The I Am Retired Why Am I Still Up To My Neck In This Sh*t Chronicles.

…part the upteeth.

A few days ago I tried syncing my local website copy with the copy on my web host server and the sync failed. Digging into it I discover that the people who made my favorite sync software found a way to deactivate all the older versions that don’t require rent (they like to call it a “subscription”), which I refuse to pay and kept using the older version because it kept working. Hahahahaha…silly me. So I looked around for alternatives and I found what I thought was a good one in FreeFileSync, which is open source and runs on all my platforms.

But I almost instantly ran into a problem syncing my art room Mac files with the NAS copies. (NAS stands for Network Attached Storage. Mine is a box with two drives in it that pretends to be a single drive on my network. The two drives are mirrored so if one fails the other should still have good copies and I can just replace the failed drive.) Nothing I expected would sync because the software was reporting the files on the NAS were timestamped five hours in the future ahead of those on the Mac. I checked the NAS settings and it was applying the correct GMT offset, so I thought it might be a flaw in the software, and not having time to track it down, I manually copied the files that I knew had changed.

Under the hood all modern operating systems sync to Greenwich Mean Time and apply an offset depending on where you actually are. This allows people to move files across time zones and still retain the actual time the file was created or modified. That can be important if you are tossing time critical files across time zones.

So I figured I had a GMT offset problem with FreeFileSync and put it aside until I had time to debug the problem, and maybe file a bug report.

Then the other day I tried backing up the NAS. I have two USB backup drives that I’ve formatted to ext4 because that’s what the NAS uses. I use rsync and I have a preformatted rsync command that does the trick for me. Right away I noticed it was trying to copy everything off the NAS so I stopped it and took a look and finally saw that all the timestamps on the NAS were off by 5 hours ahead. So again I dug into the NAS settings and looked and yes, the NAS was applying the right offset. But then I noticed it’s value for GMT was off. By five hours ahead.

So I checked the setting for the time server and I discover that the time server it had been using was no longer available.  I’ve no idea why, but the main problem was the NAS didn’t throw an error message when it lost its time server, it just simply failed silently and continued. Probably the last time I shut it down when I went on vacation, when I turned it back on and it came back up it looked for its time server, couldn’t communicate with it, and just happily fell back to assuming everything on it was timestamped local time.

It caused me a lot of problems getting timestamps out of sync moving them between the NAS and the art room Mac as I worked.

G*damn silent fail…

So I set the NAS to talk to a different time server that it could still reach and everything is good again. So now at least I know that there isn’t anything wrong with FreeFileSync.

Also, that I will be debugging computer software systems for the rest of my life, retired or not…

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