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I do a lot of backup system report digesting for my analyses , and sometimes you get a column in the text report that helpfully gives you mixed units – but at least it tells you the units.

Once in excel this can be a pain, so here is how I slay that beast. Drop a comment if there is a more elegant solution – Im sure there is.


Sometimes you get a report that has mixed output. CommVault has a checkbox to unify this but sometimes customers don’t check it, or sometimes TSM or NetBackup don’t have that option and you get output like this in a backup/storage report



Size on Media
31.99 GB
23.13 GB
21.53 GB
29.03 GB
18.24 MB
267.72 MB



As you can see, the units are there for all to see, but not useful in calculations or in sums or pivot tables.


Here’s a nice trick to sort these

  1. Insert a column to the right of the one with the values
  2. Select the column (in this case whole column size on media
  3. Go to the Data tab in excel, and then select “Text to column”
  4. In the dialog, go delimited, and use space, tab or whatever your report has in between those letters – be careful not to bung up the headers or other rows with errant delimiters.
  5. You should have now 2 columns


Size On Media  
31.99 GB
23.13 GB
21.53 GB
29.03 GB
18.24 MB
267.72 MB
18.18 MB
268.84 MB
18.13 MB
298.27 MB



Now for the conversion.


  1. Insert a third column to the right of the units one you just made.
  2. Now use this formula in N2 (in this case)  to get the GB converted to MB (or vice versa if you want to go the other way)



For the picture challenged the formula in N2 is:

= IF( M=”GB”, L2, L2/1024)

  1. Now you have a converted to MB Colum ( N in the case above)
  2. Select the formula, and then do a fill-down to populate the remaining entries in your report.
  3. Now select that calculated value column, copy it and then paste special (paste only the values) back into your original column. Voila – a unified GB value column. Adjust the decimals as needed.
Size on Media    
0.03 GB 3.0508E-05
0.02 GB 2.2058E-05
0.02 GB 2.0533E-05


  1. You can now remove the second two columns you used for the calculation – they are no longer needed (the unit and the calculation – which is now probably showing new data based on your paste-values anyway)
  2. Adjust your header to make sure units are shown as GB, or whatever your conversions had it as.


Size on Media (GB)



Now you can slice and dice the data without those nasty units getting in the way.


If there is a simpler way, Id be glad to hear it. You can probably do some of this with a data validation macro, but this is quick and dirty and gets it done.




Decided to start juicing, on my week off from the munchkins going North.

Here’s some stuff that was decidedly not-crappy in the first juice attempt.

Fruit: Red seedless grapes, pink grapefruit, lemon, apple, pear

Vegetables: Broccoli (sm), romaine lettuce, sweet red pepper (sm), celery stalk, 1 carrot

Other stuff: Hot Thai red peppers (2) sm, ginger root 1 inch.


Any fruit juice is likely to go over well. I am surprised the celery and broccoli did not overwhelm the flavors. The Hot pepepr and Ginger make this thing though. I think there may have been an orange in there somewhere too..


The house has become shambolic as the process of packing proceeds.

The exercise has proven telling. We have gone through this before, but every time it has different challenges for myself and the munchkin. When I see the great piles of stuff, for the most part I feel a need to throw out or give away most of it. With the exception of a couple unique pieces of art, or my hard drives, pretty much everything is just coma. By coma I mean in the astronomical sense – that huge cloud of luminous debris that follows a comet as it nears a sun. Does a comet define itself by the vapour around it? I would rather define myself by myself, and not by the things that I surround myself with. Like any object that interacts with light, we can know a lot about people by what they surround themselves with, or even from what they reject. Our society takes it to the next level by mistaking those things we have for the things we are.

This materialism has some effects on those who embrace it. Giving things away becomes tantamount to an incremental form of suicide. To the retailer a non-buyer is a nullity, and an ascetic is a horror. The culture of things and its attendant media abhor it and make no bones about denigrating those who would discourage consumption. A person who is trying to get out of this cycle of consumption is made to feel that they are the ones who are flawed.

What objects would you choose if you were to down-size completely? I suppose this question has been asked too many times already – it boils down to the proverbial desert island, or the decision about what to pack for a suitcase. Refugees make this painful choice daily in our world. Tearing people from their comfort zones, or in many cases from their fundamental rights to security of person is ugly. There is a big difference between moving and ditching your stuff because of a war, and doing it because you have achieved a level of security, independence, and confidence that enables freedom. Hopefully I am providing the backdrop to enable the latter.

Stuff I want to Keep:

  • A troll sculpture, for sentimental reasons.
  • My hard drives, as they contain all the books, thoughts, images, and work I have amassed.
  • My toothbrush, at least until it wears out.
  • A set of clothes appropriate to the climate.
  • My skills. With these, I can earn money.
  • My privileges – whatever they may be, for without socioeconomic status, skills are moot.
  • Sunscreen. Because sometimes clothes aren’t enough.
  • Good glasses – because reading is a joy best not accompanied by headaches.



Well, not all of them. But it seems that I have equal numbers of renegate technologists and hermits in my arsenal of people whom I admire.
The technologists include: Linus Torvalds, Justin Frankel, and the Woz. People who built things that shook up the world and made it more fun. On the other hand, my non techie role models include Walter Williamson, Tom Neale (of Suwarov fame), Bernard Moitessier, Kris Larsen (Who just left on another voyage after a long stint in Australia). The only folks who seem to inhabit the space in between those two solitudes are the likes of Moxie Marlinspike (Hacker and Cypherpunk sailor), Alex Dorsey (Blogger and sailor who espouses minimalism but makes nice videos), and Perhaps Yves Gélinas – who did the solo sailing thing, but also designed and sells a pretty good self steering rig that is pretty innovative.

How does one meet in the middle whilst being sucked into the rat race by the continual pull of family obligations?

Does having kids preclude living life “out there” and making a difference by inventing things?

I will have more time and will devote more words to this question. The actions and experiments that attempt to discover the answers will be at the least an amusing train-wreck of a story, and at best perhaps another path less followed that a few with the spirit may also wander in turn.



One of the last messages on this blog was that Sea-Munchkin was merging with Impertinent. That was the case for a while, as I was too busy to maintain two websites. Too busy to blog on one.  That’s still the case, but events are transpiring to make it necessary to split and blog again.

The first thing going on is that we are planning another run in the oceans on the Sea Munchkin, and this time are determined to recruit a few more crew to help out along the way and enjoy the trip. The other reason is that with the sea-munchkin site being mostly about the boat and those who sail on her, this site is becoming a place for the thoughts and rants associated with the everyday and the unusual.  Having a new baby in the house makes for dull life, but that dullness does not include thoughts or the future – and so I suspect you will very soon have much more to read about.

One topic for today is an emerging need to do best practices reviews of Linux based environments.

If you do a search on best practices for Linux, you will likely find a hundred links to security hardening. After that, a handfull of hardware guides from various vendors, and the odd commercial software guide for the likes of Oracle and SAP et all. There just isnt a lot of guidelines for you to evaluate if the sysadmins are smoking crack, or wasting computer cycles on bad config.  RedHat has a decent offering which includes a checklist, but of course thats part of their secret sauce, and not google-able.

My thoughts on how to evaluate systems falls into three categories – Availability, Manageability, and Performance. This sounds a lot like RAS (Reliability, Availability, and Scalability)  and it is similar – but I think there is more to performance than just scalability, and I think Reliability can be folded nicely into availability.

Reliability – Can the system keep working at its task?  What will stop it and how can we handle that as a risk?

Manageability – Can the system communicate its status completely to the operators, and when change needs to happen can the operators enact those changes in an auditable, easy, and controlled fashion?

Performance – Is the system performing at its best? Will it continue to?  Are things efficient or is a crappy application code being buried by tons of CPU and IO performance, hiding an efficiency hog until things get hectic?

In part II, I will look at these and how to evaluate them against a typical Linux installation running a database and one or more layered applications.





If you were heading to, and I cannot see why you would have, the website has been merged into had some good story entries from our initial days of the first voyage of the sea munchkin. It was also based on an older version of Joomla which I suspected was full of security holes. I was getting messages with bogus users registering with the site daily, and that cannot be a good sign. At best, it likely meant that somehow these users were trying to get in. At worst, they were using the accounts to make spam or other mayhem that would reflect badly on the Munchkins.

In other news, I expect to merge some of the writing from the previous two trips and then add some pretty pictures.

Here is a breakdown of the web sites going forward… – will be for describing the boat, her crew, HASHING at sea (see, and information and sign-on information for people wishing to crew with us when the boat splashes again in about a year. – WIll feature posts on the following topics (mostly)

  • Sailing and voyaging logs
  • Advice for people who wish to take up the cruising lifestyle.
  • Musings on my research into economics, political economy, inequality, bioethics
  • Rants about information technology.
  • Chapters and teasers from my planned novel, tenatively named “Vanity children”.
  • Practical advice on engineering solutions for marine and home computer lab gear.

There will in the near future be more and more useful reading in this space.

Not that I have any more time specifically for writing, or that I believe anyone will read it, but because writing is important. Don’t ask me to speculate why this might be.

I am currently reading through a book which I had high hopes would be interesting and festooned with characters and tales of debauchery and vice. Instead, it is a semi-readable history and travelogue. There are a lot of rather poor travel writings around. I have little enough time to read any of them. Aside from the fact that this is a real book and written by a person I know to have written interesting stuff in the past, I would probably get more out of the works of William Dampier. Now that is a chap I would not mind seeing Hollywood get their teeth into. Scholar, sometimes Pirate, explorer, profiteer and privateer, and showman and writer. Whats not to love. Dampier was directly involved in the life of a certain Mr. Selkirk – whom was later written up as the famous “Robinson Crusoe”. Between Drake and Dampier, there is a lot of cool pirating and exploring to commit to film.

Current techno lust is rather tame: Want to get a new laptop for the munchkin. Would like to find a tablet of some cheap kind for E when she is old enough. Wouldn’t mind some decent glass for the Canon DSLR, or better yet, a full frame 5DmkIII so that finding a decent lens isn’t a trade-off into telephotoland.

I downloaded a lot of charts lately, and have begun running numbers for a potential new voyage of the Sea Munchkin. Some aspects of the next adventure will be especially daring/reckless depending on who you ask for an opinion. With a crew or two and a source of funding, this might actually happen. It is hard to imagine anything happening when surrounded by a house full of possessions that would again need to be given away, stored, or sold off. The amount of work in that kind of unburdening is nearly equal to that probably needed on the boat.

But we will try. Something has to give. The numbers tell me I have spent more than the value of the boat itself on storage over the last few years. That just doesn’t sit right with me. It is like having one foot on land, and the other in a sandy muck-hole on the beach. Every hurricane season the sea rises and threatens to liberate me, or cost me a fortune. Better to be either rid of the thing, or out living on it. Time to get moving and planning again.