TECHNOLOGY: Everyone needs to plan for a disaster

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Hi. I wanted to let you know that WindowsSecrets.com was unavailable on July 3 and the early part of July 4. A serious electrical fire shut down the Web hosting company in Seattle that we and hundreds of other sites rely on. Windows Secrets came back online at approximately 9:15 a.m. Pacific Time July 4.

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It is ESPECIALLY important that you enter an alternate e-mail address. This is your own personal “disaster recovery” plan. Companies change their filtering policies every day, and sometimes readers stop getting the newsletters they’ve subscribed to or paid for. When we receive a bounce notification, we send a short alert to your alternate address. This is the ONLY use we make of this information, and many people have thanked us for informing them of a problem affecting their inbound mail.

Our own disaster-recovery plan consisted simply of switching to a maintenance server, which displayed a message about the hosting company’s fire. As a small gaggle of writers, we found the cost of buying and synchronizing two servers in separate data centers too great. Instead, we chose to locate our equipment at a “hardened” data center, with dual diesel generators that could power the hardware indefinitely in case of any power outage.

When the blaze started, however, fire marshals ordered the evaculation of the entire building, and the generators could not be run. This knocked out some very big Web sites, not just our own. Authorize.net, one of the world’s largest credit-card gateways, couldn’t process transactions online for its 238,000 clients for about 12 hours. Bing Travel (a component of Microsoft’s new Bing search engine) was dark for even longer.

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Interesting.

What’s your “disaster recovery” strategy?

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WRITING: Just Junk DNA (An Index Card Novel)

Just Junk DNA (An Index Card Novel)

“If science could invent a genetically modified common cold virus that would sterilize everyone on the planet with effectiveness E (where 90% < E < 100%), then maybe, just maybe, someone would have the courage to release it in the atmosphere.”

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It was the killer genetic modification. All plants share a common DNA. He was the genius that could “dead end” evolution. In the DNA, in the “junk” DNA, just like in humans, he found “it”. In corn, he was able to develop “it”. It was the “stop sign”. The corn was for all intents and purposes perfect. Except it couldn’t reproduce. He had it.

Riches galore.

As an “independent researcher”, no corporation had the patent. He did. No “works for hire”. He owned the Midas touch.

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“Comparative genomics studies of mammalian genomes suggest that approximately 5% of the human genome has been conserved by evolution since the divergence of those species approximately 200 million years ago, containing the vast majority of genes. Intriguingly, since genes and known regulatory sequences probably comprise less than 2% of the genome, this suggests that there may be more unknown functional sequence than known functional sequence.”

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The Genetically Modified Food Companies beat a path to his door. He had the better mouse trap. Seeds that would not sprout. He controlled it. Winded and dined. His process was his.

Venture capitalists fronted the money for a 25% share. It was such a unique opportunity. They bid the price down among themselves. To get a share. Usually they’d get 95%, but he was smart!

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“Some types of non-coding DNA are genetic “switches” that do not encode proteins, but do regulate when and where genes are expressed.”

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His factories “processed” seeds of any type and quality. Trucks poured in one side and 30 minutes later sterile seeds poured back in.

The seed sellers were in hog heaven.

Testing showed that “processed” seeds would germinate but not reproduce.

Finally, they had the farmers locked in. No seed saving to compete with their sales any more.

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“Vertebrates have essentially the same genes and regulatory gene sequences as humans, but with only one-eighth the “junk” DNA.”

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The process had an unintentional side effect.

Don’t they always?

The “regulatory signal” had been activated. Airborne, undetectable, an almost mystical property.

Never since a grazillion years ago had evolution had it’s clock turned back. That “junk DNA” was from eons ago when it had served a purpose. Avoiding this bug or that.

Now, humans, puffer fish, and many other species stopped reproducing.

Humans could have sex without children now. Just as the feminists and the “free love” hippies had always wanted. But no one was having any children any more. Ever.

We’ve genetically modified ourselves out of existence.

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“If you’re reading this, greetings. I’m the last person alive, don’t make out mistake. Don’t mess with the Lord’s handiwork.”

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