On Land

Environment Information
At Rill Architects we run ArchiCAD on Mac OS X. If you work at Rill, this is your stuff. If you don't, but you work in ArchiCAD, you may find something interesting. Anybody else, I don't know.

Roundup of info on daily shutdown, backup, and power failures.

Automatic shutdown

Computers use a lot of energy, even when idle. They also create heat, which in the summer makes you pay double. For this reason, machines are set to shut down automatically in the early to late evening, depending on when (I think) you leave. Before they shut down, the backup routine runs.

The machine will not shut down if there are unsaved documents. The various apps will present save confirmation dialogs, and without you there to respond to them, they will sit there all night. Further, certain apps are crabby about quitting themselves, so the shutdown may stall, and you'll se a dialog about some app stopped the shutdown. The big miscreant in this category is 4D. Safari under Leopard also has the annoying non-feature of presenting a confirmation dialog when you try to quit with multiple tabs open.

So. Make a habit of closing out of your work before you leave, but don't shut down the machine. Obviously, saving often is good policy, especially at the end of the day. Save everything, close and quit everything, walk away.

There will be times when you want to keep the machine running overnight, such as creating a VR object. Be my guest, but these are exceptions. Sample dumb question: "Does this mean we can't run VR objects?"

As for sleep, our machines are set to never sleep. The backup routine does not reliably wake the machines from sleep, so it's out. Too bad, it saves energy.


All of the creative assets of the office are stored on the server. This includes project files, libraries, shared external reference modules, office documents, images, etc.

This is a good time to remind you that working on project files stored on the local machine is against Rill & Decker policy. Always open work files from their server locations; the Hotel, Carrot, etc. There is no performance impairment in working this way.

All the server volumes are backed up every day, in the middle of the day. Additionally, the Hotel (projects volume) is backed up again in the late afternoon. Additionally, all the server volumes except the Past Projects are backed up daily to a portable disk that I take off-site.

All the local machines' Home folders are backed up daily, in the evening. This is primarily to preserve email and preference items. iTunes libraries are explicitly not included in this backup. These folders are too large, and the material is not Rill & Decker's responsibility.

In fact, I should point out that personal files on your machine in general are not Rill & Decker's responsibility. You are welcome to have them, but you must not rely on our data safety measures where they are concerned. Get an external hard disk or a pile of DVDs.

Yes, this is a legalistic disclaimer. It may be that we have your stuff backed up, you just can't count on it.

Retrospect client
Retrospect icon
This is the application on the local machine that allows the backup routine to run. Its icon is a red cube. This app should always be 'On', though it does not need to be running. To check that it's on, launch the app. It is a simple window where the only thing that concerns you are the On/Off radio buttons. Make sure it's on.

When the client is on, you might periodically get a message saying either that a script completed successfully, or that you haven't been backed up in so many days. 'Successfully' is always good. Don't worry if it says there were x number of execution errors; this is normal. 'Not backed up' is always bad; let me know at your earliest convenience.

But look, if the client is off, you won't get any notices, and you will gradually forget the client exists. Remember to check it.

From my (the server's) end, I make a habit of checking that all the backups have run. If I notice your backup has failed, I will eventually come over and check the client.

If you have a failure that requires restoration from backup, get me to help you.

Time Machine

Time Machine is a feature of Leopard, OS X 10.5. It is an nearly idiot-proof automatic backup app. Most of us are still on Tiger so it mostly doesn't apply. As we move to Leopard, we will start using Time Machine with local external disks.

Loss of power

Sometimes the power goes out.

All the machines have a dedicated power backup device (Uninterruptible Power Supply, or UPS). This is basically a battery which is always charged as long as the power is on. When the electricity fails, the battery supplies power to the computer for a few minutes. (I don't know, and it depends. 5-10 minutes, let's say.) The goal in a power failure is to save your work and shut down the machine. "Just finish this one thing" is not part of the save/shutdown process. If Archicad is in the middle of a long process and isn't allowing you to stop it, you may need to force quit (Cmd+Opt+Esc).

While your machine will continue to run from the battery, your connection to the server will likely be lost. This means two things:

1. You cannot simply "Save" any file which is open from the server. Which, see above, is most of them. You must "Save as" to a location on your local machine, such as your Desktop or Documents folder. When the crisis passes, your first task is to move those files onto the server, writing over the old ones.

2. You will get a warning dialog that several volumes have become unavailable. When you see this dialog, click 'Disconnect'. It can take some time for this dialog to appear, during which the machine may become unresponsive (rainbow beach ball). Be patient.

NB: Trying to 'work' in Archicad can make this worse. If AC starts looking on the server for library parts and the Carrot is not available, it may hang, making it impossible to Save As. Again: No working allowed. Save locally and quit.

When everything is closed and quit, shut down the machine via the Apple menu.

If there are unattended machines still running, be a good teammate and check that any work open there is saved.

Once the machine is off, you can turn off the UPS if the beeping noise is driving everyone crazy. They're under the desks in the dark.

When power comes back

Turn the server on.

Replace any files you had to save locally. Delete the local ones to avoid confusion later.