Rule Zero of FinOpsDev

Wed 16 March 2016

I'm working on a personal finance project codenamed FinOpsDev (rebranding suggestions welcome), aiming to reduce drudgery to near zero with automation, and exploit the increased velocity to run automated tasks more often, etc. Like DevOps for your checkbook. Or like Continous Accounting.

As a base, I'm using GNUCash backed by PostgreSQL. GNUCash provides the accounting principles and accounting concepts, and have used it for years. Postgres makes the data available in a central location, with well understood tools.

I'm not ready to announce any useful tools as a result of my tinkering quite yet. Instead, I want to reflect upon an old quote:

To err is human; to really foul things up requires a computer.

Up till now I've been using those tools in a manual process, so it naturally happens that my first foray ends up removing all data from the database. Forcing a restore from a backup I made from last year. From this calamity, a principle is born: no matter what the first financial automation to start with, the zeroth should be backups. I still don't know how it happened, which only underlines the importance of rule zero.

To commemorate the year of transactions I'm rebuilding, here's a clever little logrotate script I found that gets the job done without any additional dependencies:

/var/backups/postgresql/postgresql-dump.sql {
        rotate 30
        create 640 postgres postgres
                /usr/bin/sudo -u postgres /usr/bin/pg_dumpall --clean > /var/backups/postgresql/postgresql-dump.sql

Obviously tools like barman and pg_backrest are great, but I like having a quick, simple solution in place. Next on the plate is a cron job to exfiltrate backups to another server for safe keeping.

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