Category: Software

Data backup service

We soft-launched our new data backup service today. That means that it is up and available, but we are not telling too many folks about it. (There is some concern that there will be lots of questions from customers to our support team, etc, so we’re going to start quietly and make sure things go smoothly.)

But, you read my blog, so you get to find out now.

Our goal is to add value to the Internet access products that we provide today, so we are offering free backup to all customers, with a modest limit on the amount of data we’ll store. Currently, this limit is 500 megs totally free – enough for some important documents and a lot of photos.

To give an example, while keeping in mind that photo size varies based upon how many megapixels your camera has, perhaps 150k-200k is a good average for jpeg photo size. Based upon that assumption, the free storage is enough for a few thousand photos. That’s great for someone who makes moderate use of a digital camera.

Of course, you can upgrade from free to paid service, and get up to 50 gigabytes of remote backup for just $4.95 per month.

When you imagine how you would feel if you lost all of the personal data and documents, photos, music etc on your personal PC, I think this is a great value!

You can add multiple PCs, so maybe your primary PC requires full backup, but the other systems around the house might fit into the free allowance. You can mix and match, and currently, there isn’t a limit on how many PCs you can back up as a customer.

Most of us neglect regular backups of the digital data that has become so much more important than it used to be. When photos were on paper, as long as your house didn’t burn down, they would last a lifetime. Now, every now and then a hard drive fails or we accidentally delete something, or a PC or laptop is stolen. Even CD-ROM or DVD backups are not immune to failure, and they must be taken off-site regularly to really provide real protection. That is not convenient, and the blank disks are expensive.

Remote backup over your broadband connection is a great solution to all of these challenges. Your important photos and documents are automatically encrypted on your PC then copied in the encrypted form to our data center for safe storage.

At the very least, everyone should use the basic free service – then, if you’ve got more than 500 megs of photos and other data, it’s probably worth the $4.95 per month to keep all that data safe and secure, so an upgrade makes sense if/when you reach that amount of usage.

It’s easy to set up, and software is available for both Windows and Mac users. Click here to get started now!

One nice new feature

Click for the comic intro to the Chrome browser

Click for the comic intro to the Chrome browser

For a number of years, my desktop PC has spent most of it’s time running just three basic programs. A web browser, an email client and a ssh client (unix remote terminal).

So does it matter what the OS is? Not really, as long as it’s reliable and secure. What matters is those three programs.

I’ve been using Firefox and Thunderbird as my primary applications for some time, and I have a love/hate relationship with each. They’ve both got shortcomings and real issues, but so far, they’re each the best option.

With the browser being one of these important applications, I am always interested when something new comes along to shake up the status quo. Without new entrants, there is little innovation, so Google’s Chrome browser is an interesting new entry. Alongside the IE/Firefox duopoly, it’s not the only other browser, there are Safari and Opera – that’s about all that comes to mind.

But, Chrome has Google behind it – and they have been thinking of the web itself as applications for a long time. This concept, plus a tidy interface and some nice features look like a win so far.

My favorite feature so far is ability to grab a tab and tear it off into a new window. In IE and Firefox, you’re stuck in the application, viewing one tab at a time. When you are watching something (a video, for example) and want to view it while doing something else, you’ve got to open a whole new window, move that URL in, and start the video over.

Chrome lets you grab any tab and drag it out, creating a new window, without interruption of the video or application. Perfect! I’ve got my windows concept back and can juggle “applications” (web pages) however I like on my desktop!

Chrome is beta, but you can use it alongside your current browser without any problems. Play with both, compare, and use what you like best. Then, as new releases of Firefox, Safari, etc come out, try them too – hopefully we will continue to see innovation driven by competition.

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My best idea ever – can you help me find an implementation?

We probably agree that Email is THE killer application on the Internet. It’s simple and humble, but it’s critical to everything businesses and individuals do today.

And, we know that everyone suffers from information and task management overload.

My idea: When I send email, I want to set an “expectation” for a response, for my own reference and my own follow up. It might be “no response expected”, or “two days”, or “today”. Maybe it’s a slider I drag before I hit send. If I don’t drag it, the default is ‘nothing expected’.

If I don’t get a response within my set expected interval, I want my sent message to reappear in my inbox so that I can “reply” to the person I sent to and say “bump” or “how about this?” – or pick up the phone. (No, software should NOT annoy the recipient!)

The goal is to delegate and forget, never needing to keep in my head all of the things I’ve sent out as tasks and items requiring response.

This sort of follows the Getting Things Done (GTD) philosophy of committing everything to a system you trust, then forgetting about it and getting on with life.

I don’t want to bug the recipient, this is just a sender client side concept. The tool would look for a reply (Subject: Re: blah) to satisfy the expectation.

So my thought is that this is THE missing feature of email, and that someone must have written a Thunderbird extension. But, no luck finding one.

Which brings me to my request of you: Ask your social network (the techie ones, anyway) if they’re aware of a tool for Thunderbird that reminds you to follow up on emails which have not been responded to?

Okay, I hope this isn’t REALLY my best idea ever, but it’s a decent one, and I hope you can help me find an implementation.

Please reply with comments if you find this feature, or have any suggestions or feedback.

Firefox release 3

I’ve been using Firefox for a long time, and have found it to be the most capable, extensible and secure browser of all of the options available. Do yourself a favor and switch or upgrade today, it’s free, no strings attached.

Their newest version includes some great features such as malware and phishing protection. They’ve also made some improvements to their already great tabbed browsing interface that should make it even easier to manage many open pages.

You can download it here:

Firefox 3