Category Archives: Life in the Cloud

Where to, Bub?: Geo-Locating ‘Hailo’ Taxi Cab App Expands to New York City

Taxis in New YorkNew Yorkers are a people who appreciate convenience. Take, for example, its omnipresent taxi cab fleet. Be it a 4 AM flight out of John F. Kennedy Airport, or a 5 AM (ahem) last call at a club, there’s a good chance you’ll find a yellow Ford Crown Victoria–or ten.

But New York City is also a constant survival of the fittest. There’s always a little competition while trying to hail a cab, and sometimes you just can’t beat out the crafty veterans. The popular app Uber has tried to attract some fed-up taxi customers, sending a geo-tracked limousine service to your door or street corner. But for most folks, an on-demand limo is just far too much more expensive than the traditional metered cab.

In an attempt to keep up with the times while maintaining the comparatively reasonable costs, Hailo, another geo-locating taxi app, has recently struck a deal with New York City cab companies. Now, New Yorkers will be able to track taxi cabs in their direct vicinity, and with the touch of a button, “hail” them from the comforts of their home, cubicle, or even local bagel shop.

Hailo works just like Uber, but with yellow cabs instead of black Town Cars. A customer can see how many available cabs there are in their area, what the wait time would be, instantly hail the car of choice, and store their credit card information so that payment is seamless. Even though taxis in New York are unlike any other city in the world, “Hailo” is not a neophyte when it comes to big-city cabbing. The company currently works with the taxi fleets in Barcelona, Boston, Chicago, Dublin, London, Madrid, Tokyo, and Toronto.

But the app isn’t just for passengers. As Hailo points out, taxi drivers spend a lot of time trying to find passengers too, and now with the app, taxi drivers will be able to have a far better idea of where needy passengers are located, which will cut down on the fickle nature of the business (and gas expenses).

Visit the Hailo website here, or take a moment to watch their introductory YouTube video. As an additional bonus, if you sign-up for the app now, Hailo will deposit a $10 credit into your account.

Download Hailo for free in the iTunes Store or the Google Play Store.

 

Mozy Mobile App for iTunes and Android

 

World Backup Day 2013

World Backup Day is March 31, 2013. Now is a great time to audit your current backup solution, make sure you know your backups are working and test restoring your files, This World Backup Day guide walks you through testing your own Mozy setup, and what to do if you’re not currently backing up.

Make sure to make it through to the end for 2 chances to win awesome prizes!

Mozy users: Check your backups and restores

Now is a great time to make sure that you know how to restore your files. Run through a test restore with these instructions.

Running into any problems or have some questions? Our support team is standing by – they’re here to help!

Don't Currently Back Up? Use Mozy.

What should you look for in a cloud backup provider? We’ve put together a helpful guide with some good questions to consider in your search.

  • Part 1 - Making Copies, Safekeeping, To the Cloud
  • Part 2 - Not Prepared to Lose, Create and Change
  • Part 3 - Incremental and Versioning, Backup Considerations

With over 3 million users, Mozy is a great choice for protecting your data. You can get started with a free 2GB account. Need more space? No problem – use the promo code “WorldBackupDay” for 15% off all new  1- and 2- year MozyHome and MozyPro accounts. Sign up for Mozy.

Backup is important for businesses as well. Over 90,000 businesses trust MozyPro with their important information. Find out how MozyPro can turn your backups into a competitive advantage for your company.

World Backup Day - Share and Win!

Know someone who doesn’t backup or needs some help getting started? Click here to tweet out the 15% discount code and help them get started with protecting their files.

Everyone who tweets will be entered to win one of three ZAGGSparq Portable Battery chargers (capable of charging a smart phone/device up to four times on a single charge) because you could always use some “backup” power, right? One entry per Twitter account, please.

Mozy Online Backup - What's Your Story?

Has Mozy saved your bacon recently? Let us know how in the comments – you could win  a Sonos Playbar TV Soundbar and Wireless Speaker ($699 value). One entry will be chosen by our team.

Big Data: 5 Key Questions Business Owners Need to Ask

Big Data Questions for BusinessBusiness and tech professionals are talking about big data. A successful big-data project can illuminate new patterns and prompt fresh ideas about a business’s products, services, and customers. Big data is about putting the information you’ve got — and the data you’ll bring in next — to new use.

But when it comes to your business, and when it comes to how big data impacts and stands to augment small-business owners in particular, what’s the difference between big data and just lots of data?

The distinction is important and there are some key questions that owners can ask to help identify and tackle distinctions like that one. Let’s look at five of them, a shortlist of ways to think about big-data and, for small-business owners, the big picture.

Big-Data: Questions for SMBs

“Big data is many things, but what it is not is a technology initiative,” said Jim Gallo, National Director of Business Analytics for ICC, an Ohio-based IT services provider. “Your IT department will be deeply involved in setting things up and making sure you’ve got the number crunching horsepower to ‘do’ big data, but it is an initiative driven by the business not the IT department.”

What Gallo suggests that business owners think about boils down to this: don’t work with big data because you think you’re supposed to, engage with it because your business demands it.

Some ways to frame an approach to big data are as follows.

1. What Do You Want to Know? A big data initiative should begin with owners and partners addressing how the technology stands to help the business achieve its objectives. If new ways of seeing incoming information seem likely to improve efficiencies, increase margins, or open avenues that will help the team to sell smarter, then big data may be a good choice.

2. Do You Have a ‘Big Data’ Problem or a ‘Lots of Data’ Problem? Just because a data set is large, that doesn’t automatically make it “big data”. Remember that the idea behind a big-data enterprise is to find and utilize the kind of connections that all this info-crunching can produce.

3. Is It Worth It? Define the value you will get from big data. Corporate decision-makers faced with escalating costs, shrinking budgets and conflicting priorities are not going to fund a solution without a solid business justification (and that usually means: ROI). Part of the answer is back in the What Do You Want to Know? question. Develop the practical side of the response from there.

4. Where Will the Data Come From? Once you’ve determined that big-data is what you need, you have identify potential data sources. There’s what’s in-house already, and that may be a significant source, but the information you’re after may take some serious integration work to capture, or you may have to bring it in from third-party sources like social media or public data sets. Assess how you’ll secure it.

5. Will It Work? The stakes can be high when working with new technology, so talk to experts — and ideally talk to owners similar to yourself who’ve embarked on a big-data effort of their own. The business world is learning its way into this newly accessible way of looking at information, and the lessons learned by the community of owners like yourself, in this early stage of the game, may prove critical to your own assessment. The best way to understand whether big-data will work for your business is to understand what it does in action. Find out who other big-data exploring owners are. Reach out. In a similar model: answers that will help as you move forward.

Want to dig deeper into big data and how it applies to business. ICC has published this white paper on the subject. More ways to learn. Good luck!

 

MozyPro Online Backup

 

Better Servers through Technology: Submerge Your Infrastructure in Liquid-Cooling Enclosures

What are six words that every department head and director would like to hear from a company’s information-tech department? We can do it for less.

At the end of the day, IT spends a lot of company dollars on hardware, upgrades, and infrastructure. And a lot of that line item gets plowed into servers, power, and all the equipment that keeps the business’s data-backbone strong.

But what if you could bring a plan to the table that, for an initial outlay, promised some significant cutbacks in expenses going forward? Safe to say, it’d be music to management’s ears. One company, recently, has suggest that its server technology — submersion cooling arrays — can do just that. Let’s take a look at submersion cooling, and what one proponent of the system says it can do.

Rethinking Servers and Server Costs

Liquid Cooling EnclosuresWhat if your data center could skip the giant generator, the chiller, the raised floor, and all the hardware that typically goes with keeping servers cool? Green Revolution Cooling says why not — by replacing air-cooled technology with cutting-edge non-conductive-liquid submersion tanks.

“For years high-powered electrical transformers, supercomputers, and over-clocked gaming computers have harnessed the power of dielectric fluid submersion for high performance applications,” according to the company. “However, this performance has required a trade-off in the form of higher costs and/or cooling power.”

What Green Revolution proposes is to place servers inside enclosures filled with a white mineral-oil — clear, odorless, non-toxic, and low cost. The mixture is meant to drive down the price of keeping all a company’s central data hardware at the ideal temp. What follow are some estimates regarding how that will play out, post-installation:

— Energy Consumption: Compared to a standard air-conditioned rack system, Green Revolution’s submersion model could be capable of reducing cooling energy consumption of a typical data center by 90-95%. The company expects a client will cut its total data-center energy consumption by half.

— Buildout vs. Savings: Using GRC, data-center operators should be able to build a data center at lower cost, because the system’s cooling capability means a reduction in both average and peak power consumption. Since most build-out costs, when it comes to data centers, scale with peak power the payoff proposed is packed into the concept of reducing average data-center consumption by approximately 30% (and peak power by more, still). The company pegs the buildout-savings of a liquid-cooling center at 30%–40%, as compared to that of a traditional air-cooled arrangement.

Running Numbers

The fulcrum of a decision, when it comes the reasons an IT department might go with submersion cooling, is probably in the long game. The numbers on that would be along the following lines.

— Payback Period: GRC estimates that most refits of a data center with liquid-cooling technology would achieve savings paybacks within 3 years. A single 10kW, 42U Rack at 8 cents/kWh is estimated to typically save over $5,000 per year in electricity costs.

— Lifetime Savings: While GRC acknowledges that longterm savings will differ from company to company, the typical system is “$100,000 per 42U rack over 10 years, split between energy and infrastructure savings.”

So, that’s the rundown on what GRC says it can do. Of course, there’s a lot to consider, when thinking about a data-center switchover, or a new build. For more info about the system, and the deeper details of liquid-submersion tech, check this FAQ.

 

Mozy Data Shuttle

 

An App in Pursuit of Finding Wi-Fi

Finding a strong wireless signal has become essential for those carrying almost any piece of technology. Aside from smartphones, tablets, and laptops, now even digital cameras are entering the internet-connectivity fray. But as dependent as people and their mobile devices are on the internet, finding a wireless signal to stay connected to is usually a recurring hurdle.

And that’s where the one-beat — yet still brilliant — ‘Wi-Fi Finder’ app comes into play. JiWire’s Wi-Fi Finder, like Google Maps, uses geo-tracking to find your location, but it is then able to direct you to a variety of wireless internet options in your vicinity.

With Wi-Fi Finder, not only can you uncover internet anywhere, but also, prospective users can further filter the types of internet they’d like to use. In addition to toggling between “paid” and “free” (or both) connections, the app features “location type” (store, restaurant, park, etc.), “providers” (AT&T, T-Mobile, etc.), or whether there’s just an internet hotspot (e.g. Boingo) available.

As handy as Wi-Fi Finder can be in a pinch, the app can also be used ahead of time too. For instance, if you’re specifically looking for a cafe on Charles Street in Manhattan’s West Village, the app can inform you which cafes have wireless and whether you’ll have to pay for it.

(Screenshot #1: the search filters)

Wi-Fi Finder App Search Filters

 

(Screenshot #2: the map feature)

Wi-Fi Finder App Map Screen

(Screenshot #3: the search results)

Wi-Fi Finder App Search Results

But perhaps the app’s best feature is its off-line database. Even if you don’t have a network connection, users can still access Wi-Fi Finder’s off-line database to find a nearby hotspot. This function is particularly helpful while abroad, especially if you want to use your home smart phone, but would rather not pay the exorbitant roaming fees.

Wi-Fi Finder is a free app, and can be downloaded in either the iTunes Store (for the iPhone or iPad) or Google Play Store (for any Android device).

 

Mozy Mobile Apps

 

Cleaning up your life with digital feng shui

Feng Shui RocksIt’s hard to let go, believe me.

I’ve clung onto files I’ll never use with the firm belief that they’ll be useful one day.

I’m totally gonna need that A+ essay I wrote in 10th grade on “Six Characters in Search of an Author” as a professional writing sample! 

Really?!

I can’t even remember what folder I’ve stuffed it in on my laptop from high school. Needless to say, it’s somewhere in PC purgatory.

Now if that laptop stops working, that essay I was so proud of will be lost forever. When my laptop finally does stop functioning, it will likely be because it has decided to retire itself after the four years of abuse I put it through during high school and the additional five years it has survived my father’s torture.

The truth is, my writing has (hopefully) improved beyond a 10th-grade writing level, so there’s no need for me to reference any essay that’s more than a few years old. But what about my more recent written pieces, or those incredibly important files that I absolutely must cling onto for the rest of my life?

I can’t just cross my fingers hoping that if I treat my current laptop well, it — along with all my precious files — will stay with me for a lifetime.

While it hasn’t failed me yet, I used to hate my computer.

Folders filled with documents I don’t use. Works I can’t remember authoring. Drafts that should never see the light of day.

It’s a mess.

I realized all the unorganized files I kept scattered around my desktop interrupted my workflow and put me in a bad mood every time I just looked at them.

To create peace of mind, I uploaded everything I owned to a cloud server and deleted anything that wasn’t created recently or part of an on-going project to maintain a clean, uncluttered desktop.

I no longer have thousands of files glaring at me on my PC. I can flexibly manage all of my files in the cloud and never have to worry about clogging up my hard drive. My computer also runs smoother now that there’s less ‘junk’ it has to put up with.

Let’s get cleaning!

If any of this resonates with you, here’s how you can start cleaning up your digital life:

First, locate all the files you have on your computer that you wouldn’t mind relocating. Second, get rid of anything you no longer need — stop being so clingy! Finally, take whatever is left, and move it to your new cloud server.

For a small monthly fee, you save yourself a ton of headaches and stress never having to look at a cluttered desktop again. There is also an added benefit of having easy access to your files on any electronic device with a solid internet connection.

Digital feng shui is good.

For some, it’s a ritual to open your own computer and know exactly where your files are kept and stored. For me, it was a nightmare to turn on my laptop and look at the mess I had accumulated.

But now I can hop on any computer, access my files anywhere and everywhere, and since I’ve organized all of my files after uploading them to the cloud, I can pull up any document I need within seconds and am ready to rock-n-roll.

 

MozyHome Online Backup - Secure and Affordable

 

SnapChat Revolutionizes How Users Share Private Media

Snapchat ScreenshotAs proven by the hundred million users on Instagram, people love to share all kinds of photos. But when it comes to sharing those more intimate types of media, there’s little preventing the recipient from publicly re-sharing it with a wider audience. To help solve that troubling disparity, SnapChat has become the first mainstream app to put an end to user’s privacy concerns.

Unlike sending a picture through regular text, SnapChat pictures will self-destruct. Senders can set a specific life for the picture — from one to ten seconds — for viewers to be able to view the picture. After the time runs out, it is terminated forever. The media is also deleted from SnapChat’s servers too. Considering how Instragram’s designs to own and profit from user’s content backfired, this already puts SnapChat ahead of the terms-of-service curve.

Even though SnapChat has been around since September 2011, it has emerged as a innovative social media more recently. According to co-founder Evan Spiegel, more than twenty million photos are shared per day, with over a billion photos shared since it’s debut. Apparently Facebook took notice, and created its own version of the app, revitalizing the formerly-dead ‘Poke’ function. And while Facebook could technically tap into its existing base to propel the application’s success, SnapChat might still be the superior option as Poke fails to alert users when recipients take screenshots of the supposedly-private conversation. In this respect, Poke fails the privacy test, which is essentially the whole initial point of the app.

Technology experts have questioned whether SnapChat’s ceiling is merely a tool for provocative messaging, or if it has the depth to become the next photo-sharing giant, but regardless of accusations, the company has seemingly found a large enough niche to monetize in the near future.

 

Mozy Mobile App

 

How the Cloud Makes Travel Easy

I’ve climbed the Great Wall in Beijing, China. I’ve played with elephants in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I’ve swam the shores of Punta del Este, Uruguay. And I’ve wandered the concrete jungle that is Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a seasoned traveler, I thought I knew it all.

Backpack, check. Clothes, check. Digital camera, check.

I’ve been in towns where no one spoke English and I didn’t speak the local language (at least not competently). I had to learn how to navigate big cities and small villages, and most importantly, how to find my way back to wherever I was staying. I’ve even run out of money.

How the Cloud makes travel easier

Phrasebook, map, $20 bill stashed so secretly, I remembered it only when desperate times called for desperate measures.

I’ve also survived violent food poisoning and getting hit by a car.

While I have most of these moments committed to memory (I mean, who can forget getting hit by a car?!), it’s not the easiest task to recall each story one-by-one and articulately share the play-by-play.

One camera. One memory card. 

When I’m off on a trip, I prefer to pack as light as possible. A light backpack that’s comfortable and secure. Enough clothes and underwear to last me the whole trip, or a few days worth so I have time to find a nearby laundromat. A camera to capture all those crazy moments.

After a day’s worth of hiking, city wandering, or people watching, my camera would blink, warning me it’s almost at full capacity. Once home, at my hotel/hostel, or friend-of-a-friend’s couch, I would use whatever computer was available (or find the nearest digital cafe) and upload my hundreds of photos and tens of outrageous videos to the cloud.

No need to lug around my own computer. No need for a bulky hard drive, or any of those easily forgotten flash drives.

I just needed a solid internet connection and a computer for no more than 30 minutes until I was the envy of all my family and friends back home.

Using cloud storage, I am able to minimize the number of things I have to pack when traveling. I also never have to fuss over breaking or losing any costly devices other than my camera, which is practically attached to me except when I’ve asked a friend or stranger to help me capture one more memory from my travels.

Best of all, when I return home, I never have to worry about the photos and videos taking up too much local storage space or getting lost in the overwhelming litter of files I can’t seem to organize or get rid of.

So, when I’m sitting in front of my laptop, right before I pull out all of my hair because I can’t locate ‘forgot-your-name file’ in the ‘not-a-clue folder,’ I cross my fingers hoping my internet won’t act up on me again, go to my cloud server, and meditate reminiscing about that tranquil afternoon at the Moroccan bath.

 

Mozy Mobile App

 

FedEx vs. the Internet

If you wanted to transfer hundreds of gigabytes of data across the country, you have a couple different options to consider.

You could upload the information to a file sharing service and then access and download the files on the recipient’s computer.

Or, you could take the physical storage containing the information (hard drives, USB thumb drives, SD cards, etc.) and use a package delivery service similar to FedEx to send the files, and then access them at the destination.

Wait for data to upload, or ship?

Which of these is faster?

The blog “What If” recently took a calculated look at this question, using shipping giant FedEx to stand in for the physical shipping service.

Cisco estimates that total internet traffic currently averages 167 terabits per second. FedEx has a fleet of 654 aircraft with a lift capacity of 26.5 million pounds daily. A solid-state laptop drive weighs about 78 grams and can hold up to a terabyte.
That means FedEx is capable of transferring 150 exabytes of data per day, or 14 petabits per second—almost a hundred times the current throughput of the internet.

In fact, based on current Internet traffic growth estimates (29% annually), it will continue to be faster to ship your data until the year 2040. However, because the amount of data hard drives are capable of holding will increase as well, that estimate may not be accurate.

According to “What If“:

The only way to actually reach the FedEx point is if transfer rates grow much faster than storage rates. In an intuitive sense, this seems unlikely, since storage and transfer are fundamentally linked—all that data is coming from somewhere and going somewhere—but there’s no way to predict usage patterns for sure.

So for the foreseeable future, it’s faster to send your physical data to another location rather than trying to transfer it via the internet.

How can you take advantage of this with your business data? Do you have a server with hundreds of gigabytes or even a terabyte or two of information that you want to back up online? Of course you could back it up “over the wire”, taking weeks or even months to get your information stored online. (We could say talk about LAN bandwidth competition, IT pain caused by monitoring network traffic and kicking off backups at night for prolonged periods of time, but you can see where we’re going with this.)

Mozy Data Shuttle

But what if you want to expedite the process? Enter the Mozy Data Shuttle. After you order a Data Shuttle device from Mozy, we’ll overnight it to you (some areas in the EU are priority mail which means it will arrive within 3-5 days typically), and you do the initial backup to the shuttle device. (Incremental backups can occur following the initial backup to the Data Shuttle, even before the shuttle arrives to Mozy.) Put it back in the box and ship it to our data center and you’ve skipped the initial upload over the wire (saving your IT staff time and unclogging your network so your team can actually work) Fast. Simple. Secure.

By using this method, you can take advantage of the speed of a shipping company as well as the convenience, security, and experience of MozyPro Online Backup.

How Technology Can Cure Tax Season Headaches

Tax Stressed BusinessmanTax season is one of the most stressful times of the year for many Americans, but according to accounting experts, the proper use of technology is a better cure for tax-season headaches than a few aspirin.

“We live in a digital world,” explained Rebecca Berneck, founder of Officeheads, a provider of operational strategies and back office services to small companies. “There are a variety of different things taxpayers and business owners can do electronically throughout the year to make things much easier come tax time.”

One of the biggest hassles that can be avoided, according to Berneck, is having to carry around piles and piles of paper receipts. There are several ways you can now store them on your computer or mobile devices, she said.

According to Berneck, taxpayers should look to their mobile phones and devices for apps that allow you to scan in receipts and save them digitally. One such app is Proongo, an application and website where you can record your receipts, mileage, credit card information, and more, so it’s easily accessible come tax time.

She also suggests using your smartphone to take photos of the odometer in your car when you get gas, receipts from company dinners and outings, and any other expenses you plan to claim on your return.

Even if you’re not comfortable using apps or smartphones, you should at least consider scanning in important documents, like receipts and tax forms, said Julie Miller a spokesperson for TurboTax. TurboTax now offers tax software online, through tablet or smartphone, or via CD/Download. (Many employers are even starting to offer tax forms in PDF format so individuals don’t have to do it themselves, she said).

One new technological idea TurboTax has brought to the table to help with tax claims is ItsDeductible Online, a site that allows individuals to enter charitable donations right when they make them. ItsDeductible Online will automatically add those donations as deductions to the taxpayer’s TurboTax account. (In case you’re wondering, yes, you do have to use TurboTax to file your taxes for this feature to be useful).

The biggest downside to going digital with all of your tax documents is the fact that sometimes computers can crash and data can be lost, said Berneck of Officeheads . However, there’s an easy way to prevent that from happening: cloud software, she explained.

“Cloud provides secure and seamless accessibility,” she said, adding that having cloud software has saved her on numerous occasions. “These are extremely important documents,” she said. “When you work with them on a daily basis you want to make sure they’re as safe as can be. Cloud provides that needed security.”

So whether you use an accountant for your taxes, or you do them online yourself, technology can make your life easier. And all the experts agree that you should be recording your tax data electronically all year long. Do not wait until the last minute when tax season hits.

“The best thing you can do is get organized in advance of sitting down to do your taxes. More and more people are wanting to keep those documents electronically,” Miller said. “You want to make sure you get every dollar you deserve. Being organized is the best step to making that happen.”

 

MozyPro Online Backup