Category Archives: Life in the Cloud

Outta sight = outta mind … why you should care where your data is stored

KidsPlayingOnStreetThe other day I was on Facebook and saw a post that talked about how we are the last generation to play in the streets, ride our bikes down the street, walk home at night from a friend’s house, etc. That got me thinking about some of the security measures that I think most of us took for granted. But with identity theft, system-corrupting viruses downloaded from emails, online scams…the list goes on and on for the type and kind of threats your data is exposed to on a minute-by-minute basis. Given that we are moving more and more towards a technology-based society – all our critical data is now stored as compressed data in datacenters.

I don’t even carry cash with me anymore – any and everything that I purchase is via a debit or credit card. What does this mean to overall security of our data? How do we keep our data safe? And how do we trust that “safe” is not a marketing term used by companies to get you to sign up for an account? Is out of sight the equivalent of out of mind?

For parents out there, think of data security as those instances where your kids are playing in the next room and you don’t hear them….nine times out of ten times it means that there is something destructive happening, so you have to constantly check in to make sure everyone is on the up-and-up. Just because you store your data with a company that says that they are secure and your data is safe, what are they doing on their end to make sure that your data is really safe? Are they like the parent that checks the next room to ensure that everything is fine or do they leave the house for a few hours and not worry about safety?

I would much rather know where my data is being stored and how it’s being used. Who has access to my data? Why do they have access? How are they using it? Who can I trust with my data? Why should I trust them with my data – just because they say so? These are just some questions that I need to consider – do you?

Shash Cates is the Creative Project Manager on the Mozy Marketing team.

Striiv: An App That Turns Exercise into an Interactive Game

The business of trying to make exercise a fun activity is not for the faint of heart. Nintendo tried it with its famous Power Pad accessory back in 1988, but while the game itself was fun, it was hardly the calorie-buster it advertised. From the other end of the spectrum, infomercials have been pushing all kinds of unintentionally hilarious “can’t miss” products, inventions better suited for generating YouTube views than sales.

Smartphone apps look to be the new frontier of making exercise fun. Striiv is the latest innovator attempting to turn exercise into an interactive game, this time for a new generation of technology.

Striiv hopes to avoid the fate of the Hawaii Chair by not trying to re-invent exercise or guarantee a six-pack. Instead, the smartphone app just accurately calculates the exercise you take for granted–like your daily walk from the train to work–and motivates you to do more of it by handing out awards and prizes. It might seem like a challenge to make exercising as addictive as, say, World of Warcraft, but luckily for Striiv, one WoW’s visionaries is part of the team.

Below is an interview with Lexy Franklin and Melanie Joskel, two members of the Striiv’s marketing team:

What is Striiv?

Striiv is a Smart Pedometer that counts every step you take throughout the day and motivates you to walk a lot more. Striiv goes beyond tracking and gets you active with personalized challenges, activity based games, and competitions.

What was the original thought process behind creating a Striiv gadget as opposed to just focusing on an app?

There are many people who prefer a separate, discrete device to carry around with them. Striiv Play lets people track their activity, even when their iPhone isn’t on them. It also has a high-precision altimeter to count stairs and is a great option for people who want to extend the battery life on their phone. The original Striiv Smart Pedometer is a standalone device with its own color touchscreen. It is great for people who want a one-stop solution, no smartphone required.

When was the app launched? How many app downloads have there been?

The app launched on October 16th. We haven’t announced our download totals, but we are very excited about how quickly the community is growing and how engaged Striiv users are.

Who are Striiv’s main competitors?

There are other companies like Fitbit and Nike Fuelband, but they are focused on tracking activity in charts and graphs. Striiv is really different because we go beyond tracking and we focus on motivating you to be more active by making fitness fun and social.

What makes Striiv different?

It really is the Striiv experience that sets it apart. Striiv is unique in that it uses games, your social network, and tailored challenges to inspire you to be more active. We are laser-focused on making fitness as fun as possible. Striiv’s Trumotion technology assures our users that the steps they take everyday are being counted and are real. There are no false steps in the car for example, which you see with many other pedometers.

When look at the landscape of fitness devices and apps, everything is based on just measuring your activity. It’s charts, graphs, and more graphs. At Striiv, we really are the fun guys. We take our background in designing video games to turn every step you take in a part of a game. Our goal is to inspire users to get up from their computers or TVs and walk, not because they feel like they should, but because they are trying to play a game to grow a plant or walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. Our mission is to make fitness fun and accessible for millions of people.

What kinds of awards and prizes can Striiv users get? Are there future plans to forge partnerships with mainstream companies for more alluring prizes?

We believe that one of the best ways to motivate people to move is to walk for someone else’s benefit. Striiv’s original Smart Pedometer counts every step taken toward a donation to charity, at no cost to its users. Users can earn real world prizes like Climbing the Eiffel Tower or Burning a Cupcake. They can also compete against their friends’ daily averages and personal best.

We are always looking at interesting partnerships that will bring a better or more rewarding experience to our users. We have already begun a great partnership with MyFitnessPal to bring nutrition tracking capabilities to the Striiv experience and we will continue to find partners that can help us motivate our community to get active.

 Where do you see Striiv in five years?

In five years, we see Striiv as the platform you go to in order to walk with your friends all over the world. We want empower millions of people, just like you, to feel like the best versions of themselves.

 

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FanCloud.com: You Pay Them to Write

Fancloud.comThe Internet has both provideth and taketh paid writing opportunities from writers. While many sites rightfully pay their freelance writers (the latter usually by word-count, experience, expertise, etc…), other sites, like Huffington Post, famously do not. Yet, despite the amount of flack non-paying web sites get from the writing world, FanCloud.com, a sports news outlet, is attempting to go where no site has gone before. They’re proposing that interested bloggers actually pay them to write for FanCloud. Yes, you read that correctly.

For a “lifetime membership,” prospective writers have to pay the site’s founders fifty dollars, enabling them to publish anything from “Who Should Close for the New York Mets in 2013″ to “An In-Depth Look at My Son’s Pee-Wee Hockey Team.” But, there is some incentive to write articles closer to the former.

According to the site’s “publishing” section:

“As a member of FanCloud Publishing, you will have the opportunity to be rewarded with equity for reaching certain milestones. Through these milestones we are committed to giving away 49% of our publishing division to our members by the end of the first year. Each month FC Publishing will give away 16 awards of .25% equity (for a total of 4% equity) in the company for milestones achieved. There is no limit to the amount of equity any one writer can earn.”

Before you writers/potential shareholders start dreaming about cashing in your stock and buying that house in Hilton Head, keep in mind that certain “milestones” first have to be reached. For instance, FanCloud lists: most unique pages views across all of an author’s content, highest average article rating, most unique views for a single article, most articles published, lowest visitor bounce rate, and most comments as prerequisites to earning any shares of the company. Not only are these goals a bit on the ambiguous side, but also, it would take a heck of a lot of time and energy for a writer–one who is most likely juggling a variety of jobs that pay in a real currency–to make this offer worth its while.

But, for a moment, let’s say you’re an aspiring sportswriter, you have no other job (and no life expenses either), and simply cannot land a paying gig. Based on your disposition and aspirations, you decide to make it your sole priority to become FanCloud’s most prolific blogger, and subsequently, its greatest non-founding shareholder. There’s just one remaining question then: “What exactly do minimal shares in a identifiably-profitable company entitle you to?” It’s a valid question.

Usually when you’re in-line to become a minor, medium, or major investor in a company, it is standard procedure to have access to said company’s financials. Yet, the only impressive number listed by FanCloud is the supposed twenty-two million visitors per month the Yardbarker Network averages. While FanCloud is a subsidiary of Yardbarker (which is owned by Fox Sports), the popular blogging umbrella is home to blogs for every single team in just about every sport known to humankind. Yardbarker might collectively enjoy the viewer-ship of twenty-two million visitors per month, but there’s little-to-no analytical proof that FanCloud will see even a small fraction of that. So not only does FanCloud have to compete with mainstream giants like ESPN or CBS Sportsline (and a plethora more), but it even has to compete with other similar sites within its own umbrella.

The final variable to weighing FanCloud’s potential success as a sports news outlet comes down to the quality of writing the site will offer its potential readers. If literally anyone (and their mother) could be a writer, how will there be any quality control? Even though sports enthusiasts vary in intellectual expectations for written content, it is unlikely that the model “written for sports fans, by sports fan” will generate a compelling enough grass roots campaign to oust the most mainstream, and non-stat-heavy giants like ESPN’s and CBS Sportsline’s of the world.

Even in the case of Huffington Post, which has both paid staff writers and unpaid contributing bloggers, there is good reason the news-mammoth has such a rigid payment ideology. According to Nate Silver’s article The Economics of Blogging and The Huffington Post, Huffington Post’s paid political articles receive twenty times more comments than the unpaid political articles. Since Silver uses “comments” as a means to roughly determine the site’s page views (as Huffington Post does not release its page view numbers to the public), Silver’s analysis exposes that the average reader is a heck of a lot more likely to read an article by a paid writer than an unpaid writer; perhaps insinuating that most readers still tend to gravitate towards articles of greater quality (or unfortunately, of “celebrity” status).

There is no doubt that FanCloud will face an uphill battle to discover top-shelf writing talent and the big readership needed to retain that talent. But then again, those who thought Huffington Post’s ideology was too iconoclastic to become successful saw that publication laugh all the way to the bank.

 

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Life in the Cloud

Be sure to enter to win a 1-year free MozyHome account by leaving a comment on this post, telling us how you use the cloud!

These days data is always available to us, never no more than a click or a tap away. Cloud computing is quickly becoming a mainstream part of everyday life, and we find ourselves banking, updating Facebook from our phones, sending emails from taxis, and backing up our data — all because of “the cloud”.

We’ve talked about this all-knowing cloud before, reviewing how to make your important information available to you online, how you can use cloud backup to customize your Android phone, how the cloud is helping accountants, and even how the cloud is relaxing concerns about when employees are arriving or leaving the office.

So, what is cloud computing? Let’s take a look.

Life in the Cloud

(This image was grabbed from our “Life in the Cloud” infographic)

There are quite a few cloud computing companies that play a major role in our every day lives, including Google, Facebook, Pandora, Netflix, and Twitter. Each of these companies stores a variety of different information in the cloud, including some information about you.

Where do these companies store all of this information?

Cloud computing companies store users’ information in giant storage centers called “Data Centers“. Data centers contain row after row of servers filled with hard drives with your data on them.

Data Centers

(This image was grabbed from our “Where Oh Where is the World’s Data Being Stored?” infographic)

These data centers are secured with various types of security (both physical and technological), to ensure that your information can’t be access by someone coming into the data center, either in person or via the web.

Because your information is stored in the data center, you can access it using any device that has the ability to connect to it (your laptop, your iPad, or your Mom’s typewriter. Ok, just kidding on the last one.)

I want to get in the cloud!

So, have you decided it’s definitely time to upgrade and enter the cloud?

If you’re still holding out and you need more convincing, here’s a recent post on 5 more signs that it’s time to upgrade and enter the cloud (and yes mixtapes do make the list).

If you’re ready to join the digital age, want to help you on this exciting journey. Trusting your family pictures and your tax documents to a someone you don’t know well can be an unnerving experience. We’ve put together some guides to help you make sure you’re considering all the factors when choosing a cloud backup vendor.

After reviewing these posts, you’ll feel much more confident in evaluating and choosing someone to trust with your important data.

Mozy has made it very easy to access your files (whether backed up OR synced) via your computer, your mobile device, or a web browser on a friend’s computer. Currently backing up over 90 petabytes (What’s a petabyte?) of data for over 3,000,000 home users and 80,000 business, Mozy is the leader in cloud backup and storage. We’re big fans of the cloud and the amazing things it lets us do. We’ve put together this guide to help you learn more about cloud computing and what it can do for you. We promise that once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back. We hope you’ll consider the online backup leader for all your cloud storage needs.

Enter to win a 1-year free MozyHome account by leaving a comment on this post, telling us how you use the cloud! (Comments must be submitted by 9/28/12, winner will be emailed.)