Category Archives: Misc.

Data on the Horizons…and Horizon

It’s getting closer to that time of the year when we start reading about the biggest events that transpired during the past 12 months. Sure, we haven’t entered the month of December yet, but holiday lights and decorations are on the shelves, so why not talk about one of the biggest events and its associated data even before 2015 ends?

Although NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft was launched January 19, 2006, it qualifies as one of the biggest events of 2015. That’s because its six-month flyby of Pluto didn’t occur until July 14 of this year. That’s not surprising, considering that Pluto is 2.66 billion miles away from Earth (when the two planets are closest). That’s a long, loooong way away. To help put things in perspective, the Earth’s moon is 238,900 away. Pluto is 11,000 times further away from us!

Just how important is the New Horizons mission? The National Academy of Sciences has ranked this space mission as the highest priority for solar system exploration. Its purpose is to understand where Pluto and its moons fit in with the other objects in our solar system, according to NASA.

Even though New Horizons didn’t do its flyby of Pluto until this year doesn’t mean important science wasn’t happening before then. About a year after its launch in February 2007, New Horizons did a flyby of Jupiter, gathering all sorts of important data, including about the planet’s great storm systems and why they change colors. And from the start of its mission, the New Horizons spacecraft began collecting and storing data on its two 32-gigabit (“bit” not “byte”) hard drives.

About two months after New Horizons passed Pluto and its moons, the mission team back on Earth began downloading the tens of gigabits the spacecraft collected and stored on its digital recorders. The download, which started in September, will take about 16 months to complete. That’s because even though the radio signals that contain the data are moving at light speed, it takes 4 ½ hours to reach the Earth.

When you’re talking about 4 ½ hours, you’re talking about a lot of time, at least by Earth’s standards, especially if you’re talking download time. 4 ½ hours…270 minutes. That’s no New York minute! You can watch a couple of movies in 4 ½ hours. With the New Horizons transmitting at 1 KB per second, it kind of makes it hard to complain about today’s high-speed Internet speeds, even when they’re slow. If it took that long to download your favorite movie, you might break out the Scrabble board instead. Or if you’re patient, your Friday data night might actually work its way into Saturday, which might not be a bad thing, depending on how well you’re getting along with your date.

With the new year just around the corner, now is as good a time as any to look back at all of the big events of 2015 and consider how much we rely on technology, and how easy—and fast!—it is to download, access, store, forward, and receive the data that makes our world go around. With the ever-increasing speed at which we’re creating data these days, you can only wonder what’s on the horizon.

We treat your data like it’s our data

Talk is cheap, so the saying goes. You hear lots of talk about security when it comes to IT management. So, is talk cheap when it comes to IT? Never! All it takes is one security breach—such as having data stolen or otherwise compromised—for a business to realize long-term or even permanent damage to the bottom line. And there’s nothing cheap about that! Here are a few examples:

•    Target Stores: The result of this data breach was 110 million stolen records. Compromised personal information included 40 million credit card numbers and 70 million records, such as name, physical address, email address, and phone number. Target says the breach cost them $148 million, and the cost to financial institutions was $200 million.
•    JPMorgan Chase: The largest U.S. bank experienced a breach that affected 83 million households and small businesses. User contact information was compromised, including names, phone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses. As a result, new digital security initiatives will cost the bank $250 million annually. Estimated damage costs from the breach vary, but some put it at more than $1 billion.
•    eBay: Hackers stole email addresses, physical addresses, and login credentials from as many as 145 million users. The company strongly advised all of its buyers and sellers to reset their passwords. Fines and lawsuits are estimated at $200 million.

Even so-called minor data breaches (but it’s not minor if it’s your data that’s been compromised!) can be costly. Today, the total average cost of a data breach is $3.8 million, as reported by Reuters. That’s about $150 per record lost or stolen.

The truth is, it may be impossible to prevent every data breach. That’s why it’s critical that all data is backed up all the time. But there is more to safeguarding your data than just backing it up. For example, how security-minded is the company that backs up your data to the cloud?

Mozy by EMC encrypts your data before it ever leaves your machine, during the transfer process across the wire, and while at rest in our data centers. EMC’s data centers employ state-of-the-art physical and technical security practices. Additionally, Mozy has successfully completed a SOC 1 SSAE 16 Type 2 audit and received ISO 27001 certification. In fact, the Information Security Management System supporting Mozy’s offerings and products, as well as supporting resources, including global data center operations, infrastructure, and application development were recently recertified as to conforming to ISO 27001 requirements.

These independent verifications certify that Mozy’s processes and procedures meet or exceed the strictest control objectives in the industry. By voluntarily submitting to the SSAE 16 audit and obtaining ISO 27001 certification, Mozy demonstrates its commitment to its client information and its preparation to face ongoing threats to digital information.

We treat your data like it’s our data, and one of the ways we do that is by choosing to be audited and certified. It’s a measureable way to demonstrate the security, reliability, and availability of the Mozy service and our commitment to safeguarding your data.

Change is the one thing you can count on—and that’s a good thing

How many times have you heard the expression, “The only thing that is constant is change”? No matter which direction you see yourself going, you can expect change. The expectation of change is deeply rooted in us; you might even say our DNA knows that change is a constant. Change is a-coming. You can count on it.

Change, even if it’s expected, requires adjustment. And even good changes—changes that you want and have waited for—require adjustments. I remember when our first child was born. Actually, I remember months before the actual delivery. There were lots of changes, especially with my wife. As the baby grew in utero, my wife experienced a few cravings. Nothing unusual like pickles or spicy food, but I distinctly remember some pretty persistent requests for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

There were changes to that extra bedroom, too. Before our son was born, I painted the walls yellow, applied a banner along the top of the walls, assembled a crib, and hung up a couple of mobiles.

When our son was finally born, there were more changes. Like diaper changing. I didn’t have a lot of experience with this kind of change, but I was quick to adapt. Talk about change being constant. It seemed like I was always changing diapers. But I caught on quickly. I learned that the faster I changed the diaper, the faster I avoided a number of unpleasantries, like lingering malodors and the ever-present danger of getting peed on, which seemed to be an ongoing threat no matter how soaked the diaper already was. But a fresh diaper didn’t mean the end of change. How often did I get A&D ointment stains all over my pants? Great, then I had to change.

When our son went through the terrible twos, which really weren’t so terrible, the change in temperament required more patience and understanding. Before we knew it, he was a teenager. Lots more changes to son and parents during that phase. Then there was college and marriage. Lots of happiness to be sure. And lots of changes. But as I look back, the really easy and fun changes combined with the really difficult changes made all of us better. We improved and became wiser and less uptight and even less apprehensive of those future, unknown changes. That’s good, because you can count on change to find you even if you’re not looking for it. So embrace it and make the most of it!

With all this talk of change, I’ve worked up a craving for ice cream. Specifically, Ben & Jerry’s Rain Forest Crunch. That used to be one of my favorites. Used to be. But alas, it’s no longer available. In fact, it was retired to the Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Graveyard. Now that’s a change I can live without.

The Limited Lifespan of Technology

What do cars and technology have in common? Both lose value the moment you purchase them.

For cars, this isn’t much of an issue since they will usually continue to run just fine for several years. Unlike smartphones, computers, and other tech, they don’t need upgrades. The average age of a passenger car/light vehicle in the U.S. is over 11 years, according to They even get special “historic” license plates in most states after 20 years! Personal technology, though, rarely offers a fully functional lifespan for more than a couple of years.

OS upgrades leave many existing devices behind
Technology you use in your home and at work isn’t as durable as cars. There are three main reasons why personal tech doesn’t do so well in the longevity game.

1.  It breaks easily, particularly mobile technology like tablets and smartphones.
2.  Major operating system (OS) upgrades are often too advanced for existing
3.  Consumers are used to wireless technology, which makes infrequent, but
     dramatic, upgrades.

Are consumers fighting constant upgrades?
Some consumers who have managed to keep their mobile devices longer than manufacturers expect (meaning they haven’t broken them) are voluntarily holding on to them for longer periods than before, Gallup reports. More than half of surveyed consumers told a Gallup poll in April and May 2015 that they hold on to their phones only until they stop working or become obsolete. So, when is a device obsolete?

Most consumers don’t seem to be bothered by an OS upgrade for at least several months. This might explain why 44% told Gallup they stay with contracts to get a phone upgrade every two years. By then, they are ready for something new. Mobile devices are further burdened by network upgrades. Have you tried to operate a 3G device in an area with the “lightening speed” of 4G? Networks don’t serve older devices well, and few have space for upgrades.

Computers operate past their OS support lives
Like cars, desktops and laptops operate even when they’re technically obsolete. There’s a bit of relief in that apps and developers are far more focused on the mobile world. In addition, many computers come with the capacity for upgrades, something few mobile devices offer. Still, while most OS systems may function for years, they lose official support long before they stop working. Microsoft ended support for Windows XP after a 10-year run; support for Vista will end in 2017, also after 10 years. Apple phases out support for its older OS releases even more quickly.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft and Apple both offered limited free upgrades to their latest OS for customers who had more recent versions. There’s nothing like an upgrade to make you aware of all the new software out there you hadn’t considered because…you had an older OS that couldn’t run them.

Consumers are intrigued by new tech approaches
While new apps and other toys are fun, the fact is that many consumers don’t want to learn how to use a replacement device every year, according to Accenture. In the spirit of the Internet of Things, consumers are more interested in buying new approaches to technology.

•   In January 2015, 12% of consumers told Accenture they plan to buy a wearable fitness monitor in the next year
•   40% said they plan to make this purchase in the next five years
•   Over the next five years, consumers plan to buy smart surveillance systems (41%), smart thermostats (39%), and 3D printers

Sure, it’s a lot of fun to have the latest car or the latest technology, but if you decide to wait a little longer before your next purchase, don’t worry; there is always something new and exciting to look forward to no matter when you decide to replace that “old” technology!


Trailers are good, but not for backing up your data

What would you do if you were registered for college and ready for the new school year when, at the last minute, the new apartment complex you signed up with notified you that the apartment would not be ready for you to move in? Here are some options:
•    Quickly find a new place to rent
•    Unregister for college
•    Try to register for another college closer to home
•    Tell your mom and dad that you’re going to live at home after all

Two creative college freshmen who were notified that their new apartment would not be ready for the new school year decided to share an Airstream trailer. It’s a small trailer, so they stuff things wherever they can, including the oven. Not to cook, mind you, but to take advantage of the limited amount of storage space.

That’s a creative solution to a last-minute problem.

You can usually get creative when a problem arises. But sometimes a last-minute problem is a BIG enough problem that no amount of creativity can solve. Like losing your data because you didn’t think backup was important. Sure, you were planning on looking into a backup solution but just never got around to it.

There are a few things in life that you can count on, taxes being one of them. The other is losing your data. At some point a hard drive is going to fail, or someone is going to accidentally delete a file, folder, or directory. Hardware fails. Accidents happen. And who can predict the next disaster? Although there is not much you can do about paying taxes—and we do we recommend that you pay them—there is something you can do about protecting your data.

So, what can you do to safeguard your important files? Back them up! It’s easy and inexpensive, and peace of mind is priceless when you know that should a disaster occur, your data is safe. But there is more to backing up than simply backing up. For example, is your data easily restorable should you lose it? How quickly can it be recovered? Remember, the data you lose today might be needed immediately in order to continue doing business. Ask yourself these questions:

•    Am I backing up my data and, if so, how often am I backing it up?
•    If I lose business-critical data, will I be able to restore it?
•    If I lose an important file, how quickly can I recover it?

These are just some of the questions surrounding backing up data.

One way to protect your data is to back it up to the cloud. Backing up your data to the cloud is a simple, economical way to ensure that your data is protected today and available tomorrow. And there will always be enough space in the cloud to store all of your data without ever needing to stuff anything into the oven.

Mozy by EMC backs up data automatically, restores lost data quickly, and data is accessible and recoverable in a variety of ways. And unlike a trailer, you have an infinite amount of storage space. For more information about the benefits of cloud backup, visit

What’s in a name? You wouldn’t know these companies by their first names

Brad’s Drink

In 1893 Caleb Bradham opened a pharmacy in North Carolina after dropping out of medical school due to a family crisis. While running his pharmacy he concocted a “healthy” cola, which was thought to aid in digestion. This refreshing drink was concocted of sugar, water, caramel, lemon oil, nutmeg, and other additives and was called “Brad’s Drink.” That name only lasted for five years and in 1898 it was renamed to…Pepsi Cola.


BackRub it. Yeah, that sounds way weird, but if one well-known company had kept their original name, we would be saying “BackRub it” instead of “Google it.” Way back in 1996, Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin created a search engine they called BackRub. Taking up too much bandwidth on Stanford University’s website, Page and Brin eventually moved the company to a friend’s garage and registered the Google domain name, which originated from the word “googol,” which is the number 1 followed by 100 zeros.

Computing-Tabulation-Recording Corporation

The merger of four companies in 1911 created the Computing-Tabulation-Recording Company. The company manufactured a wide range of products, including employee time-keeping systems, weighing scales, automatic meat slicers, and punched card equipment. In 1924 the company was renamed to International Business Machines, otherwise known around the world as IBM.

Marufuku Co. Ltd

Originally named Marufuku, this company produced and marketed Hanafuda cards.  In 1951 the company’s name was changed to “Nintendo Playing Card Co. Ltd.”

After the president of the company visited the largest playing card company at that time and saw how small the offices were, he decided to explore other ventures that could be more profitable. In 1963 the company dropped the “Playing Card Co. Ltd.” from their name and simplified it to Nintendo. Nintendo tried to find an industry where they could establish a solid business, even dabbling in the hotel industry, taxi services, and other ventures that continued to fail. Testing various markets, they finally hit gold with Nintendo Entertainment Center in 1986.

Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web

Once again Stanford University makes an appearance on our list. Two graduate students were putting off finishing their doctoral studies and playing around on the new phenomenon known as the World Wide Web. As they found new sites that they liked they would index them in a directory on their website. As the list began to grow, they decided to call their website “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web,” after Jerry Yang and David Filo, the two students. The site was renamed in 1995 to Yahoo!, a backronym for “Yet Another Hierarchically Organized Oracle.”!

Did you get that life-changing bonus? No? But you are backing up your data, right?

Did you hear about the CEO of a successful food delivery company who sold his 15-year-old company for $589 million? That’s exciting for him, no doubt. But did you hear what he did with $27 million of his new fortune? He shared it with more than 100 employees who were high performers and who had been with the company for more than two years. The average bonus worked out to be 150 months of wages.

Most of us love to hear stories like that, probably because those who received the bonus happened to be at the right place at the right time and otherwise would never have imagined themselves receiving such an unexpected windfall. We share their joy in part probably because we can picture ourselves in that situation. And maybe that gives us hope that it could happen to us. Think about what you would do with 150 months of wages!

The truth is, your chances of winning the lottery, or being left a multi-million-dollar inheritance, or receiving an extraordinarily large bonus, or being the recipient of some other windfall are, well, slim to none. In other words, don’t bet on it. Take for example the lottery. A recent Mega Millions lottery jackpot that was worth more than $250 million had winning odds of about 1 in 100 million. You know what they say about those odds: You have a better chance of getting struck by lightning (odds: 1 in 280,000).

More than likely, you will never be attacked by a shark, though the odds of that happening (1 in 11.5 million) are probably more in your favor than, say, winning the next Mega Millions jackpot. You have a better chance of losing your computer data because of a hard drive failure; leaving your computer (or smartphone or tablet) on a plane, train, or taxi; having someone steal it; or causing a user error that ultimately results in a permanently deleted file. Of course, any one of those beats getting hit by lightning or sharing the water with a hungry shark.

Sure, we will be happy for you if you win the lottery or receive an unexpected bonus equal to 150 months of salary. But that’s probably not going to happen. We will not be happy for you if you lose your data because you have not backed it up. So, just to increase your odds of never losing an important file or other valuable data, be sure that you’re backing up your files with the latest version of the Mozy backup software. If your hard drive fails; if someone steals your computer; if you survive a plane crash but your laptop doesn’t (yes, that really happened to a Mozy customer); if you accidentally delete a favorite photo—or an entire folder structure—if your home or business burns down; if you experience a catastrophic flood; or if you forget your laptop on a plane, train or taxi…. No matter what disaster happens, we hope that (1) you or your loved ones are safe and unharmed, (2) you are able to get back on your feet quickly, (3) you’ve backed up your important data.

So as you continue to enjoy the rest of the summer, be safe!

When movies predicted the future in tech

A Trip to the Moon” was released in 1902 and was one of the first if not the first science fiction movies. In it a group of scientists are shot out of a cannon the size of World War II railway gun “Schwerer Gustav” right into the eye of the moon. The scientists explore the moon and even have an encounter with the moon’s inhabitants. It wasn’t until 1969 that Neal Armstrong would actually step foot on the moon. I’m sure that in 1902 a trip to the moon in the literal sense was an incomprehensible journey. It took 67 years for the movie to become a reality when Armstrong took his first step—and that giant leap for mankind.

Let’s take a look back at what other movie tech was far-fetched for the time but has become a reality today.

Although the 1980’s television series “Knight Rider” only lasted four seasons, KITT—the crime-fighting talking car—has since become a pop culture icon. It’s said that KITT contained a cybernetic processor that was created by the U.S. government but was then used in the iconic Pontiac Trans Am. Comparable to KITT’s capabilities is Apple’s CarPlay, which allows drivers to interact with Siri. Because of cloud computing, the processor can reside in a data center far away and isn’t required in the car. With the introduction of self-driving cars and the great strides that AI has made, look for a real KITT in the near future.

And let’s not forget about the Batmobile! If I had a bank account similar to Bruce Wayne’s (aka Batman), I would definitely fund the research for a few of those cool toys that he relies on, especially the Batmobile. Think of the convenience of having a car pick you up at the airport terminal rather than trying to remember where you parked it in the acres and acres of parking lot. That idea may not be so far-fetched. The Audi A7 is a prototype that is essentially waiting to go through a few legal hurdles before it can be released. Using sensors, cameras and GPS, the car can navigate itself through your daily commute and can even pick you up. Right off the bat you may need a few bucks from your rich Uncle Bruce, but as with all new technology, such a car should be affordable in a few short years.

Although Alderaan—the fictional “Star Wars” planet—wouldn’t be excited for this new advancement in technology, the U.S. Navy has developed a “directed-energy weapon,” otherwise known as LaWS. LaWS is a defense system that the Navy uses to shoot down unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)—otherwise known as drones—and small boats. It’s less expensive and faster than using guns or missile systems and minimizes collateral damage. The system focuses six high-energy lasers on the target—much like the Death Star did in “Star Wars” to blow up Alderaan.

I am Iron Man!!! Or at least I wish I could be. Although Iron Man is a fictional superhero, the U.S. military has been working on a usable, non-clunky, exoskeleton for its soldiers during combat. Tony Stark would be impressed by the recent advancements in exoskeleton technology, which has allowed these exo suits to become a reality, even if only in experimental form. In 2010, defense contractor Raytheon demonstrated XOS 2, which is essentially a robot guided by the human brain. This suit allowed the user to lift two to three times as much weight than what the user could have without the suit. Exo suits can also be used to protect soldiers from shrapnel and bullets. These suits will not only help us feel more super-heroish, they will also allow people with spine injuries or muscle-deteriorating diseases to get around easier.

The future is exciting and the sky is the limit when it comes to advancements in technology. Send us your thoughts on what you would like to see down the road.

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This week in tech history – April 26th – May 2nd

April 26, 1970 World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is formally created with the goal to promote creative intellectual activity and for facilitating the transfer of technology.

April 27, 1965 Disposable diapers “Pampers” are patented by R.C. Duncan, bringing joy to anyone who had to clean a soiled cloth diaper.

April 28, 1932 Vaccine for a viral disease that wiped out 9% of the U.S. population in 1793 is released. The disease is Yellow Fever.

April 29, 1953 The first experimental 3D TV broadcast is shown on a Los Angeles station.

April 30, 1993 CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) announces that the World Wide Web will be free to anyone, starting the .com boom.

May 1, 1981 Radio Shack releases TRS-DOS 1.3, which replaces cassette tapes with disk files with a capacity of an astounding 89 kilobytes each.

Mzy 2, 2000 GPS, once authorized for military use only, is made available to everyone by authorization of U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Want to see more?  Check out our tech history infographic


This week in history – April 12 – 18

Week 3 of our “This Week in tech History” covers new animals and allows us to see better.  See what happened in tech history between April 12 – 18

April 12, 1988 First patent for a new animal life form is issued for a genetically altered mouse. (like we need more species of mice)

April 13, 1743  Thomas Jefferson the third president of the United States and the inventor of  the pedometer, polygraph and the spherical sundial, is born.

April 14, 1956 Mark IV, the first videotape, is demonstrated.  The Mark IV replayed William Lodge’s speech moments after he finished astonishing the crowd.

April 15, 1924 Rand McNally publishes its first road atlas, a precursor to the modern-day GPS.

April 16, 1867 Wilbur Wright of the Wright brother’s fame is born near Millville, Indiana.

April 17, 1790 Benjamin Franklin, the inventor of bifocals and the lightning rod, passes away in his home in Philadelphia.

April 18, 1986 IBM becomes the first computer manufacturer to use a megabit chip, leveling the playing field between American computer makers and the Japanese electronics industry.

Want to see more?  Check out our tech history infographic