September is National Preparedness Month

The concept of being prepared is a bit like insurance – it doesn’t really matter and you don’t really need it until something bad happens. Because it’s not always an urgent need, it’s easy to forget about it.

MozyHome customer Beth Lutz found this out when her home caught on fire and she lost valuable family pictures:

“It’s easy to imagine the impact of a disaster on the physical items in your home or business, but we often overlook the value of what’s stored on our computers, servers, and tablets,” said Dave Robinson, VP of Marketing at Mozy. “The irreplaceable photos, videos, financial documents, and business files on your laptops and servers are just as susceptible to fire and water damage as the furniture, printers, and file cabinets. Both are important and need to be protected.”

Mozy recommends a few simple steps to make sure your digital assets are protected:

  • Store copies of important physical documents in a safe place locally as well as offsite.
  • Sign up for an online backup service – to protect everything important on your computer.
  • Make sure your antivirus software is up to date.
  • Consider investing in an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) if your area is prone to power surges or failures.
  • Scan important physical documents so you have a digital copy as well.
  • Keep a hard copy list of your important passwords, and consider using a password manager program.

Disaster can strike businesses, too. Pelindaba Lavendar farm in the San Juan Islands lost their building to a fire:

No matter the emergency, September is an ideal time to get started with your preparation. A good place to start is the FEMA checklist found at www.ready.gov. Mozy’s secure online backup offers you peace of mind, knowing that your files are protected in the case of a disaster.

 

Links of Interest – September 3

New iPhone Not Expected to Slow Android Growth

Despite the highly anticipated release of Apple’s iPhone 5, analysts expect Google’s Android mobile operating system to continue to dominate the smartphone market.

Android already leads the market, accounting for approximately 60 percent of all smartphone shipments in the first half of 2012, according to an article on PCMag.com. But even with the forthcoming launch of the next-generation iPhone, Android market share is expected to grow to 70 percent of the global market in the second half of the year, Digitimes Research senior analyst Luke Lin estimated.

Contributing to its growth, several major Android handset vendors like Samsung, Huawei, and ZTE are starting to increase shipments, while second-tier and regional vendors are “aggressively” launching new entry-level Android handsets in China, Lin said.

See Every Hurricane of the Last 150 years on One Map

HurricanesWith hurricane season upon us, one mapmaker offered up an informative and visually impressive look at hurricanes that have struck over the last century and a half.

If it looks a little odd at first, it’s because this hurricane map offers a unique perspective of the Earth; Antarctica is smack in the middle, and the rest of the planet unfurls around it like the petals of a tulip, according to an article on msnbc.com.

The effect is not only informative — more than 150 years of hurricane data show that certain regions are consistently in the storms’ crosshairs — but also visually arresting.

Mapmaker John Nelson, the user experience and mapping manager for IDV Solutions, a data visualization company, said that this oddball point of view was the best way to tell the story of the data.

“When I put it onto a rectangular map it was neat looking, but a little bit disappointing,” Nelson told OurAmazingPlanet. But the unorthodox, bottom-up perspective allowed the curving paths the storms make across the world’s oceans to shine, he said.

Sick on the Road? Try the Grocery Store

If you’re planning one more trip before the end of summer, it might be a smart idea to familiarize yourself with some ways to cope with ailments while in a foreign land.

Some physicians, pharmacists and scientists have suggested grocery items available almost anywhere that can help cure several ailments, according to a recent article in The New York Times.

“You don’t need to pack a medicine chest on holiday,” said Dave Harcombe, a pharmacist in Doncaster, England. “I rely on traditional medicine to pay my mortgage,” he added. “But in certain cases, home remedies are as good as drugs. There’s a place in the world for both of them.”

Harcombe used his travel experience and that of his customers to create a list of items that he posted on silvertraveladvisor.com. Debbie Marshall, editor of the site, said the response has been enthusiastic. “It is well worth knowing some of the healing properties of common foods when traveling,” she said, noting that acquiring and using conventional medicines in certain countries can be complicated. “Pharmaceutical labels may be written in an unfamiliar language, quantities can be ambiguous and quite often nature has a remedy that will bridge the gap until more conventional aid can be found.”

Some of these over-the-counter remedies help combat upset stomachs, bug bites, poison ivy and what to do when you’re having trouble with your contact lenses.

Super Mario Bros. ‘Demake’ Boasts Atari 2600 Graphics

Call it an artistic step forward while relying on graphics from the early ’80s.

An old-school style is making a comeback, and “demakes” are apparently all the rage.

“Demakes” adapt modern games to the standards of older platforms, sometimes even programming them for dead hardware, such as the Atari system.

Atari Age forum member Sprybug spent his free time demaking Super Mario Bros. as an actual Atari 2600 game, according to an article on Dvice.com.

If you thought Super Mario Bros. looked bad on the Nintendo Entertainment System, wait until you see what it would have looked like on the Atari 2600. In its current demo form, the graphics are fairly decent for an Atari 2600 game, although Sprybug admits there are some problems with collision detection.

So far, Sprybug’s Super Mario Bros. demake has 16 levels (World 1-1 to 4-4) stuffed into a compact 32k file.

 

MozyHome - Stash

 

Ways Back to College Has Changed Since the 80s

September means many things to many people.

For football fans, it’s the beginning of how they will shape their lives for the next five months as the NFL gets its season underway.

For the parents of youngsters, it’s a small sigh of relief as school once again resumes, bringing more of a set schedule to their children and more peace to the household.

Here at the Jersey Shore, it means the fist-pumping, club-going crowds that unfortunately represent this scenic stretch of coastline return to points north, a sort of migration carried out under the power of Escalades and new Camaros.

Ways Back to School Has ChangedAnd for a good percentage of those who graduated high school in the spring, it means heading off to college and entering one of the most important phases of a young adult’s life. While nearly all colleges and universities are physically the same as they were in the ‘80s and ‘90s, there are some pretty significant differences in how incoming freshmen from decades past and those who are a part of the class of 2016 settle in to campus life.

Here is a look at the differences between heading off to college in the age of Facebook and text-speak  and going off to college in the awesome ‘80s.

Keep It Light

In the ‘80s, things were bigger. Hair was bigger (although it still is at the Jersey Shore). Microwaves were bigger. TV’s were bigger. And PCs were bigger and something your girlfriend’s nerdy older brother had in his bedroom (along with Dungeons & Dragons posters). Moving into your dorm room in the ‘80s required some heavy lifting, as it seems electronics of the ‘80s defied logic and physics (how could a black-and-white TV with a 13-inch screen require three people to carry it?)

Flat-screen TVs of today can be carried under one arm while keeping your other hand free to take video of your first steps on campus while simultaneously checking out your new roommate’s Facebook photos.

Make a Connection

Keeping in touch with family back home and friends now scattered throughout the country once required breaking out pen and paper and finding a stamp (a “stamp” is something issued by the government that allowed you to send something hundreds, even thousands, of miles away for just pennies) and mailing a letter.

Or if you really wanted to summon the wrath of your parents, who just shelled out $1,500 for your first year of university schooling (yes, things were cheaper in the ‘80s), you’d dial up your buddy at UNLV, talk on a land line for 20 minutes, and rack up a $75 phone bill (yes, some things were more expensive in the ‘80s).

Today, there really is no disconnect. Communicating is for the most part cheaper, and something you can do instantaneously. Perfect for requesting more Top Ramen or a regional delicacy from home, such as pork roll. Pork roll is a Jersey thing, often traded like a precious metal on faraway campuses.

Book Smart, Pound Foolish

Doing research and writing papers used to require a bit more heavy lifting, from the 42-pound word processor used to churn out Psych 101 papers to the 8-inch-thick book on Chaucer checked out from your school’s library.

Of course, students today still use books and libraries, but there is a growing reliance on, and acceptance of, using tablet computers for everything from note-taking to conducting research to actually replacing college textbooks.

Fashion-Forward

One would like to say the fashion of the ‘80s remains just where it belongs – 30 years in the past and seen only in dog-eared photographs in some forgotten box in the attic. But what’s old is new again, and from neon sunglasses to polos with the collar raised, elements of the ‘80s are alive and well at today’s institutions of higher learning.

Let’s just hope these don’t make a comeback.

Fast facts from August 1986 and August 2012

Weekend Box Office:

1986: Stand By Me, Top Gun

2012: The Expendables 2, The Bourne Legacy

Top of the Charts:

1986: Madonna, “True Blue”; Top Gun Soundtrack

2012: Taylor Swift, “We Are Never Getting Back Together”; Flo Rida, “Whistle”

Car of Choice:

1986: Chevrolet Celebrity; Ford Escort

2012: Ford F-Series truck; Toyota Camry

Cost of Annual Tuition, Private, Non-Profit Four-Year School:

1986: $10,000

2012: $35,000

Siri, Texas Ranger

In the 1967 classic film “Cool Hand Luke,” one of the main characters, the Captain, utters one of the most classic lines in cinema: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate.”

It’s a phrase that lends itself well to a number of circumstances. Like Apple’s Siri.

Siri, the voice-activated digital assistant on the iPhone 4S, was last summer’s must-have smartphone feature. This summer? Not so much. To back up this claim, see what the New York Times had to say about Siri last summer compared to this summer.

Last year, the Times’ David Pogue was clearly taken with Siri’s responses to certain questions. His headline: Siri Is One Funny Lady.

“If you don’t laugh at some of Siri’s responses, there’s something wrong with your funnybone,” Pogue wrote then, in response to these tidbits:

You: “I need to hide a body.”

Siri: “What kind of place are you looking for?”

Siri then offers you a list of choices like Reservoirs, Metal Foundries, Mines, Dumps and Swamps.

You: “Who’s your daddy?”

Siri: “You are. Can we get back to work now?”

You: “Open the pod bay doors.”

Siri: “I’m sorry, Joshua. I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

Sure, the responses were funny the first time, but as time wore on and the benefits of Siri waned, the dynamic with Siri also changed. There was a failure to communicate. Just see how the Times switched up its tune.

Last month’s headline: With Apple’s Siri, a Romance Gone Sour

Writer Nick Bilton chronicled how things went south between him and Siri.

“We met at an Apple product announcement in Cupertino, Calif. She was helpful, smart and even funny, cracking sarcastic jokes and making me laugh. What more could a guy ask for?

“Since then, we have had some major communication issues. She frequently misunderstands what I’m saying. Sometimes she is just unavailable. Often, she responds with the same, repetitive statement.”

Funny, but true.

With the next iPhone release expected somewhere in the near future, let’s hope one of the improvements made to the otherwise stellar device involves Siri. After all, she was released as a beta, meaning there were bugs to be worked out and a conceded room for improvement. She could use a bit of an upgrade.

But before I write her off completely, I figured I’d ask a few questions not so much for their humorous aspect, but in the event you find yourself in a do-or-die, “Walker, Texas Ranger” style situation. Walker, if you remember, was a character played by Chuck Norris who somehow always found himself battling it out with an assortment of Japanese gangs or corrupt parole officers.

Me: “How do you untie knots?”

Siri: “Checking on that for you. How about a Web search for ‘How do you untie knots?’”

Google pointed me to a climbing site and a YouTube video on how to untie a square knot. At least she understood the question.

Me: “How do you unlock a trunk from the inside?”

Siri: “Hmmm. Let me think. How about a Web search?”

A Web search turned up a helpful wikihow page titled “7 Tips on How to Escape From the Trunk of a Car.”

Walker would be impressed. I’m sure he would’ve benefited from having Siri as a sidekick. Which isn’t a bad idea if this voice-activated digital assistant gig doesn’t work out. Siri could always help Chuck Norris battle bank robbers and prove the innocence of the wrongfully accused.

One final question.

Me: “How do you stop Chuck Norris?”

Siri, in a beautifully redeeming moment, came back with a video. That video was called “You Can’t Stop Chuck Norris.”

Smart lady.

Image Credit: Chuck Norris Action Jeans / Sarah B. Brooks / CC BY 2.0

New Features in the Mozy App for iOS

Wrapping up a series of posts on the Mozy app v1.4, we finish with the new features for iOS, which includes iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. If you missed the previous two posts, check out:

In version 1.4 of the Mozy app, here are some of the new features for iOS.

Pull Down to Refresh

First up, some of our more avid Mozy app users pointed out to us that they want a better way to refresh a folder that has new items in it. Previously, you needed to navigate from a folder you were viewing and then back to it again to get it to show a new file you just uploaded from a different device (for example, a file that you added to your Stash).

Now you can just pull down on the folder view, and release to update the view. The screenshot at left shows a normal folder view. At right, you can see the pull-down “Release to refresh” screen.

    

Delete from Stash

Although Stash is still only available in beta, we continue to increase what you can do with it from a mobile device. This latest release of the Mozy app allows you to delete any file from your Stash. You can initiate a delete by looking at a file’s detail page…

…or by opening the file, and tapping the actions button  (shown in left screenshot at bottom-left) to open the actions menu (shown in right screenshot).

    

Stash Uploader Improvements

The Stash uploader also got its first interface overhaul since its debut.

In addition to its new look, you’ll notice the convenient View Mobile Uploads button, which takes you directly to the Mobile Uploads folder in your Stash. Also, the uploader can resume after an interruption. For example, an incoming phone call can send the Mozy app to the background. When you next bring the app to the foreground, the upload continues from where it left off.

Overall, you might notice a strong trend toward increasing security and making it easier to use Stash in the Mozy app. Let us know what you think by posting a comment on this post.

On most of our blog posts, we sign off with “Be safe.” On this one, we leave you with something you can actually do to make the world safer: please tell a friend about Stop the texts. Stop the wrecks.

–Ted

New Features in the Mozy App for Android

In my previous post about v1.4 of the Mozy app, I covered “Security Updates in the New Mozy App.” In this post, let’s take a look at some of the new features for Android.

Easier Access to All Files

After we added the My Mozy home tab in a previous version, there were several people who didn’t know that you could still get to the classic file browser view by hitting the Menu button. So, we added a tab-like navigation right on the main screen to make it easy to find.

SD Card Storage Features

When you use the Mozy app to download a file to your device, it gets stored on your device’s SD card. The new app adds two great features.

First, whenever you open a file that you previously downloaded, the app will check whether you have the latest version. If the local version is out of date, the app will ask you whether you want to update to the latest.

You can also remove a downloaded file from memory, too. Just tap and hold on the filename.

Stash and Android

If you use Mozy Stash, you have probably used the Mozy app to upload files to your Stash. If so, then you’ll appreciate these improvements.

You can now overwrite a file in your Stash with a newer version.

 

We also made some improvements to the auto-uploader to avoid duplicate uploads and images from other apps. If you haven’t used it before, you can enable it from Settings.

The app also adds an event to the device’s Notifications panel when an upload is in progress or completes, including auto-uploaded photos and videos.

And, you can also delete items from your Stash. Either open the file and select the delete icon, or just tap and hold on the filename. (Okay, this isn’t really new on Android, but I hadn’t mentioned it in previous blog posts, and we just added it the iOS app, so…please act like it’s new. Shh.)

Coming up in my next post, we’ll look at new features in the Mozy app for iOS.

Until then, be safe (never use the Mozy app while driving!),

–Ted

Ted Haeger
Mozy Product Management

Security Updates in the New Mozy App

Mozy Mobile App 1.4Mozy just keeps making it better and better to access and use your data from mobile devices. This week we launch version 1.4 of Mozy’s app for both Android and iOS devices (iPhone, iPad and iPod touch).

Each time we update the Mozy app, I update the Mozy blog to tell you what’s new. The list is too long for a single post, so today we’re going to look at how we have further tightened security in the Mozy app.

The convenience of having all your Mozy-protected files at your fingertips is enormous. But mobile devices frequently get misplaced, lost or stolen. Mozy app v1.4 introduces the following new security measures to ensure your privacy in such situations:

  • Token-based Authorization - The Mozy app has switched to using an access token instead of your password. Although previous versions always used strong encryption to store the password, this new token-based system keeps the Mozy app from storing your password at all. That sets the stage for the next (and frequently requested) security feature…
  • Remote De-authorization - If your mobile device goes missing, gets stolen, or you’re just not sure where you put it, you can just go to your account page and select expire mobile access. When you do, it stops all access from the mobile app until you log in again, but your computers running Mozy online backup or Stash continue to work without disruption. (In other words, it expires just the app’s current token–it doesn’t change your password.)
  • Automatic De-authorization - As in previous versions of the app, if you choose to protect the app with a passcode (PIN), the app will automatically log out after 5 incorrect PIN attempts. The difference now is that instead of forgetting your password, the app now forgets its access token. (This also happens if you choose to log out manually from the app.)
  • Automatic Data Wipe - When you remotely de-authorize the app from your account, the app now removes any locally-stored data when launched. This includes: files you have marked as favorite on iOS, files downloaded to SD storage on Android, and even any usernames that the login screen had previously remembered.
  • Local File Encryption - If you use a personal key to encrypt your Mozy data, the Mozy app will now keep any downloaded files encrypted on local storage. It decrypts them when you share by email or send a file to another app.

In my next post, we’ll look at features that make the Mozy app even better for accessing and using your data while on the go.

If you have questions or comments about the items described above, please post a reply.

Until next time, be safe,

–Ted

Ted Haeger
Mozy Product Management

Cloud roundup and links of interest – August 15

Google Street View Offers Tour of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Visitors from almost anywhere on Earth can “see” and explore NASA’s Kennedy Space Center through a collaboration with NASA that allowed Google’s Street View equipment to capture 360 degree color images and place them online for a new generation of spaceflight fans

The panoramic images include such iconic vessels as the Apollo 14 command module capsule that returned three astronauts from America’s fourth mission to the moon in February 1971 and the Space Shuttle Atlantis which flew on its maiden voyage in October 1985.

Virtual visitors can browse the collection by clicking on the images and then “steering” through the exhibits using a control wheel on the top left of each image. Using the controls, visitors can roam around the KSC displays to learn more about its contents and history, according to an article on eWEEK.com.

The new KSC images are the latest in the Google Street View collection, which also includes panoramic views of notable places around the globe, including Historic Italy, California National Parks, and highlights of must-see sites in the United States, Poland, Israel, Russia and the magnificent Swiss Alps, says eWEEK.

Tired of Facebook Friends’ Endless Photos of Their Kids? Unbaby.me Can Help

Too many baby pictures on Facebook?Too many of your friends’ baby pictures cropping up on Facebook? There’s now a sure-fire (if slightly off-beat) way to fight back: Unbaby.me.

The photo-replacing plug-in is the brainchild of three New Yorkers — Yvonne Cheng, Chris Baker and Pete Marquis — who work together at the advertising agency BBDO. They are, unsurprisingly, in their late 20s and early 30s, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“We were having drinks one night after work and were joking around about how Facebook is just lousy with babies, and wouldn’t it be funny if you could replace all those photos with cats,” Cheng said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.

The plug-in will scan your Facebook feed for key words such as “cute,” “adorable” and “first birthday” — trigger words that indicate a baby photo may be attached. You can also add your own key words. Then it replaces the offending baby photo with a different photo from an RSS feed of pictures. The current default feed is cat photos.

“Personally, I don’t hate babies. I love babies. But I do get tired of looking at babies,” Cheng said.

Nokia Windows Phone 8 Reveal in Early September Tips Insider

Nokia’s first Windows Phone 8 smartphones could be revealed as early as September, as the Finnish company attempts to beat Apple to the next-generation handset unveil, according to an article on Slashgear.com.

New phones running Microsoft’s latest smartphone OS are set to be announced next month, though availability is only said to be in time for the holiday shopping season.

Apple isn’t expected to confirm the iPhone 5 until midway through September. However, the company is likely to have the much-anticipated handset up for grabs within a month of that.

Exactly what the new Nokia devices will look like is unclear, but the company will probably stick to a style similar to the Lumia 800 and Lumia 900, Slashgear reports.

 

Mozy Stash

 

Small Biz in the Forum: How Smart Posting is Good Marketing

Small-business advertising has often amounted to something like this: how much bang can you get for your buck?

Billboards, ad spots, commercials, whatever the format, you want to see your marketing dollars amount to returns, sales, conversions.

But while a billboard-heavy marketing campaign by the big guys can lead to increased business, it’s often difficult to understand just how much money they eventually bring in. Just as often, ad experts tell us, it’s about expanding the reach of your brand and it’s about recognition.

But the smaller shop doesn’t always have the luxury of dropping crucial marketing dollars on what can amount to only a concept play. So, for small businesses, how can you showcase your expertise and build your reputation, but still keep the budget and return-on-investment at the center of the game?

One way is the online forum.

Let’s look at small-business owners who’ve used forum posting to develop new clients. We’re helped by Manta Connect, an online community-builder for small businesses to connect to the communities of customers they want to find.

Forum Posting: It’s About Time, Not Money

“Small business owners who actively share their knowledge and experience in the forum on Manta Connect not only establish themselves as industry experts in the community,” said Pamela Springer, chief executive at Manta, “but they gain a competitive advantage in expanding their customer reach.”

Take Stephen Lewis, for example. He’s the owner of Worthwhile Things in Orlando, Florida. While his team is working to coach small businesses, he turns to forums to find new clients  — and he does this by answering the questions they’ve asked.

Online Forums“Most of the questions and posts I respond to involve a business owner asking how to do something online, or how to do it better,” he said. “By giving clear answers which contain relevant and thoughtful tips, comments and feedback, I can establish myself as an authority on a given subject.”

The outlay for what amounts to a new, real, and concrete customer lead? A little bit of time.

“I find that by giving 5-10 minutes of my time and offering a short bullet list of free advice, I receive great reviews and feedback, and give myself an opportunity to make a new business contact or customer,” Lewis said. “I always include anchor text links back to my various online properties, but always to specific pieces of content that will augment my answer to the question posed.”

Expertise Online: Look to Learn, then Show Don’t Tell

For small-business owners as well, two other major elements of online forums come into play:

— A Lab for Best Practices: By watching your colleagues who also post and interact, as a small-business owner you’ve got a free way to learn at your disposal. From the best moves to mistakes, participating in online forums allows small-business owners to listen in on a vital conversation about best practices.

— A Place to Demonstrate What You Do: When a small-business owner rents a booth at a trade conference, they’re really spending money to demonstrate something about what it is they do. Forums can provide that, in a different way, without the expense. ”By using my experience and providing any help that I can,” said Patrick Tuure, web designer and owner of O.T. Web Designs in Columbus, Ohio. “I demonstrate to other forum followers that I know what I’m doing and, as a result, it opens them up to doing business with me. Since the posts are always there, they serve as a great icebreaker when someone contacts me. I don’t have to spend the time to convince them of my level of knowledge, they can clearly see it.”

Image Credit: Forum / Sarah B. Brooks / CC BY 2.0

 

MozyPro

 

How to print from your iPads

How to print from your iPadIf you or your company has iPads and other iThings on its network, one of the frustrations is not being able to print from them. In the past, you needed a printer that was designed for AirPrint (Apple has a long list of them here) or you had to try to set up printer sharing with an existing Mac USB printer across your network.

But what if you want to use your existing printer that isn’t on this list? Or want something that you can manage its print output for cost accounting purposes? Or if you don’t want to share a local printer? You have several choices.

One solution is to use Lantronix xPrintServer that can do the job for any network or USB-connected printer. It’s so easy that it will take you longer to read how to do it than to actually implement it. The print server is about the size of an iPhone, and has three connectors: an RJ-45 for your Ethernet network, a USB jack and a power plug. Plug it in and, in a few moments, you are good to go.

If your app has a print dialog icon, you can now start printing from your iThing. The print server will auto-discover any network printer that is on the same network subnet. If you want to print to another subnet, you will have to go through some manual configuration, using the printer’s built-in Web server. If you have iPhones, you will of course need to turn on their Wi-Fi radios and connect to the same subnet to see the print server. Lantronix has this funny short video with the loveable IT guy featured here. As he says, “Try it now.” It will print wirelessly from any iOS device running iOS version 4.2 or later. The home editioncosts $99 and supports two printers. If you want a more capable print server that supports more printers, there is a $150 version of the box.

If you are using the Aerohive Wifi access points, they have recently been upgraded to support Apple’s Bonjour technology and this video explains how it is done. If you have to purchase an Aerohive Wifi network, this isn’t going to be cheap.

Finally, EFI has had its PrintMe cloud-based service for a decade for PCs. The new mobile version extends this functionality to a variety of mobile devices and to a wide variety of printers that can be located anywhere. Pricing is $2,500 for a minimum of five printer connections including a year’s support and maintenance. Again, this is somewhat pricey.

The Lantronix solution is a good compromise of price and features, and is what I would recommend if you have a couple or a large fleet of iPads to support.

 

Mozy Mobile App