3rd Annual Frightful Haiku Contest Winners!

Mozy Haiku ScaryWe’re happy to announce the winners of our 3rd Annual Frightful Haiku Contest! We had over 30 awesome entries, which made choosing the winners that much more difficult.

And now, the winners, as voted on by the Mozy Marketing Team:

Grand Prize Winner

Sandra Rowe:

Great-Grandma’s pictures–
Gone–but now back from the dead!
Wish she was back, too.

Runners-up

Elana:

What a fiendish trick -
A werewolf ate my hard drive.
Mozy was my treat!

ChrisZel:

Lurking…in the dark,
Like the Data Grim Reaper.
The blue screen awaits.

Frisbee Winners (Honorable Mention)

Sue:

The heart-sinking sound
is your hard drive dying but
Mozy has you backed.

Shawn Hannan:

Diskpart, clean, format.
All ready to start anew.
Wait! Uh-oh… Wrong drive.

Emily Cooper and Tom Hendren:

ZERO BYTES
Dissertation done!
Years of work. Just needs printing.
“This file is empty.”

If you’re a winner, please email stories@mozy.com to claim your prize. Thanks to everyone for the awesome submissions, and be thinking about next year, it’ll be here scaring us before you know it!

My name is Jamie and I work for Mozy

Hello again! Glad you could make it back for another session of our “My name is … and I work for Mozy” blog series. We’ve attempted to expand across all our functional areas to show you that Mozy has successfully managed to find the best-of-the-best in talent. And speaking of talent … we’d like to introduce you to Jamie Morningstar, Mozy Principal Product Manager. Jamie works closely with the Mozy development teams to help guide them in creating the right thing at the right time, in the right way. In her words “Basically, I listen to a lot of people about what they need, work with the engineers to get it done, and then tell people about it!” Simple enough, right? Yes, if you’re Jamie.

My name is Jamie and I work for Mozy

I define my workspace as …
Gypsy chic. That makes the clutter sound a lot quainter than, “really messy because tidying up never seems to make it to the top of my to-do list.”

A device I can’t live without …
My teapot. Wireless headphones are a close second.

When I arrive at work, I typically start off by …
Completing the top thing on my list. I try to use those precious morning hours for in-depth thinking and save email for later in the day.

My work routine is …
Collaborative. Most of my job revolves around working with the development teams to plan and create features, so I spend a lot of time describing and prioritizing customer needs and then explaining it all to the engineering teams, my fellow Product Owners, and stakeholders like Sales, Support, and Executives.

I do/do not listen to music at work and it helps me work better because …
I do listen to music when I can carve out 30 or 40 minutes of thinking and writing time. Music helps me focus on my work rather than listening to the hubbub around me. But most of the time I don’t listen to music because I need to be available to the people around me.

The best advice I can give a recent college graduate looking to do what I do is …
Figure out what makes you special in your field of study. My undergraduate degree is in Computer Science and early on I realized that I had a distinct ability to bridge between different parts of the organization. So I transformed it into a career in Product Management and I love the challenges and rewards of translating between different parts of the company and helping developers create the most important thing as efficiently as possible. It’s certainly not what I expected to do when I walked into my CS101 class, but I’m glad that I recognized my unique strengths in my field and pursued them.

Outside of work, I am passionate about …
The welfare of the world’s 210 million orphans. Getting more young women interested in careers in technology. Agile software development. And skiing, hiking, and camping in the amazing Utah great outdoors. I’m a passionate person.
Author’s note: I once read that what a person does for others without expecting anything in return is what really shows you their character. I know that Jamie is very involved in the community and with women’s groups. Good for you, Jamie!

My eating habits are …
Convenient. Like most people, I try to eat healthy, but left to my own devices I’d probably eat Lucky Charms for two or maybe three meals a day. They really are magically delicious..

If I could be someone for a day – I would be …
Myself on vacation. Is that lame? I really like being me… I’d just like to be me on the ski slopes rather than in my office. Or if I need to come up with an answer that’s more inspirational I’d be Roald Dahl because I wonder what it was like in his head, writing such heartwarming yet seriously twisted stories. Neil Gaiman would work, too.
Author’s note: as a fellow working mom, I understand how precious alone time is! When I dream of an ideal vacation – it usually involves white sand beaches, a hammock, a cocktail and a good book – oh, and the sea breeze is nice too!

The “secret sauce” that makes me who I am …
Birkenstocks. You can tell a lot about a person by the shoes they wear.

Which designer and developer tools are better? Pencil Case knows

PencilCase AppFor designers and developers, their tools mean everything. Without the right software, apps, programs and websites could never be perfect.

Of course, to an artist and a coder, nothing is ever perfect, but the right tools may help make the job or project easier, helping creators to produce their best work possible.

Enter Pencil Case, which rates tools for designers and developers, so creatives and coders can “discover, collect and share” resources such as Dribbble, GitHub, InVision, and more.

A peek inside the beta

An email invite to the Pencil Case beta reads:

“Pencil Case is a free-to-use web-based app which aims to help designers and developers – just like you – ensure they’re always equipped with the best tools. Create lists (known as ‘pencil cases’) and save up to ten of your most valuable resources inside each one. We track how popular each resource is and display the results in a searchable chart, so everyone can see what’s popular and what’s new, and who’s using what. This helps you find the best tried-and-tested resources, determined by like-minded creatives, with a focus on quality over quantity.”

The web-based app currently hosts 523 resources, and it allows members to “suggest a resource” that isn’t yet listed.

Search “editing” and Pencil Case provides 23 results for tools under the slightly narrower category “image editing.” When ranked according to popularity (the number of times a resource appears in members’ pencil cases) we get:

  1. Adobe Photoshop
  2. Adobe Illustrator
  3. Sketch
  4. Pixelmator
  5. Adobe Fireworks
  6. Slicy
  7. Enigma64
  8. Pixel Dropr
  9. Retinize It
  10. Adobe InDesign

Click on any of the listed resources to expand, revealing a short summary of what it is and why it is awesome, Then jump to the product’s website, “view” what Pencil Case has to say about it and which members added it to their cases, or save it to your own case.

A better pencil case

This isn’t kindergarten anymore. And although the name evokes innocent memories of primary school, Pencil Case is no doubt a service for big kids.

In April, Pencil Case had nearly 500 members . As the community grows, the number of showcased resources will increase and the site’s rating quality will improve.

Although Pencil Case’s web-based app is a bit limited, Edward Williams, the site’s founder, assures users, “We’ll be constantly updating the website so visit regularly and follow @pencilcaseapp on Twitter for updates.”

Why care?

Designers and developers are often so overwhelmed with information and choice that it can be difficult to decide what tools to use for their next project.

Apps like Pencil Case will make it easier for creatives and programmers to discover the best tools on the web, so instead of spending egregious amounts of time finding and researching tools that will take your project to the next level, you may soon be able to identify the right programs that will help you build better.

Request an invite for the Pencil Case beta at its website. Or get direct access thanks to Erlibird.

 

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SMBs and iOS7: Tips to Adapt to the New Look and Feel

If you’ve spent untold hours developing a good mobile app, how do you react when the operating system changes the way it looks and works almost completely?

That’s a question that small-business owners have to answer when it comes to iOS7. Love it or hate it, the radical aesthetic and functional changes to Apple’s mobile working environment are here to stay, and for businesses with iPhone or iPad apps, it’s time to prepare users for app redesigns as well.

iOS7

Image Source: Apple

But SMB customers aren’t always early adopters, and if they’ve come rely upon your mobile app as a go-to service, you don’t want to lose them while they’re catching up to the technological times. So, how do you please everyone, without (a.) falling behind the forward leaners or (b.) outstripping the more cautious among your clients?

We turn to some experts for tips and advice on what to do to adapt to the iOS change and also keep your users happy.

Version Shock: 3 Tips for Avoiding It an iOS7 World

Recent reports suggest that nearly 1/3 of Apple users still haven’t upgraded to the newest version of Apple’s operating system. Some people just aren’t ready for the change, and there were even early reports that the operating system made some users feel sick to their stomachs.

On the other hand, as a business owner with customers that fall into that other ~70%, you can’t let the change-resistant overstate their case. So, how to walk a line?

Here are some tips, with guidance from developers at Roambi, one company that has been building business-productivity apps for iPhone since the very beginning of the App Store.

  1. Make sure the current version of your app is up-to-date. It may be hard to do while your app-development team is working to create the newest version of your app, but it’s important to perfect the existing version of your app before moving on to the next version. Any bugs or glitches should be fixed now so that you can focus on the next iteration of your app.
  2. Notify your customers. Not everybody is an early adopter, and this newest version of Apple’s operating system represents the biggest design shift from Apple yet, so make sure your customers know why you are changing your app and have an idea of what to expect. Sending an email to your user base or making a video tutorial with FAQs will be essential.
  3. Listen to your users. Even Apple’s newest edition of its operating system wasn’t perfect the first time around. Be prepared to receive feedback from your users on your new app and make notes on what can be improved for the next time you want to push an update.

Whether it’s you that codes for your small business or you work with tech-savvy team, if you’re ready to sink into some deep app-redesign, avail yourself of this set of key project notes from Apple’s development pages — including further advice on keeping iOS6 support intact.

Create and innovate, and with a quiver full of these tips you’ll know you’re aiming for the bullseye when it comes to new adopters, but still hitting the mark for your users who want to stick with iOS6 a little longer.

 

Mozy Mobile Apps for Android and iOS

 

After the Shutdown: SMBs Weigh-In on the Showdown (and Who’s to Blame)

Government ShutdownThe rhetoric isn’t over, but the U.S. government shutdown is, for the moment, at an end. With a late-night vote on Oct. 16, the House of Representatives dragged itself across the finish line of a 16-day endurance lap that was meant to test the resolve of the President, the Senate, and — to their chagrin — the American people.

Throughout the process, we heard a lot from politicians about closed monuments and parks, and about the outrage prompted when those resources weren’t available. But what really happened on the ground? What about the business owners that felt the shutdown’s impact?

“The shutdown is about more than national parks and zoos, landscaping and passports,” says Crystal L. Kendrick, president of The Voice of Your Customer. To her, the larger concern about federal offices going dark was “the effect of this shutdown on federal contractors, medical research, and federally funded social services.”

Now, as the dust clears, small-business owners are ready to talk. Here are the stories of several, and what they experienced as the federal government drew the shades for over two weeks in 2013.

Federal Contracts: Hitting Pause on Cash Flow

The Voice of Your Customer works with clients to penetrate niche markets via surveys, focus groups, and media campaigns. Part of its business comes from U.S. government contracts.

“As a result of the government shutdown, our contracts and work assignments were put on hold,” Kendrick says. “Additionally, our invoices were not being processed. What is more is that few federal RFPs have been released since 1 October, so the future workload of federal contractors will be affected as well.”

And the effect ripples across not only Kendrick’s company, either. The freelancers with whom she works will feel a pinch as well.

“We have delayed spending with our contractors and other suppliers,” she says. “We now have idle resources and delayed receivables. We have assigned our staff to other internal activities and we are using other resources to manage our cash flow.”

Bureaucratic Freeze: Licenses, Taxes, and Loans Take a Hit

If you’re a freelancer in need of that new permit, or you’re resolving a complicated tax scenario, the shutdown likely created new problems for you. So says Michael Raanan, president of Landmark Tax Group.

“The shutdown had a significant adverse affect on my business since my tax practice is dedicated to resolving IRS tax disputes,” Raanan says. “No IRS live assistance was available, no paper tax returns were being processed.”

And all those wage levies, tax liens in need of removal, and IRS approval for licenses and escrow issues? All on hold.

Similarly, if you had a loan application in with, say, the U.S. Small Business Administration, you can almost certainly expect that process to be slowed by the backlog caused by the shutdown.

The Finger of Blame

It’s clear that partisan wars are fought by more than one side. But small-business owners and U.S. citizens have shifted in how they answer the question of who bears the blame for the 2013 shutdown.

A Manta flash poll of 1,000 small-business owners allocated blame for the shutdown like this:

  • Congressional Democrats: 12%
  • Congressional Republicans: 22%
  • President Barack Obama: 30%
  • Tea Party: 8%
  • Both Democrats and Republicans: 24%
  • Other: 1%
  • Don’t Know: 3%

By Oct. 13, a Pew Research poll, its findings not confined to small-business owners, showed different results when it came to assigning blame.

  • Republicans: 46%
  • Obama Administration: 37%
  • Both: 13%

Steve Silberberg, owner and head guide at Fitpacking, a company that takes hikers on trips to national parks and forests, placed himself squarely in the mid-October 46%.

“I consider Congressional Tea Party members to blame for the shutdown,” says Silberberg, focusing on those members’ efforts “to defund the Affordable Care Act and convince me that it will place undue burdens on my business. They shut down my business.”

 

MozyPro Online Backup For Business

 

‘Outbox’ Turns Your Snail Mail into Email

Welcome to Mozy’s App Profile, where we introduce new programs seeking to improve the way we live and socialize. This week, Mozy takes a look at Outbox, a service takes your snail mail and digitizes it for seamless online or mobile viewing.

Even though email has long taken over as the main source of person-to-person mail communication, people still receive snail mail. A lot of it, in fact.

The United States Postal Service has hardly kept up with the times. Sure, truck and plane fleets have replaced horses as its transportation means, but the independent government agency has continued to move paper doorstep to doorstep for 238 years.

Intro to Outbox from Outbox on Vimeo.

With tangible mail coexisting with email for foreseeable future, Outbox is hoping to bring a digital solution to a very physical problem.

“On average, a person receives about 90 pieces of postal mail every month,” said Outbox co-founder Will Davis. “Granted, some of this is complete junk. But when new Outbox users are better able to manage this flow, they soon discover just how important some of these items are.”

Outbox collects and manages postal mail on a users’ behalf, enabling users to access, organize, prioritize and discard (or completely unsubscribe from) any piece of mail. Users can view their digitized mail on the internet, smartphone or tablet. And in the event you still want the original, physical copy, Outbox will return it to you.

To date, Outbox has enjoyed a successful beta phase run in Austin and San Francisco, tapping 1,200 users for the trial. According to Outbox, there are also “thousands [of prospective users] on our wait list [too].”

Even though Outbox currently relies on snail mail, the company does have a contingency plan in the event the aged service goes under.

“We are building an elegant API that will enable billers and service providers to reach our users in smarter, more efficient, and less expensive ways,” said Davis. “[The hope is that] in five years, Outbox will own the last and first mile in shipping.”

The expansion of Outbox into more cities and becoming available to additional users will occur later in the year. As it stands currently, the service costs $7.99 per month.

To find out more information about Outbox you can visit its website, follow the company on Twitter and watch the introductory video.

 

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ActiveReplay’s ‘Trace’ Looks to Take Action Sports to a Whole New Level

Trace App for Action SportsWelcome to Mozy’s App Profile, where we introduce new programs seeking to improve the way we live and socialize. This week, Mozy takes a look at ‘Trace,’ an app that enables users to track, motivate and share their action sports achievements.

If there’s a physical activity, odds are there’s an app to track and share your exercise achievements. ‘MapMyRun’ and ‘FitBit’ are popular smartphone apps that enable users to map routes, track activity, log diet and/or share performance with friends on Facebook.

Similarly, Nike+ Fuelband tracks every movement made by a person and creates goals to keep users on the go. The band itself has even become a fashion statement.

But while there are endless tracking, motivational and social apps for running or exercise, there are few—or none, to be exact—for action sports.

ActiveReplay’s ‘Trace’ is looking to change this.

“Trace is the product that we’ve always wanted,” said David Lokshin, co-founder of ActiveReplay. “People on the team grew up skating, surfing, skiing and snowboarding, and this is some of the data that we’ve always wanted [to have at our fingertips].”

The ‘Trace’ device is physically attached to a skateboard, surfboard or snowboard and connects to a smartphone app. The app is able to identify statistics like waves caught for surfers, runs and vert for skiers, tricks for skaters and a lot more. Like exercise apps, users can share achievements socially and set applicable action sports goals to improve skills.

The app isn’t public yet, but to the delight of Lokshin and the rest of the ActiveReplay family, ‘Trace’ surpassed its KickStarter goal by $11,260, raising a total of $161,260 over a 45-day span.

“[The fund-raising process] stretched the full gamut of emotions,” Lokshin said. “We hit our [KickStarter] goal, and we’re super excited to go back to building product full time.”

‘Trace’ is on-pace to be released during Summer 2014.

 

Mozy Mobile Apps for Android and iOS

 

Forget waiting in actual lines. WaitAway will text you when your table is ready

WaitAway AppLike owners of other businesses, the biggest fear for restaurateurs is often the lack of customers. But being successful in getting people through the door can be a double-edged sword in the dining business. Having a line that extends from outside the front door to along the sidewalk and around the corner can be bad in the long run if diners realize the food was merely good, and not worth the two-hour wait a second time around.

But now there is a solution that won’t trap diners in crowded waiting areas, or confine them within 5 meters of the premises (how far do those blasted restaurant pagers allow you to wander anyways?), so you can go off and explore the neighborhood until your table is ready.

After requesting a table and giving your phone number to the host, WaitAway will text you immediately with an estimated wait time and once again when your table is ready.

My first encounter with the app was as a diner at the Meatball Shop in Greenwich Village, NYC. I arrived more than an hour early for the proposed dinner time because I was in the neighborhood earlier, running an errand.

“Danny, party of 4,” I told the hostess after asking how long the wait would be.

“75 minutes” is what I vaguely remember due to my awe and shock, realizing, What a coincidence! The rest of my party will arrive in about 60 minutes!

Almost immediately, I received a text confirming my reservation with a link that would allow me to check my wait status.

Drats! I’m one of the few iPhone users without a data plan. Let’s just hope the estimated wait time is accurate.

To my frustration, my guests arrived later than they quoted — but just in time. To my surprise, the table was ready almost at the exact time the hostess estimated (give or take a few minutes).

Oh, mystery software, how I love you.

At the time, I was unaware the program that pinged me with my wait information was the WaitAway app. But whatever it was, I was excited someone had come up with simple, user-friendly technology that let me avoid claustrophobic anxiety.

How do businesses benefit from this kind of software? Sarah Turcotte of FastCompany reports that after the Meatball Shop’s first month using WaitAway, walkaways decreased 30%.

This is absolutely a step up from range-restrictive pagers. Yet WaitAway is not alone in the space. BuzzTable and NoWait are two other businesses offering queue management software.

Mobile communications is exploding. Adopting mobile technology will be important for every business. Business with physical locations will soon have to figure out ways to leverage mobile tech to provide an exceptional customer experience. Otherwise they may be left biting the dust when competitors get ahead of the technological curve.

Programs such as WaitAway provide more convenience and transparency to increasingly demanding consumers, who offer their loyalty to businesses they love and trust.

What new tech are you using for your storefront location?

 

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Gibbon.co and the world of online learning

Gibbon.coThe problem with higher education isn’t just the high tuition fees or low job placement rates. Much of higher education is also marked by inflexibility; stubborn curricula limit the learning experience and prevent students from working at their own pace and from anywhere.

Luckily, there’s another way you can get a world-class education without having to step foot in a classroom ever again.

A new way to learn

Gibbon.co promises its social learning platform will be “the easiest way to get ridiculously smart.”

The site, currently in private beta, will allow users to “Create, share and follow Learning Flows, containing articles, books and videos.” Learning Flows are carefully curated resources that organize information already available on the web to provide a “clear path of what to learn.”

Ever do a Google search to try to learn something? In 0.47 seconds, Google identifies 57,600,000 results for the search term “Ajax programming.” Less than half a second is all it takes to source anything and everything there is to know about “Ajax programming.”

But where to start? And what type of human can afford the energy or time to read through the more than 57 million results? Without proper guidance, you’re better off paying an Ajax professional to fulfill all of your programming needs.

Learning Flows on Gibbon will “guide [users] to the best content available on the web to learn a specific topic.” This won’t be a dull classroom lecture. Discussions are encouraged and peers may offer help to each other.

Since Learning Flows will be user-generated, problems, propaganda and errors are sure to arise. Yet, there are more than enough honest experts and knowledgeable individuals out there who will create Learning Flows that make it really simple to gain the knowledge you want.

Welcome to the world of online learning

E-learning is booming. On the supply side, online learning upstarts such as Skillshare, Udemy, and Coursera are offering an incredibly wide range of courses for free, or for a small fee. Many higher education institutions are bringing courses online too. On the demand side, Coursera alone boasts more than 4.3 million “Courserians” on their homepage.

It is clear there is no shortage of expertise on the web and that many millions are eager-to-learn outside of the traditional classroom setting.

Entrepreneurs should be among the eager-to-learn, since building a business and managing it through different stages of growth requires a constantly evolving and improving skill set. If you run your own business, you — and your staff — should invest in education of some sort for personal and professional growth.

Fortunately, you won’t have to spend thousands of dollars — if you spend any money at all — for you and your team to learn the skills necessary to take your business to the next level.

Go on, start learning!

 

Mozy Mobile Apps for Android and iOS

 

Mozy at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2013

Members of the Mozy team had a great time earlier this month representing Mozy at the 2013 edition of the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo. We were able to meet with a bunch of great people at the booth and enjoyed the warm, overcast Orlando fall weather.

MozyEnterprise customer Florida Virtual School presented on their experience with MozyEnterprise on the first day of the event. Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is an innovative public school offering accredited K-12 online education, free to Florida residents. Keeping the digital classroom running smoothly means keeping the 2,000 teachers in the FLVS faculty online and with consistent access to their classroom data. After struggling for years with complex and sluggish external hard drive backups and laptop replacement processes, which took a week or more, FLVS switched to MozyEnterprise and has cut the delay in data restoration by over 75 percent.

MozyEnterprise’s ease of use was put to the test when a teacher unfortunately lost her work laptop in a house fire. Thanks to Mozy, she was back up and running with every file she needed in no time.

Take a more detailed look at Florida Virtual School’s MozyEnterprise experience. Below is the presentation that was given about the event. We’re looking forward to next year!