Carbonite Backup Service

Chances are, within your lifetime, you will have a hard drive crash or get a virus that corrupts your computer. Case in point: I had some weird attack on my laptop a few months back and it crippled my computer. I thankfully backed up my client files and important information to my external drive (I have this set to do nightly . . . whew), so after a good while of restoring, I was back in action.

I always planned on going the online backup route, but all the free (you know what I’m talking about!) services capped at around 25 gigabytes of storage. I have 100’s of gigabytes to deal with, so I figured I’d just stay with my double nightly backup (one to external, then that backs up to my desktop).

However, Thursday I needed a file that I saved on my machine the wrong way and my external file listing was freaky (didn’t show ANY files). After a reboot, I found the files, but this got me nervous.

So, now I’m trying out http://www.carbonite.com. They allow you to backup an unlimited amount of data  for just over $50 per year . . . I figured it’d be worth it if it worked well. I started the service on Friday. I’m almost half way uploaded at this point, but once the files are backed up, each time you save something, it will upload it to the backup server. Now, that’s just cool.

I can access the backed up files from anywhere a browser is handy. So, now I have the peace of mind that all my important information is away from the house (in case of fire, disaster, etc.).

I’ll post a follow up after a while of use, but I think it’s going to be an obvious business expense issue. If you want to try it, enter the code “tnt” for 2 months free. There are other free versions (and I say go for it if you don’t need the space), but if you have lots of data (I’ll upload all my photos next!), this is almost a no brainer!

Update: It’s August 9th and my 100 GBytes isn’t done yet . . . whew. Otherwise, it runs pretty low key in the background. I can pause for an hour, 4 hours, 8 hours, etc. to get some work done. Nice feature.

WeTransfer.com

So, I’ve been recommending Yousendit.com for a while to transfer large files without using FTP. Enter http://www.wetransfer.com – it’s the most bare bones, easy to use system I’ve seen to date. There’s one thing on the screen and it’s as simple as adding files, then entering 2 emails (to and from) and comments.

They fund the system through advertising, but use large, full screen imagery (quite good looking) to promote the advertisers.

Bonus: You can send up to 2 Gigabytes and keep them available for 2 weeks.

Send a Fax Online

So, I’ve been a fan of efax.com to have a fax number that sends to your email. Now, that’s the receiving end. And, while you get 2 free outgoing faxes, once those are out, you have to sign up for the monthly fee to send more. And, how many of us send lots of faxes (other than you law folks out there)?

So, I had to send a fax today. Rather than heading to someone’s office to bum from them or pay the first month’s fee for efax, I knew someone had to have thought of an a-la-carte option. Enter www.faxzero.com. You can send a free fax (with ads for the receiver) or pay $1.99 for one fax without ads. And, the fax can be up to 15 pages.

The site is dead simple and my fax was sent within 2 minutes . . . gotta love that.

Ubuntu Netbook Remix

OK, so I was quite excited to give my wife a nice little happy by way of the HP Mini 1000 computer a few years back. It was small, stylish and would even fit into her purse for her to use at a moment’s notice when she needed to get online. She LOVED it. Windows XP worked at a nice clip, the smallish, but ample 8 GB Solid State drive was totally silent . . . it seemed like I nailed it.

Enter the “Windows XP + Time = Piece of Junk” phase. After a few months, this darling of a computer turned slower than my 5-year-old on the first day of school. It was unbearable just to get running and could barely even open the web browser (which is the main reason I got it – for her to surf and tinker on the web for email and such).

So, there it sat for almost two years. I re-installed Windows a time or two, but it quickly slowed to the same sad state.

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the upcoming Google Chrome operating system to try out, since it claims to be lightweight and nimble on small “netbook” computers, but then I remembered another solution. I tried Linux (Ubuntu) a few years back on an old Pentium II 450 MHz machine. I was pleasantly surprised at the speed of getting around even on that ancient computer. So, I headed back to http://www.ubuntu.com to see about a copy for this netbook. Well, they had a flavor tailored just for it – cool!

I was debating (for about 5 seconds) about the install since I had only USB (no disc drive) to install with, but then saw the simple set up through making an installer out of a USB drive. Seriously, anyone who barely knows how to run a computer could do this process. Kudos to Ubuntu for making it so painless.

So, I downloaded the ISO file of Ubuntu (took about 30-40 minutes on a decent broadband connection), created the USB drive, and even got to try the system out by running it from the USB drive first to see if everything worked. There is a testing app built in to see if things like sound and other basic hardware are compatible. For the HP Mini I’m on, everything was ready to go, save some WiFi issues (see below). Ubuntu hit a home run this time, it seemed. On my previous install (the old PII computer), there were several drivers missing and some patchwork to get it running right.

The one hurdle of the whole process, getting my wireless card to work, was actually not so bad, thanks to http://www.ubuntuforums.org. There are so many great users and developers in this community, you can find solutions to most any issue. I simply searched “HP Mini Wireless” and found a solution within the first few threads.. It was a sort of advanced move using the terminal and some code, but was straightforward and fixed my wireless issue (now, I’m writing this from the couch rather than the office tethered to ethernet).

So, how does it run? Let’s just say I’m impressed. I counted seconds during boot time and it was just over 20 from off to fully running. I’m anxious to see how this stacks up over time. Even the Firefox browser is quick to load – this is encouraging, since the same program on my work computer, with much more horsepower, is a beast to open. The use of the menus and programs is smooth and satisfying. They’ve done a great job with the look of the icons and layout. It’s similar to using a Mac, in my opinion. Of course, there aren’t allot of swooshing graphics, but the minimal use of fades and highlights is really effective.

The layout of the menu is along the left side in the Netbook edition and gives you a good, concise layout of all of the software options (games, office, internet, settings, etc.). There’s a nice “Favorites” folder at the top to place your most used programs – I like this already. I’ve read that I can switch to the default view of Ubuntu if needed, so I might try that later.

There’s the software app that lets you choose from various applications (most free!), so I’m excited about digging in. I probably won’t get too crazy – I only have 4 GBytes left on the machine, so I might give some time to add things to see how performance progresses. Oh, I mean, my wife might give time . . . it’s her machine, after all, right?!

I’ll leave it at that for now and come back later for an update. I’m glad Linux is progressing as it has. This is a major improvement over even 2 years ago and I look forward to seeing their progress. If you have a machine to fool around with, I highly recommend trying Ubuntu. I don’t advise using it for your main machine (yet), but it’s a great alternative to Windows for light duty computing. Enjoy

FYI, to set the driver for the HP Mini wireless chip, head to the terminal app in Ubuntu, then enter the following command:

sudo apt-get install bcmwl-kernel-source

Reboot and you should be good to go. You’ll need to be hooked in via Ethernet to enter the above command, btw.

Update: August 2nd

Wow . . . I mean, seriously, this machine has a whole new usefulness now. Standby mode is snappy. When you open the lid, the screen zips back to life and connects to the wireless by the time you open the browser. Good stuff. Chromium is still my favorite browser and on linux, it’s no exception – super fast. I’m tempted to use the bookmark sync feature in Google.

DVPRemote App

So, what’s really impressing me about the iPhone app development community is the fact that there’s pretty much ANYTHING available should you have the notion. Of course, I love my Roku player for streaming Netflix. My son “relocated” the remote the other day. Thankfully, I had the 99 cent DVPRemote app.

Simply put, the app controls my Roku player through the network in my home. No lag time – works just like the remote. Now, I don’t necessarily want to replace my rubbery buttoned remote, but this sure is handy when it’s not immediately available – and for some reason I don’t lose my iPhone as easily.

iPhone 4.0.1 Update Glitch (crime)

Why don’t I trust my better judgement? Here I am, trying to follow Apple’s rules by updating firmware on the iPhone 4 and, yep, have a useless piece of glass on my desk. I’m trying the following fix at this moment . . . I’ll post to let you know how it goes. If you’re having the same trouble, try at your own risk.

http://chrisgrannell.co.uk/2010/07/16/iphone-4-0-1-brick-solution/

Funny thing is, I thought “better wait a few days, Lance” . . . riiiight.

Update: Ok, the link above did nothing. I did, however upgrade iTunes to the latest version, then synced and all is well . . .whew.

Update #2:  So, how does it feel to get a shiny new iPhone and use the great video feature and camera on your beach vacation only to sync to get the recommended firmware upgrade, then have your phone bricked and your backup file corrupted only to find your images and videos are forevermore lost? You take a guess . . . but, hey, the Apple rep said he was sorry, so I’m sure I’ll keep that memory instead . . . good job, Apple.

Update #3: A Little joy . . . well, looks like I can rename the files from that corrupted backup. Now, I have to guess which ones are video files and which are photos, but size will help there. So, if you run into the same situation, look at your backup files. On a Windows machine, head to C:\Users\Username\AppData\Roaming\AppleComputer\MobileSync\Backup to see a list of older backup file folders. You can sort by date to find the most recent one (or the one that corrupted). Copy this folder to another directory (so you can always go back and retry). Then, rename the larger files as “filename.mov”, then double click to test it out . . . hope this helps!