Choosing Online Data Backup: 5 Questions to Ask

Cloud storage is one of the biggest technology buzzwords, freeing people from their hard drives and USB cables and allowing them to store precious data in one centralized, virtual location where it’s accessible from anywhere, from any device. As dozens of storage providers continue to pop up, wading through the choices can seem, well, cloudy. When evaluating cloud providers, ask these five questions to get an insight over what the cloud vendor can and can’t do for you.

How Much Will It Cost?

1.) There are cloud-based backup systems that run the gamut from online storage free accounts to paid, automated backup. While it’s wonderful that cost isn’t a deterrent to securing your data, researching what you’ll get, and what you’ll need to pay if you want to upgrade your plan, is a common sense place to begin when selecting online storage providers.

How Can I Retrieve My Data?

2.) Uploading data to the cloud is so simple it’s a common assumption that getting your data out of the cloud will be just as easy. In reality, that’s not always true. Bandwidth limits how quickly you can download data, so a provider with a low bandwidth rate can mean you will have to spend hours on file recovery. Some providers insist on preparing DVDs of your files, which is not convenient if you need to restore from backup. It’s better finding this information out upfront than to rely on assumptions that may be incorrect. The South Carolina Bar Association provides a detailed list of questions to ask potential vendors.

Can I Back Up Everything?

3.) Not all online storage systems allow you to back up the very files you would need to restore your computer in the event of a data crash. Find out whether you can back up only the personal files — those you create, such as spreadsheets or photographs, and those you acquire, such as MP3s — or whether you can back up system-critical files that you would need to restore a computer after a hardware failure. Then, select the cloud storage provider or providers that allow you to store all of the files that you need to preserve.

How Is Data Secured?

4.) Data breaches or natural disasters could leave your data vulnerable to theft or loss. Determine what steps the vendor takes to secure the physical safety of your files from natural and human-made threats. Data encryption, private servers, firewalls, and regular security audits help protect data from others while disaster preparedness and redundancy measures can help safeguard your data in the event of natural disasters such as fires and floods. Knowing what steps the vendor is taking to address security can also help you plan what additional steps you may need to take, such as keeping your own external backup.

What About File Sharing?

5.) Not all cloud-based storage systems allow you to share files online. If the ability to share files with colleagues is your prime consideration, there are ample utilities that do this well, and there are also online backup providers that allow you to add file sharing for an extra fee.

Image by FutUndBeidl pursuant to the terms of Creative Commons license.

What Do Governments, School and Hospitals Have in Common?

 

What Do Governments, School and Hospitals Have in Common? They’ve All Been Breached.

 

Leap Motion Lets You Control PC with a Gesture

 The development of touch-screen technology changed the way we interact with our devices. It does have its drawbacks, such as greasy screens and a scratch here or there, but it works wonderfully. Surprisingly enough, however, something new has come along, something that may one day make the touch screen a messy inconvenience.

Leap Motion

With its first product offering, the Leap Motion Controller, users can plug into almost any laptop and manipulate the screen via a series of hand and finger movements in the air. Like having a touch-screen computer, but without actually touching the screen. The company’s website explains that the controller maps how your hands move, and can detect with pinpoint precision every small motion they make.

Because of this accuracy, you’ll be able to do almost everything you’d do with a mouse and keyboard with hand gestures. You can even draw and paint with your fingertip, as well as bend and mold 3D objects. Playing air guitar is also an option, as are the mundane tasks of checking email, renewing a VPS hosting account or general web surfing.

According to Leapmotion.com, the controller will change the way you use your computer. Granted, it’s normal for a new tech device to make bold claims about how it will transform your world. However, with Leap Motion, it appears that some of the major computer manufacturers are already convinced. This has many in the tech industry taking a second look at what Leap Motion is offering.

The Endorsement of HP and Asus

According to Darrell Etherington from Techcrunch.com, Leap Motion is already scheduled to be included in future HP devices, even though its first product has yet to hit store shelves. This amounts to an impressive endorsement by a huge computer manufacturer, especially considering that consumers have yet to try the technology.

The motion capabilities will first be available to HP buyers in the form of a bundle, where the controller w

ill come included with certain HP computers. In the future, however, the technology will come embedded in the devices. Users will not need a separate controller because it will all be part of the HP computer.

Asus has also come onboard with Leap and will be bundling the controller with some of its future computers, as well.

Airspace

Airspace is Leap Motion’s version of an App Store, where it will offer motion-compatible software to go along with its products. Airspace will be included with all the PCs Leap products, according to Chris Burns at Slashgear.com. This means the company will get a huge push in marketing its products to consumers.

Leap will successfully link Airspace with motion-controlled software in the eyes of consumers, which will give them a significant head start in what will likely be a rapidly growing market.

Clean Screens

If the Leap Motion controller functions as intended, dirty touch screens will soon be a thing of the past. Consumers will have an even better way to interact with their devices, and Leap Motion will enjoy all of the financial rewards of being at the forefront of an emerging industry.

Beyond Social Media: CRM Tools to Connect With Customers Faster

 If you’ve ever posted a complaint on a companies’ Twitter page and wondered why you didn’t hear a response from a representative, chances are your words were lost among the trillions of tweeters. A study by LiveOps says that 70 percent of the complaints on Twitter and Facebook are ignored by customer service. According to Heather Somerville, of MercuryNews.com, this study shows it takes at least two days for customer support to respond to comments posted to their social media networks. The study also showed that rather than deal with a customer’s complaint or question, most retailers will delete the post on their Facebook profile. Somerville says that companies want to provide good support, but they lack the technology to respond to customers in a timely manner. Cloud-based customer support software still reigns supreme as the tool that connects representatives with prospects. TJ McCue, author of Small Business Trends, suggests the following CRM apps, to help reps strengthen their relationship with customers.

InfusionSoft

McCue calls InfusionSoft the leader in CRM marketing software. Instead of sending a single auto-reply to customers, it helps you to tailor a sequence of follow-up answers for the specific customer. Moving beyond email, this tool allows reps to respond to questions fast via voicemail, fax and chat. Locate the leads that’ll be sure to bite with InfusionSoft’s scoring tool and strike while the iron’s hot.

BatchBook

BatchBook lets you view a customers Facebook profile, blog posts, Twitter page and Google plus account all in one database. You can store communication histories, keep track of customer details and import customer data from spreadsheets or webforms. Get a 30-day free trial or sign up for one of their annual plans and enjoy two months of BatchBook for free.

SalesForce

Still a popular choice in online CRM tools, SalesForce is the SaaS (software-as-a-service) that’s built for making sales. Customize a dashboard that will report the information you’ll need to increase conversions and bring revenue in. Since they acquired Jigsaw, a contact crowdsource that will grab prospects based on demographics, financial status and history of purchases, the only direction for SalesForce has been up.

SmartSheet Sales Pipeline

With SmartSheet, you can connect with reps and track all sales as they’re moving through the pipeline. View every opportunity, estimate each value of a deal, follow steps of a sale from contact to close. Create team tasks, production calendars, reports and Gantt Charts all on this cloud-based platform. This tool makes collaboration a snap, allowing project managers and reps to share files, and has a mobile app available for download at the iTunes Store.

If your business is expanding beyond the point of manageability, don’t throw your hands up in despair. Try one — or all four — of these cloud-based CRM platforms.

Photo by Flickr user Simone Lovati

The 6 Strikes Rule & You – Will You Change How You Get Content?

 The so-called "6 Strikes Rule" has been in the news since early 2012 and was implemented early this year. The basic premise is that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will begin penalizing customers who misuse copyrighted material on the web. Consumers fear they might face suspension or cancelation of service for perceived misuse on their IP address.

 

So what’s really happening? There is nothing officially sanctioned by the government that alludes to a number of "strikes." There is, however, an initiative coming from the newly formed Center for Copyright Information. According to its website, the Copyright Alert System has been implemented. The system appears to focus on peer to peer (P2P) networks sharing music and videos. Copyright infringement is reported by content owners. ISPs either educate consumers or mitigate the behavior. This video explains the system more fully:

What does this mean for consumers? First, lock down your network to prevent copyright infringement by unauthorized users. Be sure your wireless network is encrypted and password protected. Change the password as often as necessary. Secondly, use above-board means to access media whenever possible. Websites like Hulu exist to provide you with legal content and provide fair recognition and compensation to content creators or owners. Many other sources can help provide you with the content you love without breaking the bank.

Images

It seems unlikely that image use will get much attention, at least in the first phase of the Copyright Alert System. Play it safe by sticking to mainstream sites to look at pictures. If you find somesuper funny pictures that you want to share, send a link rather than downloading and emailing the photos.

If you’re using images on blog posts or on your website, be sure they’re available for your use. Creative Commons is a great resource to find out more.

Books

Books also seem to be a low-priority item, but it pays to be safe.Project Gutenberg provides free, high-quality e-books. They’re mostly classic and academic titles that are out of copyright, but you can get lots of good content and they’re expanding the catalog every day.

For more current print, audio and electronic books, check out your local library. Many libraries are now offering ebooks and audio books that you can "check out." The content does expire after a certain time limit, but you can often get the latest best sellers with minimal effort and no cost to you.

Music

If you want to own music files, Freegal Music is an excellent resource. It’s generally provided through your local library. Each week you can legally download a limited number of tracks for free. If you don’t need to keep the music and just want to hear it on demand, Spotify is one of many sites to use. You can listen to streaming radio, full albums and tracks on demand from a computer. If you’re willing to spend a few extra dollars a month, you can do it all ad-free and access Spotify on mobile devices.

Will the copyright information system change the way you use the Internet? We’d love to hear from you!

Safe Social Media Practices for 2013

Safe Social Media Practices for 2013

If you’ve set some digital resolutions for yourself in 2013, perhaps one of them should be to take a fresh look at your social networking digital practices. Many users of networks like Facebook and Twitter will carry on for years without taking a glimpse at their privacy settings or terms of service, leaving them vulnerable. Here are four ways to follow best practice online in 2013:

 

 

Don’t Get "Killed"

There’s a nasty Facebook prank going around where accounts can be "killed" or converted into what’s called "memorialized accounts" simply by posing as a family member and informing Facebook that the victim of the prank has passed away. The social networking loophole, first exposed by social trend website Buzzfeed, can be accomplished by as little as an online obituary of someone who simply shares the same name. Getting your account back to normalcy isn’t impossible but it’s a process. You’ll have to file a form with Facebook and wait about 5-6 days for action to be taken.

Until Facebook officially refines this process there’s not much you can do but monitor your account closely. Identity theft protection services like Lifelock on Facebook will often give some pretty handy tips on how to keep you profile secure. Until then, just make sure that you have trustworthy friends who don’t like pranks.

Read the Terms of Service

Or at least understand what the fine print is telling you. Photo-sharing service Instagram found itself in hot water after making controversial changes to its terms of service, allowing the company to sell its users pictures to third parties without permission. The change was met with enough outrage that Instagram eventually recanted on that portion of the change, but the trust in the service was damaged enough that its daily user numbers have been in decline, according to app statistics website AppData.

Terms of Service; Didn’t Read is a fantastic new site that takes the terms of service from popular sites and breaks it down for you in plain English, so the fine print doesn’t sneak past you. The site even gives the terms a total grade of A through E so you can see how reliable they really are.

Refine & Review Privacy Settings

"Digital holidays" is becoming a fad for maintaining your computer’s health and managing online life. February 1, for example, is National Change Your Password Day. March 31 is National Backup Your Computer Day. The beginning of 2013 is a great time to scour through all your social networks to assure that all your privacy settings are exactly how you want them.

A simple Google search like, "How to make [social network] private" should get you along with navigating through these settings, as these types of searches are very popular.

Nothing is Truly Private

Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, made headlines in December after a photo she posted to Facebook was tweeted out for thousands to see. The picture in question is harmless, just the Zuckerberg family talking in the kitchen over the holidays, but Randi thought that the photo was private only to a select group of friends and family. Her response to the social media universe didn’t help the matter very much, but it was certainly a lesson that not even the CEO’s sister can get a grip on Facebook’s complicated privacy settings.

Always use the golden rule, would you want to see this on the cover of The New York Times, before posting something online. Even after going through all your social networks’ privacy settings, it’s always possible for data to fall into the wrong hands.

 

This Article has been brought to you by The Computer Fixer with special thanks to DigitalPros!

Get Your Business Started Without Having to Leave the House

Starting a business is one of the most-exciting endeavors you can undertake. When that business is home-based, it’s even better. Thanks to updated methods at all levels, it’s even possible to handle all of your startup needs without leaving your house. From registering the business and getting permits to acquiring supplies, it can all be done online or through the mail.

Here are some of the most common steps for starting up a business:

 

 

Permits, Licenses and a Bank Account

Which permits are needed depend on your location and business type. To find out what will likely be needed for your business, try using the SBA’s tool. Just put in your ZIP code and business type, and it’ll show you a list of all of the likely requirements. Many municipalities, counties and states allow you to apply for permits and register your business name online. You can even get a Federal Employer ID over the Internet. Even so, there are a few localities that still want physical copies of your registration and will often allow you to mail them your application.

The next step is to open up a bank account for your business, which will usually be a checking account. Many banks allow online applications and will mail you your first set of checks. In some areas, you may need to get this account before applying for a business license.

Set Up Relationships With Suppliers and Get Supplies

Most wholesale suppliers should require you to have a tax ID number to do business with them or at least to avoid being charged sales tax. Have this number handy when you apply for your trade lines.

Next, Get all of your stationery and shipping supplies. For everything from mailing labels to business cards, printing online is the way to go. You can even buy shipping boxes online. Depending on your items, you may find that it’s a good idea to get your boxes from the United States Postal Service (USPS). USPS-Flat Rate boxes allow you to send heavy items at rates that you can only get from other shippers if you’re a high volume customer. If you expect to be a high-volume shipper, set up a commercial account online at UPS or FedEx. At high volumes or long distances, their prices will beat the post office.

Insurance and Hiring

Many insurance companies will set up policies online. If you need a large policy, they may even be willing to send an agent to your house to set it up. This can be done right away, or you can do it while you’re waiting for your first shipment of inventory. If you need to hire employees, do so after you have liability insurance in place. The first stage of hiring is as simple as putting in an ad with your phone number. Interviews can be done over the phone.

These are some of the most-common steps for starting up a small business from home. If you’re going to use a business location for your actual operations, you may prefer to have your goods shipped there instead of your house. Either way, there’s no need for you to go on long journeys to accomplish these basic steps.

 

Written by: Amy Coleman 

Amy has carried a briefcase to school since first grade because she wanted to be the boss. She holds an MBA from Wharton and works for a Fortune 500 company where she has her eye on the corner office.

 

Thoughts about Mainframe Developers…

Thoughts About Mainframe Developers and Why I Was Oh So Wrong

Many of my jobs at Compuware (since 1984) have involved interacting with development teams for many different product lines. About 1 ½ years ago, after working with newer distributed technologies for 12 years, I made a somewhat impulsive decision to return to our Mainframe Solutions business unit.

Here are the things I was wrong about when I made that decision:

  • I was worried that I would be a little bored. Coming out of a fast-paced technology environment, I thought I would be working in a less frenetic one. I was wrong.
  • In my first meeting surrounded by people I had known for almost 30 years ago, this is what I was thinking: 1)  some of these folks must be  “burned out,” doing the same job for almost 30 years and 2) Certainly, I’m not as old as these people. I was really wrong on both counts.
  • I questioned how much innovation would be coming out of a group focused on legacy technology. I was really, really wrong.

Here’s the reality: I am working as hard as or harder than I ever have in a rapidly changing technology environment. With amazing levels of enthusiasm, dedication and pride in their work, our mainframe development team has evolved with those changes, while learning new tools, languages and communication with other platforms. And, they have incredible insight into the technologies that will support future generations. Finally, they’re not old! It’s just a number after all.

In an effort to capture all this, we recently interviewed 10 Compuware mainframe developers, ranging in experience from 4 to 35 years. If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you too have been a mainframe developer at one point in your life. Hopefully you’ll enjoy hearing from these folks as they talk about the past, present and future. If you’ve never been a mainframe developer, you still might enjoy hearing what it was like writing code back in the 70s and 80s and what it’s like working in a group spanning many generations. As a backdrop, we created an interactive infographic to tell the story of mainframe innovation. Be sure to click on the image below for the full resolution and video insets. Enjoy! http://insidetechtalk.com/mainframehistory/

Age of the Mainframe

Past:

  • Tell us about your first job working in mainframe.
  • What was considered interesting or innovative technology at that time?
  • Tell us about your most memorable mistake as a newer mainframe developer.


Present:

  • What is the most recent innovative project you’ve been involved in?
  • How has technology changed since you first started working in mainframe?
  • As an experienced mainframer, what have you learned from a newer developer? OR
  • As a new developer, what have you learned from an experienced mainframer?


Future:

  • What do you think your job would be like in 20 years?
  • What might mainframe innovation look like at that time?

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Mitzi Hunter

Mitzi Hunter joined Compuware in May 1984 and currently runs the Mainframe marketing organization. Her nearly 28 years of experience in the IT industry spans technical support, product development, training, technical writing, and marketing for Compuware’s distributed and mainframe solutions. Mitzi has a Bachelor of Arts in Computational Mathematics from Albion College.

 

Thoughts about Mainframe Developers…

Thoughts About Mainframe Developers and Why I Was Oh So Wrong

Many of my jobs at Compuware (since 1984) have involved interacting with development teams for many different product lines. About 1 ½ years ago, after working with newer distributed technologies for 12 years, I made a somewhat impulsive decision to return to our Mainframe Solutions business unit.

Here are the things I was wrong about when I made that decision:

  • I was worried that I would be a little bored. Coming out of a fast-paced technology environment, I thought I would be working in a less frenetic one. I was wrong.
  • In my first meeting surrounded by people I had known for almost 30 years ago, this is what I was thinking: 1)  some of these folks must be  “burned out,” doing the same job for almost 30 years and 2) Certainly, I’m not as old as these people. I was really wrong on both counts.
  • I questioned how much innovation would be coming out of a group focused on legacy technology. I was really, really wrong.

Here’s the reality: I am working as hard as or harder than I ever have in a rapidly changing technology environment. With amazing levels of enthusiasm, dedication and pride in their work, our mainframe development team has evolved with those changes, while learning new tools, languages and communication with other platforms. And, they have incredible insight into the technologies that will support future generations. Finally, they’re not old! It’s just a number after all.

In an effort to capture all this, we recently interviewed 10 Compuware mainframe developers, ranging in experience from 4 to 35 years. If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you too have been a mainframe developer at one point in your life. Hopefully you’ll enjoy hearing from these folks as they talk about the past, present and future. If you’ve never been a mainframe developer, you still might enjoy hearing what it was like writing code back in the 70s and 80s and what it’s like working in a group spanning many generations. As a backdrop, we created an interactive infographic to tell the story of mainframe innovation. Be sure to click on the image below for the full resolution and video insets. Enjoy! http://insidetechtalk.com/mainframehistory/

Age of the Mainframe

Past:

  • Tell us about your first job working in mainframe.
  • What was considered interesting or innovative technology at that time?
  • Tell us about your most memorable mistake as a newer mainframe developer.


Present:

  • What is the most recent innovative project you’ve been involved in?
  • How has technology changed since you first started working in mainframe?
  • As an experienced mainframer, what have you learned from a newer developer? OR
  • As a new developer, what have you learned from an experienced mainframer?


Future:

  • What do you think your job would be like in 20 years?
  • What might mainframe innovation look like at that time?

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Mitzi Hunter

Mitzi Hunter joined Compuware in May 1984 and currently runs the Mainframe marketing organization. Her nearly 28 years of experience in the IT industry spans technical support, product development, training, technical writing, and marketing for Compuware’s distributed and mainframe solutions. Mitzi has a Bachelor of Arts in Computational Mathematics from Albion College.

 

3 Ways The Cloud is Revolutionizing Technology

 One of the biggest things to hit the technological world since the computer itself has to be the cloud. Starting out as a near mythical concept that had a dreamlike quality, computing using the cloud is transforming everything from software companies to computer users at home. Every sector from Wall Street to the Web has been effected by the changes in the technological world. Some of the changes in 2012 include the growing rate of investing in cloud services, Microsoft’s application of the cloud for Office 365 and the direct influence of the cloud on home computer users.

 

Changing the Way Home Users Compute

Amy Freeland of NTTcom explores the ways that the cloud is affecting tech services for home users. From providing online backupto allowing users to print from anywhere, cloud computing has revolutionized the way computer users operate. Other services users now have thanks to the cloud include:

  • Online unlimited music, photograph and video storage with access even if a computer crashes

  • Optimized Internet shopping even during the busiest shopping days

  • Connectivity via the cloud; no more syncing via USB between email, smart phone, computer and tablet

Investments in Cloud Services

Tim Beyers of Daily Finance notes that services related to the technological cloud are on the rise. According to the Gartner research study, cloud services have grown by 20 percent in the past year alone; predictions for “the total outlay for cloud services could nearly double, to $207 billion, by 2016.” As a result, investors are forgoing investments in telecom, infrastructure and install-and-upgrade software and are focusing on investing in cloud services.

Three of the most popular providers of cloud services include Salesforce’s Chatter, Amazon’s Web Services, and Google Apps. Chatter is a social networking platform that provides customer service applications for IT departments. Amazon’s Web Services has also infiltrated the IT department ideal with the ability to purchase applications and space via the cloud. Google Apps is competing against Microsoft Office with its software alternative for document processing; Chromebooks and the Nexus 7 are other cloud applications offered by Google. As the top names in computer technology step up by creating the industry standard using the cloud, expect smaller businesses to follow suit in the near future.

Microsoft Enters the Cloud

Microsoft provides one of the most popular operating systems and word processing software on the market. However, now that cloud services have gone mainstream, the upcoming version of Microsoft Office 2013 will include cloud networking, according to Jerimiah Yap at Gant Daily. The cloud will allow users to access their files from anywhere using Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud services. CIOInsight states that the cloud version of Office 2013 will be called Office 365. As part of Office 2013, the cloud application also includes:

  • Skype for video and voice calling

  • Yammer, the social media platform for networking and customer service

  • Perspective Pixel, which will allow Windows 8, the upcoming operating system, to operate on tablets including iPad and Kindle Fire using a touch screen interface

The cloud provides a server with unlimited storage and connectivity. Using cloud computing increases the speed and productivity of users at home, which extends to the business world as well. Because of the ability for users to extend their technological activities in 2012 and beyond guarantees the cloud won’t be going anywhere soon.

 

This article was contributed to out blog by :

Lance Overbay 

 

Lance studied engineering and minored in English. He has a love for all things Android, but appreciates additional platforms.