At a recent dinner with friends, we discussed a number of interesting technology and social topics. Here are my dinner notes!
If you have a photograph of a person, place or thing you can’t identify, try uploading it to Google Image Search. Here’s how:
Apple now offers a brand new iPhone 3GS for FREE. Yes, yes, I know — it’s a way to lock you into a two-year data plan with AT&T. I only said the iPhone was free!
According to a Pew Research Center, most teens are 12 or 13 when they get their first cell phone. Seventy-five percent of 12 to 17 year-olds owned a cellphone in 2009, up from 45 percent in 2004.
A week ago, The Buffalo News had an interesting article titled “Getting the good from the gadgets.” It described how some high schools are adjusting their policies to allow students and teachers to use cell phones during school. Obviously this controversial topic will continue to evolve as we all — students, teachers and parents — become ever more dependent on mobile technology.
“The phrase ‘home telephone number’ is going the way of rotary dial phones and party lines,” says Stephen Blumberg at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. The trend toward wireless-only homes shows no sign of slowing down, it said.
Several of my dinner companions do business like I do — they offer professional services to businesses and charge by the hour. The problem we all admitted is there are only a finite number of hours that can be billed in a day and a maximum rate the market will bear. It might be a good idea to add the sale of products or licensing agreements to capture more passive income — perhaps using sites like Etsy.com as an online sales tool.
Here’s how: Type this in a Google search box (no space between the filetype and colon)
Search results (partial):
Popular Google filetype search options with examples:
At the bottom of each tweet, look for when it was posted. This is the active link that takes you to the individual tweet. Here’s an example:
Clicking on the “10 minutes ago” link takes you to this unique page:
Which looks like this:
According to Table 3, Period of Limitations from IRS Publication 552:
1. IF you… Owe additional tax and (2), (3), and (4) do not apply to you: 3 years
2. IF you… Do not report income that you should and it is more than 25% of the gross income shown on your return: 6 years
3. IF you… File a fraudulent return: No time limit
4. IF you… Do not file a tax return: No time limit
5. IF you… File a claim for credit or refund after you filed your return: The later of 3 years or 2 years after tax was paid.
6. IF you… File a claim for a loss from worthless securities: 7 years
At 9:23:28 pm, look low in the WSW sky. The ISS will be traveling towards the NE and appear as a fast-moving bright star. If you seek blinking lights, it’s not the ISS – it’s a plane! It will reach its peak at 9:26:31 — nearly straight overhead – going left-to-right if you’re facing NNW. It will disappear from view at 9:29:34 in the NE sky.
Also: Photographing the ISS
Here are three essential data rules to keep in mind:
Look at this chart to determine your risk exposure.
I’ve used external USB 2.0 and Firewire drives over the years for backing up my data, but I always run into the same problems: the external drive’s not mounted, it’s too small, it’s too slow, etc. It finally dawned on me that the easiest way to backup my files reliably and frequently is to have a drive mounted at all times.
My main computer is a Mac Pro, which is a tower desktop unit containing multiple hard drive bays. The main internal hard drive is 750 gigabytes. I decided to purchase a second internal hard drive so it would always be powered up and available. But what size? Since hard drive prices continue to drop, the cost differential as you go up in size is not great. So I purchased a drive twice as large as I needed: 1.5TB. After installing internally into the second drive bay, I partitioned it into two equal volumes of 750GB each. I named one volume HD Duo, which I use as my target backup device. I use the second volume as temporary storage — anything that isn’t very important and I don’t care about losing!
There are several good backup software utilities on the market, and I’ve used most of them. Retrospect, Carbon Copy Cloner, Synk, ChronoSync, Synchronize Pro X, to name a few. But I’m using SuperDuper from Shirt Pocket Software — which works very well for me. It’s fast and reliable.
I set up SuperDuper to backup the entire contents of my main Macintosh HD internal hard drive to my HD Duo volume. The first backup took several hours since it transferred over 500GB worth of data. But now it takes about 10 minutes, since it only has to back up the files that have changed since the last SuperDuper backup. I run this backup script once per day.
This daily backup insures that I have a duplicate copy of everything in the event of a problem with my main hard drive. My HD Duo contents will never be more than 24 hours old.
But what about fire, flood, theft, etc? That’s where an off-site backup is essential.
Over the years, I’ve tried may different ways to do off-site backups — carrying external hard drives to family, neighbors, business associates, and my bank’s safe deposit box. Even burning DVDs and putting them in a fire-proof safe.
But these offsite methods all had one BIG problem: The hassle factor was way too high. Consequently, I never got into a reliable routine and my off-site backups were always woefully out of date.
I investigated online backup services. MobileMe’s iDisk, Backblaze, Carbonite, CrashPlan Central, IDrive, Jungle Disk, and MozyHome. The concept is simple: you install a software utility on your computer that encrypts your data and sends it over the internet to the company’s data storage servers. You can then download your files back to your computer (or any other computer) whenever you like.
After trying several services, I chose Backblaze. The subscription cost is $5/month per computer. It was easy to install and use, and I thought $60/year was a fair price to pay for unlimited offsite storage.
But initially backing up 500GB of data took a LONG time — several weeks, in fact, even with my high-speed Verizon FiOS connection. But now that the first pass is complete, Backblaze runs in the background continually, quietly encrypting and transferring new/revised files offsite, just in case I experience a serious problem with my office computer that can’t be resolved using my internal hard drive clone.
UPDATE 5-21-10: I discovered that Backblaze was taking way too long to upload my files. It was always working but never finishing. I solved the problem by changing the Backblaze System Preference panel’s “throttle” setting. I moved it to the Faster Backups. Everything’s working smoothly now!
A good starting point to select an online backup service is OnlineBackupsReview.com.
Here’s a diagram of my current backup system.
11/3/2010 update: My hard drive crashed! Here’s how I recovered by using my daily backup.
There’s an easy and free way to download a YouTube video to your computer’s hard drive. You can then view it later or perhaps use it in a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation when you don’t have access to the internet. Here’s one method:
1. If you don’t have the Firefox browser, download your free copy.
2. After starting the Firefox application:
3. Find your YouTube video
4. Download your video! You’ll see links added below the video with different download options.