Category: General

One of the biggest challenges for many computer users is data protection.  With the explosion of low cost and high-density disk drives, it has become easy to store massive volumes of data in a very small footprint.  However, many people forget that disk drives fail and the data loss is usually catastrophic.  I always recommend friends and family plan for the worst and develop a backup strategy.  It is like insurance, hopefully you will never need it, but if you do, you will be thankful that you have it.

There are many approaches to backup and recovery, and my favorite is online backup.  There are a variety of services that do this including Mozy, Carbonite and, my favorite, Crashplan.  All of these services work pretty much the same.  You install an agent on your computer and it transmits your data over the Internet to the service provider’s datacenter.  The services will typically require you to initially send all of your data which can take weeks and after the initial transmission only changed or new files are sent which reduces the transmission time.

The biggest initial challenge with these services is getting your data transmitted.  If you have large amounts of content then it can take weeks of constant upload.  The length of time will vary by the amount of data and the speed of your Internet connection.  However, some ISPs (like Comcast) specifically limit your data usage in their Terms of Service (ToS) and you could violate this during the initial transfer.  The penalty varies from a simple threatening letter to a complete service cancellation.  Obviously, this is frustrating and can be avoided with careful management. Read More »

Googizon and Net Neutrality

One of the biggest surprises this week was the net neutrality announcement from Google and Verizon (Googizon).  The New York Times covers the announcement here and the situation raises significant concerns about future control and innovation on the Internet.

Background

Net neutrality relates to freedom of accessing data on the Internet and it suggests that all Internet content should be treated equally and that ISPs have no right to limit access or bandwidth to specific sites or content types.  ISPs like Comcast, Time Warner or even AT&T Wireless argue that they should be able to control access to certain types of data or sites that could impact their network.  Some ISPs have already implement technology to prevent access to certain technologies like BitTorrent.  it is in the context of these concerns that Googizon announced their net neutrality proposal.

The Googizon perspective

The document put forth is restrictive and clearly favors the ISPs.  The Huffington Post has a good article discussing the document.   To summarize, the key points are:

  1. No net neutrality on wireless networks
  2. Proposed net neutrality rules on wired networks are so weak as to be pointless
  3. ISPs could split their pipes and charge separately for each thus creating a two tiered system.  One for content providers who pay them (and get better performance and reliability) and the other for content providers who don’t pay them
  4. The FCC becomes a worthless watchdog Read More »

4 New Features in WordPress 3.0

I have been an active user of WordPress for two years on Aboutrestore.com and just recently converted this site to the system.  WordPress is a fantastic blogging engine, but there are some areas that need improvement.  Version 3.0 is a major release and is currently in beta.  It will provide many meaningful enhancements; here are four that I think are particularly important. Read More »

New web infrastructure

As part of my move to update this blog, I have moved to a completely new webinfrastructure and gone from a self-hosted configuration on a dedicated server to shared system.  Self-hosted has worked well, but the difficulty of maintaining and upgrading server hardware has become too difficult.  I am happy to have someone else deal with the foibles of running a webserver and associated networking equipment.  Here are my current service providers.

Blue Host – I am using them as my webhost and have been happy with them.  Their customer service is good and it is rare to find a company where you can reach an actual person with minimal hold time.  Best of all, their prices are reasonable and they offer unlimited storage and bandwidth.

EveryDNS – This company is hosting my DNS.  I have been happy with them in general although I currently have an issue with one of my domains.  Part of the difficulty is that they have recently been acquired by DynDNS and it appears that support is in transition.

DomainMonster – These guys are my domain registrar and I have been very happy with them.  Their prices are reasonable and their service is first rate.  You can call them too and they will answer.  They are also prompt with their web-based response.  I also used their DNS services on my domain that is having issues with EveryDNS and everything worked smoothly.

Google Apps – I use this service to host my email and calendars.  I have a very positive experience with Google Apps so far and am impressed with the reliability and robustness of the offering.  Best of all, the price is free!  It also takes advantage of many of the Google applications already available for a wide variety of PDAs thus allowing you to synchronize your email, contact and calendars transparently.

I performed extensive research before choosing each of these options and so far am quite happy with each of them.

A walk down blog lane

I have started contributing to this blog again and it is amazing that it has been in place since August of 2002. During the eight hours of operation, I have used four different blogging engines and I thought it might be interesting to review.

1. MovableType — This was the very first blogging engine I used. I really liked its ability to host multiple blogs and its open-source design. Interestingly, the system was perl based and had an entirely different architecture from the pure PHP solution of the other two. I moved off of the platform because the authors, Six Apart, decided to make the engine closed source and force users to pay for it.

2. WordPress — I switched to WordPress because it was the big competitor to MT. It was (and is) a mature blogging engine which I liked. The big problem is that it was (and still is) a single blog only engine. There was WordPress MU which is a multiple user version of WordPress, but it was highly immature at the time. I decided to switch to a multiple to a multiple blog engine because I had some friends who I thought wanted to blog. (This did not come to fruition.)

3. B2Evolution — I chose this because it was a true multiple blog engine. It was okay, but the usability left much to be desired. The lack of plugins and add-ons and the complex user interface eventually drove me back to WordPress.

4. WordPress — Now the blog has been converted back to WordPress. I have used the engine on a work blog for two years and really like the technology. It is extremely extensible, powerful and simple to use. Best of all, the next major release of WordPress, 3.0, will integrate MU into the core and so will finally support multiple blogs.

As you can seet, I have experienced a broad range of blogging engines over the last 8 years. WordPress is clearly the best choice and I highly recommend it to others interested in hosting their own sites.