Solving Offsite Backups

hand-holding-hard-drive.jpgNobody likes to deal with backups. It’s a chore. It usually has some expense to it. But we all know it’s critical. Your probably backing up to a USB drive that you picked up and plugged into your machine. That’s good. Maybe you’ve actually progressed with another computer in your house or a NAS device and are backing up over the network. This is a good idea to provide some separation between the backup and the computer the data is on.

But, what if there was a real catastrophe? What if your house burned down? What if someone broke into your house and stole all the computers? Bad things happen, and those hard drives no longer just have letters and check book accounts. Those are your family photos and videos, and if your like me you cannot lose that. There is only one way to guarantee your data and that is offsite backup. I’ve finally implemented a robust offsite backup regime that I think works best.

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Shaving Green

istock-000003841554xsmall.pngOur house keeps getting greener and greener. Tammy has done an awesome job of finding alternative products for us to use that are better for the planet and us. This process started in the kitchen and has slowly spread, now reaching the bathroom.

Green products and the bathroom are a struggle. We’ve all gotten so used to the various products that we have available that switching is challenging. Natural soaps are easy. Even natural toothpaste is a breeze. Tom’s of Maine toothpaste is great, and after using it for a while you will think regular toothpaste is overly sweet and nasty.

Shaving however was filled with canned gels in nasty packaging with nasty ingredients made in nasty processes, not to mention huge marketing budgets. Tammy pushed me to get off of those things and switch and I eagerly jumped in. There are only two options at the co-op for shaving and luckily the 2nd one is great.

AlbaShave.jpgAlba Botanical makes this shave cream that works like a charm. It is actually one of those great examples of a green product that you prefer over the previous product after you get used to it (like the toothpaste). It’s not all foamy so you don’t get to see big lines of white foam come off of your face as you shave (note photo for this post). You have to keep track on your own where you left off. It’s incredibly smooth and I find much more refreshing than the other gels and foams I’ve used over the years. It also defies our American approach of some being good, so a lot must be better. You apply this stuff sparsely and it’s great. If you slather it all over, it doesn’t work as well.

As a bonus, it’s just a lotion so you can easily put some in a small container and take it on a plane without the need for special packaging. I know some guys that actually just shave with handsoap now to avoid taking shaving cream containers on planes. You should really consider some of this lotion instead.

Go ahead and start greening up your bathroom with your morning shave.

Chase's "Procedure"

20071224-121739-3608Tomorrow Chase will have been living with us for one month and a week. It seems like so much longer than that. He has a big day. Not a good day, but a big day. He’s old enough now to get neutered.

I realize it’s the right thing to do, and being a good dog owner means getting your animals “fixed”. Izzy was spayed before we got her so we weren’t around for it with her. Chase had to wait until he was old enough, and now he is.

I realize it’s totally a “guy thing”, but man it makes me uncomfortable.

New Years Resolutions – Tech Edition

I don’t have New Years resolutions every year, but this year I figured what the heck. Looking back, while I didn’t call it a resolution, I did force a switch to Camera RAW for photography on January 2nd, 2006 and that was great. I have a few technology and Internet related resolutions that I thought I would share this year. Hopefully I’m as happy with these changes in a couple of years.

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The time has come for this to be standard. This feels a lot like the Camera RAW resolution above. Not many people use digital certificates with their email because it’s generally a pain and complicated. But, without it email is like writing on a bathroom wall, in a really big bathroom. It’s so wide open it is somewhat shocking. Digital certificates solve this problem.

I have now enabled my OS X Mail with a digital certificate from Thawte and if you get email from me it will be signed. This isn’t universal since the iPhone at this point doesn’t sign messages, and I do occasionally have to resort to webmail. But if it’s from Mail.app it will be signed.

Go get your own certificate as well and we can even encrypt the message. There is a somewhat dated, but good explanation on doing this for OS X at Joar Wingfor’s website.

Less GoogleGoogle.png

Yes, less Google. Google knows too much about me. I’ve decided this trend needs to reverse. I’ve stopped using GMail and am using Tuffmail for my mailbox. I’ve ditched Google Calendar. I’m even thinking about moving from Google Reader, a frightening thing to even consider. But I think 2008 needs to end with less Google than it started with. It isn’t that I think they are evil, it’s just that I don’t think one company should really have that many angles on my personal data. After moving my email to Tuffmail, I had this sense that I was no longer being monitored. Real or not, I had that feeling.

More Wikipediawikipedia.png

This resolution was made by another guy at the office and I liked it so much I’m adopting it myself. It seems that many times when I search on Google I end up at Wikipedia. So I’m going to try to cut down on the middle man. Even better, how about doing Wikipedia searches from inside OS X’s Dictionary.

Cleaner URL’s

I have a tendency to put an unnecessary trailing slash on URL’s. I’m going to try to stop doing this.

Revamped OS X Desktop

Sometimes I get stuck on something, particularly late at night and I get totally obsessed. It’s almost always not very important, but then I obsess about it and the only thing that pushes me away to sleep is the dead battery of my laptop. The other night I got totally obsessed with taking a different tact on my OS X desktop. Clean. Simple.

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This is the look. I’m really liking it. I went with an abstract desktop for focus and really minimized what I had in the dock. Instead, I’m using a lot of the fancy Leopard folder tricks to launch things. Front and center in this is CoverSutra for the tangible side of digital music and WeatherDock to keep me in the loop with the temperature. Quicksilver rounds out the stack to tie it all together. Also, Warp is a must have extension to make Leopard’s Spaces more usable. The Shared Desktop folder on my desktop is synchronized on every computer I use with the application that I can’t seem to kick, FolderShare. Microsoft bought FolderShare forever ago and it’s still a PowerPC binary but it works like magic. I wish there was a better Mac-centric, OS X Intel option. Oh well..

I feel so calm. :-)

36th Birthday!

Today I turned 36! It was a great, great day spent with my wonderful wife and amazing daughter. And, this super cool cake.

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Thanks to everyone for many well wishes via phone and email. I also got a barrage of new camera stuff that will undoubtedly lend itself to some future posts.

Get a Monopod and Improve Your Home Movies

Do you have a video camera? You need a monopod!

This Christmas I got the Bogen-Manfrotto Pro Black Monopod with Swivel Tilt Head11ARRTHHG6L._SL110_.jpg. This item has been on my wish list for a long time and after having it for just a couple days I wish I would have pulled the trigger on it a long, long time ago.

I had thought that I would use this for photography, and it will be great for that. Particularly if you are going to put a really long telephoto lens on and take a lot of shots. The monopod will help with stabilizing and framing the shot, as well as just keeping your arms from getting tired of holding the camera rig. Great for a photo trip to the zoo or arboretum.

However, the video side is the unexpected killer application. I popped my Panasonic PV-GS400 on the monopod and started to take some footage. The difference in the shot was amazing and immediately noticeable. Even with the video cameras optical image stabilization you always get a bit of shake when shooting handheld. With the monopod I was able to just lock the frame.

A tripod just wont work in this mode. That is the brilliance of the monopod. You still have the freedom to tilt, swivel and twist the camera around under full control. Then, just lift it up and walk around. No hassle. Really, go buy one.

Another cool use I found today when shooting with Mazie was to flip the video camera screen over and turn the camera back on yourself. Mazie and I took some video together just by swiveling the camera 180 degrees and then pointing it back at ourselves. I never could have done this hand-held. Very cool!