DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

March 22, 2016

Another Two Bite the Dust

Google told the world on February 12 it will no longer support, wait are ready for it? 

If you said, "Picasa" you got it right (picasa.google.com).  Now I will not yell too loudly about this one since I was not a big Picasa lover.  It seemed a little convoluted to me; however, many people love(d) Picasa and are very upset to see it go. 

Picasa logoPicasa is/was an image viewer for organizing and editing digital photos.  And yes, it was named after Pablo Picasso and blended with "mi casa" ("my house" in Spanish) and "pic" for pictures.  It was also linked to the cloud so that you could share your photos online with the world…if you wished. It was originally created by a company named Lifescape in 2002.  Google purchased it in mid-2004. 

As of March 16, 2016 it was removed from the web and is no longer "downloadable."  If you downloaded the file before then, you may keep the installation file and install it at any other time. In addition, Google will be archiving Picasa Web Albums data at a later date while encouraging those users to convert to Google Photos instead.  That means that if you still have Picasa you will not be able to upload to the Web Albums in the future since they will be gone.  It also means that Google will not continue to update it for security and other features.  

So, goodbye Picasa, I knew you well… a little bit.  Google is providing a new application called, "Google Photos" (photos.google.com) which rolled out early last summer.  This is the replacement which is lacking a few of Picasa’s features.  One big plus is that if you keep your uploaded photos to HD quality of 16 megapixels (MP) or less per photo, you have unlimited storage.  With higher quality it will use your Google Drive storage limits as did Picasa. 

Copy.com logoNow here is a discontinuation that really bugs me.  A great application that I have supported willingly over the past several years is Copy (copy.com) by Barracuda.  It is similar to Dropbox for storing any files on your computer in the cloud.  It is a great backup solution which would allow a user to start with 15 GB of space (13 GB more that Dropbox).

Well guess what Barracuda announced February 1st?  You guess correctly, it will be shut down as of May 1, 2016.  They commented, "…our business focus has shifted, we had to make the difficult decision to discontinue the Copy and CudaDrive services and allocate those resources elsewhere."  

There is no replacement with that much free space.  Basically Barracuda says put your files somewhere else.  Right this minute I am still a big Dropbox supporter ("rd.dblclx.com/use-Dropbox" for extra start up storage).  Of course, who knows what the future holds?

November 17, 2015

What Happens to My Files – backup?

Hard Drive graphic from online - Google.com

I had a reader give me upsetting news last week.  They said that their computer failed to boot when they started it a few days before and they had a lot of personal and semi-business files there.  What could they do to get them backup?

They had taken it to a computer repair shop in the area who said the hard drive was shot.  Drives usually fail in one of two ways.  The first is that the drive will still be recognized by the computer but cannot be read or written to.  In many cases you may be able to recover data on your own.  The other is if there is actual mechanical damage to the drive which means your only choice is to send it to the pros to retrieve your files or toss it and start over.

I will not get into the ways that you may be able to get your data back as there are a million articles on the internet with almost as many software applications available to help you.  If you want to try it yourself the first thing I would do is to figure out who produced your drive, go to their site and see what they recommend. 

Keep in mind to try and recover the data yourself you must have a working computer and attach the failed drive to that computer.  You will need to purchase an external hard drive enclosed case for around $25 or more to access the drive.  However, that is much less than the possibly many hundreds of dollars you will spend sending it to the drive recovery companies to get your information. 

I will give you Ron’s inexpensive to free way to safeguard your files.  I checked today and I have 32 GB of data which I backup regularly.  This includes columns for the past 15 years, tax returns, songs, a few videos and other types of files.  I have over 70,000 of these files in my collection.  This is a significant number of files when compared to the average user. I back it all up in a couple of locations. 

My two favorite places online to back up my files, with the exception to financial files are Dropbox and Copy.com.  Using those two links to sign up will earn you extra storage space.  The standard space of Dropbox is 2 GB and with Copy.com you get 15 GB.  They are both similar.  I believe Dropbox is slightly easier to use but Copy provides much more space and offers more options. 

The next place I back up my 32 GB is on a thumb drive.  I found 16 GB USB thumb drives on sale in town the other day for $9.99 and up to 128 GB drive for $35 online.  So the expense is minimal for what it could save you if you lost your files. 

Karenware Replicator main screen

How to back them up comes next and again there are a million ways. I use one very simple backup app called Karenware Replicator.  Karen Kenworthy was a developer who I met online years ago.  She made all of her software available free to all and simple to use.  Karen passed away in 2011 due to complications of diabetes.   I highly recommend Replicator as one of the simplest and effective backup utilities online today.  Download it and try it out.

Here is your warning – backup your files since ALL hard drives will fail at some point, maybe in years, maybe in minutes!

April 15, 2014

Copy That

Over three years ago I mentioned an excellent product named Dropbox. Dropbox is a “cloud” storage program which allows you to save all sorts of files on a site located on the web. It allows you to “sync” your files without you doing anything to your free 2 GB container of online storage. If you have a file in your local computer’s Dropbox folder and edit it, it is automatically transferred to the online location. Pretty much an auto-backup utility. Dropbox has been and still is an outstanding product.

image However, I have found another that is very similar but it has several distinct advantages. I have been using “Copy” for several months now and cannot find any shortcomings. The site is copy.com. Please go there to visit but if you are interested in signing up use this link, “bit.ly/roncopy” to get extra storage. If you use that link both you and I get an additional 5 GB of storage.

image One large advantage is easy to see from the very beginning. It is that you get 15 GB of free storage. If you use my link above you get an extra 5 GB so you start with 20 GB of free storage.

For those of you who use Dropbox but would like more space please give it a try. I strongly urge all of you to use the training information they suggest once your signup, download and install is complete. It is very helpful and most of it is easy to understand.

Other than the amount of storage you get with Copy they have another neat feature called, “Fair Storage." For instance, my wife and I both have an account. We both have many pictures we want to store at Copy. If I have 6 GB of pictures on Copy and I share that folder with my wife it counts as only 3 GB each; it splits the difference. If you have 20 GB of files and share it with four other people only 4 GB would be counted for each of you. That is slick!

Here is another interesting feature I like. With Dropbox you have to sync the Dropbox folder which means that each folder and file you sync must be in that folder. With Copy you can do the same thing or create a shortcut in the Copy folder on your computer to the original folder/file on your computer. That way you get to leave the original files where you have always had them and sync to Copy.com. This makes it even easier to manage for me.

Many other features are available which you can find out about once you sign up. One final thought… Copy.com is owned by Barracuda Networks which is a well-respected company and has been around for over 10 years. They deliver security, networking and storage products based on network appliances and cloud services mainly for businesses. I have contacted them and they say that Copy.com is very successful and should be around for a long time.

January 20, 2014

2014-01-20 WSVA Show Notes

Welcome to the show for January 2014 and Happy New Year to you and yours!  Below are links to the sites we talked about today and here is the podcast if you missed part of the show.

Have fun looking around.

Tech News
Tablet ownership in U.S. surges
Thirty five percent of Americans own a tablet and 24 percent own and e-reader, according to the latest study from Pew Internet Research.Pew documented a big jump in tablet ownership. In November 2012, 25 percent of Americans owned a tablet {September 2013, 35 percent}. The findings illustrate the democratization of tablet computing and the impact on lower-cost models beyond the larger version of the iPad.

This article sums up the tablet and e-reader ownership breakdown for Americans 16 years old and up. It’s also worth noting that previous Pew studies on tablet ownership in the U.S. started at age 18 and up.


Chromebooks Enjoy 21% of Notebook Sales in 2013
According to NPD (a major national market research company), Chromebook sales hit a total of 1.76 million units between January and November of this year, which is quite a bit of a jump from the 400,000 units that made it out in 2012. In total, NPD’s figures indicate that Chromebooks jumped from virtually nothing in 2012 to 21 percent of all notebook sales in 2013.A recent press release from Amazon itself confirms that Chromebooks took two of the top three spots for “holiday best sellers” – specifically, a Samsung Chromebook and an Acer Chromebook.


Spiders force Toyota to recall 800,000 vehicles
Toyota has announced a voluntary recall of some 803,000 cars due to airbags inadvertently deploying — and the blame appears to be spiders inside the air conditioning units. Toyota’s recall notice states that some 2012 and 2013 Camry, Venza, and Avalon vehicles are experiencing problems with their air conditioning condenser unit housing — apparently, condensation and water has been leaking into the airbag control module. In most cases, that’s just causing the airbag warning light to turn on, but a few times the driver side airbag has deployed without warning.However, according to CNN, the cause of the leak is rather unsettling if you suffer from arachnophobia. Spiders and their webs are apparently responsible for clogging the air conditioner drainage tubes, causing the water spillover onto the airbag control module.


Government Recalls.gov
rercalls.gov
To provide better service in alerting the American people to unsafe, hazardous or defective products, six federal agencies with vastly different jurisdictions have joined together to create www.recalls.gov — a “one stop shop” for U.S. Government recalls.


The Door Lock of the Future is Here
Kwikset Kevo
Kwikset has rolled out the Kevo lock. A door lock that receives a signal from your Smartphone (iPhones only right this minute) or a coded key fob and can open when you touch the lock. If you forget your phone it will open with a regular key that you can find buried somewhere on your key chain.

Check out the video and see what you think, especially with a $219 price tag.


Waze
waze.com
Get the best route, every day, with real–time help from other drivers.

Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Join other drivers in your area who share real-time traffic and road info, saving everyone time and gas money on their daily commute.

Free available to most all types of phone OS’s.


Free Backup Software
Cobian backup, cobiansoft.com
Allway Sync, allwaysync.com
Two good free backup applications for making sure you do not loose your important files.


Browser History
Check Browser History for all Browsers
Sometimes you may want to make a return visit to a website that you saw a day or 20 ago. You may use multiple browsers like many people and do not want to go view the history in each browser. With this app from NirSoft.net you can check the histories of all of your browser at the same time and get a report of what has been seen.

If you have cut off your History feature on your browser you will not be able to retrieve this information.


Your Fingerprint may be your new Password
Biometric Scan Comes to Android 2014
The FIDO Alliance (Fast IDentity Online) has claimed in a new technology news statement, that the first Android handsets with biometric scanners will be released in the first half of next year, to help to remove the dependency on traditional app and web passwords.

This technology news was meant to be available for any web-based service or manufacturer so that traditional text-based passwords can be replaced with these biometric alternatives. Michael Barrett, the PayPal chief information security officer, and the president of FIDO, has explained that the increasing support and power of the group has meant that it will become possible for the mobile internet to become considerably safer to use in a very short period of time. That way, swiping a finger across the smartphone will be all that is required for the access of an individual’s own online accounts, but that they will remain safe from being accessed by anyone else.


If I Die
ifidie.org
This website provides a way for you to write and store letters to your friends. Each letter, when finished, will be stored securely and encrypted with a special password of your choosing. No one will be able to read any of your letters while you’re still alive.

A couple of “safegaurds” are in place to keep them from firing off by mistake.


New ‘Bond gadget’ set to let us breathe under water sunshinecoastdaily.com.au Bond-like rebreather
It is the James Bond gadget on everyone’s wishlist.

A South Korean designer has taken inspiration from the movie spy’s “rebreather”, which allows the user to breathe under water.

Clipped on a diving face mask, the Triton device acts like a fish gill to extract oxygen from water so that the user can keep breathing while under the sea.


That is all for today.  See you again next month on Monday, February 17.

Keep those cards and letter emails coming!

December 18, 2012

Backing Up

I have mentioned the importance of backing up your important electronic files before.  It really is important if you intend to use those files in the future.  Whether it is your previous tax returns, (done on your computer or the scanned version of your paper copies) emails or documents of any type you need to keep an extra copy.  Today two of the most talked about file types are music and of course all those digital Christmas photos.

The reason to keep copies may be obvious to many of us, but not to others.  The biggest reason you may need a backup is to guarantee that one day, sooner or later, your hard drive will fail.  Hopefully it will survive long enough to grab your files but many times they are totally trashed; nada.  Occasionally you may be able to spend hundreds to thousands of dollars and send your hard drive to professionals to restore some or all of your files.  However, for individuals like you and me it will be very cost prohibitive. 

Recently I received an email from Alicia.  She asked, "I have a new 1 TB external drive.  Do I use the backup software that comes with the drive, or the Windows back up application?"  That is a great question and highlights one great alternative for backing up files.

What can a 1 TB drive hold?  Toshiba, one of my favorite companies, says approximately 17,000 hours of music which is just less than two years of music, non-stop 24 hours a day, 320,000 HD digital photos or about 457 holiday’s worth of photos, 1,000 hours/41 days of home videos (again without sleep) or 250 DVDs of about two hours each.

The price of external drives, like all other electronics is always coming down.  I found an external 1 TB drive for $80 and then a 2 TB drive for less than $120 so the cost is not horrible if you are serious about backups.

Now, let’s go back to Alicia’s question.  I would always use the software that comes with the drive.  It has been tested and proven with the drive you have.  It is most likely made to do just that one thing and do it well, so I say stick with it.  If you prefer the Windows application or any other you are used to, feel free to use that one.  However, it could invalidate your warranty on the drive so you need to check that out first. 

Keep in mind that there are also some great "cloud" storage applications out there.  I heartily recommend Dropbox (bit.ly/use-DropBox), Google Drive (drive.google.com), SkyDrive (skydrive.live.com), Carbonite (carbonite.com) and many others.  I feel that DropBox and Carbonite are the best to use for automatic backups; however, DropBox has a free version. 

Make sure you backup no matter where you choose to do it. Just do it!

February 9, 2010

Backup Software

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:21 am

Over the past nine years I have talked about different items related to backing up your personal files or data files on your computer.  At that time I wrote about where to back up your files.  Three years ago I talked about what files you should regularly backup.  From both of those columns I only slightly brushed what to use to backup your files.  So today that is where we will look.

The major issue with backing up your data has not changed.  One day, sooner or later, you can count on it; your hard drive will fail.  If you are a computer user it will happen.  A newer computer is less likely to have this issue, but the age of the computer is no guarantee that you won’t have that big headache.

I am going to mention three different products I have found most useful for backing up my most essential files.  You know me.  One of my preferences is that the applications are free and all of these are.

The files I choose are my columns, tax returns, training manuals, a couple of books I have been working on for years (which may never be finished) and on…ad infinitum.  Basically I backup my “Documents” and “Music” folders.  The music is everything on my iPod which would be a long hard process to recreate.  I back them all up on my external hard drive in a TrueCrypt partition so that no one can read, edit or delete them if they find the drive.  (I told you about TrueCrypt last year.)

The first backup application has been built into Windows starting with XP and has now been updated in Windows 7.  I hate to say this, since I am a huge Microsoft supporter, but I don’t care for either one.  They will not allow me to backup my files on an encrypted drive, i.e., a TrueCrypt drive.  There may be a workaround or trick to do so that I am unaware of.   If you know one let me know.  I have never been able to make them work to my satisfaction.

Next, was a real favorite of mine also from Microsoft called SyncToy 2.1.  I have used several versions of this one before and it is slick.  This is a very good program and I highly recommend it.  I like SyncToy but I prefer the next application.  SyncToy writes additional files to your backed up files which are harmless, but why have them?

The final program, Karen’s Replicator is found at www.karenware.com.  I don’t know Karen personally although I have communicated with her via email in the past.  She writes some excellent free programs.  I use several of them on a fairly regular basis.  She also has a good (sometimes geeky) newsletter which I suggest you subscribe to.

All three of these apps work about the same; however, I’m sticking with Karen’s.  With the others, if you have a problem you cannot really talk to the creator.  With Karen’s you can.  Regardless, I have never had even one problem in the five plus years I have used her apps.

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