Wednesday, September 30, 2009

YouTube Gems - A Real Harmonica Hero

After you've mastered jail birding and corn cobbing on Harmonica Hero for Xbox, you just may be ready to take on Carnegie Hall like Buddy Greene.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Frozen in Carbonite

Included in the package of my tax software this year was a one year limited free trial for Carbonite, the online data backup company. The "limit" was a maximum of 2 GB worth of data.

Carbonite is something I have been interested in since I first heard about it. Data backups have always been troubling for me. I can't seem to do them on a regular basis, for one thing. But more troublesome is what to do with the physical media once the backup has been created. I've tried several approaches over the years:
  • Zip disks
  • Backing up critical data onto CDs, then later, DVDs
  • Backing up critical data onto another machine, and vice versa
  • Backing up everything onto a Network Attached Storage (NAS) unit using RAID 1 and then 0
Aside from being a bit tedious (particularly the CDs and DVDs), none of these backups would help me in the event of theft, fire, flood, or other destruction of my home. Many experts recommend storing the backups with a relative or in a safety deposit box, but that adds yet another layer of complexity that makes it even less likely someone like me will conform.

Enter Carbonite. Carbonite represents one of the gems of cloud computing and perfectly solves the backup puzzle. Once installed, Carbonite begins working in the background to upload the data you specify to somewhere in the Matrix

I know a lot of people's hearts just stopped - upload personal data onto the Internet? Do not be afraid, young Jedi, the data passes through high-level encryption before leaving the computer, and then is transmitted using the same SSL level as any reputable e-commerce or banking web site. That level of SSL encryption alone has never been compromised, and coupled with the pre-transmission encryption, I feel quite confident about the integrity and security of my data.

I signed up for the free 2 GB service level from the offer in my tax software. Since I was comfortable with the security, I saw no harm in trying it out. I very quickly filled up my 2 GB quota. I had to make some sacrifices and prioritize certain data over other files. The software worked seamlessly. That is, except for every few days when I would get a "you've reached your limit" warning message because I was trying to stay as close to the 2 GB maximum as I could.

The other problem was that, as Sara and I have become more and more assimilated into our Borg hive, our digital photo collection has become increasingly relevant and critical. So critical, in fact, that I would rather somebody steal all of my financial information than the photos of our children over the past six years. In other words, my 2 free GBs was not nearly enough to satisfy my needs. The 2 GB was sufficient for all of my old school files and emails (from my pre-Gmail days), but my mind was still not at peace because all of my family photos, and to a lesser extent, home videos and music files, remained vulnerable.

I think you can see where I'm going with this.

I got a "special offer" email from Carbonite with a $10 discount for one year (off of the regular $50/yr (at the time, now $55), for unlimited storage capacity). That was enough to make me finally pull the trigger. Because of the discount, I actually maxed out the term to two years.

A week and a half later I got a little notice on my task bar that my computer had finally been backed up onto Carbonite. It had been slowly but surely backing up all of my data whenever the computer was idle. What a great feeling! No more worrying or kicking myself because my most recent backup is a year old. Now I am always current. To add or remove something from the backup is as simple as selecting an item from a right-click menu. Once the selection has been made everything else is automatic. My "My Photos" directory is set to back up. Every time I add new pictures from our camera those photos are automatically backed up. Totally worth the $40. That's less than $3.50/mo.!

I look at it this way: When you consider a 1 TB external drive sells for about $100 now, that's about two and a half years of Carbonite (or two years at the non-discounted full price). Hey, is that our friend from Singles Ward in this COMPUSA ad?

There is at least a fair chance that one or more of your hard drives will fail in that time period. With an external drive, I'm covered as recently as my last backup, provided that wasn't the drive that failed. With Carbonite, I'm covered up to the last minute I had an Internet connection. I've got enough bricked and/or obsolete hard drives lying around to know that all hard drives will eventually fail - it is just a question of when. Carbonite is like a hard drive that never fails and is as big as I need it to be. The price is competitive with non-cloud options, but without any of the hassle.

Said the Wall Street Journal, "You'll sleep better at night." True that.


Carbonite is not the only provider of this type of service. Another company is Mozy. Their offering is very similar, but I have no personal experience with them or their product and therefore cannot vouch for them.


If you do decide to try Carbonite because of something I've said here and you want to give me credit for referring you, I think if you use this link, we will each get a free month of service added to our accounts.

UPDATE: Nevermind. It looks like Carbonite wants me to fill out a form with specific email addresses in order to "refer" my friends. If you really, really care that I get credit for the referral, send me a quick email to and I will fill out Carbonite's silly form. I'm not sure if you'll get the free month without some type of referral. Otherwise, just head to to check it out.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Revisiting Obama's Back-to-School Speech


There are many who said Obama's back-to-school speech was harmless; that the public outcry was entirely unjustified; that he just wanted to encourage kids to stay in school; that it was ridiculous to suggest he had anything but the most respectable intentions.

Although I don't really understand the final frame (it should have read something like: "I'm not a math teacher"), this strip from Hope n' Change illustrates my point: Once word leaked out that Obama was planning a speech to schoolchildren and a significant number of citizens understandably expressed concern, the White House had plenty of time and opportunity to revise the speech into something less inflammatory. I believe that is what they did.

Even the final speech contained a couple of statements I didn't particularly care for.
  1. "...if you quit on school - you're not just quitting on yourself, you're quitting on your country." What about "you're quitting on your family and the people you care about" instead? Obama keeps trying to make the case that joining AmeriCorps or helping on a Habitat for Humanity house or, now, staying in school, are as patriotic as laying one's life on the line in defense of our country and its liberties. I agree that charitable giving, public service and education are very worthy causes to undertake, but I fail to see how they are comparable in any way to military service.
  2. "You'll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy." Is this Obama's economic recovery plan? Are we looking 15-25 years out to a time when these kids are done with school and college and starting to make a measurable impact in the economy? Aren't Obama's current policies forcing thousands of companies out of business right now? Forcing others to lay off hundreds of thousands of workers? Sending important industries overseas? This statement is the first I've heard from Obama that indicates he might actually understand how 'stimulus' works and how people, jobs, industry and GNP are interrelated. However, I would argue that even if he truly understands the concept, he does not, himself, believe it.  If he did, he would abandon such ideas as national health care, cap and trade (tax), government takeover of entire industries. He would realize that nearly every single act he has thus far performed as POTUS has been detrimental to America's sovereignty, economic strength and leadership, and the fortitude of its people. 

If you still think there is not a movement out there to deify Obama, watch this short video. This is also appearing on The Drudge Report today, so I'm sure you'll be seeing it in several forums. 

[Weird. The video has been taken down. Long live YouTube - I found another version, with a great Soviet march at the beginning.]

I've heard of this type of thing before - in North Korea and Cuba.

And here is the guy our children are supposed to be worshipping...

Simply unbelievable!

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Here Lies Ivy - A Good Cat

Ivy died on the operating table this afternoon, a victim of her only vice - eating things that weren't meant to be eaten.

'Twas the dental floss that did her in.

Dr. Karst-vorkian assisted little Ivy in her efforts. He was the one that somehow fished the tiny 12 yards of woven, mint-flavor floss out of the child-proof-lock-protected bathroom cupboard and unwound the full length into a nice straight line for Ivy's subsequent ingestion.

Ivy had tested these waters many times in the past, but always with much shorter material such as Easter basket grass or balloon ribbons. 12 yards simply proved to be too long.

Without going into too much detail, the floss "see-sawed" back and forth and wore several holes in Ivy's intestinal walls. One hole is operable - they just cut out the bad section and splice the rest back together - but five holes is a lost cause. 

Ivy was a good cat. She didn't like kids much, because they always chased her around. But she never hurt them. She enjoyed adult visitors and liked to coat their pant legs with hundreds of thin, white hairs. Ivy never had any formal education, nor was she employed outside of the home. An unfortunate accident in her youth left her sterile and thus, Ivy is not survived by any feline family - just one brother, two sisters, and her parents, all of whom are human.

We'll miss you, Ivy. Thanks for 10 fun years!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

YouTube Gems - Harmonica Hero

You've undoubtedly heard of Guitar Hero, the ubiquitous rock star based video game franchise with its many offspring (World Tour, Legends of Rock, Metallica, etc.) Perhaps you've also heard of Rock Band? Dance Dance Revolution?

I'll bet an old, tarnished Lincoln that you ain't never done heard of no Harmonica Hero, exclusively for XBox.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Third Fear Discovered

What are the three terrors of the Fire Swamp?
  1. Fire spurt
  2. Lightning sand
  3. ??? (hint: some people claim they don't exist)
If you said, "R.O.U.S.'s", you win!

Explorers/scientists have discovered an untouched ecosystem in the crater of a volcano on Papua New Guinea. They believe the plant and animal life has been able to develop for 200,000 years without contamination from the outside.

Among the recently contaminated:
  • A bunch of new frogs with fangs
  • Some fish, including one that grunts
  • A bat
  • Miniature bears
  • Rodents Of Unusual Size

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

YouTube Gems - Blue Collar Rebels

British accents just make comedy that much funnier, I think.

Monday, September 7, 2009


Saw this on somebody's email signature and it's had me chuckling all day. Thought I'd share.

"if u cn rd ths u cn gt a gd jb, bt if u rt lk ths u r a mrn"

I find few things are as annoying as text-speak these days. It's one thing for saggy pants tools and latte-guzzling hipsters to speak and write like that, but more and more I see it creeping into my corporate world. Not by me, of course. I'll be the last bastion of proper grammar left on this planet in a couple of years.

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Quote of the Day - VP Biden

You can't make this stuff up.

Well, you could - but why bother? Real life is just as, if not more, entertaining.

This comes from our Vice President, Mr. Joe Biden. He's been on a mission to glorify the "success" of the various stimulus packages. With unemployment now at 9.7% and still climbing, the stimulus packages have already failed on at least one of the key claims - that unemployment would not surpass 8% - so I'm still not clear on exactly which points Mr. Biden marks the success.

You may recall from a couple of my earlier posts on the subject [A Not-So-Stimulating Post, That Makes One of Us, FDCO Volume Two, and My Share?] that I believe the stimulus money was not allocated to areas that would actually stimulate the economy. Much of the money was assigned to unemployment benefits, food stamps, and Medicare. Perhaps it is just semantics, but to me, "stimulus" implies some relatively small action that sparks a much larger, mostly self-sustaining reaction. Like providing the spark to ignite a fire.

Biden exercised some restraint in his praise for the stimulus' impact. He took a more cautious approach, for example, when asked if his declaration of stimulus success means Americans can now rethink the common view that government is wasteful and inefficient. [italics mine]

"I think it's too early to make that decision, to be very blunt about it, " he said.
That's a classic. Biden: we saved all of humanity from economic implosion, but let's not get too carried away with the praise.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

YouTube Gems - Tetris Ao Vivo!

My all-time favorite game. Not musical bottles - Tetris.