Using One Password is Dumb, Using 1Password is Smart

It’s 2020 and as usual, the list of the worst passwords of the previous year (2019) is released. The top 10 on the list are always the same: #1: 123456, #2: 123456789, #3: qwerty, #4: “password” (my personal favorite), #5: 1234567, #6: 12345678, #7: 12345, #8: iloveyou, #9: 111111, #10: 123123.

The trend you might detect from above is that they are all very basic and very easy to remember. They made the top 10 of the list for a reason; everyone knows them! They are the least secure passwords of all time. Using these and the rest on the list is like not using a password at all. I’m actually glad that most sites now require that you create passwords of a certain minimal length, include upper and lower case characters, at least one number and at least one symbol. This means that you’ll have to put a little more effort into the password you create and it may not be as easy to remember, but at least it will be a lot less guessable.

Someone guessing your password is only part of the problem

Continue reading “Using One Password is Dumb, Using 1Password is Smart”

Apple Card – 1 Month Later

It was just over a month ago that I applied for the NEW Apple Card. I got approved and documented the whole application process here:

What’s so special about Apple Card?

This was the first question that my friends and fans started asking me. After all, it is just a credit card right? On the surface, it is a credit card. You apply and if approved you’re assigned a limit and you receive a physical card in the mail. However, that’s where the similarities stop.

Apple Card in My Hand

The first thing that makes Apple Card different is the way you apply. If you watched my video above, you’ll note that the entire process happened in the Wallet app on my iPhone. Yes, you can apply for other credit cards on your phone in a browser or a dedicated banking app, but once you’re approved you’re likely to still need to wait for a physical card to show up in the mail. Once approved for the Apple Card it’s immediately available in your Apple Wallet app. You get to use it with Apple Pay immediately. Even if you don’t use it with Apple Pay you can still look up your Credit Card Number, CCD and Expiration Date in the Wallet app so that you can start using it online with places that don’t yet accept Apple Pay.

A titanium card with just your name on it

Continue reading “Apple Card – 1 Month Later”

Apple Music 1 Month Later – I don’t love it

iPhone6-3Up-AppleMusic-Features-PR-PRINT

Apple recently stated that they had over 11 million users doing the 3 month trial for Apple Music. I’m one of those 11 million folks. I wasn’t sold on the concept of Apple Music, but I wanted to give it a fare shot before I did my review. I wanted to try it for at least a month before deciding if it’s a good fit for me or not.

Let’s start with how I enjoyed music before Apple Music

Listeningtomusic

I used to buy singles (45’s as a kid). If you don’t know what a 45 is then you are probably more likely to be a candidate for Apple Music 🙂 As I got older and had more money I continued buying vinyl in the form of LPs. I then moved to 8-track, then to cassettes, then CD’s and finally to digital downloads. Whenever a new song/album comes out that I like, I buy it on iTunes. But I definitely don’t spend $9.99 a month on new music. I pretty much have all the music that I’ve ever wanted and in many cases I bought that music multiple times just to get it on the newer formats. When it comes to hearing new music I rely on Pandora Radio. It gives me a nice mix of stuff I already have/like and new musicI actually have a paid account at $3.99/month just not to hear the ads and to be able to skip more songs if I want. Even with the Pandora account it’s rare that I spend $10 on music in a month unless a new album comes out that I want. I have a Spotify account too, but it’s the free one. I never could bring myself to pay for it because I already have all the music I would be listening to regularly. Also thanks to iTunes Match I access to ALL of my music on all of my devices. Now that you know a little about my music needs, let’s get to Apple Music.

What’s Apple Music?

real-apple-music

Apple Music is Apple’s new music subscription service that allows you to listen to just about every song on the iTunes Store for one price. $9.99/month. You can listen to any song, album, artist anytime you want as much as you want with no limits. You an even add songs to playlists and make them available OFFLINE so that you can listen to them on your devices when you don’t have an internet connection. Apple Music also includes currated playlists so tha you can listen to playlists put together by others. Lastly there’s Beats 1 radio. This 24/7 radio station has a real DJ and it’s the latest, hottest tracks playing anytime you want to listen.

Who is Apple Music for?

iPhone6-AppleMusic-ForYou-PR-PRINT

In my opinion Apple Music is for people that don’t have a huge investment in their own music. It’s for people that listen to music often and want to always be able to listen to what’s new from a variety of artists. If you’re the kind of person that LOVES music and always want to listen to either a lot of music or new/different music that you don’t own then you’ll likely love Apple Music.

I’m just not that guy

Apple Music is ok. It’s just not for me. Sure I like new music, but not enough to justify the monthly cost. Like I said, if I hear something new that I want, I just buy it and rarely does it cost me more than a few bucks a month.

The interface leaves little to be desired

Why is this so complicated? Simple Thumbs up or down would be more Apple like.
Why is this so complicated? Simple Thumbs up or down would be more Apple like.

One thing I’ve always loved about Apple products is that there was a certain elegance about them. The Apple Music internace wasn’t as strait forward as I had hoped. I’m used to it now, but it just seemed a little weird at first. The For You tab contains the curated playlists based on the artists you said you liked during the setup. These playlists are usually good, just not long enough for me. This means that I either have to add the songs to an existing playlist (which in most cases I already own these songs) or I have to combine them together to get playlist that’s long enough for my drive/commute. The New tab is where you would discover new music. Radio is where you’d listen to Beats 1 or your own radio stations, Connect is Apples new attempt at connecting you with your favorite artists. Playlists is where your playlists are stored and My Music is of course my music. Since I listen to music mostly on my iPhone these days the interface is a little tighter and sometimes there’s a lot going on on the screen at the same time. Also since you can now mix Apple Music tracks in playlists with the songs you own it’s not real obvious which tracks are yours and which ones are rented.

Goodbye iTunes Radio and Good Riddance

iPhone6-AppleMusic-Radio-PR-PRINT

When iTunes Radio first hit the scene I was really excited to try it. I was already an iTunes Match customer and that meant that I could enjoy iTunes Radio ad free. I was hoping that I would be able to cancel my Pandora Radio account and just use iTunes Radio. However, iTunes Radio was a disaster. So much so that I ended up going back to Pandora. If I added a station based on an artist it would rarely play songs from that artist. If I added a station based on a song, I would NEVER hear that song again. I would find myself skipping several (unrelated – not even close to what I would want to hear) songs in a row just to get to one that I’d want to listen to. It was just weird the way it worked. Apple quietly changed iTunes Radio to Radio in Apple Music. At first I just avoided this option figuring that it was the same old iTunes Radio that I hated. However, one day I decided to listen to one of my stations just to see if it had improved and I was pleasantly surprised to notice that I wasn’t skipping songs. It was playing songs that I actually wanted to hear. After doing a little digging online I found that lots of former iTunes Radio users were complaining that their stations were now gone in Apple Music. Sure enough I noticed the same thing. There is a Recent Station feature but it only lists a few of the ones that I had created and only the ones based on a single artist/song. The old iTunes Radio allowed you to build a station based on multiple artists. That feature is now gone. You can only build a station based on a single song or single artist. I’ll gladly forgive them for that since it now actually creates stations that I’d listen to. Sadly Apple still as the cumbersome “Star” button that when you tap it it gives you a choice of “Play more like this” or “Play less like this”. Why can’t we simply have a separate thumbs up and thumbs down button? The NEW and IMPROVED Radio is by far my favorite Apple Music feature.

The Bottom Line

Is Apple Music worth it? The answer to that question will definitely depend on you and where you are with your purchased music and how much new music you like to listen to each month. Is it worth it to me? At this point I would say that I probably would not continue with Apple Music if it were just me. At $9.99/month I’d actually be spending more than I do now. However, what will likely make me keep it after the trial is the very smart thing that Apple did by creating a “Family Plan”. At $14.99 not only can I enjoy Apple Music, but so can 5 of my family members. I can add my two daughters and my sister for example and then it becomes a no brainer. My daughters are in their 20’s and listen to new music all the time. The new Apple Music Radio is now good enough that I’ve suspended my subscription to Pandora Radio saving $3.99/month. So while I don’t love Apple Music, I can justify it with the family option.

itunes-mac

On a side note: iTunes on the desktop is long overdue for a complete rewrite. Every time they add something new to iTunes it becomes that much more of a pain in the ass to use. If you look at iOS you can see that Apple has separated out many functions into separate apps. You have the Music app for music, the iTunes app to buy/rent new content, the Podcasts app for Podcasts, the iBooks app for books, and the Videos App for movies and TV shows. Yet on the desktop the Mac/PC version tries to do everything in one Application. Since we rarely connect our devices up to our computers anymore to sync, there is a less of a need to have this all in one approach. Apple kept the Mac App Store separate and there’s no reason now not to separate out the iOS App Store and many of the other things that iTunes does now. They could then focus on building a killer Music app that would be the showcase for Apple Music. By the way, stop hidding the sidebar. We actually like it and use it!

Live from Facebook Mentions vs. Periscope

FMLvsPeriscope

You didn’t think Facebook would sit idly by while Twitter did LIVE streaming via its Periscope App did you? Early yesterday evening I got an App update to the Facebook Mentions App announcing that it now has a feature called “Live from Facebook Mentions.”

What’s Facebook Mentions – Live?

Facebook Mentions Live

Facebook Mentions is Facebook’s dedicated App for those of us who are Public Figures and have a “verified” Page on Facebook.

verified_facebook_page_public_figure_Terry_White

While I was certainly honored that Facebook verified my page without any action on my part and the fact that they even created this separate celebrity app, I really didn’t find that it was all that useful compared to the regular Facebook Pages Manager App. Well that all changed yesterday. Now I can bring up the Facebook Mentions App on my iPhone and start a live broadcast at any time. People that have previously “Liked” my Page will get a notification and they can watch the broadcast and make comments via text in the broadcast itself. The best part compared is that after the broadcast is over it appears as a regular video post on my Page for anyone to view after the fact. I also like that this post can be edited so that I can add links, additional information to the items or sites that I mentioned in the broadcast.

What’s Periscope?

Periscope on iPhone 6 Plus

Periscope is Twitter’s Live broadcasting service. Like Twitter it’s free to use. You can download the iOS or Android version and start broadcasting immediately. When you start a new broadcast the app sends a tweet to your Twitter followers as well as a push notification to any of your Periscope followers. People can watch the broadcast either in the Periscope App or on the web in a browser. People can also make comments via text in the App that you can respond to verbally and they can also tap the screen to give you “hearts” (their version of Likes). The idea behind Periscope is to be able to show the world what you’re seeing in realtime. After the broadcast is over it will be available for replay by anyone that follows you in the App or has the link for up to 24 hours. After that it automatically self destructs forever.

Facebook Mentions Live vs. Periscope

Obviously Facebook Mentions Live (FML <- LOL) is the new kid on the block and will come at a disadvantage to Periscope that has now been out for 5 months. Periscope has had several App updates to address user feedback and finally released their Android version. FML is only iOS at this point and currently limited to only those with a Verified Public Figure Facebook Page.

Video format

Periscope’s video format is portrait. This pisses off most people not viewing the video in the app and while Periscope has promised to deliver landscape video it hasn’t made it on the scene as of this post. FML on the other hand is a square aspect ratio. This makes it less frustrating to view, but means that they may never deliver landscape video. As you might expect the quality of the video/audio to your viewers will depend on the strength and speed of your data connection. When I’m on WiFi at home both Periscope and FML look awesome. On slower cellular data connections Periscope can be sketchy.

Your potential viewing audience

Here’s where it gets interesting. While your Periscope broadcasts automatically announce to your Twitter followers that you’re LIVE, it can be missed if someone is viewing your tweets in the moment. Unless your followers are diligent about scrolling their timelines and viewing your tweets, your broadcasts will only be seen by a fraction of your followers. Periscope does have the advantage that people can follow you on Periscope separately from Twitter, but from what I see the average number of Periscope followers to Twitter followers is usually a small fraction. For example, I have over 43,000 followers on Twitter, but only 3,227 followers on Periscope. My buddy Scott Kelby has over 288,000 followers on Twitter and only 10,830 followers on Periscope. I think that the lower number of Periscope followers is largely due to the fact that people can only follow you on Periscope from the iOS App or recently released Android App. There’s also no way currently to give someone a link to follow you. You can only give them your user name (ie. @TerryLWhite <- yes follow me please).

boost-post

On the FML side you already have an audience on your Facebook Page. I have 39,736 Likes on my Page. That’s my potential audience each time I do a broadcast. Facebook does play games though when it comes to showing your post to your followers. Look at the graphic above and you’ll see that last night the post had only reached 1,725 of my audience. The more popular your post is the more people that Liked your page will see it. So with that being said not all 39,736 people were notified when I did my 1st broadcast. There’s no way to control who gets notified and who doesn’t.

boost_prices

If you want more people to see your post/broadcast you can click the Boost Post button and PAY to have to promoted to more people. It’s a shame that people ask to follow you by clicking the Like button on your Page, but unless they manually visit your page regularly they may not see many or any of your posts via notifications or in their timeline unless you pay for them to see it. Let’s face it that while social media is free, Facebook and Twitter make their money from advertising.

Comments and adorations 

Both Periscope and FML allow people to make comments during the broadcast. in the case of Periscope the comments appear superimposed over the video and some find that distracting. FML on the other hand displays the comments at the bottom of the screen below the square video. With Periscope if your viewers like what they are seeing they can tap anywhere on the screen to give you hearts (adorations). I haven’t seen anything like that yet in FML. However, I did see at the end of the broadcast that I had “Likes” not sure how I got them at this point?

Replays

Both Periscope and FML offer the ability for people that missed your live broadcast to see it after the fact. With Periscope your broadcast remains active for up to 24 hours in the feed of everyone that follows you. Anyone that got the tweet when you went live can still click it to watch after the fact. Recently Periscope was updated to allow you share a link to anyone. The obvious downside is that if you send the link to someone and they don’t watch it within 24 hours, the link won’t work afterwards. Periscope also offers the option to save the raw video to your device after the broadcast. This means that you can post the video anywhere you want afterwards but note that it will be a vertical video. FML on the other hand puts the raw video of your broadcast on your Facebook Page immediately after the broadcast ends. That’s VERY COOL because there’s not expiration date. It also means that I can edit the post after the fact and add more info and links to the things I was talking about during the broadcast. Also since it’s a regular Facebook Post you can share it with others on Facebook that aren’t on your page. If you right click the video on your page you can copy the URL and share it anywhere like here.

Why not broadcast to both at the same time?

I came up with an idea to broadcast to both Periscope and Life from Facebook Mentions at the same time. It became a product from Arkon called the TW Broadcaster Pro. Check out my video below:

The Bottom Line

Periscope is cool and I use it regularly. However, I’ve always felt that many of my fans were missing out if they’re not on Twitter or don’t follow me on Periscope. I’ve posted links to the Periscope replay on Facebook afterwards but again the replay is only available for 24 hours. If Facebook opens up Live streaming to the regular Facebook app, Facebook Pages app and Facebook Groups App I think they would ultimately win as there are more people on Facebook than there are on Twitter. Twitter should open up Periscope a little more by offering direct links to follow people even on the web and they should give the option of allowing replays to last longer than 24 hours. If Facebook wanted to “own” the Live Streaming social media world they certainly have the base to do it. Live from Facebook Mentions Live may be just the beginning of their strategy!

Follow me on Periscope @TerryLWhite

Like my Facebook Page here.

Follow me on Twitter here.

Get the Periscope App here for iOS .

Get the Periscope App here for Android

Get the Facebook Mentions App for iOS here (if you have a verified public figure page) .



Netflix vs. Hulu Plus: If you could only have one?

AppleTV-TV_movies

I’ve been a Netflix subscriber for years and I have also tried a trial subscription to Hulu Plus. The thing that turned me off of Hulu (and still does) is that you pay the monthly fee ($7.99) and yet they still play ads. Also not to mention that during my trial period all the ads were bought out by the presidential candidates of 2012. I just couldn’t take any more. Three years later I’m willing to try Hulu Plus again, but is it worth it? I’d gladly pay more per month to eliminate the ads. Many of you have Hulu, Netflix or both. Tell me why?

What if you could only have one. Which would it be Netflix or Hulu Plus? Also now that HBO Now is coming soon, would you pick HBO over Netflix or Hulu?

Powered by Typeform

See the results here.
Check out the new lower price on the Apple TV here.



Web Hosting Sale! – Ends January 31, 2015

bluehost-jan-banner

Hey everyone, the good folks over at Bluehost.com are offering my readers 42% off web hosting if you signup by January 31, 2015. As you know, Bluehost is now my preferred hosting service and I have successfully moved my sites there with no issues to date.

If you need good web hosting for your Adobe Muse websites, Lightroom galleries, etc., then check out Bluehost.com here.

I’m Done with Network Solutions

webhosting

Usually when I write a post here it’s generally a positive review of a product or service. I figure most people would rather spend their time reading about products and services that they should buy instead of the countless ones that they should avoid. However, every now and then a product or service rubs me so hard the wrong way that I have to tell others about my experience (my old DirecTV post comes to mind). This time it’s with the web hosting company that I’ve used for over a decade. I’m done with Network Solutions. This actually isn’t something that is new. I’ve been slowly moving my websites and content away from them for a few years now. However, it was a month ago (October 1st 2014) that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Before we talk about the latest incident (the one that sent me over the edge), let me give you some background on my years of service with them:

 

It started with My websites being hacked

I have about a half dozen websites including the one you’re viewing right now, all of which used to be hosted with Network Solutions. Some are WordPress blogs and the rest are standard HTML sites. In this day and age it’s pretty common to hear about websites getting hacked. The hacking of my websites with Network Solutions took place back in 2010. My sites were hacked with malware and other ads. Again, this isn’t something new and even back then it wasn’t unheard of. However, the problem back then was that Network Solutions couldn’t seem to close the breach fast enough. As soon as I would get everything cleaned up, the sites would be hacked again and again and again, even to the point that their execs were communicating with me and apologizing. I couldn’t take it anymore and moved my WordPress blogs away from them over to Godaddy (frying pan to the fire). However, since my other, less trafficked  websites weren’t getting hit I left them with Network Solutions along with my email. Eventually they closed their security breaches, but for me the damage and lack of faith was already done.

 

The Costs were Rising

networksolutions-renewal
Note that they processed my “auto renew” on 9/25 for domains that didn’t expire until 11/24

I had one of their top hosting packages and several domains registered with them. Everything I had with them was on auto renewal. One day I noticed that my credit card was getting charged by Network Solutions and I was thinking in the back of my head that there wasn’t anything due right now. I logged in and noticed that they charged me to renew several domains (hundreds of dollars) that weren’t due to expire for months. This “cash flow” tactic punishes you for having auto renew turned on. If a domain registration doesn’t expire until 8/30 why are you charging me for it in June or July? Of course this prompted me to turn off auto renew!

 

My Hosting Package Expired  <- the beginning of the end

Last October I started getting notices that my hosting package renewal was due. So I went online to pay it. I used the PayPal option, paid the over $400 (yes I was overpaying for hosting) that was due and noticed that my account didn’t reflect the payment nor was the money taken out of my PayPal account. I waited a few minutes and no updates on either end, so I foolishly tried again. I got the exact same results. My account showed no payment and the money wasn’t taken out of my PayPal. Figuring that something was wrong I called Network Solutions and did the payment over the phone with a debit card. I went on with my day and you can probably guess what happened next….

Yep, the original two PayPal transactions went through and now I had paid Network Solutions over $1,200. Thinking that this would be no big deal, I called them to get the two accidental payments refunded. This is when I started to become unglued. I was told “we don’t give refunds.” What? Huh? Are you kidding me? I explained to the rep that this wasn’t something I bought and decided I didn’t like it, you were paid 3 times for a 1 year renewal. Can you not see this?

networksolutions-norefunds

After going round and round with them I was assured it would be credited only to receive an email later that day to tell me that “we don’t give refunds.” I called again and again and again. Finally I filed a dispute with PayPal and was eventually credited the over $800 back to my PayPal account. You would think it would have ended there, but oh no. Now Network Solutions was harassing me via email for, get this: not paying my bill! As far as their systems were concerned my payment had been “rejected” and I now owed them this money! This went on for months and they finally put a lock on my account (here it comes), that prevented me from (you’ll laugh) renewing my domains! Yep, they wouldn’t take any more of my money until I called to solve the issue with my account. When I called about this they informed me it was because a payment had been rejected. I explained to the rep on the phone the whole situation from last year and he eventually removed the lock.

 

I started moving my domains away from Network Solutions

Network Solutions charges more than any other provider I know for domain registrations. They charge $37.99. In 2014 that’s unheard of! The funny thing was that once I started the process of moving my 1st domain away from them I got this popup during the process:

NetSol-domainrenewal

So if I understand you correctly Network Solutions, as long as I’m on auto renew you’ll happily charge me $37.99/year. However, if I’m moving my domain away from you, you can all of a sudden renew it for only $10.00? Uhhh, NO! Sorry. I’m gone! Too late!

 

A Year Later My Hosting Package Expired <- the last straw!

After fighting the above for a year, it was time for my hosting package to be renewed again. However, I had no idea that it was due. Why? Every time I looked at my account it said that my hosting package was paid through 10/1/2015. Knowing that I would be GONE before then, I never worried about it. Around 10/3/2014 one of my users contacted me and said that they couldn’t get into their webmail. Not thinking anything could be wrong on my end, I submitted a trouble ticket through their website. 24 hours went by with no response to the trouble ticket and now more users complaining they couldn’t get in. I called support. I asked about my email accounts and they said “we don’t see any email boxes on your account.” Wait! What? Sure enough they had deleted my hosting package. No I don’t mean they turned it off. They deleted it! It was gone! My email boxes gone. My websites (the ones I had left with them) gone! Everything was gone! Their support people were scratching their heads. Apparently my hosting package did expire on 10/1/2014. I accept that. However, I got NO RENEWAL notices. No notice after the fact. No warning that if I don’t pay they would delete everything. Nothing! Nada! One day after it expired, they simply deleted all my content without warning or notice!

After being forced into buying one more year of their lowest package (I had to to get my content back), spending hours on the phone with support and several days later my email accounts and web folders were restored. As with any service I get that if you don’t pay you’ll be turned off. That wasn’t the problem here! I wasn’t given any notice that I owed anything. I wasn’t given any warning that my content was going to be deleted. They just deleted it!

 

Moved on to Bluehost.com

Once you lose my business it’s nearly impossible to get it back again. While Network Solutions was able to extort one more year of hosting out of me, I have vowed to never give them another dime. As of 11/1 I have moved the remaining email accounts and websites off of them over to my new hosting company, bluehost.com. Bluehost has been a dream to work with and to date no problems. They pride themselves on good service, affordable prices and US based 24/7 phone support. As each domain nears its expiration date I start the transfer process to bluehost.

I’m done with Network Solutions!

 

I went with Bluehost.com for all my web hosting needs

hosting

I haven’t been happy with my web hosting for a long time now. Let me give you a little history of  the sites I have and the various hosting providers I’ve been through. I currently manage:

terrywhite.com

terrywhitephotography.com

bestappsite.com

macgroup.org

creativecloudtv.com

and a site for my family reunion/tree.

When I first started doing web hosting I had it all under one roof (except creativecloudtv.com because it’s hosted by my podcast hosting company libsyn.com). I was using Network Solutions for all of it including email. While Network Solutions did all I needed technically, they were more expensive than other providers. I was even willing to overlook the higher cost because the service was good. Then one day my sites all got hacked. Malware, spam and just tons of stuff to clean up. Once the clean up happened, the attacks continued to the point that I ran from Network Solutions as fast I could because I couldn’t handle the daily hacks. I ended up moving terrywhite.com, bestappsite.com and macgroup.org to Godaddy. I know, I know, but I didn’t know at the time. Anyway, yes Godaddy. The price was right and everything seemed to work at the time. However, of the three sites I moved over, two of them were always having issues. terrywhite.com got hacked there too. Not as often, but it happened. Bestappsite.com got hacked too. Then it seems like Godaddy has too many sites on the same shared servers. Bestappsite.com was constantly having performance issues. It was like throwing the dice on whether or not the site would load or it would just be a blank white page. I called support and got the usual, “everything seems fine on our end, try reducing the number of plug-ins on your wordpress site. You seem to running out of memory.” Next I moved terrywhite.com to VPS.net. They came highly recommended and my site hadn’t been there for a week and their servers went down. I couldn’t believe it! Their data center had a “power outage”. Really? No backup power? No rollover to another data center. My site was down for hours. Ok stuff happens. If you run an internet service of any kind, it will go down at some point. However, my site was down again within a few weeks after that and again for hours. I complained and they moved my site to another data center. Things got better for a few months and next thing you know my site was down again. It wasn’t down for long, but it was down! Internet providers usually aim towards a 99% up time. I can’t say that I experienced that rate with VPS.net. Also I was paying the MOST with my plan with VPS.net.

Time to move on!

bluehost-05

I had some time out of my busy schedule and decided it was time to get my sites under control again. Bluehost.com came highly recommended. However, this time I did a little research before simply moving over. Bluehost.com is HIGHLY rated and one of the top ranked hosting providers for wordpress. Their prices for regular hosting and WordPress managed hosting was very reasonable and less than VPS.net. Cost wise it was a no brainer. Once I did my research and signed up, then it was time to move over. I moved over my photography site first. It was still at Network Solutions and not having any issues, but again I was trying to consolidate. Then I moved my family reunion site over and everything was working perfectly. Now it was time to move over my three wordpress sites: terrywhite.com, macgroup.org/blog and bestappsite.com. For this I needed the help of my web guy, Erik Bernskiold. Erik did all the backend magic of backing up and transferring my databases over from VPS.net and Godaddy.

Everything just works!

Now that I’m on Bluehost.com, (knock on wood) I haven’t had a single issue. The sites that weren’t working well on Godaddy are working fine now. Same database, same content and same plugins. I’m using Bluehost’s Managed WordPress hosting and so far it’s been GREAT! I did have a couple of initial questions and Bluehost prides themselves on having 100% of their tech support based here in the U.S. The techs knew their stuff.

You can check out Bluehost’s services here.



I went with CrashPlan and it’s Finally Done!

 

A while back I did a guest post on Scott Kelby's blog about my photography workflow. In that post I also talked about backup and offsite backup. At the time my offsite backup method was simply rotating two external hard drives to/from my safe deposit box at the bank. While this method certainly works, it does require me to actually make the trip to the bank. As much as I would have liked to do this on a weekly basis it was turning more into a monthly or bi-monthly trip. Although an old backup is better than no backup I wanted something a little more automated. It was suggested in the comment section of that post that I look at cloud backup, so I did. The first company I looked into at the time was Carbonite. However, Carbonite was a non-starter for me because of their stupid policy (at the time) of not allowing you to backup an external drive from a Mac. Really? Seriously? What difference does it make if the data is on the internal drive or an external drive? Charge for the amount of data being backed up and be done with it! I confirmed this stupid policy with their customer service and ended up going with CrashPlan instead.

 

CrashPlan gets it right

My initial experience with CrashPlan was excellent. I had no problem getting setup with their CrashPlan+ Family Unlimited Plan. This allows me to backup every computer I own and there are no silly limits on which drives the data has to be on. I knew going in that backing up TERABYTES of data over the internet would take a long long long time and well it did! It took MONTHS to backup my two servers. These two Macs (with Drobos attached) contain all my photos, music, movies, documents, etc. In other words, my digital life. 

 

How long did it really take?

I signed up for CrashPlan on January 13, 2011. I set it to backup both computers, but I did limit the bandwidth that it uses AND I set it to only run at night while I was sleeping. This way it would have no impact on my day to day internet use. By having it run only half the day and at a limited bandwidth, it took about 6.5 months to complete the backup of 1.7TB. Now I have it backing up another computer now that the main backup is done.

 

There are other options for the initial backup and restores

I was in no hurry for this backup to complete because I already had an offsite backup solution in place. However, if you want your initial backup to not take weeks or months then you could pay for them to send you an external hard drive. This way you could backup your data in a matter of hours instead of days,weeks or months. Once you return the drive to them they will add your data to their servers and give you instructions on how to connect your account to that data for continued backup. 

 

What's the advantage of cloud backup?

Now that my initial backup is done, my new/changed files are backed up every night automatically and OFFSITE. If a disaster strikes my home (flood, fire, theft, etc.) I would be able to get my important data back once I'm up and running again on a new computer/hard drive Yes they offer the ability to send you a drive with your data on it so that you can be backup and running sooner). Another advantage is having web access to ALL of my files no matter where I am in the world. If I need an import file off my server at home I could of course access my server via the internet because I have remote access setup. However, even if I didn't have remote access available I could always log into my CrashPlan account via the web and download any file that I want. 

 

The Bottom Line

There is no such thing as being too backed up when it comes to irreplaceable files such as digital photos. I backup my computers internally with things like Time Machine and SuperDuper!, but I also like having a backup that is offsite too. CrashPlan offered the most bang for the buck with unlimited data plans and no restrictions on where my data had to be stored in order to back it up. You can find out more about CrashPlan here.

Polleverywhere.com Powers My LIVE Audience Polls

  

If you've attended any of our tour stops on the Adobe CS5 Evolution Tour or if you were at the Adobe Photoshop World Keynote in Orlando, then you may have seen us do a live poll of the audience. Rather than simply asking for a show of hands, audience members participated with their mobile devices. Polleverywhere.com is a web based service that allows you to setup and conduct Live Polls in real-time. The cool factor is that the poll results come in and can be displayed in real-time. This usually gets people a little more involved when they see that they can actually drive the results right in front of their eyes.

Another option is the ability to create a custom URL where your users will go on their devices and instead of keying in the onscreen codes, they'll actually see the poll questions on their own screens and the responses are then tappable. When you switch to the next question their browser will update on the fly.

 

How does it work?

Once you setup an account, you can then start to create your Polls ahead of time. During your event, class, seminar, etc. you can then bring up the site, go full screen and people can answer the questions by either using SMS texting (standard text messaging rates do apply) to a local/regional number for the area that you are conducting the poll in OR they can simply go to the mobile friendly poll4.com web page on their device and enter the codes there for free. You can even enable the Poll via Twitter so that people can Tweet their responses and lastly there is the option to have a Private Link like this one. The page uses Adobe Flash to update live and in real-time. As the votes come in the bars will move for all to see. The data is saved to your account and you can close the polls whenever you like to prevent further voting.

If you don't want to do it live there are several options for embedding the polls into your website, like I've done here (click on your answer):

 

The results can also optionally be embedded for all to see as either LIVE update via Flash:

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