HelloSign Saved My Day!

So, you don’t have a scanner, but you need to sign a simple form so you can email the form to a form recipient.  You know you don’t scan anything unless you have to, and you are sure that you won’t scan anything for a long time to come.  Buying a scanner is going to cost you some money, and you are hesitating to spend any money at the moment.  So, what can you do in this horrible situation?

I had met the situation above just recently, and boy I thought I was out of option.  Nonetheless, I did a Google search and found out about how to send online/electronic form (with legally binding electronic signature).  Obviously, since I don’t have a scanner, the form I sent wasn’t strict about the accuracy of a signature, therefore I could use an electronic signature that got created by HelloSign.  Yep, HelloSign is an online service which allows you to send legally binding electronic signature in whatever document or form.  HelloSign saved my day!

Anyhow, with HelloSign, you can also create document/form which allows other party or parties to sign.  I don’t know about the complexity of the process of form/document which requires other party or parties to sign, but self signing form is really simple.  By the way, HelloSign members get free unlimited self signing form service.  Anyhow, the self signing form is simply requiring you to upload the document, create an online/electronic signature, inserting the signature into the form, adding the recipient email address, and then just email the form away.

OK, you might wonder since I don’t have the scanner, how did I get the form into my computer in the first place and then upload to HelloSign, right?  Since my form was a simple form with a paragraph or two and a signature line, therefore I opened up Pages (document application on Mac OS X) and typed the form away.  I strung the underscore key on the keyboard together into the signature line, and before long I got a document/form that I could upload to HelloSign.  Of course, if you don’t have Pages, you can use LibreOffice (free, open source office suite).

Anyhow, in summary, I think HelloSign service and similar services are really helpful to people who face similar situation as mine.  With HelloSign, I was able to send a form with legally binding signature freely to a form recipient.  Thank you HelloSign!

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How Paranoid Should You Be For Backing Up Your Data?

Backup Backup Backup - And Test Restores

Backup Backup Backup – And Test Restores (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you ask me what is the best way to backup your data, I will probably direct your concern to more than one way.  I like to think of not placing all of your eggs in one basket kind of scenario.  What’s the point of backing up data in the first place?  It’s to hope that when things go crazy such as a computer’s data corruption might occur, you can then access your most valuable backup data.  If you only rely on one preferable backup method, then what if in a critical moment that even the backup data isn’t accessible through your preferable only backup method, what will you do then?  Even a perfect storm is a possible scenario for spreading eggs in more than one basket, therefore I think being paranoid about safekeeping your data with more than one preferable backup method is the best way to go about doing the backups for your valuable data.

For us normal folks, the regular Joe(s), who have data that we want to safeguard, it’s a must for us to spread our data in more than one basket.  It must not be that you have to be a company to take this approach.  Furthermore, nowadays regular Joe(s) do have plenty of ways to go about doing backups for their data.  Let me list few of them:

  • Google Drive
  • Pogoplug
  • Dropbox
  • Amazon Simple Storage Service
  • CrashPlan
  • External hard drives
  • Network attach storage solution such as QNAP NAS servers
  • Do it yourself FreeNAS server solution
  • rsync to a renting server with affordable monthly fee

And the list can go on a lot longer as third party cloud services are now in amble supply.  I think the problem isn’t about finding a backup solution or solutions for the regular Joe(s), but it’s about the affordability, speed, security, and conveniency aspects.  Let say, if a regular Joe wants to spread his backup data in more than one basket, how affordable can this be?  So on and so on…

I think affordability should not be as big of an issue as before the time when there were no third party cloud service and competitive (affordable) computer hardware pricing.  If you don’t intend to harbor 100 of Gigabytes worth of data for streaming purpose or whatever extreme configuration, backing up few Gigabytes worth of data should not cost you much at all.  Perhaps, you can do it at no cost too.  One example, I think Google Drive gives you around 10 Gigabytes worth of free data space or a little bit more than this, and just with this service alone you know you don’t have to spend a dime to backup your data as long you are not going over the free space limitation that Google Drive allows.  Don’t like third party cloud services for whatever reasons?  Computer hardware such as external hard drives nowadays are no longer pricing at outrageous prices, therefore it’s easier for regular Joe(s) to go this route for doing their data backups.  How about coupling Linux with a spare, dusty computer to form a local backup storage server at zero cost in term of money, but you have to spend time on putting things together such as installing Linux and deploying Linux’s network attached storage services to have a more complete backup server solution.

I can see that the many third party cloud services as good solutions for doing backups.  How come?  Let say you’re paranoid about the safety of your data to a point that you consider the scenario where local backup data can all be corrupted at the same time for whatever reasons such as a virus/hack attack (or by even a more nefarious scenario), therefore you think third party cloud services are the additional safety reservoirs for your backup data.  If you are this paranoid, I think you’re doing it right.  Although third party cloud services are good measures against local data corruption, there are problems with this whole approach in general.  Let me list a few:

  • Broadband’s upload speed (Internet connection) isn’t fast enough to do a major backup (i.e., backing up huge amount of data in Gigabytes worth)
  • Security issue… how do we know our data can be securely safeguarded and stored on the remote servers?
  • Trust issue… such as how do we know our data privacy and our privacy won’t be breached on the remote servers?

I sneakily snuck in the speed and security concerns about backing up data remotely through third party cloud services, but we should not take the security issue lightly since many people may not want their privately backup data to be made known to the whole world.  Security done right in term of backing up data locally and remotely, this will also address the privacy issue/concern too.  I think employing good network and computer security measures locally will enhance the security protection level for the backup data.  Such measures should be about employing hardware and software firewall, antivirus, and so on.  Don’t forget to update the software and firmware, because through updating these things that you can be assured of weeding out security bugs.  You can never be too sure about the security of your data when you’re backing up your data remotely, therefore you should employing encryption for your backup data before you upload your backup data to the remote servers.  One good encryption measure I know of is TrueCrypt software which can be downloaded and used freely.

I don’t think we should sacrifice our data security for conveniency, because data security is definitely more important than otherwise.  Still, conveniency should be considered in the calculation of our data backup challenge too.  It’s just that we have to make sure we don’t have to sacrifice data security for conveniency.  Let say, you want to backup your data to a third party cloud service, but you don’t like the idea of doing a local encryption for your data first… this means you are sacrificing your data security for conveniency and this is truly bad for you as the owner of the backup data (i.e., privacy concern).

In summary, I think if you’re paranoid enough about the health of your data, then you should devise many backup plans for your data.  You should try to backup your data both locally and remotely, but you should employ encryption for your data when you do backup your data remotely.  Backing up huge amount of data remotely can be very inconvenient at this point in time since so many regular Joe(s) do not have access to fast upload broadband speed.  Let hope this will change soon, and I know things will be moving in this direction since data streaming and data sharing and data backup are in much more demand than ever before.  One example would be Google fiber Internet service.  Google is driving the Internet Service Provider competition forward as Google deploys its Gigabit Internet connection service for many households in various lucky cities and towns.  With Google pushing for more competition in the area of broadband speed, I think the future — having great Internet connection for uploading our backups — is definitely bright.  As time is moving on, the costs of computer backup hardware and backup services can be even more competitive, we can expect the cost of deploying backup measures for our data can only get cheaper and easier.  I like the idea of having a NAS locally, and using one or two third party cloud services for my data backups.

(How paranoid should you be for backing up your data?  In my opinion, the answer should be, the more the merrier.)

Sending Email Attachment Larger Than 25MB Through Gmail Email Using Google Drive

English: Gmail logo

English: Gmail logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, I’ve found out that sending an attachment which is larger than 25MB or so won’t be possible through Gmail email.  Luckily, Gmail email service is intertwining with Google’s other web applications such as Google Drive, and through Google Drive I’m able to send attachment which is larger than 25MB.  Don’t know if it’s true or not, you can basically tell Gmail email to insert an attachment through Google Drive that is large as a decent video file size.  Isn’t it cool?

Tips To Protect Your Photos For A Very Long Time To Come

If you want to keep your photos for a very long time to come, you definitely need to take measures in protecting your precious photos.  Something as hard drive failure to accidental deletion can definitely erase the awesome picture moments that you had captured.  Of course, you don’t really have to be a fanatic with photography for you to take extreme measures to protect your photos, because protecting photos isn’t that hard as long you are willing to take some steps in giving you the chance to recover the lost photos.  Within the video right after the break, I give some tips that might be helpful to you in regarding to protecting your photos for a very long time to come.  Please enjoy it!

Xbox Music Service Will Attract People To Windows 8 Ecosystem Like Bees To Honey Kind Of Thing

Jeu microsoft windows

Jeu microsoft windows (Photo credit: Des Geeks et des lettres)

Even before Microsoft gets a chance to really know that if their strategy of making Windows ecosystem evermore coherent would amount to anything (i.e., making Windows 8 the operating system for all upcoming devices such as tablets, smartphones, computers, etc…), Microsoft decides to test the worthiness of Windows 8 ecosystem coherency from the get go (i.e., on the day which Windows 8 will be available for the mass to use) by announcing that the company is releasing a brand new Xbox music service.  This brand new Xbox music service will only work on Windows 8 ecosystem (i.e., any device that is compatible to Windows 8 platform) and on Xbox 360 console.

What is exciting about this brand new Microsoft’s Xbox music service is that it allows anyone who has a device that is compatible to Windows 8 to be able to play music for free.  Actually, it’s rather a complete music service as in this service will allow people to listen to music for free or paid in Spotify manner (i.e., streaming music without ad interruption when paying $10 per month fee and vice versa), buy music to own in iTunes manner, and stream radio in Pandora manner.  In a way, Xbox music service will definitely be one of the very first guinea pigs for Microsoft to test out the effectiveness of Windows 8 ecosystem coherency.  If Xbox music service is going to fail to attract any popularity and usage, Microsoft will definitely be able to gauge the effectiveness of the Windows 8 ecosystem coherency.

Personally, I think Microsoft Xbox music service will definitely shake things up among the very market participants (e.g., Spotify, Amazon, Apple, Pandora, etc…).  With Windows 8 to be installed (replaced) Windows 7 on many computers and to become the fabric of the upcoming Windows 8 compatible devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets, etc…), this sort of readily, powerful mojo is really going to give a very big boost to Xbox music service.  In turn, Xbox music service will attract many people to hurry up and get Windows 8 operating system onto their computers.  Furthermore, people who are with Windows 7 computers will go about in a hurry to have their computers upgrade to Windows 8 operating system.  This is one heck of a smart move from Microsoft!  Now, the only thing Microsoft needs is a really good marketing department to promote the super-coolness of Xbox music service on Windows 8 ecosystem.

How To Create, Attach/Associate, And Mount EBS Onto Amazon EC2 (Using Ubuntu 12.04 Linux OS)

English: Cloud Computing

English: Cloud Computing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was playing around with Amazon Web Services, and then I thought it would be a good idea to make a how-to video which shows people (who are new to Amazon Web Services) how to add, attach/associate, and mount EBS (Elastic Block Storage) to Amazon EC2 (Elastic Cloud Computing) instance (using Ubuntu 12.04 Linux OS for the EC2 instance).  For your information, Amazon Web Services is like a cloud web hosting and network infrastructure (plus a whole lot more).  Nonetheless, if you have no idea what I just spewed and still think Amazon Web Services is interesting, you definitely can find out more about Amazon Web Services at Amazon (the website and not the jungle).  Anyhow, the thought is awesome in my opinion, and so the end result is the video right after the break.  Enjoy!!!