Apr 062012
 

 

I don’t review products until I have used them…or at least I didn’t before today.  For this backup solution by , , I am going to make an exception…or rather, I am going to write a pre-review describing my expectations, and also a review in a couple of weeks when I have used it a little while and given it a chance to disappoint, which I do NOT expect to happen.  Why would I “pre-endorse” a product?  Because this isn’t my first dance with Cloudberry Lab and they impress me…a lot.

This site focuses on web video and WordPress.  Why the backup discussion?

HayleStorm Interactive focuses on folks who are: 1.) New to the blogging/website and/or web video world, 2.) Look for information in Human, not Geek-lish, and 3.) Want to work with a small budget, and…

…are people who, for the most part, have mostly had a web experience that consists of surfing to their favorite blogs, checking email, and shopping.  Backing up their system usually is not high on these folks list of to-do items, but now that they are getting into having their own website or blog, backing up their new blog is critical, whether they know it or not.  (And really, it is important for ANYONE with a computer.)  With that in mind…

Let’s talk about a good, effective, easy, and economical backup solution.

For some months now I have been using another Cloudberry product, (The download is for the Pro Edition trial, which becomes the freeware edition when the trial expires.  Personally, I use the freeware…it does all most folks will ever need.), a freeware application for home and small office (for encryption, compression, and FTP support Cloudberry also has Cloudberry Explorer for S3 Pro).  The Amazon interface for S3, the AWS Console, is clunky at best and is designed for use by developers and other Geek types, and the other option I considered, the S3 Fox add-on for Firefox was very limited in features and, obviously, worked only in Firefox, which led me to .  Given its functionality and ease of use I was eager to use anything produced, which brings us to .

My initial impression was a slight disappointment that was due to my modus operandi rather than because of a shortcoming of the software.  When you combine the extremely simple and intuitive interface I was accustomed to in Cloudberry Explorer with my default means of using new software, that is “try to use first, read documentation only if I can’t figger it out on my own”, the user interface had no choice but to disappoint.

(side-note:  Given how I first use new software, you should have seen the comedy show of my first attempt at using Adobe After Effects…LOL)

The interface is NOT clunky if you read just a little bit of the documentation first, and is really simple once you get into setting up your backup profile.  The setup is much like setting up an installation profile of new software…check boxes and fields to fill in to change from the default, then a “Next” button, wash and repeat, until presented with a “Finish” button.  Setup is just that simple.  It takes about two minutes to set up a backup profile.

 

Configuring a backup.

S3 Backup welcome panel

The Welcome Panel is the start of the easy setup, that users will find almost identical to most software setup interfaces.

Cloudberry Backup for Desktop will backup your files to a variety of cloud services as well as to storage devices connected to your computer.

 Choose a predefined backup (as shown above) or create a custom plan and name it here.

 As with most software installation, you have a choice between Advanced or Simple, and, also like most software installations, Simple Mode will probably serve the needs of 95% of users.

For most folks, simply checking each box here will give the results most want, but if you want to exclude specific folders for any reason, clicking the + sign will allow you to dig as deep as you wish into nested folders to uncheck ones you don’t want to backup.

 If the previous panel doesn’t give enough exclusion options, this Advanced Filter panel will allow you to include or exclude specific file types, and will allow you to exclude system and hidden files.

 Here you can compress and or encrypt your backup.  I suggest accepting the default “Do not compress…” option, but you may call me paranoid, but I do NOT trust the encryption on ANY cloud-based storage, and I suggest encrypting everything you send to the cloud.

 We all are guilty of letting old, unused files lay around in our file systems (yes you do, and you know it!) and that will in turn junk up your backup files.  Besides helping keep your backups cleaned up, the purge function might actually help prod you to clean up your files, in order to keep backup size (and your cloud storage bill) small.

 My favorite screen…the scheduler.  The first three, no schedule manual backup, backup on a specific date, or a recurring backup you can set the schedule…are all good options.  For me, however, the GREAT, not good, option is the Real-time Backup.  Check the box, finish the setup, and walk away…you will ALWAYS be backed up.

 If you schedule a backup instead of doing a constant real-time backup, Cloudberry S3 Backup for Desktop will notify you via e-mail when your backup completes.

 Before finishing your backup configuration, Cloudberry Backup shows you all of your configuration settings you have just set so you can verify the choices are as you want them to be.

Click “Finish” and you are done.  Your backup will run as when and how you have just configured it to.

 

Is Cloudberry S3 Backup REALLY an economical solution?

One feature in particular led me to when I went searching for a backup solution.

I have used Carbonite for several years and have been happy with it, or, as happy as I could be not knowing if the service actually worked since I had not had the misfortune of needing to restore my data.  To me, the single best feature of Carbonite was the automation…backups “just happened” not on a set schedule, but in real time.  can also do such real time backups in addition to performing scheduled backups, and at a BIG savings.

At the time of this writing, Carbonite starts at $59.00…annually.  It is a subscription service and can go up in price each time you renew for another year.

, on the other hand, is software you buy for $29.99 and install on your computer.  It comes with free upgrades for the first year, and annual upgrades after the first year (if you want to upgrade…you don’t have to) for 20% of your initial purchase price, or $5.99 a year.

First year savings?  $29.01.  Annual savings after the first year (Assuming Carbonite NEVER raises it’s pricing)?$55.01.  Yes…Cloudberry S3 Backup is VERY economical.

All in all, seems to be an excellent and inexpensive backup solution.

Stay tuned.

I’ll be back in two weeks with a report on whether Cloudberry Labs keeps it’s reputation blemish free with a performance report.

 

of further interest:

Free WordPress installation – Let HayleStorm Interactive do your WordPress installation for you.

– This article is old (2006), but valid even today.

– A Discussion on data backup for small businesses from Information-Management.com

WordPress from Go!-WordPress basic tutorial

 

Bob Hayles

A Luddite at heart, Bob has adapted to being in a tech world adequately. The King of Cheap, he enjoys sharing his WordPress and inexpensive web video production skills with others. He abhors Geek-lish, but translates it into normal human language quite well. He avoids code as much as possible, and breaks out in hives at the mere sight of php, but he will make minor adjustments to HTML. He also reverts to being a Luddite at JuicyMaters.com and is something of a political junkie/blowhard at Common-Sense-Conversation.com.

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Dec 072011
 

Entering the web video arena feels like throwing your wallet into the center of the Roman Coliseum to be plundered by lion and gladiator alike.  Every web guru and video ninja known to man seems to be lining up to take a crack at plundering your bank account, and many, if not most, of them do their plundering in large chunks.  It is not unusual to see software that you absolutely MUST have to create good videos that costs several hundred dollars that is not just good, it is indispensable…at least until the guru pushing it finds other software that does even better.  Of course the “newer, better” software costs even more…and pays the guru a higher commission.

If you REALLY feel like your wallet is too fat and you MUST spend as much as possible on your video projects  there are plenty of places to exercise your Pay Pal account.

Once you have the hardware…cameras, microphones, lights, and such (which will be covered in another post)…let’s take a look at the software to put that camcorder to use:

  • Recording – Most folks will choose to use a camcorder to record their videos, and the recording software is built into the camera.  In that case you don’t need recording software, right?  Well, the answer is kind of a yes and kind of a no.  Recording a quality video with a camcorder alone IS possible, with a few caveats.First, you need to know your way around the camcorder exceptionally well, able to maximize the potential quality of the recorded video file.  The poorer the quality of the file, the harder…and more expensive…the editing process becomes.Second, many people want to create videos that the expense of a camcorder would be extra and a waste.  Many styles of video, a video news blog for example, can be done with an inexpensive webcam, but then you bring on the need for recording software.
    Also, other than for simple, straightforward, plain Jane shots, recording software beyond the free software included with most operating systems is a necessity.Web videos are often screen capture videos as well, and you must include screen capture software costs when budgeting for recording software.

    So…what does recording software cost?  Quality recording software, including screen capture, can run as high as $799.00 for Adobe Captivate 5.5 for screen capture PLUS $1699.00 for Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 for video recording (CS 5.5 includes much more than On Location, the video recording software, but On Location cannot be bought separately).  Adobe is as good…and expensive…as it gets.  You can spend far, far less for quality software.

    I use video capture and screen capture software from an Australian company called NCH Software.  Their Debut Video Capture software, combined with the screen capture feature in Video Pad Video Editor, is a huge step up from the software included in your operating system for a LOT less money, under $120.00, and it will be all you need for most video projects (greenscreen and live streaming need more horsepower, but still a LOT less expensive than Adobe), with the added benefit of a good video editor as a bonus.

  • Video editing – Once you have video recorded, unless you script it perfectly and record it with no mistakes and don’t need transitions or file encoding or meta tagging to make flash files pseudostream, you will need a good video editor.Again, the ultimate video editor is an Adobe product named Premier, and like On Location, Premire cannot be bought separately.  Also like On Location it is included in CS 5.5, a $1699.00 package.  I find the video editing tools in NCH Software’s Video Pad Video Editor do a good job for 90% of all video editing needs.  While I have the entire Adobe Creative Suite Master’s Collection, I find that Video Pad is my go-to video editor…and it costs a small country’s annual budget less than Adobe.
  • Audio recording and editing – For the ultimate in audio recording and editing…ultimate as in good enough for a music recording studio with every possible dubbing and mixing tool imaginable…Avid Pro Tools 10 is as good as it gets, and the price reflects that at somewhere north of $2500.00.  Again, if you aren’t planning on recording Elton John’s next CD, NCH Software comes through with a software package for far less.  Record Pad Audio Recorder and Wave Pad Sound Editor do a great job for a total of less than $100.00.I use the NCH software above with one exception.  While Record Pad and Wave Pad do a great job dealing with audio, if I find myself needing more audio capabilities than are built into Debut or Video Pad, or if I am doing audio recording or editing alone with no video, I use a free utility available for download online.  The program is called Audacity, it does a great job customizing audio tracks, and it is 100% totally, completely free.  It requires a small…very small…amount of geekiness to install and get up and running, but is a really great utility.Did I mention the Great Price?  I did say FREE, didn’t I?

Full disclosure: The software providers mentioned in this article are advertisers on HayleStorm Interactive, advertising on this site, and are paying a nominal commission on each sale.  With that said, EVERY software (or other item) reviewed and promoted on HayleStorm is actually used by the webmaster of the website.  FIRST a product must impress the site owner enough for him to buy it with his own personal money (no free review copies endorsed here), and then, and ONLY THEN will he endorse the product and allow it to be sold through HayleStorm Interactive.

Bob Hayles

A Luddite at heart, Bob has adapted to being in a tech world adequately. The King of Cheap, he enjoys sharing his WordPress and inexpensive web video production skills with others. He abhors Geek-lish, but translates it into normal human language quite well. He avoids code as much as possible, and breaks out in hives at the mere sight of php, but he will make minor adjustments to HTML. He also reverts to being a Luddite at JuicyMaters.com and is something of a political junkie/blowhard at Common-Sense-Conversation.com.

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Nov 222011
 

A couple of times a month I cruise around my desktop, cleaning it up.  Usually, when I add any functionality to my computer via a download of an app or other software, I add it to my desktop, even if t is something that would best be left under the “start” button long term.

I usually clean up the mess this makes of my desktop about once or twice a month, unpinning links to software that rally should be under the start menu once I have burned their existence into my memory so I don’t need the visual reminder they exist, or trashing those links and associated programs that simply didn’t live up to expectations.This usually leaves a little “odd man out” group of desktop icons..software that actually performs, yet I don’t use for one reason or another.  I hate to trash stuff that actually does it’s job and is just overshadowed.

Often it is because another program I have gotten since I got the one that gets ignored does double duty…buying a program for video capture and later finding an equally economical software package that both does an excellent job of capturing camera video but also captures screens for screen-casts AND does an acceptable job of editing video files., for instance.  I have had that specific occurance happen.

The worst, however, is to buy a program to do a specific job and find out later that there was freeware that does the same job just as well…or even better.  That has happened to me more than once, and when you are trying to blog or do quality videos on a very tight budget even one purchase of software for under $50 when there is freeware that does the same thing really hurts.

Inevitably, it is my impatience that causes me to move too fast and waste money. Once I found I needed file conversion software to effectively work with video files, and another application to meta tag video files so they would pseudo-stream in order to play as soon as the “play” icon was clicked on a video player…I had to have that capability.  Now.  Right now.

So…I bought software.  Yes, it was economy minded software, but it was commercial just the same.  Within a week I had run across software that was free that did the same  things, only better.

Do you know what I use that commercial software for now?  I let it sit on my desktop as a reminder…a reminder to slow down.  A reminder that slowing down might save money.

 

Bob Hayles

A Luddite at heart, Bob has adapted to being in a tech world adequately. The King of Cheap, he enjoys sharing his WordPress and inexpensive web video production skills with others. He abhors Geek-lish, but translates it into normal human language quite well. He avoids code as much as possible, and breaks out in hives at the mere sight of php, but he will make minor adjustments to HTML. He also reverts to being a Luddite at JuicyMaters.com and is something of a political junkie/blowhard at Common-Sense-Conversation.com.

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Nov 182011
 

So, you have decided to build your own website?  Is it a small business site?  An e-commerce site?  Maybe you want a personal blog…sharing your thoughts with the world or maybe just your family and friends...

It really doesn’t matter.  All sites, from the biggest commercial sites to a small personal blog are selling something.  While Amazon is selling books and cameras (and everything else from A to Z), small personal blogs are also “selling”.  They are selling information about themselves and their life, and their “payment” is the satisfaction of distributing the information…but they are still selling.

Remember that while your site is being built…either by you or any firm you hire.  Rule #1 is  YOU ARE SELLING, so don’t do anything that interferes with that.

A lot of “cool stuff” does interfere with the selling part of a website by driving site visitors away.  Site designers…the creative types…love playing with that “cool stuff”.  It s fun, they enjoy it (the outlet for creative types IS creating, after all), and whether it actualy helps or hurts draw or drive away site visitors is not part of their “need to know” thinking.

I spend a portion of each day cruising the web just looking a websites and seeing what they do, how they act, and whether it draws me in deeper or, unintentionally, drives me away.  Based on my personal observations, here are a few things to do to draw folks in…and a few that, despite their “cool factor”, you need to avoid so your site doesn’t drive people away.

  • Keep your site simple and clutter free.  Besides this applying to general appearance and those cool graphics that do cool things, it also applies to the content of your site, the information it imparts.  Simplified content includes short sentences.  It includes short paragraphs.  It includes having enough pictures to tell the story…but not so many you over-tell it.  The KISS Principle applies double regarding websites.
  • More “keep it simple” is attention to small details, like font choice, color, size, and style.  Besides the font chosen for part of your header (if any), limit your different font styles to one font, or at the most two, on a given site.  Be choosy about what font to use.Besides “looking good”, it needs to be readable, and many aren’t.With very few exceptions, I limit my font choices to Ariel, Tahoma, Verdana, and Times New Roman, and 99% of the time choose between Tahoma and Verdana.  Keep your color choices simple as well.
  • Make it obvious what your site is all about.  You have approximately 2 seconds to grab a new visitor’s attention and help him or her decide if your site offers what they are looking for, be it information a product, or simple entertainment.  Use that two seconds wisely.  Make it very clear from the moment your site opens in the visitor’s web browser what your site is all about.

Once you know what TO do, you also need to know what NOT TO do.  Again, based on my personal observations, here are some things to avoid when building a website.

  • Do not use flash as the “introduction” to your website, either as part of your header or as the “hook”…the thing that is supposed to grab folks’ attention.  This is one of those tools web designers love because it has the “cool factor”, but it has a negative that makes it inappropriate for site introduction.  Flash……….is……….slow.  Remember those two seconds I told you that you have to either pull a visitor in or drive them away?  Any introduction using flash will still be loading after  your visitor has clicked away to another site.
  • Do not use autoplay videos or music/sound on your website.  While they are yet another “cool factor” tool that developers love to play with, users may find them irritating.  Imagine yourself Googling for information on “widgets”.  Rather than going back and forth from the Google search page to sites about widgets, you click on 3 or 4 or 5 widget related sites, opening them in separate browser tabs.  As you are clicking on the first widget tab, or as you are answering the phone or greeting a visitor, music or the audio portion of a video from one of the sites you opened in a new tab begins to play.  Loudly.  You haven’t even looked at the site yet and are already irritated at it.  You didn’t choose to listen to music or watch a video and that rubs you the wrong way.That is not the first impression you want visitors to get of your site and the business or product it promotes.
  • Except for POSSIBLY asking folks to sign up for your email list to receive free newsletters and other things they might not otherwise be aware of (think AWeber, Constant Contact, and Mail Chimp types of forms), do not put anything that generates an unrequested pop-up on a website.  Signing up for an email newsletter should usually be  decision made by your visitor AFTER they have had time to decide if whatever you offer is of use to them.  It is personal opinion, but I consider an unrequested pop-up to be akin to a car salesman meeting you immediately on your walking onto a car lot and asking your name, address, and telephone number before you even know if the lot has the kind of car you want.  Both are done done, and are sometimes effective, but I personally consider both impolite, and being impolite will drive many potential visitors to your site away.
  • Attractive graphics within a site’s content can make the site more attractive and inviting.  Slow-loading graphics have a negative impact however, as they violate the two second rule as well.

Like any “rule”, these have exceptions, but breaking with these suggestions should only be done on limited occasions and for very speific purposes, and never to cater to a designer’s desire for the “cool factor”.

Bob Hayles

A Luddite at heart, Bob has adapted to being in a tech world adequately. The King of Cheap, he enjoys sharing his WordPress and inexpensive web video production skills with others. He abhors Geek-lish, but translates it into normal human language quite well. He avoids code as much as possible, and breaks out in hives at the mere sight of php, but he will make minor adjustments to HTML. He also reverts to being a Luddite at JuicyMaters.com and is something of a political junkie/blowhard at Common-Sense-Conversation.com.

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