Goodbye Mozy

As any good IT professional will tell you, it’s extremely important to perform backups on a regular basis.  Until this point, I’ve used a combination of network backup to Charlene’s computer and online backup with Mozy.  Until this point.

On Monday, Mozy announced the discontinuation of their $4.95/month unlimited backup plan. It’s being replaced with a new set of backup plans that will make it significantly more expensive for me to do business with them.  I’m talking a price increase of nearly 900%.  This is simply unacceptable to me.

Needless to say, I’m on the hunt for a new backup provider. At this point, I’m seriously considering either Backblaze or CrashPlan.

I don’t know either company personally, but I do know the persona Backblaze portrays on their blog, and I like what I see.  They seem like a very genuine and sincere company. I like the fact that they’re very open about a lot of things, including their infrastructure and a bit about their encryption strategy for keeping data safe. They were even community-oriented enough to ask their users/readers for input on their new offices. I like it!

CrashPlan is a bit more of an enigma to me.  They do have a blog, but it’s nothing special.  They do seem to be getting rave reviews on Twitter, so that’s a good sign.

PC Magazine points out that neither company is very old, though CrashPlan is more established than BackBlaze.

I guess we’ll see what happens. I’ve gotta do some more digging before I make a decision.  I really hope this is the last time I have to re-backup my files.  Backing up 400+GB over the internet isn’t very fun.

Transformers at ILM

This post isn’t very timely, as it pertains to the summer 09 release of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but I still thought it was an interesting read.  It details the incredible depth of detail ILM had to create when working on the movie’s visual effects.   Here’s a short rundown of their numbers:

ILM’s render farm has 5700 core processors, the newest of which are dual processor and quad cores (eight cores per blade), with up to 32 GB of memory per blade. In addition, the render farm can access the 2000 core processors in the artists’ workstations, which ups the total core processors to 7700. As for data storage, the studio’s data center currently has 500 TB online. Transformers 2 sucked up 154 TB, more than seven times the 20 TB needed for 2007’s Transformers.

Give it a few more years, and I’m sure these numbers will be insignificant, but right now, numbers like this are pretty much unfathomable to me.

Michael Arrington: I Quit The iPhone

This can’t be good news for Apple. Michael Arrington, one of the most powerful men on the web according to Forbes, is giving up his iPhone. He was an avid fan of the iPhone when it first came out, but apparently, the debacle over Google Voice was the last straw.

In the article, Arrington declares that he’ll be moving to an Android-based phone for the time being, and when Google offers Google Voice on the Palm Pre, he’ll move to that.

I’ll bet a certain CEO in Cupertino is about to blow a gasket.

AT&T Future is Dim?

As a follow up to my entry on my new Blackberry, it seems that AT&T might be doomed if they loose exclusivity to the iPhone.

I know from personal experience that Charlene’s reception on her iPhone is less than stellar. Tech Crunch seems to have similar sentiments.

I’ve been unable to do a speedtest on my Blackberry as all of the web-based tests seem to require Flash. But based on my observations, it seems decently speedy. Granted, I’ve never tried to watch YouTube on it. As I mentioned before, I do wish it had WiFi, though. Oh well.

Twitter Attack

In case you haven’t been following the news lately, microblogging company Twitter was hacked last week. As a follow up article, Tech Crunch has a great article on “The Anatomy Of The Twitter Attack“.

I think it’s really interesting how the Twitter attack wasn’t so much the hack of one system, but of the entire technology ecosystem. The article calls out

The list of services affected either directly, or indirectly, are some of the most popular web applications and services in use today – Gmail, Google Apps, GoDaddy, MobileMe, AT&T, Amazon, Hotmail, Paypal and iTunes. Taken individually, most of these services have reasonable security precautions against intrusion. But there are huge weaknesses when they are looked at together, as an ecosystem.

So what do we take away from this? I think the article sums it up nicely:

So for a start, reset those passwords and don’t use the same passwords for different services. Don’t use password recovery questions that can easily be answered with a simple web search (an easy solution is to answer those questions falsely). And just in general be paranoid about data security. You may be happy you were.

This is a really good reason to keep those passwords secure and distinct. Use a random password generator, and don’t reuse the password across services. I wonder what, if any, implications this has for password managers like RoboForm or Keepass, which make one’s passwords all centrally located.

These conclusions also seem to advocate a stronger system of two-factor authentication in online services. E*Trade is the only company I know of that makes use of RSA keys as an additional layer of security. Bank of America offers a service called SafePass that sends a text message to your cell phone to add a layer of security similar to using an RSA key.

I’ve never used either of these services so I don’t know exactly how they work. My concern is that if these security features are “optional” it makes them easy to bypass, and provides only a false sense of security for the end user. And that’s definitely not a good thing.

State of the SLR Market – 2009

Like many people, I was both thrilled and dismayed last month. That’s when Canon announced their Spring Lens Rebates. But it had barely been a week into the rebates when retailers like B&H and Adorama decided to boost the prices of lenses across the board. That meant a lens like the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM which was about $1700 prior to the rebate, and $1500 after a $200 rebate immediately jumped up to $1600, effectively cutting the $200 rebate in half to $100. That doesn’t make it a complete wash, but it definitely diminishes the utility of a $200 rebate.

So I was interested to read the commentary by Roger Ciala, President of In it, he shares a few really good points and observations:

  • The markup on a lens is really quite tiny, maybe 3-5% (about $30-$50 on a $1000 lens).
  • SLR lens sales only account for about 2.7% of Canon’s overall revenue. Considering Canon is the largest player in the dSLR space, that’s pretty miniscule. Apparently, their business machine (copiers?) division is significantly larger.
  • We may lose a few players in the SLR market as a result of this economic downturn. He names Olympus, Panasonic, and Pentax as possiblities. (Note, these companies make most of their money in other businesses, so as companies, they’re not going anwhere. It’s just that they may no longer decide to participate in SLR manufacturing.)
  • The “Department Store Bad Christmas” concept does not apply. He details what this means in his article, but the gist of it is that lenses don’t have high markups, and they’ll still be just as valuable in a few months (unlike clothing), so retailers can afford to hold onto them without serious consequences.

Great commentary, and worth the read, especially if you were in the market for a new lens like I was. For the time being, I think I’ll sit this one out.

Circuit City vs. B&H

In an interesting commentary on the economy and what it takes to be competitive, Joel Spolsky takes a few paragraphs to explain the difference between the big box store that was Circuit City and “a much smaller business you probably haven’t been to” called B&H. I’ve known about them since late 2006 when I ordered my first dSLR from them–my quite aged, but trusty Rebel XTi. (Fortunately) I’ve never had to deal with their customer service. But the article seems to indicate that it’s first-rate.

An interesting read to be sure, especially if you’re into electronics and/or photography like me.

Inspiron Mini 10

Last week, Dell introduced the Inspiron Mini 10, the slightly bigger brother of the Inspiron Mini 9, which I wrote about 7 months ago.

This new version comes in at a base price of $399 (which is where the Mini 9 topped out). The “10” in Mini 10 denotes a 10″ screen size, which is a fairly modest increase. But unlike the Mini 9, which was saddled with a paltry 8GB SSD, the Mini 10 has a spacious 160GB HDD.  And it’s only slightly heavier at 2.86 lbs vs. 2.3 lbs for the Mini 9. That’s only about 8oz difference in weight. Nearly inconsequential at this size.

I won’t be getting one as I’m quite satisfied with my MSI Wind. But if you’re in the market, it certainly is getting crowded, which is only good for consumers. More choices = more supply.  More supply with no change in demand = lower prices and/or better features. There’s your economics lesson for the day.