Tag Archives: Twitter

Things Worth Backing Up: The Nightmares Fear Factory Flickr Stream

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Nightmares-Niagara-Falls-pic0084Welcome to Things Worth Backing Up: a segment in which we highlight services or accounts that we find especially backup-worthy.

In the spirit of Halloween today’s entry is the Flickr stream of the Nightmares Factory.

The Nightmares Fear Factory is a Haunted House located near Niagara Falls. Nightmares had a problem: how to show people how scary their haunted house is without giving away all the attractions? Their answer, as it turned out, was  simple: take a picture of people totally freaking out at the last scare right before the lights come on.

The results are amazing (personal favorite). It’s also a great little piece of social marketing. Not only does it give you proof that Nightmares is in fact a terrifying attraction where literally thousands of people are scared, but by providing a constantly updating stream of Flickr photos they manage to keep people coming back and checking out the site throughout the Halloween season.

Have a favorite Flickr stream, Twitter feed or blogger account you think is worth backing up? Send it in!

Google Releases Reseller API to Make Life Easy for Channel Partners

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English: Two persons shaking handGoogle is making great strides when it comes to working with the channel. In addition to continuing to invest in resources and tools (and having great products), this week they announced a new Google Apps Reseller API, making it easier for resellers to add new customers, transfer customers, etc.

Being easy to work with is an important consideration for the channel when looking at their technology vendor choices. If two solutions are similar in terms of functionality, market demand and the economic potential, the channel will often err towards those vendors who are reducing the friction when it comes to working together. Making it easier for their customers to sign up for and deploy Google Apps will only help as Microsoft pushes Office 365 through the channel.

Streamlining the purchase process is only one way in which Google (and other vendors) should be making it easier for resellers to work with them. Technology vendors need to focus on improving the processes before the prospect considers their solution and afterwards, when their channel partners deploy and manage their solutions.Like Google, Backupify has had a reseller portal since the initial release of our Backupify for Google Apps solution. Short of having Backupify installed as an optional choice for every new Google Apps user, we wanted to make it easy for resellers to add and manage new Backupify users’ accounts.

Backupify is a Gold sponsor of the gSocial Conference, an independent group of Google Apps resellers and ISVs meeting in Sunnyvale, CA next month. If you have questions about the new Google Apps Reseller API, there’s likely no better place to meet peers and professionals with insider knowledge of the new functionality.

How to Setup and Manage An Effective Google Site

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Google Sites

The following is a guest post by Backupify customer Kyle Horst, Lead Designer at Kirksville Web Design, which has been designing and developing Google Sites since 2009. Kirksville Web Design is on Twitter @GoogleSitesWD, Google Plus at +Kirksville Web Design, and the Google Apps Marketplace.

Google Sites is a very versatile web-building platform but, in order to have a successful web experience, it requires clear design standards. There are universal standards for web design – clear navigation, well-organized page text and images, and a sense of style that matches the organization’s brand. So whether a client needs a company intranet or a public website, adhering to design best practices will result in a quality product.

Here are 4 tips IT admins can use to best manage a Google Site

Simplicity in Navigation

Managing a Google Site shouldn’t take a lot of an IT admin’s time, but when setting up a Google Site, attention needs to be paid to structure and design. Google Sites can become an unwieldy platform if it isn’t well organized. Instead of creating a sidebar with 500 links, narrow down your navigation to several categories with dropdown menus. Presenting too many options up front can be overwhelming, and many admins fall into that routine.

Multiple Google Sites

Another tip to consider is if you should create multiple Google Sites instead of one massive intranet. Although page permissions are available, it can be easier to manage tangent sites when accessibility permissions are important.

Permissions and Accessibility

I definitely recommend that admins spend time getting acquainted with the Site Permissions and Page Permissions accessibility options for Google Sites. The Site Permissions are really intuitive and you can quickly share a site to a private group, the whole company or the whole world. There are three levels of permissions for a Google Site: Owner (total permission), Editor (Change page content), and Viewer (Can view).

Perhaps less intuitive are the Page Permissions settings. You can enable this for an individual Google Site. This option is particularly useful for creating pages for levels within the company. For example, sharing the Finance Department pages with only the Finance Group from your Google Apps Contact Directory. No one else will even see the page in the navigation unless they have permission to view it. You can create offshoots of content for special groups and allow the Finance Director to be an editor of these pages but not the whole site. Basically, you can be selective and that’s a powerful feature for companies using Google Sites for intranet.

Design and Branding

Google Sites has some quick and easy ways to make this webspace your own. First of all, there is the upload logo option in the Site Layout. Also, take a good look at the Fonts and Colors options, you can use any custom colors via hexcode on all sorts of parts of the Google Site. Typically, I just use the wrapper background image and base background image to create a header and footer treatment for the website. If you don’t have the graphic skills to pull off a professional-class header, just stick with the basics. Simplicity is more beautiful that an overworked or cheesy-looking attempt at a graphic.

Overall, remember that a Google Sites website represents the organization it belongs to. Making it look like it matches the organization’s brand creates a reassuring message to the internal customers that this is a well-maintained, authorized, respectable resource. A Google Site that looks professional and is easy to navigate generates more interaction and use.

After Two Years of Living in the Cloud, I Wouldn’t Be (Completely) Mad If I Lost My Computer

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MSI laptop computer

At Backupify, we’re one of those companies that believes in “eating our own dog food.” We preach that, with a proper backup, there’s no reason you can’t rely on the cloud as your primary data storage system. That’s a fine thing to say if we’re not living up to that standard ourselves, which is why everyone at Backupify uses Google Apps for their business emails and documents, and we all use online storage rather than local hard drives for our business data. (Our CEO was even crazy enough to intentionally delete, then restore, his entire Gmail account, just to prove how much we trust the cloud.)

I’m not afraid to admit that, when I first started working here, the idea of saving data anywhere but my hard drive seemed crazy. Having been at Backupify now for nearly two and a half years, I’ve learned that moving all my data to the cloud — whether it’s photos, contacts, emails or documents — is actually an easy and very convenient way to work. Soon after joining the company back in May 2010, I (reluctantly) moved all my Microsoft Word documents to Google Drive (it was still called Google Docs back then), started using just Gmail as my main email client and started hosting all my photos on sites like Flickr.

So when I say I won’t be upset if my laptop was gone, no, I’m not asking you to come steal my computer. It’s just that I have become so accustomed to using everything in the cloud that even if my computer one day disappeared, I would not lose much of anything in terms of data.

All of my current local computer files are synced on both Google Drive and Dropbox, which allows me to access these files anywhere, even on my phone. Dropbox also works great for me since I have both a personal and work computer. If I start working with a document on one computer, I can easily access it on the second machine. Being a very on-the-go person who does a lot of work while traveling, this is extremely helpful to me.

Then (and this is probably a given) to protect my online data, I use Backupify. I currently back up my Twitter, Facebook, Google Apps, Flickr and Picasa accounts on Backupify. If I ever accidentally delete an email (which I have embarassingly done on occasion), Twitter goes down for an unforeseen amount of time, a friend leaves Facebook and takes their tagged pictures of me with them, etc., I still have access to that data via Backupify.

Backupify actually came into great use for me recently (and saved my bacon) while I was importing files and applications to my new work computer. I had to install a few Gmail accounts in iMail on my new Mac but forgot the passwords. I panicked for about a half second, then realized if I went into my Gmail archives, I could easily find the email to help me reset my password. Simple as that.

I seek simplicity wherever and whenever I can. The cloud (Google Drive, Dropbox and Backupify, specifically) solve this for me. I can rest assured that whenever I am working on something online or offline, it will be saved and secured.

I find total peace of mind that my data will always be available to me, no matter where I am or what device I am using. This is a HUGE relief, because if I was to ever lose a document or online file, my work would be significantly compromised. You can take my computer (please don’t), but you can’t take my data. That’s my personal lesson after two years of living in the cloud.

The 3 Lessons Learned from Mat Honan’s Epic Data Loss

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Fake Steve T-ShirtUntil this week, Mat Honan was just a well-regarded tech writer with a solid following at Gizmodo and Wired. Today, thanks to one of the worst public hack attacks in recent memory, Mat is now the poster child for the risks of online data — and the need for both data security and data backup.

The details of Honan’s account are as involved as they are brutal, but it boils down to this: A hacker got ahold of just one of Honan’s passwords and, since nearly all his online accounts were connected in some fashion, used that information to access and then summarily delete everything in his Gmail archive and remotely wipe all the local data on his MacBook, iPad and iPhone.

All his email messages, gone. All his documents and apps and music, deleted. All the photos of Honan’s daughter, lost — perhaps forever.

There are three lessons from Honan’s ordeal, hopefully none of which you need to learn from personal experience.

Lesson 1: You Can Get Hacked Even If Every System You Use is Secure

Honan lost everything because of a quirk in how Apple and Amazon’s customer service protocols overlapped. The information that Amazon publicly divulged — the last four digits of Honan’s credit card number — was all that the hackers needed to confirm his identity at Apple and gain access to his iCloud account. With control of just that one account, the hackers simply performed a series of forgotten password resets to gain access to every connected service — and trash all of Honan’s data along the way.

Now, Apple and Amazon could have been more secure (and they’ve already updated their security policies in the wake of Honan’s loss), but their procedures protected each of their respective systems in isolation. It was the combination of Apple and Amazon’s security weaknesses that led to Honan’s assault. Exactly who is at fault is a matter of heated debate, but suffice it to say, it was the unexpected combination of two security policies that led to the failure of both. Amazon’s systems protected Amazon, Apple’s protocols protected Apple, but Amazon and Apple didn’t protect each other. Those are the kinds of emergent risks only the most studious security pros (and hackers) see coming.

Honan’s only “mistake” here was using the same credit card for both Amazon and Apple. Almost no one would see that as a serious security risk. What other risks don’t (or won’t) you see coming?

Lesson 2: You Can Get Hacked for Reasons You’d Never Expect

Some have suggested that Mat Honan was hacked specifically because he writes for Wired and Gizmodo, thus making him a high-profile target — perfect for hackers looking to gain attention and street cred. The only problem is that Honan actually talked to one member of the hacking crew in the process of trying to wrestle back control of his accounts, and the attacker admitted Honan’s status with Gizmodo and Wired was totally immaterial. Honan hadn’t offended or intruded on the hacking group in any way. He was guilty of only one thing that made him worthy of the attack: Honan has a three-letter Twitter handle, @mat.

Every three-character Twitter name has long since been claimed, and the ones in active use are somewhat prized among the tech set. Honan was targeted simply because he had a cool Twitter name and the hackers wanted to see if they could take it from him. All the rest of the account thefts and data wipes were done to either gain access to Honan’s Twitter handle or prevent Honan from having the tools to get his Twitter account back.

Honan’s only offense was having something someone else wanted, for reasons he’d never expect. Who is to say you won’t attract the attention of similar attackers?

Lesson 3: Everyone, and Everything, Needs Backup

Mat Honan is one of the most technically astute journalists you’re likely to come across. He understands security and redundancy. The hackers were able to wipe his MacBook and iPhone by turning some of Honan’s own security measures against him — those devices have remote data-purge features in case they’re ever stolen, so thieves can’t get personal information off your hard drives. Honan lost data because he had protections in place; how’s that for irony?

Nonetheless, even a smart guy like Honan, someone who knows how online systems work, was vulnerable to data loss. And he wasn’t prepared for it. Here are Honan’s own words:

“I had done some pretty stupid things. Things you shouldn’t do.

“I should have been regularly backing up my MacBook. Because I wasn’t doing that, if all the photos from the first year and a half of my daughter’s life are ultimately lost, I will have only myself to blame. …

“The weird thing is, I’m not even especially angry at [the hackers] in the attack. I’m mostly mad at myself. I’m mad as hell for not backing up my data. I’m sad, and shocked, and feel that I am ultimately to blame for that loss.”

Mat Honan, through very little fault of his own, is now the ultimate cautionary tale for the necessity of backup. You can’t predict when or why or how your data will be corrupted or destroyed; even using totally secure systems and keeping a low, inoffensive profile are not enough to spare you from unexpected attacks and data disasters. Ultimately, the only way to be sure you don’t lose data is to have it stored in as many places as possible, with as many copies as possible. And, at the end of the day, the responsibility for protecting your data is yours, and yours alone.

Hope you’ve got a good backup plan.