A few quick thoughts as we take steps to prepare for the possible Tsunami today....
- First and foremost please make sure that you and your family and neighbors are safe and prepared. Stay away from the beaches (Tsunamis are NOT surfable waves).
- If you have any empty water bottles, now is a good time to fill them. Just in case we lose access to water.
- Charge any portable devices. Laptops, phones, cameras, anything that provides heat, light or communication.
- Make sure you know where your candles and matches are.
- Stay off the roads. There are people who really NEED to be on the roads because they are evacuating or they are workers responding to issues. Let's not get in their way.
- Unplug any unnecessary devices. Less load on the grid can only be a good thing.
- Now is a good time to double-check your data backups - just in case something happens to your computer.
- Rather than make phone calls, consider texting, Tweeting (http://www.twitter.com) or using social media like Facebook to keep in contact with family and friends. That will reduce the congestion on our phone system.
Hopefully this will turn out to be much ado about nothing. But better safe than sorry.
As always, if there is anything Roland Schorr & Tower can help you with, please feel free to contact us. You can call or text me at 808-782-6306 or via twitter @bschorr.
Best wishes and aloha,
Just a quick heads up, some previews of the Microsoft Office 2010 suite are being posted over at OfficeForLawyers.com. Office 2010 looks to be a great new version of the suite and a lot of firms that have held off on Office 2007 will probably want to jump right to Office 2010 when it ships this summer.
Yes, it's true. I unfollowed THE BillGates. Why? Well...because he didn't tweet anything I found interesting or useful. Don't get me wrong, I think his foundation does wonderful work. I've even donated to it myself. I like Bill well enough personally. I think he's a really smart guy.
But I had hoped to get more insights into technology or the direction he sees personal productivity moving in. Maybe some commentary on cloud computing or what the Google/China flap means. But no, unfortunately his twitter feed is...well...exactly what he said it would be. A few tentative comments on the work his foundation is doing.
Wonderful work. But nothing actionable or insightful there for me. And I don't follow people just to have impressive names on my follow list.
So what DO I use Twitter for? Well two things really:
1. I follow business colleagues and smart thinkers who tweet, at least occasionally something particularly insightful or interesting. A link to an article I might have otherwise missed, a comment or thought that sparks some useful thoughts for me, maybe an idea that resonates.
2. I follow hashtags for things that are relevent for me. If I'm at a conference I'll follow the conference hashtag to read what other attendees are seeing/hearing/thinking about the event. If I'm interested in an event or a product I'll follow those keywords or hashtags to get other people's perspectives on those things.
Twitter is a convenient way to share what you're thinking or seeing or feeling. But I have to be very selective about who or what I follow, otherwise it just turns into a river of noise. I don't auto-follow people. I don't follow celebrities. I only follow people who at least occasionally say something I find valuable. And hopefully the people who follow me think that I occasionally say something valuable to them.
If you want to follow me (or unfollow me) I tweet at @bschorr.
Good backups can cover for all manner of sins. As a result they are the most imporant element of any business continuity or disaster recovery plan. Every modern Windows system already contains basic backup software that can backup automatically every night, every week or even every hour if you really insist upon doing that. So does the Mac.
A Simple Plan
Here's a simple backup plan for home users and very small businesses. Larger companies should check with their IT staff to discuss what their plan should be.
Back up your files to an external device - preferably an external hard drive. Prices on them have plummeted - you can get a 1Terabyte external hard drive that connects to your computer via USB for well under $150 these days. Buy two. Back up to one each night. Once a week, take one of them home (or to some other secured location that isn't where your computer is) and bring the other back so that you're rotating the drives. That way in case of fire, flood or other substantial building disaster you're never more than a week behind on your data.
The Job's Not Done Until The Test Is Run
But backing up is only half the job. You need to periodically TEST your backups. How often? At least quarterly I think, plus and every time you make a change to the backup job to make sure it's still working properly.
1. Create a dummy file in your file system. It can just be a Word document, text file, spreadsheet...doesn't matter. It can have one word it it. Doesn't matter. Just a dummy file. Name the file something like "TEST FILE FOR BACKUPS". Something that makes it clear to you what it is. Save it right alongside your regular documents.
2. Let that file get backed up as part of your normal backup rotation.
3. Every now and then, maybe quarterly, go and delete that dummy test file.
4. Then try to restore that file from your backups. If you can't do it then either your backups aren't working or you don't know how to restore from them properly. Either of those conditions need to be addressed promptly. If you CAN successfully restore the file then you know that your backups ARE working and that you're perfectly capable of restoring files on-demand.
Isn't that a nice feeling?
Information is power. If you want to empower people, educate them - give them information and help them build knowledge. When I was a kid if we wanted to read an encyclopedia either our parents had to shell out big bucks for a long shelf of books that were going to sit there and stagnate (every year they sent a "Yearbook" that updated the content) or we had to go to the public library - which wasn't always convenient and where as often as not the page I needed was torn from the book.
Today, we have Wikipedia. Think about what Wikipedia is for just a second - it is a free, always available (if you have Internet access) encyclopedia covering nearly every topic imaginable. There are articles in a number of different languages. It aspires to be, and is not terribly far from, the greatest collection of human knowledge on the planet - available in almost real time, to anybody, for free.
It is updated in nearly real time. I once heard a speaker say that if you live near a significant bridge there is probably a Wikipedia entry for that bridge that tells the history of the bridge, who built it, how many cars drive across it each day, probably even has a few pictures of the bridge. If you drive across that bridge one day on your way home and in your rear-view mirror you see the bridge collapse, by the time you get home if you were to access the Wikipedia entry for that bridge you will see that it already lists the date and time of collapse and may even have pictures of the damage.
And it's not JUST an encyclopedia. The WikiMedia foundation has books online, quotes, learning tools, free media like pictures, sounds and video. A free dictionary, a free Wikispecies project with more than 125,000 entries in it!
Is Wikipedia perfect? No, certainly not. It's greatest strength, the fact that anybody can edit it at any time (almost), is also it's greatest weakness. Allowing any fool to edit the articles means that a lot of fools do. It's only through the vigilence of capable and passionate (largely volunteer) editors that the content doesn't veer wildly to the totally inaccurate. Anything you read on Wikipedia should be independantly verified with at least one other source before being relied upon. However more often than not the content on Wikipedia is correct and it gets better every hour of every day. And as a source of information to millions of people, especially school children, who would otherwise have had no acccess to it, Wikipedia is an invaluable start.
Call to Action
So...here's my call to action. It's in the form of two steps. Take either or both.
1. Wikipedia may be free to access, but it's not free to maintain. It does cost money to run the servers and pay their skeleton crew of staff. Click the link above and make a tax-deductible donation. Yes, they take credit cards or Paypal. I made a donation, you should too.
2. Pick an article on a subject you're passionate about. It could be Joan of Arc or Remote Controlled Helicopters or the Boston Red Sox or...anything. Read the article. If you have something to contribute on the topic that isn't there - post it! Add to the collected knowledge. See a mistake? Correct it. Adopt that article, if you will - and become one of the volunteer editors. All it takes is a minute or so a week, to check in on your article, make sure any new changes are appropriate and correct. Add a little content here and there, make the article as good and useful as it can be for others.
You don't have to only pick one article, if you have time and interest you can pick several! I personally contribute to about half a dozen different articles on WIDELY different topics. The attention of passionate and intelligent people is the cure for Wikipedia's primary ill - occasional inaccurate information.
Wikipedia is an amazing, I daresay world-changing, resource. Even with its warts and flaws. Let's all support it.