Thursday, September 03, 2009

Transfer Large Files

I needed to transfer a 300+ MB file from one computer to another over the Internet.  Typically there a a few options available to me for this purpose but in the particular case none of those worked.

So I begin a search for Transferring Large files and I found an article that reviewed some tools for doing this.  I tried to leave it up in a browser so I could post a link to it but last night my computer loaded some updates and reboot and now I can’t find it again.  If I do I will post it. 

One of the options I came across and have used before was .  The problem was this has a limit of something like 100 MB and most of the solutions have such a limit unless you pay for a subscription.  I don’t need a subscription to do this like 2 times a year. 

A couple of the options caught my eye because they allowed for pretty large files and you didn’t even have to register or give them your name.

One that I tried was this was pretty cool.  I believe it would transfer 1GB files for free.  You tell it the file name and give them an email to send it to.  They upload the file to their storage using Amazon S3 technology (which is basically Amazon selling huge amounts of internet storage for little money).  The only problem I had was not knowing it it was uploading.  This size file would take over an hour to upload and the status meter just froze.  Of course as the site says this is in Beta so it may or may not have been working but I wasn’t patient.

The winner, and the one I ended up using was  It worked great.  You tell it which file to send and it gives you a web address for the recipient to go to to begin the transfer.  You don’t give them  any other info and the file doesn’t go onto their servers.  It is transferred directly from one computer to another.  And the best news is it gave me a progress meter that worked (but it is also still in Beta).  It’s free too.  However for free you only get a transfer rate of 512 Kbps.  I suppose that could be adequate but I went ahead and  bought what they called a speedpass.  I was under the gun and it was getting late so didn’t want to take a chance that it would be super slow.  With a speedpass it will transfer as fast as 3 Mbps (depending on the sending and receiving network setup).  I purchased a 24 hour speedpass for $.99.  Less than a dollar and my 300+ MB file transferred in about 1 hour.  It worked like a charm and I thought I would share it.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Sometimes life just meshes

So We’ve been working on a test.  This test went well.  We started about 7 months ago or so but I don’t remember the exact date.  Here was the issue…

We are a small business with a few computers in the office, Laptops are key because we take them with us wherever we go.  But like a lot of people we don’t have great backups.  We don’t have a server currently (although we have in the past).  We also don’t have a good tape backup system in case everything crashes, even though I recommend them for some customers our resources don’t require it.  In the past we kept files on the laptops backed up to the server.  We bought an external drive to keep some files backed up but only had one drive to share between computers which doesn’t really work that well.  Also it doesn’t work great to have an external drive for each computer because it becomes difficult to know where a file is or should be.  We are small but do need to share files sometimes which without a server didn’t work well.  Then a hard drive crashed on one laptop and although many files are on the External drive there were still some key things lost.

So we had tried a few different ways of working around these issues and then I came across an notification of a new product by Microsoft called Mesh (  They say Sync, Share, Access.

I thought this could help.  So first step was install the mesh app on our laptops (need a Live ID for this such as a hotmail account etc.)  So by doing that and setting up some mesh folders for my important docs I now have an Internet backup of my files for free up to 5 Gigabytes.  This is very cool -- one big problem down.  Now if my hard drive crashes I still have my files in “the cloud”.  I previously played with Microsoft’s Skydrive and this is a cool tool but you have to upload the files you want to backup and download them if you want to use them.  Skydrive can work well for archiving files that I don’t access regularly or for placing files I need when at a customers office such as drivers or some work files.  However with Mesh I just use the files on my computer (in the mesh folders) and if I change them they are automatically synched for me.  I hope they expand the size to 25 GB like Skydrive did. 

Now the next step in the test.   Sync was taken care of now for Share.  We created a folder which we can share.  So we have files in this folder which all of us can work on.  If I open the file and make a change I then save it, once it is synched the others can open it and see the changes I made.  Very cool and we don’t even have to be in the same building on the same network.  Of course these days everybody is all on the same network and that is the point isn’t it.  So Share worked out great for us.  We work on the same files without having to worry about version copies or duplicates getting confused.

The next step is Access but I haven’t played with that because I always have my laptop around and I don’t need to access it remotely.  Maybe someday I’ll test that feature as well but just with the Sync and Share I’m a happy person.  A lot of problems are solved and Microsoft has a winner.  This is the future of the Internet, there are other takes on the subject and we will see more done in this world of mass-collaboration.  This one is simple and worked wonders for me.  Solves some of my problems and if you think ahead actually provides many new opportunities for me to collaborate with others.  Maybe someday you and I will have a shared folder.  Then our lives will Mesh!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Make sure your business is listed in an Internet search!

Last Sunday I found out about another great tool for businesses. And it’s FREE! Ever go searching online for a local veterinarian or plumber? Remember how cool it was when you typed the city, state, and business category … and …voila – a list of businesses appeared for you to research? I probably use that type of search every day for one reason or another. In the back of my mind I’ve wondered if I could list my business there as well. Turns out I can, and so can you.

Google and Microsoft (Bing) both offer the opportunity to plug businesses into their search engines for local business searches. Google’s option is in their Local Business Center ( and Microsoft Bing is in their Local Listing Center ( The two services are virtually identical and allow you to create a business listing for your business complete with address, phone, website, email, and a brief description of your product or services. They even show where you are on a map! I think that’s pretty cool. I don’t know why, but all this technology stuff still excites me! You can also input additional details about your business including your business category (type of business), operating hours, and the payment options that you allow. Upload a video (next on my list!) or pictures; input other information such as parking availability and the brands that you carry. They even leave some blank fields for you to add information relevant to your business specifically. Your information is validated with a phone call (Google - be sure to be right by the phone because they call immediately) or by mailing you a post card (Google or Bing). Simple as that. Oh, did I mention, IT’S FREE!

If you have a business and don’t want to pay a fortune (I mean a fortune!) to advertise in the yellow pages, this is the way to go. I mean how many of you actually go to one of those old paper phone books that they still to this day deliver to your doorstep when looking for a business? Not me, when I’m looking for someone to repair my leaky faucet, the first place I go is to the internet. And the search engines I use are Google and Bing. Now when your prospective customers are looking for your product or service, maybe they’ll see your Local Business Listing and give you a call. That big phone book is good for other things though, like giving your little ones a boost at the table or killing flies! Save a tree, list your business in the online search engines. Being internet savvy is being “green”!

[Chester Adds] On the Google Local Business Center you can also enter coupons! That’s right you can offer a special deal on your super-duper whatever for the month of August and hopefully generate a little extra business from the people who find you in a search. Google AdWords will cost you, but these Local Business Center Coupons are also… FREE. Ok, maybe you already knew all of this and if you did, how come you didn’t tell us? We want to make sure all of you who have small (or even big) businesses know about this feature. Even if you run a side business out of your house you can list your business, direct people to your website or blog, and offer coupons to first time customers without doing anything more than spending a little of your time to set it up. And I would like to see Kristin kill a fly with a phone book… a person could hurt themselves doing that.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Costco refills InkJet Printer Cartridges

Ok maybe you already knew this.  I’ve seen places that refill Ink Cartridges but my thinking was I wonder if you really get a good deal and if the quality is any good. 

Then I’m walking in Costco and saw a sign that says we refill print cartridges now.  I didn’t go WOW or anything but it somehow stuck.  My wife says to me, “we need to purchase some new ink cartridges for the printer” and POP there came back the memory.  Extra bonus was that my wife had been saving cartridges because she was going to donate them or recycle them or something.  So I take the cartridges over to Costco and they refilled them in about 20 minutes.  One of the color cartridges wouldn’t refill properly. 

So the whole thing cost about a third of what it would have cost to buy new.  I trust Costco more than some other place.  Apparently not all Costcos provide this service.  Also from calling around a little I found that some of the Costcos send it out to a store that does do it and it can take 3 days to turn them around.  Usually this service is done in the One Hour Photo section of the store. 

I thought this was pretty cool.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What can you do with twitter? Shop til you drop.

I have seen people ask questions about and the quick answer is twitter is a micro-blogging tool giving you 140 characters to write whatever you want.  But then you just kind of look around and say, so!  None-the-less twitter has become popular so you have to figure that there must be more.  In technology all great companies are not just building something cool but providing a platform on which very cool stuff can be added.  So twitter is apparently providing such a platform.

Just found out about this new service which is based on twitter and can help you find answers while shopping.  You can send a question and get answers within minutes, Techcrunch calls it a shopping 411 service.  If you can twitter mobile then you can get your info while out at the store.  If you are shopping on your computer you get it there. 

I don’t know about you but when I am shopping I have a bunch of questions, this could very well be helpful. (You can go to this site to see what they say about themselves and see some of the questions people are asking.  When I looked somebody asked “Where can I get Oaxaca Mole paste in the bay area?”  It had been asked 9 minutes before and was already answered with two locations to try.) (on twitter you can see what’s happening and follow them) (Techcruch’s posting about this new service.

Have fun shopping, and now you are not alone.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Does saving money mean cutting back quality?

In a word NO, at least I don’t think so.  It can mean that-- but today, or really at any point in history it doesn’t really mean that the quality of your product/service has to become worse.  In fact I believe that often when we go through tough economic times we find out what is necessary and cut out fat – or unproductive efforts.  Often once we find out what is really important and focus on that, we actually improve the quality of our service.  For some reason when times are good we bloat as companies (and often as people).

Challenge: If your business is currently hurting due to tough economics then take some of the free time you probably now have to reconsider your operation.  Look at what is important.  Try to think of better ways to take care of your customers.  When you do this consider using cheaper technology to help (as a technology person for 25 years I believe today we have some of the coolest and cheapest technology available right now for operating, marketing and accounting for your business).

I did this back a while ago.  I considered my business of supporting customers corporate networks:  People wanted to use their networks but often when they just jump in without rules or a plan they mess up their computers and the costs to support their systems were climbing.  I wanted to help but I couldn’t see providing my service for free or lowering my hourly rate.

So, I reconsidered the whole thing.  I came up with an idea I called proAktivR.  In this plan I felt that I could monitor some key functions on a corporate network for a flat amount each month and that this would lower my customers support costs.  Added to this would be some rules that the computer users should follow (and then of course monitor if they are indeed following those rules).  This isn’t about restricting they way people use their computers to perform their jobs, it is about keeping computers running to perform the job and doing so at less cost.  Every company has slightly different rules because people need to be able to do different things.  Sorry if this sounds like an advertisement I probably could have come up with other examples but this one is close to me, so it’s more personal.

This is what I’m talking about.  Cut costs but not the quality.  This may be a bad example because people won’t want to hear it but it’s like a DIET.  You often don’t need to eat less just eat different.  If you are eating High Sugar, High Carb foods that process through your system quickly and don’t provide the proper nutrition you need you won’t be operating at peek performance and you may be more bloated than if you ate better proteins, better carbs and more vegetables.  Both eating plans will keep your tummy full but they are very different. 

Maybe it’s time for business to change it’s eating plan.  It’s definitely time to become more creative.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Inspiration from the Depression

A little bit ago I read a book about the Great Depression and posted about it,  I gave some reasons that I found it depressing.  Those are probably still valid but today I am finding a really cool benefit about studying that time period in our history. 

You know how if you go look at a car in the showroom all the sudden you seem to start seeing those kind of cars everywhere.  Well that's happening in this subject.  I seem to come across stories about business from the era of the Great Depression.  I have to admit that my reason for reading the book and studying the subject was that I figured some people came out of the Depression ok.  Not everybody had to suffer.  Well the stories that keep coming up are of people hurt financially during the Depression who struck out and started a new business and succeeded.  I was reading about a guy who actually started a Stock Brokerage in 1930 (1929 was the big crash).  He actually made a living doing it.

This has been exciting to me and as I look around now I don't see as much despair I see opportunities.  In fact there are likely opportunities in the very areas that are hurting the most, if history has any bearing on this situation.  It's very difficult for me to explain how excited I actually am as I look around and think... what if!  I'm not noticing the problems -- I'm seeing opportunities and that is very liberating.  Something else I wrote about before is that our thoughts become our realities and boy that means good times are ahead not bad one.  Keep your head up, notice the opportunity and get excited.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Sometimes computer support is humorous

Like the other day I was taking calls from different customers.  One customer had a situation in which email attachments had become blocked and they couldn't be opened.  I tried to say that wasn't all bad because of the rash of virus' problems we are having with attachments.  They wanted the situation remedied anyway so they could open attachments.  Then later I get a call from another customer who just had their computer wiped out by a virus from an email attachment.  Ok maybe it's not funny but it's interesting how things like that work out.