Time for an Update?

Wow, life has changed a lot for me in the last few weeks.  New home, new job, friends moved away, friends moving closer, new responsibilities, letting go of the past…

You’d think I would have filled up the Internet with posts in my usual tell-all style.  Unfortunately, all this change has me so busy I haven’t found the time to make a post!

So, while I try to get myself together, why not enjoy this totally relevant cartoon and then click it to view the entire archive of Toothpaste For Dinner, one of the best online stick figure blogs out there. 😛

The Computer Demands a Blog

An Apple “Genius”

Much of my time here in Texas, at work, has been spent catching all the computers up to speed. System updates, hardware upgrades and troubleshooting problems that have gone unresolved.

We have in the past, up until recently, had a former Apple Genius as the office IT guy. We were referred to him by an Apple Store in Austin where he had worked before going independent doing contract work in the city.

Our office is just outside Austin by about two hours, he didn’t mind getting paid to drive out here and the relationship seemed to be a match made in heaven. Previous IT guys had been pretty underwhelming and unreliable, though none had been cheap.

The new guy worked great for a good while, but as the honeymoon period began its end, and as I became aware of his style of work… well let’s just say he no longer works here.

As far as a cost-cutting IT guy, he was probably the worst. He purchased unnecessary hardware and software and inflated his hours worked significantly. He would consider setting up an automated backup system a job that lasted until the backup was complete. Never mind it’s more of a set-it-and-forget-it kind of deal.

With some people having a laptop and a desktop computer, the question on how to properly keep them in sync came up. Having one computer with a necessary document and then needed it on the other computer… well it just wasn’t a good system. Emailing files back and forth between the computers was a waste of time, and as we all know, time is money.

His solution was to buy a synchronization software/hardware combo kit. Basically a double-ended USB cable that would connect two computers together and synchronize specific folders.

In theory this works but in reality, not even close. It neglected email. It required both computers to be in working order, turned on, next to each other, with open USB ports and a user to manually hit sync each and every time.

No one ever did this. Each computer duo cost $100 for this and not a single person used it. Well that was a waste of money. The system was stupid enough that I don’t really blame anyone who decided to just continue emailing themselves.

My solution?

Switch email from POP to IMAP. Switch server from our webhost to Google‘s hosted apps. Now all email accounts are kept in sync between their computers and the web interface, which is the best webmail interface I’ve ever used. Better than WindowsLive, for us at least.

Synchronizing computers was as simply as Syncplicity (until it left the Apple market.) Now we use SugarSync. For the price of the USB device our “genius” bought for each computer, we have two years of backup and synchronization service from SugarSync. Not only are all the users’ files kept in sync, their versions are kept in sync as a sort of historical sync. Accidentally made a bad design choice in a document that you’ve just saved? Go to the file manager and select a previous version! It’s that simple. Plus you can access your files from nearly any cellphone on the market with special apps available for iPhone and Android phones.

There have been literally dozens of cases where this former Apple Genius just totally screwed up but tonight the kicker was just beautiful.

He bragged and bragged about the system he had setup to backup our server. He said how he had it backed up twice so if one drive failed, the other would be safe, if the computer crashed and took an external drive with it, we’d have another backup… backup.

What he failed to notice was the absolutely critical flaw in this system.

The OSX server had scripts running to backup the entire server to two separate external hard drives. One drive was on FireWire, the other USB 2.0. Everyday at 9pm, the FireWire drive would make a copy of the entire server disk. As soon as that script completed, the USB 2.0 drive would do the same.

Two copies, two backups, sounds good right?

Ahh, but what if, now hear me out on this, what if someone deleted all the files off the server? A disgruntled employee logged in from home and decided to wipe us out, a virus writes the main hard drive as 000000000000000000 then 11111111111111111 then 000000000000000000 again. We’ve got two backups right?

No. We have two empty drives. Why? Because at 9pm the FireWire drive wrote itself 000000000000000000. Then, an hour or so later, the USB 2.0 drive wrote itself 000000000000000000.

We now have three 000000000000000000’d hard drives. Hooray! No data whatsoever. This kinda reminds me of the old OLD IT guy that reused magnetic tapes over and over again to backup our server, then placed the stereo that served up the music for the office phones/lounge area next to it. The magnet in the speakers connected to the magnetic backup machine erased the data off the tapes just as quickly as it was putting it on there!

My solution?

The FireWire drive will
syncronize every night at 9pm. Synchronizing means it won’t be re-writing the entire drive every single night, just the changed files. This puts less stress on the drive and decreases the chance of error and drive failure.

Every week at midnight, the USB 2.0 drive will backup the entire disk. By backing up the entire drive, and not synchronizing, it can have two copies of the disks. One for every week and one that’s updated every month.

Now, if the server turns into a whole bunch of 0’s from a bug, hacker or former employee (hopefully former at that point!) the backup hard drive will have the previous week’s backup as well as the previous month’s. The FireWire synchronization drive may or may not have been compromised, depends on the time of day really. If we fail to catch the hack or attack, the backup drive really has us covered. But what if the backup drive fails and the sync drive has been rewritten as a bunch of 0’s?

Well, the entire server is now being backed up online via SugarSync. We can access the files at anytime, from any computer, but only admins have read/write. Employees at home have read only access. This provides a safe, secure, offsite backup in the case of catastrophic damage.

Now, the system isn’t foolproof by any means. If someone wrote 0’s to the server and the sync drive followed suite, and so did SugarSync, and then they deleted, damaged or stole the backup, or if its drive just flat out failed, we would be SOL. But that’s entirely unlikely.

For a former Apple Genius, this guy sure wasn’t smart.

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What a Trip So Far

This trip to Texas has been just absolutely fantastic. While I’m missing Ryan more and more everyday, I’m accomplishing so much, preparing contacts and opportunity for my future and having an overall great time.

Today I continued my summer tour of professional photography studios.  The one I went to today was hands down the nicest, most inspiring I’ve seen, in-my-life.

14,000 square feet, three stages, two full sized commercial kitchens, a pool, a pond, an atrium, a vegetable and herb garden, fruit trees, and to top it off, a THX certified theater speaker system. The whole outfit is likely worth around $10,000,000. Currently I’m about $9,997,000 short on building my own…

Tomorrow morning I drive back to the hill country, do some more work, then head BACK to Houston for my birthday (August 2) and then BACK again to the hill country and then BACK again to Houston to fly home to Columbia.

I’ve driven quite a bit on this trip… A little too much if you ask me.  But at least I did it in style! LoL

Sure do wish I could take the car home with me to Missouri… I’m getting used to it haha.  Alas, it’s work’s car and I will soon turn over the keys and go back to driving my Honda Accord.  I love my car but you get a taste of luxury and it sticks.

Speaking of which, I should get to sleep, I’ve got a four hour drive in that car starting early in the morning!  Catch you on the flip side.  Oh and go to the photoblog to see some of the new pics.

I’ve Been Busy

Work has been crazy, but also a blast.  Hopefully this weekend I’ll have some downtime to write about all that’s been going on in the last few weeks, including the awesome Tweetup had in San Francisco.

Meanwhile… I was in Delores Park in San Francisco a few weeks ago… remind me of the Eye of Providence… see it?

Not Getting Paid Enough

The work I do I really enjoy.  I have such a great gig.  I get to work wherever there is an internet connection and a power outlet that only has to be within four hours of my seat.  I get to travel and eat out at fancy restaurants when on those trips.  There are even times that I get to stretch my creative legs and do some pretty new things in advertising.

I guess, really the only problem is that I don’t get paid enough for the work that I do.  It is 3:45am on Tuesday morning and I am up because I haven’t gone to sleep yet.  I’ve been working on a presentation that as of this evening became due this morning before the work day begins on the east coast.

So yeah, it’s been a long night and technically it should be about three to five hours longer but I’m going to probably call it in.  I need to be making nearly an infinite amount more than I am right now, at least that’s what I think.  I just don’t know how to ask for the money.

How do you ask your employer for a raise.  From working on spec to working hourly or salary.  My employer always loves my work, but if they don’t get the contract for their clients, I don’t get paid.  It would make sense if I wrote the advertising plan but that isn’t always the case.  In this latest situation all I did was create the presentation materials from the Keynote to the design of the proposal and hand outs.

Typically anything outside of those are outsourced to a fantastic graphic designer, but for presentation’s sake and since we were on such a deadline, I did the design of all the extra materials.  Think posters, brochures, etc.

I’m doing the work of at least two people and up to the work of five.  Oh my, how do I fix this situation?  I can’t keep working on spec!  I haven’t finished my degree at Mizzou so I also can’t go to another agency, though I wouldn’t anyway.  My loyalty is with the one I work for now and it is very likely that I could take over the company within five to ten years.  So yeah, don’t wanna jump the horse.

Thoughts?  Suggestions?

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The Proposal

This trip to Raleigh to meet with my hopefully new client was a good one.  We presented our proposal to board members and it went off without a hitch.  We were all a little nervous that the projector wouldn’t work, that the computers might glitch up…  Just about anything could happen.

We arrived at the restaurant where we would later show of our presentation, set up the computers, screen and projector and just sat tight for a bit, going over the presentation one last time and making a few last minute changes.

The members arrived around 7:00 and I was pleased to meet them.  Most all of them were very familiar with my mother who has worked for them for about seven years.  She has since retired and it has kind of been up to me to take her place.

Big shoes to fill for sure.  It makes me the third generation in our family to work for this client and for the first time in over 15 years we have competition.

Our proposal detailed how we would take the client from print and television advertising and into the digital revolution utilizing sits and services like GoogleAds, Facebook, YouTube, WordPress Blogs and several other options including Twitter and Woopra.

This was almost all foreign to the board.  While a couple of board members have their own websites, most stopped at having an email address, which they may or may not know how to work.

Explaining each of the aspects of the proposal, even something with the name Really Simple Syndication (RSS) was anything but simple.

In the end I think they really dug the ideas we presented, mixing the usual print and television advertising with new media advertising.  Only time will tell.  It could be as soon as July 15 that we know where their votes are headed but as late as August.

Wish me luck!

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