Backing Up to the Cloud and More

Post by Mark

A few days ago a friend asked me how I backup my computer files and I realized its a subject other people might be interested in. Everyone should have some sort of backup and if you aren’t backing up your files then you should get on it asap. My setup is a bit complicated just because I’m extra safe and super paranoid about hard drives failing and files getting deleted. So, I currently have all my data backed up to the following:

In my house:
2 x 1TB External Hard Drives
10TB Synology 5-Bay Server (pictured above)

Cloud Storage:
Apple iCloud
Amazon Glacier
Microsoft OneDrive

For those of you who don’t know what Cloud storage is, it’s basically storage over the internet.

Home Backup
First just to give you an idea of what I’m doing at home in terms of backing up. I have two Macs, my main workstation which is an iMac, and my MacBook Pro laptop which I use mostly for browsing the web and working on client designs every now and then. I don’t backup my laptop since I don’t save any files on it but my iMac on the other hand gets backed up daily onto two external hard drives. Why two? Because in case one drive fails, I have a backup drive. What doesn’t get backed up onto this hard drive are my clients design files. I do freelance branding work and all my clients files are stored on my 5-bay server. The reason for this is so I could access them from both my computers at home and also access the files from anywhere over internet (my server is connected online). The server has 5 drives but 1 drive is a safety net, so in case one drive fails on the server, the 5th one saves the day and I don’t lose any of my clients work. So when it comes to backing up locally at home I’m pretty much doing ok, but I also feel a lot more comfortable knowing all my important files are also saved to the Cloud.

Apple iCloud
The only important files my iMac has is my iPhoto library that contains nearly half a million photos. Basically nearly all the photos I’ve ever taken since my first digital camera. Because I’m pretty paranoid about losing the photos, other than the two hard drives the photos get backed up onto daily, I also back my photos onto Apple’s iCloud. That way in case my house burns down, I still have access to my photos. The reason I am using iCloud and not another service is because its one of the few ways to retain the file structure of the image library. It’s also the easiest way of backing up my photos to the Cloud.

Amazon Glacier
Now another thing you should know about me, I hate deleting files, I have nearly every file I’ve created or downloaded since the late 90s. I guess I’m a digital hoarder of a sort. I don’t have any use for these files anymore other than for nostalgic reasons and so these files are located on my home server which I can access anytime I’m looking for anything specific. Just to be safe I’ve also backed up these files onto the Cloud. They aren’t files that get updated and they aren’t files that I need access to frequently so I’m using Amazon’s Glacier service to back them up into the Cloud. Amazon offer a number of Cloud options, Glacier is their cheapest one but comes with limitations like it takes 3-5 hours to retrieve a file from the Cloud. But since I only need to retrieve data in case of a server failure at home, that isn’t a big deal. How cheap is Amazon Glacier? $0.007 $0.004 per gigabyte per month, so around 100fils a month for 70GB.

Microsoft OneDrive
Finally, I use Google Drive to backup all my clients branding work. I have my home server setup to backup all my clients files onto the Cloud every 30 minutes. This has a number of benefits. For one it’s a safety measure, in case something happens to my server at home, my clients files are safe in the Cloud. The second benefit is in case of a power outage. Last year I faced a number of long power outages in my neighborhood and during one incident I was working on a clients project. I ended up having to push back a deadline (I never pushback deadlines) because my iMac switched off and so did my server so I didn’t have access to the files. If I had my files on OneDrive as well, I could have just gotten on my laptop, connected online and gotten access to my clients files and continued working on them. The reason I’m using OneDrive and not Google Drive for this is because I get 1TB of storage with my Microsoft Office monthly membership. I could use Google Drive, I have no personal preference they’re both great.

So what should you use?
I don’t think there is one solution that fits everyone, it really depends on what you want to do and what you want to backup. Mac users will probably find iCloud the most convenient but because it doesn’t give me much control I actually find iCloud super complicated to use. I barely understand how the whole iCloud photo sharing/backup system work and I’m constantly worried I’ll click on a wrong button and end up wiping out all my photos. So iCloud freaks me out that way.

Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive would probably be the easiest for majority of users. Everyone has a Gmail account so you already have Google Drive and if you’re legally using Microsoft Office, then you also already have OneDrive. You can use both these services like external hard drives where you just drag and drop folders and files onto them or use software to automatically backup your files daily or as often as you like onto them. At the very very very least, if you’re not backing your stuff onto the Cloud you should be backing up your files onto an external hard drive. It’s super easy to do, on Mac’s you just plug in a new empty hard drive and it will ask you if you want to use it as a backup drive, that’s how easy it is so there is no reason why you shouldn’t be backing up your files.

Let me know if you have any questions.


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Double Jump: A Pirate’s Influence

Post by Patrick

After a long hiatus Double Jump is finally back. When we launched the podcast we were following an uninspired format that was problematic for a couple of reasons. Recording once every week was an issue and so the topics we’d discuss were outdated by the time we sat down to talk about them. We took a break to figure out what direction we wanted to take the podcast in. What we decided on is to focus more on conversational topics that we think are worth discussing and that are less time sensitive.

In this weeks episode we talk about video game piracy and how it influenced our taste in video games growing up. What genre’s or what games we played that we normally would not have tried if we had to pay full price. Back in the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s, piracy in the Middle East was the norm and it was everywhere. As kids we didn’t know any better and our parents didn’t really care, it was something we were all used too. You’d go to Rihab and the majority of the stores sold pirated games until it evolved into what it is today.

Play in browser | iTunes | Android | Download | RSS

Posted by Patrick


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Oculus Rift in Kuwait

Post by Mark

oculus

Yesterday I noticed Fantasy World was selling the Oculus Rift virtual reality system. I’m not sure they’re being sold anywhere else but the price at Fantasy World is a ridiculous KD399. I say ridiculous because you could order it from Amazon UK and have it shipped to you directly to Kuwait for just KD194 including customs which is half the price. Here is the Amazon [Link]


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Buy and Sell Bitcoins with Knet

Post by Mark

bitoasis

BitOasis, the UAE based Bitcoin exchange backed by the DCG (Digital Currency Group) out of New York have now added support for KNET and exchanging bitcoin into Kuwaiti Dinars.

bitoasis2

Bitcoin has many benefits and is considered by many the future of currency. Some of the advantages of Bitcoin include anonymity during purchase, meaning there is no digital trace linking a person to a transaction, similar to when paying for an item in cash. Another advantage is that nobody owns Bitcoin, not an individual, not a company, not a government, bank or any other financial institute. This means no one can freeze your account, take any money from it or stop you from performing transactions.

If you’re interested, check out the BitOasis website [Here]

Thanks Abdullateef


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Game Review: No Man’s Sky

Post by Patrick

No-Man's-Sky_20160817171917

No Man’s Sky is a exploration and survival game that takes place in a procedurally generated universe that features 18 quintillion planets. You have your own space ship that allows you to fly from planet to planet, galaxy to galaxy, discovering new planets, animals and plants, while trading with various different races.

No-Man's-Sky_20160808182018

The game starts off by placing you on a random planet with a broken spaceship. Your first task is to look for resources to help you repair your ship and take off from the planet. This first area serves as a light tutorial that should help you get a grip on the games loop. After you successfully take off from the first planet, the universe opens up to you and you can either choose to follow on the games set path to the center of the universe or you can choose travel to any galaxy and any planet you like as long as you have the fuel.

The problem with having procedurally generated content though is that a players experience is based off luck and chance. I’ve seen people complain that planets look the same, feel the same and there is truth in that, but my personal experience has differed. I’ve been lucky enough to discover a wide variety of planets, ranging from planets that have nearly zero life on them with intense weather to planets teeming with life. So even though I’ve seen planets that look similar, I’ve also been lucky enough to see enough variety that I’m still interested in exploring and taking screenshots of planets I like.

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Wireless Charging at IKEA

Post by Mark

wirelesscharging

IKEA Kuwait now have their wireless charging range available including their wireless charging pads and furniture with built-in wireless charging spots. I read about these products last year but didn’t think they were launching them so soon. You can now for example buy a bedside lamp that includes a wireless charging spot so in the evening all you need to do is put your phone on the lamp base and it will start charging. It’s simpler than having to plug your phone into a charger and it also means less wire clutter.

Some phones already have wireless charging built in but if your phone doesn’t (like iPhones) then you’re going to have to purchase one of their covers to use with their furniture. If this interests you, here is a link to the IKEA Kuwait product page which has more information on it. [Link]


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Gaming Podcast: Double Jump Episode 1.5

Post by Patrick

The official second episode of Double Jump has been delayed indefinitely because one of my co-hosts just got married. So until things settle back down with him, here’s a solo episode I recorded a while back. In the podcast I discuss a few 3DS games I’ve been playing, the closure of Lionhead Studios and the Nintendo Direct. Recording solo was a challenge since I’m used to having discussions with co-hosts, but it was an interesting experience nevertheless. Talking to myself for half an hour felt like I was back in school presenting a project to a class.

We’ll be recording “.5” episodes whenever there’s a lull in recording either due to busy schedules or if we have a few ideas that don’t fit into the main show. Recording this episode made me realize that I’d have to use a different format than the one we use for our full episodes so instead of discussing what I’m playing and the news, solo episodes will focus on one specific topic. So until we get back on track with our main show, I’ll be recording more solo episodes and should have another one recorded this week.

Until then, enjoy!

iTunes | Android | RSS | Play in New Window | Download

Post by Patrick


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Introducing Double Jump!

Post by Patrick

Dj4

I’ve been interested in Podcasts for the longest time but I was always hesitant to get into it because I’m more of a writer than a speaker. But then I ended up meeting some of the guys from the LuckyGG Arabic gaming podcast who encouraged me to take a chance and start my own Podcast especially since there aren’t many English podcasts about video games in this region.

I co-created the podcast with Yaqoub Al- Hussaini who is one of the hosts of LuckyGG and we’re also joined by Abdullah Boushehri also from LuckyGG. The goal of Double Jump is to discuss games we’ve been playing, news that we find interesting and regional news that we feel like our listeners would be interested in. The goal is to record an episode a week and publish it every Wednesday. These episodes will be two hours long.

Dj4

I’m also planning on recording Double Jump episodes where I’m on my own and some episodes with a different co-host each week but this is still a work in progress, hopefully I’ll be able to start publishing those episodes sometimes mid-March.

We recorded and published our first episode last week and I’ve linked to it at the end of this post. We’re learning as we go and I think Yaqoub and Abdullah both did a great job especially since English isn’t their first language. I also appreciate the fact that they’re willing to go out of their comfort zone for me. I’m learning a lot after listening to just this one episode and feedback is always welcomed so feel free to leave a comment with suggestions or thoughts.

In this first episode we discuss a variety of games, mainly The Division Beta and Street Fighter V. We also discuss some major news that came out these past few weeks like the pricing of the HTC Vive. Our first episode is available everywhere!

iTunes | Android | RSS | Play in New Window | Download

Posted by Patrick


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My Favorites of CES 2016

Post by Mark

ces2016

Last week Huawei sent me to CES 2016 in Las Vegas to cover the experience for my blog. The Consumer Electronics Show is one of the largest electronics shows that takes place during the year and the largest event that takes place in Las Vegas period. If you checked any electronics or gadgets blog last week like Gizmodo or The Verge then you were probably overwhelmed by all the CES related posts that they published. Well I’m not going to do the same here, instead I’m going to highlight just some of my favorite things I saw at CES this year.

ces1

The whole experience was insane since the Las Vegas Convention Center is HUMONGOUS. I thought the watch expo Basel World was huge when I visited it in 2013 but CES is so much larger. It’s hard to explain how big it is, I mean just the lobby of one of the halls was larger than any of the halls at the Kuwait International Fair Ground. CES was so huge that it took me more than 2 hours of fast walking to cover all the halls and then after I left I found out I had even missed one hall completely. There was so much stimulation everywhere I looked that I felt like I was having out of body experience at one point.

Anyway, below are some of the things that stuck out for me, if you follow me on twitter (@mark248am) then you’ve probably already seen most of the below but with less details.

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Review: Sphero BB-8

Post by Patrick

DSC_7253

With the release of Star Wars Force Awaken, a lot of new Star Wars merchandise has gone on sale like clothing, Lego’s (the Millennium Falcon is KD170!), new figurines and now a new addition, the Sphero BB-8. Being a big Star Wars I’m pretty much on cloud nine. Not only was The Force Awakens a great movie, the new toys look great and even the clothing isn’t bad at all. So I was excited to test out the BB-8 and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked.

Photo-Dec-27,-10-26-02-AM

So what’s so cool about the Sphero BB-8? You can control it using your smartphone and it’s compatible with both iOS and Android devices so no one is left out. This little guy can move fast and can take a beating. When I first tested it out, the first thing that popped into my head was that BB-8 would make a great (albeit expensive) toy for my cat. It was impressive watching it speed across the floor especially that the BB-8’s head is attached to the body using a magnet and two little wheels so it stays in place while the rest of the body rolls. It has barely fallen off, even as I’ve hit the wall multiple times and the legs of chairs. The body itself has an “upright” position that corrects itself with the help of the stabilizers that are part of the internal mechanism. There’s also a gyroscope and accelerometer that will assist in controlling BB-8 by being aware of its movements and make subtle and slight adjustments to help you out.

Photo-Dec-22,-8-41-20-PM

If you get tired of controlling it you can set it to patrol mode. Patrol mode works similar to the way a Roomba does. The BB-8 will roam around your room on its own and will move around objects, like chair legs or people. What’s cool is that there is an event log that that lets you know if BB-8 hit a wall or detected an object.

BB8

The price tag for the BB-8 is steep, it costs KD69. Ultimately, this is a cool piece of tech, but it’s not something I would play with everyday. Right now I have it on my shelf next to my Samus figurine and my Super Mario Amiibo and sometimes I’ll tease my cat with it once in a while, but at the end of the day it’s a glorified figurine. House guests will find it impressive and it makes for an interesting topic of discussion. I love the BB-8 and it’s unique in a world of cheap toys. It’s a Star Wars toy that can be enjoyed by kids and adults.

If you’re interested in the Sphero BB-8, it’s available at the Avenue’s branch of Fantasy World which has a new section catered towards adults called THE EDGE. Fantasy World also has the largest collection of Star Wars toys that I’ve seen in Kuwait so far, including nice figurines of Kylo Ren, Finn and Rey.

Post by Patrick

Full Disclosure: The Sphero BB-8 was provided by Fantasy World to review on the blog.


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