A Tech Quartet

It’s been some time since I shared some tech discoveries with you. While it rains here, I’m culling the list onto which I fling unconsidered trifles for later consideration; and four things have survived to be passed on to you.

  1. After a lifetime of living dangerously, I now back up my machine routinely. In fact, I’ve turned into a belt and suspenders kind of guy about it (the English have it as “belt and braces,” which sounds better IMHO), backing up to a peripheral hard drive and also to an online backup service. I find that the latter takes a healthy bite out of my ISP’s bandwidth allowance, what with Netflix and all, so I’m considering dropping it.

    I do make use of Dropbox, speaking of dropping; and if I’m wise about what I choose to float to the cloud, I might switch suspenders, as it were, and lower my bandwidth usage. But I might also harden my peripheral instead.

    The theory is that two backups are better than one because if your main hard drive and one backup drive both fail, you still have the other, obviously. That catastrophe seems more likely to happen as a result of theft or fire than it does from coincidental technical collapse. [UPDATE: I’m assuming here that you’re protected against a big electrical surge.] So I’m intrigued by ioSafe, which markets a variety of rugged, “disaster proof” hard drives. Indeed, some of these fireproof, waterproof (and possibly crushproof) drives can be bolted to a secure surface, covering all likely disasters. Best of all, you can get a terabyte of this security for under $200. [hat tip to Dave Bilinsky for this.]

  2. Another kind of security is available by using an ephemeral product. 10 Minute Mail gives you a fresh email address that survives for ten minutes. During that window of time messages to and from that account are managed on a web page that accompanies the address. The point? It allows you to register for various sites risk free, that is, without the fear that your real email address will be donated to spammers.

    Of course, the downside to this is that it enables some people to drop unsavoury comments on websites and avoid any come-backs. But I know Slaw readers will only use their powers for good. Right?

  3. As we all know, often to our chagrin, technology has enabled pretty much anyone to show us slides of his vacation construct visuals, most commonly in PowerPoint presentations or on websites. And as Edward Tufte has taught us, presenting information visually is not an easy thing to do well. It might help you to see in overview many of the various ways possible to present data visually. If so, have a gander at the Periodic Table of Visualization Methods.

    Here you’ll find a hundred or so techniques arranged by style or method, as if in the periodic table. Each is illustrated so that you get to see what a Petri Net is and how Porter’s Value Chain is constructed.

  4. Finally, TypeWith.me offers one of the simplest synchronous document collaboration sites I’ve seen. You begin your document, email out the URL to collaborators, and watch as each differently-coloured participant massages the document. There’s an ability to save particular revisions and visit them later; and an ability to go back in time using the timeline slider. When you’re satisfied, you can import and export most common document formats.

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