Category: New Technologies

Why is a tested cloud backup solution so important?

You’ve probably heard this one before – oh, I’ve got a backup. I backup to external USB drive every day, or every week, or once a month, etc. Many people think that just backing up to a tape drive or a USB drive is still a good way to go.

There are many reasons why this is no longer the case. We’re going to talk about and disseminate many of them here in this article.

Once upon a time, people had tape drives. They backed up their servers to tapes. When they needed to restore from a tape, they had this giant library of tapes (hopefully labelled) that they’d need to sift through. If you were lucky, you’d have labelled tapes, one from each day, or maybe one from each week. You’d pop in the tape you needed to restore and restore your data. However, you’d have to reinstall your operating system first, and the tape would just get your files back that you needed – not your applications, or any licensing information, or any configuration of any of those applications.

Fast forward to today. People do file based backups on USB. They likely never run a test restore, so have no idea if the data they backup is even valid, useable or worthwhile to perform the backup. But they do it anyways, and go about their day, and never really worry or wonder about whether the USB backups they have on that USB drive that floats around between offices or sit’s on so and so’s executive computer desk is really needed or not – until the time that it is.

Few people do test restores of their data

As mentioned, it’s great that you backup to that ancient USB drive, but do you ever try to restore your data? Do you know what’s involved, or even how to restore from that USB drive? If you had to restore data from it, what kind of data can you get back and how long? Do you still need to re-install Windows or Windows server first? Are you able to recover any applications from that data?

What happens if the USB drive falls down, is lost, stolen or consumed by a disaster like a fire?

The truth is that hoarding a bunch of USB drives in the server room (labelled or not) is a vulnerable method. Vulnerable to so many things. USB drives, like all forms of technology and media degrade. This is one of the reasons why you don’t see DVD drives floating around much these days as a form of digital media – they degrade, and we can download so quickly over the Internet now they’ve become obsolete.

Having your data on any form of removable media means that it’s vulnerable. It’s vulnerable to being stolen, to someone getting curious and picking it up. It’s vulnerable to being destroyed in a disaster like a fire. It’s vulnerable to one day, just not working anymore. The drive could be dropped, or it’s just too old and computers won’t read the media anymore.

Why is cloud based backup solutions better?

A cloud based backup solution is a better solution for many reasons:

  • Data is not stored onsite. If there is a disaster, data can be restored from the cloud. Even if the building burns up and everything is lost (hopefully no human lives), all of your company data is secure in the cloud. This could mean accounting data and your customer data which is critical in order to continue running your business.
  • Some cloud based backup solutions allow you to use cloud based technologies to get up and running faster. Say that your server stops working, or there is a disaster. Cloud based solutions allow you to “spin up” a server in the cloud, which can function as a temporary or even permanent replacement to allow you to continue working.
  • Cloud based solutions can allow you to access your company files from anywhere in the world, so you can be more mobile, as opposed to all of your files and infrastructure being on-premise and being less flexible, and less mobile.
  • Solutions are available that also allow you to restore to bare metal, or as a virtual machine. If you have lost the server, or you need to restore an entire computer, operating system or server, you can do a bare metal restore which will restore the entire operating system with the files and applications the same way it was setup before. This can save hours upon hours of time to reinstall everything and re-configure it the way it was before the problem happened.


SSD hard drive provides huge performance boost

Have you put an SSD hard drive in your computer yet? Whether you’ve got a desktop or laptop, an SSD drive is really worth it. There was a time where SSD was expensive, and not worth the investment. However, now they are very affordable. Should you buy one? Yes, you should.

I’m a bit of a gamer, and I really have enjoyed the increase in speed. When I load up Windows 10, it’s blazing fast. I don’t think upgrading from 8 GB RAM to 16 GB RAM would even provide the kind of performance boost I’m seeing from adding an SSD. I purchased a Kingston A400 2.5″ 120GB SATA III TLC Internal Solid State Drive recently on sale. The drive was only $55. For another $10, I ordered a 2.5″ drive loading bay that would screw into my 3.5″ loading bay in my desktop PC. I thought the performance boost would not be that significant, but it’s massive.

One thing you’ll notice right away with SSD, is that since there is no moving parts, there’s no more whirring, twirling etc. sounds coming from your PC. The only thing you’ll hear now is the hum of your processor (assuming your fans are all in good shape and not full of junk. If not, spray some compressed air through the system).

From a gaming perspective, I noticed that my games now run in high or ultra-high graphics modes without me even having to adjust them. Before, I used to run games in medium. Why? Because that was what my computer thought it could handle – without an SSD and just a regular old SATA drive, it didn’t auto-detect that it could run games in high graphics settings modes. Now it can. You may say, well, you need a good video card for that. I recently upgraded my video card to a Geforce 1050 ti 4 GB card. Which most would say, isn’t bad. It’s kind of the starter Geforce when you get into the 10 series. And you always want to go for the 4 GB variant instead of the 2 GB variant.

I’ve listed my old Geforce 7770 card since it’s no longer being utilized in any of the PC’s I own or use – you can purchase it on if you’re interested.

I strongly recommend you also upgrade to an SSD drive. The Kingston one I mentioned is currently on sale on New Egg for $55, which is a great deal.

But what about the storage capacity – 120 GB isn’t a lot?

You’re right, 120 GB isn’t a lot of space. The concept with SSD drives is, just install your OS to it, and install everything else to your secondary drive. Put a 500 GB or 1 TB standard SATA drive into the desktop as your second drive; this will become your D drive or E drive, etc. Then, put all your music onto that secondary. New games? Install them to the secondary.

If you use Steam like I do, you can also get something called Steam library which will allow you to install Steam games, as well as move existing installed Steam games to a secondary drive (instead of C drive). Otherwise, Steam tends to install everything to the primary system drive by default.

Will speech recognition assistants like Alexa catch on?

iPhone users would kick a get out of this headline, thinking, “well, it already HAS caught on. I have Siri and blah blah blah…” right? Speech recognition systems such as Alexa and Siri probably still have a long way to go, but would you purchase one of these for use in your home? It’s one thing when Apple already provides Siri free with the iPhone. But if you have to pay in order to purchase a robot to talk to and order things for you, would you do it?

The challenge with these speech recognition systems is they still can’t really interconnect with everything in your home. Let’s say they could. When that happens, the robot will be able to turn your heat up and down, unlock the doors to your home, open windows and close them, turn the over on or off, start making a cup of coffee…the ideas are endless. Someday, this is where things could be when the Internet of Things really starts to take off. However, these speech recognition systems are still too early – they’re just not useful enough yet to warrant a purchase by many.

You will also find hesitation to purchase in the minds of consumers because of the security component. Siri does collect information about us in order to offer us different products. Siri knows what we like and thus, Apple now knows what we like. Too big brother? Well, it’s true. If you’ve ever seen the movie Minority Report, our future will be just like that. The big corporations want to know what we eat, what we do for work, our buying habits, what we like, our hobbies, etc. The more that the consumer industry knows about us, the more they can target their ads more effectively against things that we like.

Big Data and Advertising

If you’ve ever seen the movie Minority Report, you may remember the futuristic advertising. The advertising that we will see in the future is likely similar to this – in fact, it’s already there in many respects.

Even Google does this now, and has for many years as it relates to advertisements displaying on websites, too. Google keeps track of what websites you visit and will show you ads based on what Google thinks you would be interested in purchasing.

AMD Releases new Ryzen Chip with Vega 11 Graphics

I was excited to hear about AMD releasing this new chipset recently. Just released in Feb, AMD has put onto market a Ryzen chip which has intergrated vega 11 graphics on board. Pretty cool, basically what it means is that you can take advantage of the onboard GPU capability with any motherboard with intergrated graphics. The Vega 11 GPU is about equal to a $75 discrete graphics card with 2 GB of RAM.

Some users have reported that you have to go into the BIOS and change the RAM that is assigned against the onboard card by BIOS. Some users have also reported having to flash their BIOS before they can use the chip. This makes sense, because since the chip is new, only motherboards being manufactured after the chip has been produced will be compatible with the chip, unless the user flashes their BIOS in order to read the new chip.

With that being said, the Ryzen 5 2400G is a solid buy right now at around $200. Very affordable chipset that will challenge the i5 processor from Intel. The power utilization on the Ryzen 5 2400G is also pretty good.

If you are considering buying a Ryzen 5 2400G to try out the mining capability; doing some Googling you will find that the hash rates with this technology are not much better than your average CPU. Mining is done at the GPU level, and even with Nice Hash mining against the CPU and onboard GPU, the total payout is around 50 cents a day USD… so it is likely you will not break even.

With that being said, perhaps dropping a few GPU’s on top of that may be worthwhile, but you will not get significant mining capability out of just this CPU. Hopefully AMD continues to improve on this technology and perhaps soon we may see Ryzen chips with multiple GPU capabilities out of the box!

Bitcoin slides means mining amount less, but good time to invest

If you have any money invested in Bitcoin or are mining any currencies, you may have noticed that the currency fell to about $8,000 today. It’s down from it’s recent high of $12,000 USD per bitcoin. There are many reasons for Bitcoin’s value being somewhat depreciated at this time. Keep in mind however though, that this time last year that a single Bitcoin was only worth around $400 or $500 USD. Imagine if you invested at that time?

Bitcoin’s value has grown in leaps and bounds since that time. If you consider it’s value at this time last year as mentioned, it’s not a big deal really that the value of a Bitcoin isn’t as high as it was a couple of months ago. Announcements by different governments in the world about how they envision Bitcoin being utilized has recently impacted the currency. “Negative waves,” as it were, play out in the media and before the politician who supposedly made a statement is able to respond, the media blows up that statement.

Whenever Bitcoin is mentioned in the media with politicians making statements about the future of the currency, the worst is automatically assumed by the masses which triggers a drop in the currency.

With that being said, Bitcoin may face some slumps here and there but ultimately the currency has gained value in a huge way in the last 1-2 years. However, people had better act soon because mining may soon become a thing of the past with the way that the future of blockchain is being discussed.

Automation didn’t replace customer service – Customer Service Simply Failed

Yes – or, it imploded. People have given up on customer service. I’ve given up on customer service. Customer service has given up on itself.

What am I talking about? Let’s look at McDonald’s, or your local bank, or…the just eat app. More and more people want instant access to their product or service. Fast food isn’t much different. It’s instant gratification. Click, click, swipe and my order is in. Recently, I visited McDonald’s and I used their kiosk to place my order. Wow, it was fast, easy and kind of fun. I really liked how I could see the price of every single thing as I clicked it in the menu. I could bulld and configure my burger anyway I wanted it. And there was no medium inbetween, no human who could potentially hear me incorrectly or foul up the order due to a communication issue.

It’s simple. Machines are better at listening and taking input from human beings, than human beings are at listening to each other. It’s true though! There’s no room for error in your order when you plot it into the computer. It can’t be interpreted or communicated wrong. If it still gets made wrong, it’s because someone didn’t read the ticket. And there’s far less chance of that happening. My order just seemed so streamlined when placing it at the Kiosk. Super easy, and I can then see on a big screen which orders are being made. So simple. There was no waiting in line and no having to yell over loud noises in the back. I also didn’t feel pressured that someone is behind me, waiting to place their order. I thought to myself, why didn’t they introduce this method a long time ago.

Now the reverse of that coin. Those kiosks mean that there are less people now employed at McDonald’s to take orders. True. Another example of machines starting to replace the customer service industry. Technology that takes input from humans, and does it better than humans ever could.

There are people who are an exception to the rule. You know the ones I’m talking about. Those people that when you’re at McDonald’s, they’re talking to everyone, they’re getting people to smile, they’re cracking jokes etc. But you don’t find a lot of those kind of people in the world anymore. It’s unfortunate really.

Moving onto another example. There’s some of us in the world who are just shocked at how well Amazon is doing. People want to emulate Amazon, they want to “be the next Amazon.” My advice is keep dreaming, it’s been done. Amazon is now so large, that it would be quite difficult for anyone to dislodge them from what they do in the industry. You can’t be the next Amazon – you have to have a unique idea. Amazon has the e-commerce game cornered.

You want to know why? Because customer service has failed. You go to the store. You search for something in this huge massive store and can’t find anyone to help you find it. When you do eventually find someone, they point in a general direction and then hurriedly run off in another direction. Sound familiar? This is the scene in pretty much all department stores. I recently went to the Bay and I talked to three or four different staff, all giving ideas and pointing in general directions but not a single person said they would come with me to help me find what I was looking for. In the end, the product I was looking for was all sold out. I left the store with nothing purchased.

This is a real problem. There should be a golden rule in the retail world that says, if someone is coming into your store, SELL THEM SOMETHING. Talk to them. Ask them what they’re looking for. I always hear people say, “Can I help you?” Instead, why don’t people ask “Hi how are you this evening, is there something in particular you are looking for tonight?” I would love to train people in department stores. You need to ask the right questions – questions that get you results.

But seriously, you can’t have people leave your store and not buy anything. That’s a huge no-no. You just lost out on a super targeted lead, foot traffic from someone who likely already knows what they want (because people tend to shop online now before purchasing), and who knows when that person will be back. Maybe, because they didn’t find what they wanted, it might be a long time. That person may just live around the corner from your store, but they might not come back for 6 months because they just found it was so big and hard to find things.

Whereas if I just go online, I can find what I want pretty quick. The only downside is I have to wait 1-2 days or more for it to ship out. When that delay is removed, and people can get what they want the same day, retail is going to have a huge problem on their hands.

But what I find when it comes to customer service in retail – people simply don’t care anymore. They don’t get paid commissions in the retail world, and this is the problem. IF people were paid commissions for selling, they would give two nickels to try and make a sale and get paid out on it. There’s no incentive for people to perform as sales people. The sales world and the customer service world will soon be dead, replaced by automatic order systems such as the ones you see at McDonald’s.

The death of the sales and customer service industry will be swift and it will be deafening, and it has already started.

New Amazon Smart TV provides more than 15,000 channels

The Smart TV? It’s a smart investment. When you can purchase a larger TV for less than a $500 price point, and have a powerhouse of subscription bundling built in, you have a win-win scenario.

Enter the Amazon Element 43 inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV. These TVs went onto the market in June 2017, and they’re already getting a lot of buzz. When I purchased a TV not many years ago, I paid more than this for a 40″ LCD TV. I had USB, but I did not have Internet connectivity where I could stream shows and access live content. What you gain these days from the subscription perspective, truly makes the purchase worth it.

Amazon Fire Smart TV

This new Amazon TV is a fantastic  investment, providing a fantastic subscription with tons of bundled channels.

Amazon brings to life the next level Smart TV experience. This TV provides a 4k UHD picture, which is beautiful and has over 8 million pixels. For the price tag on this unit, you get a lot which is really worthwhile. This is a 43 inch TV, but also a subscription powerhouse all built into one. FireTV is built into Amazon’s offering, providing access to over 15,000 channels, applications and more. If you are an Amazon prime member, you also will have access to Amazon Prime unlocked. This provides access to thousands of movies and TV episodes, all bundled in.

This 43″ 4K UHD TV comes with the following ports, and also other ports:

4 x HDMI 2.0 to provide lots of capable input devices.

  • USB 2.0
  • USB 3.0
  • SD Card
  • Ethernet for access to Internet
  • Headphone optical audio out
  • Composite/component

While you’re waiting for this new Smart TV to hit the market – why not consider 3 all-new fire tablets in the mean time? With the Fire 7 at a low price point of $49.99, this tablet is priced very competitively.

How mobile app technologies like Uber are creating industry disruption

It’s not long before mobile application technologies change the face of today’s society as we know it. Uber, as an example, is already creating that change. The buzzword today is “disruption.” Uber is just the first example of this disruption. Taxi drivers around the world probably did not predict that their occupation could become more challenging, and less rewarding due to circumstances that they cannot control. Uber is just an example of one ridesharing program – there are others, such as Lyft. Lyft is gaining popularity in the U.S .

Ridesharing programs are gaining adoption in Canada, in major metropolitan areas. The younger generation is obviously a much faster adopter in this premise. However, these kind of technologies are not to be ignored. Cab and taxi drivers the world over have quickly become obsolete – just like computers become obsolete quickly, a new technology such as Uber is turning all kinds of people and businesses into obsolete ones too.

So what can the cab and taxi industries do to combat this shift in consumer mindset? Not a lot, honestly. Uber has them beat. Uber intergrates with Google Maps to provide an all-in experience. Drivers have access to Google maps while in their car, which automatically loads directions and street locations from Uber. Drivers can choose to follow the prompts in the app – or, if they feel they know a faster way, they can try the way they know, too. Uber rewards drivers for dropping off their fare as quickly as possible and moving onto the next.

This is a shift in culture that taxi drivers were not prepared for. Until now, taxi drivers made more money the longer someone stayed in the vehicle. Not only that, but taxi drivers always knew their own way around. This has resulted in many riders over the years commenting that the taxi driver went the slowest way possible, in order to run up the meter.

There are many who would say that the taxi industry was in need of a wake up call – that they had a monopoly on the transportation fare industry, and that it’s simply time for a change.