End User column: Out of Range, Out of Mind

No, it has nothing to do with the iPhone. Yeah, right. Next time there will hopefully be something else to talk about.

BTW, I’ve helped two clients work with three iPhones, and they do rock, but we’ve definitely run into some limitations. I’m looking forward to the software updates, and to the next generation.

Published in San Antonio Current, July 4, 2007

Roswell, NM, two days before release of the iPhone — Yes, I asked if this motel room included wifi. Today, I asked. Yes, they have it, or at least they feature it, but today, it’s out. You’ll like this: They claim it’s out due to “a few car accidents.” I’m still picturing that.

Phone signal’s gone, too. I’m writing from a dial-up connection. Feh.

Thankfully, I have saved upgrading my notebook until autumn; some modern laptops don’t even include modems anymore.

Sunday, July 1 — Now we know: Should you buy an iPhone? If you’re a person who would right now spend $500 on the coolest gadget on the planet to entertain yourself, hie thee to the Apple Store. At just the right size and weight, the device does what it does marvelously. I found it responsive — snappy, says the geek — and almost tactile. Browsing the web on the big, bright screen kicks butt, typing works pretty well, and the audio/video experience cannot be beat. The iPhone owners I have talked to this weekend knew what they were getting, and while some had to overcome minor hurdles to get going with it, they’re generally very pleased.

If you wanted, however, to consider that $500 a business expense to make you a better, stronger, faster thing-doer, then you might want to wait. Among the iPhone’s failings, for example, the fact that it won’t cut, copy, paste, or even select text tops my list. I’d go crazy not being able to grab a snippet from a web page or easily forward just a portion of an email. Very strange, Penny Lane. So, I didn’t buy one, and I’ll have to wait for 2.0.

OK, no more iPhone today, I promise.

Avoid the worst day of your life: File this under “mundane, but vital.” If you store anything of value on your computer, you should know that storage is doomed to fail. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, Ilsa, but hard drives (the main storage mechanisms inside computers) are extremely delicate, and many are faulty right out of the factory.

Please, please, please backup, backup, backup: Always keep multiple copies of everything, and in at least two different places.

To start with, do yourself a favor and go to Mozy.com to sign up for 2 gigabytes of free online backup for personal use. They offer very smooth software for Mac and Windows that waits until you’re not touching your computer, then it backs up any files, or categories of files, you choose.

Extra cool: If you refer a friend to Mozy, they should enter your email address when they sign up, and you will each get an extra 256 megabytes of free storage.

Mozy Pro for business use starts at only $4.45 a month for 1Gb. One lovely alternative is, surprisingly, Amazon’s S3 (“Simple Storage Service”), which costs $0.15/Gb/month. Other online backup services exist, but they tend toward pricey.

It would take too long to back up your whole computer across the internet, so I encourage (read: rabidly demand) that everyone buy at least one “external hard drive” to sit next to your machine and receive daily automatic backups. CompUSA carries several models, as does the Apple Store. Then it’s best to download and set up software to make the backups happen for you. Grab a geek if you need help there.

(Microsoft Windows has semi-OK backup software built in, and Apple’s next version of Mac OS X will include something new and purportedly very snazzy called Time Machine.)

Finally, to be thorough, upload all those precious photos to a site such as flickr.com or picasaweb.google.com. They offer more space than most people will ever need, and you can make images either public or private.

Then kick back and congratulate your wise self. You’re safe to surf.

Next time: nothing about the frickin’ iPhone, maybe.

Jonathan Marcus publishes online at themacwhisperer.blogspot.com.

Author: jjmarcus

Mac Whisperer, Cloud Integrator, Gadget Wrangler, Content Beautifier

One thought on “End User column: Out of Range, Out of Mind”

  1. Keep preaching that backup gospel! Hopefully Time Machine will make it easier for people to listen to. C’mon, Leopard — the iPhone’s out now, so put all those pilfered engineers back on OS X!

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