Off Topic

Selecting an Online File Backup Service

I have written several times about the need for genealogists and most everyone else to make frequent backups. I strongly recommend that everyone make at least two backups of every important bit of information: one backup should be kept very near the computer where it is conveniently available when needed plus a second backup should be stored a long distance away for use in case an in-home disaster destroys both your computer and the local backup. Such disasters include fire, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and more. The second backup might be a file storage service in the cloud or simply a CD-ROM backup stored in a desk drawer in some distant location.

Actually, I believe everyone needs MORE THAN TWO BACKUPS to be stored in more than two different places. But I’ll leave that discussion for another time.

I wasn’t planning to write any more articles about backups but a newsletter reader today asked what is probably the most important question of all:

Might Dick or someone have advice on the best on line or cloud back up service

I did answer the question but decided to also copy my answer here in the newsletter in case others are wondering the same thing.

Why You Might Want to Use a Secure, Virtual Credit Card from Privacy.com

NOTE: The following article is “off topic.” That is, it contains no genealogy information. Instead, it describes a new credit card service that I have been using for a while. If you are looking for genealogy-related articles, I suggest you skip this one. If you are looking to save money and to add security to your online shopping experiences, you may be interested in this article.

virtual-credit-cardMore than 205 million Americans – more than half the population – uses online shopping. While all of these online shoppers apparently are comfortable with the security, a few others are still nervous about using credit cards online. That’s sad as millions of people prove every day that online shopping is safe.

Federal laws specify that you’ll only be liable for up to $50 of any bogus transaction. However, the credit card companies exceed this legal minimum; they will reimburse you for the first $50 as well as the remainder of the charge.

However, if someone needs a bit more assurance, a virtual credit card may be just what they need.

The Best Laptop for Traveling Is One You Can Afford to Lose

laptop_stolenThis is not a genealogy-related article. However, I wrote an article that describes a problem and a solution that I think every person who is contemplating purchasing a laptop should read. I won’t publish the article here but will mention that it is available at https://goo.gl/CvYS4i in case you would like to read it.

Will Checks Soon Disappear?

Here is another change in lifestyles that is happening around us. In the 21st century, what could be more ridiculous than checks? A paper check is a little piece of paper upon with incredibly sensitive information printed in a font from the punch-card era of computing. Anyone can easily steal money from your checking account if he or she can obtain the numbers printed along the bottom edge of your checks.

checkIf you pay by check anywhere, anyone who touches the check has access to the routing and account numbers, they are encoded on the bottom of the check in magnetic ink. It’s called the MICR line. When you pay your mortgage payment, your electric bill, or any other bill by check, a dishonest employee in the company’s mailroom can easily copy the numbers printed along the bottom edge of your checks and then have new checks printed that he or she can use to empty your checking account.

Luckily, paper checks for paying bills are fast disappearing. As genealogists/micro-historians, should we be recording this change in our lives? Our descendants will probably be fascinated that we used paper “I.O.U.s” in the good ol’ days, I.O.U.s that promised payment if given to a bank.

Happy New Year!

glowing-happy-new-year

One Year of Unlimited Amazon Cloud Drive Storage for $48 (Down from $60) Today

Today seems to be the day for “flash sales” on cloud-based file storage services. (See my other article at http://wp.me/p5Z3-4cY). Amazon announced this morning it is offering UNLIMITED storage space in Amazon Drive for one year for $48, a big reduction from the normal price of $60. However, this is a one-day sale: today only (Monday, December 5). I suspect it is for U.S. customers only although I do not see anything in the announcement about that.

amazon-cloud-drive-offer

According to the Amazon announcement, “When you upload a file or photo to Amazon Drive, you’re saving a backup copy in Amazon’s secure servers. There’s no limit to how many files you can upload, and we’ll never change or reduce the resolution of your images.”

Amazon is Offering up $50 Gift Cards when You Subscribe to a Year of Dropbox Pro for $99, Today Only

UPDATE on December 6: Amazon listed this yesterday as the “Deal of the Day” and said it was a one-day sale. However, I see this morning that Amazon is still offering it at https://goo.gl/GL0jOo. I have no idea how long the sale will last.

As I mentioned in an article last week, “Dropbox is a very popular service amongst genealogists.” This morning, Amazon announced a “flash sale” on Dropbox Pro that is only good for today (Monday, December 5): Pay $99 for a one year subscription to Dropbox Pro, including one terabyte (1,000 gigabytes) of online file storage, and receive a $50 Amazon gift card.

dropbox-offer

That is a great deal, especially as I expect the gift card will come in handy this holiday season. However, the offer is good only for new customers or for existing Dropbox customers who are using the free (2 gigabytes) service. The offer is not applicable for existing Dropbox Pro or Business accounts, such as my account. Otherwise, I would have signed up for this offer in a heartbeat.

Update: Why You Want a Do-It-Yourself Home Security System

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy-related articles, you will want to skip this one.

About two and a half years ago, I published a non-genealogy article (at https://goo.gl/GBxRTo) about the easy way to install your own home security system, also known as a burglar alarm. According to the “hit counter” on that page, the article has been one of the more popular ones I have published. All the information in the article is still true today with one major exception: the company has just announced any new customer can get $200 off SimpliSafe’s Defender Package during this holiday season.

With entry, motion, and glassbreak sensors, the SimpliSafe system is a rather complete protection system for any home. Best of all, anyone can install it; there is no requirement to string wires around the house connecting together all the various door and windows sensors. Everything is wireless and can be installed in just a few minutes.

Amazon Prime at a 20% Discount

I have written a number of times about the advantages of Amazon Prime. (Click here to see a list of my past articles that mentioned Amazon Prime.) If you are interested in joining Amazon’s wildly popular Prime service, you might want to know that Amazon is discounting the offering by 20% ($99 to $79) this Friday only, November 18, in conjunction with the exclusive premier of The Grand Tour.

amazon_primePrime usually costs $99 dollars per year, but on Friday starting at 12:00 a.m. Eastern US Time and ending at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time, it will cost $79 for the year for new members.

Here’s a quick summary of some of the best Prime perks:

Google’s Project Fi Introduces Family Plans and Discounts on Nexus 6P and 5X

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. Instead, it is about one of my other interests: saving money while simultaneously obtaining better products and/or services.

I have written several times about Google’s Project Fi cell phone service. Click here, here, here, and here to see my past articles. I have been using Project Fi for about a year and love it. It is a service that uses rather expensive cell phones and then provides high-quality but extremely low-cost cell phone service. The end result is that my total cell phone expenses have been cut dramatically over a one-year period.

Specifically, I previously paid AT&T about $1,260 a year for cell phone service with a cell phone included in that price. I had a two-year contractual minimum. If I canceled early, I would be charged major cancellation fees. Instead, I waited and purchased my new Project Fi service the same week as my old contract expired.

With Project Fi, I paid $600 for a new cell phone plus $30 a month ($360 for the first year of service), a total of $960. That obviously is a $300 savings. However, in the next year I will not need to purchase a new phone, so the second year’s expense should be only $360 for the monthly service, an annual savings of $900 per year from my old cell phone service.

Follow-up: What is Wi-Fi Calling and Why Would I Want It?

This is an update to the information given in my earlier article, What is Wi-Fi Calling and Why Would I Want It?, at http://goo.gl/RvQkHt.

In the article, I described Google’s Project Fi and how it could make cell phone calls over several different cell phone networks as well as over wi-fi networks, even switching connections in the middle of a call, if necessary. I stated “Phones for Google Project Fi are all expensive (check the latest prices as they vary often), but they are all high-end phones with the latest technology. I am using a Nexus 6P phone with Google Project Fi and love it.” In fact, Project Fi only worked on Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P phones.

Today, Google announced that the feature is coming to all Nexus cell phone users. It will no longer be limited to only the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P phones.

Google Duo Video Chat App is Now Available for Apple iOS and Android

Want to have a two-way FaceTime video chat with family members, friends, or business acquaintances? I have done this frequently to chat with my grandchildren. I am presently 9,300 miles (14,966 km) away from them but Apple FaceTime is almost as good as being there in person. Not only do I see the grandchildren but they can show me their latest artwork, clothes, and other things that grandchildren love to show their grandparents. The highlight of the last video chat was seeing where the oldest grandchild had lost her first tooth.

There has been but one problem: Apple’s FaceTime only works on Apple devices: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Macintosh systems. That became a problem when I switched to an Android cell phone a few months ago in order to save a lot of money. (See my recent article at https://goo.gl/lyFj5f for the details.) FaceTime is a wonderfully easy solution, but it isn’t available for Android.

What is Wi-Fi Calling and Why Would I Want It?

CellphoneMoneyI have a number of interests other than genealogy, perhaps too many interests. One of my major interests is using technology to simplify my life or to save money or both. In this case, I have recently used new technology to cut my monthly cell phone bills by more than 60%. In some months, it has been a 90% savings. In return, I have received better cell phone service than ever before.

Today, I wrote a rather lengthy article about my experiences. Since the topic has nothing to do with genealogy, I will not publish it here. However, if you have an interest in saving money or in receiving better cell phone service, you might be interested in reading What is Wi-Fi Calling and Why Would I Want It? in my other blog: the Privacy Blog at https://privacyblog.com/2016/08/01/what-is-wi-fi-calling-and-why-would-i-want-it/.

Virus False Positives: How Can You Be Sure?

Almost every time I write an article about some web site or perhaps about a Windows program that can be downloaded and installed on your computer, I will receive at least one email message or other report from someone saying something like, “I downloaded it but my anti-virus program says it has a virus or a trojan”

My response usually is, “Well, maybe…”

In many cases, the claim of a virus or trojan or other malware (malevolent software) is a so-called “false positive.” That is, the anti-virus program reported a problem that isn’t really there. In fact, there is no virus or other problem at all, but the anti-virus program thinks there is. All anti-virus programs will occasionally report “false positives.”

How do you determine the truth? Actually, there are several ways.

Note-taking Alternatives now that Evernote is More Expensive

This is a follow-up article to my earlier article of Changes to Evernote’s Pricing Plans at https://goo.gl/h0xHo9. Several people at the AndroidCental web site have listed their favorite note-taking programs that are competitors to Evernote. If you are thinking of switching from Evernote to something else, look at http://www.androidcentral.com/note-taking-alternatives-now-evernote-more-expensive.

I looked at the list and have tried every one of the suggested apps. I decided I will stay with Evernote. However, you might reach a different conclusion.

Your Guide to Having a Paperless Life Today

NOTE: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy-related information, I suggest you skip this article.

paperlessIf you have been reading this newsletter for a while, you probably already know that I am a fanatic for going paperless. Life without paper is great! Also, life without paper can save a lot of time and frustration when later trying to locate and retrieve items.

Genealogist – Proving Once and For All that Insanity is Hereditary

I just had to share this ad I saw on Amazon. There is truth on this t-shirt! You can get one for yourself at http://goo.gl/UPDq96.

Insanity_t-shirt

Vanessa Gunn Cancer Fund

This has nothing to do with genealogy but it is a good cause for a humanitarian project. I would like to “spread the word” and will invite you to do likewise. Quoting from GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/9bvgbuss:

A few months ago, our friends Hudson and Vanessa Gunn happily welcomed a new baby boy, Jackson, into their family. Unfortunately, as a complication of the pregnancy, Vanessa developed a rare form of fast-growing cancer called Choriocarcinoma, starting as a tumor in the uterus. It would have likely been caught sooner, however, doctors failed to catch it in it’s earlier stages.

Vanessa Gunn Cancer Fund

When they found the tumor it was baseball sized. By the time it was removed the next day, it had grown to the size of a softball. Because it is such a fast growing and moving cancer it is categorized as stage four and has already spread from the uterus to the lungs and lymph nodes. Vanessa’s heart and respiration have also been affected. Chemotherapy was started immediately after the tumor was removed and will hopefully stop further growth.

Google’s Project Fi Cell Phone Service Is Now Available Without an Invitation

Note: This article has nothing to do with genealogy. If you are looking for genealogy and history articles, I suggest you skip this one. However, this article reflects one of my other interests: telecommunications, especially low cost or no cost telephone services. I feel that we are being “ripped off” by telephone companies and by cell phone companies. A few companies offer much cheaper services that work just as well as the services from the big conglomerates. If you are interested in reducing your present telephone expenses, you may be interested in this article.

ProjectFi_logoI have written before about Google’s Project Fi, a very-low-cost cell phone service that works without roaming fees in more than 120 countries. I have been using Project Fi for several months and love it. After using Project Fi for a few weeks, I canceled my prior AT&T cell phone service that cost about $85 a month (that price included some options, such as tethering). Even better, Project Fi is a pre-pay service with no contracts; you can cancel at any time.

The new cell service from Google used to be by invitation only. However, that changed today. Now anyone can sign up for immediate access to Google Fi, according to an announcement from Jake Leichtling, Project Fi Product Manager, at https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/project-fi/FFqtY-laeFE. The company also announced the deepest discount ever on the Nexus 5X cell phone. If you buy the phone through Project Fi and activate it, you can get the normally $349 Nexus 5X for just $199. The offer is valid from today until April 7, 2016.

How to Turn Your Smartphone into a Wi-Fi Hotspot

NOTE #1: This article has nothing to do with genealogy but I will suggest that all owners of cell phones should be aware of the hotspot capabilities of their phones.

Note #2: This is an update of an article I published about 18 months ago. The cell phone business has changed since then and some of the information in the old article was no longer accurate. I updated the information to make it current and am republishing it now.

Would you like to access the web with your laptop or tablet computer while at a library or archive or most any other location? If a wi-fi network is available, that is easy to do. However, what do you do when you are not in range of a wi-fi connection? If you have a cell phone, there is an easy answer: tether the cell phone.

Tethering allows sharing the Internet connection of the cell phone with other devices, such as laptops.