Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Survival Planning :: Back up your data

Oops!, Oh no! Argh!, Huh? *thud*

These are the sounds most often heard after a loss of data, either through accidental deletion, or a hardware failure ...

That is, unless you have an effective data backup strategy in place.

Source: Image by 3D Stuart Miles

It used to be that backups were only for corporations, banks, and other businesses. This is definitely not the case any more.  In truth, it has not been the case for many many years.

My first experience with backups was in the early 90's using a pile of 5¼-inch floppy disks to back up a 40Mb hard drive.  Each disk with a capacity of around 1mb.  An arduous process to say the least.

Put in terms of today's storage devices, a common size for a USB key, or an SD Card (the one that goes into your camera) is around 16 Gigabytes.  This is the equivalent of a little over 16,000 of the old floppy disks or around 400 of my big heavy, clunky & unreliable hard drives.

The common size for a Hard Drive these days is around 1 Terabyte – this is 1024 Gigabytes – or 64 of those USB keys and a touch over a million of those floppy disks that I was using back in the 90's!

OK, enough with the numbers already!!!

Let's just say there is a LOT of storage out there – and following Parkinson's law The amount of data in the world will always rise to correlate with the amount of available storage.

Our Digital Life

So, what's my point?  Well, I expect that in both your personal and business lives, you have become much more reliant on your computers, and on technology in general.  Notepad and pen are becoming increasingly irrelevant in the face of tablet technology.

The concept of the paperless office moves 99% of personal data, bills and other documents previously stored in physical filing cabinets to digital formats.

Perhaps most significantly, film cameras and photos have been made obsolete by Digital Cameras and Smart Phones.
10 years ago what was the number 1 item a person would return 
to a burning house to save?  Their photo albums.  

Ask the same question now?  
It's their mobile phone and laptop.
Our digital life is now something that we would risk our physical lives to save!

For this reason, backups in one form or another are, in my mind, a mandatory component of owning a computer – and yes, this includes smart phones and tablets.

Modern tradition, unlike my 90's version, has the method of backing up as being stored on a hard drive, either internal or external to your personal computer.  There are a number of applications to perform this action, and this is still a very smart and necessary action item.

If you want to get really fancy with this, you can then take multiple backups, and store them “off-site” (at a friends place) so that in the event your place burns down.  It's unlikely your friends place will also burn down, and so your data is saved. Of course, all this assumes that the hard drive you are backing up to is, itself, a reliable storage medium.

Cloud Storage

Source: Image By maen_cg
This brings me to the strange new world of Cloud Storage.

What is Cloud Storage?
This is, in simple terms, a bunch of REALLY REALLY REALLY big hard drives in the “sky” which many people have access to.

Now every one's data is kept in it's own protected and private container. You only have access to your own data, and other people only have access to their own data. Never the twain shall meet.  So you don't need to be concerned with privacy.

Cloud based storage is offered by many companies to effectively Synchronise your important data from your many devices to the Cloud. This includes tablets, smart phones, PC's and Macs.  This way, as soon as a photo is taken on your phone, or a file created on your computer, it is immediately copied over the internet to your Cloud storage container.

Like traditional backup companies, there are many players in the Cloud storage market ready to service your backup requirements.

Now that I have Cloud based backup,  do I need a physical backup?

This is a great question and the answer is YES. Personally I utilise both.   I do this for a couple of reasons, these being:

  • Cloud storage comes at a cost. Usually a monthly, or annual subscription.  The price varies from company to company, but the result is well worth parting with a few dollars.  A good Cloud storage provider will have many forms of data security and hardware duplication in place to ensure that even if their system fails, your data will still be safe.
  • Traditional backup (eg internal & external hard drive) also comes with financial outlay. However, once you have purchased the software and the hardware, there are no other ongoing costs for the lifetime of the software and hardware.
  • Convenience. In the event you experience a catastrophic system failure, a traditional backup is much more convenient than a cloud based system.
  • Having another backup can be very handy.  The issue with traditional backups are that it may not be as up to date with your most recent and important files and photos. Additionally, the hard drive you are using for your traditional backup may also fail when you need it the most.

    The benefits of using both traditional backup and Cloud storage in combination are, for example:
    • If I have a full system failure, I have a nightly backup available performed by the traditional backup.  I also a synchronised copy of all the important file changes I made today, using Cloud storage.
    • In the event the traditional backup fails when the system has died, I can do a manual rebuild of my system, using the data from the Cloud storage system (although it's not as convenient).

So there you go.  Backups, the thing you never thought you really needed because it only happens to other people, are vital as we becoming increasingly dependant on our technological devices. The need to keep thorough back ups of our important data has increased to the point where it is just as important as security of data.

Kieran Cook is a proud husband and dad to his gorgeous bride, Bek, and little girl, Casey.  Between Kieran and Bek, they run a number of projects from their Sydney base, including Askkiz - Technical Consultants.  Kieran gained his Bachelors in Information and Communication Technology from Wollongong University, and has over 10 years experience in the Computer Security Industry.

AskKiz Technical Consultants is offering {CHA} readers a 10% discount on backup solutions till the end of March.  To discuss your backup needs visit

This blog post was originally posted on on Wednesday 20th February.  The opinions expressed by the author and and those providing comments are theirs alone.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Visual Marketing

To find out more about Visual Marketing for your business head over to Build a Little Biz.  If you are struggling with your businesses Visual Marketing you might also like to check out their Visual Markting DYI course.

Please note that this is not an affiliate link, we just love Karen's work and this infographic is so informative I just had to share it with you - Christine

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Survival Planning :: how prepared are you?

Its been another challenging summer for Australians, with bush fires in various states and flooding in Queensland.

I live in the beautiful Shoalhaven on the South Coast of NSW.  We are blessed with beaches that have  squeaky clean sand and dolphins playing in the waves, we have an abundance of wildlife which includes the Kangaroos that like to leave deposits on my front lawn on a daily basis.  All of this beauty is surrounded by magnificent dense bushland.  It's a great place to live and bring up children, but I must admit during January I did have second thoughts.  Especially when we faced catastrophic fire warnings and the fire at Deans Gap which threatened parts of the Shoalhaven.

We were on high alert for a number of days.  I had our Survival Plan ready and my Husband had gathered all our our important items - photos, paperwork, harddrive etc.  We were ready to go at a moments notice.  Thank goodness we didn't need to put our survival plan into action but it was a good trail run.

At times like these you really start to think about the "What Ifs".  Which naturally lead me to think about what would happen to my business if my house was burnt down.  What if I was hit by a bus!  What if my MacBook died and I couldn't get it working again.  What if all my wool was ruined due to flood waters? ... and the list goes on.

Yesterday I re-read NSW Bushfire Survival Plan to see how it could be applied to my business.  I started to ponder ... 
  • How prepared am I if disaster struck?  
  • Is there a way I can reduce the risk to my business?
  • Do I have a back up plan for my business?
  • What key items do I need to take with me in an emergency?
  • Will my insurance cover my stock and materials?
I found theses questions to be quite scary as they made me realise how unprepared I am.

How did you go with answering these questions?  
Do you have a survival plan for your business? 

About the Contributor: 
Christine is a Wife and a Mum of 3.  She is the owner of C Percy Designs and the Editor of The Contemporary Handmade Alliance.  She is also the Editor of the Handmade Cooperative - Australian Handmade 4 Kids and is a little obsessed with all things crochet. 
To find out more about Christine go to her blog or follow her on Facebook.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

to Spam or not to Spam

If you are going to spam a person's Facebook business page make sure it counts.

Today a fabric business decided to leave a comment with a link back to their store in the hope that I will click on it and I will in turn like their page.

Thats all well and good but their comment rings hollow as my business uses wool not fabric.  Why would I bother to click on the link as its fairly obvious to me that they haven't even bothered to find out what kind of business I run, they are simply on the hunt for 'Likes'.

Please, I beg you, if you feel the need to spam on Facebook or any other social media platform, make sure it counts.  Personally I think it degrades your brand and makes you look unprofessional.

Do you spam? Have you found it effective in finding paying customers and not just 'Likes'? 

Related Post: Facebook Etiquette

About the Contributor: 
Christine is a Wife and a Mum of 3.  She is the owner of C Percy Designs and the Editor of The Contemporary Handmade Alliance.  She is also the Editor of the Handmade Cooperative - Australian Handmade 4 Kids and is a little obsessed with all things crochet. 
To find out more about Christine go to her blog or follow her on Facebook.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Are you a cyberstalker?

Cyberstalking Infographic

Sure this image is to do with personal matters but I think it also applies to the handmade industry. Many people in this industry at some time or the another have checked out the competition.  What I don't think is okay when it becomes obsessive, when you HAVE to look at their page each day or when you simply MUST comment on or Like every image posted.  

I have seen first hand some truly awful behaviour on Facebook - mainly to do with perceived copy cats.  I have also read some down right nasty comments and I have marveled at the downright rudeness of some.

My rule of thumb is

"If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all".  

If a post or images makes you feel jealous, sad or angry simply unlike the business page.  You don't have to look at it ever again.  

If you have a business page on Facebook and you find someone being negative on your page or you feel they are trying to provoke you to stir up a trouble - simply BLOCK and DELETE.  Don't waste another minute on these people.

Related posts: Facebook Etiquette

Friday, February 8, 2013

{Sponsor Spot} Puddin's Retreat

Our sponsor this month is Nikki from Puddin’s Retreat. Puddin’s Retreat is a Brisbane based business that creates high quality boutique machine embroidery and sewing. Thank you Nikki for being our first sponsor for 2013.  

Hi I’m Nikki the creative hands behind Puddin’s Retreat.  My mum introduced me to machine embroidery, and it wasn’t long before I bought my first embroider sewing machine.  

I started sewing projects and learning about sewing.  I really enjoyed what I was making and I still remember my first project was a coffee cozy.  I just loved watching my products come to life.

I started to embroider anything I could get her hands on and after realising that I had talent, I launched Puddin’s Retreat in October 2010.

I now sell my wears all over the world via my Etsy store

Puddin's Retreat keeps me pretty busy; I put 2-3 hours a day into the business and part of my weekends. I have also found machine embroidery a great stress outlet.  I just love immersing myself in these projects, as I can forget about the world for a moment. 

I also love seeing people’s faces light up when they receive my products as a gift. Bringing joy to people’s lives is a wonderful thing.

I also sell my creations at various markets around Brisbane. To find out what markets I will be attending in 2013 Like my Facebook page or follow Puddin's Retreat on Twitter.  

Special offer!

Puddin's Retreat is offering all {CHA} Readers  a 10% discount on all Facebook or Etsy Orders.  Simply mention this Sponsor Spot when ordering.  

1. Offers finishes 31st March 2013
2. Only one 10% discount per customer.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Making Collages using

In 2012 we saw Picnik close its doors.  At that time Jeanie from Inspired Wish and I decided to check out and report on what alterative online photo editing tools were out there.

As part of that series we checked out Pixlr.  At the time of our review Pixlr Express did not have a collage feature.   In June 2012 a collage feature was introduced (though I've only just found out about it today).

Of late I've been using and to quickly and easily make collages when using my computer but I think I'll be moving over to Pixlr Express as they offer more collage options.

I've been using Pixlr-o-matic on my smart phone ever since Aymie from Whimsy Art Photography told me about it.  I've been using it to jazz up my instagram photos but today I've downloaded the Pixlr Express App.  It boasts that the big difference between the two apps is that "you are in control, you decide on the intensity of the effects as well as the ability to rotate and flip the overlays and borders to fit your image better".  I'll have a play with it and I'll let you know what I think.

I'm keen to see if they offer a collage feature within Smart Phone app as this would be very handy for instagram users and for many of us who are using our phone to capture images for our online businesses.

What do you use to create collages? 

Further Reading: 
Review - Pixlr
Making Collages after picnik closes. 

About the Contributor: 
Christine is a Wife and a Mum of 3.  She is the owner of C Percy Designs and the Editor of The Contemporary Handmade Alliance.  She is also the Editor of the Handmade Cooperative - Australian Handmade 4 Kids and is a little obsessed with all things crochet. 
To find out more about Christine go to her blog or follow her on Facebook.

Monday, February 4, 2013

What really bugs me ... no care label!

Handmade kids clothing label inkidink not only make unique cute kids clothing
they also adhere to Australia's Clothing Label Mandatory Standard

Last year I purchased a beautiful handmade dress for my daughter.  Simply put it is stunning and every time she wears it people ask me where it came from etc.

So whats bugging me about the dress?

Nothing, except for the fact that there is NO care label. 

The maker has done a great job with this dress, the craftsmanship is wonderful and even managed to brand the dress with their business name but they forgot to sew in a care or size label.  I have no idea how to wash this dress nor do I know what its made from.  Also when I go to hand this dress down to a friend I won't be able to tell her what size it is.

Also for all its loveliness the dress has an air of homemade rather than handmade, that is it lacks the professionalism of the handmade dresses in this category.

Apart from being annoying, its also ilegal.  Clothing, along with household textiles, furnishings, piece goods made from textiles, plastic coated fabrics, suede skins, leathers and furs, must comply with Product Safety Australia's Care labelling Mandatory standard.

If you are making handmade clothing I strongly suggest that you check out the mandatory standard and start adding these lables to your products.

Note: The above photos was taken by me, Christine Percy, using a dress I purchased on Inkidink in 2012.  This is not a sponsored post.

About the Contributor: 
Christine is a Wife and a Mum of 3.  She is the owner of C Percy Designs and the Editor of The Contemporary Handmade Alliance.  She is also the Editor of the Handmade Cooperative - Australian Handmade 4 Kids and is a little obsessed with all things crochet. 
To find out more about Christine go to her blog or follow her on Facebook.