Backup Strategy For Project Managers

drive iconBackups are a necessary routine for computers. Over the years, there has been many trends in computing that promised to make backups easier, simpler, but as humans, we still tend not to do a good job when it comes to backing up our data. The best solution for home users is Time Machine in Mac OS X. Simply add a drive (usually an external drive), and setup Time Machine to backup your entire main drive. Time Machine is the most simple backup to setup, but it is not perfect. After multiple backups, Time Machine usually encounters problems and the easiest solution ends up having to wipe your Time Machine drive and start all over again. On Windows, there are third party apps that allow for Time Machine like backups. Their main benefit is that their user interfaces are easier to use than the built-in Microsoft Backup program. There are also cloud backups as well now, so you can use iCloud, Google, Microsoft, or Dropbox for your backups. For most of us though, the cloud backup should really be a secondary backup and not your primary. In general terms the advice is to have a backup plan and to automate it as much as possible. Eventually all hard drives and flash memory fail in some way, and so backups are always going to be needed.

As a project manager, one backup strategy that I have used for a number of years is to have a one folder backup strategy. For my business laptop, I create one folder under C:\Users\Username\My Documents\. This folder I name Projects and I then create a shortcut for it and place the shortcut on my Desktop. For every project I work on I create a folder underneath the Projects folder. As I complete projects, I then move these folders to \Projects\Archive. Anything related to a project has to be save somewhere under the Projects folder. This takes discipline, but is very easy to do once you keep to this routine of saving files to one folder.

OS X Disk Error

Although every Operating System now provides a directory structure for users, most people have made the Downloads folder their main working folder! How many times has someone asked you to help them find a file, and you have opened their Downloads folder to discover thousands of files? This happens way to often. The Downloads folder was never meant to be a work folder. It was mean to help users find their downloaded files, but over time, people have treated the Downloads folder as their main repository for everything. It is important to remember that the Downloads folder is really a temporary folder for files. Nothing important should ever exist in the Downloads folder. Anything in the Downloads folder can and should be deleted. Move all your important files and working files to your main Projects folder and never work on any files outside of the Projects folder.

Now that you have all your files in one location, you need to copy your Projects folder and anything underneath to a secondary drive, backup location, cloud service. Although at the end of the day, you could simply copy and paste, drag and drop, it is best to automate this. In a business environment, there usually is a network drive or NAS that you can backup important files to. There are multiple apps or commands that you can script to accomplish this. The easiest way I have found is to use SyncBackSE. Using this application, I automate the backup of the Projects folder to run Monday through Friday, while I am at lunch. This backup strategy works well and is uncomplicated to use.

Notes On 2006

Undeniably, I have been on a bit of a break from WebKeyDesign, but before 2006 officially passes into the server logs as just another year, I wanted to put down some final thoughts on a very trying year.

Great Expectations

Like most people, I started the year trying to improve myself. After fifty hours of online seminars, a few self-improvement books, lots and lots of technical reading on web site related technologies, and many personal challenges having to do with family and work, I have to say that 2006 was perhaps in the top three of worst years I have ever had to go through. Professionally I had this vision of improving myself and when my company decided to close shop, I was devastated and unemployed.

At the same time, my personal life was not very enjoyable. I felt like I was being pulled apart in several directions and that all I could do was stand there and try to be the pillar that doesn’t move for everyone else. I probably wasn’t very much fun to be around.

As for myself, I was learning things, improving my skills and knowledge. Since college, I have always known that there are only two ways that I learn. I either recluse myself to some private space and pore over thick books or I sit and do what it is I need to learn to do at the computer. In general I can’t stop reading, it is something which helps me with stress, so I constantly read.

Learning To Succeed

After a few job interviews, I had started to doubt myself, to think all kinds of bad thoughts, but then one day I woke up and all that self improvement seminars and books kicked in. I found myself at another job interview, being asked the same question again: “Why should we hire you?” Then at that very moment, it sunk in. I don’t really need this job. “I will be successful regardless of where I work.” After the interview, I got a phone call at home, informing me they wanted to offer me the position. I ended up not taking the job after all, because I actually received an offer from my current employer, who I had really wanted to work for.

At home, I knew I needed to change things. Instead of doing more, I did less, but what I did do, I tried to do better. Communication is key in relationships, and while I’m not known for being very good at this in personal relationships, I knew I had to work at it. The idea is that your personal life has to be enjoyable. If it somehow isn’t then you need to change things.

Time Enough For Updates

There seems to never be enough time for everything, and while IE 7 and Firefox 2.0 came out, I don’t know very many people who prepared all that much for major browser releases. It seems like we are always trying to catch up. But The Holidays are a time for family and friends. While I do enjoy putting in long hours at work, I also understand that December is the month for relating to people and not computers. So while 2006 was a hard year for many of us, we are definitely better people because of it. Hardship is what makes life challenging, and while no one welcomes the stresses, we certainly enjoy life better when we learn to properly handle them. See you in 2007!

Accepting Google Checkout

WebKeyDesign now accepts Google Checkout as payment. If you have not heard of Google Checkout yet, it is somewhat similar to PayPal. It allows you to make purchases through a credit card without giving your credit card number to the merchant. In this case, WebKeyDesign. Google will collect payment and then deposit the amount (minus their fee or course) into the merchant’s bank account. This way customers can trust their credit card information to only Google and have less risk when purchasing items from the Internet. You must setup a Google Checkout account in order to use it.

You can still purchase web hosting with PayPal if you prefer. Google Checkout is just another option now when you order web hosting.

Theme Modifications

I’ve been neglecting WebKeyDesign for a while this summer, as I got into doing some computer upgrades and taking sort of a break from all things web related. You can easily tire yourself out if all you do is one thing, and I needed a break badly this summer. Regardless I have decided to do some theme modifications for our site. The big major difference is that the site is a little wider and makes for better viewing on 1024 x 768 displays, instead of 800 x 640. I don’t know any people with 800 displays, so it does not make much sense to target that resolution. The new standard is definitely 1024. I’ve tried to cleanup the CSS code too, which has been added to over time and was building up. I’m not to sure about the graphic colors, I might still change those, but the idea is too keep the same resolution.

WebKeyDesign Anniversity

Last year I had this idea, that I would start a side business and help people out with web hosting, web design, and technical support. Well things did not work out as I expected but the journey was always incredibly interesting and I learned quite a lot about myself and business in general. I hope that following helps out others, or at least proves entertaining.

The Business Plan

I did not have one and perhaps I should have written one out. The problem with business plans is that they need to be done by the accounting person. The type of person who knows how to manage money and who has an eye for business managament. I am more of a rush into things and see what comes out of the chaos type of people. Essentially I thought I could make a business of helping people by selling basic design services and support at really affordable prices. However, this did not work. Most businesses need high tier clients, namely they need big accounts. Trying to survive on making $25 websites really sounds like a good idea, but in practice it does not work. Half-way through the year, I decided to change course and concentrate less on getting customers and instead on doing what I enjoyed. WebKeyDesign went from a pagerank zero site to a pagerank 5 site in less than a year. This ended up being my big success for the year and along with this I even got a few more clients along the way. My best advice is if you are going to do a business, make sure you do a business plan if this will be your only work, but if you are doing it as a hobby or side business, then concentrate on what really matters. Enjoy the work you put in to it and it will be successful.

Saying No

Incredibly, the hardest part of selling yourself and your abilities, is actually having to say no to some people. It is actually very easy to find yourself with the wrong client and end up having a bad argument which you really did not want to have. Avoiding the wrong client is crucial and the best way to avoid this relationship is to say no. It is okay to say that you do not offer certain services. In some cases you simply can’t deliver what a client wants and in others, the client really does not understand what they are asking for. You cannot please every potential client, so do not try to. At times communication works against you, you sometimes misunderstand a client or vice versa, so it is important that you establish a good relationship when speaking to clients.

Spend Less

One of the first things to pickup about business is that spending is something you need to control from the very beginning. Good businesses spend very little, great businesses spend accurately. What this means, is that you need to spend very precisely. Marketing campaigns need to be examined to see how effective they really are. You might be spending money and not actually getting anything out of it. The less you spend the more profitable you will be, but most of all you will have the funds to use in case a good opportunity presents itself. All of this requires prudence and research on your part.

With a little persistance and motivation, success is only a matter of time.

WordPress 2.0 Upgrade

After battling through constant comment spam day after day, I finally gave in and upgraded WebKeyDesign to latest WordPress 2.0 version. Initially I had forestalled this for months due to the bad experience I had with one of my other sites, but I figured the 2.0.2 version looked stable enough and I was down to just one incompatible plugin.

The installation went quite well. Since I did not change any of the current theme setup, there really was not much to fix after the upgrade, except for entries that had highlighted html code boxes, which relied on the incompatible plugin. Instead of using CodeHighLight, I had to come up with a more complicated solution. I ended up keeping some of the CSS that CodeHightLight uses and then translating the actual code snippets with SimpleCode. This plugin just takes regular code and translates it so the browser will display the code symbols. I then had to take the translated snippets and add DIV tags to them and put them back into each posting. Needless to say, this took some time, but it looks almost as good as what I had before.

As for WordPress 2.0, the performance seems to be better than the older 1.5.2 version, and in the time that upgraded the site and fixed my postings, Askismet caught something like 213 comment spams!