Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A review on Carbonite

After listening to commercials for Carbonite on talk radio and TV I was sufficiently hyped. I had prior experience with a hard drive meltdown and knew I lived on borrowed time. I back up my computer... sort of.

I have an external drive that started out primarily as a backup and quickly became a repository of files that would no longer fit on my main hard drive. Periodically I back up to disk, but given the size of my files it's a major operation so I have a tendency to put it off.

I do websites and am a host reseller with a large company. They offered a free backup using Carbonite the last time I visited so I said "what the heck, I'm past due". Especially since twice I'd lost all my emails due to overloading the system I guess --- corrupt file and wham, I lost a thousand or so emails each time.

The free trial was size limited and I quickly discovered it didn't even touch my main drive. They offered a nice discount to go full boat, so click, charge and voila I was using Carbonite to back up my system.

The second day after my initial backup onto Carbonite I had an email meltdown and was able to go into the system and recover my emails. Sweet.

I liked that and for once my timing on things worked just fine.

However, all is not rosy when it comes to Carbonite. Here are the problems I've found...

First, they only back up your main drive, not the external. For most people that's probably fine. However, for me, aside from my emails, I have migrated to keeping a vast amount of my data on the external drive.

Carbonite offers an upgraded pricing structure which allows you to back up the external drive. It is cost prohibitive for me. When I had them look at my system and give a price quote, I'd be paying them $250 a month. Yes, a month, not a year. I decided I could buy another external drive and forgo that expense. In fact, I could buy an external drive a month and come out cheaper.

The other thing which is a major, major pain to me is that Carbonite slows my system to the point where I'm ready to yank out my hair. I finally set it up so that it backs up during my lunch hour and from midnight until 9 a.m. I am taking a chance that I'll lose stuff during the day-time hours while I'm working, but I still have my speed.

Lest you think I'm being silly, I can tell you exactly when Carbonite kicks in... sometimes I have to shut down my system and reboot as it locks things up.

Is it worth it? Well, for what I'm paying, yes. I decided it was worth the cost just to be able to grab my emails if the system wonked out on my again. I get close to a thousand emails a day, sometimes more. Most are used on various websites so they're my work lifeblood.

I'd also say that it's probably worth it for the average person, even at non-discounted rates. Especially if you're the kind of person who never or rarely backs things up. Those photos (which I keep on my external drive) need to be saved. Many of us have important work files that need to be saved, too.

Me? I take zillions of photos for my news sites and I also do movies and videos that take up huge amounts of space. I am stuck with having to figure out a way to back them up without using Carbonite.

I don't begrudge Carbonite's way of doing business. They have to make money. I checked out Mozy and while they price differently, I still can't justify the cost. I suggest you look at both. I encourage you to make sure you are backing up your important files somehow, some way, whether it's an online back up system or via two, yes two, external hard drives. External hard drives go back just like your main drive. You need a back up of your back up.
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Friday, March 12, 2010

National Center for Disaster Fraud to Coordinate Haitian and Chilean Fraud Complaints

Shortly after the earthquake in Haiti last January, the FBI and the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) established a telephone hotline to report suspected fraud associated with relief efforts. That number, (866) 720-5721, was initially staffed for the purpose of reporting suspected scams being perpetrated by criminals in the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake.

Since then with the recent earthquake in Chile our efforts have expanded to identify similar fraud activity coming out of that disaster. Therefore the public is encouraged to call this same number (866) 720-5721 to report suspected fraud from either disaster. The telephone line is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Additionally, e-mail information can be directly sent to

The National Center for Disaster Fraud was originally established by the Department of Justice to investigate, prosecute, and deter fraud in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when billions of dollars in federal disaster relief poured into the Gulf Coast Region. Now, its mission has expanded to include suspected fraud from any natural or manmade disaster. More than 20 federal agencies, including the
FBI, participate in the NCDF, allowing the center to act as a centralized clearinghouse of information related to Haitian or Chilean Relief Fraud.

The FBI continues to remind the public to apply a critical eye and do their due diligence before giving contributions to anyone soliciting donations on behalf of Haitian or Chilean victims. Solicitations can originate from e-mails, websites, door-to-door collections, mailings and telephone calls, and similar methods.

Therefore, before making a donation of any kind, consumers should adhere to certain guidelines, including the following:

* Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) incoming e-mails, including clicking links
contained within those messages because they may contain computer viruses.
* Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as surviving victims or officials
asking for donations via e-mail or social networking sites.
* Beware of organizations with copy-cat names similar to but not exactly the same
as those of reputable charities.
* Rather than following a purported link to a website, verify the legitimacy of non-profit
organizations by utilizing various Internet-based resources that may assist in confirming
the group's existence and its non-profit status.
* Be cautious of e-mails that claim to show pictures of the disaster areas in attached
files because the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders.
* To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions
directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation
on your behalf.
* Do not be pressured into making contributions, as reputable charities do not use
such tactics.
* Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions.
Providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable
to identity theft.
* Avoid cash donations if possible. Pay by debit or credit card, or write a check
directly to the charity. Do not make checks payable to individuals.
* Legitimate charities do not normally solicit donations via money transfer services.
* Most legitimate charities websites end in .org rather than .com.
* There are scams targeting Haitian immigrants and their families offering assistance
in getting family members and friends out of Haiti. These individuals charge a fee
and then claim they will provide the necessary immigration paperwork or an airline
ticket for disaster victims to leave Haiti. For official information pertaining
to immigration from Haiti to the U.S., visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Services (USCIS) website at

If you believe you have been a victim of fraud from someone or an organization soliciting
relief on behalf of Haitian or Chilean earthquake victims, contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud at (866) 720-5721. You can also fax information to fax (225) 334-4707 or e-mail it to

You can also report suspicious e-mail solicitations or fraudulent websites to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at

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Twitter is watching you... New technology tells the world where you're tweeting from

Twitter already reveals to the rest of the world what you're doing and what you're thinking, and now the microblogging site can let everyone know where you are as well.

A new feature rolled out this week means Twitter users have the option of including their location when they tweet via a tracking tool they can turn on or off.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rental and Real Estate Scams

Individuals need to be cautious when posting rental properties and real estate on-line.
The IC3 continues to receive numerous complaints from individuals who have fallen
victim to scams involving rentals of apartments and houses, as well as postings
of real estate on-line.

Rental scams occur when the victim has rental property advertised and is contacted
by an interested party. Once the rental price is agreed-upon, the scammer forwards
a check for the deposit on the rental property to the victim. The check is to cover
housing expenses and is, either written in excess of the amount required, with the
scammer asking for the remainder to be remitted back, or the check is written for
the correct amount, but the scammer backs out of the rental agreement and asks for
a refund. Since the banks do not usually place a hold on the funds, the victim has
immediate access to them and believes the check has cleared. In the end, the check
is found to be counterfeit and the victim is held responsible by the bank for all

Another type of scam involves real estate that is posted via classified advertisement
websites. The scammer duplicates postings from legitimate real estate websites and
reposts these ads, after altering them. Often, the scammers use the broker's real
name to create a fake email, which gives the fraud more legitimacy. When the victim
sends an email through the classified advertisement website inquiring about the
home, they receive a response from someone claiming to be the owner. The "owner"
claims he and his wife are currently on missionary work in a foreign country. Therefore,
he needs someone to rent their home while they are away. If the victim is interested
in renting the home, they are asked to send money to the owner in the foreign country.

If you have been a victim of Internet crime, please file a complaint at

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Georgia Broadband Projects Receive $14.9 Million

Funding will expand high-speed internet access

Two broadband projects in Georgia are receiving $14.9 million in federal funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The first project includes a 220-mile fiber network for high-speed Internet access in Columbia County. The second project will enable Level 3 EON to provide additional access points to its Internet backbone for last-mile service providers in underserved areas. Governor Perdue recommended both projects to officials with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

“Georgia has long recognized that broadband is the dial tone of the 21st century,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “These projects will help our state grow economically and compete on the global market.”

The Columbia County Information Technology Department was awarded $13.5 million to build the Columbia County Community Broadband Network, which will:

create 60 free Wi-Fi hotspots in public locations to expand broadband Internet access for the public,
encourage economic development, job creation and education by enhancing broadband capabilities for critical community facilities in underserved areas of the county,
support a county-wide traffic and water control system,
enable the use of electronic health records for patients at the Medical College of Georgia, and
facilitate more affordable and accessible broadband service for an estimated 33,000 households and 2,400 businesses by allowing local Internet service providers to connect to the county’s open network.

The project also involves the construction of five wireless towers to enhance public safety communications. It is supported by more than 20 county, municipal and other organizations.
The Columbia County IT Department currently operates a network of nine sites linked to a newly completed data center.

In addition, Level 3 EON was awarded $1.4 million to build four new access points on its existing broadband network, including three between Atlanta and Savannah and one between Atlanta and the Georgia-South Carolina border. Similar to on-ramps to the interstate highway system, these access points will enable last-mile service providers to offer affordable Internet access. The project could enhance broadband capabilities for as many as 198,000 households, 13,000 businesses and 190 anchor institutions, including schools, government agencies and health care providers.

With these awards, Georgia is receiving almost $48 million in federal support to expand broadband Internet access throughout the state. Governor Perdue announced a $33 million award in December 2009 for a 260-mile fiber optic network serving eight North Georgia counties.

With the federal award Georgia continues its efforts to expand broadband access that it started with the Wireless Communities Georgia program. Georgia’s strategic approach to the issue of broadband access has made the state very competitive in the federal grant process.

Governor Perdue began working on bringing broadband to rural areas of the state in 2006 when the General Assembly, at the Governor’s request, appropriated funds to expand wireless broadband access. The OneGeorgia Authority, chaired by Governor Perdue, established a separate program to assist rural communities seeking to establish broadband networks of any kind.
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