Well, a few hours after the previous post, I returned home to find a message from Mozy’s Vice President of Support. I called him back and did get a sincere apology as well as a promise to provide me with a download link to my two backup sets so I could get them without having to go through the usual file listing screen.

I did appreciate the call and have downloaded the first backup set without incident, the second one’s underway. However, they’ve already refunded my last payment and I will still be closing my account – I just don’t feel like I can trust that I’ll be able to access my data in a hurry if I need it in an emergency. I’ve got two external drives now for my new computer, and I think I’ll be relying on those rather than online backups from now on.

I’ve been using Mozy’s online backup service for over a year now, I believe, and it’s been a nice service – the initial backup took days, but the subsequent ones all run in the background and never interfere with my work.

Thankfully have seldom had the need to retrieve anything from them; when I did this about six months ago, it went super-smoothly. But last week was an entirely different story.

My old Dell 2400 finally died last Monday. While I was scrambling to put together what I needed to rebuild it (which I was planning on doing anyway, just the timing was not that great) I logged into Mozy with my laptop to get the files I needed immediately.

No dice. I kept getting kicked out of the service, and when I could get in and stay in the screen that shows my files just churned. I let it go for most of the workday (I know it takes hours sometimes for all the files to appear) but no luck.

So I wrote customer support. I got the usual 24 hours response notice, and that was okay, I was busy anyway… but 26 hours later I had no response and still could not get to my files.

So… I have never heard back from Mozy. Not a word. Not in just under a week. Needless to say, I’m pretty unhappy with them. And I’ve asked for my money back and my account to be closed (no response to that either).

I suppose I’ll contact my bank later today and issue a chargeback for the annual fee they took out of my account a few weeks ago. I’m really surprised at this big change in the quality of their customer support – I’ve never had any problem hearing back from them before on the few occasions that I submitted a question. But when you devalue the customer relationship, customers leave. And I’m leaving.

I found this nifty little script from Justin Cutroni’s blog Analytics Talk that’s used to remove a single computer’s traffic from your Analytics results.  So like if you are running a site and accessing it all the time from your machine, but you don’t want to exclude others in your company (the same IP address) from the traffic reports, try this script.

It puts a cookie on the machine that accesses it – your enter your own text for the cookie, then go into Google Analytics and create a custom filter that checks for your cookie. Very simple (not that I could have come up with this!) and an elegant solution.

Having to do a clean install of Windows can be a good thing – it gets rid of amazing amounts of accumulated junk on your system. But if you’re not prepared, it can be terrifying – you can lose all of your work and personal files if you’re not careful.

Just recently I installed XP Pro on a new motherboard and to prepare myself, I wrote up a checklist of things to check, save and print before getting started. I hope this helps you as much as it helped me.

  • Open up Windows Explorer, navigate to C:/Program Files and take a screenshot of all your currently installed software. This was integral to making sure I reinstalled what I really needed, and also let me know what I could afford to get rid of (approximately 3/5 of what was in that folder). Print a copy or two so you can mark it up, and save it to CD-ROM.
  • Take a screenshot of your desktop – this will help you remember what icons you had and where they were placed (if you don’t care, don’t bother. But if you’ve carefully arranged your icons, take a screenshot). Print it and save it to CD-ROM.
  • Get a free program like drivercontroller.exe, which will let you save all of the drivers on your machine to CD-ROM in one folder so you don’t have to go hunting them down later.
  • Pull out the CD-ROM’s for all the boxed software you want to install (including your Windows XP disk). Note – if you purchased Windows with a computer from a manufacturer and are installing to a non-manufacturer computer, be prepared to go buy a new copy of Windows. Yours probably won’t work.
  • Pull out the CD-ROM’s that came with your printer, graphics card, sound card, speakers, monitor, wireless networking card and any other hardware you’ve installed.
  • Put registration keys, licenses or serial numbers for downloaded software into a text file and save it to CD-ROM.
  • Obviously, save all of your documents – spreadsheets, word processing files, photos, music files, etc. either in a backup set or to an external drive that you can access later. Preferably both.
  • Export favorites from your web brower(s) – Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc. – and save them to CD-ROM.
  • If you’ve downloaded fonts in addition to what comes standard with Windows, zip them up and save to CD-ROM.
  • I recommend you save the following to CD-ROM by folder, and put a little text file in each application’s folder reminding you where to install this information on the newly-formatted hard drive. You may need to visit the software manufacturer to find out how to do this:
    • Export mail and contact information from your mail software (your profile if using Thunderbird).
    • Backup financial files from Quicken/Quickbooks or Money.
    • If you use planning software, make a backup.
    • If you use project management or time tracking software, make a backup.
    • If you use FTP software, save the profile if you can.
    • For any specialty software you use (in my case it’s HTML, server and Adobe Creative Suite), save your settings if possible. You will probably need to check out the manufacturer’s site to find out how to do that, but it’s worth the time if you spent time getting your software configured just right.
    • Any other databases, like a client management system – make a backup.
  • If you’ve made a number of Exceptions in your firewall software, save them by taking screenshots. Print and save to CD-ROM.
  • If you have a complicated home network, consider taking screenshots of the settings screens. Print and save to CD-ROM.
  • Anything you’re not sure of, if you can back it up or take a screenshot of it, better safe than sorry.

Here’s an excellent guide from Paul Thurrott about clean installs of Windows XP.

Note especially the need to defragment your hard drive after getting XP up and running. It’s good advice; I checked my new hard drive before starting to reinstall software and it was 27% fragmented just from all the XP updates….

Good luck! Reinstalling your operating system is a pain in the neck because of all you have to remember, but hopefully this checklist will save you some time and worry.

This week, I mentioned that I needed new business cards to a colleague who has some really striking ones. He told me all about a local company that does his printing – raved about the great customer service and reasonable prices, and their fast turnaround time.

Sounded wonderful. I asked if they had a website and they did, so while I was waiting on something else I went to check it out. Here’s what I found:

  1. Not a bad logo, but it was very pixelated.
  2. Many spelling and grammar errors – on every page I checked.
  3. Inconsistencies – like the main menu had both sentence case and lowercase items in it, and when you entered a submenu the font style, color and size changed dramatically but not in a way that worked well with the rest of the menu. That is, it was hard to tell where you were.
  4. In the shopping cart, all the text was right up against the left side of its container. There was no whitespace between the borders and the content of each page.
  5. No prices were listed until you added an item to the cart, and then you got a warning that you had to “select by product variant” (no explanation of what this means) in the previous screen.
  6. Slow cart response time between screens.
  7. On the backend – no SEO at all, huge code, all tables.

This site was built in Joomla! CMS, but it was never really formatted properly – the company (or their designer) chose a template or built one themselves but it’s not in any way a professional-looking site.

If I didn’t know that this was a great company (per my colleague), and I saw this website first, I would never contact them. This makes a bad first impression and I don’t think too many users, not knowing anything about this business, would go further than a couple of pages on this site. Too many errors and an unprofessional appearance are invitations for your customers to go elsewhere.

The thing is, none of these mistakes are big ones. Many can be fixed quickly and without a lot of effort – and I believe the fixes would have a huge positive impact on this business’s site.

My guess is, the company got a copy of Joomla! and had one of their employees build this site. The intentions were good, but the product is not… Maybe they haven’t ever gotten much business from the Web and therefore haven’t bothered to spend much effort on it. Is it because their clients tend to come in in person? Or could it be because their website is so lacking?

On Saturday night my husband and I were talking on Skype, and the call quality was pretty much what it has been for the last few months – poor. Only on Saturday we got dropped four times in about a half hour.

This has been happening – though not as frequently – for the past few weeks; being dropped while talking so you don’t realize the other person can’t hear you.

Fed up, I went searching for ‘Skype alternatives’ and came across GoogleTalk. Hadn’t heard of this one, but it offered free voicemail (the main thing I use Skype for at this time) so I downloaded it and told my husband to do the same.

Five minutes later, we were on GoogleTalk resuming our conversation. The call quality was not crystal-clear (it sounded somewhat like we were in mutual tunnels) but it was soooo much better than how Skype has been for months. And how many times did we get dropped? None. Zero.

GoogleTalk is not as feature-rich as Skype for sure, and it’s mainly aimed at Gmail users (which I’m not) but its voice calling feature works very nicely.