Backup, Backup & Backup Again!

If you are like me then you have probably been using computers for many years and have accrued thousands of files on your computers hard disc, from things like photos and videos to documents and spreadsheets. Have you ever thought about backing these files up to keep them secure in case your computer fails? If not then this post is going to outline some of the options.

If you have never had a computer fail on your or a hard disc fail then you are a fortunate person, like me. They are rare events although they do seem to be having more and more. But there are many other reasons for you to make sure that you have a backup of all the files on your computer. For example if the worst should have and there is a fire in your house or a car crash, breaks your laptop, you need to have a backup copy of your work. I have at least 50gb of photos and videos on my computer that are irreplaceable should the worse happen. If they were lost those memories would never be able to be retrieved. For this reason along you need to backup.

Backup Options

So what are your options for backing up? Well as usual in my experience things get a whole lot easier here if you have a Mac rather than a PC running Windows. Macs come built in with backup software called Time Machine. Time Machine IconThis software works by backing up the entire contents of your computers hard disc (everything) to an external drive (either USB or over a network) every hour. It then keeps these backups and they grow over time. The software works without any input from the user (except a touch on initial setup to tell it which disc to use) and then it does all the work in the background. Seriously if you are not using Time Machine and you have a Mac, you need to start now and set it up to start backing up your computer.

With Windows there are backup software solutions out there. However in my experience they can often be expensive and moreover complicated solutions to a simple problem and then just never seem to be that good in my opinion. Therefore I have always resorted to the manual way on a Windows machine. The first step is to make sure that all of your files (photos, videos, documents, basically everything except your programs or applications) are stored in your User folder (what was My Documents and is now called Documents on Windows 7). I then entered a reminder into my calendar (either on your phone or Outlook etc) to remind me to backup every Sunday (or whatever day suits you). Then at that time I would simply take a copy of that folder to an external drive so that you have a weekly copy of all your files.

Remote Backup

I mentioned above about if the worst should happen. Most of us that do backup store our backup drives either in the same house as the machine you are backing up, or those with a laptop perhaps store the portable hard drive in the same laptop bag as the laptop drive. Therefore an accident should occur that involves the computer then it would mean that the backup drive suffers the same fate.

The solution to this of course is to have some sort of remote backup solution. The most basic form of this would be to take a backup and then take the drive and store it elsewhere. For example you could take it to work and store it there or to a friend or neighbours. You must however make sure that you continue to backup to this disc at regular intervals so that you have the latest up to date files.

The other alternative is a remote backup solution over the internet, where you files are stored ‘in the cloud’ on the net and therefore in a different locations. Many firms offer this solution. This is not something that I tried, although I have used Dropbox which is a very good service. It would be interesting to hear what everyone uses in terms of online backup.

My perfect solution would be a online service which you could use with Time Machine. Therefore when setting up Time Machine you could select your ‘cloud’ disc and backups are made to a remote location rather than on an external drive in the same location as the computer.

So if you take one thing from having read this then let it be to make you go and backup your files now!

CSS Sprites for Image Rollovers

A while ago I wrote a small post on how I had used the CSS style of display: none in order to hide images that I had used for rollover.  A commenter had said this was the wrong way to do this and using CSS sprites was the best method.  Having done some research here is what I have come up with in using CSS sprites for image rollovers.

I first wanted to use them when I had a background image on a particular element and then I wanted this to change when the mouse was hovered over the item.  This is easily done with background-image in CSS.  The problem is that the hover image is only loaded on hover and therefore there is a short delay in the loading on the image which looks messy.

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Create a Signature in Apple Mail

A signature on your email can really create a professional looking email template that looks great to the people you send emails to and allows you to display important information about you or your business on every email you send.  In this tutorial I am going to show you how to create a signature in Apple Mail.

The first stage is to create your HTML page which will act as your signature.  I have found it best to do this using tables as many mail clients still will not render CSS based pages correctly and it has caused me problems in the past.  Maybe these days though this has changed, perhaps you could enlighten me!  Below is the code I have used for a simple signature:

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The Wallee iPad Mount

I have been look for a while for a good wall mounting system for the iPad so that I could almost use this as a 3rd monitor in my office, probably to watch video on whilst working etc.  I  came across The Wallee through a Tweet on twitter and though that it was perfect. It was delivered yesterday and I mounted it just now.

The kit consists of a plastic case for your iPad which can stay on the iPad all the time and act as a suitable case and a wall mounting disc which is the patented wall mounting part.  The idea is that you fasten the wall mounting disc to the wall and then this slots into the back of the case on the iPad.

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Moving a WordPress Site to a New Server

There are lots of different web hosts out there and sometimes it can pay to move your site from one host to another in order to get both the best price and the best service. If you have a WordPress site and you are worried about moving the site to a new server then don’t, the process is straight forward and here is how to do it.

Lets think a little about how your website points to the current server. Usually the domain registrar is the service which controls the DNS for your domain name. This means it controls where your website is stored i.e. which server it is on. Something there could be some different name servers set by the registrar but you will need to change these anyway.

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Bypassing WordPress Attachment Posts

This problem has been bugging me for a while now and finally I have managed to find a fix that seems to work well.  The problem being that clients, when linking to something they have uploaded to a page or post never click the ‘File URL’ for the link, instead leaving it on ‘Post URL’ which causes problems.  Here is how I fixed it.

When clients forget to click the File URL button it means that when they click on a link, instead of being show the file that they think they are linking to they are shown the post that WordPress creates for that attachment.  If the attachment is an image this not a major issue as you can include a custom image.php file in your theme folder and make that page looks nice. However if the link is to a PDF for example the user is simply presented with another post with the same link in that they just clicked on.  Worse still is that if the author has not added a title tag to the attachment they will see an ugly link.

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Using WordPress for Client Development Logs

Over at Equal Web Creative I have recently introduced the use of client development logs so that clients can keep a track of the progress on their sites and so that you can communicate more effectively with clients during a project.  In order to implement this I have used WordPress as a multisite installation as well as a few themes and plugins.  Here I intend to explain how I have produced this.

To start with your will need to install a copy of WordPress onto your server and then activate the multisite capabilities of WordPress.  To do this I followed the excellent tutorial below:

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From Browser to Server – How it Works

As a web developer and designer I often get asked the same question over and over again, how does a website actually work? I mean when you type the domain name in how does it find the right website?  Well I thought that this blog would be a good place to try explain it in simple terms how it works.

Firstly for all you true techies out there there will be in accuracies in my description here, but what I am trying to do is to simplify the process and enable people to understand how it works and not necessarily all the little ins and outs.

Lets start at the end where the website is stored.  Web sites are stored on something called a server.  This is essentially just a computer that is connected to the Internet.  This server has an address, just like your house has an address so that you can find it.  In fact every device that is connected to the internet has an address called an IP (Internet Protocol) address.  At a very basic level if you type that address of the server which holds a website into your browser you will be able to access the website.  An example is the IP address 209.85.135.103 which will take you to the Google homepage.

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