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Messages - ricnaff [ switch to compact view ]

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General Review Discussion / Re: About this section
« on: March 30, 2005, 03:44 AM »
Well, I'll throw in my two cents...

Reading some of the comments so far, it looks like we have two camps. Camp one wants to nominate "best" based on favorite. Camp two wants to nominate "best" based on some comparison between features.

I'll propose a camp three: nominate "best" based on a pre-defined feature list, and evaluate the products we know about against that list. Then submit the findings to mouser who can select a top three list, and we can discuss that list.

I'm sure there's a camp four out there somewhere, so let's here from you!

Seriously, I do think we need to agree on how this evaluation will be done. If some of us nominate our personal favorite, and some compare product X to Y and Z, and some compare product X to a list and Y to a list and Z to a list...  Well, we'll have suggestions going back to mouser that aren't very helpful to anyone, least of all the general public that is expecting an honest and unbiased review.

I think the advance notice of reviews is a good idea - it let's us do some research without a crunch. But I also think we should agree on HOW we will evaluate products.

Votes, anyone?


Living Room / Re: Everyone happy with PayPal?
« on: March 28, 2005, 07:28 PM »
 :up: Never had any problems in something like 3 1/2 years. I've used it to send and receive payments. I've used it for international currencies. In fact, for some currencies, PayPal let's you choose who (you or the receiver) will pay the exchange fees. They do have some restrictive polices about payments to certain types of receivers. Just about anything that looks like gambling or smells too much like money laundering will be blocked, if possible, before it is sent. At other times, they catch on to some questionable transactions after doing some traffic analysis, and close the receiver's funds until a full investigation is performed. That can hurt, sure. But hey, they went through a federal lawsuit a little over a year ago about being a source of money laundring, and they were forced to implement rules. Sometimes their rules result in a "false" hit on abuse of their service, but with Uncle Sam looking over their shoulder for failure to stop such activity, can you blame them?

They're quick and easy, and just the thing to prevent my card information from getting out to vendors I know nothing about. Very handy, too, when I've left my CC at home and need to pay for something while online at a cafe or library or work or...

Official Reviews / Reviews content suggestion
« on: March 28, 2005, 06:26 PM »
Thanks for the reviews. They are appreciated. But I do have a suggestion for publsihed findings:

Place the review criteria in the review, along with some appropriate scale, and how the software and/or company performed according to each criterium. Of the reviews you posted, I've not found anything to disagree with. But I don't know what you were measuring, your background usage with similar products, where you got your information, and what (if any) annoying little thing you've been waiting for a product to finally address. The pop-up window on the Outpost review seems to be a good example. I do not at all disagree with your findings, but the review of that one feature took almost a third of the entire review. Certainly there are more features to be evaluated and scored?

Again, the reviews are very good, and I'd have to say fair. But they aren't exactly informative so that we readers can look at them, nod to ourselves and say "yup, of the 17 things that are important to me, this one ranks tops in 15, and OK in the other 2."

In other words, please give us more objective material. I'm not one to look at comparison charts with other products; that's usually an advertsing gimmick because most such charts only include the desirable features of the product that is pre-determined to win against the others. I immediately mistrust them. But if you would just list the things you looked at or considered, and how the product ranks against those features (not against other products), it would be a great help. Perhaps do as John Dvorak used to do back in the 80's when he wrote reviews for PC Magazine: say a feature "Needs some work, it's great, or it's good enough."


Ric Naff

OK, I'll suggest something near and dear to my heart, though I realize there's probably only 3 other people in the home-computing world that give a rip...  Backup software. (Ohmigawd, did he just say BACKUP?!!!)

Yeah, I know there's a backup tool built into Windows since version '95. And OK, so if you actually USE the thing (refer to my previous comment about the 3 other people in the world), you CAN recover some files, assuming you know what files to recover.

One VERY bad thing about the Windows backup is, well actually, two are, it cannot backup a file from disc if it is open, and it cannot overlay a file on disc if it is open. So, for example, just TRY to recover your registry file (or files, as is the case now in XP). Go on, try. I'll wait...   :drinksmiley:

Neither does it let you backup files from another computer on your home network. For example, you can't connect your laptop to the network and run the backup from your desktop, expecting to get a nice tape or DVD copy of your laptop's content. As should be obvious, you can't restore that way, either.

I've been using TapeWare for several years. It came with my HP Insider tape backup unit. It does in fact backup and restore across the network (you'll need a "feed" engine running on the laptop that communicates with the main backup engine on the desktop). And yes, it DOES backup files that are open, and it DOES restore files that are open (but you have to tell it to, and even then, it requires a reboot to recover busy files).

TapeWare is serious networking adminitrators' stuff, though, and the interface isn't all that wonderful for non-admins like myself. I end up backing up the same file several times. For example, it backs up the registry by polling the registry interface and extracting the current values from either memory or disc, as is appropriate for a value at the time. Then it procedes to back up the disc files, which on XP are multiple. So I get 2 copies of my registry. Same thing happens with my shredder - one copy comes from reading the contents of the shredder, another comes from reading the actual file off of disc.

Result: my desktop, with some 14gb of files, creates a tape with about 19gb. I use 24gb tapes, so size is not a problem, but the length of time to backup and verify is.

A strong point, and VERY strong, is this: TapeWare creates, on every tape, the system bootup sector and partition information. That's important, in combination with my HP drive. In the event of "I can't boot" or "Blue screen of death" I can power-off, hold the eject button on my drive, and power back on. The drive makes itself look like a bootable CDROM and starts a DOS recovery session. Data is taken off the tape (make sure you do an incrimental every day) and laid onto the disc. Just enough to get a bare Windows system running and the TapeWare software running on it. Then it reboots from disc and loads windows, where the full TapeWare commences to put back everything up to whatever incrimentl backup date you like. Done. Recovered. Completely.

So what other high performance, auto-error detecting, full backup/restore is available for the home user? I'm afraid to stop using TapeWare, but I sure wish there was something not so cryptic in its GUI that made me feel more comfortable about tweaking what it backs up...

Ric Naff

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