Hey, all. To get right to the point, I have an old Samsung Gravity 2 (model SGH-T469) that I no longer use, so I offered to give it away to someone who can make use of the phone. I, of course, want to make sure everything I put on it comes off it before the device leaves my hands for good. One major snag popped up, though – I lost the Master Reset password.

After trying no less than 40 possible combinations, I put my old pal, Google, to the task. In general, those Fixya and Wiki Answers pages seem to be little more than hugely unorganized data aggregate sites. They’re like those reverse phonebook pages that have EVERY SINGLE NUMBER COMBINATION listed so the search results will lead you to their page…. only those “help” sites list all possible model numbers, whether they have any useful info for those devices or not. So after searching numerous sites, I finally found a random page that was a huge help. I’ve since closed out of it so, without proper attribution, I’d like to say a big “thank you” to whoever you are.

It turns out that, from the main screen, you can put in a keypad combination to reset the phone – with or without that Master Reset password. Admittedly, I cringed a little when I hit the “OK” key because, well, it’s a little scary trusting that a random code found on a random website ISN’T going to turn the phone into some sort of drone device or whatever.

So, after removing the SIM card, this is what I keyed in from the main/home screen:
*2767*3855#

Upon hitting “OK,” BAM! This message popped up: “Please wait as the phone will automatically restart after full reset is performed”

So there you have it – a simple solution for a lost Master Reset password on a Samsung Gravity 2, model SGH-T469.

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On a songwriters’ forum, one poster was asking if it’s safe to post original songs to Youtube that don’t yet have a copyright (meaning registered with the U.S. Copyright Office). Here is one response:

“just have a copy of the song with an earlier date. I think that would be enough.”

Good thing it’s prefaced with “I think” because that doesn’t work. You can adjust your computer so it displays any time and day you choose. Consequently, creating a copy of any digital file with a time/date stamp isn’t going to help when it comes to making a copyright claim.

Additionally, the age-old “poor man’s copyright” technique doesn’t hold up, either. We did this a few times, many years ago, in one of the rock bands I played in: slide a CD with your original music on it into an envelope and mail it to yourself. The envelope shows the day the stamp was cancelled, so the government’s involvement makes it official, right? NO! Envelopes can be tampered with. Heck, you could probably tuck in the flap on the envelope (so as to not seal it), send it through mail that way, AND THEN plop a CD in there at any later date… or tape down the flap, send the CD, and retape it later when you’ve got a disc with more songs (or whatever) on it. Point being, the “poor man’s copyright” will, unfortunately, do nothing for you in a bind.

What you can and should do is this: pony up the $35 registration fee and make it official. Admittedly, when I first registered, I was concerned about how much it would cost. Would I have to register all my songs individually or what? Generally speaking, and be sure to read the descriptions on the Copyright Office’s website before taking this at face value: You can clump all your demos together (if the songwriters are the same on all of them) and use Form PA (Performing Arts). That registration will protest the gist of the song, melody, and words. For a completed album or final song mix, use Form SR (Sound Recording). Remember, though, bundle what songs you can together so you aren’t continually paying the $35 fee.

Registering your work can eat up a fair amount of time, and money, as mentioned. But if you’re serious about your artistic work and the time and effort put into it, you need to make sure it’s protected.

Lastly, it’s important to note that a copyright happens automatically WHEN YOU CREATE A WORK. But proving that creation is key. Whether you’ve registered or not, put one of these little doodads next to your work if you’re concerned someone might try to rip you off – ©

Here is where you can register your work (here in the U.S.) and find info that’s, you know, not on a forums or a blog! – http://www.copyright.gov

I just discovered some extreme ignorance I possess regarding one of my guitars. It’s a Paul Reed Smith Custom 22, which I’ve owned for probably seven or eight years now. Coming from the old school, plain old tuning peg world, I restrung the PRS tonight the same way I always have – locking down the string with plenty of excess slack, then continually winding the tuner until each string reaches its proper pitch. It doesn’t seem like rocket science… until you think there’s a problem with your equipment and just realize the problem is that you’re behind times.

When I got the guitar out and started this project, I thought “Hey, the tuning peg is broken! I can’t lock down the string… it keeps popping out of the string holder on the peg every time I try to wind it.” I was frustrated because, well, this guitar is really nice and has been super reliable for quite a while now. But after seeking some expert advice, this is what I found:

1) There is no need to wind the string around the machine head like on the old style tuners. Don’t do what is shown in the photo below. Rather, read on for proper instruction.

Image

 

2) My whole concept of the Paul Reed Smith winged tuning pegs was just completely wrong. When you’re finished setting up new strings, the wings on the machine heads should flare outward from the guitar, and the top and bottoms rows of tuning pegs should be fairly symmetrical.

To begin putting on new strings, loosen the cap screw just a bit (no more than a quarter turn is needed).

IMG_3487

 

Flare the wing on the machine head outward, and line up the string in the slot, as shown below. No string slack is needed.

IMG_3484

 

While holding the string in place, hand tighten the screw cap, then begin rotating the tuning peg. The screw cap will continue to tighten and, once the machine head aligns just right, the string will begin to tighten. Once tightening begins, push the flat side of the wing in towards the middle of the headstock to lock the string in place.

IMG_3489

From there, bend the string back towards itself, snip of the excess string, and continue tuning the guitar up.

 

The finished product should look similar to the photo below:

IMG_3493

FINALLY! After so long, this guitar has been properly strung. I’m read to rock, and hopefully you are now, too!

If you have any questions about this process, feel free to let me know in the comment section below. Additionally, if you have benefited from this post, leave a little note or consider sharing this page. Thanks!

In what felt like a one-two punch, I recently had a Seagate 3 TB internal drive fail, then the manufacturer’s “SeaTools” diagnostic software wouldn’t boot. I used the Windows XP version of SeaTools, and the software then recommended using the DOS version. Further complicating the diagnostics, to use the software you have to burn a “disk image” of the software on a CD or floppy disk. I opted for the CD, not so surprisingly, and used “Alex Feinman’s ISO Recorder.” That Freeware is recommended on the Seagate website, if you don’t have programs like Nero, EasyCD Creator, etc., but it didn’t work for me.

Upon reading carefully through the instructions and creating the ISO disk, I rebooted the computer and it froze on a message reading “Error reading from drive A: DOS area…. Ignore (I) Retry (R) Abort (A).” Hitting “I” did nothing, so I then moved on to try all kinds of fixes to get past that. Turning off the “A” drive in the BIOS settings didn’t solve the problem, and changing the boot sequence order, -making the CD/DVD drive the priority – didn’t help either.

What DID work was using a different program to burn the disk image. I fired up my Mac, downloaded the DOS ISO image, and burned it to a new CD using the Disk Utility program. To do that, you open up Disk Utility, click “File” at the top, select “Open Disk Image,” and navigate to and open the Seagate “SeaToolsDOS223ALL.ISO” file you have downloaded.

Then, still in Disk Utility, select the ISO filename that shows up in the bar on the left side of the utility. Go up and select the “Burn” icon, and the ISO disk should soon be ready.

From there, I put that disc in the Windows computer, and it booted straight to the “SeaTools for DOS” software. The Long Test is the way to go, as it discovered a whole page’s worth of bad sectors on the drive. Based on the test results, the problems are apparently fixed, though that still needs to be independently verified.

If you have any questions about this process, feel free to let me know in the comment section below. Additionally, if you have benefited from this post, leave a little note or consider sharing this page. Thanks!

It’s rough sometimes dealing with an older computer, especially when it feels like all your electronics are starting to have issues at the same time. Although I have a couple of newer computers, I still sometimes tinker around with a Dell XPS 400, purchased new in 2005. It’s actually still a fairly reliable workhorse, though I have been cleaning it up, with the ultimate goal being to retire that old system on eBay.

I started backing up the XPS’s files last week, and of course when I have my sights set on getting rid of the thing, it crashes. During startup, the system kept stalling on a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death) error. I really wish I would have taken a photo of the screen, though at the time I didn’t know I would be writing about it later. What is known, however, is that part of the “stop code” on the blue screen was 0x000000D1, and the error cited at the bottom was iastor.sys

Another cog in the wheel that slowed down finding a solution is that there was some sort of apparent voltage issue with the power supply at some point. That caused the plastic to melt on the SATA and power connectors that plug into the hard drive. Not cool (or good!) But what can ya do? Until now, it’s never had any hard drive issues beyond that one day, a few years ago, when I wondering “Where the heck is that burning smell coming from?” Due to the melted connectors, I can’t simply remove the hard drive and put it in a different computer to run diagnostics.

Upon researching the problem, it started to become more clear that the boot files on the hard drive must have become corrupt. I was at a loss for what could possibly be done. After giving it a few days (and considering the issue with the melted connectors), I decided to power up the Dell but connect the SATA (data) cable to the motherboard on a different Windows XP computer.

Can you guess what happened next?

The secondary Windows PC instantly recognized the Dell’s drive, and “Chkdsk” (the Check Disk program) began to run. After a few minutes of diagnostics, the secondary computer finally reached the Windows desktop screen, and the Dell drive popped up as a secondary hard drive! Hooray! It seemed to be fixed! … !!!

At that point, I shut down both computers and plugged the SATA cable back into the Dell. From there, I booted that computer up, and everything was almost back to normal. I say “almost” because the processor was doing this new thing, were it was constantly spiking at 100%. Even more strange was that the Task Manager didn’t show anything hogging more resources than usual. Finally, it occurred to me that I tweaked some BIOS setting when first trying to figure out what was going on with the Dell computer. It turned out I needed to set the computer up to share the dual core processors again, as it was then only using one of the cores.

To make a longer story even longer, if you’re getting a Blue Screen of Death and have an older computer, it might be worth a shot plugging the hard drive up to another computer to see if you can run some diagnostics. It worked for me, and I’ll finally be able to put this computer up on the auction block soon. “SOLD, for a thousand dollars!” – one can dream….

Home Brewed Beer in Clear Glass Bottles

Last night I bottled my second batch of beer, and maaaan was it a challenge. As mentioned in my previous post [(Home)Brewing Some Beer], the Mr. Beer kit is a good way to begin to learn the craft of beer making. The equipment leaves something to be desired, however, as it’s cheap. But as we’ve all heard, “you get what you pay for.” Everything is plastic, which means replacement parts are required at some point. Unfortunately, in my case, the need for a replacement part came much too soon. The spigot on the fermenting tank stopped working after brewing the very first batch, and the discovery of that came at a most inopportune time.

While prepping the second batch (American Blonde Ale), I went through the motions – sanitize all the required tools/boil water in a pot/mix in the hopped malt – and discovered that the sanitized water wouldn’t pass through the spigot on the fermenting tank. So the only option was to flip the fermenting tank over to dump out the water. I then removed the spigot from the tank to see what was up. The assembly is designed so that hitting the “push” button activates a bar inside that pulls down on a rubberized seal, allowing liquid to pass through the valve. Well, the bar had somehow become disconnected from the rubberized enclosure, so the “push” button activated nothing. Since the spigot wasn’t leaking, I had no choice but to go ahead and reassemble it so the “wort” and yeast could do their thing.

Mr. Beer’s Customer Service dept. was a big help. I let them know the equipment failed after just a single use, and they promptly sent me a replacement/redesigned spigot. It sure is nice to have, though it’s hard to remove a tap when its seal is helping keep liquid in the fermenting tank.

My wife and I schemed and debated on the best approach to get the beer out for bottling. Ultimately, I ended up turning the faulty spigot counter-clockwise until beer began pouring out. I really hope the liquid didn’t get too agitated/aerated, as it flowed down into the sanitized pitcher I put in the sink. In retrospect, the better idea probably would have been to sanitize a ladle and slowly, scoop by scoop, move the beer into the pitcher. Once enough beer poured out of the tank, I was able to reach in and install the new spigot.

Also, this could turn out to be a really stupid move, but I substituted sugar for honey in one of the bottles to see what happens. As it’s a sugar product, I know the yeast will convert it to alcohol, but I have no idea if it’s appropriate to use the same amount of honey as the recommended amount of sugar. We shall see, and hopefully nothing blows up.

One thing I was concerned about was that all the swing top bottles I have are clear. Dark brown and green bottles are used to keep out sunlight, which can break down the hops in the bottled beer. Sometimes that’s used for effect, as it adds flavor to brews like Corona. So it seems to be that you can use whatever bottles you want – colored or not – but be sure to store the clear ones in a dark cabinet to avoid introducing a skunky flavor.

Also, to further develop my beer making skills, I bought a hydrometer. Honestly, I still don’t know exactly what the “specific gravity” readings tell you, but I do know that you can calculate the beer’s percentage of alcohol (ABV) with the device. The tool also indicates if fermenting is underway or if it’s complete. But how to determine those from the hydrometer, I have no idea, as the one purchased through Mr. Beer came with no instructions at all. You’re pretty much on your own figuring the thing out, but I guess they must figure you know how to operate such a device if you’re buying one. But I don’t, and I have some research to do.

So my second batch ever is now in storage for the next couple weeks. Hopefully it will be a hit at Thanksgiving… but I think I’m going to have to try a bottle beforehand so I don’t potentially offend my guests!

I’ve written about it before, and I’m writing about it again: data management is extremely important if you want to keep files around for the long haul. And maintaining organization for those files is key, as we only have so much time on this planet to deal with such issues. I’m writing this as my other computer is copying old CD-RW files to an external hard drive. I have stacks of media that need consolidated, and it’s a shame that the project requires so much of a time investment. That doesn’t have to be the case for data generated today.

In an earlier post (check it out here), I spoke of technology like the Drobo S, which we use at work to backup video footage that costs millions of dollars to produce. As it’s frequently said these days, “storage is cheap,” so there is very little excuse to NOT backup all your important documents, including (but not limited to) your photos and videos.

The file management system that works best for me is a combination of an external hard drive and a pair of DVDs. That is, I try to be meticulous about backing up every single important file to that external drive, and then to a primary and a backup DVD when enough data accumulates and warrants burning a disc.

Also, for my system, I try to keep the data conventions simple. I really enjoy travel and taking pictures – probably spending more time doing so than I should – so I keep a primary folder on the external drive called “Photos-MainBackup”. From there, all photos are narrowed down into more folders displaying the year (if known) and content. For example, one recently created folder is called “2012-Italy”. Nice and simple. That way, you can search for content based on year or the subject. And sometimes it helps you to figure out exactly when the heck you went somewhere.

Also, many of us have pretty sizable music collections these days, so it might not be such a bad idea to create a “Music-MainBackup” primary folder, and maybe even a “Documents-MainBackup” folder.

Of course these are merely suggestions. This is the system that works best for me, so I don’t have to spend a whole lot of time sifting through data to find what I’m looking for. Again, if “storage is cheap these days,” there is very little reason to lose data forever. It’s bound to happen, though, if you don’t plan ahead. Backing up does take a little time investment, but the time spent is very well worth it. Otherwise, it seems that the time invested in creating content that isn’t worth saving is a waste right from the start.

 
 

Colorful Circuits

When it comes to conducting an interview, planning ahead is very important. I recently witnessed one where, at least a few times, the interviewer looked off into space and asked “Hmmm… now what else can I ask you?” The lack of preparedness took up a lot of precious time for all parties involved, so the following will outline types of interviews and how you can effectively structure them.

 

Funnel vs. Inverted Funnel

First of all, when it comes to time constraints, there are two types of interviews – the funnel and the inverted funnel. If you imagine putting oil in your car, the funnel is wide on top with a small opening at the bottom. In interview form, the “funnel” means asking broad, general questions first, then leading in to more specific, tougher questions. The “inverted funnel” is just the opposite – asking the tough questions first, followed by broad questions.

Of course, the small end of the funnel doesn’t exactly have to consist of “tough” questions. Rather, it’s the meat and bones of your interview… it’s the reason you’re conducting an interview to begin with. Whether you ask the important questions at the beginning or the end of the interview is based on how much time you have. If you only have a few minutes, use the inverted funnel approach. If you have all day, structure your interview as a funnel.

 

Closed vs. Open-ended Questions

Once you’ve nailed down your timetable, the next step is to formulate your questions. An interview can branch off in many directions, but it’s best to have basic questions to refer to in case it doesn’t… or to get your interview back on track. In general, you want to avoid asking closed questions, which are those that can elicit a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Open-ended questions, on the other hand, are employed as a way to try to get the interviewee talking. To get an open-ended answer, formulate your questions to begin with the 5 Ws (who, what, when, where, why + how). Unless you’re seeking information to rewrite later (for something like a newspaper article or blog), avoid starting questions with “did.” Rather than asking “Did it feel great to finish the race?” ask “How great did it feel to finish the race?”

 

The Interview

Make the interviewee feel comfortable beforehand, if possible. Offer him or her some tea or water. Build some rapport so the person isn’t over-thinking what questions you might ask. If applicable, before the official interview, chat it up with small talk (but steer clear of your interview questions) by asking “How was your flight?” “Where are you from?” “How is your day?”

When it’s time for the interview, ask the interviewee his or her name and to spell it out. Professionally, there is little worse than trying to cite someone but spelling the name wrong. It’s important to note that, in the journalism field, a misspelled name can have legal repercussions.

If an interviewee doesn’t fully answer your question, it may be for a multitude of reasons, including he/she a) might not understand the question, b) doesn’t want to, c) may ramble and forget the question, and d) can’t due to lack of knowledge on the subject.

If the interview is a tough one and the source is hostile, do your best to avoid arguing. Otherwise, the interviewee might shut down, effectively ending the interview. Try getting a hostile interviewee to open up by a) revisiting/rewording a question that was previously unanswered, b) saving the tough question(s) for the end of the interview, c) offering the interviewee a chance for a rebuttal to something damaging someone said about him or her (relevant to the interview, of course), and d) providing sympathy/understanding that the answer might be difficult.

 

Examples

The following sample questions are from a reality show pilot episode I worked on a few years back. It centered around a modeling agency and the models that work for it, so these Qs should at least give you a good idea of some open-ended interview questions.

1) Please introduce yourself to the camera.
2) Please spell out your name.
3) What is your occupation?
4) Describe your first photo shoot.
5) How does it feel when you see your photos after a shoot?
6) How do you get your week started?
7) What would you say is your favorite thing about modeling?
8) How do people react when they find out you are a model?
9) What goes through your mind during a photo shoot?
10) What are your future goals in the business?
11) What were you doing before you started modeling?
12) What do Mom and Dad think of what you do?
13) Is there any question I should have asked you / is there anything you were expecting me to ask?

 

Good luck on your interview endeavors, and drop me a line below if you have any comments or other questions about the interview process.

Also, if you feel you have benefited from this post, please consider leaving a shout-out or sharing this page via one of the links below.

If you value your photos, videos, and documents – and I know you do – you may occasionally back up your digital files, without any real consideration for long-term storage. But we all know hard drives (even external ones you rarely use) will fail on occasion, and plastic storage media like DVDs and CDs degrade over time. So what’s one to do?

First and foremost, the best practice to battle the digital reaper is to copy/back up the same data to various types of media. I am currently in the process of backing up everything on my two computers to an external hard drive and to a pair of DVDs. When a project or a set of files is finished copying to the backup hard drive, I also burn that project to a primary DVD and then make a backup DVD.

In 2007, Google wrote a rather long-winded report on the typical failure rate for hard disk drives (linked at bottom). In summary, the biggest killers of hard drives are heat and shock. Time usage can also certainly be a contributing factor, though Google’s results came from hard drives that “remain powered on for most of their life time.” Such drives, on average, had the biggest jump in failure rate between years 1 and 2. Additionally, it’s been noted in the tech world that traditional, magnetic hard drives (aka Hard Disk Drives or HDD) lose their magnetism, and thus their ability to store information, over time.

On the other hand, solid state hard drives (SSD) are quickly gaining favor because they have no moving parts that might fail, and they can retrieve data much quicker than magnetic drives. Browsing through various forums and articles, however, it seems there is consensus that long-term storage on a SSD is inadvisable. Such drives can begin losing information within a matter of months without frequent use.

The positive, though, is that the previously mentioned Google study proclaims the SSD failure rate to be lower than that of those HDDs with all the moving parts.

 

Drobo storage:

To help solve that problem of disk failure and subsequent data loss, some companies have developed technologies that copy data to multiple locations. Here in the office, we use the Drobo S hard drive storage system, to back up video that continually costs millions of dollars to produce. The unit is an external box capable of holding a total of five hard drives, for maximum storage space of 15 TB. The drives in the Drobo all work in unison, essentially making the whole unit one big-azz external hard drive. When you use the “dual disk redundancy” setting, though, the 15 TB storage then drops down to around 7 TB total. In that mode, the information on the drives is duplicated and spread around on all the drives in the Drobo unit. Our tech consultant purports that all the data would be safe even if two of the five drives in the Drobo were to crash simultaneously. Woah!

 

G-RAID Storage:

A lot of tech types in the entertainment business gravitate towards G-Technology’s G-RAID drives. They look sleek and cool and seem super durable. I worked on a TV show a couple years ago, wrangling and backing up all the footage shot everyday. Prepping for the show, the Producers came to me to find out what we should be storing all the footage on. I suggested G-RAIDs. “Nooo, noo, nooooooo! We can’t afford that,” they responded. So they bought a bunch of regular G-DRIVES instead. If you aren’t familiar with the conventions, I will briefly describe them in the short paragraph below. Otherwise, feel free to skip ahead.

– G-RAID drives are actually comprised of two hard drives, connected together inside an nice, aluminum, external hard drive housing. In the standard operating mode, when you connect the drive to the computer and drag files onto it, it copies the information to both drives inside the unit. If one of the drives were to become corrupt, your data should be retrievable from the mirrored, non-corrupt drive contained in the housing. As opposed to G-RAID drives, regular ol’ G-Drives are made by the same company and only have one drive inside the similar-looking housing. –

Backing up all the data for the aforementioned show onto the regular G-Drives ended up working great. I replicated the “dual disk redundancy” of a G-RAID by connecting the two G-Drives together and copying all the files to the main drive I designated, and then copying the same information to the backup drive.

Fast forwarding to the show I work on now, the Drobo unit was purchased as a replacement for those G-RAID drives that I had always previously thought were so indestructible…. it turns out they aren’t quite so reliable after all. Remember, I said before that the footage we back up costs millions of dollars to produce? Well, that means we also have to be able to access that footage at any time for flashback sequences and such. Over the years, we amassed eight G-RAIDS, and two of them ended up failing. Two of eight – that’s 25%! Our computer guy had to send them in for data retrieval, which meant they were out of service for a couple months. That’s right, when we plugged in drives to get the data we needed off them, two of the G-RAIDS failed. Done. Kaput. Stemming from actual experience, my preference these days is to backup files to two separate drives, rather than using a single “raided” enclosure that shares one circuit board.

 

Summary so Far:

G-RAID drives aren’t as safe as they might seem. If possible, backup your data to multiple hard drives and then to other storage media, like DVDs. The up-and-coming solid state hard drives have a limited life span, just as magnetic drives do, and it’s also worth noting that those SSD drives don’t hold information so well without having frequent use.  ( –> http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ssd-reliability-failure-rate,2923-9.html).


Obsolescence:

Aside from the question of which storage media to use for long-term backup, another consideration for the future is file format compatibility. Codecs change and many programs eventually lose backward-compatibility with previous versions of the software. Unless you plan on keeping old computers around, consider archiving your most important documents as basic files.

For DOCUMENTS, consider saving in Real Text File (RTF) or basic Text (TXT). These formats lack in the ability to save things like flashy banners, text boxes, and other things that make your document look more like a fancy webpage or magazine cover, but they will continue to save your basic text for the long-term.

For PHOTOS, JPEG files will probably be the best bet for the future. The majority of cameras these days save in that standard format, and JPEG is the predominant format to display images on the internet.

For MUSIC backup, consider MP3 files. The proliferation of that file format really came about with online file sharing in the late ’90s and the subsequent development of MP3 players that so many people take to the gym, hook up in the car, and pack on vacations. The MP3 format will likely continue to be around for a long time. For audio enthusiasts, WAV is another great format to use. It’s the format encoded on standard music CDs and provides a higher fidelity sound than that of the MP3 format. For many people, the difference in sound in negligible.

 

Off-site Data Storage:

Off-site data storage is an important consideration if, God forbid, disaster strikes your area. Here in California, a sizable earthquake could break down this infrastructure for a long while, and such destruction could destroy those hard drives and other storage media. Aside from earthquakes, some parts of the world have to contend with floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, and tsunamis. Sometimes houses and apartment buildings burn down. These aren’t pleasant thoughts, but it’s true. For these reasons, it’s wise to keep a backup copy of your data off-site. When finished with my current project of backing up ALL my photos, music, and documents, I plan on keeping a small book of DVDs at a relative’s house, which is in a different town. You could also keep your backups with a friend, at the office, in a safe deposit box, etc. Also, when keeping such things in the possession of others, be sure to use your best judgment, based on what the content of your backups is. If some of the information is sensitive and potentially embarrassing, take the safe deposit approach or just leave it off your off-site backups.

 

Photo Prints:

For photos that are really important to you, print ’em out! My family has some tintype photos from the 1800s, portrait paintings from the early 1900s, and a collection of film negatives and slides. In other words, physical portraits can last an extremely long time, especially under proper care. For long-term storage, again, the best bet is to keep a copy at home and another off-site. Be sure your printer paper is acid-free, as well as any envelopes you may be storing them. If at all possible, keep the photos stored away so exposure to air is minimal, and don’t touch the photos if you don’t have to. That way you will keep oils from your skin off the photos.


Second (and Final) Summary

Ultimately, there is no single, bullet-proof data storage solution. Your best best to ward off data loss is to back up files to two or more storage mediums, which can include a combination of hard drives, DVDs, online/cloud storage, tape drive, and even CDs. Periodic backup is also crucial, since hard drives will inevitable fail and plastic storage media will degrade. Even online storage shouldn’t be used as a single source of data backup.

If possible, transfer your backup files to new media every 3-5 years to keep your storage devices fresh. Keep copies of your data off-site and, lastly, put your most important files in a physical medium (like photos) when applicable. Happy data preservation!

If you are new(ish) to WordPress, it doesn’t take long to figure out that your pages are super-customizable, to such a degree that the options can become dizzying. Many of the tutorial pages about turning categories and/or tags into individual pages are just so convoluted and really filled with too much information. Since most of my posts fit into one of six categories (Music, Tech., Travel, etc.), I wanted to turn those categories into individual pages and have links to those category pages show up on every page on my site. It ended up being a really simple process, and this is what I did:

Step 1 – In your WordPress Dashboard, navigate down to “Appearance” – “Menus” as shown.

 
Step 2 – Give your Menu a title. It can be anything, and the title name won’t show up anywhere on your published pages. Click “Create Menu.”

 
Step 3 – Scroll down the page and select what categories, pages, and/or tags you want to turn into individual pages. Click “Add to Menu” for each section. If any sections are missing, click on “Screen Options” at the top right of the page and check any box that’s missing (options to display are “Theme Locations,” “Custom Links,” “Posts,” “Pages,” “Categories,” and “Tags.”)

 
Step 4 – You can rearrange the order your links will display on your pages by simply dragging and dropping them into the order you want. Also, you can create sub-links by dragging one of the gray page link boxes over slightly to the right. For example, if I wanted to make the link to my “Music” page appear in a dropdown menu when highlighting the “About” page, this is how it’s done.

 
Step 5 – Click “Save Menu” when done arranging and apply it to your site by selecting the menu you just saved in the “Theme Locations” box (where to select the theme is shown in the photo above; the final product is shown below.)

Feel free to leave some feedback if have any tips to add, need any clarification, if this post has helped, or if you want to just say “hello!”