Backing Up in Multiple Locations or Cheap Computer Crap or Website Headaches

Backing Up – A Cautionary Tale:
During the entire time I lived abroad I did virtually all my work and stored my photos on a cheap little Acer Aspire Pro – I backed up all of my photos and data on a little external sony harddrive and despite five years of hard use and the original machine being a first generation cheapo netbook – it never failed me and my backups were unnecessary – fast forward to last year at about this time – for the first time since 2005 I bought a full size laptop with a full warranty and all the computing power I thought I’d been missing. It was great and frankly, I became complacent – there was a complimentary cloud storage and backup feature which it turns out expired after 60 days and deleted all of my data – but I had nothing to worry about – the laptop sat on my desk, never left the house, and was new and warrantied – and while I continued to download backups of my websites I stopped using the external storage unit for backups – I felt confident that I was saving all my data. I’d been using my old android phone more than my camera and when I upgraded to an iphone I did the right thing – downloaded all of my photos and data from the phone and reset it – so now that new laptop had all my website backups, most of my photos since we had come to the USA in April of 2013 – and all the writing I’d done since December of 2014 – fast forward again to August of 2014 – the new warrantied computer’s hard drive failed – no problem – under warranty- I sent it to the factory and they fixed it and reset it and sent me a new laptop – a month later – my hosting company detects a virus in my website code and deletes all of my site data – no problem – I had backups – uh yeah, they were on the failed harddrive and are long gone – the online backup in the cloud – expired after 60 days – no backups since 2013 – virtually all of the online work I’d done in 2014 was lost – fast forward and I start thinking about Halloween and Christmas photos of our daughter in 2013 – can’t find them on my camera, must have used my phone – oh yeah, on the old phone so look on the computer – crap – all those photos were on the old harddrive, all the videos (first Christmas morning in the USA, first trick or treat, etc) all gone – fast forward to a few days ago – I remember a story I had started and written about twenty pages of and guess what – it was on that hard drive too – so there it is – I fell into complacency and lost five websites, hundreds of important pictures and videos, forty or so articles, the beginnings of two books, and more – all because I made the mistake of thinking a new and expensive computer was safer than my old cheap netbook and my little external harddrive – a terrible mistake – and one I hope you don’t make. Get a little external harddrive and back everything up on it…I hope this saves you some headaches.

Here’s a side note – yesterday right after I had written this and then saved it as a draft, I clicked the button on the backend of this site that updates plugins – without backing up the site – well, the plugin update failed and I was locked out of this site’s admin panel and had to go through about four hours of headaches to get things right again – the moral of the story? Back up before you do anything!

#vagothinks

I have strong opinions and good ideas – I’m tired of keeping them to myself. I’m going to be sharing them from now on on twitter using the hashtag #vagothinks – I’m still a week out from completing my 99 day fast from Facebook – I may do another 99 day break from it after I check messages, check up on friends, etc.

Here are the first of my #vagothinks:

#vagothinks The USA should offer Syria to Turkey if they go in and kick ISIS out – just give it to the Turks.

#vagothinks the US economy is failing miserably for everyone who is not already middleclass or higher – I propose locialism as a solution…

@vagothinks locialism is a universal safety net including free medical, food, and housing assistance for anyone earning less than $40k/year

#vagothinks #locialism should be free and available for anyone who asks for it – no proof necessary – those who opt out get special benefits

#vagothinks taxes should be paid by employers before wages – flatly – every employee gets taxes withheld – not an employee=no taxes !

#vagothinks Trash trucks should have scales on them – every household gets charged by weight – less garbage=lower bill, more garbage=higher

#vagothinks No one (including corps) should be allowed to own more than two residences but no limit on commercial or industrial properties

#vagothinks There should be a children’s judicial system where children can safely appeal unfair treatment from adults with no consequences

#vagothinks a person’s record should only reflect judgments against them -everything else should be expunged – including credit data

#vagothinks The US government should wipe out student loans and make all Universities public and free of charge – funded by taxes, resources

#vagothinks the US government should use (and disclose) alternative funding for maintenance of parks, universities, schools, highways, etc

#vagothinks the sale of raw materials to other countries should be outlawed. The USA should export finished products only.

The Astounding Way I Earn a Living These Days…and more

America is awash in stuff, things, shit, and treasure…

It’s fucking astounding. It blows my mind. Always has. Probably always will. This country has such an amazing glut of material goods that it struggles with what to do with them – but at the same time – the citizens here are constantly buying shit, stuff, new things…to replace perfectly good old things…

My friend owns a second hand shop down the street from me – every time I step in her shop I realize that my high minded ideals and cultured aesthetic have fucked me again – she is selling the shit out of stuff I wouldn’t have thought would sell- Seriously…get this…I can buy a fine set of hand made, Danish, mid century modern end tables by a known designer and maker and price them at $50 each – and I’ll get a dozen people that come in and look at them and then tell me “Oh, I can’t pay that, I want to resell them” – pickers and dealers coming into an ANTIQUE SHOP – they need meat on the bone.

…oh yeah baby, I’ve made the big mistake – Cater to the classes and dine with the masses and meanwhile she is Catering to the masses and dining with the classes – Yeah, I’m an idiot. I have a store filled with things I appreciate after visiting the greatest museums in the world, traveling to 50 countries and 49 states, and studying art, history, and culture – in a town where most people have at best a 12th grade education and might have visited a couple of cities nearby..or maybe had a trip to California a few years ago….meanwhile my friend is selling them the same things their neighbors bought and they admired…for a fraction of the cost –

I earn a living doing this- we pay our bills and the people that appreciate this stuff find me – which is cool – but meanwhile she is employing two people, making more money, and has the opportunity to buy far more new inventory than I do (let alone expand)- so, the moral of the story is – don’t focus on what you like, focus on what people need – the Warren Buffet investment strategy – it works and my friend is proof of that –

I’m not complaining, mind you – like I said – I earn a living buying and selling really cool things, beautiful art, and interesting things – but the question I should have asked at the beginning was “Do I want to deal in cool interesting things or make money?” The answer, I thought was both, but what I didn’t realize was that I’d much rather make money selling crapola than scrape by selling art…it’s time to do some evaluation and figure out how to reshape my business…

A 99 Day Break from Facebook

UPDATE: Just a few days in and I already find that I have extra time on my hands. It’s amazing how when I have a spare moment on the computer or in the shop or at home, my mind says “Check out Facebook” and then when I don’t I realize – “Hey, I don’t need to be on the computer and can step away to do something else” – it’s amazing how much of my precious time I was killing with FB.

Yesterday, I saw an interesting proposal online – it suggested that Facebook might be contributing to general unease and unhappiness in the world.  I was already feeling a bit nauseated by Facebook in light of the recent behavioural experimentation the Facebook scientists have been conducting on users without their knowledge.

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If you haven’t heard of it already, Facebook manipulated what stories showed up in the streams of users and then monitored what effect that had on the posting behaviour of those users.  They then, rather naively, published the results which showed that by manipulating what stories users saw, they could manipulate what kind of stories users posted.

So, the chances are that you have already been manipulated by Facebook. And that’s only the study they are telling us about…It was in that context that I saw a Danish group suggesting that a lengthy break from Facebook might make people happier – in general. And they created a website and campaign to encourage people to give it a shot. 99daysoffreedom.com

Upon hearing about it, my first reaction was – “Whoa, that’s three months, I don’t think I could do that – I use Facebook all the time.” and then, those words hit me…What exactly do I use Facebook for? I use it to see what my friends are posting, to try to post things that my friends might ‘like’ and as a sort of ego extension. I use it to try to increase my readership and once in a while I use it to buy or sell something.  The real question is Do I need it? The answer is very clearly “No”. I’ve lived most of my life without it and actually, I was happier with my use of my time during most of that time.  In fact, Facebook has more or less become a defacto boredom time killer and I don’t need to kill time…it’s my most valuable assett. I have so much stuff I want to do and haven’t been doing because I don’t have the time – but suddenly – if I’m not spending my time scrolling through platitudes pasted on nice pictures – or looking at other people’s vacation photos – I’ve got some time.

I mean, you want proof? I’m writing this. I’m not writing it on Facebook, I’m writing it on my blog which I’ve been sorely neglecting lately. You might be reading it on Facebook though because my blog automatically posts on Facebook without me logging in at all. I’m not logged into Facebook, I’m not checking to see if people ‘like’ me or what I post and I’m not being pithy, smarmy, or snarky.  It already feels good.

So here we are 99 days without logging into Facebook begins…if you want to see where it ends…you can see my countdown here..

And if you want to contact me – it won’t work to contact me on facebook. Try emailing me, commenting on this blog, calling me, or even sending me a letter.

 

http://99daysoffreedom.com/vago-damitio

Matter and Matters

Sometimes (actually most of the time) it’s far too easy to get caught up in this world of matter. This world of financial responsibilities, bills, wars, rumours of wars, and again financial matters – most especially money. Money, money, money, money, money, money, money.

laopirate

It’s what makes this ridiculous world go around. Right?

Nope.  Dead wrong. All the money can disappear and the world will keep spinning. All the bills can go unpaid and the world will keep spinning. All the credit can be ruined, all the bank accounts emptied, and all the money sucked up by a giant rainbow eating typhoon and still this old world will go on round and round.

What keeps the world spinning? Gravity. Strong force. Electromagnetic influences we don’t understand. Maybe even love if you are a poet or a certain kind of mystic, but money has abso-fucking-lutely nothing to do with the world going round.

Money has been making my head spin lately – it’s been affecting the way I see the world, it’s been affecting my moods, and almost certainly as a result – it’s been affecting my health and my relationships.  And – money has been quite effectively eluding me as I do everything I can to get my hands around it.  Money does seem to work like that – the more you need it, the more elusive it becomes.

Changes to Google algorhythms finally seemed to have cut off my ability to make money on a regular basis with my travel websites. Google banning me from the adsense program (and despite my inquiries – they won’t tell me what it was I did) closed another door.

Ebay has been a good source of income to my family – but recently I’ve been hit by scammers and frivolous returns – Ebay makes money from buyers, not sellers – so the whole system is set up to protect those who transfer their cash to ebay – which has created many great opportunities for scammers to buy things and then file frivolous claims. They get their money back, they keep the items, and they file insurance claims on damage – Ebay looks on as sellers get ripped off. There are so many sellers that I am sure those of us getting ripped off are considered acceptable collatoral damage.

I thought that getting a space in an antique mall would be a good way to move away from Ebay – and I found an antique mall that seemed to be moving in a great direction – but as soon as we got in the owner started going in self destructive directions by alienating  vendors and making other reputation ruining moves – soon we were just one of a handful of vendors hanging on in a huge emptying space. For the four months we were there, we paid $1000+ in rent and commissions while earning only about $650 and losing about $1800 in inventory – do the math and you can quickly see that it wasn’t working.  We bartered for another space in a different mall and have had about the same results.

Tables at the flea market in Eugene were another angle that I hit – with more success than in the antique mall – but the markets are infrequent and the crowds are very hit or miss. Tomorrow is the last market until autumn – we’ll go back, but we’ll miss the one tomorrow because tomorrow is also Father’s Day and here in Reedsport, the last day of the Annual Chainsaw Carving Contest – which is important for us – see below.

The best solution seemed to be opening a little shop of our own. For less than the cost of the antique mall space – I was able to rent a small shop in Reedsport right on Highway 101. Reedsport Antiques is now open.  We’re not making money hand over fist – in fact – for the hours I’m putting in, I’m definitely earning less than I’ve ever earned – but – in the first two weeks, we’ve earned enough to almost cover the rent – which is better than we did in any antique malls.  To cover the added expense of opening and running a shop I hoped that the last flea market, an estate sale we helped run in California, listing a large number of valuable items on Ebay for bargain prices, and shop sales would help – as I wrote above – all of them failed and when you count on money or need money from a source – that’s about the time that money runs away from you screaming.  It’s frustrating.

And of course, it doesn ‘t matter. It’s hard to keep that in mind. It’s hard to remember that. My $43k in student loans are deferred and growing through negative amortization. If I don’t pay them – the world won’t end. Our shop and all my hours are almost paying for the shop – but food and rent and insurance premiums need to get paid for from somewhere – and if they don’t – well, it won’t be the end of the world either.

Money matters…in this world of matter. We need it and the more we need it, the more it runs from us. That’s why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. There is a very real and very not understood law of cause and effect with money – which could very well be the reason we are put here, the challenge we are given to overcome, or could be nothing at all.  All of this could just be a dark comedy we created for ourselves and which is going to play itself out while the world keeps spinning and then be forgotten while the world keeps spinning as we disappear from the universe and return to the nothing we came from.

Money doesn’t matter.  I figured that out at one point. It’s time to figure that out again.

2013 – My year in Review – Damn this one was tough… Check out my Life GPA for 2013

2013 has been a year to remember – that’s for sure. The year has been filled in equal parts with success and failure and along with the highs that came when I achieved my goals – there has also, inevitably, been some disappointment – but then, that’s what happens when you set the bar high. First, I’d like to let you know what my goals were when I sat down on my 41st birthday last year – December 27, 2012.

At the time, my wife, daughter and I were still living in Morocco. The most recent update from Google had crippled my income by sending advertisers scurrying away from anything that might be considered selling a link – my income had dropped from a 2012 high of more than $7000 per month to just less than $500 in December. I’m not sure why, but December is always incredibly difficult for what seem like outside influences – at least up until my birthday and then things usually turn around.

So there we were wondering if my wife’s immigrant visa would ever be approved, trying to survive a particularly cold winter in Sefrou, and figuring out how to be good parents and spouses. I had nearly $45k in student loans ahead of me and the expensive prospect of moving my family to the USA. With that in mind – these were the goals I made for myself:

In 2013 I will re-edit and rewrite every one of my twelve books so that they are the best I can make them.
In 2013 I will publish my books various other eBook platforms.
In 2013 I will create great cover art for my published books and those I haven’t published yet.
In 2013 we will move my family to the USA, find a house, and establish ourselves.
In 2013 I will jump start the stalled IAPOTJ (International Association of Professional Online Travel Journalists)
In 2013 I will launch the MVA App and found the movement of MVA (Micro Victory Army)
In 2013 I will plant a garden and take a permaculture design course.
In 2013 I will revise and republish The Hu Factor, write the sequel to the Hu Factor, complete Blue Eyed Bastards and edit The Keys to the Riad,, and I will finish book 1 of The Invented God. I will sign deals with agent and publishers.
In 2013 I will pay off at least $15,000 of my loans.
In 2013 I will earn at least $100,000.
In 2013 I will stop reacting and instead respond to problems with focus and improve my level of fitness.
In 2013 I will improve my metrics and earnings on all of my websites.

Look. It’s a lot. Each one of those goals had at least five micro-goals that in themselves were probably big enough to be a single annual goal. I expect a lot of myself and I almost never let myself take the easy way out. Here’s how I did….

I re-edited and re-published ten of my twelve completed books. I assigned and purchased ISBN numbers for them, published every one of them in print and multiple ebook formats, and redesigned my personal website to showcase them (that’s this site, by the way).  I didn’t end up re-editing The Hu Factor, writing the sequel to it (The Hu Man), completing The Invented God, editing The Keys to the Riad, or re-writing and publishing Blue Eyed Bastards – those four books also still do not have great cover art. Despite those failures – I still consider the first three goals to be a huge success. Overall grade on goals #1-#3 – B-, B+, B- Average of a B.

Moving on – I did get my wife’s immigrant visa approved, I moved my family half way around the world, and I managed to get us into a house of our own. I even planted a small garden. I did not, however, land a great job or take a permaculture course. Still – I consider this goal a success. A- overall for the garden and move to the USA.

In terms of the IAPOTJ and the MVA – these were back burner projects in 2013 and I didn’t give them much attention at all. Still, both organizations grew and developed memberships – I feel like the energy that I did give them early on gave them the momentum to carry on. I hope to pursue both in 2014. Overall grade C-.

I did not sign a deal with either agents or publishers. I didn’t pay more than $1000 on my loans though I did refinance and defer them again. I didn’t even come close to earning $100k in 2013. As of now – it looks like I’ll be lucky if I cleared $30k.  The related goal of improving metrics and earnings simply did not happen – in fact, I was barely able to keep things at the same dismal level as in 2012. Finally, I was better at responding with focus (mostly) but my fitness suffered and is probably the worst it has ever been. The US diet and the stress of trying to make ends meet and working on the computer or the phone all day took a toll on my fitness. I’m not going to give myself an F for these factors since there were micro goals that I did achieve – I figured out how to sustain my family with eBay, I created a successful eBay store, and I’ve managed to pay all of our bills and expenses. Still, the best I can give myself on these is a D.

Now – the extra credit. I had some successes that I hadn’t planned.

I earned my insurance license in the state of Oregon and took a job selling life insurance.

I traveled to Spain, visited Dubai, and introduced my wife and daughter to San Francisco, Portland, Bellingham, Seattle, Sacramento, Redding, and the Oregon Coast. We visited the Redwoods, camped in the San Juans, and I got to introduce my family to my friends and family.  I had some amazing cultural experiences before leaving Morocco and Spain, and I bought a jeep and a BMW, albeit older ones. I learned how to buy and repair watches, discovered how to buy and sell gold, and discovered the hidden gold of antiques and estate sales. Add to that the fact that my wife and daughter have wanted for nothing during this year, both have great electronic gadgets, and we have somehow filled our house and garage with cool things and I deserve an additional A to average things out.

Now it’s time to average things out (I am doing this as I write). B, A-, C-, D, A. Using the age-old averaging for GPA – 2.7 for 2013 out of a possible 4.0 – that feels about right except I’m going to give myself a bonus .05 for the happy singing of my wife and daughter coming from the next room as I write this. So- I’m raising my grade to an overall B- average for 2013.

So that’s me for 2013. Next week I’ll start working on my goals for 2014. At the end of this month, I’ll revisit my predictions for 2013 and throw out some new ones for 2014.