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Archive for June, 2009

LandlordMax Sale 1 Day Left!!

Just a friendly reminder to let you know that LandlordMax Property Management Software is still on sale for $147 until tomorrow (June 30, 2009). As of July 1st, the price will be $189. So if you haven’t already taken advantage of this discount over the month of June, don’t forget to do it now before the sale is over!






Are Your Backups Actually Good?

Computer Failure

Being the founder of a property management software business (LandlordMax), I can’t tell you how many times we’re contacted by people who’ve lost their data because of a hard drive failure, a complete computer failure, a virus, and so on. It happens all the time. So much so that a few years ago I wrote 4 Simple Steps to Protect Your Data From 99.9999% of all Computer Failures to help prevent this from happening to as many people as possible.

The good news is that today I’m seeing a lot more people pro-actively backing up their computers and their data. The bad news is that not all solutions are good. Whatever your backup solution is, you should test it before you NEED to use it. You might be surprised at how exactly it works. Or maybe it just simply doesn’t work. Maybe the automated backups aren’t actually backing up anything. Maybe it’s backing up the wrong files. Maybe the software you’re using is faulty. Whatever backup method, test it.

To give you an example, I was recently talking to a customer who was very active in her backup procedures. She knew that backing up was important, and she was very actively using a service to remotely backup her data in real time. I highly commend her for that, that’s better than most people. That’s exactly what we all want to see. I can’t praise her enough for being pro-active. And because of this she felt confident that her data was safe, which is completely reasonable, I would too.

However there’s one very big issue, and maybe you’ve already spotted it. If not, re-read the previous paragraph. Can you see it now? Her data was backed up in real time! If you think about it, this only protects you from a hardware failure or theft at best. And even then, if the harddrive is bad, you’ll still have the bad (corrupted) files overwrite your good files!! It only really protects you from a computer failure that’s very quick (power supply that shorts the machine) or theft. Maybe a few other situations, but it’s very limited. It doesn’t protect you from a bad harddrive, you’ll just push the same bad data to the backup service as the files get corrupted. It doesn’t protect you from a virus, the virus is just pushed over to the backup. It doesn’t protect you from accidentally deleting a file, the file is just as fast deleted on the backup!! Real time backups are good for backing up you system as it is exactly right now, good AND bad!

In other words, real time backups can be very limiting unless you can revert to a previous day, week, or month. And because most of these services are low cost, they don’t really offer these options. They just can’t, it’s not economically possible. For example, the solution use by the previously mentioned customer charges $54.95 a year for real time backups. If you look at the numbers, that’s less than $5/month for unlimited storage. I did notice that in her case the bandwidth was really slow, an 8MB file took about 15 minutes to restore. I would also assume support is about as good as $5/month hosting. But ignoring that, how can they feasibly offer tagged (dated) backups at those prices? Would most consumers pay $100/year for backups? My guess is probably not. Which means you won’t be able to revert to a previous version, just to your current version, whether it’s good OR bad.

Which means that if you overwrite a file, it immediately overwrites your backup. You can’t revert. You can only get what’s on your  disk right now. The same is true if you’re infected. All you can do is get back the infected files. The only time it will save you is if you’re computer dies suddenly due to a hardware failure, theft, or other even less likely events.

So the moral of this post, whatever your backup solution is, I strongly recommend you verify it before you NEED to use it. You may be in for some surprises. The backup disk may not work. The backup system may not actually be backing up anything. Can you get a previous backup that’s not from today (in case you have a virus)? How long will it take you to get your computer back up (at 8Mb/15 minutes, a 1 GB backup could take days!!)? Don’t just think because you have a backup solution that you’re good to go, test it!






How To Be Invisible – Book Review

How to be Invisible

If you’re looking for a book on how to LEGALLY protect your assets and your privacy then you absolutely have to read How to Be Invisble by J.J. Luna. I strongly recommend it. I generally don’t mark up my books, but I can’t say that for this book. It’s bookmarked, highlighted, you name it. The only thing to note is that this book is NOT about tax avoidance. Neither I, nor the author, recommend tax avoidance in any way. This book is about protecting your assets and your privacy from the public.

Why would you want to protect yourself? For several reasons. To use some examples from the book: you suddenly win a lottery ticket, you physically look just like the bank robber that was highlighted in the evening news the night before, you’re innocently related to the wrong person, you have a significant amount of money, someone faked their identity as yours, you have a stalker, you accidentally cut someone off on your way home and they want to come after you, and so on. There are a lot of reasons of why you might want to protect your assets and your privacy.

How do you protect yourself? That’s the topic of the book How to Be Invisible. J.J. Luna covers this topic in amazing detail and he offers a wealth of information. Not only that, but he also explains how there are different levels and layers of security. He goes from the simple basic security precautions you can take all the way to some very advance and high level privacy measures you can implement. What I especially liked is that he not only covered how to protect your privacy, but also how to protect your assets.

Being a computer geek, I generally find that most sections on technology are pretty superficial, and too often just plain wrong. In many cases the authors doesn’t really get it, and there are glaring holes in their information. Not so with this book. I actually learned new things from the technology section of a non-tech book! Assuming the rest of the book is as accurate as the technology section, well let’s just say I have no fear trusting the information in this book. Although I always recommend doing your own due diligence, because after all you can only blame yourself, I’m very confident in the information in this book.

Something else I really liked about the book is how several times the author asks you how you would find someone given a specific set of limited information. At the beginning of the book, and I hate to admit this,  I really didn’t know how. But as I progressed through the book, I got smarter and smarter. There’s some amazing examples of how easy it can be to find people and their assets, so it pays to know if you want to protect yourself. It also makes you more aware of your surroundings, which is very valuable in all situations, not just when you want to protect your privacy.

Overall I strongly recommend the book How To Be Invisble. It’s a great book with lots of useful information. Although you may not choose to implement the highest levels of security, I have no doubt you’ll at least implement some of the techniques the author suggests. I know I’ve already changed the way I do a few things.

You can find the book How to Be Invisble on Amazon by clicking here. You can also find further information at the website HowToBeInvisible.com and at the author’s blog Invisible Privacy.






Can Google Trends Predict the Winner?

For those of you who don’t know, Google Trends is a free service by Google that lets you determine the trend of different keyword searches over time, and then compare them together. Today I’m going to show you that it’s often possible to determine who will win between competitors using just Google Trends. By the way, did you know that Google can predict the flu activity up to two weeks faster than the current medical system? Yes, it can be that powerful!

LCD TV versus Plasma TV

Plasma Versus LCD TV

As you can clearly see, the number of Google searches for Plasma TV’s is on a clear decline whereas the number of Google searches for LCD TV’s is climbing. Based on the current trend, I predict it’s only a matter of time before Plasma TV’s are obsolete.

Another interesting thing to note about this graph is the spikes near the end of the year. This is inline with the increases in shopping for Black Friday and Xmas.

Facebook versus MySpace

Facebook versus MySpace

I remember how not very long ago everyone was wondering which would be bigger. Looking at the Google Trend it’s pretty clear who’s going to be bigger. FaceBook is continuing to grow while MySpace is declining. Although we can’t know for sure what the traffic numbers are, I’m willing to bet Facebook is ahead and gaining just like the Google Trends indicate.

When I wrote my ebook How to Generate Traffic to Your Website, I only had the Google Trends up to early 2008 (where they prettty much overlap and there’s not yet a clear winner), and even then I stated: “As you can see MySpace looks like it has already peaked, and may even be on the decline whereas Facebook has only recently peaked [in retrospect what looked like peak was only a temporary slowdown]. Please note however that these graphs don’t indicate real traffic but rather search query trends over time. If I was going to invest some time and/or money on one of these social networking sites, I would choose Facebook over MySpace based on these trend graphs.” A perfect example from a year and a half ago on how you can use Google Trends to better predict the future.

Netflix versus BlockBuster

Netflix versus BlockBuster

Based on the above Google Trends, it’s again pretty easy to conclude that Netflix is going to win over rental movies (I use Blockbuster since they’re the biggest brand name). Already Netflix has overtaken BlockBuster, and Netflix has an upward trend whereas BlockBuster has a downward trend. So unless things change, this lead should only widden.

Tivo versus PVR versus On-Demand

Tivo versus PVR

Based on these Google Trends, it appears that On Demand is growing faster than both Tivo and PVR’s. Tivo is definitely shrinking, and I expect it will eventually go away. PVR’s seem to be pretty static, which means they’ll probably stay with us for a long time. But On Demand is definitely a growing trend. If I was a betting man in the entertainment business, I’d put my money on On Demand as the way of the future.

Google Maps versus Mapquest

Google Maps versus Mapquest

I remember how exciting Mapquest was when the internet was new. It was the first big website to offer you the ability to map direction from where you where to were you wanted to go. Since then things have significantly changed. Google Maps has come onto the scene. And have they ever. They’ve blasted right past Mapquest. I can’t imagine this trend reversing, especially not when you consider what all Google Maps has to offers over Mapquest.

Norton versus McAfee versus Nod32 versus Kaspersky

Antivirus

Years ago it used to really be a battle between Norton and McAfee. Today things have changed a lot. I can tell you from personal experience, I’ve used both McAfee and Norton and I dislike them both. They’re so performance hungry that they really hamper your machine. These days I use Nod32 and I have only good things to say about it. The performance of Nod32 is amazing. What a difference!

In any case, you can clearly see that the lead Norton had is now gone. Not only that, McAfee is also losing steam. What’s interesting though is that it looks like the old guard is going to be replaced. I picked Nod32 because I like it a lot, and Kaspersky because I’ve heard good things about it, but there are many others. Needless to say, these two are growing while the while Norton and McAfee are shrinking. I predict it’s only a matter of time. If it wasn’t for stores like Best Buy stocking Norton and McAfee on their shelves, that and corporations staying with what they’ve always bought in the past because change is hard, the numbers would be even more drastic. I predict it’s only a matter of time.

Network Solutions versus GoDaddy

Network Solutions versus GoDaddy

Back in the early days of the internet there were only 3 domain registrars, one of them being Network Solutions. Eventually this changed, and now we have more registrars than I can count. But what’s interesting here is that we can see that just because Network Solutions had an early lead, it doesn’t mean they will keep it. Remember they were one of only three registrars! What happened? They kept charging very high prices for domains hoping to bank on their brand recognition.

Along came GoDaddy with cheap domain registrations. Today we can clearly see that Network Solutions is going in a downward trend while GoDaddy is going upwards. It’s easy to see this lead growing with time.

SSD versus HDD

SSD versus HDD

For those who aren’t as familiar with these abbreviations, SSD represents Solid States Drives and HDD represents Hard Disk Drive. HDD’s are currently the standard disks you find in computers. It’s most likely what you have in your computer. SSD’s are the new storage technology. They destroy HDD in terms of performance. They aren’t just a bit faster, they are multiple times faster. Not only that, they use a fraction of the energy, can take more physical abuse, have no moving parts, make no noise, and so on. Basically they trump HDD’s. The downside is that they’re still expensive, several times more than a standard HDD and they only come in smaller sizes. It’s more than enough space to run a normal computer, but I wouldn’t recommend storing larger media files on it just yet, it’s still too expensive.

In any case, you can see that HDD searches are going down while SSD searches are increasing. I predict it’s only a matter of time before SSD’s win out over HDD’s.

Conclusion

In many instances it’s possible to predict a clear winner by using only Google Trends. However you still need to use your brain, it’s not always correct. When I ran Blue Ray versus HD DVD, HD DVD was winning at the time, and it appeared it was going to win. I remember reading all kinds of articles and posts on how HD DVD was going to win. But then suddenly Sony made some deals and the majority of the studios made commitments to Sony’s Blue Ray technology. Within a month, it was all over. Blue Ray beat out HD DVD. However if it wasn’t for a direct intervention by Sony, I suspect things would be very different now. Having already gone through and lost the Beta versus VHS battle years ago, Sony wasn’t about to replicate it’s mistake one more time with Blue Ray versus HD DVD.

Overall though, you can, and should, definitely take advantage of leveraging Google Trends to predict the future. It’s the most powerful tool I know for predicting the future.






LandlordMax Version 6.05a Has Just Been Released

Just minutes ago we released the latest version of LandlordMax Property Management Software version 6.05a.

This release is mainly a patch release, although we did manage to include one new feature (database compression). For further details on the specifics I’ll refer you to our online release notes, specifically the release notes for version 6.05a (near the bottom of the page).






LandlordMax Revenues Update

As I’ve done in the past, I’m going to share with you today the latest sales metrics of my company LandlordMax.  And just like in my post in June 2008, we’re still heading in the right direction! Below is our Monthly Revenues Graph, as well as our 12-Month Trailing Average Revenues Graph. I find that only showing the monthly graph isn’t enough, the trailing average gives you the all important trend.

LandlordMax Property Management Software - Sales Revenues Graph

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LandlordMax Property Management Software - Trailing Average Sales Revenues Graph

As the graphs clearly show, our sales are definitely increasing. A nice looking hockey stick graph! We’ve been lucky in that the recession has barely affected us.

The only thing that’s odd in the graph is the slowing growth line in 12-Month Trailing Average Sales Graph in the last little bit (the bottom graph). This is because for the last 2-3 months I started to leak the news that a new major version was going to be released any day now. As you’d expect, the news of a new version coming out any day affected our sales (some people decided to hold off purchasing the software until the new version was released, even if we offer up to a year of upgrades with your license). But as you can see from before, we expect the graph to jump right back up, and it’s already starting to do so.

Although the graph’s data isn’t up to today, I can tell you we expect June to be our biggest month yet based on the increased sales we’ve already seen since we released the latest version just 2 weeks ago!  It’s always a bit difficult to predict because there’s a delay from when we release a new version to when sales jump up because of the free 30-day trial we offer.

For those of you who might have missed it, back in early 2008 I posted a geographical map with all the cities in US where LandlordMax was purchased during 2007 which you can find below. The thing to note is that this is data from almost 2 years ago (it represents our sales from 2007, today that map would be significantly more populated), and all the nodes represent 1 OR MORE sales (1, 10, 100, 1000, etc. sales in a city are marked with just one node)

LandlordMax Sales in the US

As well, if you’re interested I had posted in the past or sales metrics by day of week as well as by day of month. What’s interesting is that our sales level double on weekdays compared to weekends. I suspect this is because about half our customers are individual real estate investors and half are property management companies, banks, universities, etc., which are mainly open on weekdays. Although it seems intuitive in retrospect, it took me a bit to figure out.






 
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