Jan 23, 2017

3 Services Like Uber, But For IT Freelancers

I spend a lot of time thinking about the future. I'll be honest, I'm coming up on six years at my currently company that shall not be named. I love working here, and hope to keep working here for the very far reaching future. I've told others that I work with, that as long as the company sees value in me, I'll be loyal to the company. Still though, you never know what might happen.

For a lot of you in the Information Technology (IT) business, you probably work in a big city. So getting laid-off, although it still sucks, as long as you have a good looking resume and know your stuff, you will find a new job relatively quick. It's the best thing about IT, everyone uses computers so there is always a need for IT experts.

Well, that was my thinking until I moved to a podunk little one-horse town in nowhere Colorado. It is a rural area with a ton of small businesses, and no permanent IT jobs! Everyone out here outsources to independent contractors, and the only jobs don't pay what you can make in the big city. This situation makes me kind of nervous, because if my current company decides that they don't like me working remotely from podunk Colorado, then what will I do?

Well, I've been planning it for the last few years actually. I call it my "plan b", and that is to start my own independent IT consulting business. I got to talking with a local dentist up the street about who fixes his computers when they have issues. He said he had to call a company in a town that is an hour away, and usually it takes them a few days before they can come on site. That means that when something goes down for this dentist, his business could potentially be on hold for a few days! What's that I smell? Opportunity!

Back when I first got into IT in San Diego, I used to do my own home computer business on the side. I learned then that if push came to shove, I could make money on my own. I also learned about a few tools one can use to get jobs, and they are sort of like Uber, the independent taxi-like service that is letting millions of people work on their own time and use their car to make money. These tools, unlike Uber, are geared towards IT people. Here they are:

All of these services have apps that you can download to your phone. They will also send you email and text alerts when contract or freelance jobs come up!

When you are thinking about setting out on your own, and being your own boss it can be a scary prospect. However, if you plan for it right, and execute it properly, you can make decent money doing freelance work like this and being your own boss.

Like I said, for me this is my plan B option. I sincerely hope things continue your work out with my current company, but you never know what the future may bring. It gives me peace of mind having options like the services above to know that I will be able to find work if I need it.

Jan 4, 2017

Trying a new backup software program at home

For years I have been using Crashplan for home backups, but I stopped using their cloud service for backups because if I forget to renew they delete all my backups in the cloud and I have to start over. I started just using their software to backup to a local NAS device I have with RAID5 enabled. I figure that was good enough for most things I needed.

Well, I noticed that on my laptop that I had configured to backup to the NAS (Using a technique I developed) stopped working. I'm not sure if Crashplan got wise to it or what, but it stopped backing my stuff up and said it couldn't connect to the backup location. I decided I needed to use something else.

I at first thought about using the built in Windows backup program, but the problem with that is that it doesn't use encryption or offer an option to password protect your backups. I'm backing up files from my Bitlocker Encrypted files to an un-encrypted NAS device. I don't want to compromise that encryption security by storing my files un-encrypted on the backup device. Makes sense right?

So I decided to try out a free third party backup program called AOMEI Backupper Standard!

Here are the features from their page:

  • Backup system and create a system image to keep Windows and applications safe.
  • Backup entire hard disk (HDD), SSD or specified partitions to create an image file.
  • Backup or sync your most important files and folders on a regular basis.
  • Set and forget with automatic backup, incremental/differential backups to save time and storage.
  • Clone a smaller HDD to a larger HDD for disk upgrade, or clone HDD to SSD for better performance.
  • Real-time file sync: monitor files for changes and synchronize new added, modified or deleted files from source to target path as soon as the change has occurred.
Besides what's listed, they also offer encryption and compression settings as well as the ability to email you when backups complete or fail so you can set it and forget it!

I will try this out for the next few weeks. If it continues to work well, I think I may have found my new backup solution!

Jan 1, 2017

ExtraTorrent under major DDoS attack

ExtraTorrent has been under massive DDoS attack for the last few days. It's still going on apparently. For the last few days users may have noticed their RSS feeds are no longer working because if it. Also if you try to browse to their site now, you are greeted with the following CloudFlare DDoS protection screen:

I've also noticed that periodically you will also see a 503 Service Unavailable error, or you will get an error page from CloudFlare saying they can't connect to the backend web servers.

This has obviously been happening since at least around Christmas time. TorrentFreak reported the following on December 27th:

The popular torrent site ExtraTorrent has suffered several major DDoS attacks over the past few days. The problems appear to be related to the site's recent ban of 'unofficial' proxy services. Meanwhile, The Pirate Bay is also down, but for now it's unclear what's causing the issues on their end. 
ExtraTorrent, one of the largest torrent sites on the Internet, just experienced one of the most turbulent weekends in its ten year history. 
While many people were celebrating Christmas, the site’s operators were busy keeping the site online, after it was pounded by DDoS attacks. 
“Extratorrent faced tons of cyberattacks over the last three days. Most of them were DDOS attacks. Cloudflare can’t help us because we get 40 to 50 million requests from the U.S. every hour!” ExtraTorrent’s SAM informed us. 
To counter the attacks the site temporarily limited several functions to save resources. The login functionality for users is disabled, for example, so there are no fresh torrents. In addition, the site’s operators have removed the added protection against unofficial mirror and proxy sites.

In the meantime, you can use alternative sites like LimeTorrents or Yify to get your movies and TV shows although none of them support RSS feeds. Hopefully ExtraTorrent can get this straightened out soon.

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