Thursday, December 21, 2006

Backing up your system, finding balance

My new entry, Backing up your system with free software is up at Originally titled I ain't afraid of Norton Ghost (I'm learning to be more graceful about editorial changes), it describes some free tools and techniques one can use to back up and make an image of their workstation.

I still feel like I'm still fumbling around a bit there. While a weekly writing deadline has been very good for me, I don't think I've quite found the right groove yet at FSM.

Part of the difficultly has stemmed from the definition of "free". I originally thought free meant not having to pay for it, and classified closed-source freeware, no-nag shareware and open source software as free. Their definition is a bit more strict; if it's not open source, it's not truly free. It's a challenge to shift your perspective in that manner, but it's manageable.

My other stumbling block is finding the right equation for success; what's popular? I can't predict what will be hit yet, even looking at other people's work. Sometimes, an entry that I think is substandard will generate tens of thousands of hits, and another that I thought was stellar only gets a few hundred.

Obviously, there's no black and white solution; it's a matter of being in the right place at the right time with the right message.

With this particular definition of free, it's easy to slip into the anti-corporate role, railing against Microsoft or other large companies... extremists are obnoxious, and that's not my style. I feel more moderate; it's okay to find balance, and while I lean in a particular direction, I don't want to go off the deep end. I don't think Steve Ballmer is the devil.

However, I do like the 37signals approach, which is to pick an enemy and make something better than what they're doing. Hence, my title, "I ain't afraid of Norton Ghost" - I intentionally picked a popular commercial package and made it a target, and my weapons were free and open source software. Such a violent analogy and a confrontational tactic, yet that's a proven method of success.

In the end, the entry title was changed but the structure remained the same, and I got an above-average number of hits. So it goes.

I'm putting the finishing touches on my first article for Free Software Magazine... if accepted, it'll be in Issue 16. I haven't forgotten about the home server security, but real life and some other priorities have taken precedence. Also, I've got something big and fun planned in the next day or so...

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