Sunday, May 17, 2009

Locket Survey Q&A

In this blog entry I'll do my best to answer the questions that were raised in the recent Locket Product Review Survey.

1. "I like the product looks, but i am wondering about the cost.. is it so different than anyone you'd buy in a store like in staples, for example?"
The difference between this product and a generic flash drive that you could buy in Staples is the fact that this drive has the Locket software preloaded onto it. This software guides you through entering information that you might need in an emergency, as well as presenting this information to you in an easy to use format (for example, being able to print out a report of all the contents of your RV including pictures for an insurance claim). You could store information on a cheaper generic drive but it would be in the form of individual files or a spreadsheet, all of which are harder to use and not as secure.

2. "More info on what is pre-programed into it would help."
You can visit the Locket page on our website that provides an overview and short video of Locket. From the Locket Support Page you can also download the Product Overview Brochure and the FAQ Guide.

3. "The idea is a good one. However; any 8 Gig flash drive would do the same thing. The idea to have pages to fill in blanks, delete pages, accept Scanned documents (like power of attorney for accidents and hospital stays, living wills, etc.) A pamphlet would be very important to remind people of information they must find and put in."
See earlier notes on the differences between this and any other 'generic' flash drive. Scanned documents can be saved as .JPG files and stored securely in the Locket database. A pamphlet can be accessed here.

4. "Easy to keep on key chain and I have my important info with me at all times. Would like to get one for my son with my info when something happens to me and he will be able to take of things. Very easy to use."
Locket is an ideal way of getting your affairs in order and then creating a copy for a relative or executor or your will. All you need to do is to fill in all your information in Locket, back it up to your computer. Purchase a second Locket from our website (we offer 30% discount for additional Lockets), and then restore the data to this new Locket drive. Send the new drive to your friend or relative remembering not to send the password in the same package!

5. "This sounds perfect for an RV'er (or anyone). I like the fact that everything is in one place, and a small place at that! One concern is - will it get damaged carrying it on your keyring? Will it slide around and damage the USB port end?"
The USB port of the flash drive is covered by a swivel style metal cap that keeps dirt out of the connections. The drive itself is all solid-state with no moving parts and is very resilient with a life-time warranty. If the drive fails for what ever reason, simply contact us and we'll replace it free of charge.

6. "I like that there is software to guide users to enter appropriate info. The program and data should be transferable to PC or Mac. Perhaps a link to a secure website."
We are working on a Mac version although there is no date yet for its release. The website is a good idea although I would be a little concerned about having that highly sensitive data on even a secure website. An ability to tag less sensitive data for upload to a secure website would be useful though I think. Thanks!

7. "I am not sure how it works. It seems like it will go out into your computer and retrieve data that you have presetup."
Once you install the software from the Locket drive, it guides you through entering the information (it doesn't pull the information automatically).

8. "Looks like it would be useful to take from one comp to another to share photos or info - would be good for doing a presentation instead of taking your laptop. Don't know the holding capacity of the device, would be nice to know."
Locket is really designed as a way to organize and store you emergency information. It's capacity is 2Gb which means that you can also store documents on the drive outside of the Locket database. However, if this is what you are looking for, I would recommend a larger flash drive such as our 8Gb Mini Backup Drive.

9. "What happens if this falls into the wrong hands?"
Good question, and this is why you wouldn't want to use a regular generic flash drive to store this kind of information. All the data that you enter into Locket is stored in a database which is encrypted (scrambled) to military spec using a 256-bit encryption key. It would take a supercomputer over a billion years to try to unscramble the data!

10. "Your ad states that information is stored on your own home computer. Does the flash drive only link to it or does it store a copy of the same information? How much memory does the Locket have for additional storage (excluding the memory taken up by the software)?"
Only the program is stored on your computer (that is required to run the software), the data ALWAYS resides securely on the Locket flash drive. The Locket drive is 2Gb. Unless you are wanting to store lots of scanned documents or photos in the database, there is ample room on the drive for these (most Locket databases will rarely exceed 0.5Gb).

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Rain, rain and more rain

It's been almost two years since we were this far East and by way of welcome, it hasn't stopped raining for four days now. We arrived in Branson, Missouri on our way to the Escapees Rally in Sedalia. We'd been here before on our trip and loved Branson landing with its wonderful fire and lights show. This time we stayed at the Lakeside City Park which is only ten minutes walk from Branson Landing as is great value $25 a night. It's a bit gravely and wet in this weather, but very pretty by the lake and super convenient for Branson Landing.

After a couple of days we decided that we needed a bit of luxury and to get away from all the dampness so we drove over to the Outdoor Resorts (Ozarks RV Resort). They have a hot tub and pool, and despite being 28 miles out of town in the middle of nowhere, is supposed to be very nice. Wrong. First off, it's $55 a night, more the twice Lakeside. It's a nice location by the side of a lake and it is all nicely landscaped with paved roads and concrete pads. However, despite the price, both of the pools and both of the hot tubs were stone cold! I'd asked when we checked in if they were open and they said yes. Jokingly, I even asked if the hot tub was hot (having experienced numerous issues in this department before in the past). Yes, the one by the main pool was hot.

After hooking up, I went in search of said hot tub only to find it freezing cold. I went back to reception and they said they'd turn the heat on. Less than ten minutes later I received a phone call on my cell phone. It was the lady of reception. She'd checked with the owners and wasn't able to turn the heat on until Monday. When asked what was special about Monday, she couldn't answer (I think she too was very embarrassed). What kind of campsite, especially a 'high end one' charging $55 a night in the middle of nowhere, is so cheap that they won't turn the heat on for the hot tub. What about all the people who have spent $100,000 for pads here? Don't they deserve some heat? I was so mad. I told her we'd be cutting our visit short and checking out in the morning. At least that's $120 that they won't be getting, and I hope it's a lot more.

You would think that the story ends there, but no, there's more! I went up in the morning to get my refund, and she said that she'd turned on the hot tub. Great, we were getting somewhere. I got a refund for Monday as Sunday was supposed to be our day off, at least now we could relax in the $55 a night hot tub. Wrong again! I went (again) to check the temperature and it was luke warm. Maybe it was warming up. I went back again at noon, nope, still luke warm. Back to the reception and she said she'd turn it up. This was becoming a major farce. Two hours later with Tracey and the kids in the car, up to the hot tub, nope, still luke warm. Back to reception, she'll send someone out. You'd think that this was an old a decrepit campsite, not a new ultra high end one. The hot tub and the pool all looked only a couple of years old. I hate to say it, but we gave up and had a sauna (at least that worked), even if I did have to sneak into the ladies to have it together!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

What is the best way to organize my photos?

Do you find that you're photos are scattered about your hard disk? Having trouble finding your favorite photos? Even if you use a software program to organize them, what happens if the maker of that program goes out of business?

For me, photos are the stuff of memories. Anyone who leads a mobile lifestyle like most of us wants to document those travels with photos. But keeping those photos securely, in an organized fashion, so that they are still accessible and useable in ten, fifteen or even twenty years is a challenge.

I first started photography with my own darkroom under the stairs when I was ten years old, and with digital photography back in 1998. In fact, the photo on the right of our old house in England was taken in 1998 with one of the world's first commercial digital cameras, the HP Photosmart, launched in 1997. It saved its pictures in TIFF format which was not ideal as they were large and didn't have any compression. Over the years I've developed a system of guidelines as follows:

  • Always save your photos in an industry standard format such as .JPG. Some cameras such as Nikon have their own propreitary formats (termed RAW) which give you more control when editing but are larger and may become obsolete. I therefore always store a copy of my favorite photos in .JPG format.
  • Use a well known photo management program like Adobe Photoshop Elements or Lightroom, Apple iPhoto, of Google Picasa to edit, add tags and ratings to your photos. These are stored in photos meta data and can be accessed by most other photo programs and operating systems and make finding and sorting your photos much easier in the future.
  • Keep your photos in one place on your machine. On a windows machine this is usually in 'My Pictures' and on a Mac in 'Pictures'. My suggestion is to create a directory for the year (2009) and then sub-directories for each event (e.g. Daughter's Wedding). That way your photos will always be correctly grouped together making them easy to find and to backup.
  • At the end of each year, review your photos and save copies to a seperate directory called 'Favorites' and within there a sub-directory for the year. That way you have a back up and a quick place to look for a picture of the grand kids to add to an email card within spending hours hunting around your hard disk.
  • Always, always, always backup. The best method is to use an external hard drive such as our Executive Leather 160Gb External Disk Drive ($99). I back mine up regularly to one of these and then hide it in the RV. That way if someone steals my laptop, at least I have my data secure. I then also burn my favorites onto a DVD and mail to a friend, as well as uploading them to a site such as Flickr, Snapfish or FaceBook.