Tag Archives: Backblaze Bits

Backblaze Holiday Gift Guide 2021

Post Syndicated from Yev original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/backblaze-holiday-gift-guide-2021/

The holiday season is upon us, and here at Backblaze, we always love to see what cool, new things are out there for us to give to our friends and family. Every year, we ask our team members what gifts they’ll be giving (or treating themselves to) and share their ideas on our blog.

This year, our team’s gift ideas range from the latest in fitness trackers for the person who’s always on the go, to weighted blankets that keep you cozy, and helpful plant-rearing guides for blossoming green thumbs. Read on for some gift ideas that are sure to bring some holiday joy!

For Those Who Love Spending Time Outdoors

WHOOP

WHOOP is a fitness and health membership that offers a fitness tracker and an app that analyzes fitness, health, and sleep data as well as a way to connect with other WHOOP members. Their adjustable device can be worn with a range of garments or on their handy wristbands. And they’re stylish!

YETI Trailhead Camp Chair

Save yourself a seat wherever you are—the beach, the backyard, or the backcountry—with this lightweight camp chair.

ENO DoubleNest Printed Hammock

Don’t want to sit down after your hike? Lay down in this packable hammock instead!

Hidrate Spark 3 Smart Water Bottle

If you’re the type of person who needs to be reminded to drink water (me), this water bottle will glow when it’s time to hydrate. Luckily, it will not play obnoxious music.

And Those Who’d Rather Stay Home

Gravity Weighted Flannel Sherpa Blanket

Holiday season is also cozy season, and weighted blankets are arguably one of the best ways to enjoy it.

The New Plant Parent

If you or someone you know spent the early months of the pandemic transforming their home into a greenhouse (that also smelled of sourdough), this book provides all the houseplant tips and tricks they might need to keep their indoor garden thriving.

RENPHO Eye Massager

As many of us spend our days staring at screens that can strain our eyes over time, this eye massager is a great way to reduce tension and headaches. It even connects to your phone via Bluetooth so you can choose music to play as it works. Not to be confused with an
Oculus Quest 2.

TP-Link Kasa Smart Light Strip

Every kid will want one of these to decorate their room. You can light up your house with this multicolor light strip, which you can control from your phone.

For Your Foodie Friend

Anova Precision Cooker Pro

Treat the home chef in your life to this super precise and powerful sous vide tool that’s a fan favorite with over 100 million cooks.

Hot Ones 10 Pack Sauce Kit

Everything tastes better with hot sauce, and this kit includes the full lineup from season 16 of “Hot Ones.”

Koffie Inja

This small batch coffee roaster uses sustainable and ethically-sourced coffee beans and donates 20% of their proceeds to Muttville, a San Francisco-based senior dog rescue shelter.

Games and Game-related Accessories

Nintendo Game and Watch: The Legend of Zelda

Retro game fans will enjoy this collectible game and watch that includes three Legend of Zelda games.

Legendary Edition of Curse of Strahd

Strahd is a TTRPG favorite and this edition comes with bonus encounters, finger puppets, and lots more!

Glorious Modular Mechanical Keyboard

This is the world’s first RGB, modular mechanical keyboard. It’s easily customizable and needs no setup. For when you need your clanky keys to light up!

For the Practical Person

Wemo WiFi Smart Plug

This smart plug uses your home Wi-Fi connection to let you control plugged-in devices from your phone or tablet. Neat!

Tile Combo Pack

Have a friend or family member who’s constantly losing their keys or phone (or themselves)? Help them keep track of their items with this combo pack that works with Android or Apple devices.

Fuzzy Lined Crocs

Are they the most fashionable? Maybe not. But they might be the most comfortable, especially with the warm and fuzzy liner!

Give the Gift of Backblaze

Help your friends and family back up their data with Backblaze Computer Backup. They’ll thank you for helping make sure they never lose a file again.

Happy Gift-giving From Backblaze

We hope this gift guide has helped spark some ideas for your own holiday gift-giving! Comment below to tell us what gifts you’ll be giving your friends and family this year.

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Backblaze Is Now a Public Company

Post Syndicated from Gleb Budman original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/backblaze-is-now-a-public-company/

Today is a big day for Backblaze—we became a public company listed on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol BLZE!

Before I explain what this means for us and for you, I want to give my thanks. Going public is an important milestone and one we couldn’t have accomplished without your support. Thank you.

Whether you have believed in us from the beginning and have been a customer for over a decade, or joined us yesterday; whether you entrust us to back up a single computer or to run your entire company’s infrastructure on the Backblaze Storage Cloud; whether you’ve partnered with us to bring our services to one individual or thousands of companies, whether you’re a first-time visitor to our site or you’ve been a reader all along: Thank you. We really appreciate you working with us and supporting us.

What Does Becoming a Public Company Mean for Backblaze?

It means we have more resources with IPO proceeds to increase investment in the development of our Storage Cloud platform and the B2 Cloud Storage and Computer Backup services that run on it.

The future is being built on independent cloud platforms, and ours has been 14 years in the making. Today, we take the next big step in being the leading independent cloud for data storage.

Additionally, while we help about 500,000 customers already, we plan to expand our sales and marketing efforts to bring Backblaze to more businesses, developers, and individuals that would benefit from easy and affordable data storage that they can trust.

Finally, we have built Backblaze with not only a focus on the products we provide, but with a deep care for what it is like to work here. With these proceeds, we plan to continue to significantly grow our team, and are looking for many more kind, smart, talented people to join us. (Is that you? We’re hiring!)

And Most Importantly, What Does It Mean for You?

My short answer is: It means more of the good things you’ve come to expect from us at Backblaze.

I want to emphasize that while we’ll be doing “more” for you, today’s events don’t mean that we’re “different” on any fundamental level. We’re still guided by the same principles and the same team. As a reminder, here’s the core of the values that we’ve been committed to since our founding (as written by Brian Wilson, Co-founder and CTO):

“At Backblaze, we want to provide a quality product for a fair price. We want to be honest and up front with our customers as to what we can and cannot do, and we want to be paid only the money honestly owed to us, and never engage in sleazy or misleading business practices where customers are misled in any way or pay for a service they do not receive. We are the ‘good guys,’ and we act like it.”

The only thing that’s changing today is we now have a more robust structure and additional funding to deliver on these values for more customers and partners.

If you’d like to share your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. In the coming weeks, I’ll share more about where we started, why we decided to go public, how we did it, and more. Stay tuned and for now…

It’s Time to Blaze On!

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Backblaze Announces Launch of Initial Public Offering

Post Syndicated from Backblaze original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/backblaze-announces-launch-of-initial-public-offering/

SAN MATEO—November 2, 2021. Backblaze, Inc. (“Backblaze”), a leading storage cloud platform, today announced that it has launched the roadshow for its initial public offering. Backblaze has filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) to offer 6,250,000 shares of its Class A common stock to the public. In addition, the underwriters will have a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 937,500 shares of Class A common stock from Backblaze. The initial public offering price is expected to be between $15.00 and $17.00 per share. Backblaze has applied to list its Class A common stock on the Nasdaq Global Market under the ticker symbol “BLZE.”

Oppenheimer & Co., William Blair and Raymond James will act as lead book-running managers for the proposed offering, with JMP Securities and B. Riley Securities acting as joint book-running managers. Lake Street will act as co-manager for the proposed offering.

The offering will be made only by means of a prospectus. Copies of the preliminary prospectus related to the offering may be obtained, when available, from Oppenheimer & Co. Inc., Attention: Syndicate Prospectus Department, 85 Broad St., 26th Floor, New York, NY 10004, by telephone at (212) 667-8055, or by email at [email protected]; William Blair & Company, L.L.C. Attention: Prospectus Department, 150 North Riverside Plaza, Chicago, IL 60606, or by telephone at (800) 621-0687 or by email at [email protected]; or Raymond James & Associates, Inc., 880 Carillon Parkway, St. Petersburg, FL 33716, email: [email protected], telephone: 800-248-8863.

A registration statement relating to the proposed sale of these securities has been filed with the SEC but has not yet become effective. These securities may not be sold, nor may offers to buy be accepted, prior to the time the registration statement becomes effective. This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy, nor shall there be any sale of these securities in any state or jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation, or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state or jurisdiction.

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Who Ya Gonna Call? Backblaze

Post Syndicated from Yev original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/who-ya-gonna-call-backblaze/

Halloween and its surrounding spooky season is my favorite time of the year. As the Computer Backup Steward at Backblaze, I often read people’s notes to us, which detail how we’ve helped them recover their files. As I was thinking about their experiences and our past Halloween blog posts detailing spooky data loss stories (Truly, what’s scarier than data loss?), I recalled a personal story that happened to my sister a few years ago when she was interning here at Backblaze. It reminded me that Backblaze Computer Backup doesn’t just recover people’s data, but we also help access it in times of need—which can be equally important. Like the Ghostbusters, when there’s something strange in your (data’s) neighborhood, who ya gonna call? …Backblaze, it’s Backblaze. So, on this, the Friday before Halloween, let me recount that tiny spooky tale for you today…


A long time ago, my sister Lisa was an intern with us here at Backblaze. It was just for a month, but she helped us build desks, digitized business cards (The horror!), and generally helped out around the office while getting a feel for working at a Silicon Valley tech startup. Like any good startup techie, after joining us for the summer, she started using Backblaze to back up her computer files, which makes sense because as a 19-year-old—a lot can happen to your computer.

My sister and I are really close, and we try to go on little trips together whenever possible. One of these opportunities arose in the form of a road trip from the San Francisco Bay to Los Angeles to see a comedy show. (For those curious, it was Kevin Smith and Ralph Garman recording their “Hollywood Babble-On” podcast.)

Driving down from the Bay Area to Los Angeles takes about five to six hours, sometimes longer depending on the traffic and where you’re headed. As we passed hour four, my sister turned to me and said, ”Hey, do I need my ID for this?” Cue: creepy forewarning music.

Now, this comedy show was held, oddly enough, in a comedy club (this sometimes happens when comedy is involved). An important thing to know about comedy clubs in general is that often they require people to be over 18, and are very serious about asking for ID so that underage people don’t imbibe, which makes sense—safety first.

So, yes. An ID was required, and yes she would need it, but no, she did not have it—nor her purse in general. Being an older brother is like that sometimes. I wasn’t about to turn around and drive back to San Francisco—partly because we had the show to go to that night, but also because I would get a bit of enjoyment from her having to sit outside while I enjoyed some comedy as a “lesson.” A sinister brotherly thought.

Luckily, I remembered that a few months back, my sister had to scan her passport as a PDF so that we could have a digital copy on another trip. I called up the comedy club and asked if they’d take a digital ID if we didn’t have a physical one, and while they were confused, they did say yes, so long as it was official. Good news! Once we arrived at the hotel, she logged on to Backblaze, found her backed up passport PDF, and we printed it out in the lobby. And we made it to the show on time. Happily ever after!

OK, so maybe it wasn’t really a horror story and the prospect of not making it to a comedy show may not seem scary to some people, but our family dynamic would mean that if she wasn’t able to attend and had to sit outside, she’d never have lived it down—low stakes slightly spooky (the best kind).

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Backblaze Files Registration Statement for Proposed Initial Public Offering

Post Syndicated from Backblaze original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/backblaze-files-registration-statement-for-proposed-initial-public-offering/

San Mateo, California, October 18, 2021 – Backblaze, Inc. today announced that it has publicly filed a registration statement on Form S-1 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) relating to a proposed initial public offering of its Class A common stock. The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined. Backblaze intends to list its Class A common stock on the Nasdaq Global Market under the ticker symbol “BLZE.”

Oppenheimer & Co., William Blair and Raymond James will act as lead book-running managers for the proposed offering, with JMP Securities and B. Riley Securities acting as joint book-running managers. Lake Street will act as co-manager for the proposed offering.

The offering will be made only by means of a prospectus. Copies of the preliminary prospectus related to the offering may be obtained, when available, from Oppenheimer & Co. Inc., Attention: Syndicate Prospectus Department, 85 Broad St., 26th Floor, New York, NY 10004, by telephone at (212) 667-8055, or by email at [email protected]; William Blair & Company, L.L.C. Attention: Prospectus Department, 150 North Riverside Plaza, Chicago, IL 60606, or by telephone at (800) 621-0687 or by email at [email protected]; or Raymond James & Associates, Inc., 880 Carillon Parkway, St. Petersburg, FL 33716, email: [email protected], telephone: 800-248-8863.

A registration statement relating to these securities has been filed with the SEC but has not yet become effective. These securities may not be sold, nor may offers to buy be accepted, prior to the time the registration statement becomes effective. This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy, nor shall there be any sale of these securities in any state or jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation, or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state or jurisdiction.

Investors:
James Kisner
Vice President of Investor Relations
ir@backblaze.com

Press Contact:
Patrick Thomas
Head of Publishing
press@backblaze.com

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Subscription Changes for Computer Backup

Post Syndicated from Gleb Budman original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/subscription-changes-for-computer-backup/

Thank you all for being Backblaze customers and fans. We’re writing today’s post to let you know that effective August 16th, 2021 at 5 p.m. Pacific, the prices for the Backblaze Computer Backup service are increasing. At that time, our prices per subscription will change to:

Extension Program FAQ

Why the Change?

In short, because of a double digit growth in customer data storage, significant increases in supply chain costs, and our desire to continue investing in providing you with a great service.

Here’s a little more information:

Data Growth and Component Price Increases

Our Computer Backup service is unlimited (and we mean it). Businesses and individuals can back up as much data from their Macs and PCs as they like, and we back up external drives by default as well. This means that as our customers generate more and more data, our costs can rise while our prices remain fixed.

Over the last 14 years, we have worked diligently to keep our costs low and pass our savings on to customers. We’ve invested in deduplication, compression, and other technologies to continually optimize our storage platform and drive our costs down—savings which we pass on to our customers in the form of storing more data for the same price.

However, the average backup size stored by Computer Backup customers has spiked 15% over just the last two years. Additionally, not only have component prices not fallen at traditional rates, but recently electronic components that we rely on to provide our services have actually increased in price.

The combination of these two trends, along with our desire to continue investing in providing a great service, is driving the need to modestly increase our prices.

The Service Keeps Improving

While the cost of our Computer Backup service is increasing, you’re going to continue getting great value for your money. For example, in just the last two years (most recently with version 8.0), we have:

  • Added Extended Version History, which allows customers to retain their backups for longer—up to one year or even forever.
  • Increased backup speeds—faster networks and more intelligent threading means that you can back up quickly and get protected faster.
  • Optimized the app to be kinder to your computer—less load on the computer means we stay out of the way while keeping you protected, leaving your resources free for whatever else you’re working on.
  • Re-architected the app to reduce strain on SSDs—we’ve rewritten how the app handles copying files for backup, which reduces strain and extends the useful life of SSDs, which are common in newer computers.
  • Improved data access by enhancing our mobile apps—backing up your data is one thing, but accessing them is equally important. Our mobile apps give you access to all of your backed up files on the go.
  • Easing deployment options—for our business customers, installing and managing backups across all of their users’ machines is a huge job; we improved our silent installers and mass deployment tools to make their lives easier.

These are just some of the major improvements we’ve made in recent years—nearly every week we push big and small improvements to our service, upgrading our single sign-on options, optimizing inherit backup state functionality, and much more. (A lot of the investments are under-the-covers to silently make the service function more efficiently and seamlessly.)

Lock In Your Current Price With a Subscription Extension

As a way of thanking you for being a loyal Backblaze customer, we’re giving you the opportunity to lock in your existing Computer Backup pricing for one extra year beyond your current subscription period.

(Read our Extension Program FAQ to learn more.)

Thank you for being a customer. We really appreciate your trust in us and are committed to continuing to provide a service that makes it easy to get your data backed up, access it from anywhere in the world, protect it from ransomware, and to locate your computer should it be lost or stolen.

Answers to Questions You Might Have

Are Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage Prices Changing?

No. While data flowing into our storage cloud is up across the board, our B2 Cloud Storage platform charges for usage by the byte, so customers pay for the amount of data that they use. Meanwhile, Computer Backup is an unlimited service, and the increase in our customers’ average storage amount plus the recent spike in rising hardware costs are contributing factors to the increase.

Will You Raise Prices Again?

We have no plans to raise prices in the future. While we expect the data stored by our customers to continue growing, we also expect that the global supply chain challenges will stabilize. We work hard to drive down the cost of storage and provide a great service at an affordable price and intend to continue doing exactly that.

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Recent Outages: Why We Accelerated Registry Changes

Post Syndicated from Jeremy Milk original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/recent-outages-why-we-accelerated-registry-changes/

Looking Out for Our Team, Customers, and Community

Earlier in February, Backblaze experienced two unexpected service disruptions. We take this very seriously and we apologize for any disruptions that you may have experienced as a result of these instances. We would also like to explain what happened and what steps we have taken to avoid such interruptions in the future.

What Happened:

Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage can serve a variety of use cases, including hosting content. Sometimes cloud storage services are used to host malicious content. The use of malicious content by any of our customers violates Backblaze policy. Any time we receive notice that an account is serving such content involving our cloud storage system, our Compliance team investigates and instigates appropriate actions as needed. (For reference, our preferred reporting channel is an email to reportphishing@backblaze.com.)

Sometimes domain registrars notice or receive these complaints and then reach out to the involved parties with a notice and mandate that the content be removed or the account will be suspended. That is what happened in both outage cases mentioned above: Our registrar notified us of malicious content from certain customers and requested that we remove specific links for these customers from Backblaze B2 in order to avoid suspension of the Backblaze B2 domain.

On February 12, due to a variety of factors—including a notice from a third-party registrar outside of our established communication process—the Backblaze B2 domain was suspended and we worked with our registrar to bring it back online shortly thereafter. This prompted us to review and refine our operating procedures (for example, we expanded our response team and hardened our escalation process) to coordinate more effectively with our third-party registrar, and to move up exploration of developer-friendly registrar solutions more fitting for current and future needs.

On February 17, a similar scenario occurred again. In this case, we acted in line with our new processes, yet despite our removal of the content as they had requested, the domain was still suspended by our third-party registrar. The domain was brought back up shortly thereafter, but for anyone experiencing outages for their Backblaze B2-hosted data who were unable to log in as a result of the suspension, we believe that any outage is too long.

What We’ve Changed

After the second domain suspension, we accelerated our decision to switch registrars—with determination to migrate as fast as possible. We opted to move to Cloudflare, whom we already partner closely with as part of the Bandwidth Alliance and whom we see as offering proven, enterprise-worthy service to a wide array of businesses and organizations. Beyond their technology, one of the key benefits of working with our partners at Cloudflare is that we’ll have a direct line of communication in the event of any future content takedown requests.

We started the process of switching our registration to Cloudflare on February 18 and completed the process on February 23.

We truly appreciate the clear communication and suggestions from our customers and others who were experiencing issues—and yet we aim to make any such future communication unnecessary. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to post them in the comments below and we’ll respond as we’re able!

The post Recent Outages: Why We Accelerated Registry Changes appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Backblaze Holiday Gift Guide 2020

Post Syndicated from Yev original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/backblaze-holiday-gift-guide-2020/

The gift giving-est time of year is almost here and at Backblaze, we’re always on the lookout for cool gizmos and gadgets to get our friends and family. (Or if we’re honest, ones that we’ve been eyeing ourselves but just can’t bring ourselves to buy.)

Since this year has been so…unique, I polled my team members and asked what tools and toys they’ve been using or would love to receive. This year’s crop of gift ideas runs the gamut from egg cookers to firepits, but since we’re all spending more time at home, it’s no wonder that cooking gadgets, games, and smart home accessories were top of mind. Let’s dive in!

Food and Food-related Goodies

Instant Pot

You have a ton of gadgets already, but what if you could cook things…instantly. Or, near instantly. I personally have been eyeing one of these for months, but need to use my slow cooker a few more times before finally expediting the process!

Zojirushi Indoor Tabletop Grill

Sure, you can make things instantly with an Instant Pot, but what about grilling indoors? Zojirushi has you covered.

Wireless BBQ Thermometer

Safety first! You’re cooking a lot more at home and maybe you’re not exactly sure what shade of pink your tenderloin is supposed to be. Well…better safe than sorry!

Baking Steel

It’s kind of like a pizza stone, but made of steel! Pizza steel!

Egg Cooker

If you’re the type of person who needs eggs in a hurry and doesn’t want to fiddle with them, this little gadget is an Amazon best seller.

Mitsubishi Electric Bread Oven Toaster

This bread oven is a bit pricey, but it’s also a bread oven that can make grilled cheeses. Think of the grilled cheesiness!

Whiskey Decanter

Not all decanters are created equal. This one has a boat in the middle of it. Perfect for the sailing aficionado in your life who also happens to enjoy whiskey.

Games and Game Accessories

Reaper Miniatures Learn to Paint Kit Core Skills

Express yourself by learning to paint miniatures (and then use them to play tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons)!

Wacom Bamboo Folio Smartpad

Another way to get the creative juices flowing is this smartpad! You can take notes or doodle on it, and then convert your work to shareable documents.

DribbleUp

Stay active! If you have a backyard or reasonable downstairs neighbors we recommend the DribbleUp Smart Soccer Ball or Smart Basketball! These Smart Balls link to your smartphone and give you telemetry into how you’re progressing in developing your skills.

7 Wonders: Duel

Stuck at home with your significant other and are bored playing War? Enjoy the prospect of outsmarting and besting your partner in a board game? Duel is designed specifically for two players. Have at ‘em!

Zombicide: Black Plague

This game comes with miniatures that you can paint and play with—perfect for getting your skills up, and also there are zombies. Who could ask for more?

Prusa MINI+

Tired of using other people’s miniatures? Make your own! This powerful 3D printer can help you build the miniatures of your dreams, or build your own home gadgets!

Ender 3 3D Printer

If you’re curious about 3D printing but don’t want to go all-in from the beginning, this “entry level” 3D printer is a great way to get your hands dirty and give the 3D printing world a whirl!

Oculus Quest

Don’t want to build your own 3D world or want a break from the real one? Explore virtual worlds instead! You don’t need a computer, but you can plug this into your gaming rig for extra power!

Home (Sometimes Smart)

Nugget

Did someone say next-gen pillow fort? Use this modular setup to build the fort of your dreams, or just a nice random lounging area to watch TV in comfort.

HomePod mini

Smart homes are definitely top of mind nowadays and the new HomePod mini is a great entry level gadget to help dip your toe into smart homing.

Google Nest Mini

If you’re not in the Apple ecosystem and want to give smart homes a try, the Google Nest Mini is a great inexpensive option to listen to music while in the shower (speaking from personal experience).

Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug

Smart plugs are a great way to turn on the lights in your house when you walk through the door and don’t like looking at pitch darkness. These tie in to your existing smart home devices, or use the app to control your plugs!

Arlo Video Doorbell

Smart doorbells are all the rage nowadays and if you aren’t keen on expensive monthly plans, this is a great entry point into the smart home security system space!

Premier Comfort Electric Mattress Pad

Now that winter is upon us (at least here in the U.S.), treat yourself to an electric mattress pad and stay toasty and cozy no matter what’s going on outside. This one’s also compatible with your smart home and plugs!

Gaiam Yoga Mat

Don’t forget to make time for yourself and get a little stretch in throughout the day. These yoga mats are affordable and durable!

Massage Gun

After working out you might feel a little sore. Massage guns are all the rage right now and they do a heck of a job getting all of your knots loosened up. The myriad of attachments will help you get into all your nooks and crannies!

For the Person Who Has Everything

Personalized AirPod Case

There are a lot of Etsy shops out there that can help you personalize things, so browse around! These AirPod cases are pretty stellar!

Baby Yoda Christmas Sweater

‘Tis the Baby Yoda season (The Child has been named!) and what better way to celebrate than buying everyone in your family matching sweaters!

Oaktown Spices

Buy local! If you have a favorite local shop, be sure to show them some love this holiday season! If you want to support some from around the country, here’s a great spice shop in Oakland, California—and their gift boxes are the cutest.

Bookshop.org

Bookstores are getting hit pretty hard right now and if your local store is closed, this online bookshop donates proceeds to local bookstores—combining the convenience of online shopping with the good feeling of buying from a local store. They can also help you locate a local bookstore that’s open near you! Some books we recommend: “The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle,” “Rhythm of War,” “Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life,” “The Essential Calvin and Hobbes: A Calvin and Hobbes Treasury,” “Cozy” (for kids), and “The Hike” (also for kids).

Death Star Fire Pit

OK, this thing is $2,400 but… Look at it!

Backblaze

And, of course… Backblaze.
You know it. You love it. You can gift it!

We wish you a healthy, happy, and hopeful new year! Maybe this list helped you on your gifting journey, or maybe it just added more items to your own wish list. What are you looking forward to gifting and receiving this year? Let us know in the comments below!

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Backing Up Our Thanks

Post Syndicated from Ramya Ramamoorthy original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/backing-up-our-thanks/

Needless to say, 2020 has been a challenging, unpredictable year for everyone. All of us faced trials that we had never expected a year ago. In spite of the adversity, or possibly simply to ward it off, our team decided to dig for a couple of silver linings from this past year. We understand that times are still tough, but we wanted to take a moment this Thanksgiving season to show thanks for some of the unexpected positives that have come out of quarantine.

So we reached out to the team to see what goodness they’ve taken from what has felt like a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year (hat tip to Judith Viorst), and we got some excellent responses that we’ve digested for you here.

Healthier Lifestyles

Many of our team members have exchanged their morning commute for a workout. Jeremy, our Senior Director of Product Marketing, has run far more track and trail miles, more often and more quickly over time. He even set a 5K personal record time!

Yev, our Director of Marketing, has also been on the workout grind. He said, “I’ve lost weight and gotten more healthy! During the first day of shelter-in-place, I started doing yoga and a small calisthenic workout, and have kept that streak going throughout the pandemic. I’ve also started to walk four to five miles per day to get me to the 10K step mark, and have started to eat more vegetables. Gross! But also, great!”

Photo by Jenny Hill.

It’s a Full House

No matter the family size you have, before the pandemic, many of us were a little bit busy and hard to catch up with. But, shelter-in-place gave us the opportunity (and sometimes the necessity) to slow down and reconnect with family and friends over Zoom happy hours and holiday celebrations.

Those family members who were long distance and couldn’t make it to all the holidays finally got to join in and see everyone on the screen. College friends who kept pushing out that weekend getaway together found a way to play virtual games and share silly memories with each other.

One common response that people gave about this shelter-in-place time is that “It’s time we won’t ever get to spend together like this again.” Although our new work from home coworkers took up a lot of the Wi-Fi bandwidth, we wouldn’t trade that time we spent at home with family, friends, and kids for anything else.

Photo by Pablo Merchán Montes.

Furry Friends to the Rescue

Let’s admit it, animals truly love their owners unconditionally (even cats, in their own special way) and that makes leaving them behind in a house all day tough. Some days it’s hard when your animal accidentally falls asleep on your toes and you just don’t have the heart to move them when it’s time to leave for work. The pandemic has made that conundrum a tad easier.

During shelter-in-place, having an animal nearby during tough times made life a lot easier to deal with. The potential for impending bad news each day made a cuddly dog or an energetic hamster an important part of the survival kit for each day for many of us.

And for the animals, this time at home was a blessing. They didn’t know why they had been given it but it was pretty cool that it was happening. They didn’t need to know about social distancing, or what the right face mask to wear is, or how to disinfect their groceries—animals just saw this time as extra time with their owners. They couldn’t believe they were around… and around… and still there… and “OMG they are still there.”

Seeing the world through their eyes of “more play time” really made shelter-in-place a little less tough.

Photo by Adrianna Calvo.

Cozy Pants Rule

With work from home, employees have embraced clothing that makes them feel more comfortable. Judith, our Recruiting Coordinator, said, “During shelter-in-place I’ve completely given up wearing jeans, and other restricting (yet, fashionable) items. I don’t think I’ll ever go back. I am so happy with my decision. Goodbye, jeans! See you never.”

Cheers to a lifetime of no more jeans!

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova.

No Traffic!

Although we miss being able to binge our favorite podcasts in the car, we do not miss sitting in car-to-car traffic. One of the top responses we found from our coworkers about silver linings during shelter-in-place is “Getting back two hours of my day that I used to spend commuting!”

If you sit in two hours of traffic a week for an average of 10 hours a week—that amounts to nearly 20 days in a year that we get back. And to top it off, driving to go anywhere at 5 p.m. is less stressful when you don’t have to worry about rush hour traffic.

Photo by Nick Fewings.

Some “Me” Time

Even though the pandemic has led to fewer social interactions, some of our employees have been enjoying that alone time. They have a lot more freedom to do what they want; for example, some of our employees love that they can now listen to music while working without wearing headphones.

Another silver lining for some of our coworkers is that they no longer have to attend social events, which has been a real stress inducer for them in the past. We still have virtual social events for our extroverted employees, but this time in quarantine has given our introverted employees a bit of a breather.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio.

Share Your Silver Lining!

We’ve watched the world find new ways to bring each other together in a year where it felt like we could never be close again. Out of adversity we found new ways to connect, be creative, care for others, and also make a lot of new food (Like sourdough, who doesn’t love a good homemade sourdough loaf?).

We hope that you can find a silver lining in your 2020, too. Whether it be big, or small, or something in between. Also, thank you to Nicole Perry for help with writing this post!

We’d love for you to join us and find your own silver lining at Backblaze. We’re hiring, so apply today! We wish you and your loved ones a happy Thanksgiving!

The post Backing Up Our Thanks appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

You’ve Cat to Be Kitten Me…

Post Syndicated from Yev original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/youve-cat-to-be-kitten-me/

Catblaze. It started as an April Fools’ joke four years ago, but it stuck around as part of our website ever since. A few intrepid website perusers even found their way to the page and signed up for our backup service there. To be clear: There’s no actual difference between the two products except the landing page. If you bought Backblaze on Catblaze, it’s Backblaze. You received the same great service as everyone else, just with a nice cat-themed wrapper. Got it? Great!

It’s been a while since we’ve done anything with Catblaze though, and so I got to thinking… If the page is still functional, how can we make use of it again? Well, why not redirect some traffic there and see how it affects conversions?! A lot of people love cats, maybe that love could be translated to loving backing up, too?

So, that’s exactly what we did! A few weeks ago, for one day, we diverted some traffic from backblaze.com/cloud-backup.html to backblaze.com/catblaze.html to see how they performed against each other. Did anyone even notice? And if they did, did they sign up anyway? Read on to find out! The results may shock you! And other clickbait hyperbole!

Why are we doing this? Well, along with everyone else who has had to shift to remote office-ing during the pandemic, we’ve been working hard to maintain high spirits and morale here at Backblaze. While we made a lot of changes to help our team be as productive as possible while working remotely, we thought, why not get a little silly, engage in a little charitable fundraising, and also buoy the spirits of our community at large: You!

With a lot of people spending more time at home, animal adoption in urban areas increasing, and “Tiger King” being so popular on Netflix, I spent some time chatting with a friend of mine who works for the Humane Society of the United States, and asked if there were any shelters that were looking for aid. He told me that the Peninsula Humane Society—the same branch that the models for the original “Catblaze Cats” came from—could use some donations. So, as part of this experiment, we’ll be contributing to them in honor of the kittens that helped make this experiment possible!

It also happens to be National Cat Day today, so what better way to celebrate?

And Now, on to the Results!

Wow, who would have known that diverting 50% of our hard-earned traffic to an April Fools’ landing page was an interesting idea? The results may or may not surprise you, but here’s the bottom line: Sending traffic to catblaze.com resulted in a decrease in trial conversions (folks coming to our site and creating a trial account) by 15%. Which, admittedly, is better than some of us had guessed!

Let’s dive into more of those numbers, shall we? (Assuming we’re comparing Catblaze to our regular Backblaze Computer Backup landing page.)

  • Days of experiment: One.
  • Traffic diverted: 50%.
  • Percent change in conversion rate from visit to trial: 15% reduction.
  • Percent change in conversion rate from visit to purchase (skip trial): 41% reduction.
    • 69.96% (A palindrome!) of people were less likely to purchase directly from Catblaze—that’s how many fewer folks went to the “buy” page next.
  • Percent change in bounce rate: 15% improvement.
    • Percent change in visits going to the home page from Catblaze: 118%.
  • Tweets asking us what is going on: Zero.
  • Support tickets asking us, “Why the cats?”: Zero.
  • Donation to the Peninsula Humane Society: $2,000.

Lessons Learned

While we probably shouldn’t update our onboarding messaging to include a picture of our Catblaze friends, it may be worth going a bit more kitten-friendly in future illustrations and designs for our website. The fact that there was a 15% improvement in bounce rate (and 20% reduction in exit rate) meant that people were sticking around and looking at that awesome cat content, or they were very confused. The cat content was at best amusing, but at worst confusing (which is usually not what you want your customers to be feeling), and you can see that was the case because we saw the number of people going back to our homepage increase by 118%. So, while we kept people on our website, their confusion was visible in how they navigated our website.

Perhaps the most entertaining thing is that no one asked about the Catblaze website. We received no Tweets or support tickets asking us why everything was cat-themed on our website. Based on our daily traffic, and the seemingly minor reasons that people write in with support tickets, I would have sworn up and down that I’d be on social media answering questions all day—though, if I responded to folks asking about it, that may have affected the experiment—so, it’s great that it went unnoticed.

Will we be doing this again? I doubt it. The Finance department is already sending me eye roll emojis, but it was definitely an interesting experiment and taught me one important lesson: While people definitely noticed the cats, they certainly didn’t seem to mind them.

The post You’ve Cat to Be Kitten Me… appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Not So Suite: Dealing With Google’s New 2TB Caps

Post Syndicated from Skip Levens original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/not-so-suite-dealing-with-googles-new-2tb-caps/

It’s easy to get used to “all you can eat” data plans—and one of the biggest justifications to use G Suite until now was that users could store as much as they wanted. But when we have unlimited data, we tend to forget about how much our content is growing until someone tells us our unlimited data plan is now… limited?

So it was a bit of a shock for lots of G Suite users to learn that they now only get 2TB per user for their $12 per user per month plan.

Hat tip to Jacob Hands who alerted us about this on Twitter!

G Suite users have to upgrade to the Enterprise class of service to retain unlimited storage. It’s unclear how much that costs because their pricing chart refers you to a sales representative if you want to get a quote. But as is true in restaurants: If you need to ask, it’s probably more expensive than you’d care to know.

If you’ve been using G Suite for long, and especially if you work with large data sets or rich media, you’re probably using more than 2TB per user. You’re going to need a plan to not only reduce your storage footprint on Google, but also safely store the content you’re forced to move while making it available and useful for your users. What do you do?

Side Note: Backblaze has proudly offered unlimited backup plans at a fixed price for close to 14 years, and we’ll continue to do so. This article focuses on solutions for teams using G Suite for collaboration. If you just need a solid backup, check out our guide on backing up your
G Suite data. If you’re looking for an incredible cloud storage offering, read on to learn about Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage.

Take Control of Your Shared User Content

Good question. You can make the largest reduction quickly by shifting videos, image libraries, and data sets out of Google Drive and into Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage!

Backblaze B2, of course, is our easy-to-use cloud storage that stores everything you want to protect at only $5/TB per month, and it makes everything you store there immediately available to you, the instant you need it.

Getting started is as simple as signing up, then you can upload files and browse them in Backblaze’s web interface, or use any one of hundreds of solutions that incorporate Backblaze B2 seamlessly, such as the popular (and free) Cyberduck SFTP file browser.

With your Backblaze B2 account set up, it’s time to start pruning files in Google Drive and preparing them for transfer!

Step One: Take an Inventory of What You Have in Google Drive

Back in Google Drive, organize your efforts by file size. In other words, move the biggest stuff first. The simplest way to uncover large files is to use a not so obvious search feature to organize by file type: ZIP archives, videos, and photos will almost surely be filling the most space. To select files by type, click the tiny triangle at the right of the search field to reveal a file type dropdown.

Using Google Drive’s search field, and the dropdown triangle, you can specify large files to move manually.
Advanced Tips: If you’re reasonably proficient and have a ton of shared files to dig through, there are a few handy tools you can use to tackle this step.

Cyberduck: In Cyberduck, for example, you can add a new Bookmark for Google Drive, and follow the wizard to authenticate to G Suite. Now you can browse Team Drives, Shared Documents, and My Drive contents easily, identify the largest files, or simply move all of this content to local storage, then into your Backblaze B2 account.

Rclone: Rclone offers another way to mount and copy all of this content off of Google Drive as well, though that path is only recommended for more advanced users. You can then start moving the largest files, or even copy your entire Google Drive folder of content with rclone.

Step Two: Migrate Your Data to Backblaze B2

Now it’s time to carry out your plan: Download from G Suite, copy to Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage Buckets, and organize your data! Once your files are safely downloaded, and uploaded to your Backblaze B2 account, they’re safe to remove from Google Drive.

Step Three: Give Your Users Remote-friendly, yet Managed Storage

If you’re a solo operator, you should be all set. But if you’re working with a team, you’re going to want to take one more step to help out your users. The best way to present storage to your team is a solution that is both accessible for remote workers, yet also easily administered by you.

For Small Teams (3-20 Users): In Backblaze B2, you can define your users into workgroups, create Buckets of storage for them, and issue app keys for users that correspond to those Buckets—all from your account management page. Users can apply those app keys to a number of tools to make their storage available on their laptops, such as Cyberduck, Mountain Duck, or ExpanDrive.

For Larger Teams (21-Infinity): You can present fully managed storage to your users that offers the same experience as corporate, shared NAS storage with a pairing of LucidLink and Backblaze B2. This approach can be set up quickly, and tie into your company’s directory services for provisioning without having to buy and set up your own hardware NAS systems.

Welcome!

We hope you’ll join us—we look forward to protecting your content and helping you serve your users!

The post Not So Suite: Dealing With Google’s New 2TB Caps appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Wishful Thinking: Extended Version History in Real Life

Post Syndicated from Caitlin Bryson original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/wishful-thinking-extended-version-history-in-real-life/

When it comes to your data, sometimes you just need to roll back time. Fortunately, with Extended Version History now available, Backblaze can save old and deleted files for up to 30 days, one year, or even forever—depending on the option you choose—so that you can access old versions of your files and restore files that you’ve previously deleted over a longer stretch of time.

Restoring a file just prior to that big “oops” moment or salvaging a deleted file you didn’t think you’d need again is a great feeling, but it’s a little hard to describe in the abstract. The more we thought about it, the more we realized that there are plenty of things other than data that we wish had retain/restore capabilities. Here are the top 10 things in real life that we wish had Extended Version History! We hope they help convey why Extended Version History could be valuable for you.

Where Extended Version History Would Be Great in Real Life

Haircuts

We’ll admit it—during shelter-in-place—more than a few of us have given ourselves poorly-advised, unskilled haircuts at home. It usually starts out well, your new hair actually looks pretty good, and you start feeling confident!

“This isn’t so hard,” you think, “so maybe I’ll just go a LITTLE shorter.” And then disaster strikes.

You’ve gone too short and your hair is ruined. What we wouldn’t give for the ability to restore back to the moment just before that last snip!

To take it a step further, with Forever Extended Version History, you could even go back to that one perfect haircut from a few years ago that your stylist has somehow never been able to recreate. Great hair for life!

Reading

Re-reading can be wonderful, but nothing compares to the thrill of reading an incredible book for the first time. Short of losing your memory, there’s no way to get that feeling back—but with Forever Version History, you could shift back to before your first read. Meet the characters all over again, follow every plot twist, and experience every page-turning moment again like new!

Eating

That second pint of ice cream seemed like such a good idea at the time. But now that you’ve finished off that mint-chocolatey goodness, your stomach is feeling… less than pleased. What if you could restore yourself to a single-pint state, while retaining the memories of that delicious second helping? We’d be on board, and just think of the endless “tasting” opportunities!

Avocados

Avocados are delicious, especially when you catch them at the perfect level of ripeness. Unfortunately, that level usually seems to be about a three-hour window between “rock hard” and “completely mushy.” If only Extended Avocado History existed—then you could avoid the sinking feeling of cutting into one and realizing you were too early or too late. Someone contact the Avocado Board!

Baking

We heard a few of you have taken up baking during the shelter-in-place orders. And by “heard,” we mean we’ve looked for yeast at the grocery store for months and it’s never in stock. We hope you enjoy your sourdough starter!

But whether you’re making cookies, pies, or sourdough, there’s nothing worse than smelling that burning odor and realizing you’ve just wasted time and a good portion of your ingredients on an inedible product.

Wouldn’t it be great to rewind back to just before smoke started billowing from your oven, saving you from having to throw out your charred baked goods and start over? We think so. (With our standard 30 Day Version History, you can at least recover old recipes you’ve saved over.)

Coffee

Ah, coffee. Delicious, caffeinated, and a crucial part of most morning routines. Until you spill it down the front of your brand-new shirt or across your laptop keyboard, and suddenly everything is terrible. Your shirt is ruined, your laptop is making funny noises, and now you have no coffee.

Being able to restore back to a pre-spill moment would save your clothing, your technology—and your morning. Backblaze has a lot of experience with helping people after spills…

Plants

Some people have green thumbs. Some seem to be death incarnate for our little vegetal compatriots. And there truly is no worse feeling than doing your absolute best and watching your newest plant friend slowly die, again.

Did you water too much? Did you not water enough? Did you leave it in direct sunlight or shade? By the time you figure it out, it’s usually too late. But if One Year Plant Version History was real, you could find the issue and revert back to when your plant was healthy—and this time, do it right. And just think about your never-ending cherry tomato yields!

Hiking

A seven-mile hike sounded like such a good idea at the time. But now you’re four miles down the trail, and you’re ready to be done. Too bad you’ve still got three more miles, and turning around would just make the trip back even longer!

Being able to restore back to an earlier point on the trail—maybe a mile or two—would let you cut your hike short and head back to the start, giving you the fun hiking experience without the pain of those last few miles. Sign us up.

Dates

The first date has been going so well. Conversation has been easy, the chemistry is there, and you feel like a second date is imminent. Then you make one comment, and you know as soon as it starts exiting your mouth that it’s coming out wrong.

You backpedal, you explain, you apologize—but the damage is done, and that first impression is ruined. The chance to rethink or rephrase would be everything in this moment, and Dating Version History would let you skip back a moment and save your potential future relationship. Also great for business meetings (ask that question that you’re a bit nervous to ask, get the answer, then go back in time and nod knowingly to yourself)!

Naps

It’s coming up on mid-afternoon, and you’re starting to feel a lull. Perfect time for a power nap, so you’ll awake refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day. Except instead, you slept for four hours, and now you’re groggy and your sleep schedule is a mess. Sleeping through alarms happens to the best of us, but it can easily turn an energizing nap into a sleepy evening. The dream fix? Using Nap Version History to get back to that perfect 90-minute nap time, wake up, and finish off your day strong!

Conclusion

Okay, sure, we get it—this is all a tad unrealistic. But there’s one area of life where your keenest regrets CAN be corrected with a quick visit to our restore page: your backup! So check out our version history page and explore your options for gaining greater peace of mind! And if you’re an existing customer, you can upgrade easily right here.

The post Wishful Thinking: Extended Version History in Real Life appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Amazon Drive and Third Parties—Derailed

Post Syndicated from Skip Levens original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/amazon-drive-and-third-parties-derailed/

Backblaze laptop

If you ever used Amazon Drive for storing files or photos, it’s a good time to think about how to transition your content to a new platform—especially if you had been backing up your Synology NAS system!

Today, Amazon customers notified Amazon Drive and Amazon Photo customers that beginning November 1st, only Amazon’s proprietary web and mobile apps will be able to access your files.

This means, for example, that Synology users who had relied on Synology Cloud Sync or HyperBackup to back up their systems to Amazon Drive will have their access shut off via those tools.

Getting Back on Track

If you’re still using Amazon Drive to store general files, and Amazon Photos to store photos, you might be wondering how to protect that content with a tool that you prefer before the November 1st deadline hits.

1. Recover Your Content

Your first task will be to recover all of your content from Amazon Drive. Via their website, download the Amazon Photos app. Install, and select “Download” to download all of your Amazon Drive content locally. To download photos stored in Amazon, you may find it helpful to click “Home,” then “Photos Backed Up” will take you to a webpage that lets you download photos directly, say, by year.

First, recover all of your content from Amazon Photos and Amazon Drive.

2. Welcome to Your New Platform

With your content stored locally, we invite you to try Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage for unlimited storage for all of your files and photos at a better price than Amazon Drive.

Sign up for your Backblaze B2 account first. Your first 10GB of storage every month is free, and beyond that is only $5 per terabyte of storage per month, vs. Amazon’s $6.99 for a terabyte of storage.

3. Choose the Tool That Fits How You Work

Best of all, with Backblaze B2 you have a choice of over 60 solutions to connect to your new account!

If you’re a Synology user, you can keep using Synology Cloud Sync or HyperBackup to back up your files—simply select your new Backblaze account instead of Amazon Drive.

If you prefer graphical tools that help present your cloud storage as files and folders, Cyberduck is a great choice, and Mountain Duck will even mount your Backblaze B2 account as drives on your Mac or Windows system.

You can browse our guides for all integration tools here.

Cyberduck connected to your Backblaze B2 account makes it as simple as browsing files and folders to upload and download your files.
Mountain Duck will even mount your Backblaze B2 cloud storage on your computer as a drive—here showing a thumbnail of an 8K video clip.

And if you prefer command-line tools, rclone is an excellent choice, as is Backblaze’s own command-line tool.

For more information about using rclone, join our webinar, “Tapping the Power of Cloud Copy & Sync with Rclone” on September 17th. Rclone’s creator, Nick Craig-Wood, will explain how to use its simple command line interface to:

  • Optimize your copy/sync in line with best practices
  • Mirror storage for security without adding complexity
  • Transfer data reliably despite limited bandwidth and/or intermittent connection

Whichever tool you choose, getting it set up is as simple as visiting your Backblaze B2 Account Page, generating an Application Key, entering the Application Key ID and Application Key in your new tool’s configuration settings.

4. Protect, and Access Your Content Freely

With your tool of choice configured, it’s time to move your local content to your new Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage.

Welcome!

We hope you’ll join us—we look forward to protecting your files and photos!

The post Amazon Drive and Third Parties—Derailed appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Building Team Spirit While Working Remotely

Post Syndicated from Ramya Ramamoorthy original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/building-team-spirit-while-working-remotely/

This year, a lot changed about the way we interact socially, and especially at work. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, we moved the majority of our employees to working from home in early March. Since then, we realized that maintaining and continuing to build the team during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders would be essential, and it would take extraordinary additional effort and planning.

Our leadership, HR team, and our “Fun Committee” have all invested in trying to maintain team spirit and culture (Fun Committee is a group dedicated to planning exciting events for the team). They planned online events and virtual hangouts in place of the in-person social gatherings we would normally have, and they asked questions to get people talking to each other more often online. Some things worked to get people to interact and see each other more often, while other things failed to get any response.

Now, as some businesses look to return to their offices, social distancing will still have an impact on gathering together for team building events like an after-work happy hour or a chat in the lunchroom. But with the possibility of additional quarantines in the future, we’re looking to the opportunity of virtual spaces to lift our team spirit. And we’re sure we’re not the only business looking for ways to build our sense of community while socially distant. So, we want to share what has worked and what hasn’t for team building during this strange moment in our history.

Switching Out In-Person Events for Video Calls

Early on, we realized that with shelter-in-place orders shutting down other businesses and ways for people to gather socially, working from home would mean that many people would probably struggle to feel connected to each other on a regular basis. That, and the fact that in the absence of a lunchroom or our office’s communal kitchens, employees no longer had a way to socialize with each other if they so desired. Nothing can replace the ability to connect with someone in person, but we decided to try using technology to our advantage while remaining socially distanced.

This took the form of regularly-scheduled video “hangouts” listed on our company-wide calendar. These meetings are scheduled on different days, at varying times, to accommodate teams’ differing schedules and to ensure that employees can take advantage of their most productive times of day without sacrificing their opportunity to socialize. Backblaze employees who were hired and onboarded after the shelter-in-place orders began can meet other people outside of their teams. Also, employees who have been remote pre-COVID have more opportunities for social interaction with their on-site peers.

Throughout hosting different video hangouts, we learned that it best worked for calls to represent a specific social interaction that would happen in the office.

Enjoying a “Brewtiful Morning” Online

Back in the office, many of us enjoyed chatting with each other while brewing our morning coffee. The coffee debates are fierce—Death Wish Coffee, Peet’s, Henry’s House of Coffee—all have loyalists. Now that the majority of the company works from home, our Office Administrator, Judith, hosts a “Brewtiful Mornings” coffee break on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings that lasts for about half an hour.

Attendance is usually small, which might seem as if the events aren’t popular. Actually, our team says that the small group of people on a call allows them to connect more directly in conversation. As anyone can join the calls, the group changes and people are able to connect with someone new each day.

We also learned that keeping an event going that might only serve a few employees at a time still has great benefits, as some employees prefer to only interact with a few people at a time. While the low attendance at the event might have felt like a failure to bring our team together at first, we realized that it’s an accommodating space for our employees with different communication styles.

Brian’s Office Hours

Backblaze Co-founder and CTO, Brian, hosts weekly office hours on Wednesday afternoons, as do several other members of the Engineering team. However, while other Engineering office hours may cover more technical topics, Brian’s office hours cover a range of topics from why dogs aren’t allowed in our data centers to his opinions on building a business with venture capital vs. bootstrapping and the cutest cat videos ever seen on the internet.

The format ranges from a group discussion to an informational presentation from Brian, but his openness, transparency, and willingness to answer almost any question has made his office hours both educational and entertaining for the employees that attend.

Maintaining Wellness

When quarantine began, Judith implemented virtual yoga and meditation sessions, led by a local instructor, twice a week. Unfortunately, after about a month into quarantine, these sessions were canceled because of low attendance.

The main reason these sessions did not get much participation was because shelter-in-place had just begun at the time and people were still adjusting to their new lifestyles. Between kids and work, it was difficult at first for employees to adjust time for self-care into their schedules. It was also hard to accommodate remote employees’ schedules since they live in different timezones.

Because of this experience, we learned to give our employees some time to adjust to their new schedules before initiating classes or social events. It’s also important to check in with employees to learn more about how their self-care priorities might change over time and create events that they’d like to attend. Finally, we recommend having these classes at different times throughout the week in order to accommodate different schedules.

Keeping the Conversation Going on Slack

Another way we’ve looked to boost team spirit while away from the office is by facilitating ongoing conversations through different Slack channels. We have several Slack channels catering to different interests (cooking, gaming, exercising, you name it!) to help maintain team morale during shelter-in-place. Most channels were created by Judith, but any employee can create one if they’d like. Slack channels work great because people can participate when they have the extra time to do so without having to plan their entire day around an event.

At the start of working from home, employees were quick to share tips about home office setups and their reactions to the shift in their daily routines. Then as time went on, less people seemed to ask questions or spontaneously message the different social channels. Judith’s method of re-engaging everyone in conversation was to act as the main facilitator. She’s always posting something, whether it’s about the news or a reaction to what someone else posted. By being engaged, she encourages others to also get involved.

She also recommends knowing your audience—if your employees love to talk about current events, then it may be worth taking the time out of your mornings to read the news so that you can initiate interesting conversations.

Taking Advantage of Online Opportunities and Flexible Schedules

Since the start of shelter-in-place, our team created a bunch of new Slack channels to stay virtually connected. Although we can no longer casually run into coworkers at the water cooler and chat with them, we’ve shifted those conversations to a channel called #virtualwatercooler.

People don’t see each other throughout the day anymore so they don’t always know what’s new in their coworkers’ daily lives. That’s why Judith initiated a few ongoing trends to make it easier for people to update each other about their day. One of the fun versions of these updates is when employees share pictures of their “co-workers”—this can be their pet, their roommates, or their kids. While many of us wish for a pre-pandemic world, it’s provided us the opportunity to get to know our colleagues in different ways without being intrusive.

In a similar channel called #wfh-help, employees can talk directly about the changes that remote work has brought to their daily routine. They use this channel to share helpful resources like productivity tools and tips on working from home with kids. Everyone’s experience of working from home looks a bit different, but here they can ask advice for advice or connect with someone else who’s experiencing a similar situation.

Adjusting to a Virtual Community

Throughout shelter-in-place, some existing Slack channels had to modify their purpose because they were used to plan in-person team events (like game nights). Instead of going completely silent, employees found ways to invite new members and turn to online spaces for new possibilities.

Prior to shelter-in-place orders, a channel was used to schedule “Terraforming Mars” sessions after work. Nowadays, members can no longer play board games together in person like they used to, but that doesn’t stop them from playing together online.

Now, some employees play “Terraforming Mars” virtually on their computers after work. Others play “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” and a few play “Stellaris.” One of our team members is an avid Twitch streamer, so group members use the Slack channel to notify when their co-worker is going live. Many employees from the channel join in on the fun and hang out virtually.

Dan, our Senior Support Technician and passionate gamer, recommends incorporating a diverse range of games into the mix. Our group at Backblaze plays easier short games like “Fluxx” to longer, more competitive games like “Terraforming Mars.” This helps gamers at all levels feel included.

Special Events

Something we noticed that we’re sure many other organizations are also experiencing is that engagement through ongoing Slack channel conversations and regular video hangouts seems to drop over time. One explanation for this decrease in participation might be an overall sense of fatigue that comes with not being able to interact with people in person for an extended amount of time. While we can’t organize in-person events, we can try new things with our virtual hangouts to get people interested, again.

In addition to our regularly-scheduled digital “programming,” we have also hosted several one-off events, generated by staff ideas and usually hosted by Judith or our Events Marketing Coordinator, Caitlin. These events have featured special guests, or sometimes, our very own team members have shown off their talents. From singing and playing piano to hosting a baking master class, these events have been a great, low pressure way for team members to share the things they’re passionate about. These events also help to provide additional opportunities for employees to engage, and often also have welcomed family members, especially children!

Princess Storytime with Elsa

Thanks to Wish Upon a Star Princess Parties, we were able to invite Queen Elsa of Arendelle to host two special story time sessions with many of our employees’ families, telling the stories of “Frozen” and “Frozen 2.” Each session was about 30 minutes long and included story time, sing-alongs, and time for questions and answers with Elsa.

If you plan to do something like this for your employees, we strongly recommend encouraging parents to join with their kids to help facilitate muting/unmuting to ensure everyone gets a chance to hear and be heard. We heard from many parents after our first story time with Elsa that their kids loved the event, so we took character requests and are working on bringing in “Star Wars” characters, superheroes, and other Disney favorites for future story time sessions!

Sanctuary Tour

One week, a mysterious happy hour event appeared on the company calendar, promising a special “surprise guest.” Those who joined the meeting that day learned that the special guest was none other than Paco the llama, one of the animal ambassadors at Sweet Farm Sanctuary!

Sweet Farm is a local nonprofit that promotes sustainable farming and factory-farm animal rescue. After meeting Paco, we were taken on a virtual tour to meet other animals including cows, pigs, and sheep, and learned more about the farm’s operations and mission.

Several employees shared that they had previously visited Sweet Farm (One had attended a painting class at the farm and had painted a still-life of Paco the llama!), and others expressed interest in visiting once they were able to safely do so, again. Many farms and animal rescues are offering similar opportunities to have an animal “join” your company meeting; if you are interested in doing something like this, we encourage you to choose a local organization, if possible.

Virtual Events Bring Our Teams Together During Shelter-in-Place

Our virtual events and Slack channels have helped us tremendously in maintaining our culture during shelter-in-place. Working from home can be difficult, but as team members, we are there to support one another whether that’s through a quick coffee chat in the morning, a story time with Elsa to keep the kids busy, or fitness challenges to maintain a healthy lifestyle. We’d love to hear more about some of the things your organization has done to build team spirit during shelter-in-place. Share some of the ways your team stays connected while working from home in the comments below.

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An April 1st Post

Post Syndicated from Yev original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/an-april-1st-post/

April Fools' Retrospective

Every year around this time, the marketing department gets together to plan a strategy for April Fools—we say “strategy” because we take it seriously. And every year, some questionable ideas inevitably arise (someone invariably brings up illogical data center locations and has to be shot down). Patrick’s wife has been going on about a Cloud-Enabled Pizza Delivery joke (thanks to Lebron James’s pizza exploits at “Blaze Pizza”—nice name by the way). We’ve kindly had to let her down as well.

But this year, obviously, is different. And, given that there’s already more than enough confusion going on in the news when it comes to COVID-19, we all agreed that it was not the best time to add any more by making you wonder, “Did they really replace their Fireball service with cats?” No, this isn’t the time for April Fools posts and shenanigans, but that doesn’t mean you, our faithful blog readers, can’t have a little fun at our expense.

We’re completely focused on ensuring that our services deliver for you all, and part of that effort involves keeping up morale across our team and among you, our community.

We hope you and yours are doing well, and in lieu of spending a lot of time creating something new to help folks chuckle, we wanted to share some of our April Fools posts from years past—which we hope will help you crack a smile in case you missed them.

Andy Singing

One of the first things Andy did when he joined Backblaze was come up with an excuse to put on his Blues Brothers outfit and hum a few bars. He didn’t think this video was still online; we want to assure him that it is.

Yev Singing

Following in Andy’s tradition, I sometimes like to vocalize, though, unless you follow Critical Role (a live streamed DnD campaign), the context of my song will likely be lost upon you. But how could I promote Andy’s singing without subjecting you to my own?

Introducing Catblaze Cloud Backup

Cat storage. It writes itself. People have a ton of cat photos and videos, and they need a purpose-built repository for their computer’s curated cat content.

Introducing Furball: Rapid Content Delivery

Sure, cat data storage writes itself, but how do you migrate cat storage? What if you have too many feline photos on your computer and need to upload them quickly? Why not send us a Furball to expedite that cloud storage!

Bling 2 Cloud Storage

Sometimes people think our service is too inexpensive. We welcome them to try Bling 2 Cloud Storage. It’s the same thing as Backblaze B2, but brings the pricing in line with our competition at four times our usual price—perfection!

Storage Pods Crushed by Eagle Prime

What do you do with decommissioned, broken Storage Pods? Have a giant robot crush them of course.

DNA Storage with Backblaze Labs

We’re always on the lookout for new ways to store data efficiently. And we don’t mind repurposing our typically heads-down team at Backblaze Labs to do it. Blood drive anyone?

The REAL Story Behind Our Affordability

People have always been curious about how we can be so affordable. Well, here’s the real story.

Horse in the Office

One of our founders decided to scare people on the night time security camera alert email list with this little maneuver.

Remember Flappy Bird?

We built our own little version but sadly the fad passed before we could get it through QA and onto the app store.

We hope you enjoyed that trip down memory lane with us. Please take care of yourselves and each other!

The post An April 1st Post appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

A Message to our Community

Post Syndicated from Gleb Budman original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/looking-out-for-our-team-customers-and-community/

Looking Out for Our Team, Customers, and Community

I went for a run this weekend (while our area is under a shelter-in-place order, physical activity and outdoor time while maintaining social distancing have been, thankfully, deemed essential) and ran by sign-after-sign on the doors and windows of restaurants and other businesses and one in particular caught my attention:

I think this is where we are today: everyone trying to do the best they can, and trying to be together while apart. At Backblaze, we’ve started having “Brewtiful Mornings”—15 minutes on a video conference in the morning where everyone can jump in with their coffee or tea to just have a few minutes of togetherness.

As the world struggles with the COVID-19 outbreak, I wanted to take a moment to share what Backblaze is doing for our team and community, and for you: our customers.

Protecting Our Team and Community

On March 6th, we stopped all business travel, cancelled in-person events, and moved the majority of our workforce to working from home. Where job functions necessitate being in one of our physical environments, we have taken a number of precautions to reduce work to essential tasks and to ensure the safety of our people.

We’ve always worked in a partially remote/distributed fashion but our ability to move to an almost completely remote model and spending more time in our homes—which in many cases rightfully weren’t set up for productivity—while managing our business has been a real testament to the people we have at Backblaze, and I’m very proud of the whole team working through it.

Ensuring the Quality of Our Services to You

We’ve worked with our suppliers to ensure availability of equipment, made large pre-purchases, and reviewed all key aspects of team safety and our business. We built Backblaze as a sustainable business over the last 13 years, and while we’ve never seen anything quite like this, we continue to be ready to serve and scale with your needs, especially now.

Helpful Tips for Using Backblaze During This Time

As many of you are adjusting and working to maintain health and morale, you may have found yourself spending more time at home, and in some cases were asked to leave the office on short (or no) notice. You may no longer have access to your computers or external drives, have servers that are running out of space, or have other storage challenges. To you in that position, and I sincerely hope this comes across in the way intended, we’re here to help if you need it.

If you no longer have access to your backed up equipment: You can use Backblaze to access any files from a web browser or your iOS/Android device. You can download a single file, select multiple files or folders, or recover all your data.

If you need to share files with co-workers or friends and family: You can share files directly without having access to your computer.

If you are running out of space on your server: Managing physical servers on-site is challenging in the best circumstances and may be even more so now. Our solutions engineering team can help explore options with you. Please reach out to them here: storagehelp@backblaze.com and they will try to help you find a solution.

Again, we’re here to help. Don’t hesitate to contact our Support team. Also, our team, including myself, will be answering questions in the comment section below.

We want to do everything we can to make this situation just that little bit easier for those affected. We’re in the fortunate position to be able to keep all of our employees and contractors at full salary. We’re also trying to be a good corporate citizen by encouraging our workforce to be socially responsible in their social distancing practices, donating to the World Health Organization, and generally trying to find ways to contribute.

The next few months are going to be hard on most people, but we can get through this, together while apart.

The post A Message to our Community appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Wanted: Director of Marketing Operations

Post Syndicated from Ahin Thomas original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/wanted-director-of-marketing-operations/

Backblaze employee working on a computer

We’re looking for someone who loves to go deep on making marketing technology actually work: process oriented campaign execution, implementing and interpreting actionable analytics, and—ultimately—blending all of the above together to understand and improve the customer journey. Most importantly, we’re looking for someone who is ready to achieve this alongside a team that shows genuine care for each other.


Backblaze is an extraordinary place to work. With a great reputation for service built over the last 13 years, we are entrusted with nearly an exabyte of customer data, placing us among the largest cloud storage providers on the planet. And we’ve built a significantly profitable business with a total of just $3M in outside investment, empowering us to set our own course and live by our own ideals. Our approach is guided by honesty, transparency, and a commitment to doing the right thing for our customers and coworkers. Importantly, we’ve created an environment that makes us both happy and proud enough to recruit our friends to the team.

And it’s working quite nicely! Our business lines have achieved sustainable, double-digit growth—with some approaching triple digits. And we’ve accomplished these results without running any significant paid acquisition programs. Our customers are happy, and so are our coworkers: In the most recent “Great Place to Work” survey, 99% of our team rated Backblaze as “a great place to work.”

But while there is a lot to celebrate in our past, there is almost as much opportunity ahead of us: Our marketing systems and processes are functional, but relatively basic. We seek a Director of Marketing Operations who can help build, operate, and evolve our approach to executing and understanding our marketing efforts.

More About Backblaze

Backblaze provides cloud storage that’s astonishingly easy to use and low cost. Our customers use our services so they can pursue dreams like curing cancer (genome mapping is data-intensive), archive the work of some of the greatest artists on the planet (learn more about how Austin City Limits uses B2), or simply sleep well at night (anyone that’s spilled a cup of coffee on a laptop knows the relief that comes with complete, secure backups).

How Marketing at Backblaze Works

Our business is almost entirely driven by inbound customer interest. We have a blog that will attract more than 3M visits this year, with zero paid audience acquisition. Our team creates compelling, if slightly wonky, content on how data storage actually works. Our secret is writing enlightening, useful stories about customer problems and the solutions they might employ to succeed. The result is a highly engaged readership that yields a significant number of new customers. Approximately half of our customer base is “self-serve” while the other half works with our sales team to help them get started.

We operate across multiple verticals and sell 2 different SaaS products. To do so, our Marketing team organizes around the following team concepts:

  • Product Marketing: For any given vertical, we have at least one Product Marketer acting as the General Manager for her business. The Product Marketers identify their customer personas and expected buyer journeys. They also define the go-to-market activities for their verticals.
  • Editorial: Helps refine and polish the messaging for internal and external audiences.
  • Design: Brings the messages to life.
  • Brand: When you have a question about how our audience will react to thing X, we have a good answer. In addition, the “Brand” team owns our social presence.
  • Growth: Acts as both our CRO and SEO functions. We use Optimizely and have dedicated resources to help within Front End Engineering.
  • Marketing Ops: Owns our “stack,” processes, and analytics. Given content and strategy, enables elegant execution and provides actionable insights on results.

The Role: Director of Marketing Ops

Reporting directly to the VP of Marketing, you will build out our Marketing Ops function.

We think of Marketing Ops as having 5 key areas of ownership:

  • Marketing Technology (aka “the Marketing Stack”): Strategy, evaluation, implementation and operation of our marketing tools.
    • Today, the key pieces of our stack are Hubspot, Optimizely, BrightTalk, AdRoll, Google Adwords (brand terms), JustUno, Google Analytics, and Google Tag Manager.
    • Our company uses Tableau for visualization and Salesforce for Sales Ops.
  • Data: Create and implement the strategy for what our systems collect and how they are connected.
  • Team Alignment: Collaborate with team leads to establish processes and training for long-term success.
  • Campaign Management: Enable our various go-to-market activities by creating processes that are both predictable and scalable; establish clear priorities for Front End Engineering to ensure quality launches.
  • Insights: Analytics and analysis of all aspects of funnel with the goal of providing actionable intelligence for the other Marketing teams.

The Roadmap for Marketing Ops

As mentioned at the start of this post, our Marketing Operations are evolving. We believe there is a clear roadmap ahead of us, but one that will take a couple years to execute well. Here are some milestones that we’re looking forward to:

  • Grow understanding of the existing funnels. In your first 12 months, the majority of the work will be collaborating with the VP of Marketing, the Business Intelligence team, and the Sales Operations team to create a quantifiable understanding of our funnels. We have the right pieces in place and a company willing to invest in making them work together, but we need to solidify our fundamental systems.
  • Optimize existing funnels. Once we refine the understanding of our business drivers, we should create and execute against deliberate tests to identify new opportunities for growth.
    • Example: Once we have insights on what types of content are leading to what types of customers, provide that intelligence to the Product Marketers & Editorial team so they can create more of the desired content. They will create the incremental content, you will be responsible for measuring the results of the experiment.
  • Identify new growth initiatives (aka: find the rocket fuel). Understand the existing business, prove we understand it by optimizing it, and then start working on new streams of demand generation.
  • Tailor systems and tools to the most effective growth initiatives. Today, we have all the pieces for a functional marketing stack. Let’s get everything working, prove out areas for growth, and then invest in more specialized tools/operations for the areas of growth we want to pursue.

The Right Fit for our Director of Marketing Operations

We take a lot of pride in the culture we’ve built and are looking for team members that are a good fit. For a better understanding of who we are, check out this About Us video. Beyond “cultural fit,” for this specific role, we’re looking for an experienced operator that has a customer-journey-focused understanding of marketing. Here are the role-specific characteristics we’ll be looking for:

  • Possess the right amount of experience. You’ve probably been doing Marketing Operations in some form or another for 6-10 years. We don’t need someone with a specific degree or certification. We do need someone that will come in and take control of the existing systems and immediately start moving us forward on the envisioned roadmap.
    • Expertise in at least one of the major Marketing Automation systems is required, with a strong preference for Hubspot experience and/or mastery.
  • Skilled at figuring how the puzzle pieces fit together. Different tools in different configurations do different things. We need someone that can work with the larger Marketing team to understand what we’re trying to achieve, design a stack and processes for achieving those outcomes, and then implement and execute with precision.
  • Ability to work cross-functionally. The role of Marketing Ops engages with a variety of teams across our company. Beyond the Marketing team, our ideal candidate excels in interactions with:
    • Front End Engineering: Determine the prioritization of what gets worked on when as well as be the “business owner” for questions they might have.
    • Business Intelligence: Collaborate with the BI team to get answers from non-marketing systems, facilitate their requests for access into the marketing systems.
    • Sales Operations: Work with our Sales Ops teams to ensure precision in lead management, seamless systemic handoff, and generally find solutions to challenges as they arise.
    • Executive Team: Provide distilled, big picture takeaways on what’s happening because of your granular understanding of the little things.
  • Knows Demand Gen Mechanics for SaaS. Our ideal candidate is focused on generating incremental revenue and understands how to activate/optimize the different stages of the customer journey to achieve that goal.

Some of Our More Popular Perks

Backblaze offers an unlimited vacation policy; generous health/dental/vision/childcare benefits; fully stocked kitchens, twice a week catered breakfast and lunch, and superior coffee; and a generous skills training policy to continue your professional development. Our office in San Mateo is easily accessible from CalTrain, 280, and 101.

If This Sounds Interesting To You

We’d love to learn more about you! Please email us at jobscontact@backblaze.com with your resume. All applications are reviewed by our team. If we think there might be a good fit, our recruiting lead, Michele, will schedule time to chat, answer any questions you might have, and outline our process.

The post Wanted: Director of Marketing Operations appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Backblaze Holiday Gift Guide — 2019

Post Syndicated from Yev original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/backblaze-holiday-gift-guide-2019/

Backblaze 2019 Gift Guide with a picture of a holiday fireplace
Gift giving time is rapidly approaching and we at Backblaze are always interested to see what cool new things we can give our loved ones. This year we’ve rounded up a ton of games, watches, and streaming devices. Whether you’re planning for countless family gatherings over the coming months, or are just participating in the Reddit Gift exchange—these are sure to delight!

Watches

HDD Watch (A blast from the past…)
This was in our 2014 holiday gift guide, but we wanted to revisit it because it’s left the crowd-funding space and is now readily available for purchase. We love this watch for obvious reasons.

A watch that looks like a hard drive
Garmin Venu
We have a lot of athletes at the Backblaze office and this watch is becoming a favorite of theirs. If you want smart-watch capabilities, but with a fitness-first approach, this is a great watch to get started with. It’s ambidextrous, so both iOS and Android users can enjoy it.
A Garmin Venu
Apple Watch 5
It’s hard to mention watches without talking about the Apple Watch 5. The latest version of the Apple Watch is feature-rich and the go-to for Apple fans. It’s faster, it has more storage space, but the most revolutionary improvement from this version? It actually functions as a watch with the new always-on display. Crazy.
An Apple Watch Series 5
Fossil Hybrid
This is the watch for everyone out there who misses their Pebble. I had each iteration of the Pebble and this looks like something that could have been the “next step”—but with analog watch hands. The cool thing is, they move away when you’re reading messages, which is pretty slick!
A Fossil Hybrid watch

Random Fun

Dinosaur Fossil Lego
You’re into Lego and dinosaurs? Look no further.
A Dinosaur Lego set
Aero Plant
If you don’t have a backyard but want to flex your green thumb, this is a great way to start your own indoor garden. This is perfect for folks in dense urban areas (like the Bay) with tiny apartments!
An Aero Plant

Luggage

Scooter Luggage
Do you travel a lot? Need to zip through airports quickly? This luggage-scooter combo has you covered. We can’t speak for the quality, but the idea of watching someone zip along on their luggage makes us giggle.
Scooter Luggage
Luggage Scooters also come in bougie kid sizes as well!

Kid's Scooter Luggage

Scooting too much work? Ride it!
If you can’t be bothered to scoot yourself forward, you can even get a riding piece of luggage. Granted this is still being crowd-funded so your mileage may vary, but this luggage can also follow you around like a well-known bassinet in a popular Disney+ show!

A woman riding a Naucrate rolling bag

Smarten Up Your TV

Chromecast Ultra
The Chromecast Ultra is a great way to get 4K content from your phone, tablet, or computer onto your TV. All you need is the Chrome browser and this dongle, and you’re good to go. A side-benefit of this is that you can have party guests queue up their own favorite music. Though, that might be a downside as well…
A Chromecast Ultra dongle
Roku Ultra 4K
A great benefit of the Roku is that you can plug your headphones (3.5mm) into the remote and watch TV all night long without bothering your partner.

A Roku Ultra 4K
Fire Stick 4K
This is the easiest way to bring Smart TV capabilities with you when you’re on the go. A few years ago when I traveled more often, I would toss one of these into my suitcase to make hotel-room viewing less of a drag.
A Fire Stick 4K

Board Games (bored games)
Tip: Go to your local game store for these!

Terraforming Mars
The Backblaze folks play this game at least once a week in the office. It’s one of the better designed games we’ve had a chance to play in recent memory—we highly recommend it! Don’t miss the expansions offered, they add a lot to the game. We highly recommend playing with the Prelude and Colonies expansions!

A Terraforming Mars game in progress
Dune
We haven’t had a chance to dive into this game as frequently as we’d like, but we have it in the office and it’s on standby for when we’re done Terraforming Mars. Early indicators are that it’s a very well designed game and we are excited to dive deeper into it. The spice must flow!

A Dune board game in progress
Dutch Blitz
Family trips are made better by having a deck of cards or an easily transportable card game in your suitcase. Dutch Blitz is easy to learn and fun to play, though it does require some lightning quick reflexes from time to time!

A Dutch Blitz game in progress
Firefly Fluxx
Fluxx is a game that’s been around for a while, and we have both Math Fluxx and Firefly Fluxx in the office, both of which we enjoy playing from time to time. The rules are simple, but ever-changing, which makes for some dynamic game-play that can range from 5 to 25 minutes!

A Firefly Fluxx game in progress
Monopoly Deal
Similar to Dutch Blitz, this is a great card game to bring with you when you’re traveling. It’s simple, has the same elements of Monopoly that you know and love, but only takes about 20 minutes instead of the table-flipping 4-hour Monopoly marathons that you grew up with.

A Monopoly Deal game in progress
Dungeons and Dragons
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention D&D! It’s never too early to start or teach your children how to play. D&D is having a bit of a resurgence and it’s an incredible way to teach creativity, problem solving, math, and interpersonal skills. If you’re just starting out and the thought of creating your own adventure is too daunting, check out Dungeon Masters Guild for some smaller modules that you can use to dip your toes in! If you do buy the handbooks, we recommend showing your local game store some love and purchasing it there!

A Dungeon and Dragons Player's Handbook

For That One Friend

What do you get the person who has everything? The ability to make their own stuff! The Prusa Mini should keep them occupied for a while—and might result in them making some gifts for you as a thanks!
A Prusa Mini 3D printer


And, of course… Backblaze
You know it. You love it. Now gift it!

Give Backblaze Backup

We hope that some of these ideas spark a little joy or creativity in your gift buying this season. We wish you the best! What are you most looking forward to your loved ones (or enemies?) unwrapping this year?

The post Backblaze Holiday Gift Guide — 2019 appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

The STEMs of Backblaze: How We Got Here

Post Syndicated from Nicole Perry original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/celebrating-national-stem-day/

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math acronym (STEM) paired with graphic representations of each field and a photo of a young girl holding a statistics book.

November 8th marks the celebration of National STEM day, calling attention to the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) in young peoples’ education. Without these programs encouraging young minds to enter STEM fields, we would be hard-pressed to find the Backblaze staffers of the future. As such, a day like this is something we have to celebrate here in our office.

Many of our teammates missed out on the educational initiatives around tech that exist today, but they did not let age, gender, or socioeconomic status stop them from reaching the top of their respective fields. So in honor of the day, we decided to share some of their STEM-related stories with an eye toward inspiring you. Whether they rouse you to dig into your own mid-career shift, or to encourage your kids to consider STEM, or to send an application our way, we hope these stories add to your understanding of how helpful STEM can be in any life.

The STEMs of Backblaze

From Crash Bandicoot to Front End Developer

Steven Peniche, Front End Developer at Backblaze
Steven Peniche, Front End Developer at Backblaze

Steven, a front end developer at Backblaze, started out as a bellman at the Greenwich Hotel in New York City, but his love for digital media—beginning with games like Naughty Dog’s work of art, “Crash Bandicoot”—encouraged him to sign up for a boot camp for web development called Bloc. After 6 months, Steven launched into the work force with one mission: To make the world a better place, one product at a time.

“That love for video games became a love for technology and software,” said Steven, reflecting on his early years in tech. “As I grew older, played more games, discovered the joys of dial-up internet and witnessed cable TV move into the high definition era, my interest for what powered all of these sources of entertainment peaked.”

Tina Cessna, Backblaze's VP of Engineering, holding a Storage Pod Vent
Tina Cessna, Backblaze VP of Engineering

Taking the Leap to Director of Engineering

Not everyone is as confident as Steven, though. Would you just walk into a coding bootcamp with no experience? Intimidation can be a big reason why someone shies away from working in a STEM related field. Our Vice President of Engineering, Tina, believes that you should not shy away from intimidation. She believes that embracing your jump into the unknown will help you find the fun in your field of work.

“Never think that you are not good enough or smart enough to learn anything,” said Tina, when asked what advice she would give to young engineers. “I feel like there is a misconception that engineering is boring or for geeks or whatever and that’s not true at all. And also, just because it is a male dominated industry doesn’t mean other women shouldn’t just go for it. It’s actually really fun once you start doing it. Essentially, just don’t let the intimidation get to you. Anyone can learn it.”

And she speaks from experience: Tina was the only woman in her Electronic and Computer Engineering classes at California State Polytechnic University-Pomona, but now she’s running Backblaze’s engineering efforts. Without her, our engineering team would not run as smoothly and efficiently or have projects like extending your version history release on time!

A photo of Sona, Sales Operations Executive
Sona Patel, Backblaze Sales Operations and Enablement Manager

From Microbiology to Backblaze Sales Operations and Enablement Manager

Tina makes a good point that most people tend to miss: the difference between the impossible and something that just makes you uncomfortable. Sona, our Sales Operations and Enablement Manager, spent her undergrad years preparing to attend med school. But when it came around to applying for post-grad programs or applying for jobs, she realized that her biological sciences degree qualified her for a range of different positions beyond the medical field.

“Do something that makes you uncomfortable,” said Sona, reflecting on what she would tell her younger self when starting out. “Because if you fail you fail, but if you don’t fail you might be opening up a door to something that you didn’t even know you wanted to do.” Embracing her discomfort allowed Sona to explore other careers, like working as a microbiologist at Shasta Beverages, Inc. and, now, being our go-to person for implementing software to supercharge our sales efforts here at Backblaze.

Chris Bergeron, our Technical Operations Director
Chris Bergeron, Director of Technical Operations at Backblaze

Experimenting with Technical Operations

This is true for our Director of Technical Operations, Chris, who started as a system administrator after stepping away from the college path because he felt more comfortable with a hands-on learning experience. Chris had always tinkered with computers and software during his summer breaks from school so he felt confident that this field was the right place for him.

“Try things. Experiment. The sooner you get plugged into a social network of some kind in your field, like a group or a club or an open-source project, the sooner the world will open up for you,” said Chris. “Because the people you meet will come from all different walks of life you will see all the different things they do and some of them might be interesting and different than what you initially thought of doing.”

Whether it’s toying with computer motherboards like Chris did, stargazing, app building, or even setting up your shot in basketball, chances are that your hobbies have roots in STEM. The average person indulges in these related activities without even knowing it.

Amanda Beach, Senior Accountant at Backblaze
Amanda Beach, Senior Accountant at Backblaze

Art, Dance, and Programming Sequences

Amanda is our Senior Accountant and her father, Brian, is our Distinguished Engineer. When she was younger her hobbies were art, dance, and… learning about programming sequences.

“I feel like [doing math] came very naturally,” said Amanda. “I grew up in a very math-friendly household. My dad started teaching me algebra really early. They were excited about it so they both did software engineering and programming. They would, ‘just for fun,’ teach me programming problems and I would be asking them about matrices and things like that.”

Of course, we don’t all have brilliant engineers for parents, but that doesn’t mean that Amanda’s experience isn’t useful. STEM programming is all about giving young people exposure to science, technology, engineering, and math in ways they can relate to. With Amanda, that was programming problems. But school systems all over have adapted STEM programs to their curriculum to build enthusiasm for kids who like to tinker with robots or treat math problems like a competition. You can even bring it home for your own family. The trick is to find fun, science-related activities that help kids continue to expand their excitement for these fields.

It might seem hokey, but it can be fun. For instance, at Backblaze, we still do STEM style experiments, like the day we used bubbles and a fog machine to test the air flow in the office (as seen in the video below).

Do you have an interesting story of how you came to be in the STEM field of work? Or resources for how you passed your enthusiasm on? Share them in the comments below!

The post The STEMs of Backblaze: How We Got Here appeared first on Backblaze Blog | Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup.

Welcoming the Greenest Member of Support

Post Syndicated from Nicole Perry original https://www.backblaze.com/blog/welcoming-the-greenest-member-of-support/

Our Newest Support Tech, KC3

Growing into the Role: A Tuberspective into the Greenest Member of Support

We’d like to introduce you to the newest member of the Tech Support crew, KC3. (To be clear, his name is KC, but we already have two Casey’s!)

This lil’ spud is a real go-getter. Although not yet answering tickets or eye deep in support chats, he brings a real spark of life to the team. Brought on by an existing Support Tech, Dan Mote, with a recommendation from one of our Physical Media Techs, JC Castaneda, we knew KC3 would dig right in and get dirty, working alongside everyone else.

KC3 on his first day
Day One: Fresh faced and rarin’ to go!

To be candid, he did have to be carried initially, but once he’d been with us a couple of weeks, he really set down roots. Since then, he has been invaluable to other teams as well!

KC3's first personnel review.
Internal discussion about personnel growth.

As is customary for all new hires, he had to do “The Questionnaire”!

Backblaze: What is your Backblaze title?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: How Prestigious. For entry-level? Wow. Where are you originally from?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: Real strong roots there. Nice! What attracted you to Backblaze?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: We appreciate that. What do you expect to learn while being at Backblaze?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: Lofty goals indeed. Where else have you worked?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: Started at ground level, how industrious! Where did you go to school?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: Ivy league, neat! What’s your dream job?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: Such noble aspirations. Of what achievements are you most proud?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: That’s so sweet. Why do you like certain things?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: How insightful! Favorite place you’ve traveled?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: That’s fairly far afield, sounds fun. Favorite hobby?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: That’s a hot scene, I could see hopping from place to place. Favorite food?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: Sorry, we won’t bring it up again. Star Trek or Star Wars?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: Wise choice, considering the split in the office already. Coke or Pepsi?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: No, no, vodka is an acceptable answer. Anything else you’d like to tell us?

KC3: “ . . . ”

B: Deep. We look forward to you applying that salt-of-the-earth wisdom to your tasks!


Although not a-peeling during his first few days, he has unequivocally grown over the last few weeks. So much so that he has even risen to a spudvisory role—keeping an even tone and demeanor, even when engaged in difficult conversations.

KC3's open door policy.

Thanks for joining the team, KC3. We look forward to you continually rising to the challenge, reaching higher and higher with your perfectly starched attire!

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