A simple usabilty improvement for USB, “iThings”, and other connectors


USB and iThing ConnectorsI’m not sure why I never noticed before, but ever since I started using an iPhone, I’ve noticed one simple thing missing from the design of the 30 pin plug, a tactile feel. The same problem applies to the USB side of the same cable, and all other devices that have seemingly ever shrinking connectors.

Perhaps it is just me, but if you ever had to pause to insert that charging cable, dock connector, or whatever cable into a device, and then have to turn it over because you went to insert it the wrong way around, then you know what I am talking about.

If the manufacturers would just add a raised dot in place of the USB logo, the “iThing” logo, or whatever they use to show the proper orientation/insertion direction, it would eliminate this problem. I do believe I’ve seen some cables that have this, but not one of the dozens of USB, Firewire and “iThings” cables I have, have it. So, what do I do while the manufacturers neglect this little feature? I make them with a hole punch and some P-Touch tape. The tape from a P-Touch works very well, but other tapes may work fine as well. The idea is to get something that stays put, and has enough thickness that you can feel it.  The reason for the “hole” is that it has no hard edges or corners which would make the tape much easier to catch something and come off.
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Thoughts on the Drobo Sync feature coming for the DroboPro FS


When I read about the new DroboPro FS from Data Robotics, aimed at the small business market, I saw a new feature, Drobo Sync.  It is coming as part of a new release of Drobo Dashboard in late October/Mid-November 2010 .  I thought, wow, how timely, they read my post about why I don’t recommend a Drobo, and had this just waiting in the wings to tell me a big “told you so”.

Sorry, but I think this feature, while nice, falls a little short.  And, so far, Drobo Sync will only be available with the DroboPro FS.  For other Drobos, there is still DroboCopy, which isn’t identical in functionality, but can setup scheduled backups to even non-Drobo based disk storage.

Data Robotics are touting the Drobo Sync feature as:

Integrated offsite backup – The main new feature with the DroboPro FS is Drobo Sync which allows you to replicate your data from one DroboPro FS to another DroboPro FS on the network.

To make use of this “integrated feature”, you need two DroboPro FS at $1,999 each without disks, and an internet connection, or some sort of connection between them that is fast enough to keep up with all that data.  They also state, on the FAQ, that:

Drobo Sync is a data replication process and not a generational backup utility. The end result of using Drobo Sync will be to have the exact same set of files on the destination system as you have on the source system. If a file gets added or deleted from the source system that same file will be added or deleted on the destination DroboPro FS.

While they do say that it is a “not generational backup”, they don’t come out and say that they recommend the use of another means of backup for really having a backup of your DroboPro FS.  Even on Data Robotics’ “Best Practices” guide, they manage to not make mention of this for any of the Drobos.
I fear that this marketing pitch, while I won’t call it lack of disclosure, can be very dangerous for an uninformed small business and may result in some severe data loss, should something go wrong with one of the devices. Read more of this post