Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Keeping a Balance

Ok... I admit, I'm a bit of a workaholic.  I suppose running your own business, or 2, or 3.. you have to be.  I don't mind it most of the time, but it is so true that you have to keep a balance in your life - even if you do love your work.

Family Portrait taken in 2009 by
Lindsay Ernst Photography
I still technically live at home with my parents and little brothers.  I am home from around 9:30 at night until 7:30 in the morning and on probably a little more than half the Sundays.  I do have a full kitchen at my store, as well as a room with a hide-a-bed... so I can crash at work from time to time as well.  I do love that hour or so of a night that I get to talk with mom & dad and that 45 minutes or so of a morning cooking breakfast and beith with my brothers.  Even though it's such a small time, it still keeps me connected.  Plus, mom stops at the store for her break and lunch and usually the whole family comes to the store to pick her up after work - so I see them throughout the day, most days, as well.

I actually love the setup this way.  I look at it as getting the chance to help raise kids without having to deal with them all the time.  My brothers are both adopted, one from China in 2006 and one from Guatemala in 2008.  We are also fostering a 5 month old girl right now which we have had since she was 3 days old.  With having my own business, it does give me the chance to be there when I'm needed to pick them up from school, drop them off at the babysitter or a game or even sometimes watch them at my store.  To keep a real balance, I probably should be "home" more with them... but that's the nice thing about them being brothers instead of sons - I don't fell that I have to be.

Block Party - photo borrowed
from Sandy Schwarting
Other than those times with my family, most of my time is spent by myself, with my employees or with customers.  I very seldom actually go out just for fun.  I'm not a real social person.  I don't drink, so bars don't enthuse me.  I don't like the loud music of bands or djs.  I do volunteer and try to help out with Chamber of Commerce events and things like that - but that's almost more work related.  The one thing that I do enjoy as "friends" is the block that my store is on usually has a get-together once a month, we started it about a year ago.  We usually just go out for dinner at a restaurant or something like that - about a dozen of us.  It's little things like that which I think really help keep a little more balance in life.  Not only family, but friends as well.

I know my life is very different from most people.  How do you keep up the balance in your life?  Work enough to make a living, spend time with your family and still have time for friends.  Any thoughts out there?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

My hard drive died... what to do.....

You're working away on your computer, listening to the music you've purchased through itunes, editing the pictures you took at your family reunion a few weeks ago.  All of a sudden, everythiung goes quiet and a blue screen pops up.  Stupid computer, you just lost the last 15 minutes of work that you hadn't saved!

You restart your computer, and it comes up saying insert boot disk.  What?!?  Surprise, you lost more than just the last 15 minutes of work.... your hard drive just died and you lost everything.

This happened to me today... well... kind of.  It was actually one of my data drives that died instead of my main hard drive, so when I rebooted it still came back up, but that particular drive was missing from my computer.

The biggest difference between what "actually" happened to me and what would have probably happened to you.... is I didn't lose anything important.  Anything really important, I backup and backup again!  And some, I even backup again... and again.

All of my business documents, financial files, music and photos are always backed up.  First, I configure my hard drive to be in a mirrored RAID system.  Any change I make is automatically made to the 2nd hard drive.  If one fails, I get a notice that the RAID system has a problem and I replace the bad hard drive.  It repairs the RAID system and I'm right back where I was.  Never down at all.

All of these files are backed up again using an online backup service.  I currently use (and our parent company, KawreS SuperStore sells) Carbonite.  It backs up all of my files automatically whenever a change is made.  It also keeps "versions" of the files, so if I change the file and a few days later realize I need the old version, I can get it back.

Finally, my photos... the heart of my business... are backed up again.  I back up all of my photos to an external hard drive and store it at home.  It is much faster to get the 44GB of swim meet pictures back from USB hard drive than it is to download them from Carbonite.  After 6 months or so, I back all the photos up to a second external hard drive which I keep at the store and take them off of my computer's hard drive.  These will also be deleted from Carbonite, but I have already sold all that will probably be sold.  But in case the customer does want more, I have them backed up at home and at the store... if there's a fire or one of the hard drives go bad, I still have another backup to get them from.

So, what do you do to backup your important information?  Shouldn't you at least be using an online backup like Carbonite?  For $60 per year, in my opinion, it's definitely cheap peace of mind and you don't even have to remember to do it - it's automatic.  After the fact, you can send your hard drive off to be 'recovered', but that usually has a minimum price of around $1,000.  If you're interested in an online backup subscription, let us know and we can answer your questions and we would appreciate the opportunity to sell it to you - it's the same price through us or directly through them.

So, what actually happened to me?  I did lose one of my data drives.  It stored all my mp3s and my survelliance camera videos as well as a few basic files.  My mp3s are backed up (both on an external hard drive and on Carbonite) and I'll copy them back over when I replace the hard drive.  The few files are backed up on Carbonite and I've already downloaded them to another location.  My survelliance videos.... well... they're lost.  I don't back them up because they aren't that important.  So, if you shoplifted in the last few days and we didn't catch it - congratulations.  But that's the only thing I lost... old survelliance videos. 

What would you lose if your hard drive crashed right now?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Summer Time Fun Photo Contest

It's summer and the heat is making sure we know it. What do you do for fun in the summer? We're having a photo contest this summer for fun!

How do you enter?
Submit a photo showing us what you do for fun in the summer by e-mailing it to The subject of your e-mail will be the "title" of the picture and the body of the e-mail will be the "description" of the photo.  Neither one is actually required.  It will show up on our flickr page at in just a few minutes.

Why use Flickr?
Most photographers do this type of contest through facebook, why aren't we doing that? It is against facebook policy to run a promotion using facebook's like, etc. as an entry mechanism. I know of a photographer who lost their facebook page - and therefore lost all of their followers as well. I don't want to take the chance of losing all of my followers. However, this doesn't mean that you can't post a link to the picture on your facebook page for all of your friends to go vote!

Facebook Page Guidelines - Section E. v. "You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion."

What will you win?
We are giving away 2 individual sessions with this contest. These can be in studio or on location and are for the person or one of the people who are in the photo.

How do you win?
1) The first winner will win by having the most comments on their photo. Simply share a link to your photo on our flickr page with all of your friends and ask them to leave a comment. Only one comment per user will be counted.  The photo with the most unique comments will receive a free portrait session. Don't have a flickr account? No worries, you can log in using your facebook account.

2) The second winner will be chosen by me and a few facebook friends who aren't from around here (and therefore don't know who anyone is). This winner will be chosen for creativity, uniqueness and staying with the theme of the contest.

When can you enter?
The contest starts NOW! It will go through 5:00 p.m. Central Time Wednesday, July 18th. We will announce the winners around 5:00 p.m. on Friday, July 20th.

Bonus Money!!
Go ahead and have portraits taken now. If you have portaits taken before July 18th and you win, we will give you your session fee PLUS an extra $25 in credit towards your portrait order!

A great idea for a session right now is a pool session. Beat the heat and get portraits you can't get any other time of year. We'll come to the pool and get great portraits, often you can't even tell they're taken at the pool. We have the ability to get some really fun underwater portraits as well.

Get your favorite Summer Time Fun photo sent in now and contact us to setup your portrait appointment today!
Natural-Beauty Phtoography
1515 Stone St.
Falls City, NE  68355
(402) 245-3700