Conversations about life & privacy in the digital age

Engineering Matters

If recent events in the cloud storage community have taught us anything, it’s that Engineering Matters. Features essential to you, to your life, cannot be treated as something to worry about later. We’re founded on principles that security and trust do not have to exclude convenience from modern computer use, and we are dismayed by the prevailing thought that it does.

What do we sell? We sell trust. Trust that a cup of coffee won’t wipe out the only copy of your child’s first steps that you captured on your digicam. Trust that you can back up your tax returns without anyone being able to read it. Trust that when it hits the fan, we will have your data safe and secure. That is what we sell, at the core. Trust is an integral, central part of the system. It’s engineered in, every line of Python, every system API call, every system architecture wiki page. Your data cannot be allowed to leave SpiderOak through an act of God or man without your explicit action to make it do so, and we sell you the trust that it won’t.

Placing trust as the central core of the system fundamentally changes how one architects it. The system is first and foremost engineered to be secure and trustworthy. All the fun features in the world will not change the core, fundamental design principles set into the architecture of the system, and given form through solid and tireless engineering. We engineer into the system the expectation that bad things will happen to good disk platters, and design around that. No amount of high-level policy and vague promises of security can replace solid, engineered-in trust. There may be stumbles and falls on the long journey to this combination of trust and ease of use, but that is testament to the fact that we care more about solving the hard problem – trust in your data that transcends hardware and humans – than quick cheap tick-boxes on the feature list.

This is a great new frontier, an amazing and wonderful time in history where mainframe style computing in the data center is meeting the smartphone in your hand somewhere in the middle, and everything Star Trek promised you is starting to come true. We’re moving into an age where instant-access, anywhere access to any information you want is no longer a Hollywood dream, but daily reality. How many of you will be reading this on a phone with smaller size and much higher capability than Kirk’s communicator? Now is when we can stop complaining that things just aren’t possible, and instead move to the wondering when it will be done!

As we move forward, however, how is this always-on, instant-access society impacting you? Do you not expect that the enablers of this magic to take you seriously, with your needs as an individual? Why does adding the phrase “on the internet” suddenly imply that it’s OK to be lax about trust? You have a file store at home: your computer’s hard drive. For those of us renting, we pay someone (the landlord) to house it. How would you react if your landlord or a maintenance man plugged your hard drive into his laptop and downloaded a copy of everything just because some man in a suit asked him to? Why does “file store on the internet” mean anything different? Why should we instantly relax our standards just because it’s online and shiny?

If this sounds like a manifesto, that’s because it is. At the core of this future is the bedrock we lay down today. What you will have tomorrow, the freedoms and limitations of tomorrow, are set in concrete form with the foundations of today. That is the point of this message, that engineering matters! Core design principles will outlive any set of bugs in an implementation, and that is what we do here. Our core is trust, our core is security, our core is safety. The engineering of the system now will have a direct impact for years to come.

In a world of talk, Engineering Matters.

Easter present for owners of Nokia N900 Maemo Phone

We know many of you are open-source enthusiasts like we are, and some of you own a Nokia N900 Linux-Phone like I do. Nokia might forget us, however we didn’t.

Ever wanted to access all your files from SpiderOak on your Maemo phone? Just direct your Maemo-browser to this installer file and install our new mobile client!

The client is written in 100% pure python, includes source code and uses our web-api. It might also give you a good starting point if you want to develop a SpiderOak-Application on your own.

Happy Easter!

Et Tu, DropBox?

Friends, Netizens, Countrymen, lend me your eyes!
I come to blog on SpiderOak, not to praise it!
The evil that cloud syncs do live after them; the good is oft interred in their bones.

So let it be with SpiderOak.

The noble DropBox hath told you that SpiderOak was untrustworthy,
if it were so, it was a grievous fault. And grievously hath SpiderOak answered it,
Here, under leave of DropBox and the rest; for DropBox is an honourable service.

So are they all, all honourable services!

Come I to scribe in the SpiderOak Git repo, previously it was just my backup service, faithful and just to me. But DropBox says it is untrustworthy, and DropBox is an honourable service.

SpiderOak hath brought home many encrypted blocks to the machine room, whose parity’ed and securely de-dup’d cypther text did the disk platters fill. Did this in SpiderOak seem untrustworthy?

When that the privacy rights are threatened, SpiderOak hath wept.
Yet DropBox says it is untrustworthy, and DropBox is an honourable service.

You all did see on the internets, the FBI thus wants your data.
Which to these demands we refuse; is this untrustworthy?
Yet DropBox says we are untrustworthy, and, sure, DropBox is an honourable service.

I speak not to disprove what DropBox spoke, but here I am to speak what I do know.
You all do love your secure, versioned, and synchronized backups, not without cause; what cause withholds you then, to

O judgement! Thou art fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason. Bear with me;

My data is on the servers at SpiderOak, and there it shall be safely only for me.

And The Winners Are…

For many months now we have thought about creating new T-shirts for the company. In our ongoing efforts to make SpiderOak a pleasant experience for you, we simply never had the time to come up with a design ourselves; therefore, we called on the community for help.




Choosing a winner was an extremely difficult task considering the high caliber of creative people that participated. Thank you for all the support and contribution! We hope to start production of the winning design soon.




The winner of the SpiderOak T-shirt contest will not only get a free T-shirt but also received a FREE 100 GB upgrade and $100. The runner-up receives a T-shirt and 30 additional FREE GBs and $50. The third place runner-up receives 20 additional FREE GBs and $20. And the fourth runner-up receives 10 additional FREE GBs and $10.




And with no further ado… The 4 winning t-shirt designs are as follows:

Grand prize winner goes to Michael Menanno!




Second prize winner goes to Rubén Gómez Pérez!




Third prize winner goes to Daniel Peterson!




Fourth prize winner goes to Alexander M!




Thanks again for all your submissions, and stay tuned for more contests in the future!

SpiderOak announces new Kansas City Facilities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SpiderOak moves from the Data Center to users basements thanks to Google Gigabit

Kansas City, Kansas – Thu, 31 Mar 2011 18:13:37 -0600 – New broadband network’s first project is collaboration between Residents and Businesses

SpiderOak has unveiled a new strategy today for its data storage infrastructure. In always searching for new techniques to further the implementation of available technology while also saving money related to the high cost of infrastructure roll out, we have found a way for everyone to win. Our next storage nodes will be installed in resident’s homes in Kansas City, Kansas – connected via Google’s new Gigabit network.

Google has announced this week that they have chose Kansas City, Kansas to host their highly anticipated Gigabit, Fiber-to-the-Home network; naturally, SpiderOak is jumping on board to take advantage of these services. SpiderOak has been looking to add storage nodes throughout the Midwest and given the concentration of SpiderOak employees in Kansas City, Kansas it seemed like a perfect fit. SpiderOak is now able to bring these services all together under one shingled roof (or many as the case may be).

Unfinished basement, perfect for your run of the mill SAN

Unfinished basement, perfect for your run of the mill SAN

SpiderOak will offer to install a storage node in basements, garages, family rooms, or kitchens of residences. In exchange, SpiderOak will pay the installation fees and the broadband connection for as long as the homeowner wishes to remain a host family. The storage node – traditionally a full 42U rack filled with 10 CPUs and several hundred hard disks – is capable of storing 500TB of data. As an additional courtesy, SpiderOak will allow unlimited backups to the host family. The resident may occasionally be asked to swap out a hard drive if they see a blinking red light for which they will receive a $50 cash bonus.

As part of the community outreach portion of the project, SpiderOak will give first opportunities to participate to low income households. If necessary, home improvements such as roofing work, air conditioning upgrades, and flooring reinforcements will be provided. Additionally, research is being conducted into using excess heat for alternative uses such as a griddle for making pancakes and scrambled eggs. An optional rack-mount litter box allows every member of the family to take interest in the program. Lastly, a medium sized rack is available to add countertop space to your kitchen.

The Medium size node is perfect for kitchens, or can be used as an end table to your couch.

This is the Medium size node, available for residences with floor joists that do not support the full rack’s 2400lb weight.

Google’s new ultra-high speed broadband network will give end users access at speeds 100 times faster than what is currently available. In addition to a faster web browsing experience, the project aims to create an environment that fosters innovation – bringing new products and services to the web. Little did they know the innovation on top of the innovation that would happen to occur.

As part of SpiderOak’s standard growth procedures, we are adding storage clusters to different geographical regions. Our current focus has been to add facilities in the Midwest. At this stage, we have looked at data centers throughout Kansas City, Kansas but they involve relatively high costs to implement and sustain service. Many options are available in the market but we have always been searching for new and creative techniques to deploy infrastructure.

You can always put it in your garage, next to your Craftsman tool box.

You can always put it in your garage, next to your Craftsman tool box.

SpiderOak provides backup solutions to the cloud using zero-knowledge methods. They worship Ben Franklin for saying that “Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”

Google is a secret project to have fun and disguise it as doing work. Their main veil to end users is a search engine; to businesses, it’s advertising.

Contact:
Bob Dobbs
SpiderOak, Inc
Every basement, every house
Kansas City, Kansas, 66101
www.spideroak.com


Attributions:

GarageRack.jpg:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/splorp/4354658458/

MediumNode.jpg:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidcjones/2321537549/

Unfinished basement:
http://www.acetaxes.com/york.htm

Eric, Brian, and World Backup Day for Everyone!

On March 31, as part of the global data-saving initiative, we encourage you to back up all of your cherished photos and videos, and important documents. It definitely isn’t hard to back up your data, and it is certainly a move you won’t regret.

We created a fun little clip for you to view. Just like Brian, we hope you will spread the word on the importance of backing up you data.

Of course we can’t advise you to backup your data without offering you some form of special incentive. So for World Backup Day we are offering 5GB free storage for life through the promo code ‘worldbackupday’ and if you visit worldbackupday.net you can also enter to win a 1-year 100GB premium account with SpiderOak!

Visit worldbackupday.net for more information.

Create a SpiderOak T-Shirt and Get Money and a FREE 100GB Account!

Calling all creative minds! We at SpiderOak are looking for your help. For many months now we have thought about creating new T-shirts for the company.

And in our constant efforts to make SpiderOak a pleasant experience for you, we unfortunately don’t have the time to come up with a design ourselves.
This is where you come in.




We’d like for you to take the month of March to come up with the best original idea you can think of. Now – we are not talking your fraternity’s or
sorority’s logo or a photo of your new puppy (although we are sure he/she is cute). We’re talking an idea so amazing that we stop coding our next
version of SpiderOak for a day just to admire your work!




Creativity is king and we strongly encourage you to let your imagination run wild. Feel free to use any method you’d like. Are you an artist? Are you a
master at Photoshop or MS Paint? Whatever you would like to use is up to you! It is important to note that this must be your original work but feel
free of course to use our logo.





The winner of the SpiderOak T-shirt contest will not only get a free T-shirt (once we make them), but will also get a FREE 100 GB upgrade and $100. The
runner-up will also get a T-shirt and 30 additional FREE GBs and $50. The third place runner-up will receive 20 additional FREE GBs and $20. And the
fourth runner-up will receive 10 additional FREE GBs and $10. The SpiderOak team will go over each submission for a week and choose the best design and
you will be notified.




You have the month of March to work on the project. We expect all submissions to be in by midnight, March 31. You can submit all works to Tshirts@spideroak.com in JPEG, PDF, AI, PNG, or even GIF.




To ensure that this contest brings out all possible creative minds, we encourage you to share this contest amongst your friends and family via Twitter,
Facebook, word of mouth, billboards in your yard, or any other form of communication you’d like to use.




Good luck!




Disclaimer: We reserve the right to alter winning entries to reduce color or complexity for the purpose of printing.

WHAAAAT? Unlimited storage for $4.99 a month not a viable business model?

In the wake of the news that Mozy is scrapping their ‘Unlimited’ data plans , I figured it would be apropos to write a post on: a) the reasoning behind why we at SpiderOak do not offer unlimited data plans; and b) why we believed early on that it was only a matter of time until our competitors changed their thinking on the unlimited storage plan concept.

As most people can probably understand, running an online storage service (whether backup, sync, sharing, etc…) differs quite a bit from products like share ware or anti virus in that a storage service has a a concrete incremental cost.

To use an example, if an anti virus company attracts a new customer, the incremental cost of servicing this customer is practically zero (or barely visible).

However, when an online storage service wins a new user, the space to service that user has to be present and that cost is definable and necessary to support the user. Of course the law of averages does play a part in the storage business but a given amount of space has to exist before this new user comes onboard.

The cost per user does differ depending on storage architecture, location of data centers, etc… but there is always a cost and this cost increases linearly with the amount of storage used and how active that user will be over time.

At SpiderOak our philosophy is to offer a user secure, friendly, fast, and reliable backup service at a competitive price. In doing so we offer a free full featured service with 2 GBs of free storage (up to 7 with our Refer-A-Friend Program) for anyone who wants to try our service or maybe just doesn’t have that much to backup.

In the case of Mozy, Carbonite, or any other of the ‘unlimited’ backup providers, I think time has shown that the basic premise has changed and will continue to change over time. Users’ storage needs will only continue to grow and we – as service providers – can no longer blindly think of this as a race to the most users by completely ignoring both costs and market trends.

What does this mean for the online storage industry?

Well, I personally believe that within 6 months to a year there will not be any unlimited storage providers left on the market; and should a few remain, very heavy restrictions on file size, file type and amount of devices allowed per account will be imposed (such as is already the case with many of the online backup providers).

In short: There is no such thing as a free lunch. If it looks too good to be true then it almost always is and In the end, we all have to pay the piper.

TLDR: Unlimited backup for a fixed price probably won’t be around for too much longer.

iOS Mobile Client 1.2 Released! Improvements Abound and iPad Support!

With our new Mobile development team in full swing, we are proud to present Version 1.2 of the SpiderOak iOS app for iPhone and iPad!

SpiderOak for iOS is available right now in the App Store for FREE!

The new version comes with improvements in every area from the login process, file handling, printing ability, document viewing and more. Specific areas of improvements are available in our Release Notes section below:

  1. Full Support for iPad.
  2. File Context Menu: Select specific actions related to a file including view ‘Details’, ‘Add to Favorites’, ‘Send Link’, and others.
  3. Favorites may now be updated on an individual basis.
  4. Cancel Download Operations: Effective when viewing a file or updating a favorite. This feature is enabled by tapping the ‘Cancel’ button from the progress dialog.
  5. Support for ‘Open In’: On devices with iOS Version 3.2 and up, users can now open files with any Application that supports the selected file type.
  6. Support for ‘Print’ Feature: In devices with iOS version 4.2 and up, print directly from the SpiderOak App!
  7. iOS Version 3.0 Support: It is now possible to use the SpiderOak App on devices as far back as iOS Version 3.0.

If you do not currently have a SpiderOak account, you can sign up here and receive your 2 FREE GBs – giving you full access to all product features. And even if you are not a member of SpiderOak, you can still use the SpiderOak iOS App to open up the ShareRooms of current SpiderOak users and view, sync, print and share data they make available to you.

As we do with all of our projects, we encourage your ideas and feedback as
this drives our development effort and makes SpiderOak better for everyone.
Please don’t hesitate to send your comments to
support@spideroak.com.

SpiderOak Android ver 1.1 in the wild!

With lessons learned and a new Mobile development crew in place, we proudly announce the new Android client: SpiderOak Android Version 1.1.

The new client features improvements in stability, speed, and several added features such as improved folder handling and the addition of ‘Favorites’ (or files that are downloaded and always available regardless of connectivity). Below you will find full release notes, download sources, and a tutorial video showing off the new Android client.

Android 1.1 Release Notes

- Favorites: A user now has the ability to mark specific files as ‘Favorites’. This will allow the file to remain available regardless of connectivity and the user can easily check for new updated versions.

- Improved Tab Navigation: A user can now browse his/her storage, access Shares, go to Favorites, view a specific file, and then return to his/her storage at the previous point.

- New Login Dialog: Increased efficiency such that a user no longer needs to go into Settings to enter Username/Password. New version allows a user to tap Menu –> Login and – if no credentials are present – a dialog will appear with the appropriate fields.

- Updated File Details: By default, files marked as Favorites are depicted with a star and show last modification time and size. A user can now modify this display within the Settings.

- Improved File Viewing: User may choose between potential programs to open a file when a default is not found.

- Miscellaneous Fixes & Improvements: Better handling on orientation changes and a more accurate storage progress bar.

You can download the new mobile client for Android via app-stores and repositories or directly through: https://spideroak.com/dist/android/SpiderOak.apk.