Evernote

Top choice for note taking software

Evernote logo

If you have random data scattered around your computer, a digital scrapbook of clippings, recipes, scanned receipts, reference data, web clippings… stuff that you squirrel away because maybe you’ll need it one day then Evernote is your friend.

I’ve been testing a number of other similar programs but, bang for buck, Evernote is still my #1 choice.

It’s come into a bit of flack recently because the company have changed the rules for the free version, and changed the pricing structure. We’ll cover that later in this post.

Evernote makes filing and quickly retrieving your data easy. Your notes, files and images are saved to your computers’ hard drives and simultaneously to Evernote’s own servers. Its main raison d’etre is quick and easy location of those data. You have the advantages of online storage, instant powerful search capability, and automatic synchronization between your computers, tablets, and smartphones and between them and the cloud.
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Cloud storage

cloud icon

No such thing as a free lunch?

There is when it comes to your data security.

Until quite recently, if you wished to back up your valuable data without cashing in the family jewels, extra storage drives were the logical choice of medium.

The quandary

The question when backing up to extra internal or external hard drives is where to draw the line. If your main computer hard drive crashes a backup is invaluable, but if you only have one backup drive it can be stolen in a burglary or destroyed in a fire along with your computer. So for total peace of mind you really need two and one should be kept at a remote location. That means regular exchanging of drives, loss of data created since the last backup, and an administrative hassle we could live without.

Do you use more than one computer?

Data management is further complicated if you need to synchronize your files on two or more computers. There is excellent software for this. Microsoft’s free SyncToy and the excellent SyncBack SE are two very good sync utilities.

But running these programs is yet another job that we can do without. If you flip back and forth between your laptop and desktop, or between home and work, it’s a never ending task.

Enter the cloud

An extra hard drive is invaluable at home or in the office. I wouldn’t be without one for backing up my whole system with imaging software, but recently the game has changed for data files. There are services popping up like spring daffodils all over the place clamouring to back up your data files on somebody else’s hard drive in the “Cloudi.e. on a remote Internet site.
Continue reading “Cloud storage”

Cloud storage

cloud icon

No such thing as a free lunch?

There is when it comes to your data security.

Until quite recently, if you wished to back up your valuable data without cashing in the family jewels, extra storage drives were the logical choice of medium.

The quandary

The question when backing up to extra internal or external hard drives is where to draw the line. If your main computer hard drive crashes a backup is invaluable, but if you only have one backup drive it can be stolen in a burglary or destroyed in a fire along with your computer. So for total peace of mind you really need two and one should be kept at a remote location. That means regular exchanging of drives, loss of data created since the last backup, and an administrative hassle we could live without.

Do you use more than one computer?

Data management is further complicated if you need to synchronize your files on two or more computers. There is excellent software for this. Microsoft’s free SyncToy and the excellent SyncBack SE are two very good sync utilities.

But running these programs is yet another job that we can do without. If you flip back and forth between your laptop and desktop, or between home and work, it’s a never ending task.

Enter the cloud

An extra hard drive is invaluable at home or in the office. I wouldn’t be without one for backing up my whole system with imaging software, but recently the game has changed for data files. There are services popping up like spring daffodils all over the place clamouring to back up your data files on somebody else’s hard drive in the “Cloudi.e. on a remote Internet site.
Continue reading “Cloud storage”

Useful free utilities: CPU-Z

CPU-Z is a very small and handy free program which provides you with detailed information that you sometimes need about your computer’s CPU, motherboard and memory. The program doesn’t install itself on Windows, so it doesn’t mess with your Windows Registry and may be run from a flash drive or floppy if required. Just unzip the files in any directory, on any drive, and run the cpuz.exe file.

It’s great, get it right here

Screenshots

CPU-Z cpu tab Continue reading “Useful free utilities: CPU-Z”

Udacity

This could change the world

It could certainly change your world.

As I’ve said in my notes to my grandchildren, the environmental and economic state of the planet is dire. I’m struggling to find positive stories to balance the bad news. This one ticks the box. I’m getting old and maudlin. 😦 When Sebastian Thrun showed the inspirational message from a young woman whose life was falling apart, I had tears in my eyes.

“Udacity is a totally new kind of learning experience. You learn by solving challenging problems and pursuing udacious projects with world-renowned university instructors (not by watching long, boring lectures). At Udacity, we put you, the student, at the center of the universe.”

And it’s free.

What are you waiting for? Sign up here.

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If you’re concerned–and you should be–about the direction of education generally, or if you have children, or you’re an educationalist youself, please watch Sir Ken Robinson’s brilliant and entertaining video Changing Education Paradigms, right here.

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PlainText: simple, elegant, useful

“For editing text on iPad & iPhone. PlainText is a simple text editor with a paper-like user interface. Unlike the default Notes app, PlainText allows you to create and organize your documents in folders and sync everything with Dropbox.com.”

PlainText logoIf you use Dropbox and you have an iPhone or iPad, you’ll love PlainText.  If you don’t have Dropbox you should, it’s the best data handling  service provided in decades and it’s free. PlainText is a deceptively simple text editor/iPhone app and it’s a gem. It’s really easy to use, it looks classy, and it makes life a little easier.

PlainText supports folders and it links to your Dropbox account, so files are automatically synchronized between your iPhone and all computers linked to your Dropbox. Because it’s minimalist, it lets you focus on writing instead of spending half your life managing the process.

If you’re over fancy todo lists you can just use an “action” text file for todo’s and a “fridge door” text file for a scratch pad. I save them into the PlainText folder in my Dropbox and that’s the job done.

PlainText is free. It displays a small advertisement at the bottom of your iPhone screen which isn’t too obtrusive but can be removed by purchasing “Remove Ads” for a miserly $2.49. Don’t be mean, pay up. 🙂 My only gripe is that it’s not available for other smartphone brands. Yet another barrier to abandoning Apple. Continue reading “PlainText: simple, elegant, useful”

Dropbox: the ideal web image management tool

Dropbox logoIf you’re a web designer or a blogger you probably have a lot of hassles with uploading, locating and managing your online images. Worry no more.

Dropbox to the rescue

Dropbox and Evernote have changed my digital life. If you use more than one computer, if you need to access files from any web-connected computer in the known universe, or if you just need no-brainer burglar-proof, tsunami-and-fire-proof file backup they’re invaluable and they’re free for commendable amounts of data. If you don’t have it just click on the Dropbox logo above and you’ll get 2.5GB of free storage (you get an extra 500MB from my referral). I’ve written more about Dropbox here.

Your Dropbox contains a Public folder. All you need do is save images destined for your website into that folder or a subfolder within it. When you wish to insert the image into your website here’s what to do (it’s far easier to do than to explain): Continue reading “Dropbox: the ideal web image management tool”