One of the most frustrating aspects about computing is being able to access your data anytime, anywhere. Some people will say “That’s easy, store it in the cloud”. As promising as cloud computing may be, in reality it is still not the be all and end all solution. For starters, cloud computing requires internet connection ALL the time. A point MAY come that everyone will be connected to the internet but as of the moment we are not. With that, the cloud falls short in solving the problem. For this limitation, various tools can be used to achieve data ubiquity.
As an IT professional, it is almost mandatory that you have access to your data anywhere, anytime. Imagine doing a presentation and telling your audience that you forgot your presentation material in one of your computers. Or finding that you forgot to attached a report to an email for your boss. Having your important data always available makes your work more predictable and controlled. It certainly a good habit to practice.
Here are the tools that can help you in making your data always available to you:
- Live Mesh – is a free file synchronization tool. It allows you to sync your files to any device and the cloud. It supports Windows, Mac and Windows Mobile. I believe this one of the best synchronization product out there. It is nicely baked into the OS that you need almost zero attention when and how to sync data. Download Live Mesh.
Other products that you may use: DropBox, Box.net
- FeedDemon (w/ Google Reader) – is an RSS reader for Windows (the best one!). You can manage all of your RSS subscription from here plus, with Google Reader, it synchronizes your subscriptions on all of your machines. Download FeedDemon. Sign up for a Google Reader account.
Other products that you may use: MS Outlook, Web browsers
- RoboForm (w/ GoodSync) – is password manager plug-in for IE and Firefox. It also stores your credentials on the cloud and can sync it to any machine that you use. I must say after using it for a few days, I can’t imagine how I lived without it. It makes browsing such a pleasure! Download Roboform here.
Other products that you may use: Keepass
- Windows Live Mail – is desktop email client. Synchs your email to any machine and the cloud. I use most of Windows Live products since they are a combination of software + services and nicely integrated to Windows. Get Windows Live Essentials here (Windows Live Mail included)
Other products that you may use: Thunderbird, Zimbra
I hope these can be a good addition to your arsenal as an IT professional. If you have other tools that you use please hit the comment section and let me know.
I read Ed Bott’s “My 10 favorite Windows programs of all time” and decided to come up with my own list. (Click the image if you want to download the app)
How do I start praising this app? Let me do that by telling you that I’m a tech blog reader junkie. I read at least 20 articles a day. It’s my morning newspaper (or coffee, same effect). FeedDemon is an excellent RSS client that allows me to view and manage my entire RSS subscription. Now nothing’s fancy there, all other RSS readers do that. But one great thing about this is whenever I used other computer, it automatically synchronizes my subscription. So not only my RSS subscription is instantly available in my office computer (or any other), I can also pick up where I left reading. And the best part of all, it has a mobile client for Windows Mobile that’s also in synched with the rest of your subscription!
2. Windows Live
Sure, another Microsoft products that’s late to the party. But please, please, please, try it first before joining the naysayers club. These apps are so useful and amazing that I don’t think I can put up words to prove them to you unless you really try them. They’re top notch on the software + services department. It’s a package of several apps so I just decided to count them as one otherwise my list would be all MS products and that would just make this list silly.
Windows Live Photo Gallery – do you remember ACDSee back in the Win98 days? It was very useful and insanely easy to use (until they try to open every files in Windows with it). Well, WLPG is like that, only streamlined and a lot useful. Aside from organizing your media library in every possible way there is, it let’s you tag your photos thus making it searchable via Desktop search. It also, allows you to tag people directly connected on your Windows Live Contacts. And it’s coolest feature would be the facial recognition! It automatically detects the faces on the picture and lets you identify it by People tagging them. Very sweet.
Windows Live Mail – Synchronized email wherever you go – PC, mobile, web – ah, now that’s peace of mind. I was really reluctant giving up my Yahoo mail over Windows Live. First and foremost, it was my email for (trip to memory lane, this could be a while, hold on..) 8 years (finally!). People know me though that mail. But when I started using Live Mail, it was just a breeze. The experience of using a client email program tramps web-based, AJAX-ified email. I tried doing this with my Yahoo using a free SMTP proxy with Outlook but it just wasn’t working. No synchronization via mobile or web.. ahh!
Windows Live Writer – using it right now, as we speak, err write. If you’re a blogger, then this client is a must for you. Live writer supports so many blogging sites (WordPress, TypePad, Blogger etc), has a very snappy UI and powerful features like a real document editor. Also, like the Live Photo Gallery, there are so many plug-ins available.
3. Crimson Editor
I’ve never really tried other text editor extensively, so most of my considerations here are basically moot point, but this nifty code editor has been with me for so long and it never failed me. Number 1, it’s lightning fast. The way how you should expect any code editors. Pin it on your Quick Launch and you have an all-purpose, easy-access note-taking machine. Two, tons of features. It has all the power of a standard code editor plus more. Editing remote files? No biggie, this baby can edit and save text files via FTP. Multiple edits? It has a multi-tabbed interface that allows you to edit, find, replace and save simultaneously all opened documents. Doing repetitive text-editing tasks? Macro that!
If you want to do VoIP, there’s no other way to do it other than Skype. The experience and call quality separates it from any other VoIP client. The call is so clear it makes Yahoo Messenger Voice a joke. It also has a mobile client version.
It’s not Photoshop but it gets the job done. I have a good background with Photoshop and I was never comfortable trying other image editor. For me, there was only two image editors, Paint and Photoshop. Don’t laugh but MS Paint serves handy as my clipboard for images. Just Window Key + R > Type “mspaint” (which is usually in the autocomplete list) > press enter and it’s there, easy and fast. Photoshop, well, is for everything else. I can’t of anything that can’t be done using Photoshop. The problem is this: Photoshop is too slow for quick edits and Paint is just a joke for any edit at all. That’s where Paint.NET fills in. It’s very fast to launch and yet still powerful enough to do edits.
Today I was invited to the private Beta of Microsoft’s Live Mesh! Thanks to Nadia Fortini for inviting me. There’s so many things to say about mesh so I’ll just quote something from Liveside.net:
Live Mesh is a “software-plus-services” platform and experience that enables PCs and other devices to “come alive” by making them aware of each other through the Internet, enabling individuals and organizations to manage, access, and share their files and applications seamlessly on the Web and across their world of devices. Live Mesh includes:
- A platform that defines and models a user’s digital relationships between devices, data, applications, and people—made available to developers through an open data model and protocols.
- A cloud service providing an implementation of the platform hosted in Microsoft data centers.
- Software, a client implementation of the platform that enables local applications to run offline and interact seamlessly with the cloud.
- A platform experience that exposes the key benefits of the platform for bringing together a user’s devices, files and applications, and social graph, with news feeds across all of these
According to the news the beta is limited to 10,000 users only but some folks at Liveside was able to find a loophole on the system. Mesh allows you to invite people view your shared folder. Invited user will need to sign-up before they view the folder. Viola! Instant access to the system.
I’m a Foldershare user (which is also in beta) and functionally speaking they’re pretty much the same. But since in the coming months, Mesh will allow users to add their mobile devices (my assumption is Windows mobile powered device is the first priority, but support will come to other phones. Especially MS recently announced the availability of Silverlight to Nokia phones) and will support Mac computers, I think Mesh will be another great product from MS. And it’s been getting a good review. Here’s a great article from TechCrunch stating why Google should be worry about Live Mesh. And here’s another from ZDNet.
Being a Microsoft fan, I’ll be objective and use the product first before I give my verdict. I’ll use it for a week and get on with my review then. In the mean time , I still have a few invitations here, so if you’re interested, leave a comment with your email. Thanks.
Here are some more interesting links:
– Robert Scoble made a very good post with lots links.
– TechCrunch outlines Mesh.