I have received my Google Voice invite and I have been uploading music ever since. I like how it allows me to have my music collection stored in the cloud. The web and Android clients have an online and offline mode setting so that you can stream or cache files locally. I have finally uploaded almost all of my music. I have close to 200 files (out of 5278) that would not upload for some reason. It took about 3 days to complete. Now I can get my music from any web browser or my Android devices. Pretty cool stuff!
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
So I am into day 3 of living off of a laptop. I can gladly say it has been great! I was very nervous about not bringing any computer with me but the tablet has held up well. I have had signal and connectivity that I would have also needed with a traditional PC. The battery has also been great. I am typing notes, checking schedules and reading/posting to Twitter. The battery is taking it in stride. I will be pushing it today but this is one of my busier days. I have had several people ask me about the tablet. I just looked up and the guy in front of me also has a Galaxy Tab! Only other android tablet I have seen.
I think this was a great test. I haven't regretted my decision at all. In fact I love traveling this light. No heavy laptop for me! :D Evernote has also worked great for taking notes. The best part will be having the ability to find my notes later from anywhere. I have seen several Evernote users here this week.
Until next time...
Sunday, May 15, 2011
To followup on the last post about living in the cloud, I wanted to clarify a few things. I still use a desktop computer at work. Since I mostly rdp onto servers for my day to day job it is still needed for those tasks. I do have a running netbook at home that I remote into for testing things from outside the work network. It also currently houses my music collection. I hope that I will get a Google Music invite to fix that.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
This week I will be going to Tech Ed in Atlanta. It will be a week of learning that I am looking forward to. In addition, it will also be a real test of an experiment that started about a year ago. I was tired of moving my data files from computer to computer and I wanted to move my files to some type of storage where I could always access them. I didn't want to have to copy gigs of data around.
I first moved my documents to Microsoft's Skydrive. This allowed me to use the mesh app to get my files on all of my computers even offline. I was concerned about outages so for redundancy I also moved my files to Google Docs. This also allowed me to use those apps to edit the documents from a web browser.
This has worked very well for my normal home/work routine. This week I will try only using my tablet and my phone. In theory, I should be able to do everything I need to do even without a laptop and out of town. I will keep posting to let everyone know how it goes.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
God has blessed me with the opportunity to run a ministry that I truly love being a part of. I feel humbled when I think about it. I want to do what God asks me to do. That being said, I have realized that the Bridge ministry that God has trusted me with is missing the target of what we were trying to accomplish. That's not to say it is a failure, far from it. But the goal from the beginning was to acclimate the 5th and 6th graders into middle school ministries and for them to get to know the adult leaders we have.
Initially I think we were on the right track. The middle school leaders we had were a part of it and the 5th grade leaders were too. As we have evolved into our own ministry though I think that we have become a bridge (pun intended) to a deserted island. We have separated ourselves from the core group of the middle school kids and leaders that we wanted to familiarize the Bridge kids with.
God has opened my eyes to this. There isn't a quick fix. There is a way to do this but it will help in many ways but also present a few new challenges. First, I think that the Bridge should be folded back into Surge. If we have the 5th-8th graders together for parts of Surge Live Wire on Friday nights it would allow the kids to know the adult leaders that are there. It will also let them mingle with the 7th and 8th graders so as they get older they know some of these other kids. It will help the Bridge by having more adult help. Andrew and I can combine our efforts and only need to plan the specific parts where we would separate the kids into 5-6th and 7-8th. Secondly, I think there should still be some Bridge only events to help get some kids that are afraid of church to feel comfortable coming to a less formal event. This is kind of the way things were in the beginning and it worked.
One of the main challenges would be space. With the addition of 20-30 kids (maybe much more) it would require us to need meeting space for core groups. There would also need to be a decision made on how to handle group games. We would want to add the 5th and 6th graders into the mix without them getting killed by eighth graders! We would need more adult leaders also. I think we could easily solve these problems but it would have to be addressed.
Another benefit would be that we would only have one night to need volunteers. For Student Ministries we are spreading ourselves thin for getting help 3 nights a week. In addition, we would also let adult leaders move up with a group of kids from 5th through 8th grade building a much better relationship. There really isn't a down side to this and it would allow us as a ministry to accomplish what God has put in our hearts to do.
Monday, January 11, 2010
So being in IT for a long time now, I always jokingly ask people about their backups when I work on their home PC's. I joke because how many of us really do good backups? For the longest time I never did at home. At work I backup everything nightly. I send them offsite in case of a fire or damage to the building. But all of that takes time, money and resources. When we talk about our personal digital pictures and songs that we have downloaded are we sure that they are safe? I have decided it is time to share my secrets on how I keep my personal data safe.
My company laptop houses many files and I use it to tie everything I have together. I store my personal files online with a free service that integrates with my laptop to be sure I always have access to my data. I am using a web based service called DropBox (www.dropbox.com) to allow my personal files to be available wherever I am. The free service allows you up to 2GB of free online storage. The setup is simple and the synchronization of files is very quick. I have been using them now for several months and since it allows me to be offline and still access my files locally I never feel like I have files that are out of date. It is a great service at a great price.
For the Gigs worth of pictures, videos and music, I use a backup approach. I have those files on my local hard drive and if that hard drive died all of my data would be gone too. To prevent absolute disaster from happening I have an external USB hard drive hooked up to my laptop at work and I use a free program called GoodSync (www.goodsync.com). With GoodSync you can setup jobs to copy your data over to the external drive. Since the USB drive is seen as removable media in Windows 7, Vista and XP GoodSync will allow you to ignore trying to copy files when the USB drive is disconnected. Other programs I have tried in the past error out when the external drive is not connected. With GoodSync you can setup the jobs to search for files that need to be updated on startup, log off, on folder connect or periodically when you specify it. You can also tell it if you want GoodSync to sync files or backup only. In the case of my DropBox files I simply back them up to the hard drive so that I have another copy of them if I cannot get online and for some reason I can't get into the local version of DropBox. I have it sync my music, pictures, documents and videos to the hard drive every couple of hours since I don't have them change that much during the day. Since it is synchronizing files if I delete one on the external drive or my laptop the other one gets deleted also. GoodSync offers many options and the combinations are numerous.
The most important part of a backup is the restore! You can backup files everyday but if you cannot restore them they are useless. The advantage of using GoodSync is that the files are not compressed so you can view the files and folders to be sure they are working. To restore the data to a new computer or to put back that deleted file on the computer again select the file and change the sync direction in GoodSync. It will copy the file back to its original location. GoodSync is a quick and easy solution for personal backups.
For some cheap external hard drives look for something along these lines:
Having a solution in place like I have described should help prevent most data loss disasters that occur. The best part is that the software is all free. The drives are relatively inexpensive to purchase and simply plug in. When you are at home just plug your external hard drive into your laptop and GoodSync will do the rest. You can even work while the backups are taking place. After the initial data copy, the backup normally only takes a few minutes at the most. I hardly even notice that my computer is being backed up. If you upgrade to a newer computer you will have all of your files backed up. Just download the latest version of DropBox and GoodSync to the new computer and the data can be copied back over through the software. This will save you a lot of time and aggravation when upgrading. If you have a desktop or tower computer just leave the hard drive plugged in and the data backups will happen without any input from you. Once the jobs are setup in GoodSync, the rest will be there as a security measure to ensure you always have your valuable data when you need it.
If you are really worried about losing data (say in the cases of a fire) you could buy two hard drives and keep one stored in a bank safety deposit box and swap them out occasionally. That would ensure that you always have something available to you if the worst happens.
An automated solution for backing up data! Who said doing backups is hard?
Monday, January 4, 2010
It's been a while since I posted but I am going to try and do a better job of this in 2010. That being said, I wanted to talk about a free product that Windows Vista and 7 users should be aware of. Sun's VirtualBox product is a free desktop virtualization product. It allows you to create virtual machines that can be run on your PC to allow you to run apps in other operating systems. What makes Sun's product different than VMWare's desktop product (other than price) is that VirtualBox has a feature called seamless mode. Seamless mode lets you run for instance a XP virtual machine and only show the taskbar above your Windows 7 taskbar.
From the picture you can see my Windows 7 taskbar and the XP virtual PC Start button and taskbar right above it. Depending on what application I want I simply choose the taskbar from the PC I want to run the app from and select it normally. The application comes up as if it were running in my Windows 7 PC natively. This is a great feature for System Admins that need to run XP for AD tools or to emulate the user's XP applications for support purposes.
I am running Windows 7 64 bit so there are a few applications that are not compatible and I still need to run them in a 32 bit environment. VMware's Infrastructure client is an example of this. I am not able to run the client on my 64 bit version of W7 so I simply loaded it on the XP virtual machine and pinned it to the quick launch toolbar. When I run it, the program appears on my desktop in a seamless mode window that acts as if it were running on my W7 desktop.
Another practical application to use VirtualBox for is safer browsing. I have an Ubuntu virtual PC that I load in seamless mode and I am able to run the browser in that machine and not have it affect my local system. For the occasional shady link or site that you run across this is a great way to protect your PC from spyware or viruses.
There are several other features and uses of VirtualBox but I think that seamless mode might be the one thing that administrators or tech savvy users might find very useful. Being able to run another PC without having it feel like I am running another PC is a great bonus. I simply switch between applications as if they are all running on my primary desktop. And of course, VirtualBox has all of the standard features of a virtual environment. It allows me to share a folder or location on my host PC to the virtual PC without needing to create a separate share. I can load CD's and install applications just like a physical PC. A great product at the right price.
You can download VirtualBox from their website: www.virtualbox.org.