Old Webpage

If you liked my old webbpage, you'll find it here: www.jansroeber.de old webpage

Friday, September 30, 2011

The importance of being backed up

Is there any reason why you haven't already backed up your important data?

Imagine what would happen if all your pictures, music, movies and documents were gone with the wind!

The major reason for not being backed up is the lack of an adequate backup software, I'd presume!

Apple users are well off, since they have Time Machine built in their operating system, but how about the others, that are not among the privileged kind and those who are using other operating systems like Windows and Linux ?

Wouldn't they like to have just one simple software that fits for all operating systems at a time and that is good enough to back up all of them under one hood?

There's one product that covers all of these requirements and even more. This product is called Crashplan!

Crashplan is a backup-software, that is available for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X  and Solaris.

Crashplan is not only backing up to local USB and FW hard drives, but also to mounted network-drives, drives of other computers in a local network and also to machines and drives in other networks over the Internet.

The latter means you can backup you data on a friends or relatives computer via Internet. Since you wouldn't like such data being transferred unencrypted, the data stream is transferred under 128bit encryption by the free version and 448bit encryption under the plus-version. The backup itself consequently is encrypted the same way too!

The plus-version additionally offers cloud based backup under various payment-plans that fit almost every budget.

The good news is, that even with the basic, free of charge version, you can set up a reasonable backup solution for every operating-system and even can run off-site backups based on a buddy system.

Crashplan is very easy to install. Just download, open an account and you're ready to go.
The account comprises a 30 days free trial for the cloud backup as well, so you can try whether you like it or not.

Unfortunately I didn't realize I could try it and so my 30 days expired without being used.- My fault!

Crashplan is so easy to be set up, that you don't have any excuses left for not being backed up anymore!

Get it, get it installed and get it now!!!!

One more thing: Crashplan provides an iOS app that allows access to your saved data from all of your iDevices. So you can even save on your dropbox usage and save some money, in case you have the plus-version running.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Using Breevy Portable with your Textexpander snippets on your work PC

Let's presume you're an experienced Mac-geek who's using Textexpander and has created lots of snippets.

Now you are going to your workplace and your employer has two disadvantages:

1.) The infrastructure is based on PC environment
2.) You dont't have the permission to install software on your PC, i.e. you don't have admin rights on your machine.

This means your productivity drops and you are always cranky since you could be soooo much faster at your personal machine.

There is a solution to your problem:

Textexpander has a PC equivavalent named Breevy. Breevy acts like Textexpander, although it unfortunately does'nt look like Textexpander at all.

That serves as a solution to disadvantage no.1.), but how about no. 2.) ?

No.2 can be solved like this:
Breevy's little sister is Breevy Portable that runs from an USB stick, flash drive and also from a desktop folder and can be installed without admin rights, since it doesn't dig into the windows system.

And it comes even better: Breevy Portable, like Breevy itself can use Textexpander Snippets. That means you can import your homegrown  Textexpander Snippets into Breevy and Breevy Portable, use them there and even reimport them back into Textexpander.
And in case you are allowed to do so, you can even sync them via dropbox.

Breevy costs only  35$US and is worth every penny!

Listen to my audio podcast contribution, previously published under http://www.podfeet.com/wordpress/


Thursday, August 25, 2011

My travel setup when traveling abroad

You may imagine that, when europeans travel, they easily hit a country's boarder and so may accidentally run into high roaming charges.
In order to prevent me from such hazards I have decided to disable "Data Roaming" on the IPhone.

But how can I get mail,tweets,text etc.?

What I did is buying a so called MyFi which is nothing but a wireless HotSpot on 3G  Basis that is not linked to any ISP by a SIM- or Netlock at all.

I chose the HUAWEI E5 that is now only 100€ and decided to buy local Mobile Data prepaid Plans when traveling abroad.
In Australia you can get 1 GB of download volume for just 15$AUS without any bureaucratical issues thru VirginMobile f.e.

Once the MyFi is started up, it creates a WiFi Hotspot of approx. 5Meters(16ft) diameter that you can log on with up to 5 devices.

The APN is configurable from the iPhone or the iPad and the iPod touch as well though a browser Interface.
This is essential after you plugged in the local SIM since all providers have different APNs.
I highly recommend to disable the PIN Protection of the SIM module as well, because it is very inconvenient on an iDevice and the risk is limited to the pre-charged amount of money.

You can set up your own SSID and Password.

The MyFi itself has a Battery Life of 4 hrs. Since this is not enough for a whole day it is very important that it is chargeable thru USB. The HUAWEI E5 charges at 1.000mA like the iPhone, so I could use a external Battery Pack like the "Just Mobile Pro Portable Battery Pack" (39€ thru Amazon) that is carrying 4.400mAh which is approx. 4 times the capacity of the MyFi batterie and so worth some 20hrs of Internet access in total. the connection of these 2 devic  es is made via Mini-USB to USB cable, that can also be used to charge both, MyFi and Battery Pack by a standard USB wall charger.

Since I usually walk around with a backpack or a shoulderbag on vacation, there is no problem to become a mobile walking hotspot, since the weight of the total setup is aproxx. 0,25kg(0,5lbs).
The mobile Battery Pack can also be used for charging the idevices exept iPad and to extend the battery life of the iPhone while no car based navigation such as hiking, cycling, geo-caching.

Last but not least, the setup is far better than data roaming, since you can also download data files bigger than your iPhone ISP allows, since the iPhone reacts like being in a local WiFi network. So you can also listen to your favourite podcast while being abroad.

Listen to my podcast contribution to the Nosillacast Podcast:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Connecting and Syncing the Lotus Notes Standard Task Manager with RTM via RTM BBSync

Besides the use of Lotus Notes(LN) in connection with a Blackberry(BB), one could also connect the BB, and so also LN with "Remember-the-Milk". This can be done by installing the "Milk Sync for Blackberry" on your BB Device.

This BB application is available free of charge for RTM pro users (25$/Yr)  for download  on the RTM page. It keeps the genuine BB Task Management App and the RTM Web-App in sync and since this works seamlessly, you could at least have all your to do's on you BB on your Work Computer and on your i-device in an unisense sync as well. 
Unfortunately the RTM sync only works with lists and not with tags.

A workaround might be that you create smartlists for the regular tags you use (Tag:@phone) and save them for automatic update.

This could cause some inconvenience, so you better double-check wether you‘re fine with it before you make use of this hint. In addtition you should check on using the same tags in the LN environment and the RTM environment, so you dont cause duplicates or confusion.

As a hint you should try to find out, wether a tag related smart-list in RTM helps you solving part of your Problems.

Maybe you decide to only sync the work related task into you notes environment like I did.

As you will have found out, this work around helps you connecting BB, Notes, RTM and iDevice, so you can have all to do's in sync on all devices.

Maybe in the near Future we will have tags sycing as well so all works together seamlessly.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Remember-the-Milk for iPhone and iPad App review

I can't tell you how much I've been waiting for this RTM for iPad App.
It's been less than a year, but felt like ages.

And now: "Tataaaa" there it is! The "Remember-the-Milk" iPad App!

First of all one question: Do you know RTM at all?

Okay, her you go: RTM is the best, most underestimated Task-Management App I know!

RTM, first of all is a web service that allows you to manage your tasks, save them with a due date, assign context, like places, persons, projects to them and keep the tasks out of your precious mind, until it's time to work them out.

RTM is fully configurable according to your needs, so you can add smart lists, create separate business and private lists, keep your tasks sorted by project, place, person or every term you want.

RTM is a full blown GTD application with all bells and whistles and has the best price-benefit ratio one can imagine, since it is free of charge in the basic edition.
Only if you want it to sync more than once a day with your handheld device, you need to pay 25$ per year for an Pro-account, that is more than worth its money.
You can use email, twitter, SMS, the web service and you iDevice to enter tasks.

It is also easy to forward an entire mail to the web app, exchanging the subject line by a coded task description like "Call Steve  ^20.05.2011 9am !1 *weekly =15min #@phone", that can also be generated by a Textexpander  snippet, or just send it to your RTM account's inbox to deal with it later. Very efficient for quick entries.

The iPhone version is already out for more than a year and I was using it since then.  It is a perfect match to the web app, syncs perfectly via 3G or WiFI and can be used intuitively by everybody who knows about Task Management. From my POV it is far better configurable than Things! or others.

Being installed on the iPad it now uses the full resolution of the iPad screen and shows different views of the to-do's.

The screen view:
On the very left it shows the views for "This week", based on Today, tomorrow, this weeks tasks.
At the forth place it shows the lists view where you can find all the lists you have made, including smart lists in an alphabetical order.
This view is very helpful to gain control of your projects, provided you've been tagging your tasks with the project name and created a smartlists for the project.
Tags are good enough, but compared to the smart lists, smart-lists provide even more possibilities, since you can combine searches or create convenient searches sike for untagged items (isTagged:false) all items to be done within the next 7 days (dueBefore:today+6) and so on.

Tags List
Next comes the list by tags. This view automatically groups all tags in an alphabetical order and provides the best view on phone lists (Tag=@phone) or groceries to do (Tag=@supermarket)

The places view
Then there is very special view that might be interesting for you: The places view.
The places view provides an opportunity that I only know from RTM. It groups tasks geographically and allows a proximity search, if you have used the map for location tags to be added to the tasks. In real life it works like this:
Lets presume you have a bunch of stores you usually do you errands. A one time job is to list all these stores in the places menue of the web-app, by marking them on a built in google maps interface.
The you allocate the tasks to these shops and when you are in town, you look up the locations next to where you are, by setting a search to +2mi or so.
This is very convenient for the things you need to buy "just in case you get close by..."

The proximity view
This works in line with the places view and the GPS sensor or location service. In case you have defined some places, you can see those that are within the defined proximity and the tasks to be done there.

The search window
Within the search window you can look for entries you've made or define your own searches using the RTM search language.

Last but not least you wind the settings by tapping on the little cog wheel icon below the above said views.

The GUI is nice and chic. It shows the menu white on black, then the sub menu black on light blue and the content is shown black on white.
You can choose between the "done" and the "due" items and if you have more items than are fitting to one page you can scroll the list up and down.

All mentioned features are available for the iPhone version as well, but the iPad version is far better to handle and you have a much better overview.

The entries are far easier to manage since the keyboard is better to handle.

I am pretty happy with the new Universal App and I do think that the iPad is now one step closer to a work machine.

Listen to my podcast contribution to the Nosillacast Podcast:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Doing GTD in a standard Lotus Notes evironment

Lots of people have to live in both worlds, like PC at work and Mac at home. The even poorer of them have to accept an environment without admin rights on their work PC.

So the only solution to get around with a decent GTD system is to deal with the stuff one's got and this may be Lotus Notes (or Outlook).

If you're not sure how GTD works, please check it out before you continue this blogpost on http://www.davidco.com/ or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Getting_Things_Done

What I've learned is, that with only a bit of work you can install a well working GTD system even in the standard, built-in Lotus Notes task management system, although it doesn't provide the fancy features a full-blown GTD application like Omnifocus, Things or Remember-the-Milk has.

But that isn't a must if you only want to run your system, provided you just set up your system up in a slightly geeky way:

For myself it worked out like this:

A must for all GTDers is the ability of linking context to tasks. This can be done by using the "Category" field in the task applications GUI.
The only thing you need to do is to write the context(s) in the category field and Lotus Notes, after hitting ENTER will remember the category for re-use.

But first things first:

Going that way, you need to think about a structure that works best for you.

I've chosen this one, so I can distinguish between contexts being places, persons or projects:

"@" at the beginning of a category/tag signifies a place context like @work, @phone, @computer, @work, @home, @errands ect.
"-" signifies a person to interact with or to talk to, like -John Miller, -Spouse, -Boss, -Erica etc.
"." signifies a project the task is allocated to, like .christmas, .vacation, .garage_sale, .younameit

Since Lotus Notes allows multi-tagging, one can add all context needed to each single task to be completed.

So if I have to call the butcher for the christmas roast, the task would be:

Call butcher for christmas roast +498912345678
duedate: 2011-12-20
Tags: @phone, .christmas, -Spouse

I think you got the idea.

If you now want to view the tasks with the same assigned context, that is nothing but a tag, you simply have to click on this view in the left column of the task page within Lotus Notes.

In order to not being forced to type in the same context over and over again, I use a very smart application called "Breevy", that could also be called "Textexpander for PC". this software expands abbreviations to full text on a systemwide basis i.o. to avoid typing it over and over again.

The good thing about Breevy is: There's a portable edition for breevy as well! This can also be installed locally on your PC without admin-rights enabled.

Therefore I've choosen abbreviations for the text snippets to expand in every application on the PC when typed in, like:

@p for "@phone" or @w for "@work", or "-jjm" for "-John Miller" and so on.

Apart from the ease of writing at the first place, it is also essential for not ending up with a bunch of almost similar categories/tags due to typos or different writings like @computer/@Computer or -John Miller/-John miller and so on.

After doing this all, you can easily review your tasks by going to the "view by category" section of the task application within Lotus Notes, pick the phone-list by expanding @phone and if you've been smart enough to copy and paste the phone number of the butcher into the task, you can end up having the phone list for you way from/to work handy by either transferring it to your mobile device or printing it out before leaving the office.
If you are using a Blackberry handheld, synced with your work PC you can also find the task-list in your applications folder. Within the task list, you can set a filter to the @phone category tag i.o. to see all @phonehone related actions due. Then start phoning the people listed by clicking on the highlighted phone number entered in a readable format, so it is recognized by your Blackberry, being a phone number.

This works for all categories/tasks like @errands or so, enabling you to walk away with a well prepared list of action items doing your groceries or to seing a co-worker you need to interact with.

After setting up your Lotus Notes like this you should be done with meeting someone, not knowing what you wanted to talk about, or handwriting lists beside your computer.

Listen to my audio podcast contribution to the Nosillacast Podcast: