4 Online Services I Can’t do Without!

In the midst of trying my Moleskine GTD experiment, I have been thinking about my use of technology and the services I rely on heavily. Would I get by without them? Probably. But here are 4 online services I’d have a hard time replacing! Continue reading “4 Online Services I Can’t do Without!”

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Write a Private Journal? Why not use WordPress to access it anywhere?

Bhushan Diary 1947
Image via Wikipedia

I have been writing a journal/diary for quite a while. I find it helps me work through problems, think things out and  I enjoy going back over time and reading what I have gone through, and to re-live important times in my life. Nothing new, as I am sure a lot of you write a private diary.

One thing that I have had a hard time maintaining, is a place to keep it safe and be able to access and write in it wherever I am. There is no purpose to having a journal if I am never at a place where I can access it…And, I don’t like having a hand written journal for the world to see. Well, maybe one day when I write my memoires. lol.

I tried using Dropbox to store a plain text file, but I need to download it when I am on a public computer or someone else’s computer. There are a few iPhone solutions to combine Dropbox text files and editing, but not ideal solutions. If I am downloading my private journal everywhere then it’s not much of a private journal then is it?

With my journal layout, I have my most recent entry at the top. That was familiar to me for some reason? Kind of backwards to the way a book is written… Why? Because we all blog that way! A light bulb went off for me…

Why don’t I just import my journal into WordPress as a private page? So I did. It works great! Anywhere I can access my blog, I have access to my journal! I have WordPress on my iPhone as well so I can access and edit it there too! Essentially, I now take my journal with me everywhere I go…I also love the full page visual editor, so I can type in full screen mode and avoid the clutter.

I am sure that others have already thought of this, but I love when I come up with my own solution, and I thought I would share my small eureka moment with you!

If you do decide to set up your own private journal, just remember to edit your visibility settings under your Publish tab to private, or with password, and not public. That would just be embarrassing…

Now off to continue my memoires…

What is your Computer Backup Plan?

Opened hard drive with top magnet removed, sho...
Image via Wikipedia

Today I was listening to an article on CBC Radio One about one reporter’s desperate hunt for a data recovery company that could salvage her entire digital photo collection. One day she was turning on her computer when the monitor flashed and ‘went blue’. Sounds like a Windows machine to me, but if there is one thing that is not different at all between ANY operating system, that’s failing hardware! As an example, I got my first Mac in 2003 and had the hard drive fail within the first month.

I have always had an underlying fear and anxiety around backing up my data. Most of my personal documents are backed up to my Dropbox account, but not my music, videos or most importantly my precious family photos. There are simply too many and I have 250Gb combined! Part of my anxiety is that I don’t have a bomb proof backup system in place for my most prized memories. My fiancee’s Mac runs hourly backups over the network through time machine. Recently her OS went down hard, and I was able to retrieve everything in a couple of hours. My Linux laptop doesn’t have a backup system in place yet, so I store nothing on it. Paranoid? Yup.

My biggest worry concerns my backup HD? When will it die? It will one day. So will yours. You can count on it…

I took a look at all my photos and family videos and now have 200Gb+ on that backup HD. Unfortunately most of it was run in iPhoto. iPhoto wraps its images inside the application and backing them onto DVD is a task I am just not up to. I would have to break up all those Events into 4.7Gb chunks. Ugh. This also makes me anxious. When will my photos not be able to be opened by some future application due to my past application choices? At least in the past with film, the hard copy of the picture could always been seen! Corrupt pictures meant something different 20 years ago. lol.

Too much for me to think about right now, so my current backup plan is to backup my large 1Tb drive onto another 1Tb drive and remove it from the house and hide it someplace safe(mom?). At USB2 speeds though, this task may take me a while to complete…Once I have a good automatic NETWORK backup for my Mac & Linux laptops, I will breathe a little easier…

What applications do you use to backup all your important digital stuff? I’d be interested to hear your computer backup plan!

The Top 5 Posts for 2010

This year was a banner year for the Blog! I had about 20,000 visitors,  and quite a bit of traction around the topic of Getting Things Done by David Allen. So it comes as no surprise that my top posts for 2010 were mostly about GTD…

Thank you for visiting the site so much this year! It makes coming up with topics so much easier…Have a very happy holidays and Happy New Year!

So without further ado, here is a summary of my top posts for 2010:

  1. My Review of Nozbe 
  2. Remember the Milk vs Nozbe vs Nirvana. The Best GTD Solution?
  3. Getting Things Done(GTD) with Google Apps Labels and Filters
  4. KeepassX with Dropbox
  5. Nirvana. My Review of a Slick Looking New GTD app

KeepassX with Dropbox

I have always been one to experiment with different operating systems on my various computers. For the last 5 years I have been using a Mac of various types(iMac, Powerbook, Macbook, Macbook Air). I have in the last 6 months got a new job where I have access to a laptop I can use for business use only. So, I created a bootable USB Linux Distro(Ubuntu & Linux Mint off and on), and use the laptop for personal use now! haha.

But one of the problems with running a few different OS’s, is that my password management is suffering. I have Firefox save all my online passwords and I have been managing fine with their Weave Add-on. But recently it has been acting up(it is kind of in beta, so I won’t fault them too much) and not syncing as it used to. Could be the bleeding edge Firefox I am running in Mint, or not…

So, I have been hunting for a password repository that I can store it all and sync between my various machines and USB installs. After a bunch of research, I found this fantastic solution over at Lifehacker(one swell website I might add…).

The first thing you need to do is download and install KeepassX for either your Linux box, or your Mac. Then, you head over to Dropbox (what? You don’t have Dropbox installed yet? Shame…), and get it running on both installs. Just like mentioned in the Lifehacker article, you save your KeepassX database inside your Dropbox folder where all your computers have access to it.

But I am getting ahead of myself…Where are all my passwords? Well, honestly, they are all over the place. On my Mac, OSX saves all your Safari passwords inside Keychain. It works great with most Applications, but not with Firefox. So first, I needed to get all my passwords in one place. There are a few solutions out there to get your Firefox passwords into KeepassX directly, but one of them was a Windows install and I don’t do Windows. The other involved a bunch of work that I am just too lazy to do, and honestly would probably fuck up.

I decided to tackle this problem another way. Step by step…First, there is a Firefox Add-on that integrates your Firefox passwords directly into Keychain for OSX. I installed it in Firebox on my MacBook Air. Once I had all the passwords all in there(376, holy shit…), there is an Applescript that you can run that does the conversion of the Keychain database into a KeepassX friendly format. I followed the advice to manually selected Allow one at a time and it exported the resulting XML file to my desktop.

From Lifehacker follow these instructions…

Assuming you’ve already created your KeePass database, you need to move it to the Dropbox folder so Dropbox can sync it over the internet. I just selected File -> Save As, then pointed KeePass at my Dropbox folder. (Simple enough, right?) Now on any other subsequent computer, just open KeePass (or KeePassX for OS X or Linux users—which works just as well), select File -> Open Database, and point it to the synced KeePass database file that you added to your Dropbox folder. Assuming the step above went as planned, this file should already have synced to the Dropbox folder on all of the computers you want to sync passwords to. That’s really all there is to it. Any time you edit or create a new password on one computer, it’ll automatically sync to the other; all you need to know to access any of your passwords is one master password. There’s a small catch here: KeePass doesn’t automatically update your passwords when it’s open, so if you make a change on one computer and then make a change on the other without re-opening the new database, you’ll end up with a conflict. Dropbox handles conflicts well—that is, nothing will break and it alerts you of the conflict—but you may lose changes from one of your computers.

And that is it! You now have a permanent syncable password database on all your different OSX and Linux machines!

If you have found any other good solutions(i.e.- free!) for password management, leave a comment…