Archive for Technology

Why Data Backup is Important

When I talk to people about their computers, I always try to bring up the topic of backup and a surprising number of people simply don’t backup their data. Data backup is the simplest and most cost-effective method for one to recover their lost data. Backup really isn’t that hard, all it takes is some planning and of course, a little money. I personally think that cost is the the single factor hindering people from backing up their data. People often say there’s nothing they would miss if it was gone, but think of all the documents, and pictures that could be gone in a blink of an eye.

Backup might seem unnecessary and expensive, but is far cheaper, than paying for data recovery one time. Data recovery services can cost anywhere between $300 and $2,000 with no guarantee of data recovery.  It is important to keep in mind that approximately 13% of hard drives fail every year and when they do, it’s expensive and time consuming to recover data from them.

Every hard drive will fail, and often without warning. It is a fact of life and the only way to be prepared is to have a backup . Yes, there is some expense involved with most backup methods, however, it gives one peace of mind that they will not lose their data in the event of a hard drive failure. Even in less dramatic circumstances, like accidentally deleting a file it takes a lot of time and effort to get it back.

There are numerous ways to backup one’s data, the most important thing is that they do it! The most basic method is to backup to an external hard drive, both Windows and Mac OSX have automatic backup built-into their respective operating system. In addition to being the simplest method of backup, it is probably the least expensive, only requiring an external hard drive.  So how big of a hard drive does one need? It is best practice to have use an external hard drive that is 1.5-2 times the size of one’s primary hard drive. For example, if one has a 500 GB internal hard drive, they should use a 1.5- 2 TB external drive as most backup systems keep multiple versions of each file. Local backup is a great in the case of a simple hard drive failure, however, if there is a disaster such as  theft, fire or flood, those external drives are often right next to one’s computer so it is just as vulnerable as the original hard drive.

Online backup services such as Carbonite or my personal favorite, Crashplan protect one’s data from disaster by backup up one’s files to the cloud automatically.  So if disaster strikes, all of one’s files are safe in the cloud. Backup services typically charge around $50-$60 annually per machine usually, so it can be more expensive than the one time expense of an external drive. Crashplan does offer a free plan for up to 2 GB of data which may be enough for the causal user. Crashplan also allows users to backup to friend’s computers for free as well, giving users the most amount of choice of backup options.

However, there are many advantages to backing up online such as the ability to access all one’s files remotely from any device by logging into their account and complete data protection that local backup doesn’t provide.   Online backup is growing as more work turns to the cloud, however some may have privacy concerns with putting all their data in the cloud. It is important to keep in mind that most backup services use some level of encryption to protect data. Another concern is online backup relies on a network connection so those with slower internet connection may take much longer to backup their data and to restore data in the event of data loss.

So which is the best backup? Personally, I use both I have a local back-up and cloud backup to get the best of both worlds and a stronger backup. In fact, Crashplan’s application can do both cloud and local backup. However, no matter what method one choses, the important thing is that they backup their data.

Also, don’t forget mobile devices. All mobile platforms offer some type of backup, iOS has automatic backup to iCloud and Android devices can backup to Google.  Mobile devices play a bigger part in our daily lives each passing day and are probably more at risk than a computer hard drive. Smartphones and tablets can be dropped, lost, stolen much more easily than a computer by size alone. In the event of data loss, it is much more difficult to recover data from the solid state memory used in smartphones and tablets than it is from traditional hard drives. Not having a backup of your digital life is like leaving your most valuable things on your front lawn, unprotected.

Nexus 7 Review

When Google announced the Nexus 7 at Google I/O earlier this summer, I thought it might be a nice way to give Android, the newest version at that, a try. It also allowed me to try out a 7-inch tablet, which I have been skeptical about.  The Nexus 7 starts at $200 for an 8 GB tablet and also has a 16 GB version at $249. I decided to get one to give Android a try and see why so many people prefer it to iOS.

The Nexus 7 is a very fast tablet, with a quad-core Tegra 3 processor, and the newest version of the Android operating system, Jellybean, has been optimized for speed through “Project Butter” making the Nexus extremely fast. Another benefit to buying the Nexus 7 is that you get a $25 credit to the Google Play store which has apps, music, movies, TV shows, Magazines and books. I actually have yet to spend most of the credit because so many apps on Android are free,  so, I have been using it to buy music.

Android has a lot of nice features like Widgets on the home screens, and the face unlock which I wish would work more reliably to be used regularly. As Android advocates frequently say, Android has a lot more choices as far as apps and customization of the user experience. However, there are still apps that I use regularly that work on iOS but have yet to make a version for Android. Another issue is that because of the way the keyboard is laid out and the smaller size of the screen typing is a bit more difficult than on my iPad and I accidentally close out of apps frequently because the button is directly in the center of the keyboard. This may not be as important to other users who use it for media consumption but for those who need a keyboard regularly, the 7-inch form-factor may not be the best choice.

For anyone interested in a tablet, who isn’t ready to drop $500 on an iPad, or for those like me who are primarily Apple users and want to experiment with the Android environment, the Nexus 7 is a great tablet. It is very affordable and delivers more power for less than other Android tablets on the market.   Especially for people have yet to own a tablet, it is a good starter tablet since you get the $25 play store credit to get started with apps. It is also a better choice for those considering the Kindle Fire, since the Fire has older hardware and a specialized version of an older version of Android that has been locked-down and has a limited app selection. Not to mention the $25 play store credit that comes with the Nexus 7.

So, for all those who want to take the leap into the tablet world but, maybe not all the way, the Nexus 7 gives you power and a lot of functionality for a great starter price.

Are Expensive Cables Worth The Price?

Edited By: Michael Plasmeier

So you made the big decision to buy a new home theater; you go to the store and find the right TV, but then the associate asks you if you want to buy their premium cables for the optimum quality. In general, cables are high margin items that stores can buy inexpensively and then turn around and sell for a massive profit. However, there are also high-end cables that claim to provide high quality results, but at an astronomical cost. Do they really provide a noticeable enough difference to justify the high cost? Do cables that you can buy at discount retailers; both a brick and mortar stores and online retailers give you similar quality results at a fraction of the cost? Some people swear by their oxygen-free, silver plated cables with gold connectors provide a much higher quality result. However, many people disagree, and resent the expensive brands of cables and they are being told they have to spend significantly more for a cable to get the best quality, at then find out that it really doesn’t provide a noticeable difference in quality.

Cables transmit a signal through a conductive piece of material called a conduit, and transmits the signal from one place to another.  One either end of the there is a connector which connects the cable to piece of equipment. The material that the conduit and connector are made of varies depending on what the cable is used for and the quality. Many times higher quality metals are advertised to provide better signal quality but at a significant cost.

 

Much of our modern equipment is digital, as apposed to older equipment which is analog. Old equipment using analog technologies need better conduits because the signal is the actual end signal and can degrade over time from a wide variety of things. Analog signals are called such because they are analogous because the signal being transmitted has direct impact on the final result.  Since most cables are digital now, the signal an encoded copy of the original represented by a stream 1’s and 0’s, and because of this it is a more protected signal, it does not suffer from signal degradation. This is because it is digitized and the signal being transmitted is just representative of the final result.

Some cables are made out of these expensive metals, some are protected or what is technically known as shielded with expensive metals to prevent interference from reducing signal quality. The other use of these precious metals is having the connectors, which connect to the actual equipment to the cables so that the connections are the best they can be. One variation that supposedly increases signal quality, especially in the audio world, is oxygen-free cables. The lack of oxygen is supposed to reduce the impedance or the opposition to signal flow and provide a better quality signal since there is less opposing the flow of signal and therefore less degrading the quality of the signal.   Jay Rose had a great quote about these types of cables in his book Producing Great Sound for Film and Video he said “In my opinion, the makers of these oxygen free cables should be kept in oxygen-free listening rooms.” This may be an extreme however, it drives home the point that many reports have concluded that oxygen-free cables have be repeatedly proven to not show any noticeable difference in quality of standard oxygen-bearing cables.

The other primary type of cables is high quality conductor cable. As previously mentioned, more expensive metals typically are better at conducting a signal, this is also one of many reasons why these metals are more expensive.  The two most common metals used are gold and silver. The theory behind this is because these metals are more conducive to signal flow because it has a lower resistance to signal flow known as impedance. The lower impedance will prevent signal degradation and should therefore provide a better signal quality. Expensive cables have been put the test many times including popular technology websites CNet and Tested.com, both sites compared the quality of an expensive brand-name cable against that of an inexpensive cable. However, much like oxygen-free cables; the actual difference of these cables has not been proven to provide a really noticeable difference in signal quality

The final type of expensive cable is brand-name cable.  The 300 pound Gorilla in the room is Monster-brand cables, but there are also other brands as well which claim to be “high quality” cables and claim to provide higher quality signal than typical cables. Sales people are trained to tell you that the higher cost of the cable would provide you with a much better signal quality and since you are already spending hundreds of dollars on the TV you might as well but the best cables to get the most of the investment. They do this because it brings larger profits for the store. Many stores will often sell large items like televisions for the price they paid or even accept a loss to have the lowest prices and then make the significant profits on accessories such as cables. These expensive brand-name cables are typically made out of better quality materials, but as previously discussed, those cables do not provide any really noticeable difference in quality. Many times the cables are just one of the previously mentioned types, oxygen free, high quality connector materials or high quality cable material. So with a “higher quality” product paired with a “premium brand” make the cables seem as though they are better than a store brand or discount brand cable from retailers. However, this is almost completely marketing hype and as with all those other “high quality cables” the cables don’t provide enough of a noticeable difference to justify the price tag as many testers have shown comparing the signal quality using both expensive and inexpensive cables.

So is there actually any type of benefit to buying these much more expensive cables? Well, there might be a minor increase in signal quality but, to be perfectly honest, the price isn’t worth the increase in price of the cable.  Another important thing to mention is that it would be more productive to save the money on those expensive cables and just buy better quality equipment.  Instead of dropping all that money on cables which only transfer signals between pieces of equipment, you can get better pieces of equipment which produce better signals and typically provide a wider feature set. This would provide a better value to the consumer than any expensive cable ever could.  Remember that signals are almost completely digital meaning they are encoded as 1’s and 0’s and are much less susceptible to interference because the To get the best bang for your buck from your home theater system, you are better off investing in the best equipment you can afford and then buy regular, not gold-plated, oxygenated cables. However, one thing to keep in mind is the fact that even the non-premium cables in stores are significantly marked up to maximize profits on items that cost the stores very little to buy and then they sell their non-premium cables still for around $20 depending on the quality of the cable and the length of the cable. Meanwhile, some of the premium cables can cost up to $150 for a single cable depending on the retailer.   Internet retailers tend to have the least amount of mark-up so they are usually the best option as long as you don’t need them right away. The most popular discount cable website is Monoprice.com, cables can become extremely inexpensive depending on the quantity purchased, they can cost under $2. Other very popular sites are Amazon.com and Newegg.com, both of which have their own brands that are very inexpensive.

There are two important things to look at when looking at HDMI cables. The first is which version of HDMI it uses, the newer versions of HDMI support newer, high-tech things such as Ethernet networking, audio, 3D video, and other “bundled” features. The other major thing to look at is the reviews of other buyers of the cables, because although price has been proven not to provide better quality, some manufactures are better than others and any good e-commerce website will have customer reviews so that people have actually purchased the cable can tell other potential buyers whether or not the cables are well made. These two tips will hopefully help find the best cables at the best possible price instead of expensive cables that claim to be much better at a high cost. However, the quality difference is so negligible it isn’t worth the high cost.

E-Mail Tips

E-mail has become an essential communication tool, both for work and for personal communication. However, if you recieve too much e-mail it can become overwhelming, but there are few things that you can do to make your inbox more managable and make e-mail something that doesn’t cause you grief. Over the past few years, I have tried many things to attempt and make my e-mail more manageable, but the following five tips are the ones that have have found the most useful in managing my inbox. I will admit that I may go a little over board when it comes to organizing my email, but I prefer to have everything well organized and easy to find.

 

1. One Inbox to Rule Them All

For those like me who have multiple e-mail accounts, I highly recommend that you consolidate all those accounts into one inbox so you can get all your messages in one place. My solution for this is using Gmail, which allows you to receive all your mail accounts and even allows you to send messages from all your accounts as well.  Gmail does limit you to receiving mail from only five accounts, this should be enough for most people and is more than enough even for me. Gmail is my favorite solution but, it is not the only solution to have all your mail in one place, both Hotmail and Yahoo Mail also allow you to do this as well, and you can also use traditional mail clients like Outlook, Thunderbird and Mail on the Mac for this as well. Personally, I find webmail to be the most effective for me mainly because of all of Gmail’s advanced features which you can only get by using the webmail but, that is just a personal preference. By having only one place to go to get all your email, it becomes much easier to read all your messages and make sure you never miss a message.

2. Use Rules/Filters

The reason I use “Rule/Filters”, is because it depends on the client and what they call them. I will call them filters because it is what my client, Gmail, calls them. Filters automate sorting e-mail; you can sort messages by who they are sent to, who they are from, subject, or words in the message. I personally use a lot of filters to sort all my email and have many labels, which I will talk about later, that I sort my email into.  By taking the short amount of time it takes to create the filters, your email will more or less organize itself and helps you be more efficient in checking your email.

3. Use Exchange

Although Exchange is something mostly used in the professional world, some consumer email providers including my favorite, Gmail, offers the use of Exchange email on mobile devices. The reason Exchange is so great and why so many business users use it is because as soon as a message is received, it is instantly pushed to all your devices. Exchange also pushes your contacts and calendars as well so you have access to all your most up-ro-date information at all times. By using exchange, your e-mail to be instantly accessible anywhere you are and with iOS it can even push a notification of new e-message so you know the second a message is received and hopefully e-mail won’t pile-up. I know this works great for my Gmail account on my iOS devices and have heard the same for Gmail and Android, but other e-mail providers do offer it as well. On iOS, setting up Exchange mail is very easy, there are a set of very straight forward instructions posted here. Exchange is mainly for those with a smartphone, but it is really help those people and I encourage everyone with a smartphone to research if their email provider offers Exchange email for their mobile devices because it makes keeping in sync very easy.

4. Use Folders and Labels

There is once again a naming discrepancy here, more traditional mail clients call them folders, while Gmail refers to them as labels. The one advantage to using labels is that you can mark a message with more than one label, while you can only have them in one folder because it moves the message to that folder. Either way, folders or labels can make organizing all your mail easy and can sort them out automatically but using filters. Theres a lot of different methods to organizing your messages,  so find a method that works for you and stick with it! Searching is great, but if you want to see all your messages for work or school or something, folders makes that easy especially when you combine them with filters. You can also use folders combine with filters to sort mail from each of your accounts into separate folders.

5. Prioritize Your Inbox (Gmail Only)

One of my favorite features of Gmail is a Google Labs feature called Priority Inbox. Once you enable Priority Inbox in the Gmail settings, it will detect what messages are and are not important and will learn from your reading behavior you can also use filters to teach your e-mail what is and isn’t important. The inbox part of the Priority inbox takes the “important” email and puts them on top and then has your “less important” in the lower half of your inbox. If an email was marked important and you don’t want it to or if an email was not marked important and you think it is important, there are button on the top of each message and inbox to manually correct the message or messages and then Gmail will remember that next time you get that type of message.

These are my top five tips that I personally use to manage my email and keep it somewhat organized and make checking my email something I don’t dred. Not all these tips work for everyone, but try some of them out and see if this can help make your inbox more organized.

 


Going Paperless For Students

Starting this semester, I challenged myself to significantly reduce the amount of paper I use. I began this process last semester when I bought a document scanner last semester and I really took it up a notch this semester. Going paperless may be good for the environment, but it’s not always cheap. The solution that I will outline below is what I have used this semester to much success but, it isn’t cheap! I already many of these things but, for someone starting from scratch it may look expensive. Below is the solution that I employed and worked great for me!

Document Scanner: I typically scan any papers I get for class, usually every day, using my Doxie Document Scanner. The scanner is extremely easy to use and has great software. The one downside is that papers get scanned crooked sometimes and can be frustrating at times. Either way it works fairly well and lets me turn all my papers into PDF files and It also does photo scanning as a bonus.

Some professors post their class papers online, for download or if it’s just a webpage I can print it to PDF. This is an option built into Mac OSX ‘s print menu as well as on Linux. Windows users can add this feature easily as well by installing the CutePDF writer  which creates a fake printer that will save documents as PDF files.

Dropbox: I have sung the praises so many times in past blog posts, I lost count. I use Dropbox for all my documents including my scanned documents. This way I can have access to them anywhere and I know they are backed-up incase tragedy strikes. I also use an iOS app that I will discuss next to synchronize my documents to my iPhone and iPad.

Good Reader: Good Reader is a great reading app for iOS and allows you to sync documents from a wide variety of cloud services to your device for offline access.  I use Good Reader to have offline access to read all my documents on my iPhone and iPad. The app is $5 for both the iPad and iPhone version but, it is the best solution that I have found to access my Dropbox files offline. One other downside is that you have to manually setup each individual folder to sync which is tedious but, you only have to do it once. Good Reader also doesn’t automatically sync your files making you have to manually synchronize your files.

E-Books:  For those who are a bit more adventurous, you can get many textbooks and other books as electronic books either on the Kindle or iBook Store. I used a kindle book on my iPad for one of my classes just to try it and it was a great experience. E-books are save a lot of space and can be easily searched to quickly find information, they also allow you to adjust the font size of the text to make it the optimal size for you to read.  However there are a few downsides, first, e-books tend to be a bit more expensive than if you buy a used version. Also, when your done with the book, you can’t sell your book like many students do with their old textbooks, this issue can be alleviated by renting books through Amazon Kindle store, but it doesn’t save all that much money over just buying the book.

 

Going Paperless- The Definitive Guide

An on-going project that I have been working on this year has been to go paperless. It was one of my big projects for this year in order to to reduce clutter and make it easier to find information in much less time than it would take to sort through many paper documents. I started slowly and then expanded as it became feasible. I plan to not carry any paper documents with me next semester in school and to apply this also to other projects.

1. Manuals

I had a huge folder of user manuals, setup guides and other documentation in my filling cabinet that was difficult to transport between home and my dorm and also not necessary since I rarely use them.  The best way I found to digitize manuals  was to Google the device I needed the manual to and then “PDF”. Many manufacturers had PDFs available on their websites, while some of them where available as a webpage as PDFS which I just downloaded. For those that we just webpages or some other format, I converted them to PDF first.  On Windows this can be done by using Cute PDF Writer and on the Mac you can do it by clicking File—>Print or holding the Command+P keys on your keyboard and then choose PDF from the bottom left side of the print screen. I was able to find the majority of manuals online for my devices, if you can’t find them from Google or the manufacturer’s website where manuals can usually be found in the support page try Retrevo has many manuals posted in PDF format that are free and  easy to download.

2. Documents
To digitize my documents, I got a Doxie Document Scanner. Although any scanner can be used to scan documents (as long as it can save to PDF or other document format) I picked the Doxie  because it’s flat and fits under my computer stand and only requires a USB cable to operate. In addition to all that, it’s easy to transport and scans documents really well. My friend Michael Plasmeier uses an auto-feeding document scanner which allows him to scan many documents at once however, these are much more expensive and bulky which I didn’t want to have  t transport back and forth to school.  Doxie makes it easy to scan documents (photos too) and save them in a variety of file formats. I scan documents to PDF files although Doxie can also save to: Evernote, Google Docs and other cloud sites in addition to many file formats. One thing to note however, is that the Doxie, as of the writing of this article, does not support OCR (Optical Character Recognition) which lets you scan files and make them into editable text files on your computer. Personally most of the files that I scan are just for reading and do not need to be edited but be aware of this if that is something you need.

3. Receipts:
Receipts I do two different things with, for minor purchases, I just take a picture with my iPhone camera and save it as a note in Evernote which synchronizes across all my devices and  the cloud. Evernote allows me to conveniently access those receipts no matter where I am and can easily find them with a quick search.  For more major purchases, I scan them to a PDF using my Doxie scanner and then save them as a file on my computer in a reciepts folder which is organized for easy access. I do this to have a higher-quality scan of important receipts, although phone cameras are getting better, the scan is much better resolution. You don’t want to have a bad copy of a receipt which has important information that  you might need down the road. Another quick sidenote, the IRS has begun to accept digitized reciepts for taxes as well so scanning receipts can make it easier to get organized come tax season.

4. Business Cards
Being a college student, I don’t have many business cards that I need to hold onto but, I just use the camera on my iPhone to take a picture and then file them in Evernote for easy access like I do with receipts.  I also highly recommend copying the information into your address book so it can be easily access if you need it. There are also specialized apps on iOS and most mobile platforms to scan just Receipts and Business cards but, the cloud synchronization of Evernote and the fact that one app does many things, all in one app makes me choose to just use Evernote to simplify my life.

So, after I digitize these files, I organize the PDF files and put them in my Dropbox  which makes sure that they are accessible anywhere and a backed up so the files won’t be lost. Evernote takes care of everything stored there and syncs them across all my devices automatically.

My iPad was also a great help in going paperless, I use Good Reader to sync my Dropbox to my iPad for offline reading and  Evernote for accessing Evernote notes on my iPad. Both apps are also available on the iPhone as well for full portability.

The last question you probably have is: What do I do with the old papers? Anything with personal information should be shredded for security and then anything else, should be recycled. This way, you get rid of all the extra paper clutter from your home or office but get rid of it in an eco-friendly, green way. You may want to keep important paper files just to be safe but by digitizing them, you now have more options of what to do with them and more portability.

By following these steps, you should be able to eliminate much of the paper-clutter in your life and then as more arises, just continue to follow these steps to make sure no new paper clutter begins to accumulate. For example, when you have a receipt that you want to save from any e-commerce transaction, just save it as a PDF using the steps I mentioned above.  Also, remember that since you are relying on your computer even more for important information,  backup is critical. You should always backup to the cloud at least so that in case of a fire or anything else that would damage your work area, your files are safe. I highly recommend Backblaze which offers unlimited backup on internal and external hard drives for just $5/month.  Once you reduce the amount of paper you use in your life, you will find it easier to find information and less cumbersome.  If you also utilize the iPad, it will also be more portable because you can take what would be many heavy books full of papers in one lightweight, portable device.

Thunderbolt: The Future of Professional Data Transfer

When Apple unveiled the new Macbook Pros in February, the included the new high speed transfer technology developed by Intel called Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt transfers data at 10 Gb/secs, this is incredible! The newest version of USB, USB 3.0, can only transfer data at half that rate, 5 Gb/sec. Neither technology are standard yet, since Thunderbolt just came out in February and USB 3.0 came out in late 2009. So naturally, there are very few devices that take advantage of the higher speeds of USB 3.0 or Thunderbolt. USB 3.0 is starting to appear in higher-end computers, and the same is also true for Thuderbolt which has been adopted primarily by Apple and some other computer manufacturers. HP announced this week that they would not be putting Thunderbolt in any of  their computers, while Apple is rumored to be adding Thunderbolt to all their computers in the near future.

Thunderbolt is not the successor to USB, although it is much faster than even the newest version of USB. Thunderbolt is more of the successor to Firewire as a higher-end data transfer technology. Thunderbolt is based on the mini-display technology and can be daisy chained up to 6 devices. With it’s high-speed data rate it is perfect for high-end data transfers such as video editing, video production as well as many other things. It can be used to capture uncompressed video and write data an external hard drive all from a single laptop. This can let you use a laptop as a all-in-one video studio which is traditionally a room full of equipment.

USB 3.o will most likely be widely adopted by all computer users, while Thunderbolt will be mostly used in the higher-end computers. I hope that Apple will add USB 3.0 eventually to their computers to give the users more options, and I think they will so that Mac users will have two options of high speed data transfer. Firewire will eventually fade away and get replaced by Thunderbolt because its the future of high-end data transfer.

CES 2011 Thoughts

Last week was the annual consumer electronics show, where every major electronics manufacturer unveils their newest products and make all the electronics bought  over the holidays obsolete.  This year there were numerous 3D TVs, Tablets as well as many other  gadgets.  I think tablets are going to be the future of mobile computing, but 3D is just a passing fad and won’t last long. On the other side, there were voice activated TVs for those who loose remotes a lot or who just have too many remotes and aren’t sure of which does what. There was also a 4K TV, which is a very high resolution and I think a much better option that a lower resolution 3D television which is a gimmick at best. There were a lot of camcorders and still cameras as well, 3D camcorders were also there however, but once again I think they won’t last and think it is a better idea to just go with a normal higher resolution camcorder.  There were a lot of other gadgets as always, but there wasn’t much else noteworthy, so much goes on at CES it’s hard to keep track of it all. But these are the primary trends that I saw this year at CES.

Evernote-Note Syncing Done Right

The built-in iOS Note app leaves a lot to be desired, the main issue I have is the poor syncing. Although it does have a sync function, it only lets you sync to a notes folder in you email account which doesn’t let you edit elsewhere and just provides a backup of it. This is okay but, what if you want to edit on multiple devices and keep in sync between them all.

The solution is Evernote, Evernote allows you to sync notes between your computer, your mobile device, and the web. You can also take pictures and annotate them with notes and sync them as well. The notes sync back and forth and can be edited on the desktop and mobile platform, while the can be only read online with the free account. It great for any notes or other information you want  anywhere and easily searchable. You can also clip websites to remember and easily access them.

One of the best things about Evernote, is that its free, there are applications for Windows, Mac OSX, iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, Web OS, and Blackberry. There are limitations on the free account like the amount of data to be uploaded, no encryption and more. The premium account provides more upload, better support, SSL encryption, and Offline access for either $5 per month or $45 for the year.

Evernote is a fantastic way to organize information and access it anywhere, it is perfectly useable without the Premium account and is a great way to have notes wherever you go. I use it now instead of the built-in iOS notes app and has really been a great improvement. In fact, I wrote this whole article in Evernote on my iPod Touch and then copied it online from the desktop application.

Is The Netbook Dead?

Netbooks (formerly know as Ultra mobiles PCs)  became a major technology trend in late 2007 starting with the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) and the Asus Eee Pcs. The original Intel Atom processor had the ability to provide enough power  for a inexpensive, portable computer. However,  it’s 3 years later and people have become more dependent on their computers and more mobile. Some people (like me) just use their netbooks for taking notes and some web browsing. While others use their netbooks as their computer when they are on the move and need more power out of them.

Personally, my netbook is only used when I am in class and before classes. Otherwise it sits in a drawer and is never used on weekends. My feeling is that for my uses of a netbook, I would be able to replace it with an iPad or other tablet device (possibly with a bluetooth keyboard), especially now that the iPad has the key feature of multi-tasking. The iPad is much more portable and has all the apps I know and love on my iPod Touch. It also gets vastly better battery life and has better synchronization both of applications and data. It also is really fast, my netbook is sluggish at times which I attribute to both the hardware as well as it running Windows XP. I have tried several “netbook editions” of Linux but, there are a lot of compatibility issues. The iPad is also thinner and more portable than a netbook. I also can see myself using the iPad outside of the classroom a lot more because of all the great applications available through the app store.

For those who need a more powerful portable computer, they should take a look at the lightweight computers. The best example of this is the Macbook Air but, there are also Windows alternatives like my friend Michael Plasmeier’s Lenovo U350. These computers are double the price most netbooks but, they provide a full computing experience and full powered computer operating system. These computers might not be the the fastest, but they are powerful enough to get most things dones when you are traveling.

Although Google is just releasing their first Chrome OS netbook, I think more people will opt for the either the portable full-featured computer or a tablet like an iPad instead of the netbook. They may be more expensive but, they deliver more features, and power and most importantly, more portability.

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