Monday, September 17, 2007

Online backups

I'm quite happy to say that this blog post does not start with a horror story about complete data loss. Instead, I for once was ahead of disaster (knock on wood, nothing has happened yet). I really am not one for keeping up with backups. I almost NEVER backup and when I do it's just copying the data from one computer to another (I'm talking about HOME only here!). Backups are hard, there are many choices and all of them require you to get off your butt and do something to implement them. Some take more work then others to keep up with once implemented. When I started looking at backup options I knew I needed something easy to implemented, inexpensive, and very easy to keep up with (Doesn't everyone!).

I had heard that online backups had gotten better and better so I decided to check them out. I checked out several sites and concluded that Carbonite, and Mozy were the top runners in the online backup market (Links are referral links). Mozy has a nice interface and is around $50 for a years worth of unlimited space. Carbonite is really easy to use and is the same price for the same amount of space. Both are really nice and get high reviews.

As I tried them out I found that online backups made things simple. After installing the software I chose which files I wanted backed up, and off it went. Now when files change, or new files are added, it updates the backup. I don't have to stress about the last time I backed up our pictures, because I know that it's already been taken care of automatically. Some might say that an external hard drive is a cheaper faster way of backing up, but just remember that if something were to happen to your house (fire) that backup would be gone with everything else. My suggestion is to give both of these a try (Mozy has a free 2gig account, and Carbonite has a 15 day free trial) and choose the one that works best for you.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Free DVD Authoring

There have been many times that I wanted to burn a Video DVD and didn't have any DVD authoring software loaded on the computer I was using. I found these two freeware apps from a Lifehacker post.

DVD Styler Is a DVD menu creation program.

DVD Flick converts many different formats of video and burns the DVD for you.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Muliple Computers One Keybard and Mouse (Virtual KVM)

While writing my last post I came across maxivista's virtual KVM software. It allows you to have two different computers side by side but use the keyboard and mouse from one computer for both... It's kind of like dual monitors but each monitor having it's own computer. Just move your mouse into the other screen and you control that computer. They also sync the clipboards so you can cut and past from one to the other.

Like usual there is also a free open source alternative that will do the same thing. Synergy is a virtual KVM open source project. It adds Linux and Unix to the mix so you could be controlling a windows box along side a Linux box. It also syncs the clipboards so you can cut and past from one computer to the next.

Another non open source but FREE option is Input Director, it is a lot like Synergy but is for Windows only

Multiple Monitor Software

I have found a few pieces of software that make having multiple monitors even better!

UltraMon is probably the best multi monitor software out there. It manages your wallpaper, screen saver, and gives you a great multi monitor task bar. It also gives you a window position tool bar and a few advanced settings to help manage those extra monitors. The big disadvantage is price, it's pretty pricey for a utility program.

Background Switcher is a wallpaper manager that can be used with multiple monitors. It's freeware and it is by far the best wallpaper manager I have ever used! It connects to flickr, phanfare, smugmug, picasa, facebook, and yahoo! image search. Oh, and of course can be directed at a folder (or a list of pictures) on your computer. It allows you to have different images on each monitor, and will switch images at an Interval of your choosing. It can also display the images in several modes including thumbnail mosaics, 4-picture montage, or snap shot scrapbook. Background Switcher is a really amazing program with many many options, and I would suggest it to anybody.

DisplayFusion is a great freeware wallpaper manager for multiple monitors. It lets you use different wallpaper for each monitor or stretch a single image across all monitors. It also integrates with flickr giving you the ability to use flickr to find and download new backgrounds. DisplayFusion also includes some hotkeys to help you manage your windows.

Multi-Monitor TaskBar is a freeware package that adds a taskbar to all of the monitors (Normally there is only the task bar on the primary monitor). As you move a window from monitor to monitor that window also moves to the correct task bar. It also adds an "Arrow" toolbar on the top of each window. The toolbar gives you buttons to move that window from monitor to monitor, or stretch it across all monitors. It also has a hotkey that jumps the window from screen to screen.

If you don't have multiple monitors maybe this software can help. Maxivista lets a single computer take over another computers monitor as a secondary display. So if you have two computers at your desk, say a laptop and a desktop, you could use Maxivista to let you use the laptop screen as a second monitor for the desktop (Or the other way around).