Tag Archives : Technology

The Importance Of Your Computer

Several months ago one of my family members purchased a brand new MacBook Air for the purposes of going to university. This morning I received sad news that said laptop had been lost. Thankfully the laptop was insured so at least the physical value of the laptop should not be an issue. Lesson One: Make Sure Your Laptop Is Insured For Both Accidental Damage And Loss! However what happens with the data which is on it? The truth is that there is no excuse for not having mission critical data (such as university work, important account files etc etc) backed up as it is changed. This is possible through services such as Dropbox and SugarSync, which are free and monitor folders and files and automatically upload changes to the cloud. Lesson Two: Sign Up To Dropbox And/Or SugarSync! Passwords, need to be safe and secure. In other words unique and ideally containing random letters as well as characters which are not alpha-numeric. This isn’t a daunting process as 1Password has it covered. 1Password is covered in detail in my ‘Useful Software & Services For The 21st Century Student‘ post. It is more expensive than the average app, however its an investment that will keep your banking details, and other secure login sites safe. Lesson Three: Make Sure You Don’t Use The Same Password, Or Simple Passwords For Anything! All of this advice is to protect you from losing your laptop or computer as a result of carelessness of theft. But it should also be followed generally as the hard drives which your data is stored will not last forever. I have suffered two hard drive failures around 7 years ago where my data was not backed up, and it was horrendous. Memories gone, important documents lost, hours taken to rebuild what I could. As anyone who has suffered a hard drive failure or computer loss will tell you, although the physical computer can be replaced, the memories contained on it usually cannot.

Useful Software & Services For The 21st Century Student

Having spent four years at university (and going into my fifth year in September), I have have been at the cutting edge of technology for the 21st century student. I rocked up for my first university lecture with my trusty black Macbook, and over the years the piece of technology  that joined me has changed, moving through the MacBook Pro range, iPad and now the MacBook Air, which is my note taking device of choice. However the student of today has to do much more than simply take notes in lectures, they have to write essays, draw diagrams and plan their time. Over the years I have tried most of the software out there, and in order to help the student of 2012 on their way (which yes includes my baby brother who this year flies the nest), I have complied this list of student friendly software. Due to the fact that I am a mac fan, the majority are exclusively for the mack platform, however if you head over to http://alternativeto.net you are bound to find something that suits your need.   SugarSync – Problem Solved: Backup/Data Sync – Price: From £0 Just like its direct competitor DropBox, SugarSync is one of those programs where you simply set it and forget it. Unlike DropBox you need not move your files from their original location, you select which folders you want to upload to the cloud, and whenever they change, the changes are synced to the cloud. It is unlikely that your tutor will accept the same excuse for an essay being late that was accepted in high school, so a backup solution is vital. Once SugarSync is set up you don’t need to worry about anything. If your computer ever gets lost/stolen or broken you have a backup of all your vital documents that can be downloaded in a matter of moments. Since documents are stored in the cloud, the web interface allows you to work on your documents from any computer (provided it has an Internet connection and the file type is compatible with the local machine). Gone are the days where you need to worry about carrying a USB drive with you, and keeping it updated with the latest copy of your work, simply logon to SugarSync, download your work, do what you need to do, re-upload it and it will be back waiting for you on your machine when you get home. SugarSync has mobile apps of every variety out there, so your documents are available on the go, perfect if you have your revision notes on there and a moment to spend whist waiting for a bus. The free version of SugarSync gives you a 5GB data allowance, which is more than ample for text documents, the odd photograph and diagram. However if you are studying an art, design or media based subject where file sizes are significantly larger more storage is available at very reasonable prices.   Evernote – Problem Solved: Mobile Note Taking/Documents On The Go – Price: From £0 There will be some documents that you will wish to archive yet keep to hand. Documents such as your timetable, copies of your tenancy agreement, statements/receipts of important items, Evernote is perfect for this. As well as being able to write notes in the application itself, you are able to drop in files, that are not only synchronised across your mobile devices but are available online. However that is not all. Evernote has released browser plugins (or extensions) that allow you to clip articles directly to your Evernote notebooks. Data such as the site where the article was taken from and the date it was accessed are automatically stored alongside any pictures that the article contains, making referencing at a later date easy. For me I use Evernote as my ‘important document store’. Amongst my notebook collection I have notebooks for university (and then tag each note be it with a subject or event), personal and interesting articles. Since whatever you put in Evernote is backed up in the cloud (and replicated on any other device you have), I also drop in essays and reports. After all it can’t hurt to have another copy of these important documents saved can it? The free version of Evernote gives you 60mb worth of uploads each month, which for standard text and text based files is more than enough, and I for one have never required more. However if you want features such as being able to upload up to 1GB of data each month and offline notebooks this will set you back £35 a year.   OmniFocus – Problem Solved: Task/Todo Management – Price £27.99 When at university, there are going to be hundreds of things that need to be done. Some such as the steps required to complete some tutorial work only occur once, others such as remembering to put the bin out occur on a weekly basis. OmniFocus looks after all these tasks and puts them into groups depending on what is required to do them, which are called Contexts. For example, you can set up a context called ‘Library’ (and an alert can even be set up on the iPhone app to alert you through location services when you are at the library) to remind you to renew a book, check out another book and get your photocopying done all in one go. Similar tasks such as getting all your emails done in one go etc etc can save time as you are focused on one process rather than flitting between several different things. Tasks are sorted into projects and can be sequential in order or concurrent. A sequential project would be for instance writing an essay, the proof reading can’t be done until you have written the first draft, and the first draft can’t be written until you have done your research. As such the proof reading and first draft tasks won’t show up until the first task of research has […]

Back From Holiday

If you have been following me over at http://nyc2012.jonathanisaacs.com you will know exactly what I got up to on my little trip to the USA. Apart from the presents brought home for parents and siblings, I did manage to purchase a few camera gadgets for myself in light of the fact that there has since been an increase in the commercial work coming my way. My first purchase was my first ‘L-Series’ Lens by Canon, the Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM. For portraiture and event photography, there is, in my opinion, no better lens, as the focal length, fixed aperture, and lens optics combine to produce stunning images. The second purchase was the result of the first. The lens is heavy, especially when attached to a body. My previous Manfrotto simply could not cope, especially when taking panoramas, when the camera needs to be rock steady. As a result I purchased a beefy Vanguard Alta Tripod. The thing is beautiful, and can support weights up to 20KG! As you can imagine, my new lens meant that I took quite a few pictures. Many are HDR Panoramas which mean that I need to merge up to 200 images together to create one shot, which is going to take time. Im hoping to get this years photos done within a month or two (unlike last years photos which took over 11 months to do!), however before they all get edited and uploaded to flickr (a link will be placed on my blog when uploaded) here is one of my favourite images thus far.

iCloud – Where Is The Silver Lining

Well its been several months since mobile me was re-branded/relaunched as iCloud, and I thought I would give a little critique as to my current thoughts of Apple’s cloud/syncing solution. Firstly I do honestly believe that MobileMe/iCloud was a vital tool for anyone who owned either more than one mac, or an iPhone/iPad, as it allowed syncing of ‘mission critical’ information such as contacts, calendars and bookmarks across all platforms. For mission critical information MobileMe/iCloud didn’t throw up many problems for me, an event or contact created on one device was already waiting for me on my others when I came to it; however when Apple announced iCloud in 2011, its killer feature was going to be document syncing. Apple had yet to shake away the public perception of iDisk, one that was unreliable, and susceptible to poor data transfer speeds. They were so keen to insure they hit the ground running that they released the developer preview of iCloud several months prior to its general release to insure that developers had ample time to code their apps to insure that they moved away from the customary use of Dropbox sync to iCloud, however there have currently been very few apps released that take advantage of iCloud. The big names that still use DropBox include: 1Password and Text Expander as well as others, I wonder why they haven’t embraced iCloud syncing by Apple? On iOS documents in iWork sync across other devices, however this chain of convenience is broken by the very un-Apple like approach of not implementing document support in the mac versions of iWork. Syncing is possible however users must instead use the web interface, which to be honest is far too much effort. Apple have always got ‘mission critical’ information syncing spot on, and under the old model of MobileMe would have been something I would have paid for, however my 5GB of complementary online storage is currently un-utilised, whereas I am paying for extra storage from SugarSync. I do hope that Apple release iWork ’12 soon that has iCloud properly integrated, thereby encouraging developers to embrace this new technology and use it in conjunction with SugarSync/Dropbox.