Nov 23
Top tech blogs – November 2010
icon1 techandlife | icon2 Tech blogs | icon4 November 23, 2010| icon3No Comments »

I’m currently following about 330 blogs in Google Reader and learn an awesome amount from reading great posts there.  I’m mostly interested in blog posts about new online applications and services, tech how-tos and tutorials, PC troubleshooting, Windows and Linux tips and tricks, learning Linux, learning WordPress, SEO, web design, and social networking. I star and tag the best posts that I find really useful and that I may want to refer to again.
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Nov 18

House fire

You wake during the night to the smell of smoke, and jump out of bed to find the living room of the house is ablaze. Your first priority is to get your family to safety of course and phone the emergency services. That taken care of, say you’ve got one chance to take something as you leave your home for possibly the last time. What would it be? Something valuable, something sentimental?

When I considered this scenario, I concluded that if I had a chance, I would take my photos with me if I could. Pretty much everything else could be replaced but, when I thought about it, my photos are priceless memories which I’ll enjoy for years to come… memories of my childhood, holidays, friends, our wedding, my own family growing up. Much of my older photos are still in albums, while some are still in their wallets piled in boxes in the loft. I’ve also got quite a few wooden slide boxes full of 35mm transparencies (yip, no chance in a fire!). More recently, my digital photos are on my PC and backed up to an external hard drive.

It’s very, very  easy to get complacent about this and hope it will never happen to you. So I guess I should make an effort to get all my photo albums and 35mm transparencies digitised and get everything onto my external backup drive. Another possibility would be a fireproof safe but could I trust it to save all my photos and transparencies? I doubt it. Anyway it would have to be pretty large and therefore the cost would be prohibitive. Going the digital route, ideally, I should have two backup drives and do weekly rolling backups, keeping one drive away from the house, say at my parents’ house and swapping these out weekly to update them. That way I’d be covered against fire, flooding, theft, etc. and wouldn’t have to hunt for a laptop or external drive in a burning house. Wouldn’t cost too much either, in fact I reckon buying two external 500GB backup drives would cost around £100 ($160). I don’t have videos so 500GB drives should be fine and I can always upgrade them when I need more storage. Alternatively, I could backup my photos to the cloud but this would take quite some time to upload and with an annual cost of around $50-100 per year, I think I’m better off with offsite storage. I wouldn’t rely on keeping everything just in the cloud anyway – I would have to have a physical backups. But surely two drives doing a rolling backup would be enough wouldn’t it. Any thoughts?

So what would you take with you from your burning home?

Image credit: 111Emergency


Nov 15

Ubuntu and Windows

Image credit: cellanr

I run a Windows 7 PC, an Ubuntu desktop PC and an Acer netbook with Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10. It’s important to keep my data and services synchronised between them so each machine is up to date with the latest files and cloud services, and so I thought I’d run through the software and services which I currently use:

Google Chrome

This is my browser of choice. You can use Chrome to keep your tabs, bookmarks and extensions synchronised. I’m using Chromium (the open source version of Chrome) on my Ubuntu netbook and Chrome on my Windows desktop and everything syncs just fine. To start syncing between Chrome/Chromium on your different devices, just go to the spanner/wrench icon at the top right of the browser on each of your machines and choose Options then the tab marked Personal Stuff. Click Set up sync and when it’s done you’ll see

google sync

At the moment you can choose to keep everything synced or choose to sync any or all of Apps, Autofill, Bookmarks, Extensions, Preferences and Themes.  Doesn’t have password sync yet but I believe this is coming in the next Chrome version. Of course, the Chrome Xmarks extension will also allow automatic synchronization of bookmarks, passwords and open tabs between Windows and Ubuntu machines.
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Nov 9

Chrome extensions

If you move to Google Chrome browser, you’ll want to load up some useful recommended extensions. Luckily installing these is very easy in Chrome. To help you on your way, from my 130 Delicious bookmarks on Google Chrome extensions, I’ve identified 30 posts on favorite/essential/recommended/must have Google Chrome extensions. To get an idea which were the most recommended extensions in these posts, I keyed all the recommended extension names into MS Excel and totalled the recommendations (or votes) for each extension. I then sorted on the vote column, excluded extensions with less than 3 votes and plotted a graph in Excel. I’ve also excluded the Google Wave Notifier extension as Wave is no more. I did a similar post on the top recommended WordPress plugins recently.

Here’s what I found for Chrome:
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Nov 3

doPDF

I was given a 300 page 13MB PDF today and had to extract a single page from it as a PDF. I don’t have Adobe Acrobat so had to find a quick, free way to do it. A Google search identified a number of free utilities but I wanted to make use of what I already had on my PC. Then it struck me. I already had the utility doPDF to ‘print’ Word files as PDFs and I’ve blogged about this before. So I could probably also extract a single page PDF from my multipage PDF.

And it worked. Once doPDF is installed, and you open the multipage PDF in your reader, an option to print to doPDF is added to your Print menu so that anything that goes to your printer can also go to create a PDF file – so on your Print menu you select either a single page or a range of pages to print to a PDF file. I use Nitro PDF Reader as my PDF viewer but I’m sure this will also work with Foxit Reader and other pdf viewers.


Nov 1

You’ve probably sometimes entered a search phrase on Google and it’s returned a number of hits where that search phrase perhaps isn’t in the title of the webpage, but occurs somewhere on that page. If you’ve actually searched for a phrase by enclosing your keyphrase in quotes and it’s a long page, it can be time consuming to find the phrase on the page, but there’s a quick way to do it. Install the Google Quick Scroll extension in Google Chrome browser and once you choose a page from the search results, a box will pop up in the bottom right corner of the browser window enabling you to click the phrase and jump straight to the first occurrence of the phrase on the page. And if you haven’t enclosed your keywords in quotes, the extension will search for the best matched fits to your keywords on the page.
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