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Messages - TomColvin [ switch to compact view ]

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General Software Discussion / Re: Best password manager?
« on: April 05, 2009, 10:08 AM »
I've been using LastPass for 5 months now.  One of its virtues:  it synchronizes among my three computers in different locations.  I have found it completely reliable.  But I must admit, i dont' keep my most sensitive passwords there.

KeyNote is perhaps among the top five of software that I use constantly.  I use it mainly as an information cabinet.  I tend to choose a subject and then collect infrormation on that subject for several years!  Over that period of time, I've got an incredibly useful and well organization filing cabinet on number subjects.

Occadionally, I will use it more strictly for outling.  I tried Action Outliner some years back and was disappointed.  Obviously, it's been upgraded a lot -- I'll go back and look again.

For my major history project, I'm using WhizFolder Deluxe, which I find superior in linking to all kinds of external data.

ndxCards has been mentioned a few times on Donation Coder, but not recently.  I tried it our about 3 or 4 years ago, but abandoned it -- seemed woefully under=developed.  Nowadays, it looks much, much more powerful and much more pleasant to the eyes.  Has anyone else tried it recently?

The idea behind it is simple:  usies an index metaphor, with tagging and hierarchical tree organization.  Apparently will spit out an organizated outline from a stack of individual cards.

This coming Friday, it's available at Bits du Jour for $25.00, discounted from $49.00.

Some years back I started using SmartPix, back when there wasn't much else available.  I haven't kept up with my photo cataloging for over a year, but must return to that task soon.  this has been a useful thread for me -- I'll check out all of them.  BUT if smartPix still seems powerful enough, I'll stick with it, as I already have some much of my collection cataloged in it.

This thread speaks to one of my own greatest concerns.  I have some information to add that has not yet been mentioned.

FIRST, I'm evaluating a new facility, still in beta, called Syncplicity, available at

This open-source facility keeps the core files you designate at an online "cloud" hub.  You can access it from any computer world-wide via your browser.  BUT it also has a desktop-side program which allows you to designate just which files you wish to synchronize.  So far, I've got my laptop and desktop in Mexico sync'd up.  Whenever I changed a file on one computer, the change would ripple up to the online hub and then back down to the second computer.  Worked beautifully.

Now I'm at my other residence half-way around the world.  Of course, I brought my laptop with me -- probably for the very last time since the new US Customs policy of seizing laptops willy-nilly, for no announced reason.

I'm planning on setting up a desktop here too, and introducing Syncplicity.  Once I set it up, I'll be interested to see if all of my "sync'd" folders get automatically downloaded into that new desktop.  I expect it to happen flawlessly.

Assuming my expectations are fulfilled, I'll be one happy computer user.  I've been searching for such a facility for 11 years, ever since I established two residences.

BUT THERE'S MORE:  I read a couple months back that Microsoft has yet another OS in the works, to follow eventually on the heels of Windows 7, which is expected to be out within a year or two.  This new OS has built right into it the facility to maintain core files ONLINE, with synchronized dumps back onto whatever computers one uses.  Fabulous idea.

In fact, I see a subtle movement among many software developers in this direction.  The new iteration of  the free facility EVERNOTE is a prominent example.  Also there are new efforts underway to set up "virtual desktops" which are accessible both online and off, all synchronized.  I've already experimented with one of these that is in very early beta stages of development.  It's promising, but requires very fast internet connections and computers.

I'm beginning to make judgments about which software to buy and install based on similar considerations.  I'm beginning to look very carefully at purchase licenses of software I'm considering for purchase.  Those that allow installation on only one computer will have a difficult time earning my acceptance.  On the other hand, I'll be favorably inclined toward those that allow a single user to install the software on more than one computer, as long as only one is in use at any given time.

As a sight-impaired, aging writer, I trying to build a computer setup that reduces as much as possible reliance on my eyesight.  The program you mention is new to me.  I'll check it out.  THANKS.

General Software Discussion / Re: Excellent RSS reader
« on: September 25, 2008, 10:42 PM »
I use both FeedDemon and Google Reader on a very regular basis, but for different tasks.

In Google Reader, I occasionally track over 150 feeds for information relevant to writers.  Periodically, I spend several hours "sharing" posts I think are important so that my blog readers can easily review them.

FeedDemon, for me, is more personal.  Here I gather a handful of feeds that are most important to me.

I find both of them excellent, particularly since I maintain desktops in two locations separated by half the globe.

I think this thread is fizzling out.  But before it does, another observation about personal strategy.

I envision building a setup along these lines.  Some internet locations as my central hub for data and applications.  Also two desktop machines, one in each of my two residences -- both connected to the hub and both synchronizing with the hub.  The desktops, I'm beginning to think, will run on Linux, not Windows.

When I travel, I will carry only a device that I look at as disposable.  Maybe my iPod for USB-type operation -- or an Asus eee mini-laptop running on Linux.

I was intrigued to read this morning about the leaked news that Microsoft itself foresees the domise of Windows and is developing an internet-centric OS to replace it.  Interesting indeed.

Regarding civil liberities and the US Constitution:  a civilization gets what it works for.  Sadly, the US is so damaged culturally that the Constitution is mostly irrelevant.  That has been evident for a couple of decades at least -- students lost interest in the Constitution years ago.

Bottomline:  we in are a world where the individual just look after him-herself.  Which, frnakly, is probably the best tactic in any event.

Well, we've got some interesting commentary going on.

I myself have been thinking through the implications of laptop seizure this afternoon.  And I'm beginning to come to some conclusions -- they have immense potential impact on software developers.

Let's say the US govt seizes my computer.  I do not live in the US, so getting it back would probably take forever -- and considerable expense.  Anyway, let's assume the government has my computer.

So then I buy a new laptop and try to reinstall my software.  OPPS!!!  Microsoft won't be happy.  I'll have to buy yet another copy of Windows.  And Microsoft Office?  Yet another copy.  [Have you ever tried to close down one computer and transfer Microsoft software to a second machine?]  And what all the other commercial and shareware software that allows only ONE installation on ONE machine to be used by ONE person only.  Sadly, that affects a number of my critical software programs.

So getting up a second machine can be sheer madness.

CONCLUSION:  I'm thinking seriously about abandoning Windows altogether.  I've bought too many copies of it over the years anyway.  I'm thinking seriously of buying software ONLY IF it allows installation on more than one computer.  Ideally, I'll use ONLY freeware and open-source software.  Or online applications.

I'll end up with a very slim laptop indeed.  And many deserving software developers will not longer recieve any business from me.


Mouser, thanks for setting the guidelines straight.  I fully agree.

In the meantime, no one seems to have used the "online desktop" applications, such as -- and I'm still curious if one could really build one's computer life completely around online applications?  No assurance of data privacy of course, but would certainly alleviate the fear of confiscation or theft of hardware.

Has anyone really sat down and thought through thoroughly [gosh, what a string of words!] if there are sufficient online resources to go without desktop software?

I've just posted to my blog an introduction to a series of posts that deals with protection and management of one's electronic devices and data.  Sadly, I think it's an urgent series [as I wistfully recall my childhood days when our family never locked the front door].

Let's face it.  The world has unalterably changed.

Among the comments at LIFEHACKER, there are several posts that indicate that Customs has the authority to copy one's data and to pass it on to other agencies that might have an interest.  Personally, I cannot verify if that is true.

I travel a lot and personally have never had trouble with customs.  However, it is happening.  This year two American and one European friend have confronted data inspections.  They were shocked, as they have each worked for international governmental or non-profit organizations.  The European vows never to return to the US.

Sadly, I think all of us simply have to think through our own strategy.  My own strategy, I suspect, will be to carry some device that will get me online as I travel, and that device will contain no data whatsoever.  I'm not so much worried about seizure of data as I am about interruption of my work if I lose my computer.  Of course, this threat is probably even greater from thieves.  I gather this is the design behind the Lenovo SafeBook.

I've just read the rather disturbing post and comments at LIFEHACKER about the US Customs new authority to inspect and seize for no reason whatever any device capable for storing digital data, as well as any print material.  You can imagine the storm of commentary blazing all day long.

Anyway, this new focus fuels my recent interest in "travelling light."  I've been studying all the things that can be done via USB memory stick [or other small digital devices].  I'm also looking into switching over to Linux and the new, inexpensive ASUS mini-laptop.  But mostly I'm interested right now in the role of the internet, specifically "online desktops," online data storage, online applications and even the new Lenovo SafeBook, an inexpensive laptop with no hard disk at all.

What strategies might you use to avoid seizure/loss of data and computer?.

J-MAC:  Of course I meant SoftCAT Plus, not Pro.  I always forget.  And, yes, it might be worth a try again.  After my recent HD crash, I was pleased to watch the program scan for installed programs.  It caught a few which I had forgotten to enter previously.

General Software Discussion / Re: MaxThink
« on: July 31, 2008, 03:39 PM »
40hz:  Thanks for yr reply.  Sounds like we got hooked on MaxThink at about the same time, tho I did not buy out the store the way you did.  Certainly, you are the one qualified to do a review.  I really look forward to reading it.

The current website, even with its "demos," just doesn't give much of an idea about what the software really does.  The demos point at theory, but do not show actual examples of the program at work.

General Software Discussion / MaxThink
« on: July 30, 2008, 10:00 PM »
Back in DOS days, I was devoted to MaxThink, at that a rather basic outliner.  When I switched over to Windows 95, I lost track of the program.

I've just come across it again, and it seems to have matured a great deal.  It seems now to be more than an outliner -- perhaps an "idea organizer" would best describe it.

I have not downloaded it yet, but have looked through all of the demo's.  Has anyone else worked with this software?

I've used Belarc as well as AppGet a couple months back when I was coping with an eminent hard disk crash.  They were useful, but my conclusion was rigorous updating of SoftCAT PRO is the best route, backing up the database of course to several locations.

I've used SoftCAT for years, not only to track what I have installed, but also programs that I simply find of interest [tho not installed].  A few months ago, I upgraded to SoftCAT PRO, which I REALLY LIKE!  I routinely snip online reviews and past them into the Notes Tab, and grab screenshots whenever possible for the Screenshot Tab.

Having all of this information immediately at hand is, to me, invaluable.

As it happens, I recently looked at updaters a couple weeks ago, as I was recovering from a hard disk crash.  I came across AppGet, which apparently has itself been updated since the gHack survey.  It worked just fine for me.

Found Deals and Discounts / Re: Recentx at Giveawayoftheday
« on: May 10, 2008, 11:31 AM »
I'm evaluating RecentX.  I like the looks of it, and it does seem to organize things rather well.  BUT my computer has definitely slowed down since I installed it.  And last night it refused to close at Shutdown, causcing me some unwanted 1 a.m. anxiety.  Will continue the evaluation tho.

I visited the developer's homepage to learn more about the product.  There's virtually nothing there -- only the same stuff that is reprinted at GAOTD.  With something as ciritcal as encryption, I'd want more information about the product.  Frankly, I'd be scared to install and use it.

In an exchange of emails with Ashampoo, I was told the Office discount is for a limited time only.

I'm still trying to figure out exactly how Ashampoo works.  I'm guessing it is merely a reseller of products that it can rebrand.  Do they do any development themselves?

A visit to the SoftMaker homepage, the actual developer for the Office suite and its TextMaker component, gives excellent background about the company, a full product brochure and even a user's manual.  Part of me would prefer to download and purchase the program from SoftMaker, but it does not offer discounts [except to academics], and the full price costs $10 more than the full price at Ashampoo -- $69, rather than $59, tho the SoftMaker version does include a scripting component.

I also wish it was possible to buy only the TextMaker component, rather than the full suite -- of course at a very low price.

I'm glad my search of the forum turned up this thread.  I got a notice about the special discount of Ashampoo Office 3 [$29.95] and am now evaluating it.  So far, I like it a lot.  Will likely do a post about it on my writer's blog.

I'm also investigating word processors that run off a USB stick, as does this software.  I've identified about 10 of them so far.  As I travel a lot, the USB stick may be a useful option for me.  Especially since the US court decision that allows US customs to examine and seize anyone's computer for no announced reason whatsoever!

Subscribers to Ashampoo's email newsletter have received an announcement that Ashampoo Office 3 is available for a brief period for $29.95, rather than the usual $59.95.  However, anyone can available of the special.  Take a look at the "Service Letter" tab, where the announcement is also posted.

I tried downloading from the link on that notice.  One is taken to the CNET download center, but two tries both yielded corrupt, incomplete files.  Best to download direct from the software's product page at Ashampoo.

This company seems to be very aggressive at discounting its products.  With a little patience, one should be able to snap almost any of its products at a significant discount.

I've run through at least 5 bibliographic programs over the past year -- try one, ditch it, try another -- you know the routine.  Lately, I'm using IdeaMason, whose bibliographic component works, so far, just the way I like.

I must admit that it took me a long time to begin delving into IdeaMason.  It's very intimidating at the outset.  Has anyone written a good itroductory manual for IdeaMason -- one that someone new to the program can read to understand the program's underlying logic?

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