Friday, October 17, 2014

Living with and syncing across multiple devices

Alternate title: I have too many computers

All my comps

My standard electronic/computer load out at home(This was what I had when I started writing this blog post like a year ago):
  • Samsung Galaxy s4 smartphone (since replaced with a lumia windows phone, that is a story for another post)
  • Samsung Galaxy tab 7.0 2
  • Asus aspire one netbook
  • 13 inch macbook retina from work
  •  A few year old home built desktop machine running windows 7
  • a PS3
I have way too many computer/electronic devices in my life.  That's what us geeks do. It may not all be the latest and greatest but they are all dear to me. One of the biggest challenges with using so many electronic devices is keeping all  your information current. Luckily we live in a connected world.

So what things do I need to sync and have available across these devices? Well not the PS3. I only use the PS3 for playing games and watching youtube and netflix.


  • email
  • RSS feeds
  • Browsing history
  • Calendar 
  • Blogs in progress
  • works in progress(photoshop files stories I am writing etc)
  • media
  • ebooks
  • programming code
  • general notes


Several of these things have been solved without any work on my part.  Email has transition to the cloud. At work we use exchange and for personal stuff I use gmail. Both can be easily accessed from all my devices. The same holds true for calendars.  Both the exchange calendar and google calendar work easily with all my devices. Ok I say this all works easily but we all know their are hiccups. Sometimes an event doesn't sync or I delete an email on my phone but it's still there on outlook. Most importantly I can't view shared exchange calendars on my Windows Phone. Seriously?

Though I am on the social medias, I still get a good deal of my daily information in an ancient way from all the way back in the early 2000s.  Yes I am talking about the venerable RSS feed. Like so many others, I fell in love with Google Reader.  To the lamentations of the internet Google announced the closure of reader.  I won't go into my techno hippie rant how google is increasingly choosing the path of evil. The mad scramble for a replacement began.  Many ios people went to bloglovin. For a bit I looked into TheOldReader.  I liked it's simplicity but it didn't have a good enough mobile platform at the time.
I ended up using feedly.  The mobile app works well and the free product seems robust. The team keeps improving the product and offering many useful ways to interact with blog content. The also offer a paid version that seems very useful for professional bloggers. The paid feedly evernote connection looks like it could be very useful.
Speaking of Evernote, many people consider it one of the best modern productivity tools. I agree. Evernote is  massively powerful. useful and available on almost every platform. I only use about ten percent of what Evernote can do.  I use it for lists, take notes in meeting, and keep track of ongoing projects. I also use the browser add-on clipper to keep track of things I find online. I am no expert on maximizing evernote, so I've included some links below.
Microsoft offers a good alternative called Onenote.  In fact, I used onenote before switching to evernote.  I ran into the problem of Onenote being a windows office only app.  Since then, microsoft has expanded and improved Onenote. Most importantly, it is now available on all platforms. It really looks like a good Evernote replacement.

When I blog I don't use evernote.  As  I follow my blogging process, I do so entirely in blogger.  When inspiration strikes I put the idea and title in blogger. I do the outline right there in the draft and obviously keep the ongoing drafts there. 

One thing that has vexed(hehe I got to use the word vexed) web users for years has been syncing browsing history, bookmarks, etc between different machines. Both Chrome and Firefox have produced easy to use solutions to this long standing problem. For Chrome you just need to login to a google account on each browser. For Firefox you need to create a firefox account and then use that an each instance of firefox.  Obviously, this means that they store all your stuff on their servers, but they know everything about you anyway.

For anything else that I want to share across multiple devices I use dropbox.  It's free. It's easy. It is pretty much everywhere, though not on windows phone.

In the past, sharing media, music movies etc, across devices was a big hassle. No more. I don't even bother.  All my media is streamed. Music comes from streaming radio or spotify. Movies come through netflix or other means.




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