The semi-regular review of my personal cloud apps

Last time I updated this was back in 2012, so, I guess it’s about time …

So, what’s changed?

Well, I still utilise Android as my phone OS of choice, I still have the iPad bought back then, but I haven’t updated it, and when it dies, I am unlikely to replace it – or if I do, it may be an Android device it is replaced with.

I considered buying a surface or Samsung Note to go BYOD, but in the end decided none of those options had the level of processing and memory capacity I required for some of the DABI tasks I undertook, thus I chose to upcycle my early-2011 17″ Macbook Pro by adding a 1TB SSD and 16GB RAM to it, upgrading to Yosemite and Parallels 10 to run a Windows 7 VM for use with work based apps such as Lotus Notes, MS Office and MS Sharepoint tools.  This has been a rather satisfactory result.

I have been making a concerted effort to evaluate the differing cloud based application offerings – choosing those that offered a good mix of bang-for-buck, cross-platform compatibility,  security and ease of use. Thus some of my offering choices have changed. 

  • eMail is maintained via the Google Mail & App Services which is still the no brainer choice here. The continued improvements of the integrated Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Drive and if you are inclined, hangouts and plus,  The implementation of inbox is also making this a choice of preference for another year. I just wish they would allow inbox to become the one window view to all my accounts, not just one eMail address at a time.
  • Storage is something that has undergone a number of contenders over the last few years. I was a fan of Dropbox, but then SugarSync stole my heart. Then I flirted and had serious affairs with Cubby and Box.com but in the end, I started forking out my hard earned dollars to TresorIT. Built for security, it offers a range of ACL options, the ability to selectively sync folders between devices, the ability to implement two-factor authentication, the ability to utilise groups and policies, IP Filtering, Device management, DRM … well, you get the idea – plus they are constantly tryinbg to improve and add new features, which is nice.
  • Evernote : It’s a constant for me – I was introduced to the application back in the day when it was still a thick client that had just introduced a “run on USB” portable option. It is the next best solution for keeping all your ‘business’ in one place. It has replaced Pocket, Reader and Instapaper for my “read it later” functions and now it is lIke a digital memory box – with OCR, camera, handwriting and audio notes, plus and an ever increasing set of capabilities that makes it hard to leave the platform. In fact, when I looked at onenote as part of the (workplace) desktop SOE, I decided that I would need IFTTT to have a better connector to send my content back into Evernote.
  • The Chrome browser : A few years ago, I was using the “Chrome to Phone” and  “Phone to Chrome” as well as the XMARKS bookmark sync engine. Frankly though, simply utilising Chrome on all of my devices allows me to synchronise bookmarks, form data, tabs and even push pages to a specific mobile device. It has all but become a cloud based browser. Though, with the known memory leak issues of Chrome on Windows, I can understand why people are starting to get annoyed with it.
  • LastPass : The “last password you need to remember” password managment system that integrates across devices, browsers and is cloud accessible. Plus the secure notes feature now allows you to add attachments (images, pdf, etc) to them, making it a great way to photograph all of your IDs, cards, passports, etc and keep them lockd behind a two-factor authentication and the best part is, this “premium” feature costs all of $12/year!
  • Whilst I like the google Doc options, the CloudOn service when I originally discovered it a few years back was a cloud based MS Word, Excel and Powerpoint service that was not just “compatible” but was an actual MS Office environment. However, since then it has reinvented itself into a Simple, Powerful Doc Editor. It’s nice, but it’s not what I wanted, but essentially, I guess the O365 made the original venture uncompetitive. This has led me to need to look at this arena again. For 90% of my document writing, editing and presentation needs, the Google offerings are fine. Yet, nothing I have found (yet) is as powerful as excel for the DABI that I do. The range of array formulas and index lookups I perform on even my simplest sheets is enough to drain most machines into a paging frenzy – so for now, excel must remain a thick client.
  • The demise of the google reader left a few of us in the lurch. There were a number of contenders for replacement, but in the end, Flipboard became my default reader. RSS feeds aren’t as simple to feed into it, but via various methods, they can still be fed into your account, plus, if you’re so inclined, you can create your own flipboard magazine to keep articles of interest on for yourself or to share with your friends.
  • Task managment is somethign I am still flipping between with Any.do and Google.Tasks both leapfrogging each other every six months or so to become my flavour of the month, as it were. I’m not sure which one will win out in the end.

So, other than the LIMA I am expecting to receive when it exits beta next year, then that’s it for now. I may not end up getting a new PC or laptop in a few years, the new QNAP devices are now offering virtualisation engines and the ability to plug a keyboard, mouse and HDMI device directly into them to utilise VMs directly when at home, and with a good tablet, remote access to them will also be a breeze.

So, once again, So, that’s my list for now … what else is out there that you’d recommend? If so, let me know, otherwise, untill next time.

Happiness, depression and coping in general.

How many times have you heard a variation of this?

  • Happiness is a choice.
  • Having an “attitude of gratitude” is something we can foster.
  • You make your reality
  • We can influence the way we [ think | act | feel ]
  • You choose to be positive.

If you are a natural cynic, a sufferer of depression or otherwise jaded with the world then your immediate attitude and response to being told to “choose to be happy” may very well have been the same as mine, namely “go fuck yourself” or some form of derivative invective thereof.

Continue reading Happiness, depression and coping in general.

Forty Two

Maybe because I am making my way towards this birthday milestone, the number has been on my mind recently. 

Way before I ever read the hitch hikers guide to the galaxy, the number held a mystical enchantment over my psyche.

In my formative years I was plagued by recurring nightmares. Whilst most could be diagnosed or rationalised as elements of an unfortunate childhood filled with emotional and physical violence, there was one that continued on throughout adolescents and well into my thirties.

In this dream, I am forty two years old and making my way through the laneways of Melbourne with friends who I cannot ever identify outside the dream but I perceive within it to be close. We are jovial and making our way between venues when I was hear something from inside one of the alleyways that makes me think someone needs help.

So I leave the group and make my way down the alley to see who needs assistance and *flash* my world goes white and with a sensation that my life has ceased I usually awake with a start.

Why this nightmare? Why that age? I have never been able to interpret it. I still have the nightmare, though thankfully less often than my younger years. So vivid are the images that I can practically replay it at will, but no matter my attempts to alter scenario with lucid dreaming, cognitive behavioural techniques and meditation have been fruitless.

I am no longer the naive and superstitious youth I once was, but I have wondered if it is a premonition of apropos shearing my thread on the wheel of fate.

It still triggers my thanatophobia every time I recall it, nonetheless.

 

Disruptive Palooza : Possibilities, Futures and Predictions

 

I started this blog entry no fewer than ten times in the last three months. I have tried under a range of titles and verbosity to map out my thoughts on the overall complexities of the roles of Enterprise Architects, and how that also comes with connotations and expectations that include the need to be a balanced mix of Consultants, Analysts, Forecasters, Futurists, Thought Leaders, Visionaries …

Yet, whilst we are meant to have those answers, we are still being asked to “shoot behind the duck” as we manage implementations, offerings and solutions that have passed their hype cycle climbs and peaks. Just like a perfect bowl of morning cereal, we are meant to wake up on the dawn of an engagement, be able to pour out a balance of business wholesomeness, technical nutrition and financial tastiness to provide the kick start needed. We’re meant to have the answers to be not too heavy on the legacy and not too light on the predictions, all while being “Just Right”. Continue reading Disruptive Palooza : Possibilities, Futures and Predictions

expanding the synaptic roadmaps

The value of maths problems from those mathematics classes when we were at school was not about whether you would ever use them in real life (though I have in some of the strangest ways!) but that it rewires your wetworks.

The same, I believe, goes with expanding your general knowledge of a field outside of the one you are in.

As a general rule, I think we tend to either stick to what we know, and learning tends to be within the scope of the general field we are in. It’s natural, and it’s normal, and it occurs in every industry with every skill set.

Ever notice how after a couple of weeks, any new exercises or physical activities you take become easier? If you were trying to lose weight, you’ll notice it’s about this time that the impact starts dropping off. It’s because our bodies are designed to increase efficiency. Just like our muscles, our minds will find ways to become efficient in the areas we use most.

To increase the ability to make a bigger impact and train our muscles (or synapses) to be able to handle more, we need to keep changing gears and exercises. This is one reason I continue down this philosophy of reading a great variety of topics and challenging myself to learn something new everyday.. I see it as a way to keep training my brain to be fit. Different paths to think, different ways to see a problem. Different ways to a solution.

That said, I am also lazy. I am. I tend to recycle work, re-use and re-post. A comment I made on the workplace collaboration site gets sanitised and reposted on one of my social networks, and sometimes the opposite happens.

I was asked after one such status cross-post (Thinking is difficult; That’s why most people judge” — Carl Jung) to recommend a reading list. So, I present my leveraged post from that network to here as this weeks blog entry.

Any chance of a reading list?

You know, this is a really hard thing for me. It’s like saying, any chance of recommending your favourite oxygen particles? I am reminded of a quote by Maud Casey

I was born with a reading list I will never finish.

So, where do I start? This is going to take a while …

One of the greatest rewards of a reading life is discovery and I think it’s important that you go through the process of exploration and discovery … and sometimes, just read the books that happen to find their own way into your hands. Continue reading expanding the synaptic roadmaps

Does agility need an old-fashioned, solid, foundation?

Something that was playing in the back of my head this weekend was this concept of Agility.

It’s not a new concept, nor revolutionary, but in thinking about the length of time it often takes to initiate access to (let alone the implementation of) a system or the ability to react to multiple organisational changes brought about by corrections, profit based downsizing, divisional right-sizing, right-shoring or the ever increasing challenge to do more with less … well, suffice to say, the concept of “agile responsiveness” comes up a fair bit. Continue reading Does agility need an old-fashioned, solid, foundation?

eccentric by name and by nature

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