Clouds and Boxes and Drives, oh my!

Wired Buddha Post in apps, cloud storage, data storage, free, Google, hardware, iPhone, keyboard, laptop,Tags: data storage, dropbox, evernote, iphone, software
0

Cloud Storage Software

cloud storage

Clouds and Boxes and Drives, oh my!

Why is there a Cloud in my Eye?
If I Drop a Box will it break?
Do I need a license to Drive a Google?
What the heck is an Ever Note?

I feel like a contestant in a game show, where various companies are vying for my business:
“Pick me! Pick me! ”
“Our cloud services are better!”
“Store your data with us!”

The $64,000 question is: do I pick Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3?

Which one is going to include that great set of Ginzu knifes??

 

Where do I store my data?

With many online storage services available, how can a person make sense of it all.

It can be quite a overwhelming for people to figure out where to store their data in the Cloud.

Well, the First Rule of Thumb when someone is trying to sell you something: Read The Fine Print. Here is the reason why: you never get something for nothing. The Second Rule of Thumb: Keep It Simple Stupid.

I ask people if they use Dropbox, or Evernote. I usually get a blank look… after which I spend the next ten minutes explaining the advantages of storing and accessing files online and how handy it is when a person has multiple devices. The blank look does not change.

 

Notes (iPhone)

If all you are looking for is a basic text editor, then Notes on the iPhone is perfect for that. Just like Notepad in Windows, this is just plain text, with some very basic formatting.

I synced my iPhone Notes with my iCloud account. So, I can start a website post, for example, on my iPhone, and continue it at home on my laptop.

 

Evernote (basic account: 5 GB)

My personal favourite cloud syncing application is Evernote.

Last I read, about 3 million people use Evernote.

A basic Evernote account is free. There are some ads in the basic account, usually promoting the advantage of a Premium account.

Evernote syncs with my iPhone and computers. There is an Evernote extension for the Google Chrome browser. The big bonus for Evernote is you are given a unique email address. This comes in very handy. Often, I will email articles, notes, website links to my Evernote account, for further reading.

There are some other features Evernote offers as well – the ability to sort my notes into sub-notebooks, so to speak, and to tag notes with keywords. Imagine a binder with tabs to indicate smaller sections, and on the tabs are keywords to describe that section.

Creating sub-notebooks is easily done with the Evernote software. However, how does someone send notes to a particular notebook, with a particular tag keyword, via email? This is where Evernote really shines.

Here is an example: you make a Christmas notebook, because you know, we never remember that potential Christmas gift for Uncle Bob, the tie/aftershave gift pack, with the bonus shoe polish kit and bronzed nail clippers, we saw in April.

So, you are at the store, and you want to remember this perfect Christmas gift for Uncle Bob. There are a couple of ways to do this with Evernote.

You could simply open the Evernote app on your smartphone, find the Christmas notebook and enter a note about Uncle Bob. The very handy feature, right there, is the note is geo-tagged. Say, what? In other words, your note has just been tagged with geographic coordinates – your note has been mapped. You just open up the note, click on Location, and Voila! you see where you made that note. Even better, would be if you took a picture of the store to help you remember.

Another way, would be to just take a picture of the store. Then, you email that picture to your unique Evernote email address. In the body of the message, you might add notes about the store, and what the gift was. But how to direct that email to your Christmas notebook? This part is easy. In the header of the message, you would include these tags: !Christmas #UncleBob

The exclamation point directs the email message to the Christmas notebook, and the hashtag (number sign) tags the message with “UncleBob”. So now you would have the note in the Christmas notebook, with the keyword: UncleBob. When you start your Christmas shopping, you only have to refer to Evernote.

You don’t have to take a picture necessarily. I use Notes, on my iPhone, for many things. Often I will email that note to my Evernote account for future reference.

You could take pictures of receipts, and email them to your Evernote account.

You could have a travel journal, complete with pictures, and voice notes, in Evernote. Every note would also have the locations of your travels mapped too. Very handy.

Couples use Evernote to plan their weddings. One teacher, in particular, teaches his students how to use Evernote to track notes on school projects. A photographer uses Evernote to take notes on photo locations. A restaurant owner uses Evernote to track shipping and receiving of goods.

Coincidentally, the icon for Evernote is an elephant. Because, you know, elephants never forget.

 

Dropbox (basic account: 2 GB)

Dropbox is probably the best, and easiest, way for backing up photos. You can get Dropbox here.

Sure, I could use my iCloud account to back-up photos, I just happen to find Dropbox easier to use.

All photos in my iPhone camera roll are synced with Dropbox. Once the photos are in the Dropbox cloud, I can delete them from the iPhone camera roll. However, the photos remain in my Dropbox account. If I ever want a photo back to my iPhone, I just download it back to the camera roll.

If I want to transfer a photo from my computer to my iPhone, I just copy the photo to the Camera Uploads folder in Dropbox. Now I have that photo available to edit with one of *many* photo apps I have on my iPhone.

Another thing I might use Dropbox for is for printing maps. You see, I stopped printing hardcopy years ago. I have a printer, collecting dust, and ink cartridges still packaged. The idea of printing stuff only to have it hang around is pointless.

To print a PDF file I use Cute PDF Writer. Cute PDF Writer also requires a PS2PDF converter such as Ghost Script. You can find these free programs here.

Once these programs are installed, go to the Control Panel and set Cute PDF Writer as the default printer. There you go, a PDF printer, and you will never print anything on paper again.

To view a PDF file on my computer, I use the free program: PDF-XChange. You can get PDF-Xchange here.

To get a PDF file to my iPhone, I open Dropbox on my laptop, go to Documents, and copy the PDF file there. I sync my iPhone, and Presto! the PDF map file is now in my iPhone. The file does not have to be a map necessarily, it could be any file printed to PDF.

The only downside, is if the file is a text file, Dropbox does not have a native ability to edit text files. However, that is easily solved by installing Doc2. With Doc2, I can edit pretty well any text file in Dropbox from my iPhone. You can find Doc2 on iTunes here.

In fact, I call my iPhone my portable office. I use a folding Bluetooth keyboard (made by Verbatim) when I need to do extensive typing. Using a Bluetooth keyboard means the bottom portion of the screen is not occupied with the onscreen keyboard.

 

Google Drive (15 GB)

Google Drive is yet another file storage system in the Cloud, which has a matching app for smart phones.

If you have a Google account, then not only do you have Gmail, there is also Google Calendar, Google+, Google Drive, and the ability to keep bookmarks in Google Chrome browser backed up to your Google account.

Being able to back-up Google Chrome bookmarks is probably the biggest selling feature of Google Drive. Not only are the bookmarks parked safely in the Cloud, but, my desktop computer, laptop, and iPhone have access to the same bookmarks. When I use Google Chrome on any of those machines, and I bookmark a website, the other devices will have the same bookmarks.

I can put a text file, or word file, in Google Drive from my laptop, and continue editing it on my iPhone. I could even share that file with someone else, giving them permissions to edit that file. In this way, the file would always be up to date. This is very handy for collaborating on projects, because everyone would have the current version of a document.

 

Personal Network Storage

There is one other way to store file and documents in Cloud, and this would be having your own personal Cloud Storage. Rather than having only Gigabytes in storage, you could have Terabytes in on-line storage.

Western Digital makes a line of My Book Live network drives. A 3 Terabyte network drive is around $150.

Having a network drive plugged into the router, means my desktop computer, laptop, and iPhone have access to files in my own personal Cloud. I can even access those files remotely if necessary.

 

Peace of Mind

I store lots of info and documents on my iPhone. So, yes, before you ask, I have a passcode on my iPhone.

If my iPhone were to go missing, break, or be zapped out of existence by an alien molecular de-atomiser, I would maybe lose some edited photos, specific to some photo editing apps. But all my important files are backed up in the Cloud.

With a new iPhone, I would just install those apps, and have all my documents, stored in the Cloud, back on my iPhone.

 

Back Up Your Files

Having lost too much data over the years, I live by the old adage: If it’s important, you back it up. If it’s really important, you back it up twice.

You may only have one computer, so you might not desire a network drive. So, instead, get a portable external hard-drive to back-up files to.

 

Conclusion

Wired Buddha gives Dropbox, Evernote, and Google Drive two Buddhas for staying connected in the Cloud.

 
 

Tracking You Tracking Me

Wired Buddha Post in privacy, security, software,Tags: browser, security, software
0

Tracking You Tracking Me

Viewer beware – there is much more than you realise tracking you on the World Wide Web.

There has been some eye-opening tech stories in the news in regards to tracking software on cell phones, tracking websites, and the tracking of personal information.

tracking

Cell phones:

The first story, from 2011, was Carrier IQ. Their tracking software was reported to be in tens of millions cell phones.

When this tidbit of news hit the headlines, the tech blogs went wild. Cell phone owners began realising that every keystroke of their cell phone was being recorded. Maybe. It wasn’t exactly verified nor exactly denied. Nonetheless, it was considered unauthorised wire-tapping.

When Carrier IQ was questioned, they made a statement. But, when questioning dug deeper, they changed their tune.

Cell phone manufacturers were inundated with questions. Very quickly those same cell phone manufacturers began to distance themselves from this very messy can of worms.

Let me give you the highlights of this story:

“Carrier IQ is installed on our phones?

Gee, let us look…

Oh… it seems it is. How did that get there?

What’s it doing on our phones?

We don’t know, but we will investigate.

Okay, we looked.

Rest assured, we are not recording your keystrokes, but your phone sends back diagnostics and usage reports. Nothing to get alarmed about.

We think. ”

Uh-huh…..

However, when the American FBI was approached with a Freedom Of Information request on Carrier IQ they would not confirm or deny anything to do with Carrier IQ.

If you have a Motorola Droid, you need to read this article.

Suddenly, your cell phone is doing lots more than just a phone call.

Do you recall the movie: Eagle Eye, from 2008. Well, you know how they say, “truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.”

Do you still feel comfortable about using your cell phone now? Kind of gives me an icky feeling if you ask me.

Websites:

Time and time again, Facebook has been questioned about tracking users. “Oh no, we don’t track anything to do with anyone. We’re as pure as the driven snow.”

Yeah, right. Keep reading.

Just because you logged out of your Facebook account it does not mean that Facebook has stopped tracking your computer browser and every website you visit.

I won’t even be logged into my Facebook account, but I see Facebook tracking WiredBuddha.com. I know this because I use Google Chrome for my browser and I have installed security extensions to stop the trackers.

In one instance, I checked WiredBuddha.com and I saw that Facebook Disconnect had blocked Facebook from tracking me 12 times. I don’t mean 12 times accumulated, I mean 12 times immediately! Excuse me?

In fact, I block lots of trackers and ads. Why, you ask? It is bloody well my prerogative. There is nothing saying that I should be subjected to the crap on the web.

When you don’t want junk mail in your postal box you tell the postal carrier. Well, I’m telling the WWW that I don’t want crap in my browser, and denying tracking software from collecting any of my personal information.

In fact, Facebook tracks more about you than you know.

Legal action had been filed against Facebook, in the UK, to show how Facebook records profiles and track users.

For my browser, I use Google Chrome, for a couple of reasons. The main selling feature for me is syncing my bookmarks to my Google account. What’s the big deal for that you ask? Well, first off, I never have to worry about forgetting to back-up my bookmarks. As well, I can install Google Chrome on another computer, sync my Google account, and behold, my bookmarks magically appear. No matter which computer I use, I always have the same bookmarks. For that matter, I can access those bookmarks from my iPhone.

The other reason for using Google Chrome, is that at its core, Google Chrome is very secure. However, there are a few extensions (add-ins) to beef up the security.I will list the security extensions I use, and why they should be installed.

AdBlock. Does an excellent job of blocking most ads. Not 100% of ads are blocked though, because this simply depends on how the ads are coded (*)

Better Pop-Up Blocker is a great extension for blocking pop-ups. However, this extension blocks *all* pop-ups by default. So, when you are on a website and you click on something legitimate, but nothing seems to appear, then it is a good chance that Better Pop-Up Blocker is blocking. Just click on the extension icon in the URL title bar, and allow that particular pop-up to appear.

Collusion for Chrome. collusion trackerSurf the web as you would normally. But as you do, the graph in the pop-up will change and the icon in the tool-bar will animate. Click on the icon to show how the website you are viewing is being tracked by other websites. Each circle in the graph represents a site that’s been sent some of your personal info. Circles with a halo, would be websites you have visited. Circles without a halo, are sites you have not visited. Circles in red are known tracking sites. Circles in grey are not known tracking sites, but may still track you. While composing this message, I took a look at Wired Buddha, this is an image of what the tracking websites look like.

Disconnect. If you are a typical web user, did you know that you are unintentionally sending your browsing and search history, with your name and other personal information, to third parties and search engines whenever you are on-line. Disconnect will disable tracking by Digg, Facebook, Google, Linked-In, Twitter and Yahoo (*)

DoNotTrackMe. Every time you use the web, companies are collecting and storing information about you and your web activity.

DoNotTrackMe (DNTMe) is free privacy software that prevents online tracking and improves your security on the web. You might want to be careful not to install this along with the next extension: “Don’t Track me Google”. Choose one or the other.

Don’t Track Me Google. This extension gets rid of Google’s ugly (tracking) URL *and* hides the referral information to the next page, so that other websites will not know your search terms either (*)

Facebook Disconnect. Stop Facebook from tracking the webpages you go to.

FlashBlock for Chrome. Block them all, or be selective with the embedded – manager. This extension will block all Flash. You may need to disable it, if a website requires Flash (*)

G Disconnect. Stop Google from tracking the webpages you go to.

Keep My Opt-Outs. Permanently opts your browser out of on-line ad personalization via cookies. Ever notice how, when you are browsing the web, ads seem to start showing you, say, ads for shoes. This is because you were shopping for shoes two websites back. This extension will pretty near eliminate those personalised ads (*)

SaferChrome makes browsing safer by identifying and preventing security and privacy breaches. Looking at Wired Buddha, gave me a list of 15 potential trackers (*)

Twitter Disconnect. Stop Twitter from tracking the webpages you go to.

Web Of Trust (WOT) helps you find trustworthy websites based on millions of users’ experiences and is one of Chrome’s most popular add-ons (*)

All these extensions can be found on the Google Chrome store. The extensions with (*) on the end I highly suggest. Whenever I am setting up another computer, I always put these extensions in.

You may notice some redundancy there. Yes, and I could probably eliminate one, or two extensions.

Call me a bit paranoid. Maybe. But you can call me a smart browser. I know what is tracking me, so I am telling that trackers that I am tracking them tracking me.

I am also in the habit of running Ccleaner, every month or so, on my laptop.

Recently in the news is the tracking program called PRISM. This is not entirely surprising news to me. More than twenty years ago I heard of a tracking, monitoring, program involving various countries. I have since forgotten the name. Apparently all form of communications were being monitored for keywords. So be careful of your conversations.

For example, you may tell your friend, “Last month I was voted in as President of Toastmasters. And let me tell you about our baseball game last weekend, we bombed!”

Yeah. If you make the connection, so does the monitoring program. Right, you say, then I will encrypt all my communications. Okay, good idea. Lawyers will do this. But, we warned, encrypting your messages may actually attract more attention. The American NSA is allowed to keep communications for up to five years.

iPhones are the best for end to end encryption. Not uncrackable though. Apple declares they are not able to listen in on iMessages.

With a little bit of smarts, the internet need not be so scary. When surfing the web, just be aware of what lurks in the dark corners of the WWW. So, you say, I will avoid those nefarious websites. Well, fact be known, it is the legitimate websites which are actually tracking you due to their own codes, or they have been hacked.

With proper security extensions installed in Google Chrome, you can rest a wee bit easier. Still though, surfing the big WWW means being aware and being alert.

Oh, and one more thing: you do not have to pay for anti-virus software any more. Paying for anti-virus software is no longer necessary.

For anti-virus software, I run: Avast. It can be found here or here.

For anti-spyware, I run: Threatfire. The free version can be found here or here. I have been running both these programs for years. I have never found an issue with them, they work very well together.

To borrow a line from an old TV show: “Be safe out there.”

 
 

Nothing Is Real

Wired Buddha Post in science,Tags: hologram, simulation
Comments Off

Is Life A Computer Simulation?

A current topic I have been following: “Is Life a Computer Simulation?” (1)

How do we know that it is not?

How can we know that anything is actually real?

Well, I have the opinion that nothing is real. Or rather: Nothing Is Real.

What if everything is just one big hologram, an illusion.

I will support my proposal with two points:
1) the speed of light
2) space

But, you say, when I stub my toe it hurts like the dickens. I feel pain – that must be real.

Is it?

What if I told you that everything you see, touch, hear, taste, smell and even think, could be just a hologram.

How is this possible, you ask.

Well, let me start off with the speed of light and how we see.

When you look into the night sky and you see all those twinkling stars, you are actually seeing into the past.

When it takes light multiples of years to reach us, we are seeing that light from when it left.

Oh, a quick bit of info: light travels over 186,000 miles per second. One Light Year, how far light travels in a vacuum in one Julian Year, equals 6 trillion miles.

So, when a star is one billion light years away, we see the light as it was one billion years ago.

Telescopes have spotted galaxies which are 13 billion lights years away. When the light from those far away galaxies finally reaches us, we are seeing light from 13 billion years ago. A lot can happen in that time.

When the Crab Nebula exploded it was independently recorded by Arab, Chinese, Indian and Japanese astronomers in 1054. Yet, they were only just seeing the explosion, for the supernova had already happened 6,500 years earlier (2).

We see because light bounces of an object to our eyes. (We see colour because of absorption and reflection of different wavelengths, vibrations, of light.) The time it takes light to bounce back might be measured in nanoseconds, nonetheless it is in the past.

If the sun were to burn out, we would find out eight minutes later.

So, my point is that it takes light time to reach our eyes, no matter what the distance.

We never see “now”.

“Now” is just an illusion.

For my second point we go out to space again.

Take a good look at the night sky. What do you see? Sure, you see twinkling spots, however, what is between them?

Nothing. Empty space.

About 0.0000000000000000000042 percent of the universe contains any matter. In other words, the universe is a pretty empty place (3).

I could get into dark matter,dark energy, string theory and membranes, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

So, we have nothing, a void.

You might notice that planets orbit their sun similar to the orbits of an atom.

With that in mind, let’s shrink the scale to small, atomic small. From macrocosm to microcosm.

References to the atom date back to Ancient Greece. The Greeks thought the atom to be indivisible (4).

Everything we know is made of atoms. Organic or inorganic, it doesn’t matter. Your coffee cup is made of atoms. The fuel you put in your car, the air you breathe, the food you eat, the clothing you wear, made of atoms. Even your body, every organ contained within, is made of atoms.

Now, taking the space comparison of more space between the stars and planets than there are stars and planets, the same goes to atoms.

There is more space between the protons and electrons of an atom than the mass of the particles. In other words, there is nothing between those particles (5).

Do you follow me so far?

What you think is solid, is, in reality, not solid. Not in the least. Okay, sure, you say. But when I walk into a closed door, I bang my nose and stop. Why can’t I go through that door if it and I are not solid? Ah, well, that topic is a whole other discussion.

Take any object, any substance, look at it on the atomic scale and you come up with a lot of empty space. Nothing.

Once again, everything, the world as you know it, is like this. This includes your brain.

Take a brain, any old brain will do, look at it with an atomic microscope. See the atoms? Now, look at the space between the atoms. Right. Nothing.

So, really, in the end, your brain is just empty space.

Kind of gives a new meaning to the phrase “empty headed” doesn’t it?

So, how does this hologram work then.

For all intents and purposes, your entire world is made of nothing.

Your brain is, for all intents and purposes, made of nothing.

So, we have your brain made of nothing, processing information about a world which is, in fact, made of nothing.

As my initial proposal – nothing is real.

Or to put it more accurately – Nothing Is Real.

It would seem then, that our entire existence is one big hologram, one big simulation. Everything is just an illusion.

“When you know that nothing is real, then anything is possible.”

(1) http://www.technologyreview.com/view/429561/the-measurement-that-would-reveal-the-universe-as-a-computer-simulation/

(2) http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crab_Nebula

(3) http://science.howstuffworks.com/dictionary/astronomy-terms/question221.htm

(4) http://library.thinkquest.org/C005775/Knocking/atom.html

(5) http://access.teachersdomain.org/resources/phy03/sci/phys/matter/atoms/index.html

 
 

Guild Wars 2

Wired Buddha Post in games, review,Tags: Guild Wars 2
Comments Off

Guild Wars 2 month 1

I’m a Guildie, you’re a Guildie, we’re a Guildie too.

My initiation into Guild Wars 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aroga Somath (norn ranger)

 

For the last month, Wired Buddha has been a “Guildie”.

I never played the first Guild Wars but I was an early adopter of GW2.

The creators of Guild Wars redesigned GW2. I won’t get into the myth of Tyria, there is plenty of info on the Guild Wars wiki page.

Just to indicate how popular and anticipated GW2 was on pre-launch (August 24), over 500,000 people logged in concurrently. By the official launch (August 28), one million players had logged in.

The first difference of GW2, is that you pay for the game once. GW2 does not require subscriptions.

The second difference is that the “grinding” is gone. Boss monsters are available by level 10.

The third difference is dynamic game play. How I respond to questions changes the game for me, and just for me. This is a rather unique way to interact with an MMO.

I found leveling my character to be quite easy – the occasional battle always works (no shortage of monsters), crafting, selling items, but there is also exploring the vast world of Tyria. There are also many quests to accomplish which will earn substantial experience.

After a month of playing Guild Wars 2 I have logged more than 225 hours. My ranger is now level 80.
Does that mean Guild Wars is finished? Far from it.

I found these two links to be helpful in crafting my ranger:

Guild Wars 2 Ranger Profession Guide
Guild Wars 2 Ranger

Wired Buddha gives Guild Wars 2 two Buddhas for very entertaining.

 
 

Is Marijuana a Legal Business

Wired Buddha Post in post
Comments Off

Is Marijuana a Legal Business

My friend bought some weed from the Cannabis Club of Canada.

Now, before you run down to your local store, let me explain: this is for the sale of medical marijuana. As such, to obtain medical marijuana legally, a person needs a license issued by the BC government.

This is an image of the receipt.

Take notice of the line showing: HST (Harmonized Sales Tax).

This is a sales tax for the province of British Columbia.

Pretty well any consumable product is taxed by the BC government.

Hence, marijuana being a consumable, the sale of marijuana is being taxed by the BC government.

But wait! I thought marijuana is illegal…. So, let me get this straight, the BC government is taxing the sale of a product which I understand is illegal.

So, here is a situation then – my friend can legally possess a small amount of marijuana and not worry about facing any charges of possession. For that matter, my friend gave his friend a license to be allowed to transport marijuana for him (in otherwords, she can go to the cannabis club, get a couple of grams of green and not be busted for transporting BC bud), and he can give another friend permission to grow marijuana for him.

On the other hand, that same small amount of marijuana could land me in a bit of hot water. Only because I don’t have a marijuana license. If I was caught growing cannabis I would be busted for sure. Only because I don’t have a marijuana license.

In other words, some BC residents are allowed to possess, transport and grow cannabis. While, the majority of the population may face some legal issues for the same thing.

Sounds like a double standard to me.