Plea to Audible Regarding iPhone App

I have been an Audible member since 2004 (prior to Amazon owning), I have listened to approximately 125 books.  I wish it was easy to pull that data (as well as the total time), but your library is listed by part, by book.  For example, Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordon & Brandon Sanderson is 5 parts.

 

I have been listening on my iPods since the iPod Mini in 2004.  Overtime the listening experience has improved from running software and connecting to iTunes, playing through music App, to the Audible App.

The Audible App allows you to download directly from your iPhone (wi-fi only), full access to your library, listening stats, badges, and most recently they have added Whispersync so you can listen and read on a Kindle the same book.

There are other features such as a “More Books” link in the toolbar that just takes you to a page that says you can buy books at Audible.com (really?) and a News link which I have found not to be useful.- WORTHLESS FEATURES.

The listening stats provides the number of titles in your library (mine says 170), total time listening in total, monthly, daily or today, a Badge collection (I have earned 7 of 15 badges), and your iPhone listening level from Newbie to Master (5 levels).  As good as all of this sounds, it is fundamentally flowed in how it is designed.  It stores this information on your phone, not the cloud.  Thus if you ever have an issue with the App (which you will as you will see later), one of the ways to correct is to uninstall and reinstall.  This process wipes all data (I am currently only at Novice listening level due to this).  Which means all the Stats are meaningless.  Especially to those that use it a lot since you are more likely to have an App bug/error that means reinstalling. – WORTHLESS FEATURE as is.

 

My first request to Audible is to sync the data to your profile online.  Provide the true ability to track your Library (problem in first paragraph) and listening.

As I noted earlier, books are broken up in parts to “make the download easier”  (Audible’s reasoning).  But what this does is makes the listening experience difficult.  Listening without issues should be Audible’s primary focus, not downloading easier (what does that even mean?).  How is it difficult?  When you come to the end of a part, it “sometimes” will automatically start the next.  That “has” been a feature, but one that seems to rarely work.  For a long time it was NOT a feature.  Now when I get to the end of a part it does not go on to the next, instead I get a screen that pops up that says …..


Of course I AM logged in.  I have even logged out and logged in and still the same message at the end of the next part.  It is SO FRUSTRATING.  If I was not logged in, I could not get another book and download.  And I have no problem with that.  From pas experience,  I am sure if I contact Audible regarding, I will get one of two responses:

  1. We are aware of the bug and are working on the fix as soon as possible.
  2. Please uninstall the application and reinstall.

As to number 1, I get this response to often.  My second request to Audible is to fix the bugs quickly, not quarterly as has been what I have seen.  But better testing = < bugs!

As to number 2, sure that sounds simple, except it breaks all of your STATs features!!!  Really?  Break another feature to fix a feature?  Really?

I have yet to use the most recent feature addition (whispersync between Audible book and Kindle book).  I typically do not spend the money to have a book both on Audible and Kindle (how many people actually do this?).  If the Kindle version came free with the Audible version, then maybe I would.  But to buy a book twice for this “convenience” seems useless. – WORTHLESS FEATURE

My third request is that Audible either fix these worthless features or pull them and focus on keeping a stable, user friendly experience.  It is about the Books, not the App.

I use this App because I WANT it to work!  The potential for me is great.  Much better than having to sync with iTunes and play with the Music app.  
Please Audible, your my only hope.

Resize Boot Camp Windows Partition

On my MacBook Air, I installed Windows 7 via Boot Camp in a 36GB partition which I have filled quickly.  I wanted to increase the partition size to 50GB if possible, but without having to completely wiping, repartitioning, and reinstalling Windows.  How do I do this?

Note: Before trying anything, be sure both partitions are fully backed up!

My first thought was via Disk Utility, in which it allowed me to shrink the OS X partition which creates a 3rd partition in order to increase the Windows partition, but Disk Utility would not allow me to increase the Windows partition.  So I booted into Windows and via Disk Management, tried to extend the Windows partition to the newly made empty partition, but it would not allow as well.

So I went online to see what others have done.  The vast majority used a Mac program called WinClone that clones Windows and then through wiping and repartitioning, to restore Windows on the new increased partition.  Winclone Actual success with this process looked 50-50 based upon what I read, and WinClone is no longer supported and does not work with OS X Lion.  A modified version of WinClone to work with Lion was available, but it did not look stable enough based upon comments by users.

My Next search looked for actual programs that could resize a Boot Camp partition and was led to an application called CampTune by Paragon Software.  It does cost $19.95, so the you have to weigh the “cost vs. effort” to determine if you want to purchase.  You also have to recognize that even this software may not work and you could end up reinstalling both OS X Lion and Windows 7 in new partitions if something goes wrong.

create-partition-for-windows

What this software does, is create a Start Up CD/DVD with a minimal copy of Windows and their Software utility which gives you some options to Install Windows, backup, restore, resize partitions and other tools.   I resized my Windows partition to 50GB, it went through the process in about 20 minutes.  I rebooted into OS X to be sure that partition was still working correctly.  I checked in Disk Utility and indeed the partition for OS X was now 68GB and the Windows partition was 52GB.

I then rebooted into Windows without issue.  Checked in Disk Management and it was now showing 49GB as the Windows partition.  Interesting how each OS gives me slightly different sizes.  I am satisfied and all is working as advertised.  Impressed at how easy it all worked using CampTune.  I do recommend.

My New Life with Microsoft OneNote

I know I am a late comer to Microsoft OneNote, and I can not say what has taken me so long.  Regardless, I do use it everyday now and wish I could also use on my Macbook Pro, iPhone & iPad.  But alas, no.

 

So I focus on my work life, since it is Windows based.  I keep all of my "Notebooks" on a network drive so that no matter which Windows computer I use, I have access to all my Notebooks.  And since it keeps a local copy, even if I have no network, I can still use.  And to be a little meta, I am writing this blog post in OneNote.   Integrate Windows Live Writer and it would be just that much better.



For work and business purposes, note taking during meetings is taken to a new level.  The ability to Tag enhances my workflow so much, I wonder how I lived without it.

 

 

It is very well integrated with Microsoft Office, especially Outlook.  It allows inserting and attaching supporting documents, pictures, audio, video, screen captures, etc… with each note.  You can also share the notebooks via SharePoint for collaboration purposes. 

 

My current "Notebooks" are Meetings, Personal, Projects, Conventions, Acquisitions, and HRIS.  I can drag and drop stuff from one Notebook to another.  Link items between them and add shortcuts.

 

As stated earlier, there is no real multi-platform analog that I have found.  Evernote is what comes to mind for most people, and is similar in many ways and is very workable. 

 

 

I use it, and I know people who rely on it as much as I rely on OneNote.  My perspective of Evernote is more a repository of miscellaneous stuff, pdfs, scans, receipts, etc… more a way to organize a junk pile than a productivity powerhouse.  I can only pray somehow Evernote will become OneNote compatible.  Not sure if Microsoft will allow such a thing, but the ability to use Evernote on my iPhone and have the info show up in OneNote could be a great solution.  Evernote does allow for a OneNote2007 import, but I am using 2010 and would miss to many of the OneNote features to use Evernote exclusively.  Maybe I will give it a try just to see…

 

Stay tuned for possible follow-up.

Note Taking Applications

As part of my ongoing attempts at organization for life and work, I have tried to tackle To-Do List (see prior post from December 2008) and am now reviewing note taking applications, some of which also contain To-Do abilities.

The initial list of contenders I chose are:

My needs for this are an easy to use application no matter what computer I am using (Windows, Mac, Linux), not matter where I am, is secure, easy to manage the content, fast to access, and pleasing to the eye.  I do not necessarily need an application that installs on all clients, thus the cloud applications I have selected above, although Evernote does provide an native client.

 

evernote

Evernote is the most well known of the online note taking applications.  Notes are only the beginning of what Evernote can do.  It is a place for all of your ideas you come up with, things you like with access from any device you use.  Capture and Organize everything is Evernote’s rule.  It may be the only application in this that recognizes and indexes images and PDF’s.

Visually, Evernote is very mature and provides the ability to create notebooks for different needs.  You can keep everything private or you can share specific items & notebooks.  Tagging is key to Evernote  and successfully utilizing all of it’s potential.

Evernote restricts by the amount you may upload per month for free (40 MB).  You can add via Evernote plug-in for both IE and Firefox, emailing to a private email address they assign,  importing from Google Notebook, and via Twitter.

There is also a $5 month premium account that adds SSL transfers, priority image recognition, no ads, monthly upload to 500MB, access to notebooks offline for iPhone and iPod Touch users, and more.

Evernote also provides downloads for Windows, Mac, iPhone+iPod Touch, Android, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile and Blackberry.  All devices will sync and work together with one account (if you have that many phones and computers).

My only complaint is that my workflow and Evernote’s seem to not mesh well.  Thus the Evernote interface is not intuitive for my purposes for me.  I have been trying to use Evernote for over a year and it has just not caught on for me yet.

  4half

 

mynoteit

 

MyNoteit is an interesting application.  It is also a free offering, but does have Google Ads included on the pages.  It is set up specifically for those that are in school as it has Courses and Assignments by default.  They provide external links regarding Term Papers and Learning Management Software.  The site did render a bit slower than expected and the interface is not as intuitive as I would like.  It does provide a to-do list along with the note taking, assignments and bookmarks.  Messaging also looks to be within the MyNoteit environment to help with groups and collaboration.  I did not see anything regarding a storage cap.

Overall, MyNoteit does not look to be the best product for my needs, but may be good for students in school, especially if they are working in teams and like to share assignments.

2half

 

ubernote

UberNote reminds me of Evernote.   It seems to be a direct competitor, using much of the same types of interaction.  There is a Firefox toolbar you can install that allows clipping and bookmlarking, as well as, UberClip which adds entire web pages directly into UberNote.  There is also a Netvibes widget, iGoogle gadget and user specific email address you can send items directly to your UberNote. Other methods of getting info into UberNote includes Twitter and importing of your Google Notebook and exporting to a an HTML backup.

Similar to Evernote, tagging is a big componant of UberNote and it also provides a task management section.  There is a mobile version that you can use on your smartphone as well.  They are working on a premium version that will provide more file space (can not find how much they give you now), secure connections and encrypted notes.  Overall I like what I see in UberNote, but am unsure if it would replace Evernote for me.

3half

 

springnote

Springnote allows you to login using OpenID if you so desire.  Springnote provides a very clean interface, dashboard and 2GB for free.  You can have both Personal Notebooks as well as Group Notebooks for collaboration.  Springnote is interesting as it is based upon wiki technology.   When creating a Personal Notebook, Springnote creates a Bookshelf, Meeting Notes, Monthly Calendar, Monthly Schedule, Personal Profile, To Do List and Web Clippings by default.  You can create your own pages as well.   Bookshelf is an interesting addition for me as I am an avid reader.  You also have an Inbox and Comments section, both of which look to only be for within Springnote environment.  Within the setting section, you can turn off comments if you have a public page, back up your full notebook and change your profile image.  Exporting to your blog can also be configured here and they identify Typepad, Moveabletype, WordPress, and Blogger.   I run my blog on SquareSpace and it set up without issue.  They also have a plug-in page wiht all plug-ins developed by Springnote and not the community.  They also have what they call “Mashups” which include an iPhone App, a Messenger bot which allows you to add to your Springnote via Googletalk and MSN.  It uses XHTML and has Open API.  There is also an Open Source project for the Springnote editor at Xquared.

Overall I am very impressed with Springnote and can actually see myself using.  I looks like it could replace a number of specific apps I currently use.  All I would need is a paid version with more storage as well as secure usage.

4

 

google

Google Notebook was abandon by Google (stopped development and no new users), but if you are in the Google world already you may want to check it out.  It provides you with a barebones notebook application.  Similar to other Google applications, they make it simple.  You can creates different notebooks, use labels similar to tagging, and share for collaboration.

You may find Google Documents a better experience if you want stronger collaboration and tools. 

2half

 

fruitnotes

I can tell just from the logo, FruitNotes is very Web 1.0.  Not going to be high on the design and visual appeal.  But how is it to actually work in?  What it provides that is unique is the ability to record phone voice notes.  It provides you with a US or UK phone number to do so.  You can also upload photo and videos and tag your notes.

You can share your notes or publish to “your” blog.  However, “your” blog is a blog on their site and not really “your” blog.

What is amazing is that this is “beta” and the footer of every page says “2007 FruitNotes.com”

I struggle with this one.  It just never looks right on the screen, the fonts are awful, calendar seems to be from 1995 Microsoft Access.  Not for me.

1half

 

notefish

Notefish tagline says “Revolutionize your Web Research”.  You save information you find on the web into a Notefish page for organizing and/or sharing.  Similar to Google Notebook, Notefish has a simple interface with little advanced organization available.  You can color code your notes and tag notes. 

Plug-ins are available for both Internet Explorer (Windows only) and Firefox.  Very simple, very plain.

2half

 

zoho 

Zoho Notebook is apart of the Zoho office products which includes Zoho Writer, Zoho Sheet, Zoho Show, Zoho Wiki, and others.  You can sign up using your Google Account, Google Apps Account, Yahoo or Facebook. 

If you use any or all of the Zoho applications, it is well integrated and easy to switch between them.  They do provide plugins for both Firefox and Chrome and the ability to import your Google Notebook.  Zoho Notebook is the most like an application that happens to be online.  You can add new notebooks, spreadsheet pages, writer pages, web pages and others to notebooks.  It supports images, audio, video, RSS, etc… as well.  You choose which notebooks you share.  It is really focused on content creation more than the other notebooks reviewed here.

The forums for users look to be robust.  They are working on a mobile version, but none yet.  My big issue is the lack of subfolders for how my brain organizes.  It also does not have some of the advanced features from Evernote like OCR nor does it have task lists like Springnote.

And have I mentioned the Skype integration?  Yes, it has this.

3half

 

Let me know if you are using something I missed and I will check it out and update this post!

Why I hate & Love eBooks

I love the idea of eBooks.  I have been an eBook reader for years since I had Microsoft Reader on my iPaq.  Now I have a Kindle and iPhone and this means I have more books to read than I really can handle.  But there is another dark side to eBooks beyond the quantity…. DRM. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_e-book_formats

My first choice right now is to buy a Kindle book so that I can read and sync on both the Kindle and the Kindle app on my iPhone or even a computer. 

kindle

Unfortunately, no all the books I like to read are on the Kindle.  Some are free and although can be sent to my Kindle, they can not be shared and synced with my other Kindle devices.  Also are books that I get at other eBook stores in which require their own eBook reader.  Thus I currently have 3 eBook readers on my iPhone.

ebookreaders

Stanza – For free and open eBooks (http://www.lexcycle.com/supported-formats)

Kindle – for Amazon Kindle eBooks (.AZW, .MOBI & .PRC – without DRM)

eReader – for Barnes & Noble/eReader/Fictionwise eBooks

Thus a book is stuck on one reader and can not be shared and synced to the Kindle.  This is frustrating.

Help me Apple, you are my only hope! 

iPad

Now we have the iPad and does it add to the complexity with it’s own iBook store?  It says it will support ePub, but I am sure it will be a DRM version. But what the iPad can solve, is due to having all of the ebook readers available on the device, I will no longer need the Kindle itself and can read any book from any format, all on one device.  The next question is… will they sink to the iPhone for on-the-go reading??

Having Fun with SquareSpace

I am right in the middle of moving my Blog from WordPress to SquareSpace, and due to WordPress not exporting all of my data correctly, I am manually adding old posts to SquareSpace.  Not a fun activity, but hopefully will be well worth it to get away from WordPress.

Just be aware for those of you thinking of moving over, it is more work than you may have been led to believe.

Fun With Installing Windows 7

received my two boxes of Windows 7 Professional Upgrade on Thursday October 22, 2009 as Amazon promised they would.

My first install would be on my MacBook Pro.  I first tried upgrading from Win7RC 64-but to Win7 64-bit Uon my Macbook Pro in Bootcamp.  It would not work for me, as I kept getting an error stating it “could not create the installation folder”.  I had an additional 27GB in the partition, so this could not be due to a space issue.  I even tried another Win7 Upgrade disk in case there was an error on the DVD.  Same result.

So I went into OSX (Snow Leopard) and used the Bootcamp Utility to delete the Windows partition and re-create a new one and go through the clean install process. I was not sure I could use the upgrade DVD on a clean install, but went for it anyway.

I used the “Custom Option” process and formatted the partition and installed. After most of the install process, a couple of reboots, I finally got to the “Type your Windows product key” screen and it kept telling me the product key was invalid.  I tried it a dozen times, even changing a B to an 8 to see if that was the issue.  No luck.

Had to call Microsoft.  First Rep could not give me a case# so I had to call back and get another Rep. who validated that my Key is good, gave me a case number and transfered me to an install technician in India with a strong accent.  Could barely understand her.  Gave her my case number and we went through the same thing as the first rep (what is the case number for if not to tell the technician what the issue is and what has been done by the first rep?).  She activated the key on her end(?), told me to delete the key and move on with the installation without adding a key.  The install process continued & completed.  Inserted my OSX Snow Leopard CD and installed Bootcamp Drivers.  Rebooted, activated and all is well.

So in my case, you could install an upgrade version of Windows 7 on a clean partition without installing Vista first.



Why I am Leaving Symantec for Good

My story with Symantec’s Norton began a few months ago when I upgraded a number of my computers to Windows 7.  Symantec released a beta version for Windows 7, but they would only give you a trial version that lasted 1 – 2 weeks.  Did not understand a trial version of a beta that would only last a short time.  So I went elsewhere and ended up using the new Microsoft free security product on Windows 7.
This left me with only 1 computer needing Norton 360 which is a VM of Windows XP on my Macbook Pro.  I have recently updated from a Macbook to a Macbook Pro, but just copied the XP virtual machine over.
So here I am with a product that I can use on 3 computers but am using on only one, and which I have 60 days of subscription left.
So last night I boot up the XP VM and Norton tells me it needs to update, so I update, then it wants to reboot, so I reboot, and guess what?  The Norton is de-activated and shuts off my internet security.  I try to re-activate and it tells me I can not, that I have exceeded my usage of the Product Key.
So now I must deal with Norton support to get my internet security back working.  I did this via online chat and even when I told the rep what the issue was, he wanted to remote in to my computer to fix.  Why they need to remote into my computer when the Product Key is not working is beyond my understanding.
From what I can tell, they ultimately just reset the Key to work.  But to just let me get screwed a little, they only activated it for another 50 days.
When the 50 days are up, goodbye for good Norton, hello Microsoft.



How I work in a Multi-OS World

In my computing life, I am OS agnostic with a lean towards OS X. But I work on XP computers (desktop & laptop) at work, I have a Macbook running OS X 10.5, Windows Vista via Bootcamp, Windows XP, Windows 7 & Ubuntu via VMFusion. At home I have a Vista box, a iMac running Os X 10.4, MacMini runing OS X 10.5, and EEEBox running Ubuntu. And finally, I have an iPhone. 

So how does one keep organized in such an environment? I want to simplify my computing as much as possible, so I have been working on this for years. Luckily, I am not the only one with this problem, as solutions have become available to fill this need. Here is a list of what I use and how I use it. 

Passwords: Password syncing can be difficult. I have three different solutions I run at the same time for different purposes. The first solution is my main Password managment system and I use the Open Source software KeePass. KeePass is available for Windows, OS X, and Linux. And to keep all of the systems in sync, the encrypted database is stored via encrypted Dropbox folder so any change at one computer, will be changed for all since they all look at the Dropbox folder for the data. The second solution is syncing passwords in Firefox via Foxmarks (now Xmarks). The third solution is with 1Password for my Macs as I store the keychain in Dropbox similar to Keepass. Yes, I know I am being reduntant here as Keepass is really all that is needed for the computers, but I use 1Password to sync to my iPhone. Still waiting for iKeePass App to show in the iTunes store. 

Favorites/Bookmarks: I use Foxmarks (Xmarks). It is available for all Firefox (as Xmarks), IE and Safari, thus works in all 3 Operating Systems. This also stores them via a website, so if I am at my parents computer or anyone elses, I still have access. Working Documents & Shared folders: I have mentioned Dropbox already regarding password database centralization. This is an ideal solution for the day to day files and anything else that may need to be moved or shared between all platforms including access via iPhone

.

Music and other Media: I use SugarSync for the backing up my digital media from all the platforms (including iPhone) except for Ubuntu. The ability to stream my music from SugarSync on the iPhone or purchase music from any computer and immediately have it available on all my computers is excellent. I did try JungleDisk and S3, but the syncing was slow and not reliable in OS X. It was my first solution for many of these issues, but could not keep up. Granted it was cheaper than SugarSync (only solution listed above that cost$ based upon how I am using it), but SugarSync and Dropbox are both blazing fast and reliable. I also tried MobileMe, but cancelled that mess. One word for MobileMe - CRAP. Related Posts by Me:
Cross Platform Syncing and

To Do Lists


Cross Platform Syncing

I am finally sick of JungleDisk & .Mac or MobileMe (I am up for renewal).  Jungledisk does not have native syncing abilities and seems to have trouble on my Macbook staying active when I change from Wifi to EVDO and back it does not like to re-mount the drive.  It is also difficult to update my music and picture files from computer to computer.  For example, when I upgraded a music track from DRM to non-DRM in iTunes, I had to manually replace it on each computer and on the online storage.  It is good for back up of each computer separately, but not for keeping one back up to use on all computers & share.


Dropbox Web Interface

I do use Dropbox, and would love it to be my one solution for everything, however, it has only one paid option for 50GB max.  Also, the files that are synced must all be in the My Dropbox folder on every computer. I would love a solution similar that would work on Windows, OS X, and my iPhone, as well as, not tied to a specific sync folder.  Thus I came across SugarSync. It has multiple paid options, thus I can upgrade as more space is needed, is accessible and managed from the web, windows, mac or iPhone, and you identify which folders you want to keep synced.


SugarSync Web Interface

Others I have tried or found are MobileMe - which just did not work,  Mozy - which I found cluncky on my Mac and lacking in sync like I wanted, Windows Live Mesh - worked well but only has a 5GB option currently.

There is a good chart comparing free online storage/sync solutions on Lifehacker here.

Pricing for Dropbox and SugarSync are as follows:

Dropbox = $9.99/mos or $99/yr for 50GB ($0.20/GB per mos)
SugarSync = $2.49/mos or 24.99/yr for 10GB ($0.25/GB per mos), $4.99/mos or 49.99/yr for 30GB ($0.17/GB per mos), $9.99/mos or 99.99/yr for 60GB ($0.17/GB per mos), $14.99/mos or 149.99/yr for 100GB ($0.15/GB per mos), and $24.99/mos or $249.99/yr for 250GB ($0.10/GB per mos).

Bottom line, I will use both for different reasons.  I will use the Free 2GB Dropbox for quick file sharing between computers and SugarSync as my online backup and sync of music, pictures, documents, etc...across all computers and iPhone.

If you have a good solution for you that is different, let me know!

Update - With SugarSync you can stream you audio as well.  This includes your iPhone.  Full access to all my music on the iPhone is excellent.



ToDo Lists

To-do lists are important to me.  I am unable to remember anything unless it is in my calendar and/or on my to-do list.  So finding at good To-do list has been difficult.  The most important obsticle I have come up against is the ability for the To-do list application to be cross platform.

I have an iPhone, use a Macbook for personal computing and Windows at work, and I want it on all 3 platforms.  I have tried so many applications that I can not remember them all, and most are only Mac or Windows.

The best of the best so far have been Omnifocus (Macbook & iPHone), Things (Macbook & iPhone) and Remember the Milk - RTM (web-based and iPhone).  Although RTM works on all platforms, once you have used Omnifocus or Things, it just does not measure up with the user experience that works best for me.  My solution seems to use RTM for office purposes (Windows primarily) and Things or Omnifocus for personal purposes.  Not the best solution, but it does give me access to the work lists anywhere with RTM, and personal is always with me on my laptop or phone.  It is the only solution close to good that I have been able to come up with.

Let me know if you are in the same boat and your solution!

Excel Tips Regarding Formulas and Breaks

Recently when creating an overtime pay adjustment calculator, I ran into some tricky issues in regards to the calculator to not show values when certain cells in the formula are blank.  I did this as to not confuse the end-user with numbers that are not correct without all the appropriate values filled in.

As you can see in the above calculator, they "System Generated" values are dependant upon user required values as well as system caclulated values.  Done normally, some fields would populate with values without all the required inputs completed.

My first try was to use the ISBLANK function.  So in cell C25, the formula was =IF(ISBLANK(C17),"",C17+C12) and this work correctly.  However, I was receiving an error in C27 with the formula IF(ISBLANK(C25),"",(C25/40)*1.5) and the only reason I could figure was due to C25 also having a ISBLANK function.  However, if I changed them both to use the LEN function, everything worked fine.  So the final formulas in each cell are as follows:

C25 =IF(LEN(C17),C17+C12,"")
C27 =IF(LEN(C25),(C25/40)*1.5,"")

More tips to come as I come across them.  Have fun!



Excel Hints is Giving Away Over $1400 in Prizes

My favorite software to use happens to be the one I use all day, every day, at work.  I am one of the weird people whom enjoy Excel.

An earlier Twitter I gave a link to my RSS Feeds for Excel blogs and the like.  One of those blogs that I read almost everyday is Excel Hints.  Currently, Excel Hints has a give-away contest going and if you are someone that would like to win Excel consulting or Office 2007, along with a couple other prizes, just go here and subscribe to their Excel Hints email.

Good luck!



Favorite New Software and Service

Being a computer user that switches between Mac and Windows everyday, I am always searching for tools that will allow me to share information between the different computers, as well as platforms.  Over the last month I have drastically simplified this issue by the addition of Foxmarks and Dropbox.

Foxmarks is a Firefox add-on that originally syncs and backs up bookmarks.  Since I use Firefox as my primary browser on all computers, having them sync is important.  I use to use the Google Sync tool until it stop supporting the new Firefox browser, and in fact, Foxmarks does do this better than Google Sync did.   Recently Foxmarks added the ability to sync passwords as well.  I have had success with this on all of the computers except my office XP box.  It continues to ask for my PIN to sync passwords over and over.  This does not happen on my other XP/Vista/OS X computers however, so am unsure what the issue is?

Dropbox has been a great tool.  It syncs specific folders in real time very quickly so I can have my KeePass and KeePassX synced between all the computers, as well as, my IE favorites folder.

I find Dropbox faster and easier to use than JungleDisk, however, Dropbox has a 2GB limit.  So I do not use it to sync my music collection and the like.  I highly recommend Dropbox to anyone.



Plurk

I have been posting to the social website Plurk a lot lately.  This site is similar to Twitter, as it is a social micro-blog, but with a twist.  It is visually more appealing than the basic Twitter, and as you earn "Karma", more options and control over your account you get.  You gain or loose Karma by the amount of posting you do, as well as, who friends or follows you.

 

The timeline is also unique, as instead of a vertical view, it is horizontal.  Although the mobile version of the site is vertical.

 

 

 

I have found that there seems to be more "community" and interaction between users that have no real off line connection.  That can happen on Twitter as well, but Plurk seems a whole lot more interactive among it's members.  This may also be due to the fact that replys are their own thread under each original plurk.

 

I am really enjoying Plurk and invite you to join in the fun!  Follow me here.



My iPhone Calendar Challenge

My issue was, I wanted to get my work Outlook calendar on my iPhone without attaching my iPhone to the work computer. Nor do I have the option of using Exchange (yet). I also wanted to do it with no intervention on my part. Especially now that it can be done over the air in version 2 of the software using MobileMe. My first try was with free utilities and programs. None worked.

Therefore I decided to spend money. First is getting the Outlook calendar data into Google Calendar. I tried many programs (open source, free, paid), but none worked as well as SyncMyCal. $25

With my Outlook calendar now on Google Calendar, I needed to get it on my Macbook that I sync with the iPhone and Me.com. Unfortunately, subscribing to a Google Calendar does not sync up to Me.com. So once again, I tried many but settled on BusySync. $25

Then I used MobileMe to sync onto Me.com which pushes onto my iPhone.

It only took trying dozens of programs and $50 to get it done. For most people it may not be worth it, but it is for me. And it works by itself via syncing without me doing anything. Finally. Shouldn't this be easier?



iPhone Syncing between Mac and PC

Here is my situation. Most all I do and want sync'd to the iPhone is on my Macbook. This includes my personal contacts, music, video, podcasts, photos and bookmarks. What is on my work Windows XP computer is my schedule in Outlook.

I have tried multiple solutions. First, I connected to the work network via Entourage on my Macbook and sync'd the calendar via Entourage. Entourage had issues with any Outlook event that was and all day event. It put part of the event the day before and created duplicates. So that did not work.

Next, I tried the new Outlook to Google Calendar sync to get my schedule in Google Calendar and then subscribe to the calendar in iCal. However I could never get the Outlook to Google Calendar Sync to work. I may be due to the corporate firewall.

So I decided to try syncing just the Calendar on the Windows PC. I plugged in the iPhone, made sure no syncing at all would take place. Put a check mark only under syncing Calendar with Outlook and pressed sync. It gave me a notice that the iPhone was paired with another computer and did I want to merge or overwrite the data. I clicked on overwrite and prayed. It worked. I have my Outlook calendar on the iPhone and no other data was messed with.

I then connected the iPhone with my Macbook. I made sure everything was selected correctly EXCEPT the calendar. I also got the merge or overwrite question regarding the contacts and bookmarks. I believe this is due to the calendar, bookmarks and contacts all being on the same tab in iTunes.

Therefore, whenever I move from the Macbook to the Windows PC, it will ask to merge or overwrite. Not the most elegant solution, but it seems to work so far.



New Site is Live

After a couple of weeks and playing with many Wordpress templates, I have finally decided upon one, as well as added more content and how to interact with the site. The template I selected is Revolution by Brian Gardner. Unlike my last template which stopped being supported and updated, I feel this one will continue to grow and get better over time.

I started out wanting something more than a blog, but one that was closer to a content manager than a simple blog. Although I have not implemented everything yet, I am very happy with the outcome. There will be continual changes, modifications and improvements over time, but I believe this template gives me the foundation to move forward.

I can not wait to learn the new CSS skills and Wordpress skills to continue this journey.