Thursday, 15 November 2007

Just Sync and Go

I've recently had the need for a quick and easy way to synchronise files between my main PC and a usb stick for work remotely. Now for the archiving and backup of my main home server I use rsync. Rsync is very powerful if a little fiddly to get set up but once you have it working it works great.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. As I said, I really just needed a way to sync up some files on a usb stick so I could work on the files on my main PC and then sync with the USB stick to work remotely while all the time making sure I was working with the latest versions. I've used various backup/sync programs in the past and never really got on too well. Then I came across a great little program called Allway Sync 'n' Go (version 6.3.3) - it's free for personal use [homepage:]

Have to say it's great little program and very easy to use. Select a source directory, select a destination, choose whether to sync one way or both, click analyse, have a quick scan of the list of changed files and make any adjustments - usually none are needed, hit sync and you're done. It's that easy. The analysis screen may look a little scary at first when a great long list of files appear but after looking at it for a few minutes you get to understand what it is showing you and there's really no problem.

If you're in the market for easy to use backup and sync software then give Allway Sync 'n' Go a look - you know it makes sense. I give it the MadTechReport Thumbs Up.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Cheeky Monkey 7.10

or should that be Gutsy Gibbon? You know it should. That's right I made the switch to Gutsy yesterday. I started off with a bit a reading on the web regarding the upgrade - got bored with that so just hit the button and off it went...

Have to say, the upgrade went pretty smooth. Didn't really need to do much. I was a bit worried that it would lose some of my config changes such as my alterations to the USB permissions thing. Even that didn't worry me unduly because I could have just looked the information up on the web again. As a pleasant surprise the upgrade routine asks whether to install the new version of various config files when it comes across differences. This meant I could just keep the various files where I'd made changes - sorted.

The whole upgrade process took about 2 hours, including downloading the thousand plus files. Once upgraded all that was required was a simple reboot and job done.

So where there any problems? Only one, my window borders were missing - a fairly major problem you'll agree. I could run programs but had no way to move windows around - doh. Anyway, a bit of searching around the web found a setting in the X Config that needed to be set, running the following from xterm fixed the problem, sudo nvidia-xconfig --add-argb-glx-visuals -d 24, then a restart of X and voila.

The only other problem - which was not really a problem - was I had to reset my compiz effects which had all been lost and this meant installing the compiz-config-manager. Now seeing as this is used to set up compiz - which is included by default in Gutsy - I would have assumed it would be part of the upgrade - now that's strange. Anyway, once installed I was able to set up my 3D effects just the way I like it.

So there it is, the upgrade was pretty painless but the other big question is it better than Feisty? To be honest I haven't really noticed much difference. I'm sure there are tons of differences under the hood but in use I don't notice anything. Still, since it was so easy to do I guess it's worth staying up to date.

Friday, 28 September 2007

BloggerBackup v1.0.7.16

I've been looking for a utility to painlessly backup my Blogger blogs for a goodly while. All of the previous backup methods I've found to do it have worked - but not in a completely hassle free, so easy even an untrained monkey could do it, way. BloggerBackup takes away the pain - ah, bliss.

When you first run the program you need to tell it about your blog(s). From the 'Available Blogs' drop-down select 'Add/Update/Remove Blogs'. This opens the blog selector screen. Now this gives you two ways to select your blog. The easiest - and the method I chose - is to simply type in you Blogger username and password and it goes away and gets a list of your blogs. The alternative - didn't try this because I didn't need to - is to manually enter the details of your blog. I guess you might use this if don't want to give over your user/password combo. Either way, once that's done you can return to the main screen.
Add/Update/Remove Screen

Now for the actual backup. You need to select how and what you would like backed up. Select the Blog. Select a directory to save to. Select single file or one file per post - I chose one per post. Decide if you want comments backed up as well - didn't expect that - but I'll take it. Finally decide how much to backup. Click 'Backup Posts' and you're done. You'll see a list of the entries on the right and end up with one big file or many small ones depending your selections. I had over 300 posts and selected to get all posts. It backed them up in next to no time - brilliant.

Main Screen

Then next time I ran it I selected the 'Only new posts since' option. What a star. When you select the check box it automatically pulls in the time and date of your last backed up post. Start the backup and it adds only newer posts - simplicity on a plate.

I need never look else where to backup my Blogger Blogs - nice.

I guess the only downside is that it only works with Blogger - but heck, I don't care - I only use Blogger so I'm sorted. If you use Blogger and want to safeguard your blog I highly recommend this one. You can get a copy from

I give this one the Mad Tech Report thumbs up approval rating.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

LinuxMCE - What The Hell Is That All About?

I've been a long time user of SageTV and on the whole it works fine. Yes it crashes every so often - and usually in the middele of a recording but it normally reboots itself and picks up where it left off - with the loss of a few minutes of viewing but I can live with that. Basically SageTV is limited to TV, Music and Pictures - not that I ever view pictures - whatever floats your boat. You can use the client software from remote stations and even view over the internet - again, whatever floats your boat. Bottom line SageTV does media and, it has to be said does it reasonably well - or as well as any machine running Windows can. I run various other software on the same pc for remote control - namely HomeSeer and the X-10 controller units. What I really really want - yes, I tell you want I really really want - something that unifies the whole lot, Media, Automation, Email, Web Browsing ....

Now I recently found out about the LinuxMCE project and it sounds brilliant. Integrating all of the above but does it work? In my case no. I'm pretty good on the old computer and run a host of Linux and Windows machines. I run my own Asterix PBX with voip service, remote login facilities, secure vpn ... Could I set up LinuxMCE? Could I F#@k. It's got millions of configuration options but there is almost no documentation. With so many options and settings I had no chance of getting anything to work as I wanted it to - or in fact - at all. I told it about my TV card, the Hauppauge 500 Dual Tuner and it took those settings. How do you set the channels? I could see where. From the Orbiter - no not the space shuttle - the orbiter is the fancy name for the interface - selecting TV just brings up a 'not available' followed by blank screen which then required an X-Windows restart.

Setting up the CM11/12A for X-10 control proved no more fruitfull. Yes I set up the interface. Yes I set up a light - don't know if I did that part correctly but I managed to tell the setup that the light was controlled by the CM11/12A but where do you put the house code? I tried filling 'A3' in every concieable text field to no avail. I've read on the web that people have X-10 working but I couldn't work it out - maybe I'm just crap - or maybe, just maybe, we need some documentation.

Anyway, I really can't be arsed to waste anymore time faffing around with LinuxMCE. On the face of it it sounds quality but - like many things linux - it's way way way too complicated to get even the basic things working - ie TV. If I could get that going I could afford to spend the time fiddling to the rest working but I can't live without 'Neighbours' so it's back to SageTV - for the moment anyway.

I shall never the less be monitoring LinuxMCE closely because I really hope it comes good. As I said before it looks amazing - but sadly I'm just not clever enough to get it working. Maybe in a year or two they'll have got it sorted and the install will be as plug and play as Ubuntu - my Linux distro of choice - now that's a nice piece of software - and gives you Linux the way it should be - plug and play.

So here's to a plug and play LinuxMCE in a year or two. Tootle pip.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Scrybe - the new online calendar on the block

So Scrybe - the online calendar and notes application. Bottom line, is it any good? Will it be here in a years time? Simply put, yes it is and I'm sure it will.

What is its killer feature. The thing that distinguishes it from the myriad of other online calendars I've tried? That would be the offline facility. It works great with my laptop when I'm on the road - well not quite on the road that would be too dangerous - but when I'm out of range of the internet. You see, you don't have to do a thing to activate the offline function. When you're internetless - is that a word? Probably not. Anyway, just switch your browser offline - for my browser of choice - Firefox - that's accessed from the file menu. Then type in the scrybe url - - and away you go. It knows you're offline and loads the cached version and you can do all the things you can do online - offline. How do you sync it back again? Easy, the next time you're online when you surf to the scrybe url it automatically syncs you're offline changes and bam - there you are - all your appointments and task synced. It really is a great feature.

As to the calendar functions. It has all the normal things you'd expect a calendar to have - Appointment and Tasks. You can set up labels to group appointments into different categories, for example business and personal. As it's still in beta some of the features aren't available such as sharing but I'm sure that won't be too long. For me that's not really something I'm too worried about anyway.

The fluidity of the way the calendar moves from month to day is really intuitive and apart from looking nice it really does allow you to navigate around your calendar easily. Copy and moving appointments from day to day or time slot to time slot is just so easy. Top tip, to make a copy of an appointment hold the ctrl key as you drag it from one day to the next, al-la the standard windows way.

It also has a nice print option. Allowing you to print you weeks appointments onto a single foldable piece of paper - if that's what floats your boat. Personally I won't be using this feature but never the less it's carried out in a nice way.

Scrybe also has the now obligatory 'notes' apps. I haven't looked at it in detail but it the same labelling scheme as the calendar albeit that you have to set up new categories. You can copy and paste from web pages pretty easily with the standard ctrl-c/ctrl-v although you do have to copy into a 'special' box on the notes page but never the less it works OK and copies in the the text and the pictures. It does kind of reformat it but you get all the data through to your note which is the main thing. It stores the notes in chronological order and doesn't look like you can re-order them but I guess their system might work.

Anyway, I haven't been using it too long but from what I've seen so far I rate it above Google's Calendar which is currently my main one. I have to say Google's shared calendar feature is very nice and it's great for sharing events such as your clubs fixture list. And I like having all my online apps from the same supplier, ie Google Mail, Notebook, Calendar and Docs - not that there is really much integration between the apps it just somehow feels nice. Anyway, if the Scrybe team can get their sharing spot on then I may well be swapping.