Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dealing with Information Overload

I follow a lot of different sites.  I tend to read my news every other day.  I'm always trying the best tools to deal with my data on multiple devices (iphone, ipad) and multiple computers (google crome OS, Windows).  I have found the best combination to be the following:

1.   Master feeds on google reader (works great on any device)
2.   Feeddemon (Windows)

FeedDemon is a great app, it will sync with my google feeds and give me the same view of what I have read and what I have not.  You have a better user interface for getting through all that data.  I also customize the views to work for the way that I want to fly through all my news.  These kinds of user interface tweaks aren't possible with google reader yet, but it will improve.  Google reader is a great app and works great on mobile or desktop browsers.

I always use google chrome as my primary browser, it wins the speed race hands down, and supports the critical extensions I need.  I have moved of Firefox as my primary browser over 6 months ago.  I love the fact that my extensions and data (most of them) sync across every system and even the google netbook.

List of extensions I use:

AdBlock - Version: 2.2.19
Browser Button for AdBlock - Version: 0.0.12
gCast Weather - Version: 2.1.2
Google Translate - Version:
Google Voice (by Google) - Version:
IE Tab - Version:
LastPass - Version: 1.70.11
Lazarus: Form Recovery - Version: 3.0.1
PriceBlink - Version: 2.1
Tweetbeat Firsthand - Version: 0.6.3
Weather Window Beta by WeatherBug - Version: 1.0.5
Woot! - Version: 1.1
Xmarks Bookmark and Password Sync - Version: 0.9.0
Yoono Web - Version:

Friday, December 10, 2010

Google Chrome Netbook

I came home today to find a strange looking box with odd shapes on the outside of it. Once I opened it I didn’t expect to find a small netbook there shipped from google. This is the Chrome OS Netbook they shipped to me for free. It’s a nice form factor, not too large and not too small. Once the OS booted up, you just hook it up to wifi, login with your google account, snap a profile picture, and you are off. After some time it upgraded itself, similar to chrome. It required a reboot after the update. It runs very well.

It does a good job with flash and other web media. It took quite a while to get my full extension sync from the PC, but most of my extensions worked without a hitch. The major one which doesn’t work is lastpass, which I really need! I tried many sites on it, and everything looks like it works well. I also installed several “apps” from the store which make for easy access to my google products and other sites I use a lot. It will make a good ipad type tool, something to grab and use. I haven’t setup the broadband yet, but I will soon.

The physical design is nice and very “black” I really like the additional of reload, forward, back, and search buttons. They are handy to have. I would have loved to have a “@” key. There is no need to have caps lock anymore, so it was nice to see it gone. The keyboard keyout is a little “off” for my touch typing, but I will get used to it. The control and alt keys are very large. If you multitouch on the trackpad it scrolls which is pretty handy once you get used to it.

The downsides to the design are the mouse, which allows for left and right click but doesn’t use buttons. It uses the click type pad that the macs use, which is somewhat annoying since I am used to having two hands on the trackpad. One hand for clicking and one hand for moving. If you try to do this with the trackpad it screws it all up. I would love to have page up and page down keys, as well as home/end keys. I am a power user and I use the page up and page down keys even more than the arrow keys when I am using the web.

Overall it’s a cool device and I’m looking forward to using it more extensively.

Great freeware system admin tools

Thanks to the awesome community and software over at spiceworks - I found these great free tools from Netwrix - that are superb for any system admin dealing with windows systems. I could have used this fileserver monitor freeware in the past for basic audits. I wish I had known about it sooner. The other really useful tools we are using are the following freeware tools. Essentially the free versions just email you at 3am every night with changes or reports. You can change the schedule using the scheduled task control panel:

Password Expiration Notifier -
This tool emails the end users when their passwords are expiring, its good for us because we have some remote users and mac users who do not get notified. This should prevent the lockouts we see when passwords expire.

AD Change Reporter -
This product will show you changes in Active Directory, Exchange, and Group Policy. This is something I have been wanting to have for a while, but it was always too expensive. Now you can have it for free!

I emailed the company a few days ago to get pricing on the commercial products, but