In search of the kitchen sync

In yesterday morning’s post, I provided a scope of the devices I like to keep synchronized to the extent I can. It is definitely not an easy job with the variety of form factors, operating systems, etc. Here follows a brief take on where I am with some of these thorny issues. Do feel free to suggest any neat solutions you may be leveraging that I haven’t hit on.

Mail

I have made no attempt to shoehorn main work e-mail accounts and personal ones into one place. For one thing, business requirements such as HIPAA and FERPA would be a factor. As well, this is just one area where I emphatically do want to keep business and personal separate. I do forward mail from my Road Runner ISP account to Gmail and use the Gmail web mail interface to read and manage items from both RR and Gmail. For years I used Outlook but finally determined I did not need all the bells and whistles, or the hassles of it. (I should mention that our work e-mail client is — wait for it — Lotus Notes.)

Calendar and Contacts

I have pretty much given up on this one. Yes, it would be nice to have my Notes calendar and contacts, which sync so well between work laptop and BlackBerry, available on my other devices. I tried out an application called AweSync which claimed to do just that, by syncing Notes to my Google account. But after a few weeks, for me at least it was more like Aw, s%$#. Invites got sent to personal contacts in Gmail, duplicate invites and appointments kept showing up, and it was just a royal pain. I am truly afraid of trying again. Did I mention just how much I love Lotus Notes??? (grin)

Bookmarks/Favorites

My current tool of choice is Xmarks (formerly Foxmarks). I went with them when they were independent, though it actually looked for a while like they were going to just evaporate because they couldn’t make it on their business model. Finally they found a buyer in LastPass, and with one tweak in my setup I am trying them again and think I can make a go of it. I did have problems with keeping Internet Explorer favorites in my preferred order across my two Windows 7 machines, which shared a Favorites folder across the homegroup. I ended up moving the netbook’s Favorites folder back onto its C: drive and letting Xmarks keep it in sync with the Dell via the cloud, and so far so good. Using Xmarks across the handheld and tablet devices requires purchasing a premium plan at $12/year, less when bundled with LastPass. Well worth it for a nerd like me who uses multiple browsers on each device.

Passwords

I have been using SplashID on the work laptop and BlackBerry. For years I have been a Splash customer, back to my days on the Palm platform (alas, poor Palm III! I knew him, Horatio). It has been a serviceable solution, with the drawback that one has to put in new entries manually, and unless I want to shell out more money, I don’t have it on other platforms. Plus, in order to do the sync with SplashID, I need to use the dreaded BlackBerry Desktop Manager. Enter LastPass, which with the above mentioned Xmarks bundle costs $20 a year for both, gives me coverage across all six devices. Plus it is aware of web site passwords I enter during course of normal browsing, securing them in a vault but exposing them to my browsing on other devices. Sometime soon I will need to export my legacy SplashID password store and import it into LastPass.

Files and Folders

I’m a big fan of the Homegroup concept in Windows 7 and connect my two machines on that OS using that framework. I have an online sync scheduled twice a day. In addition, I use Mozy online backup on the Dell, with it scheduled daily. (I used to run it several times a day, but the file movement across the network degraded work IP phone transmission.) I did for a while utilize synchronization of key libraries (documents, downloads, music, pictures) between the Dell and the work laptop. Besides the fact that for some reason the sync now hangs, for HIPAA reasons I no longer think it advisable. The BlackBerry and NOOKcolor each have a micro SD card, and I can connect them by USB cable to the Windows machines. There are significant restrictions that I won’t list in detail concerning the work devices and mobile encryption; suffice it to say I cannot do all I might like to, but I am on board with the reasons why I cannot. Fortunately the Nook connects easily to my two Windows 7 rigs, and now that it runs native Android, I have easy access to just about any documents I want on it. The iPod Touch, of course, is limited to syncing with iTunes – yes, there are ways around that, but I don’t believe there are any that are worth my valuable time once I include the time needed to wipe off the geek juice. Even at that, I have all the music and pictures I need on the Touch.

Photos and Videos

Almost forgot that. When I have finished snapping some, I plug my camera (Canon PowerShot SD1200 IS) into whatever Windows 7 device I have at hand (the Dell if at home, the Asus when on the road). It’s a reasonably easy job to copy them over to the My Pictures folder, and using the homegroup and online sync, I have them available across the home network. They also seamlessly sync over to the iPod using iTunes, and every so often I manually update the picture folders on the Nook and BlackBerry SD cards.

Whew! That’s a job right there, keeping all that in order. I wish for a big blue button that can do it all at once, without mangling any data or settings. I guess I’ll have to dream on. As suggested before, give me a shout with any more elegant tools you may be employing. Thanks!

 

 

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