Sunday, May 25, 2008

Keeping it all in sync

This article is written for iPhone users on Windows who want to sync their Google services (Calendar, Contacts) but have found no easy solutions. It's not 100%, but pretty damn close.

I'll admit it: I'm addicted to Google and its plethora of services. I use its search engine every day, rely on its calendar to keep me abreast of my happenings, and who doesn't use Gmail? (If you don't, why not?)

I also own an iPhone, which doesn't directly sync with any of Google's services. True, I can access all of Google's services on my iPhone, but let's be real: it's still too slow over EDGE, and what happens if you have no signal when you need the info? You're out of luck. This is why, even though web apps are nice, native apps are still king.

I digress. Anyhow, iPhone *does* sync up with Microsoft Outlook, and with a service called Plaxo (currently in beta, as that seems to be the hot new trend these days), you can achieve 99% syncronization between your iPhone or other Outlook-syncing device and Google. (I'll tell you why it's not 100% in a minute.)

As usual, here are the steps:
  1. First, sign up for a Plaxo account.
  2. Next, set up your sync points from within plaxo. Specifically, set up a Google sync point and an Outlook sync point at a minimum. You'll also want to install the Outlook plugin that Plaxo offers to you during this process.
  3. Once Plaxo syncs these two points, you're ready to plug in your iPhone or other Outlook-syncing device and perform a sync.
At this point, all your data should be synced up, with one exception (this is where it's 99% and not 100%). At the moment, Plaxo has limited support for syncing contacts with Google. Basically it works like this: Anything you do in Google will be updated in Plaxo. Anything you do in Plaxo, however, will NOT be reflected in Google. Ergo, if you make a change on your phone, sync it with Outlook, which then syncs with Plaxo and all the rest of your sync points including Google, poor old Google won't get the change because it's only one way: Google ---> Plaxo.

Not sure when they're going to fix that, but my solution has been to just keep all my contacts organized in Outlook and let it sync up with my phone and Plaxo, which then blasts it out to my other web services like Google, Yahoo, etc.

With this simple setup I've been able to keep most my information in sync with a minimal time investment. If you know of a better solution, please post it in the comments. Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out my other tips and tricks!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Firefox 3 Beta 5 - Memory Leak Screenshots

I know that it's still in beta, and I appreciate the speed increases over Firefox 2, but damn it, I thought the memory leaks were supposed to be a thing of the past? Posted for no other reason than I thought it was funny. I love Firefox. Really.

Below: Firefox consuming an ungodly 1.33GB of RAM, while utilizing 49% CPU.

Below: notice the ramp-up before my page file finally caps out, coinciding with the sudden hang of the program (50% CPU usage).

Sunday, May 11, 2008

How to sync your flash drive with your computer

I've always hated the fact that the stuff on my flash drive is usually not found anywhere on my computer, much less backed up on an external device. The scenario is this: Write a paper at home, save it to the hard drive. Go to school to work on it, but guess what: it's not there.

The same is true in the opposite direction. I'm in a programming class working on an assignment, so I save it to my flash drive. When I get home, I have to plug in my flash drive, which has slow read/write speeds compared to my hard drive, and that doesn't work for me.

If you've ever had this problem before, I know you can relate. Enter SyncToy, a teeny tiny little program (971KB) created by some programmers at Microsoft that ends this "syncing sensation" once and for all.

It's as simple as this:
  1. Install SyncToy
  2. Set up a folder pair (tell it that you want the "My Documents" on your flash drive to sync up with your "My Documents" folder on your computer. (If it's your first time using SyncToy, a couple more steps will appear, allowing you to tell the program how it should sync your data.)
  3. Click "Run"
As easy as this process is, there is one downside: as far as I can tell, there's no way to automatically sync your folders each time you pop your flash drive into your computer. If there's a solution like that out there that's easy and free, please post it in the comments.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

2008 Arthritis Walk

And now for this public service announcement. Did you know that over 46 million Americans have arthritis of one kind or another? That's almost 1 in 5 Americans who have arthritis. Chances are, you know someone who suffers from this debilitating disease.

This weekend, my girlfriend (an arthritis sufferer herself) and I walked 2 miles in the 2008 Arthritis Walk to raise money for researchers to find a cure for arthritis. Over 400 people attended this walk in Sacramento, CA, with thousands more doing all over the country so as the days and weeks roll along.

Sacramento's Arthritis Walk has its own success story in Team Derek, a group of individuals who collectively raised over $5,000 in honor of Derek, who was diagnosed with arthritis when he was only five years old. Quite inspiring.

For more information and to find a walk near you, check out and raise awareness.
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