From Thompson Sweetback

Infants are the drill sergeants of parenting bootcamp. They give you four basic tasks - diapers, burping, feeding, and napping - and then scream at you when you do them wrong. There's no encouragement, no smiles, just crying and quiet. And they give you tasks at any time, day or night. Just finished changing my diaper? Change it again. Good job, now change that one.

After a few months of breaking you down, they build you back up again. They smile at you. They sleep through the night. They hold their head up, so you don't have to.

And after It's over, the tasks you learned - swaddling, diapering, bottle prepping - are tasks you will likely never use again. But the skills you've gained - patience without sleep, calm in the face of screams, moving your hand into the shit instead of recoiling - are skills that will serve you the rest of your life.

For most people with more than one computer, BTSync is a better alternative to Dropbox or Google Drive.

dropbox

I've been using Dropbox for quite a while, and was always happy with it's performance and feature set. For about 18 months, I even paid $10 a month for 50gb of space, and used it for both day-to-day shared folders and for long-term archival storage.

When BitTorrent Sync was released last year, I gave it a try, and was happily surprised by how well it works. For my setup, it does everything that Dropbox does, but without storing data in the Cloud. BitTorrent Sync uses the same highly efficient transfer protocol as its namesake, but is strictly private, and can be used only between two consenting parties.

After setup, BTSync automatically syncs files between two or more computers. Since I have two or three computers that I use regularly and which stay up nearly 24x7, BTSync protects me from most any hardware failure possibility -- if the hard drive on one of my computers fails, my backed up files are safe on the one (or more) of the others. All BTSync transfers are encrypted, and their setup makes it easy to selectively sync folders on a case-by-case and computer-by-computer basis.

After a few weeks of testing, I made the plunge about 6 months ago, and made these changes to my online backup strategy:

  1. I moved all my long-term archival backups off of Dropbox and onto BTSync.
  2. I moved my portable apps folders from Dropbox to Google Drive. I have a bunch of different apps I used on regular basis that are built to run from share folders, USB sticks, etc., and Google Drive was a logical place to keep them.
  3. By doing #1 and #2, I was able to go back to the free, 5gb level of Dropbox, which saved me $120 per year.

I still kept my free Dropbox setup for day-to-day document storage, which was very handy in letting me access my files at home, work, or on my Nexus 7 tablet or phone.

After months of problem-free experience with BTSync, I decided last week it was time to leave Dropbox altogether. Theeir privacy policies don't sit well with me, and since there was really no need to stay, it was time to cut the cord.

I copied all my Dropbox folders over to a new folder named 'Central' -- except for the Camera Upload folder, which I archived. I set Central as a BTSync folder, and began syncing it between my various systems. Then, starting with the Desktop system at home, I uninstalled Dropbox, about one system per day, leaving the phone and tablet for the end.

I've been using this setup for a few days now, and it has worked flawlessly. To make it even easier, I moved my Apps folder from Google Drive onto Central, so now my Google Drive is used only for Google-related files, like ebooks and a few shared documents.

If you need to collaborate with others - editing and updating the same shared files in a controlled way - Dropbox or Google Drive is the way to go. For general, day-to-day backup and safe, long-term archival storage, BTSync does everything except store your files on a third-party cloud, which is actually a big plus.

Changing your Putty terminal settings, especially choosing a clear, readable font, can really improve your day-to-day work environment.

My main work computer is a Windows 7 desktop system, but I do most of my actual work on various Linux systems. For a long time I used (and even paid for out-of-pocket) an app called AbsoluteTelnet (using SSH), but a few years back the author did one too many pay-again updates, and I converted to the free utility Putty, along with the Putty Connection Manager, which lets you run multiple Putty sessions in tabs within a single PCM window.

At the time, I chose a font I liked, and had used it ever since. I came across an article on CDE metrics that discussed font choices, so I decided to research alternatives to my old tried-and-true font in Putty. I hit Google and StackOverflow, and got a few good recommendations.

I finally settled on Liberation Mono, at 11-points, with Clear Type enabled. It has all the things I like: a dotted zero, line-spacing that's not too big and not too small, and with Clear Type enabled it looks really sharp. While I was under-the-hood, I also reset my colors so that Linux man pages would render properly, increased the scroll buffer to 2000 lines, and set the remote character set to UTF-8.

The new setup looks good, and makes long days of terminal work just a little nicer. Here's a sample:

liberation-mono-in-putty

Hover Free is a great Chrome extension for inline viewing of linked images.

Last Friday, I met Shane and Katie at the Post Office in Azusa to get their passports, but the Post Office camera was broken. We walked up the street to the CVS to get passport photos and make some copies of documents.

Shane and I were talking Reddit on the walk back to the Post Office, and I mentioned a Chrome extension I use that makes Reddit a lot more efficient -- Hover Zoom. Once installed, instead of having to open a new tab to view an imgur link, you just hover your mouse over the link, and the extension pops-up the image inline. It works for Facebook and G+ image links too, but I find it most helpful in Reddit. (I used to middle-click all the image links on a Reddit page to open them in new tabs, and then blast through the tabs to view the images. On at least half the tabs, I didn't remember the Reddit subject, and had to go back to the Reddit page to figure out which link went to that image.)

After some checking, it turns out that Hover Zoom by default will send a limited amount of anonymous data to a third-party marketing firm. This caused some concerns, so someone forked it and removed the offending code, and published it as Hover Free. I've now converted to Hover Free, and it has been working well for me.

Hover Free