Dual booting in Sync – lowering duplication

30 01 2013

There are quite a few reasons you may dual boot a computer. Some of them are great, and some are just for curiosity. But whatever the reason, you usually want to have important files with you at all times.

The problem I tend to have is “Where did I leave that document / presentation / photo?”

Typically it’s in some “My Documents” type folder, but in “the other OS” that I just booted out of. And, of course, in some cases you may mount the other partition you were using as a drive, and you can find that folder to get the file.

However, with the advent of Windows SkyDrive (and I started doing this with Mesh), I figured out that I could sync important files someplace outside each operating system so that I always had the right files when I needed them independent of what operating system I had booted into. So, now that I’m part of the SkyDrive Insider program with Microsoft (a volunteer program where you basically explain how you use SkyDrive a few times a year), I figured I’d share my setup.

Setting up your hard drive

I basically use laptops for everything. Hard drive space is a premium. Especially now that SSD’s are here. So when you plan to dual boot a computer there are a few things to consider sharing (especially with Windows 8) that can help you cut down on duplicated space:

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Syncing under the weight of the cloud

10 01 2013

This will have to be a two part post because, this problem isn’t easy to solve. But, I think I’ve found a solution. I haven’t tested it thoroughly enough to say “yes this is as awesome as I want it to be” but, it is getting there…

After 8 months of preparing for the death of Windows Live Mesh, that day is so near that it was time to take action. But the cloud has killed Peer to Peer file sync!

The two reasons I am unable to ONLY use SkyDrive are twofold:

  1. I need, really need, Peer to Peer Sync without the cloud. And the “partial sync” of SkyDrive is great, but Comcast will simply shut down my up / downlink if I need to re-sync a few hundred GB of RAW photos between hard drives via the cloud.
  2. I need to have folders that sync outside a single hierarchy.

But what options are left if you want to NOT include the cloud?

It turns out, not very many. And, by the time you read this post, there may be fewer. At least 2 of those options that do P2P sync use Java – which is a non-starter for me personally right now. If the security profile of Java improves, that’s fine. However, a file sync engine with Java as its basis seems like an invitation to badness.

(Those two are Wuala and AeroFS – which is still in private beta.)

Also, most of the offerings that do P2P sync require a monthly fee, which includes cloud storage – which I already have SkyDrive for.

Why copying files is so freaking hard

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Inappropriately Touching Windows 8

5 03 2012

It’s time to dust off the cobwebs here.

I’ve got a few things to do in 2012 technology-wise and I may shift the focus of this blog so that its content better includes what I’m actually doing. Including more content like photography and shooting information in addition to computing and technology topics.

Most of my technology these days involves cloud computing and lots of data management. Photography happens to be involved or reliant upon both those things!

Onto Windows 8…

Starting with the Developer Preview, I knew that this would be something interesting. In fact, prior to its release, I bought my new Tablet PC Convertible with multi-touch, and a pressure-sensitive Wacom stylus (for Photoshop) knowing that “the future of computing” involved touchscreen computing.

(And, I have looked at the iPad for a long time. I’ve used them, and I’ve used the iPhone as a primary device, Mac OS X etc. I’ve also been watching Android tablets closely to see if they would fit my needs…)

Now, I’ve used Tablet PC’s for the past 8 years, so that’s nothing new. I know Apple says that “if you see a stylus, they blew it,” but Wacom appears to have made an OK business out of it. And now, I have a mini Cintiq that is also a computer with me (note – I would not refuse owning a real Cintiq!).

The Windows 8 Developer Preview was pretty lumpy. I did use it as my “primary desktop” for a few months. But, I used Windows 7 as my “photography OS” for using Capture One, FastPictureViewer, Photoshop, etc. while using Windows 8 for Office tasks and Visual Studio.

The current Windows 8 Consumer Preview seems like a totally new, much smoother experience. And, I will state up front, that this experience will be very familiar to me because of the following factors:

  • I have a Windows Phone 7 (going on 18 months) – but my LG is dying
  • I used the Developer Preview
  • I have a multi-touch device

That said, I use the keyboard and mouse just as much (I don’t use my tablet as a “tablet” – I just touch the screen).

You’re going to love this when Apple invents it!

If I’m in a public setting, inevitably surrounded by iPads, and I boot up my laptop, I have to touch the screen to boot into an OS… it’s a dual boot system. And the boot screen uses the Zune / Windows Phone 7 “swipe up” type unlock move which isn’t subtle on a bigger screen.

I get asked: “Did you just touch your laptop?!”

No kidding…

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Going for 3TB in WHS v1

22 04 2011

So Windows Home Server 2011 is out, but it is missing a major component that I really liked about WHS (and what made WHS unique) – Drive Extender.

Basically, in WHS v1, you could add a drive to your machine, and WHS would add it automatically to its “storage pool”. From there, my files would get distributed and duplicated across the new drive. That means in case of failure, my files are fairly safe, and Drive Extender removed most of the concerns about sizing drives properly when you do a “hardware RAID” type solution on regular hardware storage options.

In Windows Home Server 2011, they removed Drive Extender. But I wrote about why I don’t like that already.

So, I bought an HP MediaSmart Home Server just after they decided to pull the plug on them. (Why? Because they’re nice boxes and 64 bit – so if I decide to jump on WHS 2011, I can do it manually.) But, I wanted to add a big big drive, and WHS v1 doesn’t like anything above 2TB.

Here’s how you can fix it…

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Why removing “Drive Extender” from the next Windows Home Server is bad product management

29 11 2010

Yeah, I should have posted at least once more this year.  But I guess it takes something of epic frustration to prod me into re-prioritizing my schedule right now.  Removing a technology called “Drive Extender” from Windows Home Server is just the right move to get my fingers on the keyboard again.

Let me explain why…

Through a series of weird coincidences, I happened upon the necessity to consider purchasing a “real” Windows Home Server box from an OEM.  My current “Frankenstein’s Monster” box I assembled many years ago (after all, Frankenstein was the doctor, not the monster) is probably a liability.  I keep feeding it drives, and it keeps running.

For all of you out there who have businesses of some sort, the end of 2010 means the last opportunity to spend some money on capital assets (i.e. shiny toys) and write them off.  Because everyone is soooo scared that taxes might change in 2011, CPA’s are telling people to spend money this year as though a great plague is upon us and the only way to slake its blood lust is to feed it cash.

It’s like written permission

So when you get this letter from your CPA and you look for toys to buy, you start thinking about all the non-sexy stuff that you worry about at 2AM when you can’t sleep.  My Windows Home Server is one of those items.

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Long term digital lifestyle vision

26 02 2010

I love it when a plan comes together… or at least, I like to watch someone put a long term plan together and execute it – especially when I am along for the ride. 

I’ve been told that I’m too impatient when it comes to proposing and executing strategic organizational and product movement.  Perhaps that’s true.  Sometimes the wait is internal inertia, sometimes it is for technology to catch up with the science fiction, and sometimes it’s waiting for the market to emerge.

Seeing the market before it emerges is what differentiates revolutionary plans from incremental plans.  While revolutionary plans come together on the backs of incremental gains, those gains are shaped and directed by a vision.

Your digital lifestyle

OK, this is going to sound like an advertisement, but I’m looking at it from a strategic roadmap and product management perspective.  Also, I already have a lot of this stuff lying around, so I’d like to see it work!  Now, onward…

Whether you knew it or not, the first thing to make progress toward the “paperless” (or perhaps “virtual”) anything was your house.  The office has too much inertia and weighty processes holding it back to really embrace the digital vision wholeheartedly.  It will move that direction, but nowhere near as quickly as your own household. 

That’s largely because you choose your own digital destiny.  New sexy products become available rapidly and the adoption curve for certain new technology items is based both on peer pressure and the desire for shiny objects.  Because of this, your house is very likely more advanced than your office.

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Moving to Windows 7 while keeping one foot in the past

17 11 2009

I finally made the commitment to Windows 7 as my main OS on my tablet PC.  I’d been running it in a dual boot configuration for a while, but a few weeks ago, it was time to move on.  My Vista installation was over 2 years old and was starting to act unpredictably.

As with every fresh operating system installation, the pain of starting from scratch makes you swear to never let your machine get to its inevitable ugly state again.

Keeping that promise might be a little easier this time around though.  By using some cool virtualization technology, you can have the best of both worlds.

Easy transfer wizard

There are many discussions about how to make life a little bit easier when moving to Windows 7 by using the Microsoft Windows Easy Transfer wizard.  I discovered a few things that I didn’t know while using it and thought I should pass it along.

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