Welcome to InterconnectNow - Interconnected Technologies' blog about technology and other items of interest to small businesses and individuals.

The topics here will usually deal with productivity-enhancing technologies of interest to small businesses and individuals, but are often of broader interest.  Productivity is the goal of all of this technology that we use. Enabling productivity through refining or adding technology-based capabilities is what we're obsessed with at Interconnected Technologies, and so this blog is dedicated to discussions of all things related to that.



Quick summary- Exchange, Google, Palm Pre

This is an excerpt from a recent email.  It's captured here for reference, and will be fleshed out more later!

The topic:  what hosted email service to use when using a Palm Pre or other similar mobile device along with Microsoft Outlook.

You might want to look at these resources:

On my web site:




If you go the Exchange route, and you are not an InterConnected Technologies client, you might want to look at:




If you go this route, everything (email, contacts, calendar, tasks, memos) is sync’d between Exchange and Outlook.  Almost everything (email, contacts, calendar, tasks) is sync’d with the Pre.  Pre memos don’t sync with anything.

If you go the Google Apps route, and are willing to pay for Premier ($50/year), you can use Google Apps Outlook Sync:


If you go this route, email, contacts, calendar sync between Google apps and Outlook (and the Pre).  Google Tasks doesn’t sync with anything, yet. 

If you only want free Gmail or the Standard edition of Google Apps (free), you’re left with using IMAP in Outlook:


If you go this route, on the Palm Pre you’ll be relying on your Palm Profile to back up your calendar, tasks, contacts and memos, since IMAP is email-only.  For devices other than the Palm Pre, you will be relying on whatever backup you have for your Outlook data file.

Clear as mud, eh?

If you are willing to pay for the best, I’d get the best:  hosted Exchange.  Then, everything that can sync, will sync.  You get to use Outlook, the Pre and the web-based Outlook Web Access to get at all your data (with the caveat about Pre memos, for now).

Any option is doable by mere mortals, but having some experience doing it speeds up the process, a lot, and gives a better overall result!  That's where the service and experience of InterConnected Technologies comes in.  In addition, with Exchange, we can get better pricing for my clients than what is shown on those web sites.


Windows 7 - installation experience

Having used it now for about 18 hours, I really like Windows 7.  It has a ton of refinements that make it easier to use.  It's much faster than Vista, and is rock solid so far. 

I installed it over the top of Vista on my own laptop - I always experiment on myself first!

I downloaded the upgrade advisor, http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?displaylang=en&FamilyID=1b544e90-7659-4bd9-9e51-2497c146af15, and ran it.  It identified a handful of programs I'd installed that needed to be updated to run with Windows 7.  I also upgraded to Norton Internet Security 2010, just to be sure.

I decided to install as an upgrade, rather than starting from scratch.  The installation took almost 3 hours.  It didn't ask me a thing after it got started.  I just watched it go.  Remember, I have a TON of software installed on my machine - more than most people. 

As it started, it identified two additional pieces of software that I needed to update for Vista. N.B.: the majority of the total of 10 programs I was advised to update were Lenovo utility programs, most of which I don't seem to need, since I just removed them and haven't reinstalled them.

There have been NO wrinkles after the update, with one exception, and that's a program I use extensively.  This program, the very cool MaxiVista, isn't something normal people would use, though, and the only action I had to take was to uninstall and reinstall it.  It adds virtual display drivers, and they needed to be added in to 7 directly.

All in all, very easy, if a bit slow.  I understand that a clean install can take mere minutes.  This would be because a clean install doesn't have to preserve and update all the settings and programs from the previous operating system.

If I were a normal person would I pay $219.00 for the Windows 7 Ultimate upgrade?  Probably not.  The upgrade to 7 Professional for $200 or to Home Premium for $120, maybe. 

I would without hesitation buy a new machine with Windows 7 instead of either the aging Windows XP or the much (and unjustifiably) maligned Windows Vista, though!


Tweaking the Palm Pre

OK, some background:

Palm released the Pre in June with a sort of a placeholder Application Catalog (App Store).  There was a small but useful set of apps there, and that's where it stayed, pretty much, for a few months.  Within a few weeks, people cleverer than I figured out how to "Root" the operating system, giving them the ability to add function or expose function already there but hidden by Palm (presumably so they can release it later, when it's ready or they are ready).  The process for doing this was somewhat complex, involving several arcane steps that mere mortals struggled to follow.  A clever but logical extension of this followed shortly thereafter:  apps to install apps.   They are called Filecoaster and Preware.  These allow the user to install these non-App Catalog apps (called "Homebrew" apps) directly from the Pre.

Important note:  it is unclear at this point if there is any way to preserve / back up the data stored in or created by these apps.   

The Application Catalog has been opened up, and it was recently noted that the small number of applications there have already generated over 8 million downloads.  The number of apps is increasing, but there is still an active Homebrew community, with many applications, tweaks, enhancements, and other goodies.

The nexus of all this stuff is a web site called PreCentral - www.precentral.net.  The Homebrew stuff is here:  http://www.precentral.net/homebrew-apps.

Of course, to get an app that installs apps, you have to install the app first!  That's the only tricky part.

Filecoaster is recommended as the first app, since it can download most of the rest of them.  The instructions for that starts here:  http://www.precentral.net/how-to-install-homebrew-apps.

The other app loading app is Preware.  It allows loading of apps, and also brings users a bunch of other stuff (tweaks, themes, other enhancements) that FileCoaster doesn't.  It's a little more difficult, but if you just follow the instructions (don't try to think - I tried that and it didn't work) you'll get it installed! 

Preware starts here: http://www.precentral.net/preware-update-integrates-and-enhances-patching-process.

I'll add more to this as I have time. 




Stardock's ObjectDock - it's like MacOS, only better!

Apple builds beautiful hardware and breathtakingly simple, elegant and easy to use software.  That's a given.  Apple is still far from a good first choice for most users for several reasons that I'll not detail here.

That said, Stardock, a company that makes a wide and somewhat strange variety of software, has made a tool called ObjectDock that brings a small, elegant piece of MacOS to the Windows desktop.   ObjectDock is free (unless you want to buy the Pro version; something I have not yet done) simple to set up, and quite useful!  Configured correctly it's more intuitive, more productive, and just as pretty as the dock in MacOS.  The free version has a left section for folder-y type things, and second from left section for applications, a second from right section for utility type things, and a right-most section for running programs.  After a little tinkering to tone down the big zooming of icons (I chose size 40 for regular and size 55 for zoomed, it's a VERY nice replacement for the Quicklaunch toolbar, which I've turned off on my laptop, and desktop icons, which I'm slowly putting away.

There are other tools, rocketdock, most notable among them, but I find ObjectDock to be better, and they're both free!

Fun, productive and free.  What could be better?


Off-site backup - it's not just a good idea, it's the law (now)!

Well, I must say this is an example of "do as I say, not as I do", and I'm going to pay a price for that.  Not a huge price, but a price nonetheless. 

Like the doctor who smokes, or the shoemaker with holes in his shoes (and yes, I know nobody under the age of 30 knows what a shoemaker is; just go with it), I was not following my own advice, fully.  My laptop, and those of my kids, do back up regularly to the Rackspace Cloudfile infrastructure using Jungle Disk.  That's good! 

However, the machine which serves as the hub of my house, the place my music and pictures (60gb of music and 23gb of pictures dating back to my first digital camera from Christmas, 2000), was still just backing up to an external hard drive.


The machine (a very cool Hush Technologies - www.hushtechnologies.net - silent computer) had a little problem:  its power supply failed one day. "No problem, says I!  I have a backup!"

(N.B. A power supply for a Hush Technologies machine costs 290 euros.  Yes, that's $424, and yes, one can buy a whole computer for that much.  Whole computers for that much are not completely silent, however, and whole computers for that much are not carved from a block of solid aluminum.  But I digress.)


Upon trying to copy the contents of the backup drive to another of my computers, I found that it, too, had failed.   

"Yikes!"  Says I!

Now, sure, I can take (and have taken) the hard drive out of my beloved Hush Technologies machine, hooked it up using one of my Highly Trained I/T Professional Devices to another of my machines, and can copy (and am copying as I type this) the pictures, music and other things from that disk onto one of my other computers.  This will take about an hour, and does demonstrate why local backup is still a good idea.  To restore these files from an online source would take DAYS


Due to space limitations, I'd put a few things on that backup drive (the one that no longer functions correctly).  Yes, this is something I tell my clients to never, never do.  My file recovery tools MAY be able to recover those things.  If not, they're gone.  ForeverForever is longer than DAYS

You see where this is going.

The next thing I'm going to do, once the files finish copying from the disembodied hard drive of my Hush machine, is set up online, encrypted, off-site backup of those files.  The 100gb or so of stuff will cost me $15/month.  I may decide to just back up the pictures remotely (since I could get the music back).  That would only cost me $3.45/month. 

Just like I do with my three other computers.  Just like I tell my clients to do.  I'm also going to set it to back up to one of my $60, 640gb external hard drives, since an hour is shorter than DAYS, should I ever need to restore them.

I will do as I say, not as I did.

And if, on reading this post, you have an uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach, you should, too!