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.


Entries in Digital Lifestyle (30)


Windows 8 is coming!



Just a placeholder, a forecast, a prediction, a hope. Windows 8 is coming. Most people have heard that in one way or another or seen a picture, or something.

Windows 8, if done correctly, can change everything. We’ve worked with clients to give them access to much of their Windows “stuff” on smartphones and tablets in some way shape or form. It’s not straightforward, no matter what Microsoft, Apple, Egnyte, or anyone else says. Imagine if your smartphone or tablet actually ran Windows, and ran it well - if your stuff were just there, in largely the same way in largely the same place across your phone, tablet, laptop and desktop.

That would really be something. And Windows is really the only platform that could do it, given current market share numbers.

But we’re not talking about Windows as we all know it. We’re talking about the same Windows files and data and applications, but running in an entirely different way, on an entirely different OS.

We’ve been looking at Windows 8’s beta release for a couple of months and like all betas it’s not finished yet, but if Microsoft can pull this off, it has the potential to make using a phone, tablet, laptop and desktop a much more seamless experience than has been possible, or could be possible, with any other platform, ever. With the futures of Microsoft, Intel, AMD, Dell, Lenovo, HP, Nokia, the cellular carriers, and a thousand other companies that nobody’s ever heard of all tied up together in this, there certainly is potential for a circular firing squad. If, however, they can focus and really bring this off, it’ll be the most significant platform upgrade since Windows itself. And yes, I do know about MacOS. And yes, I’m guessing Apple has a few tricks up its sleeve too – MacOS 11 anyone? iOS 6? Maybe some convergence? A unified MacOS and iOS would be significant, since Apple still has a majority share of the tablet market, and a significant share of the smartphone market. But this would pale in comparison to what Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 have the potential to do, if done correctly.

The convergence of phone, tablet, laptop and desktop. Not to mention radio, television, and movies, is happening. Microsoft and Apple still control the computer market with 92% and 4% respectively (that’s 96% total; the rest is Linux and “other”), and while Android tops the smartphone market, and will probably continue to do so, Gartner and IDC have predicted that Windows Phone will be #2 within 3 years. And Windows 8 comes out this year, maybe along with Windows Phone 8, which will in some large part be based on Windows 8.

This all started just a couple of years ago, remember, and 2012 may not be the year that the earth changes rotation and we all go flying off into space, but Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and maybe MacOS 11 and some sort of MacOS/iOS convergence, could be the earth-shattering occurrences the Mayans predicted!

This should be fun.

Just in time for Christmas!



Every now and then I come across something that just works well and is very cool. Such a thing is the new feature of Dropbox wherein its Android app automatically uploads pictures. No longer do we lowly Windows / Android users have to feel jealous of the image in the Apple ads that shows someone taking a picture on an iPhone and having that picture show up on a computer and a tablet.

And we don’t have to deal with iCloud.

And we don’t have to pay for it either! Dropbox for basic use (and that’s all it’s really suited for, given recent security lapses) is free.

There is a tool called DropSync which I’ve not yet investigated, but which may offer expanded function beyond this specific cool feature which is included in Dropbox.

Not only does this make pictures taken on an Android device almost immediately available on one’s computer, it also serves as a functional backup for pictures captured on the phone.

N.B. There are some considerations:

1. This tool uploads all of your pictures into one big folder, called Camera Uploads. It does not distinguish between or among various folders on a single device or multiple devices. Everything ends up in one folder. If the goal is to eventually take the pictures from the camera and file them away like one does with a “regular” digital camera, this is fine.

2. To accomplish #1, above, this tool *renames* all of your photos to a standard which I happen to like: yyyy-mm-dd hh.mm.ss. It’s about as close to the ISO standard for date and time (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_8601) as one can come in an operating system that doesn’t allow the colon “:” character in a file name (what were those ISO people thinking?), which is good. It’s a naming standard that allows for varying sources to contribute to a common folder with unique file names, as long as you’re not taking pictures with two different devices at the exact same second.

3. It’ll use your bandwidth, if that matters to you. By default it uploads pictures and videos.

4. There may be other aspects of this (what happens if I delete a picture in one place or the other, or start moving pictures out of the Camera Uploads folder into my nicely organized pictures folders?) which I haven’t probed thoroughly, but which may affect you as a user. Beware!

Given the other file syncing and access mechanisms available to Interconnected Technologies’ clients, this is one use for Dropbox that really shines, and is a reason to use it!


Twitterfeed testing

Always looking for ways to make people (myself included) more productive, I'm trying out Twitterfeed.com - a mechanism to automatically post my entries here at Interconnect Now to the Interconnect Now Twitter and Facebook pages.

Let's see how it works!


Online disks and how to use them

Interconnected Technologies’ clients enjoy the power of the types of I/T infrastructure employed in large companies, but without the suffocating overhead and lack of custom fit required to provide such an infrastructure to the employees of a large company. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the realm that is referred to as “a file server” or “group file sharing” or, more recently, “files in the cloud”.

For the past 5 years Interconnected Technologies’ clients have employed the services of a company called Jungle Disk for several purposes, among them file repository and sharing (“virtual file server” or “online disk”). These services have strengthened and been refined over the years to provide small companies, individuals and teams with a cost effective, powerful way to share files without the process and architecture changes required of services like Google Docs or Windows Skydrive. Jungledisk is also far more secure than either of these two mechanisms (or indeed any of its competitors), with all files encrypted in flight and at rest, and with that encryption under user control.

From a user point of view, once set up, these services appear as one or more “disks” in either Windows or MacOS. In Windows, these disks have a drive letter (Z:, for example) and a name (“MyCompany”, for example). In MacOS, they appear as named drives (“MyCompany”, for example).

Using these disks is almost as simple as using any other disk in or attached to a given computer. With the Windows version, the disks show up under Computer (or My Computer, in Windows XP). In MacOS, they show up as named drives on the desktop or in the Finder, depending on how the user configures them.

These disks appear to be local disks on the computer, but in fact anything placed on them is actually being placed on an online disk accessible to others in the organization to whom similar, secure access has been given. This makes these disks an excellent way to share files for a whole organization, a team, or just an individual with multiple computers. Users can create shortcuts to the disks themselves, or to subfolders or files on the disks, just like they do with a local drive.

The combination of price, function and security makes Jungle Disk an unbeatable product for a wide range of Interconnected Technologies clients. It’s a bit complex to set up for the novice, but that’s where Interconnected Technologies comes in – we’ve done it so many times, it’s a snap to do! Once it’s set up, it’s very simple to use, and gives small business clients the power of big business infrastructure without the big business overhead.


Egnyte File Server - 5 types of access

Egnyte’s online file server is a winner for many clients. It epitomizes the type of powerful but simple service that InterConnected Technologies believes allow small businesses to maintain a simple, manageable I/T environment without the burden of “big business” overhead.

Egnyte offers users 4 ways to access files, which I’ll describe here.

Access Type

Description / Use



Power user – Personal Local Cloud This method mirrors to the local hard drive some or all of the files to which the user has permissions, and keeps them in sync: files changed on the file server are mirrored to the local disk, and changes to files on the local disk are mirrored to the server.

  1. Fast, local access to files.
  2. Access to files when the computer is not online.
  1. Files accessible if computer is lost or stolen.
  2. Increased likelihood of parallel changes to a single file.
Power user – Network Drive This method creates a network drive that operates in a manner similar to a typical drive on a network server.
  1. Users can manipulate files in largely the same way they manipulate files on the local computer.
  2. Files are not on the local disk in case of loss or theft of the machine.
  1. Access to files only when the computer is online.
  2. Performance inferior to accessing local files.
  3. User may be prompted for file access credentials.
Power user – Manually Mapped Network Drive This method is largely similar to the Network Drive option.
  1. Similar to those of Network Drive.
  2. Specific Windows drive letter can be chosen and adjusted.
  1. Similar to those of Network Drive.
  2. Awkward implementation of file access controls.
Power / Standard user – Web Access This method uses a well-designed web-based interface to provide upload/download access to files.
  1. Simple access to files from any internet-connected computer.
  2. Plentiful Standard User accounts are provided at each plan level to allow more limited team members to participate.
  1. No ability to open/change/save files direction – files must be downloaded for editing and then uploaded manually afterward.
File / Folder sharing link Power or Standard users can be allowed to create and send links to files and folders via email.
  1. Allows users to send links to files too large to email.
  1. Could expose sensitive files to inappropriate access if not used properly.