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)


How to back up, wipe and recover a Palm Pre, when you want to!


The Palm Pre is a magnificent device.

Sure, it's got things that any one reviewer could pick at, but all in all, and especially when one considers that it's a brand new piece of hardware (in June 09) and a brand new operating system (in June 09), it's a spectacular achievement!

Just as the PalmOS/Treo/Centro devices had their method (hotsync, with some Activesync later) for sync/backup, so does the Pre, but it's different. The Pre is designed to be a "cloud device." That is, just as PalmOS devices were designed to hotsync, the Pre is designed to sync with the cloud, not with any given computer. This is more like the traditional BlackBerry method. Very similar in fact, except that the Pre doesn't have an analog to the BlackBerry Desktop Manager, which was RIM's (not very good) tool to sync a BlackBerry with a given computer.

Now, NOT being tied down to any given computer is a great thing, and the Pre allows users to do this by syncing with Google (for free) or Exchange (for fee, usually), over the air, in real time.

HOWEVER, there is stuff on the Pre that isn't backed up anywhere, and so if you lose the Pre or it gets stolen or destroyed, you will lose some stuff if you don't take steps. The good news is that these steps are pretty easy to take. It should be pointed out that the iPhone, the Droid, and the BlackBerry all "suffer" from this situation - it's not unique to the Pre.

So, here's one man's approach, for the Pre. This is highly tailored for MY Pre, but the methods generalize to any Pre and probably, really any similar device.


Since my email, contact, calendar and task information live in Exchange, I don't have to worry about backing that up. The Pre is just a subset of that, and the vital stuff is preserved regardless of the status of the Pre.

For Memos/Notes, I use Evernote, and the worry about backup is similarly not present.

Were I using Google (Apps or Gmail), I'd have to worry about tasks, since they don't sync between the Pre (or anything) and Google, yet, but I'm not so I don't. If I were, I don't know how I'd handle that. Perhaps some Google user could fill that in. Maybe I'd use Remember the Milk, or one of those web-based todo apps. I think there's even a Pre app that interfaces with one of them. With Exchange, I don't have to worry about this.

The normal Palm Profile function appears to back up and restore purchased apps.

For the "irreplaceable" stuff, l I use my favorite backup tool, Second Copy (www.secondcopy.com<http://www.secondcopy.com>) to do two different types of backups:

1... Occasionally I back up the AmazonMP3, ClassicApps and DCIM folders from the Pre to a folder on my laptop. That captures purchased music, my Handyshopper database, and pictures I've taken, respectively. This is the rest of the irreplaceable information on the Pre about which I care.

2... Less occasionally (rarely, but certainly before wiping and starting over, such as when I received the replacement Pre, or last night when I just wanted to start fresh since I'd patched and then updated the Pre (don't try this at home; it's a big nono; not something a "regular" user would do; not something one can do without a lot of work!; and not a good idea ), resulting in some odd behavior, I have another backup profile in Second Copy that backs up everything but music (since the music is just sync'd from Windows Media Player in the first place, no need to back it up) to a folder on my laptop.

With the above, I feel pretty OK about things. I don't know how to preserve and restore text messages, but I don't really care.So, I have a pretty streamlined, efficient way of managing backup/recovery that I've only had to use by choice. Of course, if I lost my Pre or if it were stolen, that would be an instance of using it NOT by choice, and I'd hope I'd done a fairly recent backup of the type in #1, above, to preserve the irreplaceable stuff. The vital stuff (email, calendar, contacts, tasks) is kept in sync in real time over the air all the time.


OK, so it's time to start fresh for the new year. I've applied Palm maintenance twice now recently, both times forgetting to remove patches before doing so! The result is that I now have a whole TON of apps that will not run, only offering the choice to update, but they will not update, either, failing each time. A delicious Catch 22 out of which I've not been able to get! I did this to myself; no fault of Palm or WebOS.

These are the apps I use:

(the ones that say "not restored" next to them were not restored from my Palm Profile after the reset; these are HomeBrew apps, and Palm makes no claim to backing THOSE up!)

* Accuweather

* Amazon Deals

* AutoCorrectEdit (not restored)

* BADD Flashlight (not restored)

* Bestbuy

* BlocknRoll (not restored)

* Bubble Level

* Bubbles! (free)

* Checkers

* Classic

* CoinFlip

* DevMode Launcher (not restored)

* Evernote

* Express Horoscopes

* Express Stocks

* Facebook

* fileCoaster (not restored)

* findMyCar (not restored)

* FlightView

* FMLshake (not restored)

* Free Books

* gDial Pro

* Get Starbucks (not restored)

* Glad That's Not Me Trial (not restored)

* GoodFood

* iWorld Atlas (not restored)

* Keyring (not restored)

* Launchpoint

* Mobile by Citysearch

* Music Wish List

* My Notification (not restored)

* myIP (not restored)

* Net2Streams Beta (not restored)

* Nodoze (not restored)

* OpenTable

* Package Manager Service (not restored)

* Pandora

* PDF View

* PhotoDialer

* photoWALL

* PreChess (not restored)

* PreJeweled (not restored)

* PrePod (not restored)

* PreVino (not restored)

* Preware (not restored)

* RadioTime

* Scientific Calculator

* Screamit (not restored)

* Send My Location

* Shopping Manager (not restored)

* Slipslide (not restored)

* Solitaire (not restored)

* Stopwatch / Timer (not restored)

* Sudoku

* Tic Tac Toe for WebOS

* Tic Tac Toe Free

* Topple Ball Mini

* Topple Maze (not restored)

* Tweed

* Unit Wizard (not restored)


* White light (not restored)

* Word Clock

* Yule Log (not restored)

OK, I don't actually USE all of those, but I have them! The ones that don't get restored automatically will present me with an opportunity to decide whether I really want them.

Time to wipe the Pre - FULL RESET! I've never done this before; should be interesting.

Not before backing it up, of course, though! One quick full backup, as described, above.

Backup, Reset, and a fresh, new Pre! Enter the Palm Profile info and it starts restoring.

. . . a few minutes pass . . .

OK, well this is fun! Now, only two apps are failing in the way so many were before: Flightview and Sudoku. Deleted both of them. I'll put Flightview back on later (handy little app). I don't really play Sudoku.

Ah, and as expected, the program for which I use Classic (Handyshopper) is gone, as is its data. Need to restore Handyshopper and data (which, of course, were backed up). Copy the .prc file and the .pdb file to the Classic Install folder, and I'm done!

Now, I need to re-learn how to install Preware so I can mess things up again! :) It's not entirely clearly documented, even now, but it starts here: http://www.webos-internals.org/wiki/Application:Preware, which will eventually get you here:

I have all the prereqs already in place (not for the faint of heart!), and remembered to put the Pre in developer mode.

OK, Preware installed.

Now, to put back in my patches:

Palm really should implement these, so I don't need the patches:

* 4x4 icons v3

* Brightness in Device Menu

* Call Duration in Call Log

* Enable landscape email

* Improved filename format

* Repeat Reminder Notifies

* Reset to first page

* Timestamp - builtin


This one's fun, but I worry about wearing out the flash by using it. Still, fun to show off, especially since my daughter's Droid has this: Flashlight in Device Menu.


Patches all added.


OK, I'm not done yet. My pictures, wallpaper, documents (all backed up, yes) need to be put back. With the Pre in USB mode again, I just copy my pictures and documents back onto the Pre. Finally, every time I start over from scratch (3 times now: replacement #1, replacement #2 and last night because I wanted to) I have to reassign pictures to contacts (they get remembered and restored, but only in the smaller versions kept by Exchange, since Exchange keeps small thumbnails of contact pictures for its use), which takes maybe 10 minutes, and recreate LaunchPoint shortcuts to my most frequent callers (which takes all of 3 minutes).

That's it!

It's not as simple as Hotsync, or even the (pretty poorly made) BlackBerry desktop manager, and I'm sure Palm will provide something, or someone will, that automates all of this, but it's not really all that tough - even simpler if you don't have Classic or Presync apps and can skip those parts!


Zagg invisibleSHIELD 

Over the years I've used these amazing products to protect all sorts of mobile devices. They really are very impressive! If you don't know about them, look:


For my Palm Pre I tried twice to put them on correctly, and gave up. I'd ended up with bubbles and with them not fitting correctly and with parts not sticking well. I also tried other, lesser shields, and found them utterly devoid of value (i.e., they sucked).


Eureka! My daughter was at the mall and found that Zagg has now franchised kiosks (they call them Mall Carts) in malls where enterprising young people who put these things on all day long are there to, well, put these things on all day long! She had them put one on the screen of her new Droid, and they did an excellent job.

Today, I visited the kios . . . I mean Mall Cart and the enterprising young gentleman put an invisibleSHIELD on my Pre. It's perfect! They have tricks, you see, to get it to come out right. I know the tricks now, but I still would be MORE than willing to pay them the $5 service charge to have them do it. They have a 7-day guarantee - if it's not right, they'll do it again! Also, they have a new device guarantee. If I have to return my Pre for a replacement, they'll put an invisibleSHIELD on the new one for just the $5 service charge, waiving the (in the case of the Pre) $15 cost of the product itself.

Why don't they make the screens and backs out of this stuff? Maybe that's next!


New technologies to watch

Just a quickie.  Two interesting technologies that bear watching:


www.contxts.com.  Try it.  Text "daf" to 50500 and see what happens!

http://www.getsatisfaction.com/.  Keeping an eye on online help/community software.  Zendesk is another (www.zendesk.com). 


More later!


How-to: Managing digital pictures

I've gotten sufficient requests for this that I thought it time to write it down!  The topic:  how to manage pictures taken with a digital camera.

There are three primary alternatives:

  1. Use the software/cable that (probably) came with the camera.
  2. Use one of the many photo library programs (like Picasa).
  3. Do it yourself.

You will not be surprised that I choose option 3.  I'm not a control freak . . . OK, yes I am, especially when it comes to computers!

Here's why NOT 1 and 2: 

  1. Using the software that comes with the camera is usually easy, and somewhat automatic.  The drawbacks that rule this out for me are:  a) the way the camera manufacturer's software does it might not be the way the user wants to do it, and, more importantly b) it locks you in to one camera manufacturer's software, or, worse, forces you to change programs every time you change cameras!
  2. They don't address the whole process, and so aren't a complete solution.  I use Picasa, for instance, for some of its functions, but it can't do it all!

So, here's how:

You need:  a digital camera (http://www.amazon.com/Canon-SD1200IS-Stabilized-Dark-Gray/dp/B001SER492/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=photo&qid=1259781842&sr=1-1) with removable memory cards and a way to access that removable memory card on your computer (http://www.amazon.com/Sandisk-MicroMate-Memory-Reader-Package/dp/B000QDZMOU/ref=pd_cp_e_3).  This will usually take the form of a camera that uses an SD card, and a computer with an SD card reader. 

This is what you do:

  1. Take some pictures!
  2. Take the card out of the camera and put it "into" the computer in whatever way you have worked out to do this.  The card will appear as a disk to the computer.
  3. Open the folder that shows the pictures that are on the card.  Position that window so that it take up the left half of the computer screen.
  4. Open up your My Pictures (Windows XP) or Pictures (Windows Vista) or whatever folder you have designated to hold your pictures.  We'll call it the Pictures folder.

    A slight digression: In that folder, where you keep your pictures, create two folders:  "Digital Camera Pictures" and "Photo Album".  Continuing along:

  5. Open the Digital Camera Pictures folder.  Position that window so that it takes up the right half of the computer screen.
  6. Look at your pictures on the left.  You will probably see several groups of pictures, associated with different days or events or both.  You will see logical groupings of pictures.  Pick the first one.  That group of pictures will have a primary date associated with it.   The representation of that date we'll use is yyyy-mm-dd, so June 12, 2009 will be 2009-06-12.  Let's use an example of pictures taken on that date and of a birthday party for Little Johnny.
  7. On the right, create a new folder with the date you intuited in the previous step.  In our example:  2009-06-12 - Little Johnny's 12th birthday party.
  8. Now, select, using whatever way you know (there are three) all of the pictures of Little Johnny's birthday party, and move them from the left window to the right one.
  9. Repeat this process until there are no remaining groups of pictures on the left that you haven't processed.

Now, you have all of your pictures off of the memory card (which is now ready for more action!), and in folders named with the date (which will sort in chronological order) and a short title (which will allow people to see what's in the folder).  Inside these dated, named folders, you have pictures with clever names like DSC_007.jpg.  You can go into each folder and name each picture if you want.  You can also delete some of the pictures if you want (blurry ones, duplicates, etc.). 

You will spot the good pictures, and for some small percentage of the pictures you will want to do something:  modify them, email them, print them, and so on. 

Here's how to handle that:

Close the left window (the one for the camera's memory card, which is now empty).  Move the Digital Camera Pictures folder over to the left of the screen.  Open another copy of the Pictures folder, and open the folder called Photo Album inside it.  Position the Photo Album folder on the right of the screen.  

Now, for each picture with which you want to "do something":

  1. Using whatever method you like (there are two), copy the picture from the left (dated, named) folder to the right (Photo Album) one.  In the Photo Album folder, rename the picture to whatever you like.  Continuing our example, rename "DSC_007.jpg" to be "Johnny blowing out his birthday candles on his 12th birthday.jpg"
  2. Using whatever photo manipulation software you like (there are MANY, but only two real choices for regular folks: whatever came with your computer's operating system, and http://tryit.adobe.com/us/photoshopelements/?sdid=EPZXF), update the picture as you like:  crop it, adjust the color, remove red-eye, and so on. 
  3. Do whatever you intended to do with the picture:  print it, email it, or just keep it in the Photo Album folder as "the one" picture you really liked from the dozens or hundreds you took!
  4. Keep the original DSC_007.jpg in the original folder, along with DSC_006 and DSC_008 and so on, since you may want to go back to the original source picture at some point. 

There, you have set up an organization that will help you know where pictures are, you have moved pictures off of your digital camera's card, and you know what to do with those special pictures that are a cut above!

Now, if you have your Pictures folder set to back up, automatically, off site (as you do, if you are an InterConnected Technologies client), you're all set!




Quick, efficient meeting scheduling

A minor holy grail:  the ability to quickly come to a group consensus about when to hold a meeting.  Yes, if everyone has Exchange or everyone uses Google Calendar you can accomplish something like this.  And, there are many, many tools like www.meetingwizard.com that faciliate this, but most of these tools are quite cumbersome to use, requiring that the user pre-enter the names and email addresses of the rest of the group being scheduled. 

Enter www.doodle.com.  Now, I have no idea the pedigree, longevity, etc. associated with this tool/site, but from a usability point of view, it's top notch!  To create a "survey" as they call it, you click on the days on a calendar grid to select the choices, enter the possible choices of times on those days (in a remarkably free-form way), and you're done.  You receive an email with a link to the survey.  You can forward that email to anyone you want, but presumably to the people with whom you want to meet, but ANYONE who receives the email can chime in on their availability, making it possible for one of the attendees to themselves ask someone to join the meeting.

OH!  And as people enter their availability, you, as the instigator of the meeting, get status updates with links back to a very visual grid showing, and tabulating, everyone's availability.

I'm just trying it out, but so far it's a very simple, very powerful, VERY efficient tool to accomplish the dreaded "when should we meet?"

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