Replacements for dropbox?

Dropbox...

I’m seeing some serious replacements for Dropbox hitting the market

They all seem to have there advantages and disadvantages. Anyone used one or the other?

Ultimately I’d like to use something which is peer 2 peer, encrypted, opensource and secure. It would have clients for Android, Linux and other platforms. Webdav would be nice if you can do encryption baked in.

I like what dropbox does but I can live without the central operation. I do also like the fact dropbox is being used as a storage add on, but I’m sure this can be done using standard protocols. OAuth+Public key encryption surely can solve this problem easily enough? I’m also thinking this might also allow sharing and access control properties of folders and files within reason.

Fitbit One just started working?

Fitbit tracking

I don’t understand what happened but my Fitbit One just started working. As you may remember, I running Ubuntu and the client doesn’t work on Linux (tried libfitbit), so I had hoped the Android app would be my way of syncing data to their website. However syncing was in beta on Android and seems to only work on newer Samsung devices I gather.

It must be one of the following, because my data was update on Friday 4:16pm

  1. The Bluetooth beta syncing is working on my Samsung Tab 7 plus. Even though forcing it to sync never works and its only got Bluetooth 3.0 not 4.0. I do have background sync turned on and the option to sync now is actually there, even if it fails everytime.
  2. The Fitbit sync app works on my HTC One X (which does have bluetooth 4.0), even thought there is no options for syncing the device like on my Samsung Tab 7 plus. However bluetooth is usually on for my headphones and its never failed (mainly because theres no actual button to force sync)
  3. The Fitbit sync’ed via someone elses device on Friday afternoon while at the Future Everything summit.

Option 2 looks like it will happen but not quite yet. HTC’s bluetooth stack is quite different from Samsungs and I guess its the downside of a diverse ecosystem. Option 1 is likely but its strange that when ever I try and force a sync, it just fails. I also have not seen an update to the app for at least a week now and I don’t know how compatible Bluetooth 3.0 is with 4.0?

As crazy as it seems, option 3 is looking likely because the timing looks about right and its never sync’ed before or after then. However does the Fitbit work that way, why only now? And isn’t there major privacy issues with this? (I am aware the fitbit sends its data in the clear over bluetooth already, keep meaning to fire up wireshark to see exactly how and what). Not having to use your own machine does have a lot of advantages. I can sync with a machine which isn’t mine or even a public machine. The password in the clear is a problem but like all my passwords, there just made up nonsense in keepass, so it won’t be used anywhere else. However I must relook at Libfitbit because must be pretty simple for it to work with the Fitbit One?

On the plus side, the Fitbit seemed to keep all the data from the moment I first ever switched it on. I did ask about how much it stored and most people said about 1-2 weeks at a time. But it seems 2 months is more correct.

I should be happy and I am but I’d really like to update it regularly…

Even more complicated Calendaring setup

Calendar setup as of November 2006

Hey and you thought my last calendar setup was crazy enough. Think again, welcome to the world where 2 mobile devices, 3 computers and 3 services isn't that hard to imagine. Well welcome to my insane syncing setup for calendars, contacts and tasks. No wonder it gets so messed up without too much effort. I've also included the SVG from Inkscape if you want a better quality version.

So starting from the mobile phone (SPV M600) its got a few things on it now. I'm using the Funambol Sync plugin with Schedule world but I can't seem to get it working all the time. So I've also stuck WebIS Mobilesync on there too which I have a 30 day trial of. This sync's directly with Plaxo which does away with my problems with Activesync not syncing. I say not syncing but actually it does sync with my computer at home nicely but not my computer at work. I would also sync with my laptop but someone at Microsoft decided that syncing with 2 machines would be all anyone would need. So now on to my other mobile phone (Nokia N80). Its my work phone but I still want it to fit in the sync system otherwise theres little point in having it. So Nokia has its own communication suite which actually isn't that bad. Its bulky yes and a hog on memory but consistently works unlike Activesync. So at the moment the suite is installed on my desktop machines at work and home but I only sync at work (only got one sync cable right now, and simply can't be bothered to take it out everyday). At some point I will start syncing on both machines. I've attempted to use the build in SyncML client to talk to schedule world too but failed so far.

So the biggest addition to my sync setup is ScheduleWorld. Its basically a Funambol server with lots of custom code to keep it working and running as a service. Ideally it could be thought of as the more open source version of Plaxo as it supports everything Plaxo does and even more. It supports contacts, notes and calendaring. Its web calendar is not as nice as google calendar but is reasonable. It also has a Google Calendar Sync link built in and supports SyncML. So I would like to one day replace Plaxo with Schedule World but its still quite some time off. For example the SyncML client on Windows Mobile 5 uses Visual Basic and so requires another download to work correctly. This is a pain because Windows Mobile 5 is pretty much all written with the compact .Net framework. Yes this is not schedule worlds fault and some would say Microsoft should build SyncML into its Mobile Operating system. And I would agree but its a pain none the less. Another flaky thing is the Outlook plugins. They seem to crash a lot, so its not reliable for everyday use. This is why Plaxo is still number one for daily syncing. Once you get stuff into Schedule world its easy to get things back out again. It also makes available everything using the SyncML API and I think it supports ATOM too. Plaxo does have an API but its no where near as open as Schedule World. So yeah Plaxo do hold your data hostage from yourself.

So going forward I would switch to using Schedule world or something similar if the plugins for outlook were more stable. I would even settle for no Activesync if the Windows Mobile 5 plugin was better developed. I'm also holding out some kind of hope that I will get the SyncML client working with the Nokia. I don't think I've spent nearly enough time looking into that issue.

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Syncing podcasts and videos between machines

synctoy folder pairs

Slowly I've been adopting the use of FireANT for my podcasts and vlogs (video blogs?) downloads. I'm still mainly using Azereus with the RSS plugin for its TV RSS method which has saved me a lot of time and effort downloading TV shows and the like. It was very good today, finding Lost ep5 seeding without any human interaction on my behalf.

Anyhow, I have FireANT running on both my laptop and main workstation. They both use the same OPML file from Bloglines which means they both download the same media! This is not ideal and bandwidth killing as you can imagine, specially when you get some of the larger Channel9 videos downloading. So I was looking around and found Microsoft's synctoy.

Now although this Sync toy isnt as powerful as Rsync on the unix platforms its actually quite neat and has all the modes needed for full syncing.

  • Synchronize: New and updated files are copied both ways. Renames and deletes on either side are repeated on the other.
  • Echo: New and updated files are copied left to right. Renames and deletes on the left are repeated on the right.
  • Subscribe: Updated files on the right are copied to the left if the file name already exists on the left.
  • Contribute: New and updated files are copied left to right. Renames on the left are repeated on the right. No deletions.
  • Combine: New and updated files are copied both ways. Nothing happens to renamed and deleted files

You can also Schedule it using the standards Windows Scheduler, Preview a sync, use UNC paths, sync deep folders (perfect for backup) and tell it to move files to the recycle bin instead of deleting them.

So with all this in mind, I've setup Fireant to download and for Synctoy to sync across to my laptop before it downloads on my laptop. This seems to work, because the stupid file names are at least unique across all Fireants. I've been trying to convince the people behind Fireant that the human readable podcast download names are unique enough to do the same thing, but its still a on going debate. If the human readable filenames were in place, I could then sync files to my storage card, pocketpc, mobile phone and laptop without human interaction. Using filetype filtering in synctoy, its possible to sync audio files to the phone while videos files go to the pocketpc. Hey and if Fireant used human readable filenames and Synctoy regular expressions the limits would be endless.

fireant and synctoy working together

So in summary,

Microsoft's Synctoy should be renamed Synctool and should add regular expressions to the filetype filering. I'm also hoping syncing to the PocketPC's storage card will be a option soon and there certainly should be a option to divert sync if the removeable storage card is not in place.

Fireant can keep its sync option but should give people the option to automaticly save as human readable filenames.

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