Monthly Archives: November 2013

Mailbox app (iOS)

I was cleaning up my Dropbox account today, and in the process stumbled upon a new app called “Mailbox.” It’s done by Dropbox, via an acquisition of a small app developer. I signed up initially to get 1GB of free storage added to my Dropbox quota, but I’m actually quite intrigued by the app. You may why another email app (and my friend and colleague Paul Jones says “why email” but that’s a different story) but I am really intrigued with the simple way this app works and helps to quickly dispose of a great deal of email. It’s not a regular email client. It doesn’t provide you access to all your Gmail folders/tags (and currently only part of the “all mail” archive). It only works with iOS and Gmail at this time. It’s focused on helping to manage specific interactions with mail with a goal of clearing out your inbox and focusing on what needs attention. Its gestures are intuitive and highly effective. It combines a function I’ve used before with different tools (email ticklers, using Nudgemail) but does it more intuitively and in a more flexible and integrated fashion. Yes, you “give up more privacy” by allowing their servers to pre-process your mail (they claim it’s unreadable there, caveat emptor). However, if I wanted my email to be private, I’d a) encrypt it and b) not put it in email anyway 😉 .

If you are an iOS and Gmail user (and want an extra gig in your Dropbox) check it out. It might work for you…

Poking my Raspberry Pi again

It’s been a while since I did much but periodically check my Raspberry Pi to see if it was still working. However, I recently updated all its software and decided to try a few more things. I’ve more or less decided that I’ll just stick with my forte, software, rather than try to solder stuff and leverage the GPIO pins. I appreciate the ability to interface to the physical world, but soldering is not in my wheelhouse 😉 . I’ve read recently about using the RPi to act as one’s internet presence rather than using a hosting company. That way you have complete control over your server. The RPi takes so little power and has no moving parts that letting it sit and run is not the same as turning your old clunker PC into a Linux box for the same purposes. I loaded up WordPress on top of the LAMP stack and was pleased with the ability to easily set up a blog. It’ll likely never see the light of day, but I could, if I wanted, port the contents of this blog back to the RPi pretty easily and open up the webserver/blog to the world. It’s mostly a MySQL database restore…

Fun stuff! I’m looking forward to brushing up on my tech skills soon when I have a bit more time to play with this stuff…

The era of the consumer touch-screen Chromebook is upon us

In December (which is very soon!), per Engadget, you’ll be able to get a touchscreen Chromebook for $299! I’m disappointed that it doesn’t have 4GB of RAM, but that’s a concession, I’m sure, to keep the price under $300. I’ve not seen much definitive telemetry yet on memory upgrades on the C720 series Chromebooks (I added 4GB to my C710-2833 earlier in the fall). Traffic on the Chromebook Central site implies that the memory is not upgradeable on the C720’s but the Acer website for the C720’s says that there are 2GB and 4GB models, and that the 2GB models have a max of 4GB. Check back on Chromebook Central to see what the hive mind says about upgrading memory on the C720’s. I assume if you can upgrade a C720, that a C720P can be, but that may not hold true.

The bottom line though, is that it’s exciting to see touch coming to such an inexpensive laptop!

VueScan – getting an old scanner to work on Mavericks

I had an old Canon USB scanner sitting in my home office and had wondered how to get it working with my iMac running Mavericks. I also have an ancient parallel port Canon scanner and an elderly Fujitsu ScanSnap on an old WinXP Gateway PC. Whenever I wanted to scan something, I had to fire up the old XP box. There had to be a better way! I googled around a bit, and stumbled across VueScan. I downloaded the code (in demo mode, it puts a watermark on the output, but you can use all the features) and was amazed that it very efficiently drove the old Canon. At $40 for a basic license (cross platform, PC, Mac, Linux, and up to 4 systems), it was more than I was hoping to pay, but it got me a scanner with a lot of software functionality for less than buying new hardware. Plus, it appeals to my “green” side, trying to keep old electronics functional without sending them to the landfill. I knew I’d kept that old scanner around for a reason. I’m just beginning to play with the functionality of the software, it’s very full-featured. If you find yourself trying to bring an old scanner to life, or if you are just unsatisfied with the software that came with your scanner, check out VueScan.