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Monday, September 22, 2008

DropBox vs Live Mesh

As I am writing this I found another service that does some of the same things as DropBox and Live Mesh so I guess I will be revisiting this topic again in a later date.

Currently with Microsoft's Live Mesh there is some real power here. With this software even though it is in what is called a Technology Preview you can' do many things. The more powerful of these features is the ability to remote any computer that is activity connected to your live mesh account. If you forgot something or needed to access a file that you didn't put is a live mesh folder. The ability to remote a computer so far is only available on the Windows OS. The Mac version has been posted to be coming soon. As for a Linux version of this feature I feel it will never be an option. The Windows mobile version of this software allow you to at lease gain access to files you are currently syncing with the Live Mesh system.

When it comes to syncing folders you can easily sync your files between the Windows XP and Vista systems. Once you have the Live Mesh client software installed on your computer all you have to do to get your files synced is right click on a folder, and select Add folder to your Live Mesh. This brings up options that allow you to say which computers you would like to sync your files with. You also have a webpage that you can log into and access your files from there. For testing I added my iTunes folder, and my Visual Studio Projects folder to the Live Mesh. Now anytime I update a programming project I am working on or any time I download a new iTunes song a copy of the changes I have made automatically get pushed to my other computers I have in the Mesh. This makes it even simpler when I am testing a program on several systems that are in my Live Mesh. I also put my Virtual Computers into the Live Mesh. This gives me the ability to have my files updated as soon as I start them. No need to constantly copy or open a security hole into my file system of the Base OS just copy a file I want to work on.

This product will be more and more functional as other Operating Systems are added to the mix. Microsoft is a big company and sometimes it is hard to change direction of this big ship. This is a small step to give up control of the file system to allow the files to live somewhere else and not on a Windows only environment.

Enter the new kid in town, DropBox. I started using this service about a month ago. They were in an Invite only beta testing only setup at the time. Today they are open to the public and anyone can setup an account with them. You are allowed 2GB of space on their server to store files that are Synced between your computers. This program works with Windows, Mac, Ubuntu Linux, and Fedora Linux. This software with its limitation of 2GB for all of your files, also gives you the ability to share your folders with other users of the service.

I quickly setup my system to work with my Ubuntu, Vista, and Windows XP system. I got Dan to setup the service on his Mac computer. We started sharing a folder and enter the fun. We noticed that if both of you have the file open, at least if one is on a Linux system and the other a Mac OS, you can both edit the same file, but only the last person to save the file will have their changes synced between the computers in your DropBox. The website with DropBox allows you to recover old changes to your files, and deleted file, if you make a mistake. I have not tested that part.

Install for but systems was really quick and painless. If you have lots of computers, or just two you want to sync files between this is a wonderful option. There is no remote control of a computer that is turned on like in Live Mesh, but DropBox wasn't designed for that in mind.

If requested I will add some screen shots to show what happens between the computers, but when a file is changed, added, or deleted a little popup appears near the DropBox icon in your status trays. This give you a little heads up of you are working with someone and they change a file. You can see instantly that you now have the most up-to-date file.

Monday, September 08, 2008

New Dell E6400 Review

Dell Latitude E6400

This is the first total redesign of the D series of laptops that Dell has done in about 5 years. New docking stations that can now support dual monitors out with DVI or Display port is just one of the new added features that the docking stations have introduced. The new system now has eSATA, Display Port, 1394, SD Card reader, and Contactless smart card readers. When configuring the system you now have the option to pick if you want the old PCMCIA card slot or the new Express Card.

They updated the keyboard with another option that you can add backlighting to the keyboard. This makes the keyboard easy to see in very low light. The LCD has an ambient light sensor to automatically adjust the backlighting of the monitor. Another option that is available is a web cam in the monitor. This will make it easy for the user to use video chat programs, and anything that allows you the use of a web cam.

The inverted motherboard really helps keep the temperature of the bottom of the laptop cooler than previous version of the D series of laptops from Dell. I did however find that if you sit a glass of water on the left side of the laptop and make the processor work hard, it will warm up the glass of what rather quickly. The bottom of the laptop didn’t get as hot as my Latitude D830 at rest even when working the new E6400 at max speeds.
With the 9 Cell battery I have been averaging about 7 ½ hours of run time. This is not really a normal use, but with lots of installing of software, and testing different power options. I think if you would use it at a normal pace like typing and surfing the internet you may get 8 – 9 hours of battery life on this model.

This model also has the option for a fingerprint reader, which was purchased on this model, for future security setups down the road. The E-Module can store a second battery and you can also get a battery slice for this model, when can extend your battery life to 12 hours. The standard CD-RW/DVD drive was what I picked for this purchase, there is a DVD+-RW drive option, and I am hoping a blu-ray option will come along later.
Once the system was open we found that there where a total of three mini-Express PCI card locations for the system. One is taken up by the WiFi, card. The second and third, have options for Cell phone internet connections, and other wireless networking technologies. Bluetooth is still an USB type connection that is plugged into the motherboard.

The new touchpad now has the sideways scrolling and standard scrolling displaying on the touchpad. Also a standard volume up, down, and mute buttons at the top of the keyboard.
With this being the new Centrino 2 design with a 2.8Ghz processor, I ran it on GeekBench. The system performs at 3000+ on the GeekBench test, and compared to my XPS420 Core 2 Quad which is 4000+ and my D820 Intel Core Duo 2.16Ghz which is 2000+ I think this is a very nice upgrade for people replacing a laptop that is three or more years old, and a desktop that is four or more years old.

4GB of ram installed on the system helps it fly with opening programs and handling anything I could throw at it in the short time I had to test it. Windows Vista Ultimate works as a perfect match for this, Vista Business will fly as well, and just you don’t get the added security of file encryption that is missing from Vista Business.
Also I would say that the nVidia graphics card option is a must for this system. This gives you the extra graphics power you need to run two monitors without affecting the performance of the system.

I will add links to GeekBench and pictures of the laptop in the coming days, and after the recording of our podcast College Friends in the Wild Episode 27, which can be found at www.cfitw.com.