Laptops and Desktops and Treos OH MY!

I do a fair bit of travelling and to help pass time in airports as well as to have something to work on when I get where I’m going I have accumulated some portable gadgetry:

  • Dell 700m (12.1″ widescreen laptop)
  • Treo 700w
  • Creative Zen Vision:M – which has nothing to do with this post at all it’s just very cool

I often get asked how I synch email in 3 places and documents in 2 places all at once since I clearly don’t work on a 12.1″ laptop as my primary machine. I have a desktop system with dual monitors and an ergo keyboard and yadda yadda yadda. Working on that small laptop is managable for only a few days at a time and even then it’s not ideal but it’s small and sexy and travels well. So in an effort to simplify my life and orginize my data I have tried several methods from by hand to a variety of synchronization tools and backup programs and I’ve finally hit on a very slick and easy to manage combination. Email Solution: Hosted Exchange by www.4smartphone.net Hosting your own MS Exchange is not really a cost effective solution not is it that easy to set up (well – at least not for a guy like me) it is better to look at najlepszy hosting options. Then there is the cost and maintenance of running it and making sure it’s up when you’re on the road and all that crap. I don’t have the time or inclination to do that so I’m more than happy to shell out $6.99 a month to have all my email in one place and let someone else make sure it’s there for me when I need it. The hosted exchange system is very easy to set up. First off if you don’t have Outlook 2003 don’t worry – you get a copy with your subscription and it’s included in the price. That alone makes it worth the money. Ok – so you’re signed up – what next? Well you fill out the forms and then download an Outlook pst config file and double click it and Outlook is automagically set up for you. Next you connect to the Exchange server and drag and drop all your email from the old folders to the new Exchange folders – this may take awhile. Once that’s done you grab your laptop and run the config file again and then restart Outlook. Outlook will connect to the Exchange server and download all your email. Voila – you are now synched between your laptop and desktop. Got a Pocket PC? No sweat – they have instructions for that. Got multiple email addresses you mange? Yep – they have a solution for that as well. Don’t have your own computer handy? You guessed it – webmail access. I used to move giant pst files back and forth by hand and even tried a few syncing programs but nothing works as slick as a hosted exchange account. I’ll never go back. File and Document Solution: FolderShare by www.foldershare.com FolderShare is a great Windows app that does exactly what is says. It allows you to share folders between computer. I use it to synch My Documents but you could easily use it to share a project folder within a work team or share picture folders with other family members and friends. It’s free and easy to set up. It used to cost about $100 for a professional level account back when they were still a startup but Microsoft stepped in a bought them out and made the service free. Thanks Microsoft (now get off your asses and throw a party at a Search conference!). So how does it work? Simple – download it on to each computer you want connected and select from a preset list of folders to share such as My Docs, Favorites etc or drill down to specific folders and select those. Make sure that folder path exists on both devices and connect. The program will scan your files and synchronize them. As usual the first time takes the longest. After that files synch in near real time as long as all devices are connected. Also, if you’re somewhere and you can’t get online but maybe your client’s desktop is online . You can login to your FolderShare account and access all your shared folders on the the machine back in your office that is still online. Very nice indeed. 24/7 access to your files with or without your own laptop. Before you naysayers get involved – it’s password protected and encrypted and FolderShare does not store an actual copy of your files. My days of watching a status bar creep across the screen before and after every trip are over. When I leave the office I grab my laptop and roll along with some addons from http://www.kukook.com. When I get home I simple site down and login back in to my desktop and there’s my files and email waiting. I havne’t given a second thought to synching my documents or email in weeks. One final note – this actually works as a pretty slick backup system as well. My laptop and desktop are rarely in the same place so even if my office burns down I sitll have everything on my laptop. If my laptop gets stolen or lost I still have everything on my desktop. Thanks to my buddy Jason over at Pocket PC Thoughts for pointing me at these resouces and hounding and HOUNDING and HOUNDING me to set up hosted exchange. (actually he signed me up for the trial program and then held a gun to my Vision:M and made me do it – well, that’s sorta true) also you can find out more at lowhosting.

Comments

  1. Brian Mark says:

    I hadn’t seen hosted exchange, but it looks simple enough.

    I personally just use IMAP, which allows many of the similar “Sharing” techniques without any subscriptions. Not only that, but since it only downloads headers when a folder is viewed, it’s very quick when traveling… or am I the only guy that ends up with the really bad network connections at hotels… nah, I can’t be the only one.

  2. Thom Craver says:

    >Thanks Microsoft (now get off your asses and throw a party at a Search conference!).

    Well, they did. Granted, it wasn’t recently, but at SES: NY, 2005 they threw the Wed. night party that scored above and beyond Yahoo’s 10th birthday bash.

    I managed to down a 6-pack of Corona and countless appetizers – which included lamb, caviar and many others.

    And to top it all, it was in a club down in Chelsea that apparently is normally an S&M bar. It was two-floors; both levels had outdoor patios. There were private cabanas that closed completely for privacy. I remember one particular table near the upstairs bar that was a slightly-clad-in-leather female mannequin that was on all fours with a plate of glass on top. (the geeks were using it for their laptops – no kidding).

    Yes, the memories…

  3. oilman says:

    True – they did throw a party – an invite only exclusive function that militantly turned people away at the door. They have dinners or small parties at most events but they have yet to step and and really do it right. ASK, Yahoo and Google all wipe the floor with them when it comes to supporting the industry.

    I have several friends at MSN and they know my opinion and some agree and some don’t. Last I heard it’s a hot topic of internal debate in Redmond.

    Hey MSN – Chicago SES is coming fast and there’s usually a lack of really good parties. Step up :)

Leave a Reply to oilman Cancel reply

*