Synchronizing Favourites and Bookmarks

28 10 2012

In preparing to move from Windows 7 to Windows 8 and to sort out my bookmarks from a range of systems I looked for the best way to manage these bookmarks. 

Firstly I wanted to export bookmarks from an iPad. The way I did this was to download iCloud Control Panel onto my Windows 7 computer.  Using this and following instructions from the http://www.solveyourtech.com/how-to-export-ipad-safari-bookmarks/ I was able to Sync bookmarks from IE on my PC to Safari on my iPad.

I subsequently used both 1) Google Chrome in conjunction with a google account to sync bookmarks between various installations of Google Chrome – including one on an iPad, and 2) xmarks (www.xmarks.com) to synch between Google Chrome and IE.

I had not previously used xmarks but found it excellent and given that I’m not aware of any standard way to Synch IE favourites from (pre windows 8 version of) Windows computers – xmarks was also able to do this as well.  Another great feature of xmarks is that it keeps a history of favourites – so when you accidentally remove all your favourites it provides backed up versions of them.

Going forward I am likely to have Windows RT and Windows 8 devices.  Windows 8 and RT will sync favourites between the devices using Microsoft’s cloud services.  However, these don’t currently Sync with older version of Windows/Browsers nor other operating systems/browsers.  In addition xmarks does not currently run on Windows 8. Hence going forward I’m likely to want to synch everything first with xmarks, then perhaps also using google sync services, and let Windows 8 and RT use it’s own synch services.  To synch favourites/bookmarks between Windows 8/RT and other systems I may have to use a manual export/import step.   I may also need to use Apple’s iCloud occasionally if I continue to save bookmarks using Safari on an iPad (a habit I am trying to break – with the aim of using Chrome on the iPad in the future).  This is relatively complicated but on the other hand apart from xmarks the other services are pretty much just there anyway. At least in the short term xmarks will prove the glue between the different operating systems and browsers.





KeePass on Android, Ubuntu and Windows

25 01 2011

For sometime now I’ve kept an electronic copy of passwords in a spreadsheet which I occasionally update and print out. It’s quite a reasonable way to go, but with a recently acquired Android phone I wanted to make use of this to hold passwords rather than using little bits of paper. 

I tested a number of version builds and ports of KeePass as the original main KeePass (http://keepass.info/) is a Windows only program.  On Ubuntu I tried KeePassX and on my Android Phone I went with KeePassDroid.  The good things is that all these programs can work with a similar database created by the other versions.  The bad thing is that currently this is really only true for .kdb (1.x) files/versions of KeePass databases and not .kdbx (2.x) files/versions of KeePass databases. This is somewhat limiting and resulted in quite a bit of playing around to get what I wanted to do to work.

The plan was to boot into a disconnected version of Ubuntu which I booted into from a 4GB memory stick on an isolated and disconnected computer.  Complete all the editing while in Ubuntu and then transfer my spreadsheet list of passwords into KeePass and finally transfer an appropriate subset of these passwords onto my mobile phone.

To do this I installed Ubuntu 10.10 onto the memory stick.  By default this installed OpenOffice which I was to use to update my spreadsheet.  This worked well.  However, when it came to importing the spreadsheet into KeePass I found KeePassX extremely limited and could not import comma separated files (CSV). I really gave up on KeePassX after this. I subsequently resorted to using KeePass 2.14 running under Mono.  This later step I also almost gave up with as I am no Linux expert and couldn’t understand how to install and get Mono running. In the end I did get KeePass 2.14 to run under Linux with Mono, but I’m not certain of the correct or best steps.  Nevertheless what appeared to work was first installing monoDevelop under Ubuntu 10.10.  Then I ran monoDevelop and selected Debug Applications from the monoDevelop Run menu and selected the KeePass.exe file from the downloaded KeePass 2.14 version.  It subsequently ran KeePass and this allowed me to import from the CSV file OpenOffice saved to.  Importing from a CSV limits fields which can be imported/exported to KeePass, but apart from these limitations the import worked well.

Once I got the files into a kdbx file I really had to give up on Linux.  In the future if KeePassX fully supports kdbx files I could do everything in Linux, but for now Mono caused a number of limitations with KeePass 2.14 when it came to printing, and when editing the kdbx file that it became impractical to use. 

I transferred my kdbx file created under Ubuntu to a Windows 7 notebook.  Using KeePass 2.14 in Windows I was able to save/export all and parts of my password lists to other formats.  The plan for ongoing use is to maintain the master list of passwords in a kdbx database and export necessary subsets to other locations.  KeePass 2.14 is very flexible with importing and exporting.  As such I exported a group of passwords to a kdb file.  This kdb file was easily/simply transferred to my Android phone through the USB cable connected to the Android phone. 

Finally I was able to open the kdb file and access my passwords using KeePassDroid running on the Android Phone.

In the future when I have a phone or software which fully supports KeePass kdbx files I may copy all passwords into the one database and carry them on the phone with me.  This is really what KeePass can easily be used for.  However, I am a little cautious with this because there are still some security risks with this and the more one attempts to mitigate these risks (ie long master password) the more tedious using this technology becomes. 

Anyway for now I’ll continue to try this technology and maintain my master password list in a kdbx database rather than a spreadsheet.  KeePass 2.14 prints out useful tabular summaries (with passwords) which I’ll also use in some instances as it better suits my purposes of access.





Windows 7 with Windows Media Player 12 connecting across network to a Samsung BD-C5500 Blu-ray Disk Player using DLNA / AllShare

26 09 2010

I successfully setup my new Samsung BD-C5500 to communicate with my Windows 7 PC.  This Samsung player not only plays Blu-ray disks but also has a network port, which allows it to connect to a wired network.  The Samsung Player supports AllShare, which is Samsung’s implementation of DLNA.  Most of Samsung’s documentation describes the use of AllShare in conjunction with  Samsung’s own server software ”PC Share Manager” on a PC to get sharing to work.  However, I really didn’t want to add additional software to my computer given Windows Media Player is DLNA compliant and should do the job.  Hence without installing any Samsung software on my PC I was able to share music, photos and video from my PC using Windows Media Player 12.  At this point in time I have not tested it extensively but by sharing media using media player I can access it using the BD-C5500 across the network.  I have successfully shared jpg images, MP3s and a number of video formats (i.e. MP4 and WMV).  The sharing of some AVI files didn’t work, but this is likely due to an unsupported codec within the AVI container.

I was also interested in seeing whether DLNA might be a useful technology in a school setting for purposes like streaming video or digital signage.  The current arrangement for almost all digital signage options I’ve seen, to date, involve a PC or the like in addition to a LCD/Plasma screen.  If it’s possible to do away with the PC and stream directly to the screen running some form of DLNA then this would be really cool.  However, from my brief amount of research and what I’ve seen of DLNA it appears to be a domestic type of technology and doesn’t allow for a number of controls I’d be looking for in a school or similar environment.  For example there doesn’t appear to be the capacity to turn a device on or off remotely or have security to ensure appropriate use.  Although the BD-C5500 doesn’t appear to allow for content to be pushed to it, some instances of DLNA when embedded into the TV can likely support this and this would be one of the functions which might be useful in a school setting. But without some of the other functions and controls mentioned, as lacking, I’m not sure how DLNA could be used for purposes like digital signage.  However, this is something worthy of further investigation.





Tiling

15 07 2010

Over the recent school holiday break I completed a job tiling our laundry and adjoined toilet.  I placed a description of what I did here: https://warrensutton.wordpress.com/science-of-building/tiling/.





Installing Windows Vista and 7 Ultimate on a Gigabyte GA-P35-DS4 motherboard with RAID enabled

25 04 2010

Generally speaking installing Windows Vista and Windows 7 are fairly straightforward.  The biggest issue I have had installing on this particular hardware is getting the install process to correctly deal with the hardware RAID solution. 

In this system I  have two 300GB hard drives which I have configured to be partially mirrored and partially striped.  On the most recent install I created a 200GB mirrored partition where I installed the OS and a 200GB striped partition for some data.

These instruction refer largely to my most recent attempt of installing Windows 7 Ultimate, although I had similar issues when installing Windows Vista Ultimate over 12 months ago.

Get into the BIOS

During boot up hold Del to enter the BIOS.  The main thing needed to be completed in BIOS is to set the SATA RAID/AHCI mode to RAID.  This is pretty much it, although I had tried a number of things on this and previous install attempts and will note some of them here in case they were/are significant.  During the Vista install I reset the BIOS to safe and then made changes, also when installing Windows 7 I broke the RAID in BIOS and then reformed it .  That was pretty much it, although I did modify the boot order so that the CD would be read first.

After exiting the BIOS

Need to get into the RAID configuration after performing the BIOS step.  This is done by holding “CTRL I” at the correct stage during boot.  This BIOS based utility is  self explanatory and it was simple to create/modify the RAID partitions as described previously.

Booting from the Windows 7 Ultimate DVD

To have this work it appears it was necessary to make sure the USB flash drive which is to be used is not inserted at the beginning of the install stage.  Hence without a USB flash drive inserted boot from the OS installation DVD. 

Follow the OS install instructions as per normal until you need to select the disk location for installation.  At this stage it appears that you need to load a driver for the install to recognise the HDD RAID array.  Basically you choose to load drivers and can browse a flash USB with the drivers on it, if inserted at this stage.  The drivers which I managed to get Windows to recognise were downloaded from Intel and as far as I understand were meant for their own motherboards. Gigabyte had some drivers but I couldn’t get them to work when installing Windows 7 – but this was due to the fact that I actually confused myself which motherboard I had in this system at the time of the Windows 7  install.  Anyway the Intel drivers worked, but waht is critical at this stage is that the USB drive be extracted before you select next once the drivers for the RAID have been installed.  I received a “setup was unable to create a new system partition or located an existing system partition”  on my first attempt and it appeared to be resolved by following the steps re inserting and removing the USB drive.  This appears to be related to Windows confusing which drive is to be the system partition and attempting to install the OS on the inserted USB.   There are a few posts on the Internet about this issue and I can’t really add anything other than to say the USB should only be inserted for the fewest number of steps possible to have the driver installed – if left it will likely give the error indicated.

After this point the installation is as per normal foe Windows 7.





Getting my first podcast working

20 02 2010

Well this has been quite a challenge completing my first podcast – which I’ll link to in a subsequent post. There’s a lot of things to learn in producing your first podcast. Amongst other things I have learnt the basics of using Audacity and have created some basic album art to include in my podcast.  I’ve then spent quite a bit of time comparing sites where I might host my podcast and there doesn’t appear to be a single best choice.  I can see that Andrew Douch, who has created a successful biology podcast uses podomatic http://www.podomatic.com.  Hence that would no doubt be a good choice.  However there are quite a number of other services out there but unfortunately I haven’t been able to find many independent reviews comparing podcast hosting services.  Therefore without trying them all it’s a bit difficult to know which might be the best.

At this stage I am probably narrowing the field down to:

  1.  http://www.podomatic.com
  2. http://www.podbean.com/
  3. http://www.podcastmachine.com/

I guess I’ll pick one and see how it goes.