Keeping multiple PC’s in sync

I’m a computer guy.

In the beginning, life was simple. You had one computer – you kept your files on it. If you backed up, you did so to a floppy disk.

Today, I have a few computers, and I use them for different things, but I need my data on all of them. If they were all desktops, Life would be easy – keep all the files on one, then share it out to the rest. Add a laptop and things get messy.

What I want is to have a local copy of all my files, and have those automagically copied to and from the server whenever changes take place.

For that, I’m using SuperFlexible File Synchronizer.  I’ve tried over a half dozen apps on the Mac for Sync and this one is by far the best. It’s also available in a Windows version, which is awesome, because one of my computers is a windows computer -that solves the problem of what to do there, and SF is available as a bundle that includes both versions.

What makes SuperFlexible better than the others? Control & Options. Superflexible lives up to it’s name. Do you need scheduled sync – no problem. Exclude .DS_Store? Got it. Need to sign into a Windows server before you run the backup? Done. I could go on and on – it seems to EVERYTHING. Here’s a few more things it can do – it can encrypt and zip each file so you can backup to internet based storage like Amazon S3 or Google without worrying about your data being exposed. It can detect when files move so they aren’t simply re-synced. It can add version numbers to your files when it copies them over.  The interface is well refined too. When you run a sync, you can do so in the foreground or background – background is kind of like Autopilot, where foreground gives you a bunch of information – what files are going to copy, in what direction etc…  Here’s an area that set this one apart – you can right click on any file before it’s synced, and tell it what direction to sync, to ignore it, to delete it from one but not the other etc..

I also found it rewarding that during testing, I wiped out the target folder, and on the next run, SF came up and asked if the folder should be re-created. (other tools have given an error in this scenario)

My setup is as follows:
I have a folder I keep all my stuff in. I keep a copy of that folder on my Mac Laptop, and another copy on my home server. On the Mac, I have a Sync job setup with SuperFlexible File Synchronizer that keeps things in both places up to date.  This way, when I’m on my laptop, I’m always working with a local copy of my data. If I take the laptop on a trip, that data comes with me. When I get home, it copies it to the Server.

SuperFlexible File Synchronizer also has some other good qualities and I hope to use it for online backup soon as well. It supports backing up to Amazon S3, and Google storage support is in Beta as of this writing. It also supports FTP & Webdav folders (such as apple’s iDisk). And as mentioned above, it supports zipping and encrypting files which makes me far more comfortable using online storage as a backup target.

Epson GT-S50 Scanner thoughts

I recently picked up an Epson GT-S50 Scanner for a project I am working on for a client.

My Client’s office is using Windows, and at home I have a combination of windows and Mac.

I’ve read tons of great reviews on the Fujitsu ScanSnap scanners (like the S1500), but you have to buy a mac or windows version of those, and they only work with the built in software.  There were some issues when Mac OSX 10.6 Snow Leopard came out, and the scanners lost a lot of functionality for a few months while Fujitsu readied new software.

The big draw to the Fujitsu is how good the software is that comes with it. It does a bunch of things for you – and may people say it “just works”.

After reading a review on the Epson GT-S50 online, I knew the software wasn’t as polished, but wondered how far off it would be..

Impressions:

I connected the GT-S50 to my Macbook Pro and installed all the latest drivers.

The epson has a nice 2 line display that tells you what’s going on, and on Windows you can see what preset you have selected, along with the description.  On the mac, the description is gone, you see Job 01, Job 02 etc…

One button scanning is HORRIBLE. Awful, the worst.  It takes FOREVER to even get the thing started. In fact, I thought I’d time one and it’s been 2 minutes and the software still hasn’t scanned (the panel says Scanning and the software launched on the mac so it’s doing something.) When I hover over the ‘Progress’ Window, I get the beachball of death.

Ok 3 minutes in and I’ll ‘force Quit’, but the scanner still thinks it’s scanning.

Click the red button on the scanner, – power light stops flashing, display still says Scanning.

I thought I’d scan once manually with the Epson scan software, but when I launch that, it shows the icon in the doc, but no menu.

I tried launching Apple Image Capture, but the scanner doesn’t show up so it’s now time to power cycle the scanner.

At this point I’m thinking the scanner sucks, but in reality, the software they have for ‘one touch’ sucks.

The reason you’d buy an Epson over the Fujitsu is because it has a twain driver, and the Fujitsu does not. This means you can use other software with the scanner.

So now I’m out to find out if any of the other software is any good.

I have adobe Acrobat Pro 9.3 installed, and it can scan using the twain driver.

Acrobat does a great job with the scanner, it’s just a little slow. The whole process is slow, but…
If you use Acrobat to scan, you’re pretty much done when you’re done. Since Acrobat Pro does the OCR, the deskew, the page rotation, the auto page sizing & the image compression there’s no need to go into another program to clean it up. In fact ,after you scan, your document is sitting in acrobat, waiting for you to save it – So you don’t even have to go find it and rename it. When you’re done, you’re done…

Still I wondered if I was missing out on the scansnap  – There’s so many good reviews of that thing.

I thought about it for a bit, but decided that the twain interface was something I really liked the flexibility of having.

And the Epson scanner seems better built (11 lbs vs the 6lb fujitsu)

And I’d read more than once about the fujitsu misfeeding issues.

So at this point I feel the Epson has the best hardware, but not the best software.

Enter Image Capture.

The macs come with a program called image capture.

I opened it, and my scanner was there, so I used that – It was fast!

it doesn’t do everything that acrobat does, but if you need to whip up a quick letter sized pdf, it does the trick – quickly!

This has me on a hunt for more apps that support the image capture interface.

So far I’ve had little luck.

I tried 2 or 3 apps that support image capture and in all cases the scan comes up as a gray box.

So I’m not sure what’s up, but somethings up.

I’m also not sure if the image capture driver came from epson or apple.

I need to hook it up to a second mac, one that hasn’t had the epson drivers installed, to see where the drivers are coming from, and then hopefully I can point to either apple or epson and get the problem fixed.

(for all I know the image capture driver might be using the twian driver and not displaying the dialog)’