Friday, March 07, 2014

Waht I've been up to

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was switching my planner to Google calendar. Well, in the middle of that I realized that should something happen to my organizer (which I have used as my purse/memory chip-in-print for several years) there is a great deal of information that would be totally lost! including login information for sites I only need to go to occasionally, birthdays, business info, etc.

Can we all say EKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!

Dropping my purse overboard on a fairy on vacation, off a cliff, it getting munched on by a friendly cow at a fair, or just plain forgotten somewhere never to be heard from again (not to mention the slight possibility of it being stolen or being burned up in a house fire) are all very really possibilities!

So I decided it was time for me to go electronic, making sure everything was backed up on the cloud.

I am almost finished with this massive switch. I know a few who would like to benefit from my research, so I thought I would share here and send them the link. That way I can benefit you too:-) (Just for your information, no one mentioned here is paying me to say anything good or bad, but maybe they should!:-)

First of all, I have used Dropbox for a couple of years now. Story: a young man would do his college homework every night but constantly forget to take his thumb-drive of work to school with him. So he invented Dropbox.

You download the app to all your internet connected devices. Every time you edit or create a document on one device and save it to your dropbox folder, it updates/saves on the cloud as well as each of your devices. This way your work is always secure and backed up, as well as available anywhere on the planet. And since your account is password secured, you are also safe and private. (I have set Word and Open Office as well as Powerpoint to automatically save to dropbox. This way all my books and articles as well as the kids school work is automatically backed up.)

Dropbox also lets you share files with others. For example, my church has an account and shares a folder with all the workers in the church. This way we all have access to the most up to date version of whatever we are working on at the moment.

The first 2G are free, plus you get extra space for each friend you invite to join  who accepts. If you still need more space (which I do) you can get 100G for just $100 per year.

I have described what I am doing on google calendar here, so I won't go into it more. However a few things have changed since then.

I discovered that my basic phone doesn't hold enough memory for Verizon to function as my addy book. Not too big of a problem, though. I have addy books in my yahoo email, my gmail account, and with my domain names (3 of them), so I'll just research which is the best and go with it, right?

Uhh, no. Turns out there are so many more options out there that do so much more! After hours of comparing reviews I decided to give Plaxo a try. Now this is subject to change (which is actually much easier than it sounds thanks to mass downloading and uploading offered by all these sites), but for now it's what I am using.

At Plaxo, each person is in charge of their own "card." So, for example, if you are one of my listed contacts and you move or change your phone number or your email, you just update your own card in your own Plaxo account and it changes your card in my account. You don't even have to tell me!

If I have enough info on your card in my account, Plaxo puts a link to your location under your name which takes me to that spot on Google maps.

And (if Plaxo and I get our disagreement on whether I have given "permissions" or not) if I link to Facebook, anyone listed in my addy book who is also a friend on FB will have their picture and birthday automatically displayed in my card file.

When I get a phone or tablet that is compatible with the app, I will be able to dial or text straight from Plaxo, too.

Like Dropbox, your account is kept secure on the cloud and synced to each registered device.

And they offer eCards, notifications of birthdays, and a calendar. A good deal of memory is free, but you can pay for more if you want to.

I am also no longer using Google Keep for my notes. Keep is like having a stack of post-it notes in my hand and making random scribbles of information. Uhhh, that doesn't help.

Instead, I am using Evernote.  This is more like having a stack of paper next to my chair that I record information on, clip articles out and glue to, or just brainstorm with, and a file drawer that I can then put each item into all nicely organized and tagged, with the benefit of it being backed up on the cloud and synced to all my devices/computers.

Evernote has a little button you can add to your toolbar in your browser that will let you "clip" pages or URLS. These can be filed very nicely in your "notebooks" for access later.

Also, when you open the app, you can immediately start writing. You don't need a third party program (i.e. Word, Notes) like you do with Dropbox.

So I put my bigger notes from my organizer into Word documents and saved them to Dropbox, but the short little bits of information I just filed away in little notes in Evernote.

I am also trying to form the habit of clipping websites I want to read later to Evernote instead of bookmarking them. This way should something happen to my computer (like my toddler shoving it to the floor again) I still have all my bookmarks. They will also be available anywhere I can get to the internet.

"Free users can make a single note up to 25MB in size and can upload up to 60MBs of new stuff every month. Premium users can make a single note up to 50MB in size and can upload up to 1GB of new stuff every month."

After the above mentioned incident with the toddler and the laptop which required me hunting up all my blogs, bookmarks, and feeds all over again for the fourth time in two years, I decided I HAD to do something to back all that up. If I spend all my time  redoing the same things over and over, I'll never get anything done!

The solution I came up with was My Yahoo. Just go to and there will be a button at the top right to set up MyYahoo. This is a personalized homepage (I have my browser set to open to this spot). It allows me to add tabs and to add RSS feeds to those tabs, as well as save bookmarks.

I have tabs for mommy blogs, farming blogs, news feeds, politics, herbs and religion. When I have the time to read, I go to each tab and look over each blog's feed to see what's new.

I find the bookmarks spot too cumbersome to use for quickey things I don't need to keep forever, but it works great for things I need frequently (links to email accounts, business sites (like my book manufacturer), favorite coupon sites, etc). I sorted those into categories, too, for easy access.

Now if my computer crashes (to the floor with a loud BANG) I haven't lost everything I have been saving. Also, I can access it from any computer with just my Yahoo password.

I discovered about the time I thought I had it all figured out that I also used my organizer as my garden planner! So back to the web...

Now, I have a brown thumb and already spend way too much on the garden each year. It in no way pays for itself. So any paid planner was out. I specifically searched for free ones.

Smart Garden is what I came up with. It allows me to plan my beds, and after finding out how many people were in our home and what we like to eat, it made suggestions for what type of each plant to grow. It even offered to let me order the seeds right from their site (which is where I believe they get their money- the seed companies. No problem. Win-win from my point of view! They get a customer and I get a planner and an easy way to get my seeds.) I enter all my activity in my journal on their site and located my property on Google maps (put my marker in the middle of my peach tree:-), and they send me a to-do list synced to the historical records of frost dates in my area (This week's to do list is "take a nap in your hammock" since its really too cold to plant).

The last thing I am doing is moving my pictures to Photobucket. I did a lot of research and, though techy's and photographers tend to like Flicker and Picasa much better, everyday people choose Photobucket (43% of the market share). This is probably because PB is more focused on keeping your pictures safe than sharing them (though you can do that too, if you want), and it offers the ability to make prints and calendars.

I set an account up with them years ago when I wanted a slideshow for my toolbar on this blog. I even discovered some pictures I don't have in my files when I went back this week! I will be spending some time in the next few weeks making the transition from Drobox to PB which was actually designed for storing and displaying pictures. DB will do it, but it isn't really what it was made for.

This and putting my music in Google Play will free up a little space in my DB account, too; something I need to keep an eye on since we are already using 75% of my paid for memory!(Honestly, I don't listen to much music. I enjoy listening to God's symphony of the wind and rain, the animals chirrpings and squeaks, and my children's laughter much more. But I do have a few albums I enjoy occasionally that are different than what Hubby picks when he is home. His music is saved on iTunes, I believe, as well as having his entire computer backed up to Carbonite.)

I hope this helps someone out there:-) I think once I get used to it, these electronic assistants will actually free up more time for housework and the kids since I won't be spending time rewriting things in my organizer. More time on the computer but way less on organizing and planning in general should equal more time for what's important.

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