Today I had to give quick support to a colleague working from home in order to resolve a networking issue. This was the perfect situation to evaluate CrossLoop, a free remote-assistance tool similar to NetViewer (but, as mentioned, free).
The experience was nice, it just worked “out of the box”, after installing and sending me the access key, the connection was established despite our firewalls in between. It is easy enough I would trust almost all customers to get it working. I’ll have to evaluate how the software behaves if you don’t have administrative privileges on your system.
Crossloop is based upon TightVNC and as a consequence you get the typical feeling of a VNC session, which is not as fluent as NetViewer, Remote Desktop, or similar, but it was more than enough to work on the issue at hand.
So if you are searching for a low-cost (i.e. free) alternative for quick support of family members, co-workers, or even customers, you should give CrossLoop a try. CrossLoop currently is only available for Windows, but Linux and Mac versions are planned.
By the way, CrossLoop just got a 3-Million-$ Series A investment, so hopefully this service will continue to exist for some time.
[tags]vnc, crossloop, remote access, software[/tags]
Amazon announced that they are going to offer S3 storage service inside Europe.
This for sure will provide a great boost in speed for my JungleDisk backup. I am now checking out what I have to do to get my data moved to the European data centers. I suppose I have to re-upload everything because you have to specify for each bucket if it is located in the USA or in Europe. JungleDisk at the moment does not provide support for this. I opened a topic regarding asking if they’ll support this in the near future (article1, article2).
It’s also interesting to notice that storing data in Europe is more expensive. It costs $0.18/GB/month as compared to $0.15 in the US. Bandwidth at the moment do not differ based on location. So I’d only switch if the upload/download speed is significantly higher than to/from the USA.
After using JungleDisk for my backup for about 12 days now (see also my previous article ), I can give you a short overview of my current costs:
As you can see, I currently owe Amazon 1.04 US-$, which can be extrapolated to around 2.60 US-$ per month. I have backed up 3.3GB of data so far, plus several hundred MB of archived data I deleted from my HDD afterwards. My daily change volume is below 3MB (well, I was surprised for myself!).
I am looking forward to seeing how this is going to develop once I use it for major archiving purposes. Still, what I can say right now, is, that the costs are extremely reasonable. Up to now, I am still very determined to purchasing jungle disk once my 30-day evaluation period is over.
Git‘s nice Subversion (SVN) integration is one of the reasons I switched to using it within our company for my own revision control besides our official repository. Unfortunately, upgrading cygwin broke my system once again:
$ git svn dcommit
6 [main] perl 4760 C:\cygwin\bin\perl.exe: *** fatal error - unable to remap C:\cygwin\lib\perl5\site_perl\5.8\cygwin\auto\SVN\_Core\_ Core.dll to same address as parent(0x260000) != 0x990000 84 [main] perl 3224 fork: child 4760 - died waiting for dll loading, errno 11 panic: MUTEX_LOCK (45) [util.c:2331] at /usr/bin/git-svn line 787. panic: MUTEX_LOCK (45) [op.c:352].
The reason behind this behavior is a huge difference in the way processes and threads and libraries are created/handled on Windows and Linux.
git-svn relies on perl within cygwin and several perl libraries that use the same base-address for libraries internally. Of course, no two libraries can be loaded to the same base-address at the same time.
Long explanation, short way to fix the problem:
- Quit all cygwin processes
- Start ash (<cygroot>\bin\ash.exe) (<edit>Use “Run as Administrator…”</edit>)
- Execute /usr/bin/rebaseall
Voilla, that’s all. git-svn should work again.
I am currently evaluating BlogDesk, a Windows-only software for offline blog editing, supporting a wide range of different blogging systems, including WordPress (the system this blog is running on).
The main reason, why I am trying to switch from using the integrated online-editor of WordPress to a dedicated software, is speed and offline availablity. Lately I tend to work offline again, because I got a nice little notebook which is able to run on battery for quite some time. I now tend to use the time I’ve got for instance when riding a train. And I want to be able to use this time and publish some posts. BlogDesk online editor is very speedy, it is more responsive than using the online editor. One also tends to concentrate more on the content and less on the layout, because there is no preview possibility.
Additionally, BlogDesk encourages using images in your blog posts, because it makes it easy to incorparte them. It warns you if your images are going to be too big and it provides some ncie effects like the drop shadow used in the screenshot above. Images can be inserted from an URL, a file or the clipboard. They will be uploaded when publishing your article.
Unfortunately, BlogDesk does not support tags in WordPress 2.3+ yet. But I am sure they will come.
BlogDesk is free, but the source code is not available. As mentioned, it is Windows only, but it works very well. I’d recommend you to give it a try it if you are using Windows and are contributing to a blog.
Recently I featured Mozy, a tool for automated online backup on Windows and Mac. I finally got round to using a different solution: JungleDisk, a WebDAV frontend for Amazon Simple Storage Services (S3).
What I really like about the software and the company is that they don’t claim that their data will be safe forever at their location. They confess it is possible for a company to vanish. In order to prevent you from being locked out they have outsourced the storage to Amazon, which provides cheap storage on a “pay what you need” basis.
JungleDisk provides encryption of the documents using AES and only you can decrypt them. To be on the safe side you’ll always be able to retrieve your data, they have released parts of the code covering filename-mangling and encryption under GPL.
JungleDisk is available for Windows, Linux and Mac. As said, they provide a WebDAV frontend so any WebDAV client can interact with it. It also features a local cache to prevent needing to download a file on every access. There is also an automated backup routine.
Costs are reasonably. At the time of writing, JungleDisk costs 20 US-$ once, with promised life-long updates and patches. All you need to pay for is Amazon fees for your usage, which are at 0.15$/GB/month, 0.10$/GB inbound traffic, and 0.18$/GB outbound traffic. You see, you can store lots of data for around 10$ per month.
One big minus-side of this is that Amazon’s data-centers are very slow from Europe, I was able to achieve around 700-800kbit/s (90-100kB/s) from our office connection. On the pro-side, due to the caching and background transfer, you don’t notice that the transfers are so slow, unless you need to download something. As I am using it for automated backup, I hope to never have to download anything.
So if you are searching for an offsite backup solution, you should definitely consider JungleDisk.
How could I miss this so long? Google Browser Sync keeps Firefox‘ bookmarks, sessions, cookies, tabs and even passwords (if you really want to) in sync. As I constantly switch between multiple computers, this is really a nice thing to have. You need to have a Google account, but as I already use Google Reader and Calendar, I already have one. In order to hide your data from Google (as if this mattered due the amount they are already collecting about us) you can protect the information by a password (PIN).
I’m currently trying it out and up to now I am very pleased with it. One more reason to stick with Firefox 🙂
A quick side note: during a research for collaborative tools I came around two promising-looking tools: Gobby and CoWord.
Gobby is a dedicated editor for allowing multiple users to edit a set of text-documents (like source-code, etc.) simultaniously. Everyone sees what the others are doing in the current document.
CoWord promises the same but uses Microsoft Word as underlaying editor. This basically means a group of users can edit a document simultaniously.
Up to now I have not had time to try any of these tools, but I am planing to do so soon. Of course there are lots more tools for collaborative editing. A very comprehensive list of collaborative editors is available on Wikpedia.
I just discovered Mozy (via TechChrunch), a service for automating the backup process by automatically storing all your data encrypted on their server for backup purposes. It is a Windows software that automates the backup process and provides secure online storage. According to the specification you can either use their encryption key or provide your own public key for the encryption.
Mozy comes in two flavors, a version for home-users which they call MozyHome (4.95$/month for unlimited storage) and a service for businesses, called MozyPro, which bills 3.95$ per computer, but also 0.50$/GB per month. I think the service would definitely be interesting but the storage costs seem to high for me. There is also “MozyHome Free” which provides you with free 2GB of backup storage. Maybe the recent purchase by EMC Corporation will change the pricing list (honestly, I don’t think so…)?
The idea of storing my confident data or even corporate data on remote servers not under my control is a little bit frightening, but in case you are able to believe they have not built a master-key in the software, it might be a nice option for offsite backups which definitely everybody should use. Maybe one should give the “MozyHome Free” a test-drive… Too bad there is no Linux version available.
If I can convince myself to try out the “MozyHome Free” I will write another report here.
If you disable the automatic installer detection of User Account Control (UAC), for instance because it interferes with your every-day operations (like in my “Git and Windows Vista” article), you will notice that the Mozilla updaters don’t work as expected. Automatic updates will fail. This is due to the fact that the updater will not be automatically elevated any longer.
As the easiest workaround, you should perform the following steps:
- Once you get notified about the update and you are asked if you want to install it, say “No”.
- Close the Mozilla application in question.
- Search for the application in your “Start” menu.
- Right-click the entry and choose “Run as Administrator…”
- Choose “Check for Updates…” in the “Help” menu
- Confirm you want to install the update and walk through the update process.
The installation will now work. For security reasons you should close the application once installation is finished, because it will still be running with elevated privileges. Now start the application again normally.
The same principle works for any application that is not Vista-aware and fails on automatic update. For security reasons make sure you keep the time you run with elevated privileges as short as possible.