Hosting for just $3.88/month! Find out MORE!

Take and Keep your Notes with KeepNote

Over the years I had tried many note taking and organizing tools but somehow there were always something that stopped me from continuing using them. Online tools were too slow and can’t be used offline. Most have proprietary format that are not portable. Corrupt the file and it was bye-bye notes (Okay, I should have backup).

All that changed after I found KeepNote. Having used it for more than 2 year, I quite happy to report that I’m still using it. In fact, I am so happy to come out of hiatus to post an article about it.

Why am I so happy about it?

Continue reading ‘Take and Keep your Notes with KeepNote’

Trying out Portable Application collections

The main advantage of portable applications is that it lets you runs application without having to install them to the PC. By just copying them into the thumbdrive, you have carry the usb drive and run it on any computer.

This makes trying out new applications very easy and simple without leaving trails of registry rubbish and leftover files and folders.

I had been using PortableApps for a few years now. Although the quality is high and regularly updated, the collection of applications available is sufficient but not wide.

Recently I started to try out CodySafe which hasa collection of administrator tools that I find pretty useful. Look under Download, Portable Suites, Admin Pack.

This actually got me interested in also testing out other collections to see if there is anything interesting, especially for use in a small business setting.

Will be updating anything interesting here… stay tuned.

Revisiting the Search for a Backup Solution

Backup had a been one of those concern that is well known but yet not well addressed. Since musing about the process of brainstorming for a backup strategy, I have yet to find a solution that I felt was easy and simple for a non-technical small business owner to setup and use.

As mentioned before, since I’m now using Ubuntu, my focus would be tools that should runs on Linux. But keeping in mind that many non-technical users are on Windows and I also uses MacOSX, the perfect backup solution is indeed one that runs on the 3 major platforms – Linux, Mac and Windows.

As with most solution search these day, the first stop is to visit the seach engine and generate a few alternatives as the starting point.

With the increasing popularity of using the “cloud”, the other alternative is to backup to one of those online backup services. A few that I had tried come to mind – Mozy, Carbonite, Wuala and here is a list with comparison.

So far none had led me to sustained use.

Now that Google is providing space to upload any file, perhaps someone will soon come up with a way backup files to Google. The price for additional space is pretty attractive too.

Do you have any other recommendation?

List of Cross-Platform Alternatives

My last list of free desktop applications was for Windows only. Since starting to use Mac and Linux, I’m particularly interested in applications that are cross-platform (ie. they work on all  Linux, Mac, Windows platforms).

Here is a collection of those applications I previously used on Windows and the alternatives on Linux and Mac.

Category Using on Windows
Linux Mac
Web browser Firefox Y Y
Instant Messaging Pidgin Y Adium
SFTP/FTP client Filezilla command line
integrated into Nautilus
command line
Text Editing Notepad 2 Vim Vim Vim is also available on Windows
Graphic viewer Irfanview Included Included Still looking for something
more versatile like Irfanview 
Vector graphic Inkscape Y Y
Graphics Gimp Y Y
PDF writer PDF Creator Included Included
CD Writer WinXP builtin Included included
Manage Password KeePass Y Y KeePassX runs on Linux and Mac
Anti-virus ClamWin ClamAV none Using ClamAV to scan files
in portable device in Linux

There are of course more alternatives and other applications, these are some that I use on a regular basis.

Do you have something to recommend? Let me know.

Revisiting Alternative Disk/Partition Cloning Tools

Since I never quite got back on the post on alternative disk/partition cloning tools after a few days, it might be appropriate to at least close it after a year.

I actually did got something out of that exercise but things began to turn really busy after that. In fact using that same tool, I cloned and deployed more than 30 Ubuntu desktop.

So which is it? Clonezilla.

Halfway throght the list, Clonezilla fit the bill so well that it wasn’t necessary to try the other.

So far clonezilla has worked for me on Windows XP and Ubuntu system. It has even worked on virtual machine on VirtualBox.

How does it work?

Continue reading ‘Revisiting Alternative Disk/Partition Cloning Tools’

Moving on to Ubuntu and Rekindle this blog

It had been a long time since I last blogged here. Since this blog started, I had moved from using Windows XP, to Windows Vista, to MacOS X and now to Ubuntu as my desktop operating system.

And finally I can declare that my desktop is completely free (well almost). When the desktop is Linux, one really breaks free from from the ultimate stronghold of commercial software – the operating system.

Ubuntu 8.10 now runs on my notebook (for those interested, a Chinese made Tsinghua Tongfang K431 with AMD Turion 64 X2 Mobile).

I still have my Mac Mini as the desktop so you can say I’m still a current user of MacOSX.

For the  occassion websites that demands IE (yes there are some, like banks that uses ActiveX),  I have a VirtualBox with XP installed and standing by. VirtualBox is an amazing application that I will share more indepth in furture post.

In view of these changes, the focus of Free Biz Ware will be shifted more towards Ubuntu/Linux focus. However, since many non-technical small business users are still using Windows and the fact that I also use Mac, there will be a preference for free or open source softwares that run on all three platform – Linux, Mac, Windows.

At the personal level, I had also move from have quite a bit of time to blog, to no time and back to having a bit of time on hand now. So here I am, rekindling the urge to share more of my adventure in free and open source software with the reader of this blog.

It has been quite an exciting journey and a personal quest to use free and opensource softwares. There are so much more that I had learned but have no time and energy to put down.

So subscribe to this blog or come back soon.

Free and Open Source Programs on the Mac

Last week I officially bacame an Apple user with the Mac Mini. As a new Mac user, I was excited and immediately set about looking for equivalent Windows softwares for Mac.

Here are a list of sites to start looking for Mac softwares:

Some of my regular applications already has a Mac version so it is easy to switch over to the Mac version of Firefox and OpenOffice. That’s was about all that I need to switch over immediately.

The Mac is a very friendly and easy to use platform that most could start using immediately without much problem. Long time Windows user may need a little time to adapt. Some may miss some application that is available on Windows only.

For me, the switch was easy, I found (and am still exploring) alternative to programs I used on Windows. So far my only real problem is that an internet banking web site that I use that required Internet Explorer with ActiveX plugin.

In an old post, I asked “What do you put on a new PC?“, now I guess the similar question is “What do you put on a new Mac?”

Alternative Disk/Partition Cloning Tools

My question today is ‘What are the open source/free alternatives to disk/partition cloning tools like Norton Ghost, Acronis True Image or Paragon Drive Backup.”

The selection has certainly improved and matured since I research this topic more than 2 years ago. Back then a few alternatives (including SystemRescueCD and PartD, Partition Saving) was tested but none gives the comfort that the restore would be fail-proof should the need suddenly appears. The main problem I remembered was NTFS wasn’t well supported at that time. In the end I stuck to Norton Ghost.

Now it is time to return to this topic after installing 2 PCs in 2 days and potentially having to provision 100 more PCs to come.

Let me list the alternatives and I will get back with the result in a few days. In the meantime, if you have any experience, good or bad, with open source/free disk clone utilities, please leave a comment.

  1. UBCD – Ultimate Boot CD for Windows
  2. FOG – Free, Ghost-like Cloning Solution
  3. PING – Partimage is Not Ghost
  4. Linux Rescue Server – this one is interesting from an overall system management point of view.

Wikipedia has a good article to learn more about disk cloning.

Using BlogDesk to blog from your Desk


Excuse the pun in the title. BlogDesk is a desktop blogging tool (also known variously as an offline blog editor, desktop blog editor, etc.)

Instead of going online and using the web interface to write your blog post, BlogDesk allows you to compose your post on your computer (even when offline). LifeHacker compared a few other blogging tools.


More small businesses are now using blog as a as a channel to engage and communicate with customers. If you maintain a blog, BlogDesk and help you in several ways which I will outline in this post.

After using BlogDesk for more than a year, I can heartily recommend it!

Continue reading ‘Using BlogDesk to blog from your Desk’

Still Looking for that Integrated Contact, Calendar and ToDo Tool

One of the tools that has eluded me all these year is a nicely integrated suite of Contact Management, Scheduler/Calendar/Organizer and a ToDolist.

Having tried many tools – from standalone applications to hosted applications, none of them lasted a month. I’m using some tools of course but I’m not settled down with them (like the way I switched to Open Office and never look back).

My requirements are really simple

  • Open Source or Free would be perfect
  • Would also consider hosted application and pay a small fee
  • Integrated, for example
    • a date (like birthday) in the contact list would appear in the calendar and could also be a todo (send birthday card)
    • a schedule like “Meet with XYZ” will link to XYZ contact information
    • similarly a todo like “Call XYZ” will link to XYZ mobile number
  • Able to import and export to some standard formats
  • Must support Chinese character input

So help me. If you know THAT tool, leave a comment.

And if you still have time, read on for a chronicle of tools I had tried.

Continue reading ‘Still Looking for that Integrated Contact, Calendar and ToDo Tool’