Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Windows Live Live Mesh

Having just recently posted an article on online file sychronization services Dropbox and OpenDrive and mentioned similar services SpiderOak and Syncplicity, the one most eagerly awaited has arrived - Windows Live Live Mesh.

Live Mesh
Part of the excellent Windows Live service, Live Mesh allows you to synchronize files and folders across different machines, share those folders or collaborate with others on them and even access remote machines directly. As part of the service you get 5Gb of online storage for free and that is presented to you as your Live Mesh Desktop, which is accessible from any web browser. As for the synchronization part, Microsoft currently only have client software for Windows XP and Vista but they are working on clients for Mac OS X and Windows Mobile. Currently, if you have a Windows Mobile device, or any phone that supports file system access, then you can upload files to your Live Mesh storage over the web via

Live Mesh is a bit more configurable than the others in that you can choose which files and folders are synchronized with which device so you can be a bit more choosy as to who gets access to what files. Like the others you can allow other people to access and even modify the contents of a Live Mesh folder so you can publish or collaborate with ease. You're also not tied down to a single folder from which to sync or share things out from. All you do is right-click on any file or folder and select the Add to Live Mesh option to get started.

An added bonus is the capability of connecting to any other remote machine on your Live Mesh network. However, at the moment this requires ActiveX so can only be done from a Windows PC running Internet Explorer and, since you can only currently attach Windows systems to the network, you can only connect to PCs as well. This was a nice feature in FolderShare but the Mac client for that was/is very unstable and I never really had much luck with it. Maybe now it's been sucked into Windows Live we'll see some development on that or maybe Live Mesh will take over from it with a stable Mac client. Here's hoping...

PS That 5Gb of space doesn't seem to be a part of the 5Gb you get Windows Live SkyDrive so enjoy the extra free storage, courtesy of Microsoft.

Related Posts: Dropbox and OpenDrive - Online File Synchronization Services, FolderShare Updated

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dropbox and OpenDrive - Online File Synchronization Services

A couple of online file synchronization services have just popped up into my field of vision. One, called Dropbox, is in private beta at the moment and I've only just managed to get an invite after months of waiting and the other is called OpenDrive, which is in public beta.


Once you sign up to Dropbox, you can download the client software for both Mac OS X and Windows. This application run fairly unobtrusively in the system tray on Windows and on the menu bar on the Mac and it creates a folder on the user account space where you can drop files and folders you want to share with other systems or access online.

Obviously the keyword here is synchronization so when you make a change to any of these files, it gets synchronized across all of the systems registered with your account as soon as they connect to the Internet. You can also upload files from your web browser so your space is accessible and updatable from anywhere you happen to be.

Added to all this is the ability to share a folder with others and even invite them to collaborate with you so they can edit your files as well. When a file gets updated, you'll get a little notification about it too so you can keep up to date with what's in your Dropbox folder contents. The system also keeps a track of when files were updated, deleted or moved so you can keep track of revisions and history if need be and, if necessary, revert to an earlier revision.

The beta accounts are getting up to 2Gbs of free storage and the developers are looking to implement paid-for extra storage plans once the system goes live.


OpenDrive is is similar in that, once you sign up, you get to download the client software. Windows only though at the moment though but a Mac OS X version and even a mobile device version is in the pipeline.

OpenDrive works by installing a drive image under the My Computer area of your PC and any file or folder you drop in there, edit, delete or move gets synchronized with your online account. It all happens automatically and you don't need to schedule an update. Like Dropbox, synchronization works both ways so any changes are reflected on all systems attached to the same Opendrive account.

Files and folders in your OpenDrive can be made public, private or even hidden to anyone but yourself and sharing them out is easy. Right-click on a file in the Opendrive and you'll get a URL you can give out to share the item.

Opendrive is a product the people behind online storage service BOXSTr and if you're already a BOXSTr member, then you don't need to sign up for Opendrive again. Indeed, web access to your OpenDrive storage is via the BOXSTr interface for the moment although that may change in the future.

Free accounts have been allocated only 1Gb of storage for OpenDrive, which is strange considering BOXSTr offers 5Gb for free. Maybe they'll get these services inline once further down the development trail but it's worth keeping an eye on.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Partition Find And Mount

If you've ever seen the "Disk boot failure" message on a PC, then you'll realize how horrible that feeling is. Okay, it might just be that the drive cable has loosened somehow but it's more likely that the drive has failed or lost the partition information. If it's just the cable that's an easy fix but if not...then a more serious line of enquiry needs to be engaged.

Whatever the cause, you'll almost certainly have to remove the drive and either send it off to a specialist recovery firm or attach it to another computer and try it yourself. Before you shell out for the professional recovery option you could try using a free utility like Partition Find And Mount.

Partition Find & Mount implements a new method of deleted or lost partition recovery. It works simply by locating and mounting partitions into the system, thus making those lost partitions available to you like any generic disk volume. Partition Find & Mount will also work where any Boot Record (including the Master Boot Record) is missing, damaged or overwritten.

It's almost certainly worth a try if you do have a serious problem with a hard drive and, since it's free, you have nothing to lose but a little time and you could save yourself a lot of money.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

DiskAid - Disk Enable Your iPhone And iPod Touch

DiskAidIf your one of those "lucky" people with an iPhone or iPod touch, then you'll know that Apple have removed the facility for disk enabling the device that was standard with earlier iPod versions. Okay I know not a lot of us actually used that extra facility but it was necessary for some of the earlier iPod utilities to be able to access the hidden music folder.

Enter DiskAid, a free utility for the iPhone and iPod touch that lets you access all of the device drive, not just the music stuff. There are versions for both Mac OS X and Windows and it'll autodetect the device - just plug it in. Once connected, you get a file browser window, which will let you drag and drop files or folders in or out of the device. It'll also let you manage those files and folders - create, rename, delete, etc.

No jailbreaking is required and it currently supports firmware versions 1.1.1 to 1.1.4. Of course there are other similar tools out there like Floola, Senuti and YamiPod but none of those can access the iPhone or iPod touch yet.

Related Posts: iPod -> Folder, Access Your iPod!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Format Factory

Ever on the lookout for useful and free utilities, I came across Format Factory, which is a multimedia file converter for Windows that support converting all popular video, audio and picture formats to others.

Format FactoryIt'll convert…
  • Video to MP4/3GP/MPG/AVI/WMV/FLV/SWF.
  • Audio to MP3/OGG/WMA/M4A/WAV/AAC.
  • Picture to JPG/BMP/PNG/TIF/ICO/GIF/PCX/TGA with resize and rotation if required.
For the mobile device user. it'll convert…
  • All mobile video formats to 3GP, MeiZu MiniPlayer AVI or compatible MP4.
  • All mobile video formats to PSP MP4.
  • All mobile video formats to iPhone MP4.
It'll even rip DVDs to Video, DVD/CD to ISO/CSO and convert between ISO and CSO. It may not be the most polished looking application out there but it's free and it handlers a really useful set of convertions.