First look at Live Mesh tech preview

Live Mesh
Last week Microsoft announced Live Mesh. I signed up for a Tech Preview of it and have been playing with it for a couple of days now.

Live Mesh is a service for sharing files and applications among all of your devices. It’s designed for individuals and families trying to manage their computers and mobile devices. Currently, it only supports Windows XP and Vista, but in the future it promises to support Windows Mobile devices and Mac OS X.

At first glance I felt like it was just version 2.0 of FolderShare. You have a Live Desktop on the web that you can create folders on and upload files to. You can then download the client application to your PC and set up folders on your PC to sync with your Live Desktop. In that respect it’s just like FolderShare. But you can also access these files from anywhere by logging into your Live Desktop. This piece even works great from the Mac. The only negative I see here is that there is currently a 5GB limit, since you are storing files on their server. I’m guessing when this goes live you’ll have the ability to purchase more space, but this is a big negative compared to FolderShare where the files are only stored on your machine and you can sync as much data as you want. With FolderShare you can also access the files from the web when your PC is online, but it’s actually pulling the files from your PC instead of a central service.

The next piece of Live Mesh is the remote desktop feature. I have it running on my PC at home. I can log into the Live Desktop from the office and then connect to my home PC. This opens a remote desktop window connect to the PC where I can run it just as if I was sitting right there.

It will be interesting to see where this goes. It looks like in the future you’ll be able to remote desktop to your PC from your Windows Mobile devices as well, which will be pretty slick. I’m curious how many of these features will be supported for the Mac when support for OS X comes out. The remote desktop feature uses an Active X control, so I’m guessing I will not be able to connect remotely to the PC from the Mac, but that would be pretty sweet if they can work that out.

So, I’ll be keeping my eyes on the Live Mesh Tech Preview as they release new features. I could be pretty interesting..


One month with a Mac Part II: Evernote

Evernote is a note taking application that I had used on Windows. In fact, I had gotten to where all of my notes for several projects where stored in a Evernote file in version 2. Then, for some reason I’m not sure of, I quit using it. I’ve always been torn between keeping my life in an electronic format or in my pocket Moleskine notebook. The Moleskine always ends up winning out because it’s simply more convenient — I have it with me everywhere I go.

However, with the latest version of Evernote, version 3 (currently in Beta), I’m contemplating going all digital again. Version 3 has both a Mac and Windows client. And the greatest feature is the online syncing feature. So, I run Evernote on my work laptop in the office and on the Mac at home and my notes automatically sync between the two. And, if I’m somewhere without access to one of my machines, I can jump on their website and retrieve my notes from there using their web interface.

The user interface is very slick. It still uses the metaphor of a single continuous ribbon containing all of your notes but it also has a thumbnail view where you can preview all of your notes on one page. It’s tagging and search features makes it very easy to find notes. It has the ability to very quickly create TODO lists, so you can use it for implementing GTD (Getting Things Done).

There are probably tons of features that I have left off, I’ve only begun to explore it. But I like it and have begun using it for all of my note taking and record keeping tasks. Will it replace my Moleskine? I don’t know.. but it’s certainly possible.

Evernote 3 is currently in Beta. You can download the client, but can’t use the syncing feature without an invitation to participate in the Beta. It looks like I have 10 invitations I can send out. If you’d like one, just let me know.

One month with a Mac Part I: VMWare Fusion

This was originally a single blog post describing everything I’ve learned about the Mac over the past month as a follow up to my “So, I bought a Mac” post. But it ended up getting so long that I’ve decided to break it down into several posts. This first one deals with VMWare Fusion.

I absolutely love this. I was never going to be able to complete get rid of the PC given the number of Windows only applications I use. But, using VWWare Fusion I am now running a Vista virtual machine on the Mac in which I can run all of the windows applications. I was torn between using XP or Vista, I tried Vista first, and it ran so well that I decided not to even try XP.

The setup is very simple. You tell it that you want to create a new virtual machine, tell it the operating system, and the put the installation disk in. It automates the entire setup process from there so you don’t have to do anything.

My MacBook only has 2GB of RAM. So, I initially gave the virtual 1GB. Doing this make the host system seem to run a little sluggish especially when running lots of Mac applications. I then backed the virtual down to 512 MB of RAM and it still ran fine for the Windows applications I was running (Microsoft Money and Visual Studio 2008). However, before doing any hard core .Net development on here I’m going to upgrade to 4 MB of RAM.

The Unity mode of VMWare Fusion is really amazing — it hides the Vista desktop and makes it look like you are running the Windows applications directly on the Mac. Most of the time I run Vista in full screen mode on the second Mac desktop. This means I just hit Control+Right Arrow to work on Vista and then Control+Left to switch back to Mac. Very slick.

After determining that this would work for all of my Windows needs, I have moved my PC to the 17″ LCD monitor and it’s basically just used for a network file / backup server now. I then hook the MacBook up to the 20″ widescreen monitor when I’m working at home now. What I really need to find as a KVM switch that supports DVI and USB, but that’s a project for another day…

So, VMWare Fusion is a big hit with me. I used the 30 day trial here at first. And then, by the time I realized it was going to be perfect I noticed Amazon running a sale on it for $35.00 after a $20 mail in rebate. I had to jump.