Getting the fundamentals right at the Martinborough Rugby Club

Starting with a well-executed slogan. Yeah right.

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Getting closer to the big pick

Yesterday I took some vineyard photos for a book I’m working on for the Wairarapa Archive, called The Look of Martinborough. The book will show how Martinborough has looked, from the earliest times to the present day. I’m writing some text, but it’s mostly photos – hundreds of them. As the earlier ones are black and white, I’m carrying that look through the whole book. It’s been interesting working in monochrome again for new photos – I’m having fun.

Right now the most distinctive look about our vineyards is bird-netting.

Claddagh Vineyard, Puruatanga Road.Claddagh Vineyard, Puruatanga Road.

devotus-nettingDevotus Vineyard, Puruatanga Road.

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Microsoft bad, good then bad again

onejpgFor several years I’ve made effective professional use of cloud storage on Microsoft’s SkyDrive, now known as OneDrive. I’d managed to accumulate about 25Gb of free storage on OneDrive and was using it to automatically back up files associated with current projects, plus my administration files. It was a bit of a kludge: I’d back up current work files to the cloud, then, once the jobs were finished, I’d archive those files elsewhere on my computer’s hard drive and to a USB hard drive.

Then earlier this year, Microsoft welshed on the deal and cut all users’ free OneDrive storage limit back to 5Gb. Bastards!

Office 365Five gigabytes was not enough, but there was a pretty sweet replacement deal on offer: a whole terabyte of cloud storage, plus free use of the latest Office 365 suite, for a fairly reasonable annual rental. I accepted the offer and now all my data files, including archived ones, live in the cloud. Two laptops plus two mobile devices are synced to it.

Since recently revitalising my older Dell Windows 7 machine via an OS reinstall, I find myself using that laptop quite a bit – partly because some of my key Photoshop plugins don’t work in Windows 10, which my Acer machine has. I set up OneDrive on the Dell and it immediately synced to my cloud storage, downloading about 160Gb of files. (Fortunately I have an unlimited broadband account!)

So now my files are always up to date, on the physical hard drives of two laptops and in the OneDrive cloud. And I still back up the most important files to a separate USB hard drive. Yes, I’m paranoid about backup but yes, I now have reasonable peace of mind.

Then a couple of days ago I upset the applecart by changing my OneDrive password – on the Dell. It worked fine and the sync to OneCloud was preserved. Not so dandy with my other laptop, which was now shut off from the cloud. The OneDrive icon in its System Tray wouldn’t stop ‘signing in’ and I couldn’t figure out how to tell it about my new password.

Fortunately, Microsoft came to the rescue. The company now has a pretty damn good ‘Answer Desk’ customer help system, based on text chat. After less than five minutes I found myself chatting back and forth with a very helpful young man from the Philippines. He offered to take over my computer and sort the problem out. I accepted and from there it was very simple. After a quick nosey round he went to OneDrive’s System Tray icon and told it to exit, then to restart. Bingo: OneCloud reconnected automatically, with no password being re-entered.

So simple, yet I never saw that solution on any of Microsoft’s web help pages.

A rip-off
Though I think the OneDrive/Office 365 deal, especially with the one terabyte of storage, is pretty good, Microsoft is grossly overcharging Kiwis compared with our cousins across the ditch. An annual subscription to the Home plan in Australia is Au$119. In New Zealand it is NZ$165. Right now the Aussie dollar isn’t worth much more than ours, and the Australian price would convert to NZ$123.50. Yet we’re being asked – sorry, told – to pay $165. How can they possibly justify such a difference? The software is delivered online and the product support for both countries is in the Philippines. Where are the extra costs to justify the Kiwi tax?

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Heaven forbid that I get seduced by an Internet craze

I’ve been fascinated by the speed at which Pokémon GO has seduced news media and co-opted them as as free advertising shills, in the few days since the Android and iOS app was launched. Being curious, and given that the app was free, I loaded it onto my phone this afternoon.

Extremely easy to set up and use, it sent me on a tour of our back lawn, promising a Pokémon in the vicinity. Sure enough a creature was there, beside our cat who was oblivious to its existence. Here’s what I saw. Moments later I tapped the red ball and captured the intruder.

I don’t know what would have come next and I don’t intend to find out. I’ve had my cheap thrill.

Pokemon

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More again on OneNote

Whoop-de-doo: after about 15 attempts, OneNote finally installed on my tablet. I might start taking the program seriously now and migrate my Evernote database to it.

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Follow-up on Evernote and OneNote

I had mixed success yesterday converting my Evernote database to OneNote. However, I was on the right track and I think I was going to be completely successful. I just ran out of time. I was pleased that the Evernote notes transferred completely, including graphics. I wasn’t impressed with the OneNote user interface, but I guess I’d get used to that.

But there’s a further spanner in the works.

While OneNote works on my Nexus 5 phone, I can’t install it on my Asus ZenPad Z580CA tablet, which is a grunty machine with storage and RAM to burn. OneNote downloads from the PlayStore, but gets stuck at the installation stage. The word ‘Installing’ appears and stays forever. I’ve tried installing several times and rebooted the device several times during the process. 

I spent some time in a text chat with Microsoft, but they couldn’t help and asked me to contact Asus. I went to Asus chat and they told me to talk to Microsoft! 

Interesting that Microsoft Word installed OK from the PlayStore. It’s from the same stable as OneNote.

I suspect that things might not improve until my tablet gets an OS update. It’s still only on Android 5.0, which is appalling for a model that was released less than a year ago. (However, to be fair, this ancient OS has only been a (possible) problem with OneNote.)

I asked the Asus rep if an update can be expected and she said yes,  but didn’t know when. Then I asked her if she knew there would definitely be an update and she admitted she didn’t know.

Looks like I’ll be staying with Evernote, even at its increased cost, until I can make OneNote work on my tablet. An app like this has to work on all my devices.

I must say that the text chat system worked well. I was answered straight away by both Microsoft and Asus. The Microsoft person (in India) was clued up and helpful, even if he couldn’t help in the end. The Asus person was not as good. But at least I didn’t have to wait 45 minutes before I got no help at all.

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Time to move on from Evernote?

Evernote logoEvernote has been an indispensable application for me for a long time, first on my PCs and more latterly on my mobile devices – phone and tablet. Back in 2009  I blogged about my serious attachment to the program.  I found Evernote a much improved version of the InfoSelect note-taking program I’d previously been wedded to.

I’ve continued to find the Evernote useful. For instance, yesterday I was in a library doing research for a book I’m writing. I took all my notes in Evernote, using a Bluetooth keyboard linked to my Android tablet. It was comforting to know that those notes were automatically making their way to my phone, laptop and the cloud. It was also very convenient, because I can start working on them immediately on my laptop.

But Evernote has become slow and unwieldy – infected by the same swissarmyknife feature-creep that ruined InfoSelect. And it’s no longer the only game in town. Other apps such as Google Keep and Microsoft OneNote can do the job – to lesser (and greater) degrees.

Notetakers

Evernote has been in financial difficulty for a while. This no doubt was behind its announcement this week that the free version will now only work on two devices, and the premium version subscription will go up from US45 a year to $70.

I’ve been a premium subscriber for many years because it has a few nifty extras that are worthwhile for me. But are those extras worth the price rise? Mmmm…

I’ve been using Google Keep as a simple note taker for some time. It’s simple and it does a simple job well. But I also need note program with more features and I don’t want to lose the really valuable personal database I’ve built up in Evernote.

Now I don’t have to lose it.  There’s now a Windows utility, Evernote2OneNote, that lets you migrate an Evernote database to OneNote. And OneNote is entirely free to use on as many devices you like. See http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/migrate-evernote-onenote/

I’ve played around with OneNote and read reviews and comparisons with Evernote. I doubt it’s as good as Evernote for my purposes, but saving US$70 a year in perpetuity puts a different complexion on things.

I renewed my Evernote subscription quite recently, but I’ll do a trial migration to OneNote sooner rather than later, in case the process needs to get at Evernote’s cloud database, or in case Evernote manages to put a spanner in the migration works.

The cloud database might disappear if Evernote goes bust – and going bust would be no surprise. When you’re in financial strife, it’s hard to fix things by raising prices and increasing restrictions, when your competitors are free.

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