Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Importing Contacts to Blackberry with Google

I found another method for doing this in the crackberry forums that I admittedly did not try because this method seemed easier.  Every other way seemed to rely on MS Outlook, which is not necessarily an option for us Linux/ Open Source users.  This how to is from the perspective of populating an empty address book.

First, backup your current GMail contacts.  Make sure a few of them have phone numbers associated with them so that the necessary fields are there.  In Gmail, go to contacts then Select Export and choose All and the Google CSV format.  Save As google_backup.csv.

Next make sure you have google sync installed on your blackberry, but do not sync yet, or at least not contacts.

Now you have several choices for the contacts on your current phone.  Basically you need to get them into spreadsheet format the easiest way possible.

Now open google_backup.csv (using Open Office Calc of course)and Save As google_bb.csv so that changes you make to this file won't screw up your backup.  Now cut and paste from your current contact spreadsheet into the relevant fields below your current contacts.  Finally, erase the non phone contacts above.  It's better to do it in this order so you have something to use as a reference when cutting and pasting.  Remember to delete the whole row(s) when getting rid of the contacts you don't want on your phone.  Finally, save this file.

Now go back into Gmail contacts, choose all and Delete Contacts (don't worry, you have your backup!).  Now choose Import from the upper right and import the google_bb.csv.  Now open up google sync on your blackberry and under options choose to sync contacts and then sync now.  Viola!

Now uncheck sync contacts if you want and re-import your original contact list.  I actually took the opportunity to go through the file and clean it up.  Again, leave the original backup file intact!!!!!!!   ie  DON'T CHANGE THE ORIGINAL BACKUP!  This saves you lots of time if you mess up.

The whole process takes about as much time as, or less, than reading this how-to.  Let me know how it goes!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Usual Suspects: the Windows Collection

There are several programs which I generally use in every Windows installation then a few specific to my netbook, mostly having to do with writing in some form or another.

For security, I use Comodo Firewall. It is honestly a bit on the technical side but I like that and it is in the end worth the extra brain time to see what is trying to connect to the internet that the Windows firewall would let through. I have found free antivirus to be enough; my top picks are: avg, avast, and bitdefender. The antivirus that comes with Comodo seems to have trouble for me, though I like it more for doing so it identified quicktime as a virus; so I usually disable it. I use AVG the most though I have been trying Bitdefender lately.

Next come System Utilities. Revo Uninstaller and CCleaner come first. For defragmentation I like MyDefrag or Defraggler. I use a combination of Speedfan - which I set to show my CPU temp in the taskbar - and Process Hacker - which is essentially a suped up Task Manager. I set Process Hacker to run at startup to keep tabs on my CPU cycles. I find Launchy to be an indispensable utility. If you check out any check out this one. It seems so simple yet can be so functional - especially on a netbook where you may have trouble with the mousepad at times - it is so much easier and faster to start programs and open folders and playlists, etc, from Launchy! Also, I use Terabyte for file transfers. It seems to be much faster with a better GUI than the standard drag and drop.

SandboxIE is a great utility for opening questionable executables or if you are visiting websites that you are worried might install crap on your computer. Clonezilla is a great backup utility - essential for not losing all your hard work! I like FoxIt reader - it works well, is small, and integrates nicely with Firefox - Oh yeah - Firefox! I love it and use it exclusively. The add-ons I cannot live without, from betterGmail to ScribeFire - which I am using to write this blog. For pictures I like FastStone Image Viewer. It is a great editor as well. Picasa works well too.

As far as multimedia software goes I use VLC for movies and sometimes music, and Foobar2000 for music. I create playlists for Foobar and store them in a separate folder that I catalog with Launchy so that I can start them with a few keystrokes.

For office software I have Abiword and the open source suite Open Office. I am also using a diary program called Efficient Diary which I enjoy and I recently downloaded a program called StoryBook for when I get to writing my novels.

Please note: Every program I have mentioned is FREE for personal use. Sorry for not hyperlinking but there are just too many to mention. I am always trying new stuff, especially new utilities, so if you have any suggestions let me know!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I settled on an Acer Aspire One from Newegg. The exact model is the AOD 150-1577. The price was right and I am very happy with it and the extended battery life of the 6 cell battery. The Asus EEE-PC was a strong contender and honestly the choice came down to price. I may have gone with a Dell if the price was more competitive but I have had problems with very long waits from them.

One of the primary reasons for using an Aspire was the plethora of community documentation and support in relation to lesser known Linux distros that I like to play with, especially Puppy Linux. The more mature distros like Ubuntu seem well supported across most of the hardware, though, and I am happy to see so many netbooks shipped with Linux.

Mine came with XP and a lot of bloatware. I heartily reccomend a program called Revo Uninstaller when first buying a computer with lots of crap pre-installed. It does a good job of getting rid of installed programs more completely than the standard uninstallers. Or you can geek it up...

After confiming that everything worked correctly, the first thing I did was replace the hard drive and RAM. For the hard drive, I took apart a 320 gig Western Digital external drive and put that in place of the standard 160. I saw plenty of how tos that showed taking the case apart and putting it back together with the old netbook drive installed, but by the time I got the drive out the case was not really reusable. Thankfully I had a spare external case handy. Next I put in a 2 Gig RAM stick (20 bucks from newegg) and ended up with a faster machine with more storage.

Partitioning the hard drive is always the first step. There are plenty of how tos for that so suffice it to say I partitioned it out to hold my XP, a few Linux distros, swap, and about 200 Gigs left over for storage.
I really prefer Linux as an OS but I enjoy XP as well and find it very tweakable, so I started off with that as my primary OS. I used a version available 'around' called TinyXP. I had the good fortune of being able to use a friend's Acronis Enterprise with Universal Restore. Basically, I installed the OS into VirtualBox, added a few programs and then backed it up with Acronis, then used the recovery software off a USB drive to install it onto the netbook, using the Universal Restore feature. Initially I had trouble with the install failing until I discovered these SATA drivers, which I used at the appropriate step in the Universal Restore recovery process (These drivers would be useful in any process of intalling XP outside of the version provided). The result was a fully functional, stripped down, very efficient and pre built fully updated XP into which I installed all the additional drivers found on Acer's website. I really liked this process of preparing the OS as a virtual machine and then migrating it to the hardware.

Next I installed Xubuntu 9.04, which seems to work right out of the box - wireless and all. I have been messing with XP for now, though that will change soon, I am sure.

Next I'll go through my list of favorite programs.