Coffee on Saturdays

Posted by daniel on 19 May, 2012
Category Coffee

Starting today, this blog will have, as much as possible, "Coffee on Saturdays" (temporary name). This idea was inspired by another blog and for recent news.

The blog is by Bruce Schneier. He has what he called "Squid Fridays", with random posts about... squid. I mean the animal, not the software. I hope Bruce doesn't mind my adaptation of his idea.

My other inspiration was recent news about coffee. As many of my friends know, I am rather addicted to coffee, and I mean the drink, no references to the programming language. While some people consider coffee to be bad for one's health, this week I learned that a study from US National Institutes of Health, and to be published on the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests the people who drink 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day has less chances of dying from a number of causes. The list of causes includes heart and pulmonary diseases, diabetes and even accidents.

So, from now on, I'll try to keep my Saturday's posts somewhat related to coffee.

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I used to keep some work files (keep in mind that I am still a student) at Dropbox. The idea was that I could work from home or from the university without having to bring my laptop back and forth and not having to worry about copying stuff before going home.
The problem became when my wife decided to use it to share photos with family. My 2GB space vanished quickly. There is another little problem, I can keep an updated version of my work, but I cannot roll back versions (as if I was using CVS, SVN or git). But having my code in sync with work is helpful enough (and I still can use SVN to control versions once in a while).

A while ago, I tried Unison, by Benjamin Pierce at the University of Pennsylvania. It's an open source software that allow you to implement your own "Dropbox". You have to set up your server machine on the internet, preferably 24x7. That was not the main problem with unison, though. The synchronization does not work so well with multiple users.

Recently, I looked for other alternatives and found Ubuntu One. It gives you up to 5GB for free, and you have a bit more granularity if you want to add extra space (so it's possible to spend less money than with Dropbox). For now, I am keeping work in Ubuntu One and personal stuff in Dropbox.

Now, when sharing this with a friend (Jon), he mentioned yet another alternative. It's called Sparkleshare, that performs synchronization, but using git. So, it's possible to have some version control at the same time as we have automatic synchronization. As Unison, I still have to set up a server (I could use Githup, but I don't like the idea of having my unfinished work open to the public).

I really find this Sparkleshare quite promising. I haven't used it yet, but I will soon be configuring a Git server and check how this thing works. More on this in a future post.

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In 2011/2012, I think that the best application I have tried (so far) is called Synergy. Synergy allows users to share the same keyboard and mouse between different computers, even with different operating systems.

Synergy consists of a server (installed on the machine you'd be physically using the keyboard and mouse) and a client (installed on the other machines). To change between systems, you just need to move the mouse to left or right (just like if you had a dual monitor system).

Just to give a hint of what we can do, in one moment, I was running some experiments in two other computers (other than my laptop). That's right! I was sharing my laptop's mouse and keyboard with two other computers. So, instead of having to manually switch from one keyboard to another, I just moved my mouse to the respective screen and started typing.

Anyone who has to work with multiple computers (for whatever reason) should give Synergy a try.


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