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Things happen on the Net

Things happen on the Net

I had just had an great idea for the post to end all posts at lifehack.org and all I needed was a one really good image to illustrate it. So I go over to my favorite cheap stock photography site – iStockPhoto – only to find the home page gone and this garish octopus ripping the head off some sort of cartoon figure with the message: “iStockPhoto is down for maintenance. Please try again in 15 minutes.” Bummer!

iStockPhoto is down

Then a cold chill ran down my back: just how much of my largely digitalized life was at risk of smashing into the same brick wall?

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I had so gotten used being a Lord of Digital Creation – able to grab cool photos from any one of a hundreds of thousands of photographers all over the globe with the wave of a credit card – and suddenly I’ve been stuffed into the Internet WayBack Machine and now it was 1997 or even earlier.

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Photos. Music! (remember CDs?). Diskettes. Windows 98. The horror!

Getting a grip on myself, I realized:

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  • Every brave new world has brave new problems. Get used to it.
  • The problem wasn’t iStockPhoto; the problem was me making the newbie assumption that what worked yesterday will work today on the net.
  • I could cope.

I admit, I may be being overly dramatic here, but here’s the unvarnished core of this post: Adopting a few new habits and ways of thinking before you need them will serve you well in the Digital World. Like the Internet itself, you need to be able to route around temporary blockages and permanent failures:

  • Email. You send your boss a super critical (your job depends on it) email while they are on the road, with an attachment. Don’t assume she gets it – the spam filter at her hotel may have it for lunch. Send her a “Just to confirm you got it” email immediately thereafter.
  • Web Services. Don’t depend on just one web service for something you need to do your job or live your life – be it iStockPhoto, Yahoo News or even Google. Get to know your alternatives – like imagepick, BBC News and the many Google alternatives at Alt Search Engines.
  • Online Backup Services. Whether it’s .Mac,Mozy or Iron Mountain, backup services can fail, or more likely you forgot to read paragraph 17 and the backups you thought you were doing you weren’t doing. Test your backups, and verify monthly that they are working.

Hopefully, you’ll never get a digital stop sign thrown up in you face when you least expect it. But if you do, a little preplanning and a little preparation will unruin your day. Now, if I could only remember what I was going to post about!

Bob Walsh runs a consulting firm for microISVs and startup software companies at 47hats.com, authored Micro-ISV: From Vision to Reality and Clear Blogging: How People Blogging Are Changing the World and How You Can Join Them and is currently working on a secret project.

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Last Updated on May 14, 2019

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

8 Replacements for Google Notebook

Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

  1. Zoho Notebook
    If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
  2. Evernote
    The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
  3. Net Notes
    If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
  4. i-Lighter
    You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
  5. Clipmarks
    For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
  6. UberNote
    If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
  7. iLeonardo
    iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
  8. Zotero
    Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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