Sync Your Life
For those of us lucky enough to use Linux on all of our computers, Canonical's Ubuntu One is a great way to keep files in sync between computers. Unfortunately, most of us are stuck using other operating systems throughout the day. We all have our own ways of managing such things, but I thought a glimpse into my “world of sync” might help others synchronize their lives.
At home, I have a centralized file server, and at work, I have the same thing. But, sometimes I want to access documents regardless of my location—like from a coffee shop during lunch. For my word processing and spreadsheet files, along with a handful of other commonly used documents (Linux Journal digital PDFs come to mind), I use Dropbox. It is a cross-platform, free program that allows you to sync many computers in real time. The free version is limited to a gig or two, but for basic documents, it's perfect (www.dropbox.com).
I use Firefox on every operating system, but even if you are forced to use Internet Explorer, Safari or Google's Chrome browser, Xmarks syncs your bookmarks quite nicely between different browsers on different platforms. The service is free and works very well. I can't imagine life without Xmarks (www.xmarks.com).
Contacts and Calendars
Love it or hate it, Google has infiltrated every operating system rather effectively. I use a plethora of applications to keep my different devices (laptops, desktops, phones, PDAs) in sync with contacts and calendars, but they all are based on Google. My favorite feature is that in a pinch, I can access everything from a Web browser. A quick search for “google sync” brings up many options, most free, that should get you a consistent contact and calendar base across any platform.
This is starting to feel like a Google ad, so I'll stop with this one. Google Voice is the way I consolidate all my phone numbers. I like having a single number that I can give freely and then filter incoming calls however I want. Again a free solution, Google Voice offers features I'd likely pay for, although I'm certainly not complaining at the price.
So, there you have it. I currently have two cell phones, a Skype Wi-Fi phone, Magic Jack, home landline, work landline, three Linux laptops, one Windows laptop, one Apple laptop, three desktops at home, three desktops at work and enough media-playing devices in my house to open a movie theater. If I didn't sync some of my services, I'd go more insane than I already am!