Don’t depend on web apps or anything else!

A sub title for this post could well be back up, back up’.

The recent announcement by Google that its reader app is going to be killed of in a few months ( 1st July) suggests that a point in one of my earlier posts may be right and that it would be best to keep data and ways to read/play it on your own machine (with backups). The trouble with web apps is that if the company pulls the app support or stops development then you are pretty stuck. So it is important to know how to back up all of your stuff, in this case it is the blogs that you follow via RSS. Its a shame that blogger and other sites don’t have ‘follow by email’ like wordpress or at least they didn’t the last time I looked. If you have a favorite then stick with it but do as I do and try others out occasionally. The reason for this is two fold, the first is that you may find something more up to date or simply has more features that suit you. The second reason is that you will have a pack up plan to be able to use your data or in this case a RSS feed that keeps you in touch/up to date with the blogs and other news feeds. It is possible to download your data from Google Reader using their take out service which is very easy to use. All of your data will be downloaded in a file that can be added to your new reader, although I have downloaded my feeds I have not needed to add the file to a new app as of yet as Feedly which I am now using, did it for me.

On my laptop and also, when I have replaced it, my desktop, I have started to use the Thunderbird RSS feature. This is easy to set up with the data downloaded from Google. First click on the RSS feed folder which will bring up the main home page which allows you to set up or add things. Click on ‘manage feeds’, then go to ‘import’. This will bring up a window for folders, double click on downloads or wherever you unpacked the download from Google, then goto Reader folder within the first folder and go to the.xml file. Click open and all of your feeds will be added.

My current replacement on my tablet and phone is Feedly. I am already of the opinion that it is an improvement on the old reader app but haven’t really got used to it yet (basically, I haven’t had the time the past two or three weeks to do stuff). I will hopefully give it a full review once I’ve tested it properly to see what it can do as well as a review suggestion of a RSSclient for laptop/desktops. Thankfully its simple to set up and will import your data from Reader.

The other reason that I have titled this post the way that I have, is that my desktop as died and I am strongly suspecting the power unit because there is no life in the machine. Thankfully, all of my photos and music and other stuff is on my external harddrive (in the case of my music…google music as well). I am currently thinking that maybe I should have a second backup harddrive in case the original goes wrong.



How to restore or reclaim a usb memory stick.

Around the end of the year, during the holidays I decided to try and make a live USB using Kubuntu for work. This I did with success, however, I used it so infrequently at home (I don’t have much need for it at work at the moment as I am mostly constrained to field work due to staff shortages). So I have decided to re-deploy the memory stick for storing my ebooks (see a later post on ebooks).

I thought it would have been easy to reformat the stick like I had done in the past but this was not the case as the facility to do this by right clicking the icon is gone which I found when I tried this on another memory stick that I wanted to reclaim. If the memory stick was used as a live USB then you really cann’t do this anyway as it comes up on the screen as two separate icons.

A google search produced a few how-tos which didn’t work using the terminal for some reason but a couple of forum posts did suggest using gParted but these weren’t that detailed, just a suggestion with no detailed instruction. Once Gparted was installed on my laptop with Mint (Mate desktop) it was pretty simple.

Step 1- Open gParted as superuser.

Step 2- In the right hand corner of the applications window is a drop down selection box to allows you to pick the drive to reformat…choose the usb stick. In this case it was showing as      /dev/sdb   (14.84GB)

Step 3- It is likely that you will need to unmount the partitions that are listed as mounted as the device would have been mounted when it was attached to the computer. After highlighting these goto Partition in the tool bar and click unmount.

Step 3- Go back to the tool bar and click on Device and select “Create Partition Table

Step 4- A window will now appear with

WARNING: This will ERASE ALL DATA on the ENTIRE DISK /dev/sdb

Click the apply button

After a few seconds everything will be gone leaving you with the table showing ‘unallocated’….

You now need to create a new partition,

Step 5- Click on create partition table again and select advanced in the window that appears and then click apply. Nothing will happen straight away, as you need to go to Edit in the top tool bar and click apply operations.

This will take a few minutes. Your memory stick will now be reformated and nearly ready for use.

At this stage you will be able to plug in and have it auto mount but it will be read only…it will be set to root as user. To fix this you can follow the instructions found on the internet to change permissions via the terminal. After some messing around with no real solution (the instructions didn’t give the full solution, just hints because I think they were for directories, folder etc not usb sticks).

My solution was to login as root on my Fedora machine. Open file manager and go to the USB stick and right click. Go to permissions and set the user from root to this

User: <your user name>

Group: <your user group/name>

As soon as you finish this bit LOG OUT of root. Being logged in as root is normally very bad. Only do it for certain things and this was the first time I have done it for sometime…

You are now done.