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Cloud file storage and syncing

clouds

I never thought I would actually get enthusiastic about online cloud file syncing. I always thought that something like Dropbox with a simple shared folder is all there is. But SugarSync is really so much more. You can remote-access files and folders on different computers and devices (this can but doesn't have to be synced to other computers), there's an unsynced web drive for backup purposes, syncing can exclude subfolders which can be useful for e.g. programming projects with a build folder, etc. Files are versioned, you have a trash folder, good mobile apps and syncing, and also a good web interface, music streaming, easy sharing of folders and files, syncing happens over a secure connection and close to real-time and is only delayed by your connection speed. The free version is limited to 5GB (plus extra space for completing some tasks) but has all features enabled. More space is available with one of the pricing plans. After a week or so of using the free version I got an offer for half-price subscriptions, plus the first month of a paid plan is free. Overall, SugarSync wins hands down over Dropbox and most other services. From my research just SpiderOak seems another good alternative to me. I suspect that this and pricing models may change should Google actually release its long rumoured GDrive, we will see.

Anyway, for now I'm happy with SugarSync. I currently need some reliable cloud storage and sync system to work on a cross-platform project and to keep my backups.

If that's what you're looking for as well, then sign up to SugarSync using this link and get an extra 500MB on a free, or an extra 10GB on a paid account (yes, yes, I'll get the same extra space - that's a win-win, right?).

Cloud picture via explodingdog.com

Zotero

I came across a really useful software today: Zotero.

It helps to collect, manage, cite, and share your research sources. Basically it's a Firefox browser addon that can store sources and make it easy to organise them. If you are looking for a book resource you can simply go and find it on e.g. Google Books, Amazon or many other pages and save the source with a single click. You can then easily cite and Zotero creates the bibliography with your desired bibliography style. It's as simple as drag and drop and it works across many different applications.

There are also Zotero plugins for Word and Open Office.

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NZ Moodle Moot 2008

I just came back from an excellent Moodle Moot conference in beautiful Napier. Moodle is a free open source e-learning environment which is widely used and developed by a strong community. I particularly enjoyed that it was a really casual and friendly 3 day event. I am sure I can bring a lot that I learned at the conference back to my job. Getting to know other people involved also is a great motivation to actually contribute to this open source project. I am glad I did not miss out this year.

Hello World

Blender Tutorial: Introduction to Character Animation

I just finished an excellent Blender tutorial: Introduction to Character Animation by Ryan Dale who took a lot of time and effort to publish this very detailed step-by-step guide.

Blender is a free and powerful open source 3d program. The tutorial requires no previous knowledge of 3d software - but it will obviously take you longer to complete if you are absolutely new to modeling and character animation. The tutorial is also a great way to learn Blender if you just want want to give it a try and possibly switch to this free software.

You learn to create a basic model from scratch, add a light, materials and textures, create the armature (skeleton, bones), animate a walkcycle, a gesture, facial expressions, lip syncing, and to render the final product. All in one tutorial. Awesome and very motivating! Highly recommended.

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