Information Overflow

I have way to many sources of information and stored data right now, and I am not sure how to best manage them. For example, I have the following computers and technology devices around:

  • Linux fileserver/webserver
  • Windows desktop computer
  • Linux desktop computer

    • GNOME desktop
    • KDE desktop

  • Apple Powerbook
  • Nokia Cell phone
  • Palm Vx

I have the following sorts of information around:

  • phone numbers
  • addresses
  • calendars
  • todo list
  • rss subscriptions
  • music
  • digital pictures from my camera
  • documents
  • files (archives, backups, etc)

My problem is how to keep everything in one place and have it accessible, usable, and available from everywhere else. I need a way to create a central “hub” for each type of information, and make it available to the computers and applications that I have to work with.

With my cell phone I’m pretty much screwed, I don’t think it has a way of syncing up (hmm… actually it does have an IR port, too bad I don’t have an IR port on any of my computers 🙂 My music is all kept on the fileserver, and is available over NFS and SMB to any computer that cares to connect and play them off it. I can point pretty much any music player (rhythmbox, iTunes, winamp, etc) at the fileshare and they will be able to deal with the music ok.

It’s the rest that cause me issue. There are some nice image library programs around from Adobe and Microsoft, but they all assume that all the images are on your computer, and store imports and edits in their own format. While I don’t mind this that much, uses the apache::gallery apache perl module to display images based on the file structure. So right now I just copy files from my camera to a directory on the fileserver and viola, they show up on the web. The good stuff gets stuff into the other gallery when I get around to it, so it’s something separate. Same problem with things on the mac, iPhoto is a sweet piece of software, but it deals with everything doing it in it’s own way.

I think I can get away with something like vCard or vCalendar for todo items and calendars, but the apps have to support opening the ical file from somewhere. Maybe over the net, maybe from a fileserver, maybe via SSH. That deals with reading, but what about writing? The apple tools again are great, but they rely on you having an iDisk or an iLife subscription (same as for some of the online tools in iPhoto), which cuts me out, as I’d sort of like to have control over my data 🙂

The palm pilot works all right, there are lots of applications on apple (if I had a USB cradle that is), windows and linux to deal with them, so the pilot can act almost as the hub for some of my data storage.

So what’s a geek to do? I know that not all apps will work for everything, but there has to be some way to not have to have 3 or 5 copies of all my music, images, documents, todo lists, phone numbers, and calendars just to move around from day to day. While I’d love to use just the apple, linux, or windows boxes for dealing with all my data, I have different systems to fill out a toolbox of different tools for different situations, so I can’t say that I will always work on images in one place or another.


5 Comments on “Information Overflow”

  1. Your mac sees all of the info on the server, so use it as your main platform. If you need sreen real-estate, then connect it to your main monitor (as well as all of the other machines) with a USB KVM. I have one, it is nice.
    You can X-windows into your linux box if you want to do development or compiling on the linux box. This is nice since you can run all of your favourite Linux programs, using CPU cycles away from your main box, and it all runs nicely. Keep your info on the linux server.
    For most of the rest, the “digital hub” (iCal, Address Book, etc.). Also, lots of good email/news/rss stuff for OSX out there.
    For the nokia phone, go get a PDA phone that syncs with the Mac (most/all palms do, etc.). Palm Dekstop works very well on OSX and will take care of the niggly bits.
    As for documents, since you are running X-windows on OSX (because of the Linux Development thing above), run OOO. Or if you want full compatibility, get a copy of Office::X. You have more choices here than on Linux.
    As to games, that is why you have a Windows box: Windows is a good gaming OS, nothing more.

  2. Oh, one more thing. I saw that you mentioned that you don’t have an iDisk, and that leaves you out of doing iCal and stuff. Well, all of the iLife/.Mac stuff runs on WebDav, and there are instructions on how to emulate a .mac server for the various platforms out there (depending on where you wanted it to be). SO you don’t even need .mac to basically do all the things that .Mac does.

  3. The only problem is the mac is not yet my “main” box, and while I spend all day at work with it, at home it’s my two desktop machines that get the most use. This is why I’m looking for something server based, so it doesn’t matter what computer I use.

  4. THat’s what I’m saying; use the Mac as your main box. THat way it is the one and only box you need, ever.
    And when dealing with…ah… things that shouldn’t be on a work machine…. then simply export a decent image viewing app from X-windows (or, you know, a web browser).
    Also, if you don’t like the keyboard and video, then get a USB KVM (Again, very nice and not too expensive) and away you go!

  5. Engel, that’s a pretty good idea… but it still necessitates taking the laptop home with you, unpacking it, powering it up, etc…. all to get that one URL or phone number. Then, in the morning, disconnecting and stowing it all away for the commute to work.
    I wish there was a nice cross-platform (Linux/Windows/OSX) tool for synchronizing files, settings, contacts, etc between systems. It’s not uncommon for people to have multiple systems (laptop, work desktop, home desktop, work server, home server) that have data scattered across them. Some you want to stay at home, some you want at work, some you want in both places… then there’s the big question of easily backing up everything.