For Do-it-yourselfers, here is a video showing exactly how to make a quilted laptop cover. This isn’t something I’m going to try no matter how easy it looks. I generally end up sewing closed the parts that need to be open and leaving open the parts that need to be closed–not a great combination for something that will be used to carry around several thousand dollars of equipment. Still it is worth checking out if you are interested in making your own cover.
Dropbox is a program/service that lets gives you a folder on your computer that syncs to their servers. You can put the same folder on a number of different computers and they will all stay synced together. So you put a file in your Dropbox folder at work and it shows up in your Dropbox folder at home. You can also share folders with other people and it has some nice features for viewing photos.
All in all, it makes a great way to move files around without using sneaker net and is a good way to backup important data with a minimal amount of effort. The program runs on OS X, Mac and Linux so it makes it easy to move things between different systems.
One of the nice things about Dropbox is how simple it is. You can easily explain it to someone who isn’t technical and they can have it up and running in just a few minutes. It doesn’t have many options so there isn’t much to confuse people.
In addition to the files being available in your Dropbox folder, they are also available online, so you can get to important items while you are on the road away from your computer or if you need an important file while your machine is in the shop.
Dropbox also can handle different versions of a file, so you can go back to a previous version of your file if you somehow mess up the current version. This is a great lifesaver if you accidentally overwrite a file with an older version or accidentally delete the contents.
For more detailed information on Dropbox, see this Dropbox review.
After using Ooma for several months, I can say that I’m very pleased with it. I have the older version. The Ooma Telo looks promising, but it sounds like there are some problems that haven’t been quite resolved yet and some of the functionality doesn’t work like you would expect.
With the older Ooma unit and one Scout I’m able to have two phone lines. With two DECT 6.0 base stations and three DECT 6.0 headsets, we’ve been able to get a nice amount of functionality at a very low cost.
The Ooma service works well and I’ve had very few issues with the sound quality even though I’m on a 3.0/512 connection. Since the Ooma sites between the cable modem and the rest of my network, it can prioritize the traffic to keep a good quality sound.
There are several companies out there that will help you create a paperless workflow. Echosign offers a paperless approval and e-signatures with a free version as well as some paid versions. The free version is a great way to try it out without having to put any money up. This low barrier to entry sets their product apart from the competition. See the Echosign Review for more information and screenshots.
Docusign has a similar offering, but with no free version. Docusign offers some additional features and integrates with CRM systems. While Echosign uses a web based interface, Docusign has you actually download the documents that require your signature. Checkout the Docusign Review for more information.
For people who want a more generic solution, digital signatures and encryption give you a way to handle signatures and encryption without relying on a web based service. The downside is that it may take a bit more effort to get setup, but the upside is that you’ll be using a standard technology that works with most email clients on any platform.
Vonage is trying to keep people from leaving for other less expensive services like Skype and Ooma. They are also trying to protect their profit margins. If you call them up and tell them you are considering switching to a different service, they will give you much much better pricing.
I called to cancel and they said they would give me free voicemail transcription (usually cost me about $5 per month) and lower my monthly fee by $10 per month. When I told them I still wanted to switch, they offered me three months at no charge. Obviously this may not work out the same way for everyone, but it sounds like they have been instructed to basically give away their service to keep people from leaving.
Even if you don’t want to switch, it is worth calling in, talking to the person in charge of canceling your service and asking if they have any pricing that is more competitive.