Day One review

Dayone2 logo

If you use a Mac and keep any sort of journal this is an app to look at. If you are a Windows user this is one more reason to make the switch.

I have been a user of Day One version 1 for several months, and it is an excellent tool for journaling. They pay attention to detail in both the design and the features. It has a clean and beautiful interface, and it’s super-easy to use. The MAC and IOS apps play nicely together, and sync is easy to setup and just works!

Day One recently released a new version with the somewhat confusing name of Day One 2.0. I have been using this version for about 2 weeks now. Here’s my review.

What’s new?Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 11.51.19 AM

There are two big new features:

  • Firstly support for multiple journals. This is perfect for me because I can now store my personal and work entries in the same place, but in separate journals.
  • Secondly, in the previous version you could only have a single photo per entry. Now you can have multiple photos. At first I wasn’t really interest in this feature, but I find that I am using it more and more – especially for documenting my travels.

Should you upgrade?

Well that depends on your needs? To upgrade both the Mac and IOS versions will set you back $49.98 (at the moment you can grab the Mac app for $29.99 and the IOS app for $4.99). If you do a lot of journaling, want multiple photos per entry and support for multiple journals then yes it is an excellent application and worth the price.

But if you are happy with a single journal, then aside from a mildly slicker interface you are not going to gain too much additional value.

Of course if you are not yet a user and are looking for a journaling app, this is one to check out.


While the app is great, there are a few things that I think would make it amazing:

  • Basic customisation of the styling in the posts using my choice of fonts and colours
  • Ability to export entries for a date range, and for the PDF export to show the images full-width, and to be able to select the fonts and colours
  • Applescript support would be amazing

But it’s a great app. It is easy to use, and makes keeping an electronic journal really easy.

You can find out more and get App Store links from their website.

Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary review copy from Day One

Review: Cloudberry online backups

I have far too many friends that just don’t create backups, and far too many that backup to an external drive that lives next to their computers, which while marginally better is still basically useless.. Online backups are such a simple solution to this problem, but I have (until now) struggled to find a solution that really meets my needs.

In my quest to find the ultimate online backup solution, here are my requirements:

  • Compression of files before they are sent to the cloud. This saves in both upload time (bandwidth), and in storage cost.
  • Encryption of my data on my machine before they are sent to the server
  • “Trust no one”; only I hold the encryption key, and online data can only be decrypted by me
  • Versioning of files and keeping deleted files for a period of time
  •  Support of external (USB) drives
  • Robust

I have used two providers in the past (I won’t mention names), but one of them only supported internal drives, and the other deleted 50gigs of online backup because my external drive was unavailable.

So, I think that I may have finally found a product that does everything I need: Cloudberry Backup. Cloudberry have built a bunch of products that allow for connectivity to cloud storage services (their ‘S3 Explorer” is basically Total Commander for S3; a great product as well).

I have been using Cloudberry Backup for about a week now, and so far I am very impressed. Here are some of the features that impress me:

  • Optional compression
  • Block level backups (great for mailboxes)
  • Support for several cloud storage providers (S3, Rackspace, Azure and Google are just a few)
  • When using S3 (which is what I use), it gave me the option to use the Reduced Redundancy Storage, which is a little cheaper
  • Trust no one; however if I lose my backup key I will not be able to recover my files. The backup key is NEVER sent out
  • Many encryption options (AES256, DES, RC2, 3DES); file names are also encrypted
  • File Versioning (and deleting of old versions and retention of deleted files)
  • Scheduling
  • Real time backups
  • Server side encryption (s3 only)
  • Client side encryption


I tried to break it (by removing the external drives during backup), and it just picked up the error and waited for the drives be reconnected.

I then tested by deleting a few files and running a restore, it was a breeze. When I had a few questions, I got a rapid email response from them.

The software is super-simple to use; I will literally backuping up some folders in about 5 minutes. While it has some quite complex and technical features, anybody can use it. It is really easy to use. This is a great product which I think will be my backup solution.

I will post any updates.

Disclaimer: Cloudberry offered me a free license key, but it was only after I started my evaluation, and my evaluation is based on the 14 day trial that I am currently running. If it continues running like I expect, I will use that free key.


Concise and effective messages – GroupWise confuses the reader

Just before I went on Christmas leave, I tried to set-up an out of office at one of my clients (where I have an email address). I am used to setting it up in Outlook, which is a very simple procedure. However this client is running a rather old version of GroupWise (v7).

The help file in Outlook explains how to create an out of office in exactly 49 words, while the GroupWise help file took over 500 words to completely confuse me (I never managed to get it working in the end).

My point is twofold. Firstly that GroupWise is probably the worst email system in the world. Secondly, their help file is far to confusing. It managed to confuse a very experienced computer user.  If I was confused,  I really feel sorry for the regular user. It should not take 500 words to explain such a simple task.

Ok, here is the lesson. Are you ever a GroupWise help file when you communicate? Do you give complex, confusing messages that make no sense? Or are you Outlook, providing short, effective and powerful messages?

For your reading pleasure, here are the instructions for both products (good bedtime reading).

Here is how you do it in Outlook:

Turn an Out of Office Assistant rule on or off

To turn out of office rules  on or off, on the Tools menu, click Out of Office Assistant.
In the Status box, select or clear the check box next to the rule you want to turn on or off.

Here is how you do it in groupwise version 7:

To create a vacation rule

  • Click Tools > Rules > New.
  • Type a name in the Rule Name box, such as Vacation Rule.
  • Click the When Event Is pop-up list, then click New Item.
  • Next to And Items Are, select Received. Make sure no other item source is selected.
  • Do not make any selections under Item Types.
  • Use Define Conditions to add specific information to your rule. The following are examples of using Define Conditions.
    • If you want to set up the dates during which the rule is in effect. Click Define Conditions > click Delivered in the first drop-down list > click On or After Date in the second drop-down list > in the date field, select the date you are leaving on vacation. Click the End pop-up list > click And. On the new line, click Delivered in the first drop-down list > click On or Before Date in the second drop-down list > in the date field, select the date you are returning from vacation > click OK.
    • If you want to make sure you reply only to items that are sent specifically  to you (and not to list servers or newsgroups). Click Define Conditions > if you have already specified information in this dialog box, click the End pop-up list > click And. On the new line, click To in the first drop-down list > click [ ] Contains in the second drop-down list > in the next field,  type your name as it displays in the To field of a mail message.
    • If you want to make sure that you do not reply to items from yourself (possible through delayed delivery). Click Define Conditions > if you have already specified information in this dialog box, click the End pop-up list > click And. On the new line, click From in the first pop-up list > click [x] Does Not Contain in the second drop-down list > in the next field, type your name as it displays in the From field of a mail message > click OK.
    • If you want to reply to internal items only. Click Define Conditions > if you have already specified information in this dialog box, click the End pop-up list > click And. On the new line, click From in the first drop-down list > click [x] Does Not Contain in the second drop-down list > in the next field, type @ > click OK.
  • Under Then Actions Are, click Add Action, then Reply.
  • The Reply dialog box is displayed, showing Reply to Sender selected (you cannot select Reply to All). If you want your reply to include the sender’s original message, select Include Message Received From Sender. Click OK.
  • Type a message, for example:
  • I will be out of the office from September 3-September 10. If you need assistance during this time, please contact Martha Robbins at extension 1234.
  • Click OK.
  • Click Save. Verify that the rule has a check mark next to it, indicating that it is enabled, then Click Close.
  • Rules that trigger a reply (such as this vacation rule) keep a record of who a reply has been sent to, and make sure that a reply is sent only once to that user.

For completeness sake, here is how Google’s Gmail does it (36 words).

1. go into Settings->General
2. then scroll down to Out of Office AutoReply
3. Fill Subject and Message

Every time you leave your office set Out of Office AutoReply on, when you’re back turn it off.

The 10 Lies Software Developers Tell

Program_code1) My code is better that yours. Writing code is very much like writing a song or painting a picture. Artists and song-writers have different styles of painting or song writing. Writing code is similar, different software engineers have different coding styles. So, unless your code is really badly written, my code is no better than yours, it is simply different to yours. If my code works and does not require any enhancements, leave it alone, no matter how different to yours it is.

2) It works on my machine…well, if it works on your machine and not mine, then clearly it is not a robust application, or your installation procedure does not work very well. Remember that you wrote it on your machine, so of course it works on your machine. Now get it to work everywhere else.

3) I’ll comment the code at the end. The end of any development cycle is always chaotic, that is a simple fact of software engineering. So, if you have not got time to comment your code while you are writing it, how are you going to have the time at the end? Besides, if it is a large project with a long development time, are you going to remember what some of the earlier written (uncommented) code does!

4) I’ll add the error handing at the end. Error-handling is part of the basic design of a system, not something you slap on at the end when you have time.

5) The programme is complete – but I just need to quickly finish off…..This is a very common one. The development is not complete until you have finished writing all of the code. If you have a single line of code to write, it is not complete, and not ready for testing.

6) It is a small bug – it will only take 5 minutes to fix. By the time you have load the development environment, identified the bug, fixed, tested and rolled out the change to production, it will be much longer that 5 minutes. There is no such thing as a 5 minute to fix bug.

7) I only have to change one line of code to fix the bug. To the customer, it does not matter weather it is one line of code, or one hundred lines of  code. All the customer cares about is that the application is not working. Fix it!

8) It’s not my problem. If your application is not working – it is your problem. It does not matter if RightFax is down and you cannot print faxes, or you cannot connect to the FTP server. The fact is that if your application is not doing what it should be doing, you had better find out what the cause is, and resolve it.  While different people may have ownership of different portions of a software system, you are ALL responsible to ensure that everything is working.

9) The application works fine with my test data. Yes it might, work with the test data, but the live system does not run on test data. It runs on live data. Best you get your application to work with live data.

10) It’s a user error. If the user is clever (or stupid) enough to break your application, it is not robust enough. You need to anticipate all user inputs, and cater for them. If at a later stage you find another user error, modify your code and test cases to check for it.

And a bonus lie…

11) Of course I test my own code. Do you? Really? Promise? Ok, then let me try to break your application.