Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Windows Live Mesh – Everyday tasks made clearer

I was recently speaking at an event in Redmond, WA that caters to some high-powered geeks. (Ok, Microsoft Certified Trainers, but geeks nonetheless) Somehow during a discussion the topic of Windows Live Mesh came up. If you haven’t used Live Mesh, you really need to check it out. This is one of those “Game Changing” technologies (rather it *will* be game changer when it becomes more mainstream) that people who regularly use more than one computer will absolutely have to have.

Problems that lead to needing Live Mesh

I still rely on some private NNTP newsgroups for some of the communities I participate in. Yes, I realize that NNTP is an old technology and I should be using more modern technologies, but some things just happen to work very well for their intended purpose. The problem with NNTP-based newsgroups is that they are very client focused. There’s no current way to save your “state” on the server. (i.e., if you read a message from one client, if you move to a different client the message appears to be unread) This causes issues when you move between multiple machines and want to stay up to date with your community. (Myself, I regularly move between my desktop at work, my tablet PC, my desktop at home and the occasional meeting that requires a different laptop)

I’ve tried numerous NNTP clients and for basic newsgroup message reading, my favorite is Windows Live Mail. It’s simple to use, installs easily, and is integrated with Messenger and other tools from MS that I use. (I also use it to keep track of my personal email via an IMAP connection. The issue here is that Live Mail uses a local database for it’s message and status store that can get rather large. (My current WLM database is 1.1GB) It’s a pain to remember to copy the live mail folder to a USB drive and move it between computers, but that’s one method that I’ve tried to keep machines in sync. (Because of the trickery involved in setting this up, I’ll write a separate blog post about that process)

Another “Sync” problem that I have is keeping up with various presentations I’ve built. I generally put a “Presentations” folder in the root of my C: drive on all of my machines. I try and remember to keep my machines in sync, but never can seem to do it.

I also have a problem remembering which computer I edited a particular document on. This task is a bit easier because I tend to store documents on a network drive, but that doesn’t always help when I’m on the road.

Windows Live Mesh to the Rescue!

With Windows Live Mesh, you are allowed 5GB of online storage for FREE. It will currently sync with PCs and MACs, and will soon have the capability to treat your mobile phone as a true device. (Currently you can sync your pictures from a windows mobile phone, which is COOL)


Getting Started with Live Mesh

Getting started with Mesh is pretty easy. Just navigate to this URL: https://www.mesh.com/Welcome/howto/setup.aspx and follow the instructions there. Once you get things setup, you can start applying Live Mesh to those pesky sync problems.


Jason Strate said...

I just started using Live Mesh and am finding it solves the synchronization issues I've had between my laptop, desktop, and client PCs. Hopefully there'll be an opportunity for more disk space in the future, I've already filled up about 55% of the space and would really like to move my media up to it as well.

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