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Review: DropMyEmail, backup for those without adequate broadband?

Review: DropMyEmail, backup for those without adequate broadband?

First up full disclosure: One of my old friends from secondary school has recently started working here. He did not ask me to write this review but I did start using it because I know and trust him.

You probably should backup your stuff somewhere….

Backups, I think everyone reading this will agree are essential if you want to ensure your stuff isn’t lost or damaged by some event, virus or sheer stupidity….   At work we have a system for backing up our data, emails are important but being in control of our data word documents, ArcGIS maps etc.. is essential.  At home it’s a different story it’s not word documents that are important it’s photos and emails.

So I have a solution for photo backups, basically a combination of external hard drive, main PC and Dropbox.   My broadband although not quick can cope with the odd photo or two that I want to share and keep.   It also feels natural to go somewhere take pictures and when home back them up.

Emails are another story, I get a lot, not all are important but it is my life blood at the moment all my life, from receiving that first email from a lady who ended up being my wife to photos of friends, announcements of births, deaths as well as work related emails with important attachments.   Then there are all those online purchases, receipts, serial codes etc!!    Now I really should have a backup of these, Gmail is good but it isn’t perfect and you do hear stories of people who have lost all their emails.

So I have been using an old version of outlook to periodically download all my emails and attachments off gmail and others… trouble is  I less and less use this PC and whole months go by without me using it.   That’s down to me using a work PC during the day and an iPad at home nowadays.

A while back I noticed that one of my old friends had jumped from his then employer Google to a startup called DropMyEmail.  Wow, I thought what the hell is dropmyemail?

Basically is a service that allows you to backup multiple email accounts in one place from a single dashboard. It’s really easy to use and despite a Web Of Trust rating issue (someone seems to have rated it as untrustworthy but is talking about another site), I can assure you it is safe.

It’s quick and easy to setup and can be logged into using twitter, facebook or google accounts, once in you get a free amount of space that you can boost with referrals and the like but 5GB starts at $10 a year which ain’t too bad at all in my book.   You can manage the backups in one place which is great and if you do have multiple accounts the backups can all be searched from here.   Attachments to emails also get their own attachment manager which is very useful and can be used to share them on a number of services.

So why use this service over other methods?   Well for starters if you live in a rural location in the UK and your broadband is poor this could be very useful reassurance. Since it doesn’t rely on you downloading emails to your PC all you have to worry about backing up is your photos, you did do that right? 🙂

Not for everyone I admit, esecpially if you have good broadband speeds.    Also if you don’t trust companies to keep your data safe well I’m not going to convince you!   If you’re interested head over to their site and take a look, it’s free for a set amount of data and if you’ve got multiple email accounts like me you’ll be wanting to upgrade pretty soon.

Summary: Email backup service for multiple accounts
Why? If you’ve got poor internet connections but still need backups of your webmail this is for you.
Rating: For me personally I give it a 4/5 it looses points because their sister site for backing up websites (dropmysite) is not integrated with dropmyemail

UK local online #mapping is a stupid mess…

UK local online #mapping is a stupid mess…

Yuck, online mapping 1990s style

Today something is bothering me,   it has been bubbling away since I wrote this post “The Awful mess of Local Plans online” and I can’t contain it anymore.

Where’s my broadband coordinator? Cumbria CC

Cumbria as a geographic area I think has a lot of online maps and they all vary in quality and usability.   Sometimes it looks like the people who are operating them haven’t told other departments what they are doing…. to be fair they probably have but red tape has got in the way…

Lets take Sedbergh (yes I used Google Maps!) for example, if I want to see what services my local authorities’ provide on a map I can go here for Cumbria CC services but if I want to see their Public Rights of Way mapping (and the two national parks), I have to go here.  Now Cumbria also has a Historic Environment Record and their mapping is here (seriously slow & doesn’t always work).

Walk this way , Cumbria PROW map
Cumbria’s Historic Environment Record mapping is shit, no really

Now here’s the fun bit, bins, building control and libraries are dealt with by South Lakeland DC .   Ah, but if I want to see my local plan online rather than via PDF I have to go to the Yorkshire Dales online GIS here.   Oh and if I forget what Local Authority I’m in Eden DC provide some mapping for part of Sedbergh too.

Eden Web Mapping, basic but okay?
South Lakeland’s mapping just like Barrow’s and I quite like it..

All these maps provide detailed OS Mastermap level mapping.  Some are symbolised quite well, others not so well, I’ve always liked Barrow’s online GIS which South Lakeland seem to use, but that’s because it’s a bit technical and I hear open source [PDF].   I also worry when watermarks aren’t done well.

As a resident I shouldn’t have to check 5 different online maps to check out what’s happening in my area.  I certainly shouldn’t have to learn how each one operates! (look I used bold and underline I must be serious)

I can’t help wondering why no one is trying to get a national government mapping organisation whereby everyone gets the same online mapping frontend/interface but is in charge of their own data. A bit like the Planning Portal but for publishing data not just receiving it.  If people think this can’t be done, I think people working on the EU’s INSPIRE directive might say otherwise.

What I would like to see is web mapping become central not just an after thought to local and national government websites.   Yes there is a place of localisation (depending on usage, tourism, history etc…).   But a national web mapping site is needed so we can seamlessly browse geographically adjacent datasets.   This would be great not just for residents but also policy makers, politicians and professionals.  Imagine for example, seeing planning statistics and local plans for neighbouring authorities on one seamless map?   Local councillors could see how neighbouring areas with similar demographics are doing.  Think how easy consultation with neighbouring councils could be!

Enough of my musings, I’m off to make a map for a local authority in Iraq….

Related Posts


Analysing you the reader….

Analysing you the reader….

So I like Google Analytics, as it makes me feel like these pages are being read by someone.   What always surprises me is why people come here, I wonder what it tells me about the world…

Do people really still use the old HP DesignJet 500?  How do people not know how to export attribute tables to Excel in ArcGIS?   That Feature Construction toolbar must piss people off, yes?!

This months (12th March – 11th April) top pages are very similar to last months:

Page Title Pageviews
1. HP DesignJet 500 and Windows 7: Yes it does work even without the HPGL2 card! | GeoPlanIT 1,737 31.33%
2. GeoPlanIT 774 13.96%
3. Export attribute tables from ArcGIS to Excel. | GeoPlanIT 360 6.49%
4. PhotoShop: Unknown or invalid JPEG marker type… | GeoPlanIT 258 4.65%
5. To Unity and Beyond? QGIS, ArcGIS, SketchUp Pro/Free, CityEngine and Unity | GeoPlanIT 136 2.45%
6. ArcGIS 10 – Turn Off the “Feature Construction” toolbar. | GeoPlanIT 130 2.34%
7. cityengine | GeoPlanIT 96 1.73%
8. A very quick Rule Wizard for CityEngine tutorial | GeoPlanIT 95 1.71%
9. ArcGIS : Using Query Builder to display certain features (multiple) | GeoPlanIT 92 1.66%
10. Solution: Very slow printer dialog boxes in Windows (network printers) | GeoPlanIT 69 1.24%
Top Tip: Stop Google Chrome opening PDFs

Top Tip: Stop Google Chrome opening PDFs

This is a quick top tip for a problem which has been bugging me for some time.

EDIT: This is my 100th post!  Where’s the cake?

Someone on twitter called @longcreative said “Love Chrome. Really hate how it handles PDFs.” which stirred me into action. I too like using the Chrome web browser, but I have really hated how it opened PDFs automatically with it’s own viewer.

 Okay you may not like Adobe’s offering either but I really don’t remember being given any the choice as to how PDFs are handled. To be honest until recently I thought I was using Adobe Reader in Chrome and they had done a special version just for Chrome.

Damn you Chrome PDF Viewer

So how does one go about disabling Chrome’s (mis)handling of PDFs?  Simple type this in the address bar:


Then scroll down to the obviously labelled “Chrome PDF Viewer” and click on “disable“.  You could also from here re-enable Adobe’s offering but may I suggest you choose to leave both alone and download the pdf, scan it for viruses and only then open it in your favourite PDF reader?


Site Notice: All comments will now be moderated

Site Notice: All comments will now be moderated

Just a quick post to notify everyone, that I’ve decided to moderate all comments from now on.   As my site has got a little more popular (hurrah!) I’ve started to get some undesirable comments and spam posts (not everything is caught by bloggers spam filter).  I’m not offended I just need to tighten the admin side of things for the site

I will aim to approve all comments within a day, rest assured I will read and where possible reply to all!

Thank you that is all….

Kindle 3 : Some Hidden Features : Part 2 Technical stuff

Kindle 3 : Some Hidden Features : Part 2 Technical stuff

Following on the back of my last post I have found some more hidden features/functions for the Kindle 3.   As before please be careful using these, I’ve looked at them myself and had no problems.  That doesn’t mean you should do it though, if you are anyway unsure please don’t use these.   That is all!

Okay these little functions bring up some information on your Kindle, they’re not hugely useful as I’m not as what one might call a ‘hacker’ (I’m just a bit geeky) but I like to know what else my Kindle can do.

Navigate to the Settings screen on your Kindle (Menu – Settings, from the home screen):

  1. “Switching Wireless Providers”: type 311 (ALT+EQQ) – I’ve not said okay on this so you try at your own risk!
  2. 411 Page (serial Number MAC address etc): ALT+RQQ
  3. 611 Page (Modem, SIM and Network details) : ALT+YQQ
  4. 711 Page (Connection, Wi-fi and IP):  ALT+UQQ
From the home screen
  • Serial and Barcode displayed: ALT+SHIFT+. (period)
Bonus! Using the experimental web browser, when the page you are viewing is bigger than the screen (e.g, BBC full site and zoomed in).
  • ALT+J scroll right
  • ALT+H scroll left
That’s it for now, hope you are all still enjoying your Kindle 3!
My little #Kindle Hidden Feature post and some statistics…

My little #Kindle Hidden Feature post and some statistics…

I thought I might write a quick post after what I thought was a pretty limited interest piece on my Kindle.  Okay it was about some hidden features, but really I wasn’t expecting this.  I thought a quick summary of my website statistics was in order.

So up until yesterday my most popular post was this one :
HP DesignJet 500 and Windows 7: Yes it does work even without the HPGL2 card!
It had about 420 pageviews in its life time (I keep getting comments on this post, which is nice).

Now my post yesterday :
Kindle 3 some hidden features
This got over 4500 pageviews, yesterday alone.

All I can say is wow, I thought this was a bit odd so I did some checking…. I have a “who’s among us” (see bottom of page) counter and had a look earlier today at the history:

As you can see at the height of yesterdays visitations I had 114 visitors on my site at one stage.
Now I know that statistics for websites aren’t an exact science, but I guess this post hit some interest nerve in people (and hit the right website listings!).   I do have referral information and it seemed traffic came from some ‘technical’ sites and news boards.   I also saw that if you type in “kindle 3 hidden” in Google this site is third on the list, hurrah!

Well that’s it, I just thought it was interesting to see how the correct content can drive visitors to your site.   A big thank you to all those who visited and left comments, it’s really appreciated!  I hope future posts of mine can be deemed as interesting and of value to people.

Kindle 3 : Some Hidden Features

Kindle 3 : Some Hidden Features

After much research I’ve found something out about my new Kindle 3, it has hidden features and two simple (read: crap) games!

I must warn you though to please take care when using these instructions. Obviously they’re not supported otherwise we’d see them in the manual.  I have not broken anything by using these (yet) however I can’t take responsibility for anything that goes wrong.

The instructions for these ‘features’ are widely available elsewhere I just thought I’d consolidate them here, mainly for my consumption.  If you are unsure about using them my advice is don’t.

This is an expanding list, I have more technical stuff to put up but hey I thought I’d put up the easy stuff first.

Oh and if anything does go wrong please tell others, like me and comment on this page, I’ll make sure to add warnings or remove anything that causes problems.
Mmm keyboard…
Hidden Games (don’t get that excited)
  1. shift + alt + m = play minesweeper (from homescreen)
  2. GoMoku: press G from Minesweeper

Hot Keys at any time
  1. alt + shift + G = screenshot (plug your Kindle in via the USB and navigate to the folder ‘documents’ screenshots are GIF and named something like “screen_shot-******.gif”)
  2. alt + G = screen refresh
  3. alt + home = Kindle Store
  4. alt + top row of letters on keyboard = numbers 1-0

  1. Press menu to check the time
  2. Press menu on homescreen to see available memory
  3. To change the primary dictionary by going to settings then menu

Power Switch
  1. Standby (uses minimal power is my understanding) Quick switch of the power slide.
  2. To turn off kindle 3 (i.e switch off the screen as well) by pressing and holding the power slide for 7 seconds
  3. To reset the kindle by pressing and holding the power slide for 15 seconds (restart is also in settings then menu)

Hot Keys Whilst Reading
  1. alt + B = add and remove bookmarks
  2. shift + Sym = Turn text to speech on and off
  3. set cursor down the page to start text to speech from there
  4. right arrow on nav controller = skip to next chapter
  5. left arrow on nav controller = skip to previous chapter

Music Controls
  1. alt + space = turn music on and off
  2. alt + f = skip to next track

Kindle 3 Image Viewer (don’t get that excited Part 2)
Kindle has an image viewer, who knows why its hidden (other than maybe its not very good) still its there and simple to set up.  I’m assuming a windows based PC for these instructions, but it probably is similar for a Mac and others…
  1. Plug your Kindle 3 into the computer with the USB.
  2. Open the Kindle drive that is now in your displayed with your removable drives, in the root (i.e. not in another folder) create a folder called “pictures” within that folder you can create a number of other folders (think of them as collections), then add your images/pictures to this (or these) folders.  I’ve only tried Jpegs and they work fine.
  3. Once finished safely unplug the kindle and then press “alt” and “z” on the homescreen, this will refresh the screen and add your new folders.
  4. Click on the folder/collection and Image Viewer should launch.

Image Viewer Functions
Page forward and back to see different images
  1. f = full-screen
  2. q = zoom in
  3. w= zoom out
  4. e = reset zoom
  5. c = actual size
  6. r = rotate
  7. nav controller = pan

That’s it for now I’ll be posting some other functions in a bit.   Also I have not discovered most of these out myself by hacking the Kindle.  I’ve just found them out by searching the World Wide Web for Kindle features, hot keys and  easter eggs.


As Requested… by kuroikaze85

Update (1st October 2010): Acknowledgements
Apologies for not posting this sooner, I only compiled this list for my benefit (and limited followers) but now others are interested!

Articles and posts that made this page possible and some more I’ve found after I posted this list.   If you want some more technical stuff you could look at these but be careful.  NOTE Not all relate to Kindle 3 (latest version):

There are more sites with information just goto Google like I did and search for “Kindle hidden” or “kindle easter eggs”

Update (1st October 2010): This post was featured on thanks Matthew Humphries!

Update (2nd October 2010): This post was linked to on Ebook Roundup from Resource Shelf

Update (3rd October 2010): This post was linked to on Mike Cane’s xBlog GeoPlanIT: Kindle 3 : Some Hidden Features

This Article now has a part 2 : Click Here