The College Student's Guide to Backing Up Your Apple Life

While it’s not super exciting stuff, backups are incredibly important. Every day I see a student come into our lab who is experiencing the woes of not backing up their data. Whether or not a file is backed up can be life or death, (figuratively speaking, of course) for a college student.

By the end of this post you will have the resources to put a multi-layered backup system in place that not only has your back (see what I did there?) in a data loss situation, but also allows you to access your files from anywhere. Let’s get started.

Using the iOS Searchbar as an App Launcher

Alfred is a integral app in how I use my Mac. I launch apps, append text files, search Spotify, and much more. It's something I definitely miss if I am using a Mac without it. 

I've been experimenting lately with using the Searchbar in iOS as a sort of app launcher, and it's been working really well. Just like learning to use the shortcut you assign to Alfred or Launchbar (or any shortcut for that matter) it takes some time to get used to, but now I use it all the time. I can launch apps, search across music, contacts, email, and other areas of my iPhone, and much more. Whether you've got 10 pages of apps or have neatly organized folders, using the search bar as a app launcher / master search on iOS really speeds up system navigation and overall provides a quick way to get to the app, song, email, or web search you want.

To access the Searchbar, just drag down on any page of apps on your iPhone and search away.



Quick Thoughts

So I took a quick break from blogging while the semester got started back up, but I'm getting ready to start doing this thing on a more regular basis now. I'm going to aim for a tech / productivity / coffee / gadgets and gizmos approach, but maybe from a more higher-ed / edutech standpoint, as well as the occasional life-thoughts post. Blogging is a strange medium to me, but it does seem effective, and along the way I'll be posting some David Sparks-style  tutorials for stuff I find handy among the way.

 I've still got a lot to figure out, and I'm going to wrestle with some of that here. 

My 1Password Shirt

I'm extremely excited to own a 1Password shirt. I got it today from the good folks at AgileBits, and am super pumped to answer all the "what does your shirt mean?" questions.

If you've never heard of 1Password, do yourself a favor and check it out. It's a application to basically create super-secure passwords for your digital life, store online payment info, and basically just organize all the information you need to keep secure. It's a life-changer, Mac-wise. If you have heard of 1Password, grab one of these shirts for yourself.

Either way, you need to have one of these shirts. The 1Password goodness must be shared!


Alfred Workflow for a New Outlook Mail Message

What you need:

This one's for all the corportate folks using Macs. I use Outlook for my work email because we are on an Exchange Server and it provides a bit more functionality for Exchange than, which is my main mail app.

Alfred is one of my most used Mac utilities. It makes app switching and launching incredibly fast, and with the new Powerpack, allows the creation of workflows that add even more speed to your Mac game. If you aren't using it, stop right now and go download it here, it's a life changer for sure. If you can afford it, go ahead and get the Powerpack too so that you can have the workflow functionality.

I'm always trying to find more efficient ways to work with my Mac, and I knew with a bit of AppleScript and Alfred action I could at least incorporate Outlook into my workflow. So, I created an Alfred workflow to create a new mail message in Outlook, which makes composing a new email message incredibly quick. Once you install the workflow, type "newout", hit enter, and you are good to go! I hope it at least somewhat helps you navigate the dark waters that is the Microsoft Office Suite for Mac and adds a bit of efficiency to your day.

Download the workflow here.

PS: the good folks at the Mac Power Users podcast, David Sparks and Katie Floyd did a whole episode on the Alfred 2. Tons of good stuff, check it out here

Whats in My Bag?

I'm a huge fan of what's-in-my-bag posts, such as this one from Cult of Mac. Essentially these posts are just a way for geeks and techies to show off what they carry on a daily basis as well as to provide insight into possible future gadget purchases. One famous one is Steve Wozniak's bag, featured in this article on Gizmodo.

Today, I had the opportunity of getting to display what I carry in my bag each day. I'm a student lab manager at the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Digital Media Commons, and a lot of my work revolves around providing students with solutions for media projects. I like to be prepared with a solution for any type of media problem, so I tend to pack heavy when it comes to my gear. With that being said, here's my gear list:

  • MacBook Pro Retina - 15in

  • Apple Magic Mouse

  • Buffalo 500GB Thundebolt / USB 3.0 Hard Drive

  • Unu 11,000mAh Battery Backup

  • Surge Protector

  • Karma Wifi Hotspot

  • Mac and iOS Adapters - HDMI, Thunderbolt, VGA, DVI, Lightning

  • Pens, Pencils

  • Various SD Cards

  • Various Cables - VGA, DVI, Firewire, HDMI, Thunderbolt, USB

  • Notebooks

  • Kindle

  • Flashlight

  • MOO Business Cards

  • Automobile Power Adapter

  • Cordless Drill

  • And a variation of small cables, adapters, etc.

  • All of this is in a huge backpack I got from REI. Not sure of the brand.

As a former cub scout, I like to be prepared.