This is a review I wrote awhile ago. I thought I’d repost it here on The Well-Appointed Desk where people might see it.
The Pilot Opt 0.5 mechanical pencil in “stardust blue” from Jet Pens is a standard plastic-bodied mechanical pencil. It has a wide barrel and rubber grip for more comfortable writing, a standard click end to extend the lead (Oh, and I just discovered its also a shake pencil! Duh!!!) , a small eraser under a translucent grey cap and a spring loaded clip to attach it to notebook or pocket. There were two leads included and they write with silky smoothness. Its nicely weighted and reasonably priced at $3.30.
What really makes this pen stand out is the metallic, midnight blue case dappled with a sprinkling of silver “stars.” It makes the pencil look like you’re holding the cosmos in your hand. This pencil has earned favored nation status and is carried with me everywhere while other similar tools languish in drawers and cups.
[Tested on Moleskine blank notebook hence the slightly yellowish cast to the paper]
For serious back-up and data recovery, I recommend SuperDuper!. It has actually saved my bacon in the past so I can say with certainty that it works. In layman’s terms, SuperDuper! quickly and easily creates back-ups and clones of your hard drive in case of emergency. This is not Time Machine, that stores iterations of files and versions but a straight-up back-up of your data, home folder or clone of your drive. SuperDuper! does claim it is a perfect complement to Time Machine though.
I had not yet gotten around to installing the most recent version of SuperDuper! on my laptop before it got stolen last week so trust me when I say $27.95 is a small price to pay for the lost work-hours, family photos and treasured memories.
Update: SuperDuper! is free for the basic version. The $27.95 price tag is for the upgraded version that provides scheduling and smart back-up options. So, download the free version and try it out. You’ll be glad you did.
Another step to securing your digital life is having a good back-up system in place. One great option for active files and things you might need to share or access from multiple work stations is Dropbox. It is an online storage service that provides a great desktop applet that integrates seamlessly with Macs ad mobile devices (It also provides software that runs on Windows and Linux as well but I’ve not used it so I can’t speak to how effective it is).
I use the service to store various text documents, logos and image files I use regularly and as back-up of current projects that I’m still working on. Once a project is completed, its moved to other storage.
The free basic account provides 2GB of space and you can earn additional free space when friends sign up. Their service can also be upgraded to hold 50GB, 100GB and 1TB+ through a monthly service fee starting at $9.99/mo.
Once you’ve password protected your computer, locked all the doors and windows and backed up all your data, what could possibly be left to do? Protecting your passwords and making them as secure as possible. Thanks to 1Password, you can store all your passwords within one application under a master password. Also, 1Password can generate new and even more secure passwords for you behind your master password providing protection from online hacking. It will also store serial numbers, credit card data and notes under lock-and-key. Software can be backed up to Dropbox or your harddrive. The software is pricey but the peace of mind is free. $49 for desktop app. $14.99 for iOS.
Update: 1Password is available for Android and Windows as well as the full array of Apple products.
Next up in “Safety Week” is Hidden. It is an app you store on your computer that, when activated, will track your computer’s location, collect pictures using your iSight camera and snap screenshots of your computer in use so you can see what the thief is doing with your computer. All the feedback on the site suggests that Hidden is very effective in tracking and retrieving a stolen computer within hours of a theft. Prices start at $15/yr for a single computer with options for multiple systems and businesses. Fifteen dollars a year seems like a small price to pay for a bit more piece of mind.
For a nominal fee of $25, STOP tags offer a visible deterrent on any portable electronic device with a permanent adhesive sticker that requires 800lbs of pressure to remove. The sticker includes a bar code with the owner’s tracking data. Underneath the sticker is a permanently etched mark that says “Stolen property” asuuming a thief is able to remove the top bar code sticker. This combination makes it very difficult for a thief to resell your device and the sticker alone may be enough to deter someone form taking it in the first place.
This is probably one of the most cost effective methods of theft deterrents. I’ll have more options in the coming days.
I discovered some real advantages to upgrading to Lion OS following our break-in last week. Had I installed Lion and added the Find My iPhone app on my phone, I may have been able to track the location of my MacBookPro. Prior to upgrading to Lion, the app could only be used to track an iPhone, not a computer or iPad. Its a free app and upgrading to Lion is just $29 which seems like a small price to pay when I consider the cost of a new MacBookPro.
If you’ve been holding off upgrading to Lion, I recommend taking the chance. There are actually some really nice features and MacWorld has written some great articles about Lion including a cover article from the November 2011 issue about making the most out of Lion (and making it more Leopard-like, if you so desire).