Category Archives: Tools

Gathering clouds

In a previous article, I recommended using cloud storage to make your files mobile and to provide a means of backing up vital files and data. For file back-up, the idea of cloud storage is appealing as it fulfils one of the main tenets of secure back-up by providing off-site storage should your premises or house be desimated by fire or flood.

Fire and Flood

Don't let this happen to your data

All well and good, until recently when there was a huge stushie over file sharing company Megaupload which was shutdown by US officials on 19th January 2012 and charged with conspiracies to commit racketeering, copyright infringement and money laundering. The background to the case is that Megaupload were allegedly encouraging users to upload and share popular files leading to copyright infringements including software, video and music piracy. Whatever the outcome of the case against Megaupload, it has already had an effect on the online storage industry and some similar cloud providers are restricting or closing down their service including FileSonic, FileServe, FileJungle, UploadBox and UploadStation.

For your average and genuine user, the concern of this is that the many legitimate companies that provide a useful and innovative service may be tarred with the same brush and put at risk by this action.

So where does that leave us ……?

The Silver Lining

My advice is not to be put off using cloud storage for both personal and business use but to use it as a convenience rather than rely on it as an absolute necessity. This means keeping a local copy of your files and all the best cloud storage providers will have a synchronisation utility to do this automatically, giving access to your files even when you’re offline. For extra security, sensitive files can be encrypted using an on-the-fly encryption utility such as AxCrypt and TrueCrypt can be used with Dropbox to create a secure container. The great thing about Dropbox synchronisation, unlike with many other services, is that it only transfers the part of the file that has actually changed not the whole file, so you won’t use lots of bandwidth to update your TrueCrypt containers.

Dropbox offers 2Gb of free storage but if you’re looking for more, then I can recommend 4shared who provide a generous 15GB of free storage. I’ve been evaluating their service for a while and I like the web interface, which is much better than that from Dropbox and more like a proper file manager. 4shared also provides two free programs to synchronise your files with your PC, ‘4shared Sync’ synchronises the whole 4shared account, while ‘4shared Desktop’ is similar to an upload/download manager and allows you to synchronise a particular folder. I’ve emailed 4shared a couple of times with general questions and their responses have been quick and helpful. It stands out from the rest and is worth a look.


Save the environment (no, not that one)

I’ve been looking for a general purpose IDE and text editor that I can use for writing simple C++ applications but also when playing around with Visual Basic, HTML, CSS and some legacy code written in Fortran (yes I am that old). There are a few contenders and I like Code::Blocks for C++ and EditPlus is a good all rounder with user tools capabilities and syntax highlighting as well as being a good notepad replacement. Notepad++ also has some very good features and is open source.

And then there’s UEStudio v12 by IDM Computer Solutions, which as they say is ‘feature rich’. An understatement if ever there was one and potentially it’s overwhelming but the saving grace is that it can be fully customised into what IDM call ‘Environments’. This means that with a couple of clicks the IDE/ editor will re-configure to suit your needs, from Power User to Notepad Replacement. You can edit the built-in environments or create new ones of your own.

Not surprisingly, I found that on first installing UEStudio, support for Fortan syntax highlighting was not included but I quickly found a supporting file (called wordfile) on the IDM website to download and copy to my wordfiles directory. Simple as that and there are hundreds of such files available for almost any language you can think of.

UEStudioUEStudio is a fully integrated development environment supporting over 30 compilers and assemblers, although these need to be installed separately and are not part of the package. A Quick Start Guide and online tutorials and tips are provided for many common tasks and there is also an active user forum.

I’ve seen complaints that it can be hard to find your way around UEStudio, which may be true at first, but once you’ve set up each environment for whatever uses you have, then its complexity is not a problem.

I’m still evaluating UEStudio but so far some of the features that I like are;

  • Environments
  • Project management
  • Ability to compile, build and debug within the application
  • Built-in FTP client
  • HTML preview
  • CSS style builder
  • Huge number of customisation options (including toolbars and menu items)

IDM Computer Solutions also sell UltraEdit which is the same as UEStudio but without the IDE features and UltraCompare, which is an advanced file/ folder compare utility. I’ve not tried UltraComapre as there’s a built in Lite version with UEStudio but as you’d expect the professional version provides many additional features.

With a little more effort to learn its extensive capabilities, UEStudio is a strong contender to be my favourite editor/ IDE and notepad replacement.

A fully functional trial can be downloaded from the IDM Computer Solutions website. At £50 it’s not cheap but if you need a professional level text/ HEX editor and IDE, then UEStudio v12 is definitely worth a look.

[s3r star=4.5/5]