in Ramblings, Reviews, Tech

Services I pay for online – 2011

I find that as time goes by, I’m less willing to engage in DIY-style tech solutions. I’m realizing that while I enjoy those projects, they take up too much of my time. I’ve decided I’m willing to pay a reasonable price to outsource the tasks. Especially with our semi-DIY cable cutting project taking up just about all my tech time right now. Here’s the services I’ve deemed worthy of paying for online:

Instead of running/maintaining my own photo server, I let Flickr do the job. Flickr is the relative old man on this list, since I’ve been a paid subscriber since 2005. In addition to the sharing & social features, I find my account gives me some peace of mind too – it’s like a low-grade off-site backup.

Rdio, on the other hand, is my newest acquisition. I once briefly tried to maintain my own streaming music server to access songs on the go. It never really worked right, and didn’t last long. For $10 per month, rdio lets me listen to almost any song I could want. In addition to listening on my desktop I can bring it up on my phone (with offline caching!) and they just launched a Roku app too.

I used to have an elaborate backup scheme involving multiple external hard drives and some scripted events. It didn’t always work right, and even if it did my backup was only on-site. Carbonite sits in the background, constantly making sure all my important files (here ‘important’ even includes my music & movies) are remotely backed up.
As a bonus, the service’s restore features can be used to transfer all those backed up files to a new computer as I did recently.

Tripit Pro is a very simple, yet very impressive service. I forward them all my travel confirmation emails (hotel, air, shuttle, etc) and it builds an itinerary for me. The result is viewable online or via their mobile apps. I get messages about changes to flights as I go, no need to juggle a dozen confirmation messages while I’m traveling! Meanwhile Tripit monitors all my airfares and lets me know about price drops, making it the one item on this list with the potential to pay for itself. Tripit Pro proved its worth to me during honeymoon planning last year, but it’s great for simpler trips too.

All four of these services Just Work, and are worth every penny. If time is money, I’m coming out ahead on the deal.

(With a little luck I’ll remember to continue & update this list in future years.)

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  1. I only tried Mozy briefly, but found the interface to be very confusing. Mozy also charges in tiers based on the number of GBs you have backed up with them, and I’d just barely be in their higher tier. So Carbonite (unlimited storage) works out to be cheaper for me.