Wednesday, February 2, 2011


As a serious writer, you probably have a writing plan…but do you have a technology plan? You should. For those who aren’t sure where to start, I’ll share my own set-up with comments that might help you make decisions regarding what’s right for you.

• Microsoft Security Essentials stands up in comparison with the popular Norton and McAfee. The biggest difference is that it’s free! Keep in mind that if you install two different antivirus programs, it’s NOT double the protection. They will conflict and compete with each other and slow your computer down significantly. No matter what program you use, remember they aren’t full proof. You still need to be smart and take care where you click. This is why you need a backup plan in case you need to wipe and restore your system and files.

BACKUP PLAN: External hard drive and Reputable off-site storage

• Windows 7 allows a system image onto an external drive with one click. An external drive has limitations as a back-up of course. It could get lost, stolen, wiped, destroyed, etc.

• For $55/yr, you can store your system image on a backup site. I use Carbonite but there are plenty of great products out there. You want a program that will backup both your applications (like Word, Liquid Story Binder) and files (your documents/pictures/videos).

• This is great if you want to share documents with others. I have several collaboration projects and give folder access to specific people. The most recent document (as well as previous versions) will always be available in the “cloud.”

• Microsoft Skydrive – Get 25 GB for free

• Dropbox is good too, but only offers 2 GB for free. If you refer enough friends you can get up to 8 GB free. The only reason I have Dropbox, is because it’s used by several friends.

• Windows Live Writer (free) is a huge timesaver for blogging. You can use it offline, organize partially written blogs, schedule them to post, etc. When you’re done, one click will post them to any site you designate – your website, Facebook, MySpace, etc.

• For Twitter and smaller posts, I just changed to HootSuite (free) and love it. First it’s web-based so you don’t need to download anything. That also allows you to access it from anywhere. Additionally, HootSuite lets you post to multiple accounts and schedule tweets.

VoIP – Voice Over IP (phone over the internet)

• Skype & Skype Recorder (free) – for chatting to anyone around the world (with voice only or with video), making audio podcasts and to record research interviews. You may want to grab a $10 headset with built in microphone to keep your hands free to type.

• I’ve only tried it once, but in two hours I used Windows Movie Maker to make my first trailer for Write at Sea.

• After a backup plan, if you only decide to do one other thing from this list, I recommend a password management tool. It’s ridiculous how much time it will save you from looking up user names/passwords. There are many out there, but I love using LastPass. Oh, Oh…I know I need to wrap this up but LastPass just bought a Xmarks, which saves your bookmarks for when you write/research on different computers. It’s such a great concept.

Oprah has her favorite things, and I guess these are mine! Did you notice almost all of them are free? Please don’t think that free means less quality. For the one thing that isn’t free, an off-site backup, that’s one item you can’t afford not to buy.

Please comment to share your favorite gadget or if you use/try any of these tools, I’d love to hear what you think.

All the best,
Twitter: FollowJulia & CrazyCrimes


Tamera Lynn said...

Wow! So many options I wasn't aware of. Thanks for listing these out!

vee worthy said...

So many great things to use here! And FREE! Way cool. I'll download the free anti-virus program on my mini-puter tonight. Yeah! Thanks!

Julia Hunter said...

Tamera Lynn, it's totally my pleasure. Unfortunately the hyperlinks didn't come out in the blog but you should be able to search for them by name. The trailer is on You Tube. I hope it's helpful!

Vee, Yes, everything except Carbonite is FREE - isnt' that amazing? Security Essentials will run nice and light on your mini. I have it on mine too.

Anonymous said...

Back it up! Always a good reminder. Thank you.

Julia Hunter said...

Hi Carmen, it's been a long time since I've seen you!

Back-up seems to be something we all know is important, have the best intentions of doing...but never get around to it, eh?

That's one nice thing about Carbonite - you can set it to backup on a regular schedule.

To clarify one point - I meant that it's nice to have one of your backup options be able to take a whole system image including your operating system, so the restoration puts Windows and your files back at once. Windows 7 has that feature.

Carbonite is only for file backups, so it's handy for when your computer is lost/stolen, when files become corrupt, hard drive dies, or if you prefer to have encrypted cloud storage.

Angela Ackerman said...

After a computer crash, I cannot underscore enough how important it is to back up that work! I lucked out only because I sent out the book to a critique partner the day before, Now I have an external hard drive and back up religiously!

I use tweetdeck not hootesuite, but I've been meaning to check it out. Thanks for the tips!

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse