利用免費的Google Cloud來建立私有雲(一)

Google Cloud Platform 是與Amazon AWS相似的雲端虛擬伺服器的服務,相較於Amazon AWS是給予第一年免費運行一個小型伺服器(t2.micro: 0.5 vCPU, 1 GiB RAM)與30GB SSD硬碟的試用,Google cloud Platform則提供了一個微型伺服器(0.2 vCPU, 0.6 GiB RAM)與30GB 傳統硬碟永久免費。Google 還額外提供了第一年300美金的試用額度。相比之下Google的免費服務是比Amazon大方的。如果以建立個人私有雲的角度來說,Google的免費服務已經可以滿足大部份人的需要。有鑑於Dropbox限縮了免費使用者只能同步兩台裝置,我想是時候考慮自己弄一個個人雲了!

我最近將我的Nextcloud個人雲從Amazon AWS 轉到了Google Cloud Platform,參考了很多資料,下面我就整理一下,照著做可以少走些岔路。

由於Google Cloud Platform 在很多區域都有服務,所以第一件事情要注意的就是免費的服務只在下面幾個區域有:

  • 奧勒岡州:us-west1
  • 愛荷華州:us-central1
  • 南卡羅來納州:us-east1

你可能會發現所有的免費服務都在美國,所以如果你人在台灣的話,會有比較高的延遲。對於私有雲來說,延遲影響很小,所以關係不大。不過還是選比較靠近亞洲的奧勒岡州吧!詳細的永久免費方案請參考官網,中文的!

架設個人雲的第一步就是開一個新的 f1-micro VM 執行個體 ,並且將如何安全的透過SSH登入這個服務設定完成。請參考下面這些網頁,我照著做沒有碰到問題:

  1. 如何建立google cloud 服務
  2. 如何建立及登入執行個體

這裡我要提醒一下,由於第一年有免費300美金的試用額度,所以如果真的產生什麼費用,會先從這邊扣,在這一年內你可以觀察一下有沒有什麼服務持續向你收費的(這時只會扣你的免費額度)。我最常見到的狀況是Google Cloud Platform 幫你建立了一個系統的映像檔 ,而這個映像檔通常跟你建立的執行個體用到的硬碟空間一樣大(30GB),所以就一直收費了。建議到 Computer Engine –> 映像檔 找一下有沒有建立者是你自己的映像檔,刪掉就不會再產生費用了。另外就是在使用個人雲的時候,流量產生的費用也可能會超過免費額度,不過除非你一天到晚從你的服務器下載東西,不然這個部份產生的費用幾乎可以不計。這篇文章的目的是取代免費的Dropbox,如果你是重度使用者(需要超過25GB使用空間),那我建議你選擇如Google Drive、Dropbox等產品。如果你充份的利用到所有你購買的空間,那這些網路硬碟產品比你自架服務器還便宜!

如鷹展翅上騰

以賽亞書 第四十章 28-31節

你豈不曾知道嗎?你豈不曾聽見嗎?永在的神耶和華,創造地極的主,並不疲乏,也不困倦;他的智慧無法測度。

疲乏的,他賜能力;軟弱的,他加力量。

就是少年人也要疲乏困倦;強壯的也必全然跌倒。

但那等候耶和華的必從新得力。他們必如鷹展翅上騰;他們奔跑卻不困倦,行走卻不疲乏。

推薦筆記軟體 – Notion

我工作上會使用Matlab, LabView等等的程式來擷取、分析實驗數據,而我個人的愛好是架設各樣的網路服務(Nextcloud, WordPress, Roundcube, Full-Text RSS, Kindlereader)。當我在找一些技術性資料時,我習慣把找到的網頁放到Chrome瀏覽器的書籤列。久而久之,我的書籤列就爆滿,並且有了非常多的資料夾、子資料夾。有很多的網路資料是放在一些跟我一樣的個人網站,常常沒幾年就消失了。還有就是有時候我照著教學做卻發現有些錯誤的地方,也不能修改或自己加註。所以我就想要找一個筆記軟體來存放我找到的這些技術文件。

一開始我試了Onenote, 以及Evernote

Onenote

其中Onenote因為與微軟其它的辦公室軟體使用邏輯很像,所以用起來很容易上手。他的三層目錄結構也很符合我筆記還有待辨事項的整理邏輯。

https://products.office.com/en-us/onenote/digital-note-taking-app

可是,跟許多筆記軟體 (Evernote, Notion, Bear)不一樣的地方在於,Onenote是把一本筆記 (上圖最左邊的層級,最上層)存成一個檔案。這種筆記本之間分開,三層目錄結構,特別適合上課的筆記。一門課就是一本筆記本。把每次上課、每個主題的筆記與資料放在同一個第二層資料夾中,可以很容易的分類與搜尋。

可是正因為不同筆記本之間是分開的檔案,如果想要把一份下層分類的筆記頁面搬到另一本筆記中,是很麻煩的事。想像一個情況,我在網上找到一篇文章想要晚點找時間看,現在就想先把網頁擷取了放在我的inbox 筆記本中,晚點再決定這份文件屬於哪本筆記,這種邏輯在Onenote是行不通的。

Evernote

因為這個原因,我開始試用了大名鼎鼎的Evernote。針對Evernote的心得與應用在網路上有許多人有非常詳細的分享,我就不野人獻曝了。而如果你用的到付費版的Evernote的一些功能,例如搜尋影像內的文字 、搜尋 PDF 和 Office 文件內的文字 等等,那Evernote 目前為止還是最強的(這些Notion都還沒有)。這邊我只提出為何我後來放棄使用它的原因。

  • 免費版功能太少,由其是只能在兩台裝置間同步,無法在充份試用後再決定要不要付費。
  • 網頁版有兩種不同版本 (正式版與beta 版),而某一個功能可能只在其中一個版本上才有,所以常需要為了使用不同功能而切換版本。
  • 擷取功能不符合我的需要。詳細情況在介紹Notion時會說明。
  • 針對程式碼 (Matlab, Bash, Java, etc)的顯示與編輯不夠友善

如同我最前面提到的,我想找筆記軟體的最主要原因是想把一些網路上找到的技術文章存起來,並加上自己的註解,所以對網路文章中的程式碼的擷取、編輯與呈現就是我最在意的東西。其他我需要的功能隨便一個免費且陽春的筆記軟體(例如Apple 公司的Notes.app)都能做到

Notion

在寫這篇推薦文才發現這個軟體只有英文版。希望趕快出中文介面!

Notion 這個軟體的野心很大,他們是想要集合個人待辦事項,知識庫,專案管理、資料庫於一身。也因為這個原因,所以一開始上手要花一點時間,了解這個軟體管理資訊的架構。這裡我只專注在知識庫這一塊,因為我覺得個人待辦事項Todoist做的更好,專案管理也有很多其他強大的軟體(我不熟這塊就不班門弄斧了),Notion想要通吃沒那麼容易。

Notion管理內容的方式是 區塊 (block),所有的文字、照片、影片、都用區塊的概念。因為所有物件都被當做區塊,所以一頁筆記,或是筆記中的一段文字,都是區塊,你可以將一頁筆記移到不同的資料夾中,或是把一段文字調整成其他的類型的區塊(純文字、程式碼區塊等等)。

之前因為Notion沒有自己的網頁擷取套件,所以在收集網路資料上完全不是Evernote, Onenote的對手,今年他們出了自家的網頁擷取套件,並且照我的觀察他們是利用分析工具將網頁中有用的內容擷取出來,並改成他們自己的格式(也就是以區塊為核心的頁面編排格式)。這比較像是Fivefilter這種的網路文章全文擷取的概念,這樣的好處是擷取下來的文章,會自動幫你把是程式碼的部份設定成程式碼區塊,圖片則設成圖片區塊。不過這也不是沒有缺點的,有時候一些網站上特定格式的程式碼區塊會被這個擷取工具自動忽略,所以就沒有擷取到。但是Evernote的擷取工具也好不到哪,雖然Evernote的擷取工具有智慧選擇擷取範圍的功能,但是在某些網站可選擇的區域不是太大而把廣告也包含進去,就是太小而只有標題被選擇到。如果是像我一樣是想把網路上的技術文件擷取下來作日後的參考資料,我相信在提升網頁區塊的辨識能力後,Notion的網頁擷取技術將會是更好(最好)的工具。

再來就是程式碼的顯示與編輯。Notion針對不同的程式語言都有做最佳化,這方面是Evenote 與Onenote完全比不上的。這也是我最後選擇Notion的決定性因素。

Notion還有許多很好用的小功能,例如鎖住編輯功能防止誤刪,超多的待辦事項和專案管理模版可以直接套用等等。如果你看了這篇文章想要試用Notion,歡迎用我的推廣碼 ,你會得到10美金的試用額度,我會得到5美金。如果你完成Notion提供的一些小任務,還能得到另外26美金。Notion月費 $5,年費$48,所以這些獎勵相當於讓你免費使用全功能七個月左右。另外我會建議不急著把這$36 花掉,因為免費帳號已經可以試用絕大部份的功能了,等一定會用到付費功能再開始使用這$36。

ps. 免費版最大的限制是只能建立1000個區塊(每段文字、圖片或是資料夾是一個區塊)、單一附檔上限5MB、觀看筆記修改的歷史記錄。

OmniFocus, 2Do, and Todoist comparison (3)- Todoist

I think I will settle down with Todoist for a while after a long search of a to-do app.  Although some functions are lacking, Todoist has many key features which I think a to-do app must have. I am going to start with the pros of this app:

  • Works on all platforms. I am a Mac fan using iPhone, iPad, and iMac at home. However, I have to use Windows for my work for many reasons. The fact that it works on all platforms matters to me. Todoist is the only to-do app which has this flexibility among the three (OmniFocus, 2Do, and Todoist).
  • Flexible attachment file format. You can attach all kinds of files to a task, with no limitations like 2Do. This is of importance when working on different platforms. I can attach a word file from my phone, and work on the file on a computer.   
  • Relative cheap option compared with other cross-platform solutions. I am working at a University as a researcher, so I am qualified for the educational discount. I only need to pay $14.5 a year for one account. If I want to add accounts for my students, employees, or my spouse, I also only need to pay $14.5 for each account. However, the company just announced that they are going to increase the price for future users (from $29/year to $60/year for business users, and $29/year to $36/year for personal users). I suggest grabbing your subscription as soon as you can.  

Cons: 

  • For the iPhone app, there is no passcode locking functionality.  I mean, seriously? I cannot setup extra passcode for the Todoist app? This should be a default function for these kinds of apps which deal with sensitive personal information. For me, this is the only but huge concerns.
  • No action function like 2do. As I mentioned here, I think this function is really convenient and a must have for a to-do app. Todoist provides link function instead, but it is not as intuitive as the action function. For example, you can type tel: xxx-xxx-xxxx and it will become a link for making phone calls. But I cannot pick up numbers directly from my contacts. Typing adds chances of making mistakes. 

Just like what I mentioned, the company is going to increase the price start from Dec 1st, 2018, and all the current users are going to pay the legacy price in the future as long as the accounts keep active. For the business accounts (including the educational accounts), the legacy price applies to all the current and future users. This is truly a great deal! I suggest to subscribe for one year before price increases, and you can decide whether you want to keep using it in the future. it would be good to open a business account because the price now is the same for personal and business users. By holding a business account, you can add new users for your colleagues or families with the same low legacy price in the future. 

OmniFocus, 2Do, and Todoist comparison (2)- 2Do

During my to-do list app searching, 2Do is my favorite one. This app initially developed for iOS, and this is the best thing about this app. You can manage your to-do list on your smartphone without a computer, as it was designed for that purpose. Other than that, there is one essential functionality that the OmniFocus has never had so far: Action.

When you plan to call your mom for something at a specific time, you can just create a task and pick up the action: call. You can either choose a phone number from your contacts or type in. You don’t need to leave the app to make a phone call; instead, you can click the green bottom. This function is also available for some other todo list apps (e.g., Appigo Todo), but 2do make this function looks great.

Another thing that I like the most is the pricing strategy. The starting price of 2do for iOS was $6.99, and the company provides discount periodically. I got the iOS version for $2.99. This is not the best part. The best thing is that they NEVER ask for an upgrade fee.  Instead, they increase the price of the app with the improvement of the functionality. I consider that this is an appreciation for the loyal customers who were willing to support them in the very beginning.  The iOS version is now free for download. If you want the pro version (you will!), you can get it from in-app purchase for $19.99. For the Mac version, it is $49.99 now (the lowest price was $14.99), and I got it for $24.99. Since they always provide discount every couple months ( especially Thanksgiving and Christmas), I highly recommend that you should wait for the discount if you are not in hurry.

Now I would like to start the cons of this app:

  1. For Apple and Andriod users only. 2Do has the similar issue as the OmniFocus: it is limited to specific platforms. 2DO provide solutions for Windows and other Unix-like OS users, which is Email to 2Do, years after the first release of this app. With this function, you can designate an Email account which their server should catch todo tasks for you (left figure). And then you can decide what types of Email should be caught as a task(right figure). You can even use the subject line of the Email to assign tags, lists, actions, etc, for that task. In the beginning, I was very excited about this function. With this function, I can email to myself to create a task from a Windows computer. For example, if I want to create a task while I am working on a Windows computer, and can send an Email to a designated account with title “todo: call mom list(Personal) due(today) tag(Home) action(call, 8008888888)”. However, I realized (you probably also noticed) that it is still too complex since I need to type a lot of (correct) information in order to put the task in the correct place.

2. There is no For Web version. This is the biggest issue in my opinion. A Web version would make this app perfect. However, it took the developer of this app (I believe that there is only one developer for this app) years to build for Mac version and Android version, and I don’t think that he is planning to build and maintain a Web server.

3. Limited file attachment options. Only voice memo and photos could be really attached to the task. Although you can attach file-link to a task, it is not that convenient in some circumstances. Especially when you work on different devices frequently, and the file is for only one-time use (in that case you don’t want to waste your time putting it on your cloud drive, creating the link, and deleting it after using it).

I think that 2Do works for people who :

  1. manage their to-do list on a tablet (a phone screen is too small for me). If you have a tablet which you can access all the time, I think 2Do is for you. It is powerful, beautiful, and the price is also affordable. For Mac version of this app is not necessary but a plus.
  2. consider beautiful User Interface is a MUST. 

To conclude, 2Do will be the best to-do list app if it has a For Web version, period. 

OmniFocus, 2Do, and Todoist comparison (1)- OmniFocus

After reading the book Get Things Done, I started to apply the GTD concept in my life. I tried different Apps to help me during the past few years and ended up with Todoist. OmniFocus, 2Do, and Todoist are the three that I used the most. These apps have their advantages, and many websites have introduced them with beautiful demo pictures. Here I just want to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of these three apps from my point of view and hopefully can help some people who are looking for todo list apps.

Let me start with OmniFocus: OmniFocus is a popular to-do list apps with a long history. I had used Omnifocus 1, and I also purchased OmniFocus 2. They recently deputed OmniFocus 3 for iOS. The advantage of this app is that it is robust and highly customizable. Their official website has detailed instructions to help everyone “quickly” get started with this app. you can also find many Pro website teaching you how to write AppleScript to automate some of your workflows. There are also websites to provide a variety of themes so that the entire software interface looks better for your taste.

Below I list the reasons why I think this software is not good for me:

1. This software was first developed only on MacOS. The earliest Omnifocus was only available for Mac, and later for iOS, and is currently under development for the Web version. This is the biggest problem in my opinion. Because they first made a computer version of the software interface, the whole program is designed for the interface of a computer. For their iOS version, the concept of the design makes me feel that it should be used to assist the Mac version (not a standalone app). Nowadays, everyone is using handheld devices to handle their todo list. You will find that it is difficult to create and manage the to-do list on your smartphone. You need the Mac version.

2. Another big problem is that the OmniFocus is currently available only on the Mac and iOS system.  Microsft Windows computers can’t run it, and this excludes 90% of computer users from this powerful tool. The Web version is still under construction, and I would say that it will take another good year (if not two) before it becomes useful.  Although they currently have some solutions for people who use both Windows and Mac systems, I am very dissatisfied with its functionality (too complicated). I believe most of the users will feel the same.

3. This software is not cheap. At the current update speed, they release paid upgrade about every four to six years. For Mac version, there are regular and professional versions, for $39.99/$79.99, respectively. The upgrading fee from an old version is $19.99. /$39.99. For iOS versions are also regular and professional versions, for $39.99/$59.99, respectively.  The upgrading fee from an old version is $19.99/$29.99. In the future, the Omnifocus For Web will require an additional monthly fee. I don’t think the price for that would be low.

4. The learning curve is steep. I consider myself is a person who loves to play with computer software. However, although I spent a significant amount of time on OmniFocus, I still don’t master this software! It makes me wonder whether I am playing this software, or I really use it as a tool to improve productivity.

I think that the OmniFocus works for people who :

  • rely on Apple products for both personal life and work
  • use a computer as the primary tool for handling to-do items
  • are Willing to spend time tweaking the software

Omnifocus, 2Do, Todoist 三款待辦事項軟體的比較 – Omnifocus 篇

自從讀了Get Things Done這本書後,我試著用了幾款不同的todo軟體,希望藉由GTD系統幫我處理生活工作的大小事其中用的最久的三款就是Omnifocus、2Do、Todoist。這幾款軟體各有各的好處,很多中英文網站都有介紹過。我想要從我的觀點來討論一下這三款軟體的優缺點。

 

先從比較早就被我淘汰的Omnifocus開始:Omnifocus 算是一款老字號的待辦事項軟體,我在Omnifocus 1的時候就已經接觸它,Omnifocus 2也買來用了,這款的優點就是功能強大,自訂性強。他們官方網站有詳細的說明書幫大家”快速”上手這款軟體。網路上也有很多進階的教學文,例如如何寫程式(applescript)來自動化一些工作流程還有網站提供各樣的佈景主題,讓整個軟體介面看起來更符合你的口味。

下面我列舉自己認為這款軟體被我淘汰的幾個原因:

1.  此軟體最早只在MacOS 上開發。最早Omnifocus只有for Mac版,後來才出了for iOS,最近正在完善for Web的版本。這也是我認為Omnifocus問題最大的地方。因為他們是先做了電腦版的軟體介面,所以整個程式是以如何在電腦這個介面下最好操作為考量來設計的,所以他們的for iOS版本,設計的概念就讓人感覺是用來輔助for Mac 版本。現在大家都是以手持裝置為主力的情況下,這樣的產品讓大多數的人用起來都不習慣。

2.   另一個大問題是他們目前只有for Mac 和 for iOS版本,所以Windows 電腦無法直接使用,直接把90% Windows電腦使用者排除在外。正在開發的Web版本也不知道要何年何月才會完工。以他們開發的速度,我認為一兩年內Web版不會完成。雖然他們目前有提供同時使用windows與Mac系統的人一些解決方案,但是我試過後非常不滿意(太複雜),相信大多數的使用者也會有同感。

3.  這個軟體不便宜,以目前他們更新版本的速度,大約是四到六年會要求使用者付費升級For Mac 版本有普通版和專業版兩種價格,要$39.99/$79.99,舊版升級要$19.99/$39.99。For iOS 版本也有普通版和專業版兩種價格,要$39.99/$59.99,舊版升級要$19.99/$29.99。未來For Web 正式上線也會需要額外付月費,我想價格也不會便宜。

4.  這個軟體的上手速度太慢,有很長的學習期。我自認是一個愛摸索軟體的人,可是Omnifocus花了我很多時間,我還是無法百分百發揮這個軟體的全部價值!讓我搞不清楚我是在玩這個軟體,還是真拿它當增加生產力的工具。

我認為Omnifocus適用的人群是:

  1. 一般生活與工作都是以 Apple產品為主力
  2. 主要處理待辦事項的工具是電腦
  3. 對於軟體自定性有執著,且願意花時間調校摸索

我相信99%的人都不屬於這種!

用Google Cloud搭建免費30GB Nexcloud個人雲

現在google cloud 開放北美(維吉尼亞州除外)最低階VM (f1-micro) 執行個體永久免費,加上30GB傳統硬碟也是永久免費,所以可以使用這個服務來搭建自己的個人雲
頭一年使用還有三百美金的額度供你使用,可以多多測試一下進階的服務。
要注意的是流量(流出才收費)只有頭1GB是免費的,另外如果CPU 負載過高,系統會自動幫你提速,提速的部份也不是免費的。
由於頭一年有300美金,所以可以用第一年來評估這些額外費用是否划算!

具體搭建方法網路上有很多
Google cloud申請很簡單 可以參考下面的網頁http://kuanzi9487.blogspot.com/2017/09/gcpgoogle-cloud-platformserverserver.html

Nextcloud的安裝可以參考下面這個
Install NextCloud On Ubuntu 16.04 LTS With Nginx, MariaDB, PHP 7.1 And Let’s Encrypt SSL/TLS

世界的起源與神

人類一直以來都在探究的世界的起源,或說宇宙的起源。唯物主義告訴我們,一切物質都是本来存在的。在宇宙大爆炸之前,世界就是一個奇點。那奇點是怎麼產生的? 奇點的前身又是什麼?無神論的科學家會告訴你:不要問,很可怕  這個議題沒有討論的價值。以科學的角度來說,這樣說是沒有錯的,在宇宙大爆炸之前,時間、空間、各種現有的作用力都是沒有意義的,對人類來說討論這種問題的確意義不大。畢竟所有目前已知的定理在那時候都是沒有意義的

從聖經,神所啟示的話中我們可以知道,世界是神造的。無神論的科學家會說,如果世界是神造的,那神又是哪裡來的?其實這個就直接指向了科學家對於奇點的看法,而且神也早在聖經中告訴我們了。神是本來就存在的(自有永有的)。無神論的科學家可以接受物質是自有永有的,卻無法接受有一位自有永有的神創造了這個世界。這證明了信神不信神,與科不科學無關,只跟信不信有關。

若不是神的撿選,無人可靠自己的力量信神。

你們得救是本乎恩,也因著信。這並不是出於自己,乃是神所賜的; 也不是出於行為,免得有人自誇    – 以弗所書 2:8-9