Many of us end up moving from computer to computer, sometimes across platforms, as we work from home, on a desktop in our office, on a laptop while at the scanner, and who knows where else. For me, this created a logistical nightmare trying to make sure what I did in one location was at my fingertips at the next location. Below is a short list of a few tricks/tools I find valuable in solving this dilemma.
 make the computers do your work for you – syncing code. The great thing I realized when struggling with different versions of the same code floating around on different computers is that code requires very little memory. This makes is a great candidate for syncing across computers with Dropbox. I keep all my matlab code in Dropbox, and as I modify a multipurpose script on one computer, those improvements are ready and waiting when I open up matlab on the next computer the next day. Furthermore, since a local copy of all your files exists, you can still run your code if you power up without a network connection. And for code, the free 2GB is more than enough for me. So, my advise, use Dropbox to sync your code across computers.
 death to unitaskers – keep scripts cross-platform. I don’t know about you, but I have to write little scripts to handle data organization tasks for me that run in the background or at night. They might mount my server directories, compress and archive old files, or perform analyses on quality controll data. For efficiency purposes, I decided to write most of these scripts in a language that can run regardless of platform. A script that only works on one of my computers, or is written in such a restrictive way that it can’t be multi-purposed in seemingly obvious ways, is frustrating and virtually useless. My choice was to program in PERL, though I think you could make a compelling case for other languages, such as python. I chose PERL because others around me already were using it, it seemed pretty easy to pick up the basics of, and it could be implemented across platforms for free. Sometimes I think free is the best four letter word I know.
 what I can’t do with a moleskine – keep good notebooks. What can’t I do with a moleskine notebook? I can’t insert images easily, and imaging is what I do. This is really true of any physical notebook. So, the task became to find an electronic notebook that was reasonably well supported, had clients for all the major operating systems, and automatically kept all my notes synced regardless of what computer I was using to look at my notes. Thus, Evernote is where I have landed. I use it for keeping my scan logs, where I can snap a photo of slice placements in order to document an imaging setup, or I can run a quick analysis at the scanner and attach the results directly to my notes about the data acquisition. I can email a link to the note to anyone else involved in the scan, as well, which has turned up to be really useful. Basically, this is what i use to keep track of everything about my data except the data itself. We’re talking about an essential tool here.