Tools of the trade: Dropbox

Dropbox logo Over the course of talking to computer users each day I'm consistently amazed at the varied ways we use the same tools. More often than not an exchange ensues where we share our favorite tools and tricks. Here I'll start an occasional series of posts on the tools I use that make the dozen hours a day I'm in front of a screen pass quicker. First up on that list is Dropbox.


At first glance Dropbox is an application that provides a network-syncronized file directory. The rich feature set doesn't disappoint. With everything from a solid web interface to an iPhone app the methods of accessing your directory. It's also possible to upload photos and videos from the iPhone as well as all kinds of files from the web interface.

While there are network file systems that are shared file systems Dropbox is a little different. It runs a small application that watches your local directory and synchronizes any changes to the network. All of this leads to several handy ways of using Dropbox.

Stealing from the airlines

Yesterday there was a story on the news about voice being given to the thought of pay toilets on airlines. Now we're all certainly tired of fees and some airlines, like Southwest, are taking advantage of that to advertise their lack of fees.

An exchange this morning on the flight has me thinking about how we think about the airlines.

Economy Plus

For some background you need to understand Economy Plus. United has implemented this "tween" class. It is basically economy but for a fee you get seats with extra legroom. It costs more and you get something for it. The "extra" amount isn't as much as business class or first class, but it is a higher priced ticket. Generally these sections are the front of the economy section from the exit rows forward.

Gmail as lifesaver

For several years I've been a big user of Google Apps. All my email routes to Google's servers and with the great IMAP functionality I've considered myself fortunate not to need to run email servers much anymore.

A few weeks ago I moved from using the powerful Apple Mail and MailActOn combination to using the Google web interface. While I still sync up with IMAP every day or so and will continue to use Mail both for offline access (though this seems to be coming along in Gmail) and some advanced features like integration with iLife and other apps, Gmail has a few features that Apple Mail can't match.

One of the big features is an addition to the labs tab in Gmail which provides a seemingly simple "Send & Archive" button.


Bailout advertising goes negative

Low-brow Staples Advertising
Just over a month ago, on December 10, Office Depot announced that they were closing several stores. Hardly the first to succumb a worsening market, Office Depot joined OfficeMax in announcing cuts that will leave additional workers looking for jobs.

The ink had barely dried on Office Depot's announcement when the dinging of my mail program played the new mail sound. There was the email from Staples asking "Will Office Depot closings affect you?" My initial thought was that this was a little bit of a cheap shot but would likely have some useful information. Instead upon opening the email it turned out that Staples was purely spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt. Far from offering solutions and providing information on how Staples might help, the email instead was designed to play on fears that Office Depot's troubles will cause my business to have problems.

Bye Bye Netflix

Today was the end for Netflix. Not to worry the company still exists as far as I know. But we're through. Just over seven years ago we jumped on the movie rental service's subscription. It's been a rocky road in places. Sure they love us when we don't actually watch any movies and they get a $20 bill every month. However when we go through periods where we watch a few movies a day they quickly forget that they've gotten years worth of months where we watched nothing and start rate-limiting us and playing games.

Drupal wins best overall CMS for the second year in a row

For the second year running won Overall 2008 Open Source CMS Award in the Packt Publishing 2008 Open Source CMS Awards. With many great open source projects and several very good open source content management systems the award is even more meaningful.

"To win the Best Open Source CMS Award two years in a row is quite an achievement for Drupal," said Damian Carvill, Packt Spokesman. "In what were extremely close categories, with high quality finalists, Drupal's strength and power shone through for the judges. Particular praise was reserved for the development team's dedication to improving Drupal alongside building a loyal and passionate community, that has enabled its growth, adoption and advocacy. Congratulations from Packt both to the development team and to the community!"


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