Patterico's Pontifications

4/17/2011

Recommendation: Dropbox

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:06 pm

I thought I would write up a post that shares my good experiences with a service called Dropbox.

Dropbox is a form of “cloud storage” in which you can store and transfer files from one computer to another without moving them to a thumb drive or external hard drive. You can hook up numerous computers and even mobile devices (like an iPhone, iPad, Android, etc.) to the Dropbox and access files in that manner. When you change a file on one computer, it will automatically be changed on any other computer that you choose to link to the Dropbox.

One benefit: you never have to use a thumb drive again. For example, when we were recently out of state, my brother-in-law did a slideshow for a funeral, and my wife wanted to transfer the photos of her grandmother to our home computer. There was no thumb drive transfer. We simply logged into my account at the Dropbox site, and uploaded the file to my Dropbox account. Not only did it automatically sync to our home computers, but I was instantly able to view the photos on my iPad, simply by accessing the Dropbox app on the iPad.

My wife came home and found the photos she wanted on our home computer, and uploaded a couple of them to her Facebook page. Easy.

Once you start using it, you’ll discover more and more uses, and (like me) you may get roped into shelling out the $99/year for the 50 GB of storage. The combination of greater storage space, together with the app functionality, dramatically expands the functional storage capacity of your mobile device. For example, if you have 50 GB of information in the Dropbox, you can access any of that information on your 16GB iPhone without cluttering up the iPhone’s storage.

To take another concrete example: like many lawyers, I collect case citations that are useful to my practice. Many people print out cases, or make card catalogs of relevant citations. I have tended to keep those citations in a folder on my computer. But with the Dropbox, I can access them from my phone. Having those handy in court is obviously a useful thing. When the judge says: “You can’t ask that question, Mr. Frey! That’s hearsay!” it is obviously a great benefit to be able to give the judge a case citation without making a sojourn back to the office.

I haven’t had occasion to test it yet, but apparently you can recover previous versions of word processing documents. If you accidentally deleted hours of work, but your file was in the Dropbox, you should be able to recover the previous version (but check their site for the details). [UPDATE: From the Dropbox web site: "Dropbox keeps snapshots of every saved change in your Dropbox folder over the last 30 days (or more with the Pack-Rat feature). So if your pet accidentally pressed the delete key and erased your memoirs or you simply saved a bad change, you can restore the file with a few clicks." Man, this feature could have saved me hours of work on at least two occasions I can remember!]

I can’t say that I have priced out every data storage plan out there, but here is what I like about Dropbox. With some cloud storage services, you’re limited to one computer. Carbonite, for example, backs up portions of one hard drive for $55/year. But you can’t add files from a second computer without paying another $55. With Dropbox, there is one “box” and you can put files into it from any computer.

Dropbox is no substitute for a full backup of your computer’s hard drive with an external hard drive, which is cheaper than cloud storage for multiple computers and has far greater capacity (2 TB for around $125 in many cases). But I find new uses for it every day.

The coolest part is that they give you 2 GB for free — with no obligation to buy. Like I say, if you like it as much as I did, you may get roped into buying more, but if you don’t, just use the 2 GB.

Here is an even cooler deal: if you sign up for Dropbox using this link, and download their desktop app (which is the easiest way to use it), you will get an extra 250MB — for a total of 2.25 GB free. (I will get 500 MB of extra space for every person referred in this way.) As I understand it, the extra space is available even if you never pay them a cent, as long as you use the desktop app.

When you click the link, you can watch a quick video tour that I wish I could embed here. You can set up a free account with nothing more than a first and last name, an e-mail address, and a password.

So try it and let me know what you think.

UPDATE 10:42 p.m.: We already have three takers! Thanks!

Lee Stranahan mentions another way he uses it: a grocery list. You can add to it whenever, and so can your spouse — and then, when you’re in the grocery store, you can access it on your phone.

Your potential uses are limited only by your imagination. OK, enough with the update; now I feel compelled to give you the link again so you can try it for yourself.

Congressman Says iPads Cost Jobs. And He’s Right.

Filed under: General — Stranahan @ 10:04 pm

[Guest Post by Lee Stranahan]

HuffPost discusses how Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. says iPads cost jobs. Before you start digging into him however, I will point out two things. 1) He’s right. 2) I’m glad you brought it up because it’s about time politicians started to deal with this.

On Friday, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) addressed the United States’s current unemployment crisis and claimed the iPad was "probably responsible for eliminating thousands of American jobs."

Jackson, himself an iPad owner, expanded on his statement by pointing to the recent bankruptcy of Borders Books.

"Why do you need to go to Borders anymore? Why do you need to go to Barnes and Noble? Just buy an iPad and download your book, download your newspaper, download your magazine," the Congressman said.

He also cited Chicago State University’s initiative to replace textbooks with iPads for freshman students. Jackson stated that the goal of the University was to create a "textbookless campus within four years."

"What becomes of publishing companies and publishing company jobs?" Jackson asked the House. "What becomes of bookstores and librarians and all of the jobs associated with paper? Well, in the not-too-distant future, such jobs simply won’t exist."

He’s right! Those job are gone and the iPad is part of that. And I will go Congressman Jackson one better – it’s not just the iPad. It’s my Android phone and netbooks and all things digital.

Now, of course he’s not pointing out all the news jobs created by such a device – like app development or a bunch of businesses that exist that depend on the iPad. But I don’t even want to compare those numbers because guess what – there very well could be a net job loss.

But as I said at the start I’m very glad that Congressman Jackson brought this up and I hope it leads to more discussion of what to do about.

Of course, the stupidest thing that could happen is probably what Congressman Jackson is sort of hinting at, which is that we stop this digital progress in some vain attempt to keep the job genie in a bottle. Honestly, I don’t think politicians could really do that at this point, but I hope they don’t even waste time trying.

What I’m hoping will happen is that some politicians will start to realize that the future is here right now. In fact, the future was here about a decade ago and the reason we’ve had such a huge drop in jobs in the past 10 years is that digital technology has rendered many many jobs obsolete. As I said before, this is not George W. Bush’s fault and it’s not Barack Obama’s fault — it’s the fault of Moore’s Law, which has the computing power doubles every 18 months or so.

I don’t think that either political party has come to grips with what the digital revolution means for institutions. I was hopeful that Barack Obama got this, because of his age in some of his campaign rhetoric. It’s become painfully clear to me that he doesn’t. In fact, the Democrats are at a huge disadvantage in being able to craft policies that would be able to deal with this change because of their close ideological and structural ties to unions.

In this sense, the Democratic Party is the home of the real "conservatives" right now in the sense of trying to hold onto an outdated economic system. This was one of the reasons that while the protest raged on in Madison about teacher benefits, I just did not care. That whole system of education? It’s ridiculously outdated given the access to technology that we have right now. It’s based on teaching large groups, when the reality is that every individual student in those groups learn at their own pace. The slow students struggled to keep up with the average students. Meanwhile the average students hold back the fast students. It’s a stupid way to learn but up until recently it was more or less the best you could do.

But our modern technology means that we could replace the entire system right now with something where students learn at their own pace, not the pace of the student next to them. This would alleviate a tremendous amount of frustration, boredom and wasted time in the learning process.

The single biggest roadblock replacing that system, however, will be the teachers’ unions. And those roadblocks exist for any number of endeavors that the digital revolution has made more simple. Our current copyright law, for instance, is a disaster that stifles innovation and benefits old media companies.

So rather than arguing the Congressman Jackson is somehow incorrect for pointing out the "dangers" of iPads, let’s acknowledge those dangers and then figure out what comes next.

- Lee Stranahan

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: In short, the “danger” we’re discussing is the “danger” of consumers exercising their right to make choices in the marketplace. All hail such “dangers.” And if that costs you your job, guess what?

Adapt.

Why Do Liberals Applaud Awful Behavior?

Filed under: General — Stranahan @ 1:05 pm

[Guest post by Lee Stranahan]

This is how far liberalism has sunk in Wisconsin.

 

I’m someone who doesn’t agree with Sarah Palin on most issues – but why is this good?

This isn’t debate. It’s not answering her arguments. He’s not explaining a difference in policy. It’s yelling. It’s making noise. It’s not discourse. It’s what drunk frat boys do when a song comes on that they don’t like. It’s what people in Detroit do to Charlie Sheen. It’s what kids do before an adult tells them to stop or go on a timeout.

But look at the comments from the  liberal blog Political Carnival

Progressives Rock!

this makes me happy – love these people

What a Beautiful Sound let’s see if FOX shows this or better yet shows this without any anti

No. No! This isn’t a beautiful sound – it’s the sound of idiots. Got that? IDIOTS YELLING.

I would hate this behavior for exactly the same reasons if I saw conservatives doing this to a speaker. So here’s my question…

When HAVE conservatives done this? Do they show up en masse at public rallies to keep Bernie Sanders or Michael Moore from speaking?

UPDATE: A couple of people have said this isn’t new behavior – while the phrase ‘there is nothing new under the sun’ is itself pretty old, I actually believe what we’ve seen recently – and this is an example –IS something new in American politics. A new variant, at least. This is a group that is partially organized by groups with direct connections to the President surrounding and shouting down a political rally. I don’t recall that under Bush or Clinton or Bush or Reagan.

UPDATE VIDEO I was wrong. There was clearly SOME intelligent liberal debate.

- Lee Stranahan

Palin’s Wisconsin Speech

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:37 am

With an energetic introduction by Andrew Breitbart:

Fight like a girl!

Thanks to Milhouse for the link.

Gunrunner Update

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:05 am

The L.A. Times reports that a key ATF figure is cooperating with Congressional investigators:

A key leader in the federal law enforcement operation suspected of allowing high-powered assault weapons to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartels is now cooperating with congressional investigators, providing a crucial new window into the controversial operation known as Project Gunrunner.

George Gillett Jr., assistant special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ field office in Phoenix, has met with congressional investigators and is expected to provide crucial information about how dozens of U.S. guns may have been transported with the ATF’s knowledge into Mexico. Agents say Gillett provided much of the day-to-day oversight of the Gunrunner operation.

While we await word whether ATF complied with the subpoena (I’ll just tell you right now: they didn’t), and when the contempt hearing will be for their violation, chew on this question.

We keep hearing that two walked guns were found at the scene of Brian Terry’s murder.

But we have never heard that the guns were proven to have actually killed him.

Is that because they did the firearms testing and the guns were eliminated? I doubt it. If that were the case, why haven’t we heard that they were eliminated?

Or has the Government simply not done the tests — or done them and suppressed the results?

Questions, questions.


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