Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sharing is Caring

How we share and send information can range from a convenient and fun way to show how awesome your life is with vacation pictures or it can be an anxiety bomb trying to get school work or time sensitive documents to your professor (or boss) on time and in the correct format.

When I was in Elementary School if you wanted to get information from one computer to another you'd have to whip out a 5¼-inch floppy, in Jr High it was 3½ inch (Who else remembered having stacks upon stacks of those bad boys). After that we started seeing CD-R / CD-RWs or the thwomping 128MB USB thumb drive. At this point it was possible to email small files, but we're still having to compress and zip and unzip and it was still a huge hassle. But now, users have a ton of options available from usb drives vast enough to contain operating systems and entire media libraries to 'the cloud'; that I had an Apple Sales rep try claiming 'Apple coined the term cloud, and invented modern cloud computing', trying to sell me a two some odd year subscription to MobileMe at something like $100 a year.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing
Cloud is to server as Personification is to 'God'. Cloud is really a general term that gives an image that most people can understand when describing servers and how they and the internet actually works. If you look at a series of internet connections, it sort of looks like and somewhat acts like a cloud. What cloud computing typically is, is a service that offers hard drive space (on a server) allowing you to access data from one device to another seamlessly from anywhere that you have internet; in some cases allowing you to physically control your computer from another to retrieve documents. (But, that's a discussion for another post)

Here are some of my personal favorite information storing, saving, and sharing services and methods be it photos, links, documents, or whatever dumb crap you want to show your friends.

QR Barcodes
goo.gl/nvkR2.qr

I feel like these little squares are really underutilized.
One of the easiest methods I've found for generating a quick QR code to share links is with goo.gl, googles url shortener, then adding '.qr' to the end of the shortened URL.
For example, I shortened 'ShitBoxMyCompter.Blogspot.Com' to 'http://goo.gl/nvkR2'
Then can instantly convert that into a QR code by adding .qr to the end of it. For Smartphones, be it an Android, Blackberry, iPhone, or Windows Phone, there are a ton of apps to easily and conveniently use decode, encode and share via sms or email.


Google Docs

When I was in college and Google released it's 'Docs" service, it was almost instantly a life saver. Since then they've made a lot of improvements. Not only is this a great service for small businesses and organizations to collaborate ideas and databases, this includes a decent 'on-the-go' word processor. Although the word processor isn't up to snuff against an actual word processing suite such as Microsoft office, iWork, or Open Office, it absolutely makes due in a pinch. When I was ready to hand in my final thesis in my last semester of college and realized that I had written my paper in the wrong literary format as I was heading to class, I ran to the library to find the only computer available... which of course only had a really out dated version of Microsoft Works; a piece of software that I like to call 'File Not Compatible'. So I through open the also outdated version of Microsoft Explorer, logged into Google Docs, fixed the typos and formatting, and saved the day. Since then I have never kept sensitive or important documents on my hard drive or at least kept multiple back ups on Google Docs.


DropBox
 This one lately has been my personal favorite. DropBox is a service now available on all major platforms. How it works is simple,  creates a folder on computer, your phone, laptop and has a web accessible interface all of which keep seamlessly synchronized. Anything you put into that folder becomes accessible from any other folder. Got some files you need on your phone in a jiff, toss them in your dropbox folder. Have some dumb file on your phone that you need on your computer, dropbox. Dropbox also has a 'public' folder which allows you to generate download links for sharing, you guessed it, anything. Just be careful as to how you use and what you put in your public folder.  Personally, when I'm working on a document, I save to my dropbox folder and set the auto safe refquency to one minute. Never let a neglected laptop battery be the cause of losing hours of work again.


SpringPad (or Evernote)
SpringPad is another personal favorite of mine. I am horribly disorganized, but between the phone app and desktop extension, SpingPad helps bring some order to the chaos. Throughout the day there is a lot of things that I need to remember; on top of that I often get some ideas that I'd like to jot down, oh hang on, it's whats-it's-faces birthday... Sometimes I'll see a billboard for a movie I'd like to see, or hear a song I like on the radio I wanna download, and oh yeah the Bruins are playing tonight, or I'll be out to eat and see a meal I want the recipe of or a drink I wanna make but crap, almost forgot our anniversary. So I gotta pick up a gift, get that thing for the party do the laundry, hmm. The lawn really needs to get cut and I think the shed is starting to rot, What time was that appointment again?
So if you're brain is anything like this, I'd recommend it.

Xmarks
If you're ever on more than one computer and hate trying to keep bookmarks organized this extension available for most browsers is the best. It synchronizes your bookmarks; though I have had problems where it created 50 of each bookmark and folder I had. I'm not sure which Smartphone browsers have xmarks extensions yet, but I do know Dolphin Browsers for Android does.







Zamzar is a free file conversion service. Plug in a file, pick a new file type, check your email. It's that simple and usually that fast depending on the file size.  It's also an easy way of ripping audio from flash videos from websites, or downloading the actual video itself. There other options for file conversions and download videos but, I've found this to be the most convenient. I know this isn't really a sharing or storage service but felt it deserved mention.


Nothing beats the most reliable Data storage method:
A USB thumb drive powerful enough to load an OS, stock with system recovery tools, password reset utility for Mac or Windows, and store any important files you'd like to keep safe with a strong encryption to go with it. It's the best PC first aid kit, weapon, or personal vile vault.



Discussion:
What are your favorite utility applications and services?
Have any stories where one saved you?

47 comments:

  1. Mmmmm. Cloud and QR. How I love thee! Just don't disappoint me in the future.

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  2. These are the greatest things available right now. Right on for all of these, dropbox is a life saver.

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  3. I think I'll try that SpringPad out. Looks interesting.

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  4. Wow, this was really informative. Thanks.

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  5. Greatest inventions ever right here. I love google docs. it has saved my ass so many times.

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  6. That was one of the best and longest write ups I have seen in a long time. Thanks for taking the time to share.

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  7. This is a great post, gonna have to check all of this out. Thanks!

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  8. Cloud computing is totally the future! Keep posting interesting things!
    []s

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  9. I made a Cloud Computing post too. Nice article

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  10. I love Dropbox, definitely an awesome program. I use it to share movies of my kid with his grandparents on the mainland.

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  11. I use google docs now, I hate office D: and OpenOffice is alright

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  12. Google docs and dropbox are both great/reliable file storage/transferring programs

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  13. I really should embrace online backups more...

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  14. i personally love QR's they make finding information and apps so much easier on my droid.

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  15. Sometimes I use Dropbox, it's usefull but there's no much space...

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  16. Very useful sites. Thank you! I've been using a few of these web tools for a while but I'll be sure to look into the rest (dropbox sounds good!)

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  17. Thanks for the QR barcode tip, I love dropbox too, is one the most useful cloud-related tools.

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  18. Almost all of these utilities I've not heard of. Thankyou for putting the time in to create a list of some excellent tools that I'm sure to try out soon!

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  19. Wow, amazing guide. I feel so much more efficient now lol.

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  20. we are a globally linked world. i am excited for the future!

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  21. Dropbox ftw man, use that for projects now

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  22. i love google docs, its really well made application

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  23. This was an excellent article and I learned quite a bit, specifically about QR bar codes; I will definitely be looking into that. Personally, my favorite is just a flash drive because of their speed and capacity.

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  24. Have yet to try out google docs, because I really to heavily rely on microsoft office but compatibility is becoming a bitch and yes that issue of backups and easy access is becoming more and more required, the cloud is coming :P

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  25. Great list of apps, still have to try Google Docs but I'm constantly using Dropbox!

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  26. Nice little summary, I love using dropbox. :)

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  27. Springpad sounds useful to me, thanks for the tips =)

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  28. I love dropbox because there is an app for it for android as well

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  29. I need to configure Dropbox to work with my torrent client. My wife showed me how once and I was amazed. I could start a torrent at home from my iPhone while I was working.

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  30. Thanks. Good read. Lots of interesting stuff.

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  31. I hate cloud computing, if the internet is broken you can do nothing.
    I prefer the good old way and safe everything on my HDD's ^^

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  32. im scared of google knowing everything..
    +follow

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  33. Interesting... Might just start using some of these programs. Never really used those barcodes before but they sound cool. Following for more

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  34. Post more interesting stuff like this!
    []s

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  35. Oh God, I'm not that old but I remember my floppys :P

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  36. Cloud computing is certainly the future

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