For this week’s Guest Post Friday at Musings, we welcome Martha Sperry. Martha Sperry (@advocatesstudio on Twitter) is an attorney with extensive experience in the insurance industry. Martha also maintains a research and writing practice, AdvantageAdvocates with emphasis on research and written product for professionals and web consulting. Her blog on law, research, writing and technology Advocate’s Studio. Martha also has let Musings invade the Studio today, so please check it out!
Please forgive the silly title. I spent some time with a friend yesterday who had met Tony Bennett last night. Plus, when I think of the moon, I think of the sky and that invariably brings me to the clouds. There is a clear movement afoot that is all about shifting our tools, data and content to the “cloud.” The “cloud” is simply a shorthand way of saying “the Web”, be it an intraweb or interweb. In other words, instead of storing your tools and creations on your local machine or a local network of machines, you can take your tools and creations with you to any device with internet access. This is indeed a powerful ability, one that is not lost on lawyers who depend heavily on their electronic output.
There are many ways to exploit the “cloud” in your business and personal dealings. I am going to highlight one of those means in this post. DropBox is the word.
At first glance, DropBox looks just like any other online cloud file storage and sharing service. You can load all sorts of files – documents, videos, audio files, images, text, notes, etc. – from your device into your DropBox and the content will be synced automatically with any device that has DropBox installed on it. There are at least 10 different clients, including versions for Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, and mobile versions for iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry Or, if you are on a device that does not have DropBox installed, you can still get to your information by navigating to the DropBox site and using the web-based client by logging into its secured access. No more saving to portable media, using a File Transfer Protocol or sending by email – you can share DropBox content with others by making folders public. If the other person has DropBox installed, then you can both edit the documents and changes will be synced across all of your mutual devices.
You can get 2 GB of storage for free, and increase that storage via paid subscription, at reasonable rates.
Edit any documents that also live in your DropBox and you will get your changes synced as well. DropBox also versions your changes, which means you can revert to an earlier version. You can also get files you might have inadvertently deleted because DropBox keeps a backup of deleted files.
What really makes DropBox cool is the ease of use – simply drag and drop a file into your DropBox folder and it is immediately synced to all devices and the Web. The other thing that makes DropBox cool is that lots of other app developers think that DropBox is cool too, so they have developed tools that leverage and enhance DropBox. DropBox hosts a directory of friendly apps right on their website.
So, what exactly can you do with DropBox? Here are some ideas:
As of yesterday, DropBox has updated it’s iPhone app to take full advantage of iOS 4.2, Apple’s latest operating system, which is about to drop.
This is just a small sample of the fun you can have with DropBox. Check out their App Directory here for more ideas. And soon, you might find that DropBox is effectively serving as the center of your on-line world and your ticket to the cloud.