Can Dropbox Get Any Cooler? YES – Printing!

Ever need to print from your mobile phone? I know I have and the workarounds aren’t always so pretty. Air Print is coming in iOS 4.2, but you need special hardware for that. Print apps are available, but they can be buggy and they definitely cost.

There is a free solution that is as simple and as elegant as it gets. Use Dropbox. I love this tip so much that I shared the original post in Google Reader and I have to write about it here too.

If you aren’t already using Dropbox, stop right now and head over here and sign up for the FREE cloud storage service. You can find out more about why Dropbox is so awesome in my post about it here.

This printing solution will work with any mobile phone, not just my iPhone. Simply install Dropbox and download a utility onto the computer that is connected to your printer. This utility monitors your Dropbox folder for any new print jobs. Get the utility here. Once you unzip the file and open eprint.vbs, the utility creates a sub-folder inside your main Dropbox folder called PrintQueue where mobile print jobs queue up and a second sub-folder called logs where completed jobs are archived. Send the print jobs from your mobile phone, either through the dedicated Dropbox application for your device, or use Habilis (link here) which works with Dropbox via email. Once your file hits Dropbox, it gets slotted into the proper folder and the desktop utility takes over and prints your file.

You can turn off the utility by searching wscript.exe on your computer or pulling it up in Windows Task Manager. As long as you have a program associated with a particular file format loaded on the main computer, you can print associated files via this system.

I can’t wait to get home and check this out.

Hat tip to Amit at Digital Inspiration blog.

Content Creators Wanted!

In the face of ovewhelming growth in web participation flies a recent statistic from Forrester Research showing a decline in the number of content creation / creators on the web. The report (link here), entitled Global Social Technographics (whatever that means), encapsulates two years of data collection on how consumers world wide are engaging with social technologies. Users were slotted into a “ladder” of use categories: inactives; spectators; joiners; collectors; critics; conversationalists; and, creators. The report confirms suspicions that the numbers of people joining the social media circus (via Facebook, primarily) is building at a rapid rate. However, the report also notes that the content creator group, in the U.S. and in many other countries, dropped a percentage point or more.

At a time when more people are online than ever before, the source of the content drawing this attention is dwindling. What to do?

My obvious answer, as a fairly prolific content creator, is of course to create more content. But the message is even more significant for on-line professionals who may have taken the first step as spectators, joiners or even collectors to jump up the ladder into content creation. The audience for your work is growing – the furnace of interest is looking for kindling to consume. If you thought your voice might not be heard amidst the roar, think again.

Some have posited that fewer content creators means fewer ideas. In front of a thirsty, expanding audience, your ideas and your content may shine even brighter.

At any rate, Forrester’s blog post on the subject of the report concludes with this valuable insight:

The story behind the data is pretty clear. The initial wave of consumers using social technologies in the US has halted. Companies will now need to devise strategies to extend social applications past the early adopters. This means that you need to understand how your consumers use social media. Do you know the Social Technographics Profiles of your customers? Is your company preparing for this next phase of social media strategy?