The Vault: Public FBI Records On Line

If you find yourself needing an important FBI document from, say, 1909, you actually might be in luck. The FBI is now making available scads of public documents, over 2,000 to be more exact, via a site called The Vault, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. All that paper has been scanned and added and you can search the site by name or browse by categories, such as:

Administrative Policy Procedures

Anti-War

Bureau Personnel

Civil Rights

Counterterrorism

Foreign Counterintelligence

Fugitives

Gangs Extremist Groups

Gangster Era

Hot Topics

Miscellaneous

Organizations

Organized Crime

Political Figure Events

Popular Culture

Public Corruption

Supreme Court

Unexplained Phenomena

World War II

Violent Crime

Get a list of docs by title and summary within each category. I find myself wondering as I write, though, what could possibly be considered a hot topic when you have dedicated categories for gangster era stuff and unexplained phenomena. But seriously, what a fantastic resource for students seeking information to support a research project.

Hat tip to MakeUseOf.

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HomePipe Hooks You Up, Sans Cloud Storage

Still not sure about moving all your key documents to the cloud, but still needing to be able to access them from anywhere? Want to collaborate but need to maintain a decent security level?

Enter HomePipe. This very cool, free-for-entry-level application allows instant remote access and file sharing from your main storage computer via any Web browser and pretty much any mobile device. Looking much like a cross between Pogoplug (but no hardware) and Dropbox (but no online storage requirement), HomePipe allows secure access between your Mac, Windows or Linux desktop and your iOS-powered, Android-powered or Windows Phone 7-powered device (apparently a Blackberry app is coming). It feels like Dropbox from the end-user perspective, but it is anything but. The files are still stored on your home or company computer and you can access and share from any other computer or mobile device. The resulting connection acts much like a Virtual Private Network, with the ability to cross firewalls. You can edit documents in-app, but be careful – there are no automatic backups or version control. Audio streaming is also supported, in the event you use HomePipe to make your audio video library available on the go.

Why HomePipe? There are no file size restrictions and you can purchase unlimited connections. Keep your data in-house while you access and share documents, presentations, photos and media. No need to spend money on storage or spend multiple hours uploading, organizing or syncing in the cloud.

HomePipe is free with a 10 use per month limit.  The next tier costs $23 per year with unlimited remote uses and no advertising. The mobile applications are all free. HomePipe is looking to woo enterprise users, with new added security features – you can specify access to shared files, require that users access via secure login and enjoy authenticated and encrypted content access via TLS/SSL.

Nice to see intermediate sharing options for the cloud-phobic.

Post Anything To Twitter With Twi.tt

Twitter is a great resource for sharing – be it blog posts, news items, images or videos. But what if you want to share more than that? Twi.tt has you covered. Twi.tt lets you share pictures, video, documents, audio and even polls on Twitter. Using your existing Twitter account, simply fill out the simple form on Twi.tt’s home page, add your own intro text and hit send. Images and video can be uploaded, shared from URL or captured via webcam. Upload or share documents by URL. Polls are created onsite, within the dialogue box that opens when you select the polls option. The result is a link posted in your Twitter stream that leads back to the poll box. While music sharing is not yet activated, it apparently is on its way, as there is an audio sharing button on the home page. In the meantime, there are plenty of other music sharing services that link to Twitter to hold you over until Twi.tt finishes building its site.  A simple tool with a simple, but very useful purpose!

Act Local, Impact Global – Google Cloud Connect & Microsoft Office

Moving in the opposite direction, there’s a new way to work locally and act globally, or more accurately, in the cloud, with the newly-released-to-everyone Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office. This service allows two or more to work on the same Microsoft Office file (2003 forward / Windows PCs only) and back it up using Google Docs.

Cloud Connect adds a toolbar to the Microsoft Office interface. With that toolbar, you can give Microsoft Office the same online capabilities as Google Docs. You also can give Google Docs meaningful offline capability.

The killer feature is sharing and simultaneous editing of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files from within office, but via the great Google cloud. Synced files are continuously backed up and fitted out with a unique Web address for sharing. Even offline edits make it up –  Google Cloud Connect will sync those changes the next time you log onto the Web.

Don’t worry if you get too crazy with the edits – Cloud Connect stores previous versions and you can roll back to earlier versions if you want. When there are two or more edits to the same section at the same time, the user can choose which version to keep.

All you need is a free plug-in and a Google account. Google Cloud Connect works on Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7. However, sadly enough, it doesn’t work with Microsoft Office for Mac. Not sure if there is any hope for a Mac version in the future.

You can download here Google Cloud Connect onto your capable machine running the eligible Microsoft Office versions. And get cloud backup and collaboration within the Google ecosystem for free.

Go Zoho

Heading to the clouds? Zoho (link here), a cloud-based suite of tools, brings word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, note-taking, wikis, CRM, project management, invoicing and a lot of other applications to your local web browser. Zoho is free to use at the entry level, but offers apps for business and enterprise at various price points. If you ever wondered about the acronym SaaS (software as a service) and what it all means, then by all means check out Zoho. There is a lot to like.

While its most obvious competitors are among Google’s array of cloud-based applications, Zoho offers more with an easy user-interface. Listed below are some of the available tools and simple descriptions:

Zoho Writer: a word processor that supports simultaneous collaboration. Supports all the common formats. You can embed media from other web locales, such as Flickr, YouTube and Vimeo. It even affords some direct blog publishing capability.

Zoho Sheet: a spreadsheet app that can process external data feeds via RSS / Atom. It also can send out, to publish to blogs and websites. Integrates with Facebook and box.net. With a plug-in, can integrate with Excel. Also permits real-time collaboration.

Zoho Reports: a database and reporting tool, with easy drag and drop interface. Make charts, pivots, summaries and types of reports with the data.

Zoho Show: a presentation tool that integrates with most other presentation formats, including PowerPoint. Allows sharing and collaboration and remote presentations to off site clients.

Zoho Docs: an online document storage tool. 1GB of free space, and paid for additional. Secure storage, with chat and collaboration features. Integrates with Writer, Sheet and Show. Create folders and tags and share folders with others. Offers full text search.

Zoho Projects: a project management tool with calendaring, task creation and assignment, deadlines and milestone charting, and more. Free version allows single project management.

Zoho CRM: a customer relations management tool, including procurement, inventory and some accounting features.

Zoho Invoice: an invoicing tool. Create, send and manage invoices, track expenses, receive online payments and generate reports.

Zoho Business: an affordable (starting at free) email and document management tool. Host email, create your own portal, message collaboratively and manage documents. Includes a calendar functions. Integrates with other tools.

Zoho Assist: an on-demand, remote support tool. Allows remote connections via internet access, with full firewall and security integrity. Includes diagnostic tools, and built-in file transfer.

Zoho Recruit: an applicant tracking tool. Useful for  staffing agencies and recruiting departments to track job openings, resumes, candidates and contacts.

Zoho Creator: an online database, online form and custom app development tool. Drag and drop limits the need for coding knowledge. Can import MS Access and exports in a variety of formats.

Zoho Wiki: an online group collaboration and communication tool. Allows for construction of knowledge spaces and online classrooms. Content is organized into fully customizable workspaces.

Zoho Discussions: a community forum development tool.

Zoho Share: an online, centralized public repository. Includes presentations, documents, PDFs and spreadsheets. Content is tagged and searchable. Filter by doc types and other criteria.

Zoho Planner: a calendar and task list tool. Email reminders and collaboration tools.

Zoho Notebook: a notebook tool. Great support for multi-media content. Share whole notebooks or individual pages. Include documents, applications or stream content via RSS.  Pull scraps from the web to include in your notebooks via a Firefox plug-in.

Zoho Chat: a chat application. Can be embedded into a website or blog. Also supports instant messaging and integrates with all major messaging formats.

Zoho Mail: an email tool. Online, with an integrated instant messaging feature. Has both folders and labels.

Zoho Meeting: a web conferencing tool. Allows participants to see presenter’s screen using either ActiveXFlash, or Java. Show and Chat components are integrated. Participants can control the desktop of the presenter.  Viewer can be embedded in a separate webpage or in a Show slide. Currently free in public beta, with live support.

Zoho People: an HRIS tool, free for ten employees. Create organizational charts. Offer an employee portal with the ability to collect key employee info. Simple drag and drop customization.

Zoho Calendar: a calendar tool  for individuals or groups. Send and receive invitations. Share and embed calendars. Reminders for events. Subscribe to public calendars and import calendars from elsewhere. Associate with other applications.

There is a Marketplace (link here), with even more business applications broken down by different business categories, ranging from fee to paid. Best of all, Zoho apps are all free for personal use, discounted for non-profit and very,very reasonably priced for business use. Zoho clearly has set out to cover a lot of ground with their broad-ranging set of apps. If you are considering setting out across the cloud and digging into web apps, Zoho might be an excellent place to start, with no money down!