Dropbox Tips

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Despite all the concerns and discussion out there over cloud usage by legal professionals, Dropbox still remains one of the most popular applications among lawyers. I am not going to discourse on whether or not that should be the case – the internet is rife with the opinions of very capable commenters on the subject – just remember that there are Bar rules out there about lawyers employing reasonable measures to ensure security when using the cloud. My personal use, however, takes into account the potential risks as well as rewards of using this free and cheap multi-user, cross-device sync app that a majority of cloud users have embraced. That means I enable security features whenever possible and store documents I have no fear of others potentially having access to.  While that may limit others’ use of the service, I still find plenty of utility in Dropbox when I need to collaborate or share with someone else – and I have chosen not to use my other favorite sharing / storage service, Google Drive.

First, as with any other online service, make sure you have a very secure password – please, no 1234567! Did you know that is one of the most popular passwords out there? No duh! Make it hard to crack with letters, numbers, symbols and mixed caps. Also, disable automatic user log in on your computer and log out on your devices when not using the service. And, now that they offer it, enable two-factor verification – I have it on all services that allow for it, like Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc. Dropbox has it too – all this means is that when you (or anyone) attempts to log into your account on Dropbox, you will get a text message on your phone with a verification code that you will also need to enter to get into your folders. Dropbox also encrypts files on its side of the fence and you can too – check out Boxcrypter, which I wrote about here in the Studio, for an extra level of encryption on YOUR side of the fence. Some content creations applications, like Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat, let you password protect at the document level. You also can set Dropbox to selectively sync only certain files, thus limiting unwanted access where syncing isn’t really necessary.  No guarantees that these steps will prevent any and all security breaches, but it certainly improves your odds in keeping your data intact.

Besides syncing, sharing and backup, there are some pretty cool uses for Dropbox. Automatically upload your photos from your devices to Dropbox by enabling the auto upload feature in the app. Set up remote printing by creating a print queue folder, and setting up a script that will look to the folder and print locally at home anything you add to it while on the road (thanks Amit Agarwal at Digital Inspiration Blog). If you use 1Password for your secure password storage, you can use Dropbox as a password backup application. Backup your WordPress blog to Dropbox using plug ins such as  WordPress Backup to DropboxWP Time Machine andBackupBox. Use Wappwolf to automatically share, convert files, sync, zip, unzip, encrypt, decrypt  and employ actions in other applications such as  Evernote, Facebook, Flickr using Dropbox. There is little doubt that Dropbox’s popularity is one of its benefits – there are plenty of very smart users out there who create applications to extend the reach and utility of Dropbox because they use it too.

One last little gift to you: MakeUseOf has a cool chart showing off some of Dropbox’s tips, tricks, keyboard shortcuts, and tools and plug ins. Check it out – this really only scratches the surface of what you can do with the service. And remember, always sync responsibly!

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Highlight The Web!

Chrome users (and note takers) rejoice! Yellow Highlighter Pen extension for Chrome allows you to mark up your web from the comfort of your own browser. Load up the extension, click the button, highlight the text, and send a link to it to someone else for review. Highlight multiple clips, use different colors, and share. Recipients don’t need the extension to see your handiwork. Nice way to easily mark and share snippets with others (or keep them for yourself).

Share The Love, And Your Google+ Circles


The toddler social network Google+ based its marketing on the fact that you could control what you post to whom and keep private what you want private. Facebook recognized that value of Google’s model and has completely revamped its own sharing structure to meet the apparent demand. Now Google+ has retreated somewhat from the privacy premise with the ability to share your circles with others.

Don’t get me wrong – I actually think this is a brilliant move, one that would not work for the likes of Facebook even with its newly revamped sharing. Google+ has embraced its following functionality and, like Twitter lists, has offered users a way to share content by sharing the best content sharers and curators with others. You do all the hard work and your followers reap the benefits, as do members of your recommended circle who presumably will be rewarded with more followers. Overall, the Google+ experience is enhanced for both followers and followees.

My sense of it is that people will most likely share lists based on topics, such as Tech gurus, Photographers and Artists, Musicians, Lawyers, etc. I can’t imagine sharing family and personal circles, so I think the tech press cautioning against sharing circles and privacy implications is off the mark. Nonetheless, it makes some sense to use some sense when you do share.

All in all, though, as I mentioned above, I find this sharing feature fantastic – now I can find the best unknown follows by checking out the shared lists of some of my most respected and well-known follows. Thanks, Google+.

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Making Google + and +1 Better Together

Combining Google+ and +1 has always seemed like a no-brainer to me. They both have a + in their name, for Pete’s sake! But us Google+ users have seen little use for the previously released +1 button (that little box that lets you “recommend” a page to friends much like Facebook’s “like” button). Up until now.

Today, Google announced a new feature of the +1 button that directly affects, in a positive way, Google+ users – you can share directly to Google+ via the box that opens when you click on a web page’s +1 button. When you click on the “share to Google+” link in the box, you will get a link, a bit of text describing the link and an image, which will appear in your Google+ stream when you “ok” the share. No more grabbing URLs, navigating to Google+ and manually adding the link into your status box. Now there really is a reason to click on that +1 button – easy Google+ sharing.

Google is also releasing to publishers and designers the ability to edit the shared “snippet” via code for each page of a site. This gives control to the owner of the site over the content that ultimately is shared to Google+. Nice for both the user and the publisher.

Check out the announcement below. The feature will roll out over the next few days / week, but you can get an early view if you head over and sign up for the Google+ Platform Preview. Now they just need to figure out a way to catalog +1’s within Google+, so we can all keep a record of what we like.

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!

Scrible: Your Web Search Annotation Tool

Remember the days of scribbling notes in the margins of your *gasp* paper-filled text book, highlighting passages with your yellow (or pink or green or orange) marker, dog-earing pages or photocopying and marking up copies of library volumes? Reach back — I know you can find that lost memory.

If it is to be believed that Web research is beating book research at the very game it invented, then how is a researcher to mark-up or jot down all the rich thoughts a source may evoke as you tear through them on the Web? One option is the very cool new bookmarklet / toolbar Scrible.

Scrible hits the highlights: save pages for later, sans broken links; annotate pages right in the browser; save and find research with tags, legends and search; and, access research from anywhere (because its in the cloud).

The primary means for accessing Scrible’s goodness is via bookmarklet or browser add-on that works in most browsers. The resulting toolbar offers the tools for annotating the page you are visiting. Share or save the work, and then retrieve it and use it further from your library on scrible.com.

Scrible currently is in public beta, as of yesterday morning. Basic service, with 125 MB of storage, is free. It appears Scrible is contemplating paid and enterprise versions with more storage and features.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Check out these images from scrible’s own tour page and see how cool this little toolbar really is:

Rich annotations with multiple text styles and colors

Add thoughts to page with "Sticky Notes"

Categorize Annotations with "Dynamic Legends"

Quick, easy export of annotations to a Document (IE add-on only at this time)

Share Marked Web Pages by Email

Save Web Research to Online Account

Organize, Search, Retrieve Saved Web Research

 

Go forth, Scrible, and mark up your Web!

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.