Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tuesday's Tip :: Dropbox, It Really Works

Copyright 2012, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

So, I have had a Dropbox account for some months.  I fussed with it now and then, I put a few sets of files in the account, and then, it sat there, because, well, I did not "get it".  I did not get the power it had when used for the correct purposes.

I have yet to figure out how to use Dropbox for my family history.  I need to do that.  I know who to ask!

But, I did use it for the last book project, you know that formatting project.  Ya, that one.

The project was at the point that I needed to print each and every page and take a good hard long look at each. At this point, each page was an independent PDF file.  There were 333 files, eventually all 333 would be linked into one very LARGE file PDF file.  I use PDF at this point because no matter what computer or printer I am using the pages will not morf or change or look funny.

So, I had never linked the Toshiba laptop to the ole Cannon 500 series printer I have here at the stickbuilt.  I not used that computer/printer combo since the Toshiba was purchased in April of 2011 in Salt Lake City. I'll just bet you know where I am going with this.  Yep, had a hard time finding driver software to put on the laptop to get it to print with the 500.  Since I deemed this a temporary FAIL and wanted to get back to work, I went the next route, haul out the prior laptop, the Baby HP and hook it up to the Cannon 500 and print away.  I knew the printer drivers were on the Baby HP as was all the other required software to do the job.

However, I needed to get all those 333 files over to the Baby HP.  And, well, SIGH, I had NO idea where the little flash drives were and I was feeling a tad bit lazy and decided I was not moving the external hard drives to the other desk set up (the kitchen table).

What to do, what to do.  In a moment of out of the box creative thinking, I for some reason decided to put those files in Dropbox and let the computers talk to each other that way.  No flash drives, no external hard drives, just the Toshiba, the Baby HP, Dropbox and the internet!  WAHHOOO.

After the "move" was set in motion I thought, oh, boyyyy, this is taking forever.    I was moving about 88 MB of data. Not really that much, but, that ole aircard is not the fastest in the west, so, it took a bit of time.  Like more than 5 minutes.  I will confess, I don't recollect exactly how long, but, think it was somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes to completely upload and download.  At this point, I was considering this a minor FAIL type project.   I mean, I could have moved the files via flash drive much faster (granted I could not find the flash drives, but, hey, minor detail, eh??)   But, the files eventually all showed up on the Baby HP and I forgot the time element and went about printing and proofing, printing and proofing, and then - - -

Then, I found a page, that needed redoing, and another and another, you get the idea.  I probably redid about 30 pages in all.  I would edit them on the Toshiba, resave them to a PDF file with the same name, transfer the new file to Dropbox and the Baby HP and I was ready to reprint.

This is when I realized the brilliance of Dropbox!  The edited file would go from the Toshiba to Dropbox to the Baby HP in ohhh, a minute or less.  Zoom, fixed, and ready and waiting at the Baby HP for a re-print.  No carrying the flash drive back and forth across the room with just ONE file.  And, yes, I would have done it that way, because I wanted to re-print and see the results page by page.  I wanted to do each page in order, one at a time, and work on it until I got it formatted correctly.

Dropbox is ok for a cloud storage facility, but, it's real power, for me, is transferring files between computers while I am working.  It was SWEET!  Yep, if you use a tool in the correct way it is a beauteous thing!

Dropbox is now a favored tool for the publication process.  I just wish my publisher was allowed to grab files from Dropbox when I called in an order.  Whooeee, would that be a time saver.  Ah, well, the fall back plan, the flash drive works (yes, I found it, it was hiding).

* The disclaimer, Dropbox, Toshiba, Cannon, and HP (for Hewlett Packard) are names and products copyrighted and owned by THEM.  They did not ask me to mention them, or endorse them.  They do not give me any gifts or $$ to mention them in my blog.  I use the products (or not), sometimes successfully, sometimes, well, not so successfully.  I purchase the computers, the hard drives, the flash drives, the printers, the air cards, all my computer techy toys.  I am using the free version of Dropbox.    Your experience with any of these products may mimic mine, and then again, maybe not.

** The Dropbox graphic is copyrighted by Dropbox.

*** There are other cloud storage sites that perform in a similar manner, I am going to try another soon.  I hear very good things about it, if it performs as I hear, I might use it instead.  No matter which site, it is the process here that is important.  Use the cloud storage sites to transfer files, a great trick, err process.


irisheyes jennifer said...

It's nice to hear your opinion of Dropbox. I've had it for a long time too and have not made much use of it. I use the Mac Cloud, but should probably make use of Dropbox too as a backup. I like the idea of using it to transfer files as you have done.


Lynne Carothers said...

Can't you create a separate/special folder in your Dropbox, put your publishing in it and share it with the publisher - give him/her access? I haven't shared anything but I think there is a way.

Carol said...

Lynne, yes, there is a way to do sharing via Dropbox. The issue here is that the publisher/printer is a national one and the last I checked the company forbade employees from doing this type of downloading. As things change all the time, I need to revisit this issue with the staff at my next visit.

Barbara Poole said...

Carol, I think you wrote this for me. I've been hearing about Dropbox for way over a year, and never fully understood how it was used. Thank you for providing a real example. I've copied and printed your post for further reference. Thank you.