Drop it like it's hot Sync files across your computer, laptop, and iPhone with Dropbox

Posted by maggie.hunsucker September 30, 2009 at 1:21 pm

dropbox_logoIt’s a common scenario.   You start a document from your work computer.  Email it yourself (or save to a memory stick) to make further edits from a home computer or laptop.  Email it to a coworker to add their stamp, who it turn emails it to another coworker, and so on and so forth.

At this point, you’ve got multiply versions of the document floating around.  Who knows if what’s made its way back to you is the final version – a dicey situation if that document in question is being sent to a client or used during an important meeting.

That’s where Dropbox for iPhone comes in handy.   Before we discuss the merits of this application, we should look at Dropbox’s core product.   Dropbox is an online file management system.   Users simply drag-and-drop files (documents, images, audio, and video) to a Dropbox folder, which uploads them to secure web server.   All files are accessible through a web browser and any local versions of Dropbox you install.   This could be your work computer, home computer, laptop – and now your iPhone.

The iPhone application is free, but it requires a Dropbox account to work.   Dropbox gives you 2GB for free, and you have the option of upgrading to 50GB for $9.99/month or 100GB for $19.99/month.  Once installed on your iPhone, you have immediate access to all your Dropbox files.   Even better, any photos or videos you take with your iPhone can be added to the Dropbox and automatically synced with your main account.   During my testing, I was impressed with how quickly my computer files synced with my iPhone.   I deposited the iPhone screenshot below in Dropbox and within a matter of seconds, it appeared on my computer Dropbox.

Dropbox iphone App mobile

Dropbox is one of the better – if not best – file management systems I’ve seen.  It’s simple and intuitive to use (seriously, no instructions needed), and it syncs files quickly and automatically (i.e. no orphan documents to worry about). Once your documents are in the Dropbox, you can further organize them into folders and if you choose, share these folders with friends and colleagues.

Upon installation, Dropbox will put an icon in your menu bar, which provides easy access and sharing of your Dropbox files. You can also elect to have notifications through Growl, so you know when a new document has been added and synced with your account.

Dropbox offers the freedom to work on documents from any computer - and not just your own. The local application is Mac, Windows, and Linux compatible.

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  Clean Slate Make whiteboard notes electronically accessible with the Whiteboard Capture iPhone app

Posted by maggie.hunsucker September 28, 2009 at 1:26 pm

whiteboard capture logoWhiteboards are still the go-to tool for brainstorming sessions.   Even high-tech geeks like us tend to stick with the original (we have three extra large, double-sided whiteboards on wheels). Problem is, there’s no easy way to transfer information from the physical board to your computer.

That’s where the Whiteboard Capture iPhone App comes in.   This handy dandy application lets you take a snapshot of your whiteboard and easily share the images via email.  Granted, you can do this with any digital camera, but Whiteboard Capture removes the legwork and offers up some great editing tools.

For starters, the application automatically removes the glare that results from the whiteboard’s glossy surface.  You can also remove old marker residue and other marring artifacts, which saves you the hassle in Photoshop later.

The result is a clean, print-ready whiteboard image that you can distribute to team members or email to yourself to upload to your own project management/collaboration software.  If you have old whiteboard images stored away on your phone, you can also filter those with Whiteboard Capture.

Bottom line, some tools work better in the analog world.   If you’re office relies on a whiteboard for meetings, sketching, collaboration, etc, here’s an easy and relatively cheap ($1.99/download) way to make that information electronically accessible.

Beetlebug Software is the development company behind Whiteboard Capture. They have another application under their belt, Picture Me, which uses "facial detection" to snap the perfect iPhone photo. Compulsive iPhone self-portrait takers rejoice!

There are a slew of virtual whiteboard applications for your computer and your phone. Popular project management software, Basecamp, comes with a real-time collaboration tool (they just call them Writeboards).

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  Dial M for Meeting Attend a browser-based web conference via iPhone or Blackberry with Fuze Box

Posted by maggie.hunsucker September 25, 2009 at 12:45 pm

fuze box logoWe’ve reviewed a couple of web conferencing tools on feed growth!  The sell has always been the ability to meet with anyone, anywhere – anywhere in front of a computer, that is.

All that’s about to change with Fuze Box.  Fuze Box is the first virtual meeting software that is mobile accessible.   iPhone and Blackberry users can download apps from their respective app stores and attend conferences directly from their hand-held device.  But that’s not the only trick Fuze Box has up its sleeve.

Fuze Box’s core product (Fuze Meeting) offers an impressive list of features, including:

  • Desktop sharing
  • High definition content sharing (stream HD video, graphics, and documents)
  • Annotation and whiteboard tools (mark-up video, audio, and images)
  • Participant fetch (lets you dial in missing attendees with one-click)
  • IM chat integration (supports Yahoo!, AIM, Google Talk, & IBM Lotus Sametime)
  • Easy-to-navigate interface

Fuze Box is browser-based, which means it works with both Mac and PC, and there’s no software or pesky plug-ins to install.   Simply sign up, load content, invite meeting attendees, and you are good to go.  Fuze Meeting costs $29/month, which gets you 2 GB storage space, up to 15 meeting attendees, and a toll-free conference bridge with 2 hours free talk time (additional minutes cost $.06/minute).   Currently, Fuze Box is offering a 30-day free trial.

From what we’ve seen, Fuze Box is a pretty slick application.   The intuitive interface and seamless integration of high-def content makes it a real contender with GotoMeeting and WebEx.   Of course, we’re anxious to see the iPhone application in action.

fuze box mobile

All Fuze Meetings are SSL encrypted so all your business-sensitive data remains safe.

Chances are, you probably need a virtual meeting provider. They are great for sales presentations, product demos, staff or customer training, and the management of remote teams.

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  Bait and Switch Crowdsource feedback on design and marketing ideas with Concept Feedback

Posted by maggie.hunsucker July 31, 2009 at 8:42 am

Feed Growth! readers may recall Check My Bait, a feedback mechanism for marketing investments (e.g. display ads, search ads, websites, etc) that we rolled out in ‘08.  Sadly, we neglected the feature, and the bait is now on someone else’s hook.

Concept Feedback, like Check My Bait, is a feedback tool for marketers and designers.   People post their concepts for websites, advertisements, posters, Flash designs, portfolios, etc, and a community of like-minded professionals weigh in.  Unlike Check My Bait, Concept Feedback has built a whole community around the feedback process.  Each concept is voted on for Originality, Engagement, Purpose, and Design through a simple 5-star system.  Reviewers can also leave text feedback, offering criticism/praise, suggestions, or new design directions. The Submitters can start a dialogue with the reviewer or take the feedback and run with it.

concept feedback screenshot
Concept Feedback operates on a Reputation system.   Basically, the more you post and review, the more “feedback cred” you have.  Your Reputation is also influenced by others voting on your review, your concept being favorited, and so on.

Concept Feedback is a free service and a rather quick and painless sign-up.  You can browse for concepts by Category, User, or filter by Newest, Active, Popular, or UnReviewed.  The site is already hopping with a fair amount of activity, and it appears that reviewers are making honest and useful comments. If you’re looking to test the waters before you attach your name and reputation to a design concept or marketing idea, give Concept Feedback a try.

Want to keep a constant eye on the creative flowing through Concept Feedback? Sign up for the RSS feed.

You can invite friends to join Content Feedback and get more "Reputation" (not sure why I keep putting in quotations, but I'm running with it). They'll also automatically become contacts in your profile.

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  Ebb and Flow Wrangle project-related conversations, files, and comments with Shareflow

Posted by maggie.hunsucker July 27, 2009 at 1:01 pm

shareflow logo

Email is not the best tool for project management.   It’s near impossible to thread together conversations, timelines, and files from an inbox.  There’s also the issue of addressing/copying/forwarding/replying to all team members and hoping they are doing the same.

If the details are getting lost in transit, a tool like Shareflow might be handy.  Shareflow is a web-based conversation organizer.   It gives your team a central location and easy way to post project messages, files, and comments.   It’s not a project management tool per se, but it can be used to streamline project-relevant conversations.  For example, if Joe messages Mary under a project “flow” (instead of emailing her), the whole team can see his message.  They can also access any images, video, or documents that have been posted with the message, and use the posting timeline to figure out what stage the project is at.

Picture 5

Shareflow comes with some nice tools that make adopting the service/weening your employees off email a little less painful.   Each project flow comes with a default email address, so you can send a message, file, or video to the conversation space or forward an existing email from another person.  There is a bookmarklet that lets you grab web content and post it to your flow. You can also opt-in to receive a daily digest of your flow activity or access the Shareflow site via your iPhone or Blackberry.

Picture 4

There are different Shareflow packages, depending on your needs.  The free version gives you 25MB of storage, 5 flows, and unlimited users.  The Premium package is 30 GB of storage and unlimited flows, but it will run you $80/month.   Once you’ve created an account, you can set-up individual flows and invite team members to join.

Shareflow uses iPaper to let members preview project documents online. You can also download the origional to your desktop to save/edit.

Shareflow has already drawn comparisons (and major flack) to Google Wave. "Flows" and "Waves" are quite similar, although Google Wave promises more features and functionality (e.g. chat client, real-time document collaboration, and seamless integration with other Google products). Again, Shareflow is all about the conversation, and it's an option that is available now.

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