Tag Archives: Windows

Dropbox increases maximum free storage via referrals

Dropbox announced yesterday they are increasing the amount of free storage one can earn by referring people to the service!

I wrote a blog post about the service almost three years ago, claiming they made USB drives obsolete. Dropbox offers 2GB of free cloud storage that integrates seemlessly into Windows, Mac and Linux, and more storage (50GB or 100GB) for a monthly or annual fee. They also intro­duced a service for teams, which I could see being very useful for small businesses with remote workers in particular.

The old blog post was very successful for me, as seven people signed up for Dropbox using my referral link, netting me an extra 500MB each time!

If you haven’t yet tried it, give it a shot. The way it integrates with the operating system makes it so easy to use, and the web interface is great for those times when you don’t have admin­is­trator access to your computer but still need to get those files!

WSJ on why work tech sucks

You’ll have to hurry before Rupert puts it behind a paywall and blocks Google from indexing it, but the WSJ had a good article recently about technology in the workplace.

At the office, you’ve got a sluggish computer running aging software, and the email system routinely badgers you to delete messages after you blow through the storage limits set by your IT department. Searching your company’s internal Web site feels like being teleported back to the pre-Google era of irrel­evant search results.

I don’t have a sluggish computer at work (it’s actually newer and better than my personal laptop), but it does run Windows XP still. Email storage limits should be a thing of the past and likely will be in 5–10 years as more businesses take advantage of cloud computing (or are forced to compete with that level of service). And I think we’ve all had bad intranet search experience!

Even more galling, especially to tech-savvy workers, is the nanny-state attitude of employers who block access to Web sites, lock down PCs so users can’t install software and force employees to use clunky programs.

For me, preventing software instal­lation is much more heinous crime than blocking websites. Both treat employees like children, but the former serves to hurt produc­tivity much more so than the latter. Youtube is a bandwidth hog, but explain to me why the default browser is still IE6?

Virtual machine” software, for example, lets companies install a package of essential work software on a computer and wall it off from the rest of the system. So, employees can install personal programs on the machine with minimal inter­ference with the work software.

This is an inter­esting idea. Has anyone experi­enced this method of organizing a work computer? It seems like a good compromise.

When they get fed up with work technologies, employees often become digital rogues, finding sneaky ways to use better tools that aren’t sanctioned by the IT department.

Is this really what the company (or the IT department) wants? Clearly not.

Instant Messaging (IM) is one area where corpo­ra­tions have really dropped the ball. Before I graduated from school I worked remotely part-time for a dotcom and I used MSN to commu­nicate with my manager much more often than email. And it worked superbly. But that type of environment seems like a dream now.

The article talks about the changes Kraft Foods imple­mented to take better advantage of new technologies and improve worker produc­tivity. They give employees an allowance for a phone and let them choose which one they want (60% chose iPhones). They even let employees choose their own computer, with the rule that they must consult forums for technical support if they choose not to use Windows.

For many of us, our computers and mobile phones are the primary tools we use to do our jobs. Companies that fail to provide their employees with the best tools will not get the best results.

If you enjoy hardware and software freedom at work, tell me about it in the comments!

Dropbox makes USB drives obsolete

Well, maybe not obsolete, but definitely less integral for the mobile professional.

Dropbox ReferralsI started using Dropbox roughly six months ago and have been consis­tently impressed with the service, single tweet of discontent aside.

Dropbox syncs your files between computers on which you have their light­weight software installed. It creates a folder where you can store all the to-be-synced files, or you can specify at instal­lation an alter­native folder. Anything you “drop” into the “box” gets synced right away to the web interface and any other computers you have running the software and logged in. RIP, USB drive!

Dropbox is a great tool if you use multiple platforms regularly. It works across Windows, Mac and Linux. At home I have an Ubuntu laptop, at work I have a Windows laptop, and I have a persistent Kubuntu USB drive I occasionally use.

I’m still using their free 2GB service, but I frequently toy with the idea of upgrading to the next level: $10/month for 50GB. I would love for there to be some middle ground, say $5/month for 20GB. I could probably justify that expen­diture to myself.

I highly recommend giving the service a try, for anyone who is using more than one device to store and work with their data. If you use Dropbox already, let me know why you like it in the comments.

Making business sense with Macs

Apple logoIn the world of business, with the notable exception of “creative” indus­tries, IT is dominated by Microsoft Windows. Apple’s Mac enjoys niche success in art and media related circles, but hasn’t been able to crack into mainstream business use.

This is not for lack of trying. Apple’s website has a section devoted to how some businesses have switched to Macs and how they are using them to help run their businesses. I was delighted to find a page or two specif­i­cally about accounting firms, hoping to read some inspiring case studies.

One such study talked about a small, sole proprietor CPA firm in San Diego that was running exclu­sively on Macs. The main benefit the CPA cited for making the decision to use Macs was the lower total cost of ownership, from not having to spend money on maintenance.

People say Macs cost more money than PCs. But Mac is really far more cost-effective over time, because there’s so much back-end cost in using PCs. Suddenly you’re bringing in consul­tants to battle viruses, or recover lost data, or troubleshoot network issues. So many businesses spend a fortune maintaining their PCs.”

That advantage, as well as some others, is highlighted in a recent opinion piece in Comput­er­world. More, after the jump. Continue reading

Vista not even out yet but still pirated

Microsoft’s upcoming operating system, the successor to XP, isn’t out yet but it has still managed to be cracked (in a sense). Vista will be out Jan. 30, 2007 to consumers, earlier for Microsoft’s preferred big business clients.

With Windows Vista only just going “gold” … the first cracked versions have already hit the pirate boards. [It’s] called Vista BillGates. It doesn’t feature any activation cracks itself, and the supplied product key is just for the instal­lation. The activation crack is a separate download, and works by replacing the licensing compo­nents with compo­nents from beta builds. Then using a product key from Beta 1, Beta 2, RC1 or RC2, the Gold version of Vista can be activated online. In this sense, it’s not a true crack.

It’s going to be a lot harder this time around to crack Windows and continue running the cracked version for any extended period of time, because Microsoft has tightened up their activation require­ments. Windows XP got increas­ingly more difficult to maintain if you were running an illegal version, and I have a feeling Vista will carry the trend.

A full version of Office 2007 Enter­prise was released on the boards a few hours after Vista. Unlike Vista, Office 2007 uses Volume Activation 1.0 (no activation required), so it’s unclear how Microsoft is going to be able to counter its dissem­i­nation in future.

It looks like Microsoft’s problems with piracy aren’t going to go easily. Not only do they have the lion’s share of users, making for a nice big target, but the software still doesn’t seem airtight. Not to mention all the features they scrapped just to bring it to market. Not like they have anything to worry about at my firm — we’re still tightly wedded to the Windows regime.