Friday, August 10, 2012

Dropbox—Because flash drives are soooo 2007.

Originally posted 8/13/11.

When I first got to TAPA, I was pretty surprised to find out that I wouldn't be able to print of my Macbook. Apparently, with the way the system was set up, only Windows computers plugged in with PaperCut are configured to print, so if I made a worksheet at home on my laptop and I wanted to print it off for class, I pretty much had 2 options:
  1. Save the file to the flash drive, unmount the drive, unplug it from my Mac and plug it into my office PC, open up the flash drive, open up the file, and print it out.
  2. Email the file to myself from my Mac and open it with my email on my office PC.
This, in a word, was annoying. I wanted to have some type of way of taking a document and working on it on one computer, and then standing up and walking to another computer and finishing that document.

Enter Dropbox.

What I did was install Dropbox to my Mac laptop, my old Windows computer at home, and my office PC at TAPA. When I come home at night and start creating a worksheet on my Mac computer, I save it to my Dropbox folder. As soon as I hit save, it will create the same exact file that I made on my Mac as I did on my home Windows computer and my TAPA office computer. Any change I make to that Mac file will immediately be mirrored on each other computer, almost instantly. 

It gets better. I come to school the next day and turn on my office computer. The file that I made last night on my Mac is already sitting there in the exact place I put it on my Mac, but now, it's on my office computer. And it looks exactly the same as I made it the night before. But wait... I made a mistake. I fix the file on the office computer, and as soon as I hit save, it will immediately update the file on my home Windows computer and my personal Macbook.

Wait, what if I'm not near my own desk but I do have internet access? I can actually still go to (perhaps on my wife's office computer), log in, and access each of those files I've worked on and updated via the website. At any time. From any computer.

Pretty cool, right? But it'd be better if there was some way of adding that to the iPads, right? Gotcha. In the QuickOffice Pro HD app that all the TAPA staff and students have, there is an option to link your Dropbox account to that program. Now, if I create or edit a document on Dropbox on my iPad, it will immediately reflect those changes on my Mac laptop, my old Windows computer at home,, and my office PC at TAPA

I could go on and on about this and tell you about how I've also tied in my iPod touch and my Android cell phone iPhone to this process, or about how I have shared folder with Lisa where, when she edits a document on her own Dropbox account, I get those changes instantly, too, but I'll stop there. The point is this: if you're working off of more than 1 computing device, this is a pretty required program that will make your life infinitely easier. Go check it out, please!

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