Cubby: a simple way to share files across multiple devices

When I first heard about Cubby’s unlimited storage, my immediate reaction was “I must have it.” When I found out that “unlimited storage” meant computer-to-computer syncing I was less enthused. I forgave them, however, because I concede that offering unlimited cloud storage through a free service is foolish at best. And it wasn’t long before I found new reasons to love Cubby.

Unlimited computer-to-computer storage

I soon realized Cubby’s true potential as a power user’s best friend. Basically, with Cubby, you can sync an unlimited amount of date (regardless of file type) between two computers as long as both devices are connected to the internet.

File sync can happen in a couple of ways. Firstly, there is the option to create brand new “Cubbies” and label each one as you please before filling them with files. A second option is to merge the Cubbies with folders that already exist on your Mac or PC, so instead of having to curate two Music folders you could simply merge your Music folder with a Cubby labelled Music to share files more seamlessly between your desktop and/or laptop.

I have been using Cubby to keep files organized between my personal MacBook Pro and my less-used (and ancient) HP laptop. The only annoyance so far has been keeping both computers turned on and connected to the internet. And even that seems a small price to pay for easily accessing my files on both devices.

5GB of free cloud storage

There’s more to Cubby than just syncing between computers. Cubby has a feature set similar to other cloud storage services like Google Drive or Dropbox: 5GB of free cloud storage and a home folder – called “My Cubby” in this instance – to hold all those files you’ll inevitably save there.

As for uploading, I found that Cubby synced my files fairly fast and when put head-to-head against Dropbox there was little difference in speed. However, Dropbox places a helpful syncing icon on files that are in the process of uploading and replaces it with a checkmark once the sync is completed. Cubby has no indication of syncing progress when viewed in the Finder or Windows Explorer window and can only be shown through the desktop application.

Since Cubby is still in its beta phase, it’s hard to tell what improvements (if any) they will make in this regard. After all, we’re talking about a brand new piece of software competing with a fairly senior product. That being said, however, it seems like a fairly standard feature to include. Yeah we’re talking to you, Cubby makers.

Cubby is still “invite only” during its beta phase, but you can request an invite if you’re interested in checking it out. There are apps available for Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS (and screenshots below).

What do you think? Would you use Cubby over alternatives like Google Drive or Dropbox?

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Insync integrates with Google Docs to take on Dropbox

After well over a year of being in closed beta, Insync has finally released to the public. If you’re not familiar with the service, it closely resembles other cloud-storage services, in that a folder you create is automatically synced to the cloud for backup and/or sharing purposes, but a few minor differences separate it greatly from its competition.

First off, Insync uses Google Docs as its storage medium, but this doesn’t limit the filetypes you can use to only documents. I had no problem uploading images and even a ZIP file. They both showed up in my Insync account, as well as in my Google Docs. So essentially, Insync turns the Google Docs web app into a folder on your local computer and automatically syncs between the two whenever a file is altered. It’s great for when you’re wanting a little more out of a word processor than what Google Docs offers, since you can use whatever office suite you have on your computer to edit Google Docs documents.

Storage costs of Insync are all through Google, so you get 1GB free and then you can add storage for a small cost: $5/year for 20GB, $20/year for 80GB, $50/year for 200GB, etc. (up to a whopping 1TB). Compared to the cost of additional space on Dropbox, which is $50/year for 50GB and $100/year for 100GB, Insync is quite cheaper than Dropbox if purchasing additional storage is up your alley.

Sharing abilities is very fine-tuned in Insync. You’re able to change the level of control someone has over a file that you share with them, including whether or not they can re-share the same file that you originally shared with them. However, I feel Insync’s web interface is too minimalistic. It doesn’t have as many options and features as Dropbox’s web interface, including the ability to simply delete files.

In the end, if you’re wanting more storage out of a cloud service than what’s offered for free, Insync looks to be a good bet over Dropbox. But as far as functionality and features go, Dropbox is still the real winner.

How to Back Up Your Google Tasks

A set of tasks

A set of tasksOne of the the main concerns people have about trusting their data to a cloud service is whether or not they can get their information out of a  particular service. Some services do a good job. Others … well, not so much.

Google is trying to make backing up your data easier, with both Google Takeout and the Data Liberation Front. Both are good initiatives, but they don’t cover all of Google’s many applications. One that’s missing is Google Tasks, the to do list that’s part of Gmail.

But a third-party developer has filled that gap. Using Google Tasks Porter, you can download your to do lists quickly and easily.

Let’s take a look at how to do just that.

Getting Started

Head over to the Google Tasks Porter site. You’ll be asked to give the site permission to access your tasks. That permission is in effect until you revoke it.

Once you’ve granted Google Tasks Porter the necessary permissions, you can take a snapshot of your tasks. A snapshot represents your to do list as it stands at this moment. That includes the tasks you’ve completed and the tasks still on your plate.

Google Tasks Porter main page

Click the Take Snapshot button. It can take some time to build the snapshot. Depending on how many tasks you have, it can take a few seconds to a couple of minutes.

List of completed snapshots

Downloading Your Snapshots

After you click the Take Snapshot button, you’re taken to a page that lists your snapshots. There are four links that you can click:

  • HTML with microformat, which creates a nicely-formatted HTML file
  • iCalendar, which downloads a file with the extension .ics that you can import into most Web-based or desktop calendar application
  • Outlook, which downloads a comma-separated values (.csv) file that you can import into Microsoft Outlook
  • Remember the Milk, which lets you email your task list to a popular Web-based task management application

If you click Remember the Milk, you’ll be asked for the email address that you use to log into Remember the Milk and the name of the Remember the Milk task list to which you want to send the information from Google Tasks.

Exporting tasks to Remember the Milk

Anytime that you want to review your snapshots, just go to the main page of Google Tasks Porter and click the View Snapshots button.

Final Thoughts

Google Tasks Porter provides a much-needed service for anyone who uses Google Tasks. Whether you want to back up your data or have decided that Google Tasks isn’t right for you and want to move your data elsewhere, Google Tasks Porter makes it easy to do just that.

Photo credit: xololounge

3 Great Alternatives to Dropbox

Hard drive

Hard driveWhen it comes to sharing and syncing files, the most popular tool out there is arguably Dropbox. It’s a favorite among the folks here at Techerator and for good reason. Dropbox is easy to use and gives you a lot of flexibility.

But Dropbox isn’t the only file sharing/syncing program available on the web. There are other tools that are definitely worth a look. Let’s take peek at three of them.

SugarSync

Arguably the best alternative to Dropbox is SugarSync. It does everything that Dropbox does, and probably a little more too.

If you use a Windows computer or a Mac, you can install a client that will automatically sync files across all of your computers (well, as long as you have the client installed). You can selectively sync folders and even choose which ones you want to sync with other computers, and which ones you want to back up to SugarSync’s web interface. Using the web interface, you can create folders and upload or download files.

You’re not limited to the desktop or web, either. There are SugarSync clients for iOS devices, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, and Symbian.

You can get a free account which gives you 5 GB of storage. Or you can get 30, 60, 100, or 250 GB of storage for between $4.99 and $24.99 a month.

Uploading to SugarSync

Amazon Cloud Drive

Released in Spring 2011, Amazon Cloud Drive is something of a bare bones service. It’s purely storage; there’s no syncing. But as a storage solution it’s hard to beat.

You get a web interface (there’s no desktop or mobile client) that’s simple to use. Just log in, create a folder if you need one, and then upload your files. You can only upload files that are 2 GB or smaller, though. Once you’ve done that, you can access your files from anywhere using any web browser.

You get 5 GB of free storage, and you can get anywhere from 20 GB to 1,000 GB of storage for between $20 and $1,000 a year.

Amazon Cloud Drive

Ubuntu One

Part of the Ubuntu desktop for the last few releases, Ubuntu One lets you sync directories on your Ubuntu desktop with a web-based storage system. What’s that? Not an Ubuntu user? That’s OK. You can still upload you files using Ubuntu One’s web interface and access them on any computer.

Ubuntu One is easy to use and has a couple of interesting features. You can store your contacts and write and share notes online. You can also upload your music and stream it later. Ubuntu One provides 5 GB of storage free, or 20 GB for $2.99 a month. If you use an Android device, you can share and sync your files with the Ubuntu One Files app. On top of that, there’s a paid option that lets you upload and stream your music to your Android device or iPhone.

Ubuntu One web interface

Have a favorite alternative to Dropbox? If so,  share your pick by leaving a comment.

Photo credit: Szorstki

Back Up Your Google Docs, Reader, Calendar and Contacts with CloudPull for Mac

CloudPull is an app that will back up the contents of your Google Docs, Reader, Calendar, and Contacts, but is available exclusively to Apple users using Mac OS 10.6 or 10.7. Sorry, PCs. It’s available for a 30 day free trial, but costs $24.95 if you’d like to use it permanently.

This is your home screen.

Once I logged in, the app was an absolute breeze to use and setup. CloudPull did its job perfectly. Once you download the app, there is no installation to go through. Instead, you just navigate to your downloads folder and drag the CloudPull app into your applications folder.

When you launch CloudPull, you will be asked for the username and password to the Google Account that you would like to back up. Enter your information and look below to find a few check marks that let you choose which Google services you would like to back up to your computer from the following list: Docs, Reader, Calendar, and Contacts.

Once you’ve submitted your choices, the app begins to work automatically, pulling all of your files from Google’s cloud and saving them into the app. From there, you can keep them stored within the app, which means they are saved in the following location by default:


/Users/(Your Home Folder)/Library/Application Support/CloudPull/backups/

Or you have the “Restore to file…” option that lets you save specific files to your hard drive in a location of your choosing.

Additionally, there is the Preferences panel which is accessible from the top menu bar: CloudPull > Preferences. In this area of the program, you can add multiple accounts that you would like backed up (as shown below).

There is also the Advanced tab where you can set a specific folder that you would like to have your items automatically saved. I changed mine to my Documents folder, for example, and created a “Google Back Up” folder within it so that it would be more accessible. The Advanced Tab is also where you can change the frequency of back ups, as well as the length of time that you’d like to store outdated files. Another option you have is to toggle whether or not you want CloudPull to start automatically when you first sign in to your computer and whether or not you’d like it to run in the background.

I highly recommend the CloudPull, especially if you don’t completely trust Google with all of your important stuff. It does exactly what it says it will and it does it very, very well.

Bring Evernote to Your Linux Desktop with Nevernote

Nevernote

Nevernote When it comes to certain desktop applications, Linux is often the poor cousin of operating systems. Take, for example, Evernote. Evernote is an application that lets you take detailed notes, and more. It’s designed to help you, as its tagline says, remember everything.

There are versions of the software for Windows and Mac OS but, as usual, Linux is out in the cold.

Sure, you can use Evernote’s Web interface but sometimes you may not want to. Or you might have to work without a connection to the Internet. So what’s a neglected Linux user to do? Give Nevernote a shot, that’s what.

Getting started

Obviously, you’ll need an Evernote account. You can get a free one, or pay $5 a month for an account with a few more features. Then, download and install Nevernote.

From there, launch the application. If, like me, you’re using Ubuntu then you’ll find the shortcut by selecting Applications > Internet > Nevernote.

Nevernote main window

Using Nevernote

Let’s assume that this is the first time you’ve run Nevernote, but that you have some notes in the Web-based version of Evernote. You’ll probably want to synchronize your notes. To do that, click the Synchronize button on the toolbar. You’ll be asked for your Evernote user name and password. Once you enter them, Nevernote pulls down your notes. Depending on how many notes you have, that could take a few seconds or longer.

From there, using Nevernote is just like using Evernote on the Web. Click the New icon on toolbar to create a new note. You can give it a title, add the note to an existing notebook, and tag it. You can even add formatting and change the font.

Editing a note

Nevernote also supports stacks. In Evernote, stacks are like folders and subfolders. Or, in this case, categories and subcategories for notes. You can, for example, have a stack called Personal. Underneath it, you can have stacks called Receipts and Home Inventory. Doing that can help you better organize your information. It can be more efficient than using tags.

Stacks in Nevernote

On the Downside

Nevernote is a solid application. But it does have its flaws. It’s written in Java, so it might run slowly on some computers. You can’t add attachments to notes, like you can with the Windows and Mac OS Evernote clients or on the Web. You can, however, view certain attachments that have been synchronized from Evernote. The problem is that the quality isn’t all that great.

Attachments aren't pretty

If you use both Linux and Evernote, though, Nevernote is a must-have piece of software. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than just not bad. It offers you most of the power of Evernote, and it lets you take Evernote offline. That in itself is worth the download.

YouTube Launches Online Video Editor, Lets You Quickly Edit Videos Without Installing Software

In the last several years we’ve seen a tremendous move in software development away from the desktop computer and into the internet’s “cloud”.  Standard desktop applications like email and word processors have effortlessly made the jump to your browser instead of your desktop, freeing you from installing software and many of them are often available completely without charge.

YouTube recently joined this trend by launching an online video editor which follows the mentality “video editing should be fun and easy”.

Instead of installing large, complicated video editing software, YouTube’s video editor gives you quick access to the most-used editing tools, like combining videos you’ve uploaded, trimming videos, adding soundtracks, and instant publishing.

To access the new YouTube video editor, simply visit their TestTube site (this is where the YouTube team tests new software, take some time to check it out).  Click the Try it out link under Video Editor to get started.

The YouTube video editor is extremely straightforward and offers a simple drag-and-drop interface.  You can drag any videos you’ve uploaded to YouTube to the main timeline to combine them, and a separate timeline exists below the video timeline for adding audio tracks (with a large audio library supplied under the Audio tab).

To edit clips, simply click the scissors icon that appears over each clip and drag the beginning and end markers to your desired location.

The pros: YouTube’s video editor is very simple and I was able to use it intuitively without messing around with any configurations or settings.  I grabbed clips from a video I uploaded, edited them, and added an audio track in less than 5 minutes.

The cons: It’s limited.  Don’t expect to edit anything substantial with the video editor, mainly because you are limited to a paltry 7 video clips in the timeline. Although the editor is great for trimming and combining clips, you can’t do anything with speed, volume, or effects.

Verdict: The YouTube video editor will be perfect for anybody who enjoys posting clips to YouTube or creates media like podcasts.  It gives you simple controls to edit unwanted material from your videos, combine and re-order clips, and add a soundtrack.  Want to create a Star Wars fan film?  Then you’re going to want to find something much more substantial.  Was it “fun and easy” though?  Decidedly yes.

Oh, and you can check out my sweet made-in-5-minutes video below.

[via The Official YouTube Blog]