Tag Archives: sync

Manage your to-do list on Android, iOS, and Chrome with Any.DO

Any.DO started as an Android-only solution to the public’s to-do list blues, and it did a damn good job of cheering us up. As a result, Any.DO became a both popular and critically acclaimed app by tech blogs everywhere. Personally, I’ve been a regular user of Any.DO for the past six months or so and I appreciate its minimalistic approach to list-making.

The strength of Any.DO lies in its simplicity. Rather than overcomplicating a simple task manager with endless menus and options, the focus is placed on entering tasks under simple headings like Today, Tomorrow, This Week, or Later.  The app is definitely gorgeous with bold typography and basic colour schemes, and though the Android version is clean and free of cheesy effects, the iOS app is (nauseatingly) made to look like crumpled paper.

It appears that the designers took some inspiration from Windows Phone, but you won’t hear me complaining about borrowing a few aesthetics from the most beautiful software ever. The app displays black text on a white background by default, but a dark theme allows you to reverse the coloration. Above all, it’s clean.

And if you’re in the market for a new task manager there’s never been a better time to pick up this app, especially now that it syncs across all the major platforms (only Windows Phone 7 is missing). Syncing is automatic once you register with the service or choose to sign up via Facebook.

The iOS App

iOS Any.DO - Home in Landscape
Any.DO on iOS in Landscape

Additional gesture-based controls have been implemented in the iOS version: drag down from the top of the screen to enter a new task (hold down after dragging to enter an item with your voice) and swipe right to cross out a completed task. Additionally, when entering an item for your list the app attempts to predict what you’re trying to type. It’s moderately useful at times — finishing “Buy” with “milk and bread” saves a bit of time) — and when the app adds a handy phone button beside names that exist in your address book.

Tapping on a task brings up a menu that allows you to set it to a higher priority, move it to a specific folder, assign a due date or note, or share it with friends. You can also drag items around to reorder and prioritize certain tasks over others, much like in the Android app. The iOS version takes better advantage of screen real estate than its Android counterpart, however, displaying a calendar alongside your task list when the device is in landscape mode. But with luck, this feature will appear on Android soon.

The Chrome App

Any.DO Chrome - Web Browsing
Any.DO while browsing in Chrome.

Of course, given its home on conventional desktops and laptops, the Any.DO Chrome app lacks the gesture-based controls of its mobile brethren. But the aesthetic remains consistent, though you’re unable to change the color scheme from the default white. Check marks are used to indicate completed tasks instead of swiping, but can still be reorganized by clicking and dragging. The app opens from an icon to the right of the address bar and drops down over your current browsing session — no need to open a new tab or window. But the option to pop Any.DO out into its own window is there for those of you who’d prefer.

Conclusion

As a light user of task-based apps, Any.DO is the one and only solution to my needs. The new Chrome and iOS apps mean I can finally sync lists across my Nexus S, iPad, and MacBook Pro (running Mac OSX and Windows 8 Release Preview).

The fact remains, however, that if you’re a heavy user the lists can get a bit cumbersome. Most items end up lumped into the Today category if they don’t have a due date so lists can get out of hand if you don’t pay attention. I still think it’s worth a try for anyone in need of a new task manager since it’s free and using folders may lessen the organizational load. If you do try it out, let us know what you think.

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BitTorrent takes on Dropbox with new file-sharing service

It seems that everyone is planning an Operation Overthrow against popular file synching service Dropbox. Earlier this week, it was Insync. This time, the newest member to join the movement is BitTorrent, Inc. with their new desktop app simply dubbed Share. The service allows you to transfer any type of files to anyone with no size limit to weigh you down.

The process is easy and straightforward. After installing and firing up the application, add files by dragging-and-dropping or by browsing for them. Then, enter in your email address, as well as the recipient’s email address (you can have more than one recipient). You can also connect to Facebook and add your friends that way.

After you send the file, the recipient will receive an email letting them know about the file(s) and how to get the Share app (if they don’t already have it).

Your account will automatically be created after you send your first file share and the next window is a list of all the files that you’re sharing and information on who its shared with, etc. Users don’t have to be online at the same time to send and receive files, since they’re cached in the cloud and once the files have sufficiently been shared by peers, they’re taken off the cloud to make room for future files transfers.

Share is clearly still in its early alpha stages, but it will eventually be integrated into the popular BitTorrent client uTorrent, adding even more features to the lightweight program. Currently, Share is only available on Windows, but will be available on Macs via uTorrent in the future.

A free, unlimited file-sharing service this easy simply cannot go ignored. It’s a fantastic alternative to anyone who doesn’t want to get their hands dirty with true BitTorrent and makes sharing larger files a breeze.

3 Great Alternatives to Dropbox

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

Let Anyone Send Files to Your Dropbox with JotForm

Let’s say a family member or close friend wants to show you vacation pictures, but 1) There are too many files and 2) Even when zipped, the file size is too large to attach in an email. You suggest they sign up with Dropbox, a free way to sync and share files across any computer. The trouble is, your friend or family member is too stubborn to sign up for a free account (who doesn’t love free?!).

There just so happens to be a web service that gives anyone the ability to send a file directly to your Dropbox. It’s called Dropbox Forms, made by Jotform who provides a wide variety of web form creation tools.

It’s a completely free service with the option to upgrade to premium plans with more available space. However, the free version only allows a max of 100 MB, which was a problem for me right off the bat since I needed to request a 125 MB audio file from a fellow group member in one of my college courses. If you plan on working with files less than 100 MB, you should have no problem.

When you arrive to the Dropbox Forms homepage, simply click “Create a Dropbox Form” to get started. You’ll then need to allow the service to access your Dropbox account. Once that’s finished, you can start creating your form. You have two options for this: Either a direct link to a form hosted on JotForm’s website or embed the form on your own site.

Whenever someones uses the form to send a file your way, it will automatically sync to your Dropbox where you can easily access it!

Another similar service is AirDropper. I found this to be a little more feasible since there isn’t a cap on file sizes. You also have two choice for forms, but it’s a little different from how JotForm does it. You can either create a one-time, one-use form or create a reusable form with a password required. However, AirDropper isn’t a free service. It’ll cost you $12 a month after the 7-day free trial, which is a little more than the $10/month JotForm charges for a premium plan.

Cross-platform SyncMate Lets You Sync Files with All Your Devices

SyncMateWith everybody being so connected digitally these days, keeping basic information synced to all of your devices can be a nightmare. The nightmare can be even more difficult if you are the owner of an Apple computer and have a Windows or Nokia phone (and even worse if your understanding of network sharing is limited).

SyncMate by Eltima Software may be the key to solving this problem. SyncMate allows multiple computers to synchronize contacts, calendars, bookmarks, notes, iTunes / iPhoto, folders, and more. SyncMate runs on Windows or OSX, and also connects to Google accounts.

What will most people use this software for? Synchronizing contacts, bookmarks, and notes possibly between work and personal computers (if allowed by your employer). Others will enjoy the folder synchronization between a desktop and a laptop in the home (which I found most useful).

User Interface

The UI is fairly straightforward, but not as intuitive as most software put out for OSX. The large “Add Connection” button leads you to step one of the process where you will find a list of devices to use with SyncMate. I struggled a bit to setup the folder sync for close to a half an hour, and I am an IT person who likes to setup networks the hard way. After you complete the initial setup, however, it becomes much simpler.

Automatic reminders to sync can get annoying but are easy enough to turn off. The sync may vary depending on network speed and amount of data to be moved.

Device List
Some of SyncMate's supported devices

Windows Mobile

SyncMate appears to be an Apple substitute to Active-sync for the owners of a Windows Mobile device. We all know Microsoft and Apple don’t always play nice, but thanks to this third party software they can.

Using SyncMate

With automatic sync enabled, you really don’t have to deal with the software often. Contacts and calendars will be synchronized with ease. SyncMate also handled file duplication during folder synchronization very well. If the same file was changed on both computers, it will prompt the user and ask what to do. This will easily save a term paper from going down the drain.

Substitutes

With a Google account, things such as contacts and calendars can be synchronized with the applications in OS X. Google Chrome and Opera also have built in synchronization of bookmarks and themes built in.

iTunes has a nice home share feature. If both computers are linked to the same Apple account you can synchronize from iTunes itself.

Conclusion

Give SyncMate a try for yourself. I found it to be a nice tool that can help a new user keep multiple computers organized, but it might not cut it for more advanced users.

Share, Organize, and Store Your Digital Files Online with Quanp

The world of online storage is a growing one, with different services and new features coming out all the time. Quanp, pronounced “Quan-Pah”, is one which I’ve found to be quite useful not only for its online storage, but the way in which it organizes and displays your files on your desktop.

Quanp Home
This is the home screen for the Quanp Desktop Software

Quanp, short for Quantum Papers, couples its online storage features with an easy to use and visually appealing desktop software. This software enables you to store files in a folders called “Places”. After creating a Place, you can simply drag and drop files into it and view/sort them with 3D thumbnails. While loading your files into a Place you’re given the opportunity to add tags and descriptions to them.

Picture Info
Clicking on a picture brings up a larger view with information

I found especially convenient that Quanp doesn’t require the physical files to be moved or copied when you load them into a Place. For example, I have a lot of pictures stored on my computer. When I load them from my camera, they are automatically sorted into folders by date. This is semi-useful if I can remember when I took whatever picture I happen to be looking for, but it doesn’t really do me any good if I want to search through only pictures of family, or landscapes.  If I load all of my pictures into the Quanp desktop software, however, I can sort my pictures in a number of different ways while keeping my files and folders neat on my computer.

What I find to be the easiest and  most useful option is tagging. When I’m loading my pictures onto Quanp I can tag pictures/files based on what they contain. After they are tagged, I can use the included search options to search for pictures I’ve tagged as landscape, family, or landscape and family. The results are then brought up as thumbnails in 3D space which makes them easy to quickly browse through.

Inside a Place
Quanp shows files within a Place

If you find yourself searching for a specific tag or groups of tags often, it might be more convenient to make a different Place for those files.  For example, I take all my pictures tagged Landscape and put them in a Place called Landscapes. I can then simply click on the Place when I start Quanp to view all my landscape pictures. Even though a file my be stored in two or more Places in the Quanp software, the actual file remains unmoved from its original location.

All of this so far has been only what happens on your computer. Along with all of the aforementioned awesome features, Quanp is an online storage solution as well (similar to previously covered Dropbox). Quanp will upload any files you load to the desktop software onto the service’s website. You can do this by manually pushing the upload button or you can set up and automatic uploader that will check for newly added files every so often (you can change the how often in the settings).

Refresh Button
You may have to push this button to recently loaded files to appear

Quanp’s Microsoft Office Add-in

Quanp has recently released an Add-in for Microsoft Office which can be downloaded at http://us.quanp.com/about/addin. I’ve never used an add in for before so I was a little wary about how it was going to work.

Run the installation file and follow the install instructions. Once the add in is installed, it will appear on the right hand side of the Home Ribbon.  In this article, I’m using Office 2007 on Windows Vista, so it’s location may be different depending on the Microsoft Office you use.

Clicking the Quanp button will bring up a list of actions such as upload and download. Clicking download will prompt a log in box for Quanp. After entering your information, a box pops up asking you what Place your file is stored in. When you select the appropriate Place from the drop down menu, all the Office documents in the Place are displayed. Double clicking a document will open it up in Microsoft Office. You can also save and upload documents from Office directly to your Quanp account.

Quanp Send for Windows

Quanp Send is a widget for Windows. It allows for quick sending of large file (500MB max) to other Quanp members and to email. To use it, simply drag a file and drop it on Quanp Send and a dialog box will pop up asking you who you want to send it to. You can also assign tags and descriptions to the file before you send it off.

Quanp Send Dialogue
Fill out who you are sending it to and add tags or a description

Conclusion

All in all, I really like Quanp. I’ve always been a big fan of online storage services, and up until using Quanp, the problem has been that I had to move or copy the file I wanted from its original place on my computer to a dedicated shared folder. I enjoy using Quanp’s desktop software for its easy-to-use search options and quick browsing.

The only problem I had with Quanp was at first when I loaded files with the software, I couldn’t get them to show up.  Here’s the fix: there is a refresh button on the left side you may have to push to get recently files to appear on the software.

Review: Dropbox For iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad

If you don’t already have a free Dropbox account, this is something you need to do. Essentially, Dropbox is online storage that syncs to a folder on whatever computer you have it installed on. The program places a Dropbox folder on your computer, and whatever files you put in it are automatically uploaded to the Dropbox website and downloaded/updated in the Dropbox folder of any other computers you have it installed on.

The Dropbox app for iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad works along with your existing account. Just download the app (it’s free) and log into your account. You are first shown a getting started PDF which tells you everything you need to know.

Using the Dropbox App

With the Dropbox app, you are able to view and share files that are in your Dropbox, as well as upload new files. The app supports a surprising amount of file types that can be viewed for images, music, Microsoft documents, PDFs, and a few more obscure file types. For a complete list see the image below.

I was very impressed with how the Dropbox app handled viewing files. In particular, the image quality of PDFs was not downgraded, making even small text perfectly legible. Viewing image files is much the same with no loss of quality. I was surprised to find that I could actually stream an .mp3 directly to my iPod without having to download it. It’s also possible to play movies, but they have to be encoded with some pretty specific settings and filetypes to play through the app.

One way the Dropbox app is different from the normal Dropbox is that you have to pick what files you want to sync to you device with the “Favorite” option. This is done because of the relatively limited space available on and iPhone or iPod, since automatically syncing and downloading your entire Dropbox could fill your device with unwanted files and strain your data plan if you have an iPhone.

To favorite a file and download it for offline viewing, simply select the file from your Dropbox App. When you’re viewing your file, click the star icon at the bottom of the screen to add the file to your favorites.

Back at the Dropbox home screen, click the Favorites button on the bottom left which will bring up the files you selected. If there is a yellow (!) icon next to the file, it means the file has been updated and needs to be re-synced to get the current version. To the right of the file will be a green circle with a down pointing arrow. Clicking this will download/update the file on your device.

Here the file is favorited but not yet downloaded to the iPod.
The file is now updated and downloaded to the iPod

Easily transfer files from your device to Dropbox

As I was writing this article, I was trying to figure out the best way to get the screen captures from my iPod to my computer and, lo and behold, the answer was my Dropbox app. By clicking the + symbol at the top right of the main Dropbox screen, you can upload any files currently in your photo/video album into your Dropbox account. From there they will be placed into your online storage and any computers you’ve installed Dropbox on.

You can also share the link to any of your files by clicking the bottom left button while viewing a file.

Conclusion

All in all, this is a fairly useful app if you already use Dropbox (which, as I said before, you should).  If your iPhone/iPod Touch has limited memory capacity and you find yourself low on space, you can use this app to easily unload any pictures you might have taking up space while still being able to view them just as easily.

Make sure to check out the rest of our great articles about Dropbox!

New Dropbox Feature Lets You Pick Which Folders Sync

I sometimes get asked, “What size USB flash drive do you have?”, especially when people are looking for a way to keep their documents with them between home/work/school.  Well, if you haven’t heard of Dropbox, you’re in for a wonderful revelation – you don’t need flash drives anymore!

Instead of keeping your files on USB flash drives or CDs, you can install Dropbox (it’s completely free for 2 GB of storage), put your files in a special folder, and poof – they’re automatically synchronized with any computers that have Dropbox installed.

What if you’re on someone else’s computer and you don’t want to install the software?  No problem, you can access all of your files through a useful web interface.  Dropbox also has great applications for iPhone and Android so you can access your files with your phone.

My only complaint about Dropbox was that you couldn’t choose which folders you wanted to sync (or, more importantly, didn’t want to sync) to your specific computers.  If I’m traveling and using my netbook on a tethered connection to my phone, I don’t want a gigabyte of graduation pictures to start downloading in the background.

I can complain no more, however, since Dropbox just released a feature that allows you to pick exactly which folders synchronize to your computer.

How to Use Selective Sync in Dropbox

Step 0: If you don’t already have one, you need to create a Dropbox account.  Dropbox is free for 2 gigabytes of space, and it can be upgraded up to 8 gigabytes by referring your friends.  If you need more space than that, you can purchase 50 and 100 gigabytes of space.

Step 1: This feature hasn’t been rolled out to the main client yet, so you need to install the newest version of Dropbox (currently 0.8.64).  The client is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Step 2: Right click the Dropbox icon in your system tray and select Preferences.

Step 3: Click the Advanced tab and click the Selective Sync… button.

Step 4: Choose which folders you want to synchronize to the computer you’re using.  In my case, I no longer wanted my netbook to synchronize my Music and Photos folders, so I unchecked those.

You can gain even more control over which subfolders synchronize by clicking the Switch to Advanced View button.

Conclusion

If you asked me what my favorite application is (or even the application I use the most), it would be Dropbox.  During my last year of college I kept all of my homework and projects stored in my Dropbox, making it available to my netbook, lab computer, and work computer.  When you store your files on Dropbox, you don’t need to worry about having the most recent version of your document anymore – it’s always up-to-date.

Selective folder synchronization was the last thing I really needed in Dropbox, mainly because I couldn’t always get a fast connection while traveling with my netbook.  Now that this is available, I might be able to call Dropbox… perfect?

Dropbox: Take Your Files Everywhere

dropbox-large-iconMethods of transferring and sharing files have come a long way from the days of 3.5″ floppy disks.  Once limited to 1.44 MB at a time, we are now able to use flash drives to easily transfer around 32 GB (approximately 22000 times as much data) at greater transfer speeds than before.  Although physical media allows for large data transfers, the internet itself offers great file sharing services such as Dropbox.

Dropbox offers the next generation of file transfer and sharing with a multi-platform software that is available in both free and paid versions.  The different pricing options are show below.

dropbox-pricing

Dropbox is available for many different platforms including:

  • Windows
  • OS X
  • Linux
  • iPhone
  • Web interface

Multiple platforms can be added to a single Dropbox account.

How it Works

dropbox-privateWhen files are added to any of the Dropbox folders, they are automatically transferred any other device that is joined to the Dropbox account.  Users are then able to open their Dropbox folder on another computer and see the same files.  Dropbox also keeps previous versions of files.  To restore a previous version of a file, simply right-click a file and select Previous Versions from the Dropbox menu.

Public Folder

dropbox-publicAutomatically included with your Dropbox is a Public folder.  Anything place within the public folder has the ability to be shared with anyone across the internet.  To share a file in the Public folder, right-click the file and select Copy Public Link from the Dropbox menu.  Paste the link into an email, instant message, or website and your file will be publicly available.

Shared Folders

dropbox-sharedOne of the most useful features of Dropbox is the ability to have Shared folders with other Dropbox users.  Shared folders works just like the rest of Dropbox.  Any files placed within the shared folder are updated on all of your Dropbox connected devices along with all of the Shared folder users’ connected devices.

Dropbox Tips

So now that you know about the file sharing capabilities of Dropbox, you may be interested in some of the other creative ways people are using their Dropbox:

  • Host an HTML website
  • Sync your passwords with KeyPass
  • Sync your Firefox profile
  • Sync your Pidgin Profile

Above are just a few of the ways that you can use Dropbox.  Checkout the Dropbox Wiki for a list of tips and tricks.

How has Dropbox helped you?  Do you use Dropbox in any creative ways?  Let us know by commenting below.

How to Access Gmail Without an Internet Connection

gmail-offline-thumbWe all love the freedom and accessibility provided by keeping our email in the digital “cloud“, but an inevitable problem always arises: what do we do when we aren’t able to access the internet?  Or, as we recently discovered, what do we do when the our web-based email provider crashes?

One solution is to activate Gmail’s Offline mode, which allows you to store copies of your emails on your computer using Google Gears (Gears is an extension for Firefox and Internet Explorer that allows internet content to be stored and synchronized on your hard drive).  When connected to Gmail, Gears will store your emails on your computer and periodically check to make sure they are updated.  If you want to access Gmail offline, Gears will allow you to use it like normal (aside from the fact that you can’t send or receive messages until you connect).

Activating Offline Gmail

Step One: Login to your Gmail account and go to the Gmail Labs page.  Click the Enable button for Offline.  Click Save Changes.

gmail-labs-offline

Step Two: In your inbox, click the Offline button in the top right of the screen.

gmail-labs-offline-mode

If you haven’t already installed Google Gears, you will be prompted to do so now.  Please take heed of the message that you shouldn’t install Offline Gmail if you’re using a public or shared computer.  Click the Install button and follow the procedures to install Google Gears.  You will have to restart your browser once the installation is finished.

gmail-labs-offline-gears

Step 3: After you have installed Gears and restarted your browser, log back into your Gmail account.  You will now be prompted to allow Gmail to store messages to your computer.  Check the “I trust this site” box and click Allow.

gmail-labs-offline-gears-allow

You will also be given the opportunity to create shortcuts for Offline Gmail.

gmail-labs-offline-shortcuts

Offline Gmail will now be installed and will begin storing your messages on your computer.  This process will take some time (depending on the size of your inbox and attachments).  If you interrupt the downloading process, it will resume when you log back into Gmail.

gmail-labs-offline-downloading

A new Offline icon will be visible in the top right of your inbox (right next to the green Gmail Labs beaker).  The Offline icon will indicate current status of your local email copies and also allow you to enter “Flaky Internet Mode” if you’re having trouble connecting.

Now that you have Offline Gmail installed, you can access your email without an internet connection just by opening the shortcuts you saved to your computer.  You’ll have access to all emails stored by Google Gears, but you won’t be able to download new messages or compose messages until you connect to the internet.  Any gadgets you have activated will also be unavailable until you enter online mode again.

Offline Gmail is especially useful if you’ve got a netbook or laptop and need to access your emails on the go.  Offline Gmail saves 3 months of previous emails by default (which can be adjusted) and even stores copies of your attachments.  You can even continue composing new messages, they will just be stored in your Outbox until you have internet access.

Have any tips for staying connected when you’re off the grid?  Share them with us in the comments.