Tag Archives: Dropbox on iPad

Don’t Worry, Use Dropbox. You’ll have all your computer files anywhere you go

imageDo you worry when you leave home that you may need some files from your home computer? Do you worry when you travel that anything you create on your travel computer may get lost or destroyed before you get back home? Do you worry that the pictures you take with your phone will get lost or destroyed before you are able to transfer them to your computer? Do you worry that the USB drive where you keep your important files will get lost or destroyed, or that you didn’t update it with your latest work?

Don’t Worry! Use Dropbox!

Dropbox.com is a cloud storage service. There are many of them like Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’s OneDrive, and Google’s Drive. We use them all, but we like Dropbox the best for 2 reasons:

  1. It ISN’T Apple, Microsoft, or Google! So it’s not tied in any way with one of those accounts, and it works well with ALL.
  2. It does the best job of Synchronizing among all your computers and mobile devices.

Synchronizing

Synchronizing means that Dropbox keeps a copy of your files on your computer – in the Dropbox folder – AND in the Cloud – in your Dropbox.com account – and it takes care of ensuring that when either one is updated, so is the other. All you have to do is save your file in the Dropbox folder on your computer, and Dropbox will create, or update, the corresponding file in your Dropbox.com account. It will also update that same file on anyone else’s computer with whom you have shared a folder, and make it accessible to any device that has the Dropbox App installed.

With Dropbox, you can:

  1. imageStart working on a file at home, continue working on the same file on the road
  2. Share a folder for a group of people to collaborate on project files, even when those people are spread all over the world.
  3. Work on a file locally when you have no Internet connection, and it automatically synchronizes to the web and other shared group members when you do get online.
  4. Create a group photo album where everyone automatically gets a copy of the pictures on their computer – not just a shared web album.
  5. Start working on a file on your laptop, continue working on the same file on your iPad or Android smartphone.
  6. Automatically upload all photos taken with a mobile device to your Dropbox.com account – AND synchronize with whatever computer(s) you have set up.

Using Dropbox has definitively eliminated any worries I have about my computer files. I know that I have access to all of my files and pictures (and they are the current, updated versions!) wherever I am and whatever computing device I happen to have available. I’ve been using Dropbox long enough now that I have actually forgotten what it is like to worry about my computer files. I don’t have a computer backup system any more. If a file is important to me, it’s in my Dropbox folder. In fact, I no longer use My Documents folder – unless it’s an unimportant file. I use my Dropbox folder in lieu of my Documents and I set up as many subfolders as I need to store my stuff.

How much space do you get?

The initial free allotment of space in your Dropbox account is 2 Gigabytes. For $10/mo you can upgrade that to 1Terrabyte. But, there are also many promotions that allow you to earn more free space. You can sign up for dropbox using this link and both you and I will get 500MG extra free space!

Every traveler needs a Dropbox! For more information, see the Dropbox Tour.

If you are a Geeks on Tour member, you can watch these videos.

www.GeeksonTour.com
Watch our weekly show on Learning Smartphones and Tablets:www.GeeksOnTour.com/weeklyshow

iPad as Work Computer

ipad-keyboardMost people who love their iPads use them for consuming information.  They read their email, browse the web, read books, watch movies and listen to music.  Occasionally, they’ll write an email or post to Facebook.  If that’s what you want to do with a computer, you’ll love the iPad too – or any good tablet.  But what if you need to create stuff?  I want to write, calculate, work with pictures, make content for websites, and manage lots of files.  I don’t think I can use an iPad for all that.

Or can I?

I needed to take a one week trip to Florida to visit family.  I’d be flying, renting a car and staying at a friend’s.  I still needed to do my work – write a newsletter for Geeks on Tour, maintain the website and manage lots of emails.  I decided to leave the laptop at home and take only my iPad. 

Hurdle 1: The Keyboard

The first obstacle I ran into was simply typing.  I did have a keyboard and case for the iPad, (I wouldn’t even try serious typing with the onscreen keyboard) but I didn’t like my Typad keyboard.  I had to push the keys too hard, I found touch typing to be impossible, and the case didn’t hold the iPad at a solid angle.  I needed to look for a new keyboard.  I knew Fort Lauderdale had an Apple store, so I made that one of my first stops after I arrived.  What I found is the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover.  It is perfect!  As the name implies, it is ultra thin and it magnetically attaches to simply lay on top of the iPad screen as a cover.  When the cover is on, the iPad screen turns off, when you take the cover off, the iPad wakes up.  To use it as a keyboard, you simply stand the iPad in the slot provided and pair it via bluetooth.  The iPad stands up at the perfect angle, and the combination is solid enough that you can sit it on your lap.  The keys have just a little bit of movement and click to them, so I can type every bit as fast as on any full-fledged keyboard.  There are many keyboards available to buy … just google for iPad Keyboards!  If you want to buy the same one I got, here’s a link to Amazon for the iPad Keyboard Red; iPad Keyboard Black; iPad Keyboard White .  If you buy using these links, Geeks on Tour will get a thank you dollar or two from Amazon – and we thank you!

Hurdle 2: All My Files

if you’re accustomed to a computer, either Windows or Macintosh, you know about files and folders.  That’s part of a computer’s job is to be a filing cabinet for all your files.  The most befuddling thing to realize about the iPad is that it does not have a filing system.  The iPad is an App player, not a file storage device.  I need to work with document files, spreadsheet files, presentations, and picture files.  What I discovered is that the combination of Dropbox and QuickOffice worked just great – as long as I had a good WiFi internet connection.  We store all of our important documents, spreadsheets, and other files used for Geeks on Tour business in our Dropbox anyway.  With Dropbox installed on my iPad, I have access to all the files we use on our computers for Geeks on Tour.  With QuickOffice, I can edit the files it finds on Dropbox.  Now we’re talking!

Hurdle 3: Pictures

ipad-sdcardI use Picasa on my Windows laptop to manage nearly 50,000 pictures.  I can’t do that on the iPad.  There is no Picasa software for the iPad, and there is not nearly enough space to hold 50,000 pictures.  This is a deal breaker if the question is, “Can I use the iPad as my only computer?”  But my question is simply, can I use the iPad as a temporary substitute for my computer while away from home?  The answer to that is Yes!  I can take pictures with my camera and import them into the iPad using the SD Card Reader adapter, and I can upload them to my Google+ Photos (aka Picasa Web Albums) with the Google+ iPad app.  Here’s the Amazon link for the iPad 1&2 SD card reader: Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit (MC531ZM/A)  ; Lightning Adapter Camera Connection Kit Card Reader for iPad 4 / iPad Mini

Hurdle 4: It’s the Little Things

Once I had my keyboard, and I knew I could get whatever pictures I needed, I set to work writing our newsletter.  I figured that would be a piece of cake since we used a completely web-based system called AWeber.  I just fired up Safari, browsed to AWeber and started writing.  Then, I got hung up on my first procedure … adding a picture to the first article.  Usually, I go to Google+ and find the picture, then right click on it and copy the URL.  It’s the URL that AWeber needs in order to display the picture in our newsletter.  Using Google+ on the iPad, I could find NO way to get the URL.  That stopped me in my tracks, so I switched gears and started answering some emails.  The first email answer required me to attach a file, oops, bumping into a brick wall again.  The Gmail app on iPad has no way to attach a file.  Is it time for wine yet?

Given enough time and thought, I did find ways around my problems.  I could get the picture’s URL if I opened Google+ photos using Chrome rather than the Google+ app, and I could send a file via email by going to the file first (in Dropbox) and tapping the share button.  But that meant the email was on its own rather than being a reply to a previous email. 

Conclusion

I can use the iPad as a substitute for my laptop occasionally, but it’s slow going and takes extra thought and effort.  I didn’t know I liked my mouse so much until after I tried to do real work with the touchscreen.  Simple things like copy and paste – yes it can be done (see this GeeksOnTour video on smartphone copy/paste) but it takes SO much longer than using the mouse!

I look forward to getting back to my laptop.  I think the newsletter will be late this month!