Influential Technology (Part 2): Dropbox Cloud Storage

I created this blog with the intent to share my thoughts on the various influential and motivational aspects of life. In addition, I often contribute my thoughts on various issues that inspire me to think introspectively and take decisive action. Technology is an aspect of life that influences me on a daily basis. In the Information Age, technology plays an integral role in our daily lives. While many may suggest that technology has made our lives easier, one could also argue that technology has complicated the way we live. Regardless of your perspective on the usefulness of technology, there are numerous benefits that can be gained from the proper integration and utilization of technology. In this series on influential technology, I will highlight various technology products and services that have influenced me in a positive way. Hopefully this discussion will positively influence how you view technology and inspire you to simplify the increasingly complex nature of life in the Information Age.


Dropbox Logo 3Dropbox Cloud Storage

I vividly recall the days when I carried around a box of floppy disks with all of my critical files stored on them.  At that time, I was a college student, and having quick access to data was essential.  Those 3.5 in. disks only provided about 1.44MB of storage, about the size of a 45 second iTunes music file.  Given the large number of essays, book reviews, lab reports, and other assignments I had to complete as a student, one could imagine the large number of disks required for file storage.  Did I also mention how unreliable those disks were?  On a frequent basis, my files would be mysteriously erased from the floppy disks, forcing me to keep duplicates of each disk in my stash.

By the time I finished college, those floppy disks no longer met my storage needs, and continued life as drink coasters.  A new era in file storage had arrived, and USB flash drives were the new craze.  Despite the high cost per GB, flash drives proved to be a more efficient and convenient method to store data.  My initial foray into the world of flash drives was through the purchase of a 256MB SanDisk drive.  At a cost of $65, one flash drive effectively negated the need for my box of floppy disks.  I was blown away by the fact that my new flash drive could store the same amount of data as 177 floppy disks.  Unbeknownst to me, the future of file storage was about to be revolutionized through the rapid growth of the Internet and related technologies.

In the time since I finished college, less than 10 years ago, the need for physical storage drives has been eliminated and replaced by cloud-based file storage. One of the companies leading the charge in cloud storage is Dropbox, a Silicon Valley firm started in 2007. Dropbox’s vision for the future is one where people no longer need physical disk drives to store files. By making data widely available on the Internet, users can access their files anywhere and anytime, using multiple devices.

I started using Dropbox about three years ago, and the technology has drastically changed the way I store files. The software is available online and on multiple operating systems, with apps available for computers and mobiles devices. The best feature of the software it its ability to sync data in real-time. By connecting my laptop to my Dropbox account, any files contained in my Dropbox folder are automatically updated when changes are made, as long as an Internet connection is available. If the computer is offline, Dropbox will update the file changes as soon as an Internet connection becomes available. I no longer have to worry about keeping up with the latest versions of my important files, as they are always updated and available to me on the cloud.

Dropbox also allows users to share folders with others, which is very useful when my classmates and I collaborate on assignments. Any updates made to a file by one user are automatically synced to the Dropbox accounts of other users with permission to access the shared folder. This feature saved they day when I was in Africa during the holiday season, and was working on a research paper with a classmate in Europe. My wife and I also use Dropbox to share any pictures we take of our son. The Dropbox app will automatically upload any pictures I take using my smartphone or tablet, allowing my wife to access them almost instantly.

Dropbox, similar to other cloud storage companies, offers free storage (2GB) when users create an account. Through referrals and other methods, users can gain up to 16GB of additional storage for free. For people like me that require larger amounts of storage, Dropbox offers paid accounts that increase the total amount of available storage space. If you’re looking for a way to remotely access and backup your valuable data, definitely explore what Dropbox has to offer. While some may have issues with cloud storage due to Internet security, Dropbox encrypts all of your data on their servers, and also provides dual-authentication access to their website. I can easily say that Dropbox is the technology that I’ve used most frequently, and has revolutionized the way in which I store and access my data. If you’re interested and want to create an account, use my referral link to get bonus storage for your account.

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Influential Technology (Part 1): Day One Journal App

I created this blog with the intent to share my thoughts on the various influential and motivational aspects of life. In addition, I often contribute my thoughts on various issues that inspire me to think introspectively and take decisive action. Technology is an aspect of life that influences me on a daily basis. In the Information Age, technology plays an integral role in our daily lives. While many may suggest that technology has made our lives easier, one could also argue that technology has complicated the way we live. Regardless of your perspective on the usefulness of technology, there are numerous benefits that can be gained from the proper integration and utilization of technology. In this series on influential technology, I will highlight various technology products and services that have influenced me in a positive way. Hopefully this discussion will positively influence how you view technology and inspire you to simplify the increasingly complex nature of life in the Information Age.
 

Day One App IconDay One Journal App

I began using the Day One app less than two months ago as a way to reap the benefits of writing more regularly in a journal. After failing to fully utilize the pen/paper approach to jotting down thoughts and ideas, I decided to look for alternatives. In the past, I typically wrote down thoughts and ideas on a folded sheet of paper that I would carry around in my pocket. The experience of losing and/or misplacing the sheet of paper led to me seek a dedicated journal. I shopped around and settled on the Moleskine brand of leather-bound journals primarily for aesthetic reasons, but also because they’re everywhere. One day, while perusing Brothatech’s blog, I came across the Moleskine Evernote Smart Notebook. Given my infatuation with the Evernote platform (which I will discuss in a separate post), I purchased the notebook for use as my dedicated journal. After a few months, I realized that I only used the Moleskine journal in situations where using a mobile device was not possible or advisable, or was distracting to others. Despite the beauty of my prized journal, my thoughts and ideas seldomly graced the journal’s pages.  Instead, I would capture notes with various apps on my laptop, smartphone and tablet.

While researching various journaling apps, I came across Day One , which just so happened to be free for a limited time. The Day One app is a beautifully, yet simplistically, designed app that offers essential journaling capabilities. The app provides basic text editing features and allows a single image to be attached to each journal entry. It is a multi-platform (iOS, MacOS) app that offers syncing functionality across multiple devices through Dropbox or iCloud. With the Day One Journal app, I have been able to write more regularly, using my laptop, smartphone and/or tablet. The app has the look/feel of common social media platforms and arranges each journal entry in a timeline view. It contains a notification feature that allows reminders to be sent to me when I’ve gone a certain period of time with creating a new journal entry. Also, using my smartphone’s dictation feature, I’m able to create new voice-to-text journal entries on the go. The app allows past journal entries to be edited, which is useful when the voice recognition software misinterprets my words.

If you want to get into the habit of writing more regularly and have not had success with the traditional pen/paper approach, consider the Day One Journal app as a useful tool to help encourage writing on a more frequent basis. There are other apps that offer features similar to Day One Journal, however, I wanted an app that was solely dedicated to journaling. The last thing I need is to be distracted when writing. For those who are wondering about the usefulness of a journaling app, as opposed to using a basic text editor, keep in mind that I said the same thing about tablets before purchasing one.

The realization of my preference for jotting down thoughts and ideas on my mobile devices was initially shocking. In the past, I took pride in using pen/paper to capture the fruits of my brainstorming sessions. Now, with the proliferation of technology products, the ways in which I accomplish various tasks have drastically changed, leading to an increased dependence on these products. Thankfully, software developers have been busy at work trying to fully utilize the potential of technology to make our lives easier, and the team at Bloom has designed a very effective journaling app that serves as a worthy replacement for my Moleskine notebook.  Technology wins again!

Day One Journal (iOS, $4.99; MacOS, $9.99), Website, Facebook, TwitterDay One App Icon 2