Friday, May 28, 2010

Saving E-Mail attachments to your Dropbox and then to your iPad

Since the iPad is not meant to do all the things we do with computers, I find myself now, when I encounter a task I cannot do on my iPad, wondering how I can make the iPad do it.

A good example :   once a week I receive an e-mail with a document attached.  I'd like that document to be in the GoodReader application on my iPad so it is available always, even if I am somewhere I do not have internet connectivity.

GoodReader brings in documents from Dropbox, so I wondered if Dropbox supported a way of e-mailing in a document.  After all, Evernote allows you to e-mail it content so it is a reasonable feature to expect.

Alas, Dropbox does not have that feature.

In my course of my research, I came across a little PC application, MailDrop from Michael Warren.

MailDrop watches your Gmail account and watches any e-mails belonging to a Gmail Label "Dropbox".  MailDrop then saves any attachments to your Dropbox account.

MailDrop is an app that runs on your PC.  To use it you have to :

1.  Add a folder called Dropbox to your Gmail
2.  Install MailDrop to your PC, and give it your Gmail login name and password
3.  Create a filter in Gmail so appropriate incoming e-mail end up with the Dropbox label

The filter I wrote simply takes any e-mails sent FROM my e-mail address, and TO my e-mail address and  that has an attachment, and applies the Dropbox label.

When I receive the document in my Gmail, I just forward it to myself and it ends up in Gmail so I can then bring it into GoodReader.  These last two steps that I do each week, I can do entirely on my iPad.  The portion done on my PC is entirely automatic.  I have MailDrop installed on a PC that never gets shut off.

That Gmail filter works with any e-mail I forward, not just the one I get each week.  I could, now that I think of it, have a filter to automatically label that expected weekly e-mail.

MailDrop was written long before the iPad came out, but it can be applied to solve an iPad shortcoming nicely.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Facebook "Situation"

Facebook rolled out some new "features" recently and a lot of people thought they were making a huge power grab for control of the internet, assume the right to define our online identities and traffic in the personal data 500 million of us entrusted to them.

Facebook did a horrible job of explaining the advantages, disadvantages and over all ramifications of their moves.  This lead tech pundits to question their motives and their competence to keep our data and identities  safe.

In my Family Tech column appearing tomorrow, published Sunday May 23, I attempt to alert readers to the changes, the turmoil they created, their need to assess the impact for themselves, and steps users can take if they feel they need to protect themselves.  That was a lot to put into 600 words, so with this blog post, I want to curate some of the many blog posts and articles that have appeared casting 

The Changes

announcement of the changes

What People are Saying about the Changes

Jeff Jarvis is a Journalism Professor with CUNY

Jason Calcanis : Facebook is overplaying their hand

This isn't the first time Facebook has faced criticism over privacy.

New York Times

New York Times: Facebook Privacy : A bewildering set of options

How Facebook Users are Reacting

Over half of users say they may quit Facebook


Is Facebook worthy of trust?

Profile of Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO.

How Facebook was founded (if you read one link in this section, read this one)

Facebook/ConnectU settllement

How you can protect yourself

This site will help you understand what information you are sharing and how to control it.

Alternative Social Networking Sites

Social network empires are a fragile thing as the once preeminent Myspace learned.  When young people started moving off Myspace to Facebook, Myspace popularity disappeared and Facebook arose.   Many feel if there was an upstart now, they would benefit from  Facebook's bad publicity.

A list of alternatives.

Unfortunately none of the alternatives will really take over for Facebook until their is a consensus of users wanting to switch.

Google has their Orkut site, but other than Brazil, it has not gained popularity.

Some users could opt to meet together on Google's Buzz or Wave.  Wave used to be invite only but earlier this week was opened to all.

Recently a group of NYU students asked for $10,000 funding pledged to them through the site  to fund Diaspora, a Facebook alternative they said they create if they got the funding.  As of Saturday 5-22-2010 at 12:30 PM, they have amassed $180,914.

Whether they build it, or if they do, Diaspora still needs to prove to be viable and popular.  If nothing else, this shows people's frustration for Facebook.

How to suspend or delete your account

from Facebook

from Wiki How

Facebook recently said they'd would be making their privacy controls easier to understand.  Will this satisfy users?  Do they regain trust?

Or is this the two steps forward, one step back tactic they have used in the past?

The users will decide.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Copyright for the family

We may not like how the RIAA enforces copyrights of its members, but the reality is that families are having to pay out large sums in some cases for what their children are doing.  This week's Family Tech column introduces the realities and periods of P2P to families.  Many kids cavalier attitude towards copyright could devastate a family financially.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

We really do have a young country

John Tyler, the tenth President of the United States has two grandson's alive today.

When I was ten, there was a grandmother living in our neighborhood who had memories of her family moving to Arizona when she was five, on a covered wagon.  I talked to her about that some, but now wish I'd talked more and taken notes!

I recently learned that my grandmother, long ago passed away, as a young woman worked in a small town post office where the post master had been a prisoner at Andersonville.  Seems odd I knew someone who knew someone in the civil war.

A few things that happened in my Internet outage

We've had no, or spotty Internet coverage since Friday.  Long story, all to familiar to many.

Suffice it to say, my son was groggy one morning not from being up late from on the web.  He stayed up to read a book.  Maybe I should join my provider in knocking down our net for a day or two at a time.  Just thinking.

So I'm catching up a bit this morning.

Not surprised to see official word (sort of) that Google and Verizon are working together on a tablet.  I just hope there is a wi-fi only version of it too.

An Apple/AT&T vs. Google/Verizon grudge match can only help us consumers.  Should be a fun contest.  Apple is stronger than Google on design, but then Google is better than Apple on openness.

Verizon network vs. AT&T's network is no match.

And Apple has hinted the iPad's wi-fi issues will be fixed in an upcoming software fix.  My improved signal strength coming into the house has improved my iPad reception when in the far reaches of my home, but I still get the occasional loss.  I am planning on relocating my Linksys wi-fi to a more central point in the house to improve things further.

Busy day ahead.  have to consider what to do about Facebook.  Do I stay or do I go?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Family Tech : Video via the Internet

This week's Family Tech column reminds readers of ways you can find legal videos via the net.  There are increasingly good options for TV viewing and with more and more gadgets like the iPad, better ways to view TV.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dropbox for iPad - first impressions

Last night got busy, so I spent only a bit of time with the new iPad Dropbox. It seems competently done. And it is free.

The beauty of Dropbox is its simplicity. What more can I say? It works.

The one advantage the 99 cent GoodReader still has though is GoodReader can access more than one Dropbox account without having to log out and back in.

My wife and I share the iPad for now and we both have separate Dropbox accounts.  With GoodReader I can pull in files from both.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Dropbox for iPad is out

I just looked at the app store for first time today. Dropbox updated to an iPad version. I just started playing.

The tech eco system quake continues

One million in 28 days indicates not only success for Apple, but for the tablet form factor as a whole.  Expect now even more energy to getting other products in this form factor out the door.  I think Christmas 2010 is going to be an interesting gadget holiday.

I keep thinking how this was inevitable.  The original Palm Pilot was really the first mass market tablet.  Sure it was small, and needed a stylus but those of us that had it, loved it.  It could even surf the net in its own way.  You could capture web pages on your PC and using the Avantgo application, download the pages into your Palm Pilot for reading while out and about.

The Palm Pilot begat stylus based phones like Palms own Treo and HP's iPaq and then touch panel phones like the iPhone and most recently Android based phones.

I was there when the Apple Mac came out in 1984 and spelled the deathnell for the command line user interface.  Touch is a similar quake in the tech ecosystem.

We now have several tablets in our home: phones, an iPad, and an iPod Touch.  And in time we'll have more.  Perhaps an intermediate tablet like the Archos 7.  And even larger screens like our televisions will have touch like abilities, finally ending our love/hate relationship with the remote control as the remote goes the way of the mouse.

Gesture recognition systems won't expect you to touch the screen to receive your gestures, but rather a video camera will watch your movements and have the screen respond.  Microsoft's Project Natal, designed to allow gesture inputs to video games, could easily evolve into a system like I describe.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Your library may be an online power house

My Family Tech column this week is about the online resources offered by the local library.  However, your own library may have similar or better resources.