Cloud Folders Increase Productivity

Being a web developer, I usually use several different computers on different operating systems across the lifetime of any project. Personally, I have 5 computers plus one server: Access to a Vista PC, a Windows 7 virtualized installation, my main Mandriva Linux desktop, a Eee 701 PC with Eeebuntu, a Mandriva Linux laptop, and a FreeBSD development server.

Moving files from one computer to the next used to be a time-consuming and ultimately prohibitive process. If I wanted to, say, take a break from working on my PC and work at the Red Brick Cafe for a few hours, I’d have to download my work files to a USB memory card then export the MySQL database and do the same transfer again to the USB memory card.

Or, I could burn a CD. Of course, how does one get the updated files back off the laptop and onto the PC when arriving back at home? This arduous process basically meant that freedom of choice in the work environment was severely hampered and was often more trouble than it was worth. But not any more.

Enter Dropbox.

Dropbox is a free service that is basically a shared folder in the cloud. It makes sharing files amongst any computer, whether it be Mac, Linux, or Windows, easy as drag and drop. And I really mean that. I love things that speed up my work processes because the less time I spend in administration mode the more time I can accomplish tasks in programming mode. Dropbox exemplifies this manifesto.

Any file you put in the Dropbox folder on a computer will instantly be available on any computer that install Dropbox on. Even better, revisions are kept so if you make a mistake with a file and don’t have backups, you can pull the file in question from the archives to restore it. What makes Dropbox different from any other revision or archiving setup is that this is all done without any administration by the user. Literally if you drag a file into the folder, all this stuff is done for you. No committing changes, no crazy hoops to jump through.

Oh, and the 2GB storage starter account is completely free. It’s the one I use daily. I don’t even think I’ve hit 25% capacity yet.

Well, I’ve officially made the switch to Mandriva Linux.

After years of dual-booting between Windows XP and Mandriva, I made the decision to bring the hammer down and get rid of the former. My original intention was to make the switch when I bought a new PC but my hand was forced as I came home from work on Friday to a locked-up Windows XP desktop that never came back.

Fear not: no data was lost as Mandriva can read Windows drives. I backed up my things onto my /home partition and waved goodbye.

It’s been a roller-coaster past with Windows XP: When it first came out, I irrationally hated it. Once I got used to it, I found it actually worked pretty well. Mostly. Sure, it lacked some of the neat features Mandriva had (rotating cube desktop, wallpaper playlists, etc.) and you never quite knew when the next time it would fail was, but it got the job done. Facing a crashed system and being forced to format was always a wonderful experience. Windows doesn’t have separate partitions for your personal files and system files, meaning that when you begin again, you lose everything. Hope you made a backup! Going through the hassle of calling a Microsoft person in India to promise them you only had one copy of Windows installed was always a treat, as well.

When Vista came out I was put off by even more Digital Restriction Management (DRM) but wanted to see how it performed nonetheless. I can honestly say after using it at work for the past year and a half that it will never come close to being installed on my machines. So, that leaves us the little engine that could: Mandriva.

It’s been just over 2 days since breaking up with Windows XP and I have to say, I don’t miss a thing.