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Dropbox: A Simple Syncing Solution

Dropbox: A Simple Syncing Solution
dropbox

    Over the years, I’ve tried syncing my computers any number of ways, from trusting my entire life to a flash drive to uploading everything to Google Docs. Very few options have been idiot-proof enough to make up for my abilities to misplace things, forget to update file versions and generally fail to double check that my computers are all in sync.

    I need a forgiving synchronization method — something that doesn’t require me to initiate back ups or juggle versions. Dropbox seems to be that method. I’ve actually been using it for over a month now and have encountered an impressive lack of problems.

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    Wikis and Security

    I use a wiki (TiddlyWiki, to be precise) to handle a lot of my projects in progress. No matter what system I use to keep files in sync across computers, I have to have reliable access to my wiki. I’ve considered using one of the many sites willing to host a wiki for me, but I’ve had some questions about the security of such sites that have yet to be answered.

    Dropbox has handled my wiki with no problems. Considering that TiddlyWiki creates a new file every time you save your changes, that can be impressive. Checking up on the file on the Dropbox website in preparation for this post, I discovered that my wiki was not only up to date — about 100 other files were also up to date if I wanted to double check old saved versions. Dropbox simply saved each one of them, without my having to click boxes or mess with the file.

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    Because of my security concerns, I also took a good look at Dropbox’s privacy policy and security measures. The team behind Dropbox seems to share my paranoia: all file transport occurs over SSL and files are encrypted with AES-256 before they’re stored on the site’s backend. So far, users can’t specify their own private key, but I’m content with the measures that Dropbox has taken so far.

    I had to hunt around the site a bit to find Dropbox’s privacy policy. It’s mostly on par with privacy policies for similar services, though it is directly focused on the personal information that a user might supply for their profile — information associated with public files, forum posts and the like. Users’ files are not a matter for the privacy policy because Dropbox doesn’t mess with them. My files are encrypted before even someone at Dropbox could mess with them. I’m more than willing to trust Dropbox on both security and privacy.

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    Sharing Photos With My Mom

    We all have those friends and relatives whose approaches to the internet require absolute simplicity. Anything much beyond ‘click this link’ just doesn’t fly. It can make sharing files, from photos to documents, interesting at best. But Dropbox also allows users to establish a shared folder. Within that shared folder, you can put any kind of file, and get a link that you can provide dear old Mom directly to that file.

    Admittedly, there are plenty of other sites for sharing photos. But I’ve had to get everything form Powerpoint presentations to PDFs to my mom and I’d rather not explain a new site every time, or have to fuss with something different each time either.

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    Dropbox has also worked quite well for projects where I’ve needed to share files with group members. A few services have more bells and whistles, but for files other than the standard .doc, Dropbox has been ideal. It’s also much easier to stop sharing a file with Dropbox than with other services — I just drag it out of my public folder.

    Drag and Drop Paradise

    Dropbox has a great web interface. But the real use lies in the Dropbox application. You install it just like any other piece of software and it launches a Finder window or an Explorer window — there isn’t an Linux version yet, but Dropbox is working on an alpha version. Dropbox works just like any other folder: you can drag and drop files, which are then automatically synced across any computers you’ve activated and installed the software on, as well as the web interface. There are no problems sharing files between Macs and PCs, either — as long as you’ve got the appropriate software to open a file already installed.

    I’ve had no problem working on files while offline, either. Dropbox just updates my files whenever I have internet access. This actually came in handy over the weekend when Amazon’s S3 service went down. Dropbox relies on S3, so there was no synchronization during the outage. But I was still able to edit my files in the meanwhile and, as soon as S3 was back up, Dropbox matched up all my files. According to forum members on the Dropbox site, the application was even able to pick up right where it had left off in the middle of partially uploaded files. Having that sort of outage is a heck of a test for a web application, but Dropbox seems to have managed quite well.

    A Few Invites

    Dropbox is still in private beta, although they seem to be fairly nice about handing out invites to those that request them. I’ve got five invites, according to my account, though, and I’m more than happy to send them off to LifeHack readers. I’ll email the invites to the first five commenters on this post.

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    Last Updated on September 16, 2019

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    More About Procrastination

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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