I’ve been thinking lately about what I use the most, what I love the most, and what makes Cat Johnson, both the brand and the author, who and what I am. I’ve narrowed it down to 7 things (for now) so I’ve decided to do a series of posts, one each day this week, and share my favorite things. I’m only as good as my tools, and I’m sharing them with you here with the disclaimer that just because I love these tools doesn’t mean they’ll be to everyone’s taste. So, that said, here we go.

Tool of the trade #1: Dropbox

Though they won’t be in order of importance or value to me for the entire week, tool number one truly is THE MOST VALUABLE TOOL I USE, hands down, all caps because I can NOT stress this enough or love it more. Dropbox in an online file storage system that is FREE to use for the basic account which I have yet to even come close to filling up even with keeping all my writing, stockart, coverart, music files and other assorted important documents in it.

What’s so cool?

From my MAC I can open, edit and save files to the Dropbox, then turn on my PC and VIOLA! open the Dropbox folder and see all the same files there, updated and ready to be used, edited, etc. But it gets better, I can open the Dropbox APP on my iPod Touch and my iPad and yes, there are all my updated files to be read.

Why is this important? I do most of my work on the MAC, but my Photoshop is on my PC. In the past I used to email files to myself. Now I can create a bookcover in Photoshop on the PC, save it to the Dropbox folder (filled with my created subfolders), open the MAC, grab that cover and upload it to my website, or insert it into the Word .Doc I’m writing on the MAC.

That’s not even taking into consideration that every time my files autosave while I’m working on them, every update I make, is automatically backed up on the Dropbox cloud servers and accessible by me from anywhere should something catastrophic happen to my computer so I will never lose files. I’ll never have to take the time to back up my work in progress on a thumbdrive that I can lose, or email it to myself, or any of the other extreme measures I used to take.

AND there’s more! I’m the editor in charge of the Just One Bite Short Story Writing Contest at All Romance eBooks, which means I get to pre-read all the entries before they go to my team, who will help me select the finalists. After 12 hours a day on the computer, when my eyes are so tired I can barely focus, and when the husband looks at me like if he sees the laptop in my lap for any longer he’ll divorce me, I can put away the laptop totally, whip out the iPad and open the Dropbox app. There, I touch the Contest folder where I’ve previously saved all the Word .doc or .rft files from my email account. From the App I can open and read all those Word Doc contest entries on the iPad, which may just save my eyesight and my marriage.

You can set a password on the APP in case your iPad or iPod Touch is a shared device with other family members and you want your files to be private. You can also set up sharing folders within the Dropbox and share specific files with others.

NOTE: Some of you may remember a year or two ago I was a proponent of a similar tool, Mesh. I have since moved to Dropbox for 2 reasons, the device support and the reliability. After Mesh failed to update my files a few times, sent me a complicated email about upcoming changes, and didn’t come through with the promised device support, I moved to Dropbox and haven’t looked back since.

Check Dropbox out for yourself! 

6 responses to “TOOLS OF MY TRADE: #1 DROPBOX

  1. I had dropbox but got concerned about all the outcry on the latest TOS..i.e. we have the rights to what you post there comment. Does this give you any pause at all in using Dropbox?

    • No, I’m really not worried about it. I asked a friend about it and she said even DropBox themselves has assured users it’s just legalese. They aren’t going to take, use or post anything.

      I used to email my files to myself and leave them in my Hotmail account on their servers. Same thing–using someone else’s servers as a backup. I bet they had the same TOS. I never looked. I’m sure it’s to cover their butts legally. I mean, what if let’s say a terrorist or a murderer decides to store their list of bad guys or pics of their latest murder on there and the FBI approaches them for copies–since their Terms of Service officially say they have rights to anything on their site, they can legally turn it over without ramifications. I doubt they truly want my Recipe Files or my latest round of edits on my WiP.

      • I doubt anyone would want my first drafts of anything I write! LOL

        I did love Dropbox. So freaking convenient it was scary. I truly miss it. I may have to rethink my decision.

  2. Okay, I looked into the TOS further to clarify for everyone. From what DropBox has on their own blog it appears the only rights we grant them is to allow them to do what we ask them to– that being display our files for us, or for our designated people we choose to share folders with. It’s very limited use we grant them, but without those rights they couldn’t host our stuff or show it to us when we needed to see it…. Nothing to do with terrorists and murderers as I’d assumed so I guess I can post pics of my illegal doings in my Dropbox safely. LOL Just kidding.

    Here it is in their language…

    [Update – 7/2] – We asked for your feedback and we’ve been listening. As a result, we’ve clarified our language on licensing:

    You retain ownership to your stuff. You are also solely responsible for your conduct, the content of your files and folders, and your communications with others while using the Services.

    We sometimes need your permission to do what you ask us to do with your stuff (for example, hosting, making public, or sharing your files). By submitting your stuff to the Services, you grant us (and those we work with to provide the Services) worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable rights to use, copy, distribute, prepare derivative works (such as translations or format conversions) of, perform, or publicly display that stuff to the extent reasonably necessary for the Service. This license is solely to enable us to technically administer, display, and operate the Services. You must ensure you have the rights you need to grant us that permission.

    [Update 2 – 7/2] – An update based on your feedback:

    One of the main reasons we updated our terms of service was to make them easier to read and understand. It seems we’ve mostly accomplished that, which we’re thrilled about.

    Some of you have written us with very understandable concerns about the legal-sounding parts. In particular, our new TOS talks about the licenses we need to run Dropbox. We want to be 100% clear that you own what you put in your Dropbox. We don’t own your stuff. And the license you give us is really limited. It only allows us to provide the service to you. Nothing else.

    We think it’s really important that you understand the license. It’s about the permissions you give us to run the service, things like creating public links when you ask us to, allowing you to collaborate with colleagues in shared folders, generating web previews or thumbnails of your files, encrypting files, creating backups… the basic things that make Dropbox safe and easy to use. Services like Google Docs and others do the same thing when they get these permissions (see, for example, section 11.1 of Google’s TOS).

    We wish we didn’t have to use legal terms at all, but copyright law is complicated and if we don’t get these permissions in writing, we might be putting ourselves in a tough spot down the road. Not to bore you with the details, but please take a look at the license term in the TOS. We think it’s fair and strikes the right balance: “This license is solely to enable us to technically administer, display, and operate the Services.”

  3. I am trying to set up my own blog for book reviews so thanks to you I just signed up for DropBox, hopefully I can figure it out, everything is a learning expierience for me.