Dropbox has gotten some heat lately for allegedly lying to its users about the privacy of user data. The gist of the gripes is that Dropbox has made clear that it would turn over your data – in unencrypted form – to authorities if required to do so. That came as a shock to many people, who assumed that even the Dropbox folks didn’t have access to the encrypted data in their Dropbox folders. The lesson – if you want to keep your private data private, then you need to encrypt it before you put it into Dropbox and sync it to the cloud. One way to do that is through SecretSync, a beta app currently available for Windows only.
If someone stole your Mac, that would stink, to put it mildly. Not only would you be out an expensive piece of equipment, but your sensitive data might be accessible to the criminal who stole your gear. Using two free programs, you can not only remotely secure your Mac if it is stolen, but you can bust the loser who pilfered it. A combination of Hazel, Dropbox, and a bit of geek kung fu allows you to record the crook’s IP address, snap a screenshot of him, record his browsing history, disable automatic login, and lock the stolen machine.
You can never have too many backups. That is true with your smartphone, as well. If you want an easy way to backup some of the contents of your Android phone’s SD card, check out DropSpace for Android. Read more
Calibre is, hands down, the best eBook manager out there. It can help you organize your entire library across devices, convert books from one format to another as needed or desired, and even use the built in server for over-the-air access to your books, from anywhere. In theory, anyway. In practise, there are many things that will get in the way of the “anywhere” part. Software and router firewalls, for example, may prove too complicated to overcome easily, leaving over-the-air book transfer dreams confined within the walls of home networks.
An easy way to mitigate these problems is to set up your Calibre library to be accessible from multiple computers — and the best way to do that is with Dropbox.
At least one Dropbox Account (free should be fine, but you can upgrade to a paid plan if you need more space)
Setting Up Your Library in Dropbox
In order to use Calibre with Dropbox, you first need to either start or move the library folder into your computer’s Dropbox folder. This can be accomplished by clicking on the Library button (it looks like a small shelf of five books) and selecting the new location. If you are starting anew library, select “Create an empty library at the new location.” If you are moving your current library, select “Move current library to new location.” Continue forward and wait for the library to be created/books transferred.
Connecting Your Library to Another Computer
Once your library is set up in Dropbox, install Calibre and Dropbox on a second computer. When Dropbox is installed, login and wait for the library folder you installed to sync fully over to the new computer. Soon there should be green checkmark icons all ’round and indicating readiness. Uthe Library button on this computer’s Calibre installation to once again set the location of your Calibre library in your Dropbox folder. This is the same as before, but this time you will need to select “Use existing library at the new location.” Again, wait until the folder is completely synced, otherwise you may get an error.
That’s it. You’re done! You should now have full access to your eBook library on two computers — more, if you were so inclined as to repeat the last steps a few times. Any changes you make in any of your Calibre installations (or in Dropbox itself) should be reflected in all, and you will be able to use the server for local WiFi transfers to your devices (if supported), without having to worry about complications that may cause you to pull your hair out.
If you happen to have been wondering, the answer is yes: you can also use this method across multiple Dropbox accounts using shared folders. This can be handy when you are using separate accounts among family computers or for work. I’m sure it could be used for other things as well, but we obviously don’t condone that at 40Tech.
Things to Remember
As you are working with the same library across multiple installations, it is a good idea to only work in Calibre on one computer at a time as doing otherwise may cause problems with the database.
It is possible that using this method across different operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux) will cause issues with case-sensitivity in filenames and metadata. As I understand it, this is due to more to how Dropbox must interact with the host OS’s file system. Recent versions of Calibre attempt to mitigate this problem, but according to the creator of the software, it does not solve it. In a thread about this on the mobilereads forum he says: “If you have multiple books by the same author and you change the case of the author name for one of the books on a case insensitive filesystem, then on a case sensitive filesystem, calibre will lose track of the other books.” Bottom line? Be careful changing information when working across OS’s.
So far, this method has proven to be a very effective way to manage and access an eBook library from multiple computers and locations. As an added bonus, you will have access to your eBooks from any computer or device capable of accessing Dropbox, even when Calibre is not present. On the Dropbox iPhone app, for example, you can find the book file you want and open it directly in an eReader application, including iBooks and Stanza, allowing you to bypass Calibre transfers altogether. As long as you have an internet connection, your library is with you — even when space on your device is at a premium.
Recently, we talked a bit about Ge.tt, an extraordinarily easy way to send files to people without having to talk them through how to receive them. But what if you are the one who needs a file sent to you, and you want to make it as easy as possible to get that request taken care of? You could explain Ge.tt to people (it really is easy), or you could be a bit more direct and use the tool that one of our readers brought to our attention: AirDropper. After all, when you need something from someone, the best way to get it is to require the fewest steps possible — and to sweeten the deal, AirDropper uses your Dropbox folder, so you will be able to access the file(s) from anywhere.
Getting set up with AirDropper is pretty straightforward. You head to www.airdropper.com and click START. You will then be redirected to Dropbox to authenticate the AirDropper service, which will add an AirDropper folder in your Dropbox folder. Once that’s done, you will head back to AirDropper, and will be presented with a form that allows you to send an email (from your email address of choice) to multiple recipients to request files. The email contains your message, and a large, friendly button that says Upload and brings the user to an even friendlier ADD FILES interface. The file or files — AirDropper has supported multiple file sends since about September of 2010 — will then be sent directly to your Dropbox with no fuss, no muss, and not a worry except for your storage limit.
AirDropper is free while in beta, but will likely charge for some of their service in the future, which will likely include tiered pricing for things like the size of the transfer(s), etc. Either way, it is definitely a useful tool!
Thanks to Martin for bringing it to our attention!