Planning a Bushwalk | Using Dropbox and Google to Share and Store Information

Want to share a map or form with those who need it but not send it to everyone in your bushwalk group? Do you have a spreadsheet you want to share? Want to send a questionnaire or “survey” to your hiking group? Want to set up a group calendar, so you can see  when is the best time to plan a hike? Want to share your photos or video clips after the walk?

In Planning a Bushwalk | Using the Web to Share and Store Information Pt 1,  I discussed how the Web allowed us to share information so that only the latest version was available and easily accessible to everyone with a need-to-know. This post (Part 2) will help you to access specific websites and web tools which will help you to achieve these aims.

Want to share a map or pdf with those who need it but not send it to everyone in your group? One way is to upload it to the web “cloud” where it can be easily accessed based on need and is available 24/7 without your intervention.  Both Google and Dropbox and possibly others, with which I am not familiar, offer this free service but for a limited amount.

Dropbox

One such website where it is possible to do this is Dropbox, one of the  easiest ways to store, sync, and, share files online and which is available free for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Mobile. Watch the video about Dropbox. Dropbox offers free startup accounts with storage of 2GB, but larger accounts have a monthly fee eg 50Gb cost $99/year. By installing the Dropbox software on your computer or mobile, any file you add to your Dropbox, a folder on your desktop, becomes almost instantly available on any other of your computers, including mobiles, which has Dropbox installed or via a web interface if you don’t have access to one of your computers.

While I am embarrassed to admit I have succumbed to this Dropbox ploy, everyone joining Dropbox gets a 2GB account for free, but if you click this link both you and I will get an extra 250MB for free on our Dropbox accounts because of this referral!

There are mobile phone apps available for iPhone, iPad, Android, or Blackberry, although any phone with a web browser can always access the Dropbox website. Get access to critical files, such as booking confirmations, passport scans, drivers licence copies, route plans, emergency contact lists when on your bushwalk or while at local base, wherever you have a 3G service or wifi.

Now you can share the contents of your public folder for your latest bushwalk with your mates even if they are using a different operating system to you. It’s as simple as sending them an email, with the  link to the file.

Check out my Dropbox public folder, which contains the file How to use the Public folder in Dropbox.

It is easy top access your Dropbox from your iPhone using apps such as Dropbox by Dropbox.
 
Google

Google also offers “cloud” computing with the ability to save files for access from any computer, much like Dropbox. In Google however, the files can use templates provided by Google Docs which at this time include the following formats:

  • Document
  • Presentation
  • Spreadsheet
  • Drawing
  • Form
  • Folder

or can be uploaded in an existing format eg Microsoft Office and become part of your Google list in a public folder, just like Dropbox. This is explained in more detail in the Google Docs Blog below:

“Instead of emailing files to yourself, which is particularly difficult with large files, you can upload to Google Docs any file up to 250 MB. You’ll have 1 GB of free storage for files you don’t convert into one of the Google Docs formats (i.e. Google documents, spreadsheets, and presentations), and if you need more space, you can buy additional storage for $0.25 per GB per year. This makes it easy to backup more of your key files online, from large graphics and raw photos to unedited home videos taken on your smartphone. You might even be able to replace the USB drive you reserved for those files that are too big to send over email.

Combined with shared folders, you can store, organize, and collaborate on files more easily using Google Docs. For example, if you are in a club or PTA working on large graphic files for posters or a newsletter, you can upload them to a shared folder for collaborators to view, download, and print.

You can also search for document files you’ve uploaded or that have been shared with you just like you do with your Google documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and PDFs. And you’ll be able to view many common document file types with the Google Docs viewer.” (From Google Docs Blog)

A single Google account is much more versatile than Dropbox because it also offers you access to all of the following dedicated Google web applications:

It is easy top access your Google Docs from your iPhone using apps such as GoDocs for iPad/iPhone by Lightroom

In my next post (Pt 3) I will explain how to use these Google app and Docs.

For more info check out my other posts:
Web 2.0
Planning.

Creative Commons License
This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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