One of the things I take for granted is the ability for me to work just about anywhere and on any computer. Naturally I have my own laptop that I can use for web design, updating content, connecting with people through social media, etc. but I can just as easily sit down at our desktop computer and pick up right where I left off. All thanks to the…

…cloud…

It’s a word that even non-techie folks are surprisingly aware of. But it is the key to how I’m able to work so easily without having to worry about keeping all of my (and my client’s) data in sync and up to date. So I thought I’d write a post about how it all works.

Dropbox

Dropbox (signup for this free service here) is the best thing to come along since sliced bread. It is a program that you install on your Mac or Windows PC that keeps any documents that you throw at it in sync and up to date – across multiple computers and, even better, multiple people.

The way that I use it is to save any documents a client might send me (photos for a website, Word files with content for a newsletter, logos for a video) into a folder on my computer labelled something like “2011-09 Website”. That folder happens to be inside another folder called “Dropbox” – which is the key to the whole thing working.

The standard configuration of Dropbox puts a new folder named “Dropbox” in your user folder on Mac OS X or in your My Documents folder on Windows. Once configured and running, Dropbox then watches that folder for any changes – new documents, saved documents, renamed documents, moved documents, etc.- and then updates the Dropbox servers with the changes. Any other computers that are also hooked into your Dropbox account will automagically get the changes.

So going back to my “2011-09 Website” folder that I have for a client’s files – if I save a logo.jpg file to that folder on my laptop and then later in the day decide I want to look at it on my desktop computer, I can. I just pull up that same “2011-09 Website” folder on my desktop and the logo.jpg file should be there just as I left it on my laptop.

It takes people a bit to wrap their head around what’s going on. But it’s basically like having your own server to connect to from anywhere at anytime and get the latest version of your documents without having to remember if you saved it most recently on your laptop, desktop or at your friend’s house.

It’s also a great backup plan. Keep key documents on Dropbox and you’ll have access to them even if your computer breaks down.

Dropbox is free for up to 2GB of storage and moves up to $10/month for 50GB of storage or $20/month for 100GB of storage. With a paid plan, Dropbox adds version history so you can go back and restore a previously saved copy of a document.

While it’s fairly simple to get it started, if you’d like help setting up Dropbox for your home or office, please get in touch with me as I love to help technology make people’s lives easier.

This is a repost from my personal blog but I thought I’d put it here as well:

It’s with a mixture of excitement, nervousness and a dash of whattheheckareyoudoingandthinking-ness, I’m happy to announce that beginning September 6th, I’ll be taking Lemon Productions full time.

Phew. Said it. Now I have to do it.

Where I’ve Been

First off, this means that I’ll no longer be working at YasTech Developments. I’ve been working with Michael for almost exactly 2 years and it’s been a great pleasure to work alongside him on all the different projects that came across our desks. I learned a lot about running a small business, having employees and communicating with clients from Michael and I owe him a great deal of thanks for that.

I’ve heard others say that once you’ve run your own business you’re ruined for working for others. And while there’s obviously exceptions to that rule, I can say that the little taste I had of working for myself just before starting at YasTech left me wanting to do it again. I knew it was going to be a matter of when, not if, that I would need to return to Lemon Productions full-time. And while it’s hard to leave the security, familiarity and comfort of a job you’ve been in for the unknowns of your own business – it really feels like this is the right time to take the leap.

Who’s Going With Me?

I keep saying “I”, when really it’s “we”.

My wife, Susan, and I have spent many days and nights thinking, discussing, praying, arguing and discussing some more all the scenarios and options ahead. There is absolutely no way I will succeed with Lemon Productions without her support and I am very thankful to have such a loving, adventurous wife that is willing to travel this road with me.

There’s also friends and family that have supported me and listening to me ramble on, giving feedback and nodding in agreement when I go on about how I’d like to do things. They don’t all know it yet, but they’re being pulled along with me on this journey because without their support, we won’t make it either.

What Will It Look Like?

The core of Lemon Productions can be summed up with the tagline on the website:

Solving Your Online Problems

What Does That Mean?

I love to help people get stuff done online. Helping a small business setup their website, social media efforts on Twitter and Facebook, email marketing campaigns. I like to see people’s eye’s light up when they realize the potential of what their website can do for them. Setting up an e-commerce section on someone’s website so they can sell the work of art they’ve created is an awesome experience.

Another aspect is media creation. I enjoy making small, short videos that help explain your business, app, website or solve a problem you’re having with your employees. Video is a great way to show and tell what you’re trying to get across to someone.

In short, I want to take the difficulty out of using the internet for your business or creative endeavour.

What That Doesn’t Mean?

I feel it

As part of my ongoing research to keep up on web trends and topics, I’m reading The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane. I’m only part way through and I’m already weeping with joy at what I’m reading.

In the first chapter entitled ‘Basic Principles’, Erin writes about the process of updating and maintaining content on a company’s website, and the difficulties of doing that for most businesses. The reason that…

…most content is not properly maintained is that most content plans rely on getting the already overworked to produce, revise, and publish content without neglecting other responsibilities. This is not inevitable, but unless content and publishing tasks are recognized as time-consuming and complex and then included in job descriptions, performance reviews, and resource planning, it will continue.

The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane

Hoping that a content management system will replace this kind of human care and attention is about as effective as pointing a barn full of unmanned agricultural machinery at a field, going on vacation, and hoping it all works out. Tractors are more efficient than horse-drawn plows, but they still need humans to decide where and when and how to use them.

I’ve written and tweeted about it before but it’s refreshing to see it written down in a published book – content management is hard work and until businesses, both small and large, recognize it as such we’ll be stuck with mediocre content on websites that frustrates and annoys users.

I’ve purchased the entire set and only just started reading, but I’d highly recommend picking up The Elements of Content Strategy if you’re at all interested or concerned about how your website is presented to your users.