Tag Archives: cloud

PTJ 224: Uncloudy Skies

Mobile World Congress brought in the new and the old this week, Twitter and Facebook are stepping it up to help users in need and Amazon Web Services had a sad day this week. El Kaiser and J.D. discuss it all — and YouTube’s big week of views and cord-cutting measures — on this week’s weatherproof episode of Pop Tech Jam.

Links to Stories in This Week’s News Segment

Arts and Sciences

IMG_7489Art is influenced by everything around it —  including technology — and major exhibits of artists reacting or interacting with tech are becoming common. On 2011, The Museum of Modern Art had a successful show called Talk to Me: Design and Communication Between People and Objects (MoMA currently has 14 classic videogames in its permanent Applied Design collection, including Pac-Man, Tetris, Myst and Sim City 2000.) In 2014, London’s Barbican Center hosted a how called Digital Revolution that highlighted the rise of tech-assisted creativity. Those shows are in the past, but if you happen to be in London between now and March 20th, 2016, you can catch a wonderful new exhibit called Big Bang Data at Somerset House; a video promo gives you an idea of what to expect, as does the show’s official press release.

IMG_7483The core of Big Bang Data consists of artists and designers using data — and data visualization — to illustrate just how much public and private information drives the world these days. There’s historical content, like sections of underwater data cables and a display of data-storage devices including ancient floppies, USB drives and the ever-looming cloud. A film on government surveillance outlines the NSA’s known practices. Another documentary on a loop explores the history of the Internet Archive project. A wall projection (shown above) rates the happiness factor in London’s boroughs based on real-time social media posts. Another mapping project shows the physical Networks of London, and another examines how data can be used for good to “catapult healthcare into the future.”

IMG_7479Julian Oliver’s 2012 work, Transparency Grenade, is also on view. As described by the gallery card, “Equipped with a tiny computer, microphone and powerful wireless antenna, the Transparency Grenade captures network traffic and audio at the site and securely and anonymously streams it to a dedicated server where it is mined for information. User names, hostnames, IP addresses, unencrypted email fragments, web pages, images and voice extracted from this data and then presented on an online, public map, shown at the location of the detonation.” The gallery provides an open Wi-Fi access point named watchednetwork so visitors can see just what the Grenade can grab.

Even if you can’t make it across the pond to see it, the exhibit’s website is well worth checking out. Life is art, as they say, and that goes for our digital lives as well.

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Yes, We Scan!

Are you the type who needs to collect and file receipts — for work, taxes, reimbursements and so on? If you’re tired of carrying crumpled little pieces of paper around in your pockets and wallet and losing them anyway, you have a handy digital alternative. Sure, you can plunk down the bucks for in a table-top or handheld document scanner to convert paper to pixels for easy filing. Or you could just use your smartphone.

With  the right app, you can use the phone’s camera as a mobile scanner to make instant PDF files or JPGs of your paper receipts. You can then store them on the phone, online — or send them to your computer by mail or message for electronic filing and printing.

You may already have an app that scans, and even if you don’t, scanning apps are not hard to find, especially those that can scan and sync documents to an online storage account. (Just remember the usual caveats about storing files with deeply personal information in The Cloud, a k a Somebody Else’s Hackable Servers.)

googledriveBut back to that free option. If you have an Android device with a camera and the complimentary Google Drive app (shown here), you can scan documents and save them as PDF files, and better yet, delightfully searchable PDF files.

Just open the Google Drive app and touch the red-circled plus button in the bottom corner. Point the device’s camera at the document you want to capture and then tap the Scan button from the menu. If you don’t like the resulting preview, tap the Refresh button or a do-ver. If it’s a multi-page document like a contract or something, tap the + button to scan each page. When you’ve scanned them all, tap the checkmark button to have the file as a PDF to your Google Drive. And if you like home-screen timesavers, there’s a shortcut to the Google Drive scan command in the Android widget library.

If you have the iOS version of the Google Drive app, you don’t get the full Save-As-PDF option, but you can take a picture of the document and store the photo in your online Google locker. For those with iOS and a love of Evernote, however, there’s the free Evernote Scannable app that scans documents to PDF or JPG and instantly stores them in your Evernote collections. Among other things, you can also mail or message the resulting scans.

turboscanCamScanner is a standalone scanner app that works with Evernote if you want it to, but you can also use it to scan and share files across multiple devices. The app comes in mobile versions for Android, Windows Phone and iOS for either iPhone or iPad. The free version gives you 200 megabytes of online storage, but a $5-a-month premium account gets you 10 gigs of space and way more features. Genius Scan is another cross-platform scanner with free and premium editions, and the $3 TurboScan (shown here) for Android and iOS is yet another inexpensive option with helpful features and a good review from Engadget. However, The Sweet Setup site  favors the $2 ScanBot software (for Android, iOS and Kindle) as top scanner app and explains why in a nice little article that also throws in a bit of document-scanning history.

If you don’t like any of those, you can find more in your respective app store. Even if you have to pony up $2 to $5 for an app, you’ll probably save at least that much by not losing those receipts you need to file and submit in the first place.

PTJ 135: Facebook, Dongles, and Clouds. Oh My!

Ahead of their F8 Developer Conference rumors swirl that Facebook is in talks with big news organizations to host their content directly on the Social Network. In his latest Tech Term segment, El Kaiser explains USB Type-C and J.D. helps us  earn free additional storage on the most popular Cloud services. We also bring you the latest tech news with that perfect blend of snark and sass you’ve all come to love.

(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: This Space for Rent

If you use one of the popular webmail services, odds are you have a few gigabytes of online storage included for storing your messages, photos and documents. But the longer you have the account, the more you’re likely to fill it up. Then you either have to delete stuff — or whip put the plastic and pay money for more storage space from the provider.

Unless you’ve gotten warnings about running out of room, you may not have had to check your current storage situation. But do you know what types of files actually count towards your storage total — or ways some sites give you way to earn free additional storage? Read on.

First off, Yahoo Mail users: You get a get a free terabyte of space for your mail. So unless you’re running an enormous mailing list or have a digital hoarding problem, you’re going to be okay for awhile.

If you use Google products to store your life online — Gmail, Google Drive and Google+ Photos — you get 15 gigabytes for free to divide up between the three services. Your Gmail attachments count toward this limit, as well as the files you’ve stored on your Google Drive — unless those files are Google Docs, Sheets or Slides files. Files that have been shared with you also don’t count, and neither do photos smaller than 2048 x 2048 pixels and videos longer than 15 minutes. (Brevity is the soul of wit, and it has other perks, too.)

googlestorage

If you think you may be getting close, check your Google Storage page to see how your 15 gigs are carved up between the services you use regularly. Google occasionally offers a free gigabyte or two, as it recently did for users who completely a security checklist on their Google accounts, so keep an eye out for those types of things. But if space gets tight, an extra 100 gigabytes is about $2 a month, a terabyte is $10 a month — and you can even get more if you need it.

officeonlineMicrosoft OneDrive also provides 15 gigabytes of free storage when you sign up for an account or use it with your Outlook.com mail or other Microsoft service. As a perk, you also get to use Office Online. As an even bigger perk, Microsoft will double your overall storage locker and give you another 15 gigabytes of space if you use the OneDrive app on your iPhone, Android phone or Windows Phone to automatically back up the photos you take on the mobile device. You can get another 500 megabytes of space if you refer a friend to OneDrive — and the friend gets 500 megabytes, too. (You can refer up to 10 of your pals, which gives you a max of 5 extra gigs you can add on through referrals.) Still need more? Microsoft has plans: 100 gigabytes for $2 a month, 200 gigabytes for $4 a month or a whole terabyte for $7 a month — and you get Office 365 with that big TB.

icloudIn comparison, Apple’s iCloud is quite stingy, perhaps in the hope that you’ll fork over some bucks to upgrade your space. The five starter gigabytes are divided up between your iCloud mail, online backup, iCloud Drive and iCloud Photo Library.

Need more? To get a total of 20 gigs, you pay Apple a buck a month. And there are other plans — a total of 200 gigabytes costs $4 a month, 500 gigs is $10 monthly and a terabyte is $20 a month. If you buy a lot of content from iTunes, though, you don’t have to worry about those purchases eating up your space — all those items don’t count toward your iCloud total.

dropboxAnd last but not least. Dropbox starts you off with two gigabytes with your free account, but gives you all kinds of ways to add extra space to your storage total. If you use the company’s new photo gallery mobile app, Carousel, you get an extra 3 gigabytes of space. You can also earn extra storage space for linking Dropbox with its Mailbox app, referring your friends, sending feedback to the company, connecting your Dropbox to your Facebook and Twitter accounts and following the company on Twitter. If fact, Dropbox has a whole Get More Space page you can visit to learn all the ways you can add on to those original two gigs if you start running low. And if you still need more, you can always upgrade to Dropbox Pro, which starts you out at a terabyte of storage space for $10 a month.

To keep up with demand, these companies seem to be adding server racks left and right to store the bits and bytes of the world. In that regard, it seems like this sort of space isn’t the final frontier after all.