Work in the Cloud

Storing important files locally is so 2008.

I don’t need Microsoft Office anymore. Actually, I’ve used it decreasingly less for a few years now. Instead, I useĀ Google docs for that. (Or Evernote on my iPhone.) The first thing group of editors do when they receive a new article for Upload it to Google docs. When they are ready to share it, they don’t have to email it, they just share it and everyone on the team has it. When I need to write some copy on the fly, I just open a Google doc, invite a collaborator, and start writing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been writing a paragraph ahead of someone who is editing. I finish writing the copy and 30 seconds later its edited and ready to go out.

I don’t need a server at work anymore. If you opened up my personal folder from work you’d only find a few old back-ups. Why store stuff there and go through the awkwardness of connecting to a VPN when I can access it anywhere using Dropbox? As long as I have an internet connection my office is accessible. My file cabinets are mostly for show. Well, I hide gear in them. But no file folders. If I need it, I scan it and save it in the cloud.

Photo by zarprey via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Speaking of Dropbox, when I’m making stuff for McLane Creative, I just ask anyone else on the team to save their stuff on a shared Dropbox folder instead of on their computer. Dropbox installs on a Mac just like a folder… so that’s a snap. No more “can you email me the logo” stuff… everything from the entire project is right there. They make a change, everyone already has it. They want the creative brief? Done.

I’m looking forward to more and more of my creative desktop applications moving towards the cloud. I don’t know that I’d like to be 100% dependent on a solid internet connection for everything I do with Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, and Final Cut. But it would be pretty sweet to have the option of working off of a cloud-based drive and thinking about replacing the full version of them with a cloud-based version.

But with Amazon’s S3 getting cheaper and now Google docs getting in the cloud storage gameyou can see we’re headed there.

Why on earth would a start-up company buy a physical server (with ridiculous hardware and software costs at your scale) when they can store everything in the cloud for $.14/gb per month? I know I wouldn’t. And IT guys who flap their gums about security? They need to adapt their game. You’ll only be able to convince execs of those lies for so long. Remember IT guys capitalized on the Y2K lie, too.

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Facebook connect

You now have the ability to post your comment at onto your Facebook profile. It’s completely optional, and as you can see in the image above, if you do link your comments to your Facebook profile you’ll have the chance to control how you’d like that to look.

Over the past year or so I’ve noticed that a big chunk of the discussion for each post has happened on Facebook. That’s fantastic, but makes it hard for me to keep track of. This is an attempt to try to bridge the blog and Facebook comments together so more people can join the conversation easier.

Ready to give it a try?

To test it out, simply leave a comment on this post. When you are done click on the Facebook Connect button.

Setting up Facebook connect on

Facebook will ask you to verify that you’d like to connect, agree to that and you’re done!

From now on when you come to the blog, if you are logged into Facebook, you’ll see your Facebook badge in the upper right hand corner of my blog. When you see that, you’re already logged in and ready to leave a comment– and share the discussion with your friends!

Easy, right? Thanks for giving it a try! on Facebook
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Now on Kindle

Just a quick note that is now available on Kindle. I’m free for 14 days.

Here’s the link

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Webcast Fail

This made me snort. Now I want to try it.

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Facebook App Gets a Facelift

I use the Facebook app for iPhone all the time. It is my #2 most frequently used app behind Tweetie. While periodically they have released updates, they’ve mostly been cosmetic or UI in nature.

Last week’s update offers something brand new and fun. But it’s also something you need to be aware of even if you aren’t an iPhone user.

Two new features:

  1. Push notifications. Starting with version 3.1.1 you will get notified any time a friend does something on Facebook. I haven’t decided if I like this yet or not. I’ve got a lot of friends on Facebook and consequently a lot of activity on my account. People leave comments, wall posts, reply to threads I’m replying to, and send me lots of messages. I love this activity on Facebook, it’s one of the coolest things about the site. And now, each time they do something, a little announcement pops up on my phone. The good news is that it doesn’t make a sound to alert me that there is a new notification. The bad news is it is an interuption and I’m trying to eliminate those from my day-to-day, minute-by-minute life. It’s not that I’m super important… it’s that I need to eliminate distractions so I can give people/projects my full attention. If you don’t know how to turn it off, go to your iPhone settings> Facebook>Push Notifications> and you will see that you can decide what types of notifications you’d like.
  2. Massive data schmooshing commencing

    Contact synching. This is, by far, the coolest new feature they’ve added to the Facebook app. If you turn on contact synching the app will look at your iPhone contacts on Facebook and merge stuff. So if a contact has a phone number listed in Facebook, it will automatically import. The fun feature is that it also pulls their current profile picture and uses it as the picture for that contact on your phone if you don’t have one already. That’s just slick! Here’s the kicker that will make some people mad. The iPhone app doesn’t care if you are friends or not. If you have a profile and you are in the iPhone’s contacts… it will pull that picture. For those concerned about personal branding, that’ll force you to be more professional about your profile picture on Facebook. If you represent your organization… it might be a good idea to keep that profile picture looking good too.

More data schmooshing to come? I’m sure there is a more technical name for this, but I call it data schmooshing. That’s where information from one application/website is merged with data from another application/website and out of that comes a new, more complete data set. I’m excited to see where this Facebook app takes things. I’m hoping that as time goes on it will schmoosh data with my Google contacts as well as my Google calendar. If they all start talking better the Facebook app could become a must-have application for everyone.

This is precisely why people are saying that Facebook could make a run at building their own operating system, just like Google. Yes, the Facebook phone may just be one of those surprise 2010 products.

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5 Tech Trends to Watch in 2010

What’s going to be the next cool thing? Of course, I can’t predict the future. But I can see some technologies that are just on the edge of getting to the masses which I think will be game changers in 2010. All are just a price-point change away from radically changing the way we interact with the world.

Here’s what to look for in the coming year:

  1. Location-based mobile everything. Smart phones have taken over the mobile phone world. GPS-enabled smart phones. With the incredible popularity of iPhone 3G3 and the recent emergence of Droid OS phones, I think we’re about to see an explosion in the sophistication and participation of location-based games. Two that are on the market already, Gowalla and Foursquare, have gained traction among early adapters from Twitter and Facebook. While fun, I think in a year we’ll look back at them like we did at Pacman after Nintendo hit the market. Also, once more mobile Twitter clients become geolocation enabled I think we’ll really see some games (and utilities) pop onto phones that are wildly popular.
  2. Augmented reality takes off. This technology is getting increasingly cheaper. And as this comes out of the lab and high-end marketing applications to generally available among web/graphic designers… look out. Here’s a video that gives you an idea of how cool augmented reality is:
  3. Scams are back. Technology has a Wild West feel to it again. And any time you have a wild west feel, you have scammers waiting to cheat you out of money. The interconnectedness that we all love also makes us vulnerable to scammers. As we link more and more of our lives to Facebook and Twitter, we are lured into trusting that those gateways are safe and secure. But they aren’t! Let’s say you connect your Twitter account to your account or accounts. Bam, you are a sitting duck. Scammers have proven they can trick you into giving them your Twitter password and from their they can/will gain access to all sorts of personal information. The unhealthy trust we all have that Twitter/Facebook are ensuring that people who access their API will truly adhere to the terms of service has set us all up for scams. This will be big in 2010.
  4. IRL. The first three things on this list point to the need for In Real Life to be a tech trend to watch. Experience is back. Meet-ups, events, and tech free zones are a trend to watch out for in 2010. Of course, those things don’t really provide the intimate relationships our souls crave, but they are legitimate experiences people seeing the world through augmented reality and redefined friendship will seek out in 2010. In the church world I think we’ll see the closing of many online church campuses, satelite-feeds, and other non-IRL “ministry” things as people seek human interaction more than the convenience of church from their laptop or mobile phone.
  5. Interactive storytelling. In 2009, YouTube enabled a feature which allows you to post links to other YouTube videos from within the player. I think we’re just at the beginning of some fun storytelling and “choose your own adventure” types of viral videos. Here’s one that I really like to give you an idea: (enjoy your adventure)

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Three New Mac Apps

I’ve got three quick apps for the Mac to share. All of them are free , freemium, or stinking cheap. Maybe they will be useful for you, too?

dropbox-logoIf you are anything like me– your work computer is a bit of a mess. I’ve got all sorts of work files mixed in with personal files, mixed in with stuff that I just used for a blog post or something like that. Keeping it all orderly and seperate is a big problem. But I think I’ve found something to help!

dropbox-installDropbox basically installs a remote drive on your computer for storing files online instead of on your computer. There are other things, namely MobileMe, Mozy, or even a webdisk installed through your hosting service that can do the same thing. But I’ve found them to be either too expensive for what I need or cumbersome. (i.e. Not friendly to the Mac) But I like Dropbox because of its apps. Once you install the free software on your computer (mac or pc) and link your account it basically just runs in the background as a folder on your computer. When I put a file in the folder, it copies it up to the secure server, and copies it down to other linked computers. This all happens automatically, no tech skills required. If you are sharing an internet connection with people you can even throttle it. Once set up, I can access the file on another linked computer (like my home computer) or even my iPhone. I can even share files through the app… I just select the file or folder I want to share and it emails the person with a link. It’s a pretty rad little tool. Up to 2 GB of storage is free. (Plently for me.)

tinygrab-logoI need to show people screenshots all the time. Whether I’m updating someone on the progress of a design, or putting together a tutorial, or if I just want to show someone something from the internet… I’m doing screenshots all day long. Command-shift-3 has long been both my friend and enemy. I could screen grab easily, but I’d always have to open up PhotoShop to clip out stuff I didn’t want/need the recipient seeing.

I picked up TinyGrab as part of a recent MacHeist. This little beauty basically allows me to screen grab only what I want, and in the same action automatically uploads it to a server and gives me the link. By doing a command-shift-4 shortcut I get a little cursor that allows me to highlight what I want to grab. When I’m done it snaps the picture and uploads it. An instant time saver!

sofortbild-logoYou may have noticed my recent fascination with time lapse movies. I think it’s a profound and fun way to capture the worlds movements. (more coming!) I’ve wanted to get software to do this with my Nikon for quite a while. But it was tough to justify spending $180 for Nikon Camera Control 2. It’s not like I had a real reason to do this… I just thought it’d be fun!

sofortbild-screengrabThat’s why I was so stoked to discover Sofortbild. It’s essentially the same thing– and it’s free! (Sorry Canon freaks, this is just for Nikon right now. And it’s just for Mac.) Basically, I can set up my camera where I want to shoot, connect the USB cable, and then completely control the camera with my computer. When the pictures are taken (either remotely or manually on the camera) the images are transfered directly to a folder on my computer. You can shoot directly with your computer, manually, do a timed picture (like for a family portrait) or set-up intervals (time lapse). It’ll even import right to iPhoto! Now if it had an iPhone app where I could start or stop interval shooting remotely, that’d be crazy cool.

So, there you go. Three quick new apps for you Mac users to try out. They are all free, freemium, or cost just a couple bucks.

What are some new apps for the Mac you are discovering?


The Truth v4

HT to Chris


14 Free Photoshop Tools


The other night I was working on a project and I downloaded a pile of shapes, a couple brushes, and an action. I thought my collection might be worth sharing. If you like them, awesome. If you don’t… well it didn’t cost you anything! They are all royalty-free (as best as I can tell) and seem pretty cool. I think they are worth sharing. I use Photoshop CS4 but I’m pretty sure they will all work with CS3 as well.

[download id=”2″]

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Two projects are now live!

It’s well documented that I like managing projects… but I love finishing and releasing projects more than anything. In the last 24 hours, two little babies were released into the wild. I hope they both flourish.


1. Myguitar iPhone app. This is the second application we’ve published from YS, with a few more deep in the process of testing and stuff. This one was fun for two reasons. First, it’s stinking fun to play guitar on your iPhone. My favorite feature is that I can play the guitar along to my favorite worship artist, David Crowder. My life would be complete if he would try it. Then again, my adoration for Mr. Crowder’s work is well-documented so that should be no surprise.


2. Love is in an Orientation. Speaking of adoration, I’ve also documented my admiration for Andrew Marin’s work in bridging evangelical and the GLBT cultures. More imporatantly, I’m lucky enough to count him as a friend. So when he asked me to help him get a “real blog site” I was happy to jump in and help out.

I don’t want to sound obnoxious. But this is turning into a whale of a year for me. Lots of great projects. Lots of nice things said. And lots, lots more where this stuff came from.