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Recent Post Review - Unlimited Syncing Between Devices

UPDATE: Now that Cubby is out of Beta the feature that really set them apart from the other online cloud storage sites below, namely, unlimited syncing between computers, is no longer free. You have to pay at minimum of $7/month (for 100GB storage) to access that feature. I no longer recommend this as a free cloud storage service as Dropbox and Copy can do exactly the same thing (and they both make it much easier to get extra free space) and SpiderOak is probably more secure albeit somewhat more difficult to use.

I was recently invited to beta test a new cloud storage service, . I already use dropbox, sugarsync, google drive, bitcasa, and Spideroak, but what led me to sign up for cubby was the unlimited syncing between devices.

cubby software reviewYou get 5Gb of free online storage with unlimited syncing between computers.  Cubby has a clean minimalist interface.  After opening the application there is one small window that has a list of folders that you have turned into "cubbies" and few options for each cubby/folder.  These cubbies are basically folders that are synced with your other devices and/or backed up to the cloud.  These folders can be shared with individuals or publicly.

After installing cubby it will create a "My Cubby" folder.  You can add files or folders to this directly, or you can back up or sync any folder or file by dragging them into the cubby application, by right clicking a folder and selecting "Make this folder a cubby," or by clicking the "add folder" button in the cubby application.

cubby menuOverall, if you are familiar with Dropbox, it is very similar. You have a "My Cubby" folder like your Dropbox folder that is automatically backed up to the cloud and synced to your other devices.  However, there are two important differences:
  1. You can add any folder on you computer to be backed up or synced to your other devices (similar to SugarSync or SpiderOak)
  2. You can choose to only backup to the cloud or only sync to your other devices instead of automatically doing both.  This distinguishes it from all the other cloud/syncing services out there - UPDATE: ONLY PAID ACCOUNTS :(  

cubby syncIf you choose to only sync to your other devices it does not count towards your 5Gb storage cap.  For example, if you wanted to sync your entire 100Gb music collection between all your computers, you can do this - for free.  Obviously, to the tech elite there are multiple other ways of doing this, but to average users this is a very useful feature.

As of now, there is no way to increase your cloud storage size greater than 5Gb, but this will change when it is out of beta. 

Sharing your files or folders is very easy - once you have made a folder a "cubby" then you can right click it to get public link that anyone can access who has the url address, or you can share more privately with individual cubby users via email.  If you send someone a cubby folder, you will invite them to the service and they will have to sign up in order to accessing your shared folder - the shared folder will then appear in their cubby application.

cubby sharingcubby sharing

All information between your computers and the cubby servers is encrypted with your password, and each cubby is also encrypted with a unique encryption key. Overall security seems better than Dropbox, but probably not quite as secure as SpiderOak. You can read more about it here.

Mobile Apps:
There are iOS and Android apps available.  They are simple and work well.  You can easily see what cubbies you have backed up and upload or download files from existing cubbies.  The only downside at this point is that you cannot create a cubby from your mobile device, just upload items into a pre-existing cubbies.

So far I have been very happy with cubby - syncing and sharing is easy, the interface is intuitive, and everything seems to work as intended.  What sets this service apart from all the others is the unlimited syncing between all my computers and is a major draw to use this service over some of the others.
Review Summary:
Service reviewed: Cubby
Description: After exiting beta, Cubby's most interesting and helpful feature - unlimited syncing between devices - is now only available in paid plans.
Overall rating: 2 out of 5 stars.
Published: 05/29/2012

New Chrome Devices - Chromebooks and Chromebox

New Chrome Devices

I was very fortunate in receiving one of the original CR-48 chromebooks when Google was beta testing them. I still use it every day - it is a wonderful device for browsing the internet, email, even watching online videos. It can start to stutter a little with 1080p quality video, or with lots of media heavy tabs open, but other than that it is amazingly powerful and versatile. It is the only thing I take when on trips - the built in 3G is very nice. Now that google drive is being implemented into the OS its even better.

I am very excited about the announcement of the new chrome hardware today. I am thinking about getting a Samsung Series 3 Chromebox for a cheap home theater PC. I think the onboard graphics should be plenty to play online HD video.

Update: found this review from Engadget of the chromebox. Looks like it handles video well!

How to print any document from your Kindle Fire

Currently, there is not a good selection of applications to print documents from your kindle fire.  But, with a little bit of work, you can print documents from your Kindle Fire or any device for free using the following method.

  1. A mac computer that is connected to a printer.
  2. A Kindle Fire. Note: this will also work with any device as long as you can add the document to SugarSync - any computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Step 1:
Open a SugarSync account. If you already have one, proceed to the next step.  Note: if you prefer, you can use the same instructions but substitute Dropbox as long as you have it sideloaded on your Kindle - Sugarsync is being used here because it is supported and can be downloaded from the Amazon App Store on the Kindle Fire.

Step 2:
Download the SugarSync app from the Amazon App Store on to your Kindle Fire.

Step 3: 
Download SugarSync for your mac. Now, find the "Magic Briefcase" folder - it should be in your documents folder.  Open the Magic Briefcase and create a folder in it named "Print."

Step 4:
On your mac launch the application "Automator."  When it opens and asks for the type of workflow, choose "Folder Action" and then choose the folder you created in step 2, "Print," under the "Folder Action receives files and folders added to" menu.

Step 5:
Using the search function in Automator, type in "print" and drag "Print Finder Items" to the right into the workflow list.

Step 6:
Using the search function of Automator, type in "delete" and drag "Move Finder Items to Trash" into the workflow beneath "Print Finder Items" so that it looks like this.

Step 7:
Save your workflow, exit Automator, and you should be done!

Now any document you put in the "Print" folder of your magic briefcase will print automatically as long as your mac is turned on and connected to the internet. You can put documents into your "Print" folder from your Kindle Fire or any android device. It will then move the document to the trash (if you would like the documents moved to a printed or completed folder you can do that by creating another folder and replacing step 6 with "Move finder items" to your designated folder instead of the trash.

Student Loans

If any of you have student loans and have not already consolidated them, you should really look into this student loan consolidation program from the Federal Government.  If you have a Department of Education Loans (FFEL) and some are serviced by the Department of Education and others by a commercial lender (bank) you should be eligible for a 0.25% interest reduction.  That doesn't sound like much, but it can make a big difference in the long run.  If eligible you should receive an email from the Department of Education asking if you would like to participate - don't ignore it as just another email about your loans!
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