With a $50M line of credit, DigitalOcean will build more data centers

DigitalOcean, the cloud provider that’s a hit with developers, said today that it’s landed a $50 million credit facility provided by the investment firm Fortress Investment Group. The new credit line follows the startup’s recent $37.2 million Series A funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz.

DigitalOcean’s co-founder and CEO Ben Uretsky told the Wall Street Journal that the startup plans to use the loan to build out new global data centers with one slated for Frankfurt, Germany. The startup said in a news release that the credit line will help it lease more equipment at better rates as it attempts to build more international facilities.

Data centers aren’t exactly the cheapest things to build out, so taking a credit line makes sense for DigitalOcean. For example, [company]Google[/company] is aiming to spend $772 million on a giant data center in the Netherlands and Facebook’s data center in Altoona, Iowa was supposed to be a $1.5 billion investment. While DigitalOcean will more than likely not build the type of data centers seen at Facebook and Google, the company will still be plunking down a good amount of cash.

The New York-based startup’s unique pricing model — which involves “droplets” of compute, storage and networking resources all bundled together — has helped it carve a niche among developers looking for an easier way to get into the cloud as opposed to studying the rosetta stone that is the Amazon Web Services pricing matrix.

For a more in-depth look at what DigitalOcean has been doing to distinguish itself in the highly competitive world of cloud providers, be sure to listen to Uretsky chat it up with Gigaom last July on The Structure Show.

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3 Clever Little Mac Apps for Web Workers

Sometimes doing things via web apps is great. Everything is in one place: your browser. Even so, sometimes having everything in one place isn’t ideal. A browser crash could kill all of your work, not just one component, and it can be harder to keep your focus appropriately segmented if your tools are all mashed together. Here are a few great Mac (s aapl) applications that give you access to your web apps, but do so in nice, native software packages.

Picture 5Propane

It’s a fine way to power a BBQ, but it’s also more than that. Propane is a new piece of beta software that does what I previously did using a Fluid browser instance. Specifically, it runs Campfire-based chatrooms, which are a popular tool for people who need to collaborate in real-time with a distributed team. I use Campfire rooms to coordinate with other writers at various blog sites where time and scheduling is a primary concern, but that’s just one possible use.

Like with a Fluid instance, Propane provides Campfire with the bare minimum of browser chrome, so that it does in fact look like a native OS X app. It also provides some nice bells and whistles that allow you to customize the how and why of notification sounds and messages, including Growl notifications. There’s also great tools for better file sharing, including automatic source detection when you drag content (text and images) from a Safari window into your active chatroom in Propane.

Picture 1Mailplane

I’m not actively trying to rhyme these app names, it’s just working out that way. Gmail (s goog) is great, and Mail.app is nice enough, but I’d rather not use the two together if possible. I love Gmail’s web interface, but I’m not crazy about trying to manage my email activities in a browser window. Maybe that makes me old school, but I grew up on Outlook (s msft), and old habits die hard.

Mailplane delivers all the Gmail interface goodness with a nice, native app wrapper. Basically it, like Propane, is just a browser instance with some additional features specific to the web app in question that makes it easier to use. It’s those features that make the app worthwhile, though. Mailplane takes advantage of Gmail’s keyboard shortcuts to allow you to view and create new messages, reply, attach media, and more using convenient buttons located along the top of the app window. It also badges the app icon in your dock with the number of unread emails, and can notify you of new mail using sound and Growl.

Those with Google Apps and multiple accounts are also in luck, because it supports easy account switching and storage. There’s also an option to display an icon in the menu bar, including new mail count. You can try it out for free for a month, but it is a paid program, and will set you back $24.95 if you do decide to purchase.

Picture 7Gdocsuploader

This is less an app and more of a handy little applet, but the single, focused service it provides is incredibly useful: a simple drag-and-drop interface for uploading documents to Google Docs. It may not seem like much, but it saves a lot of steps vs. the traditional method, which can quickly add up if you do most of your document editing in Google Docs, like I do.

All you have to do to use it is keep the app icon in your dock, and then drag any document onto the icon to upload it. It’ll prompt you once for your Google name and password, and afterward it’ll just work. If you prefer, opening the app will automatically take you to a file browser for selecting a file to upload manually.

None of the above apps does anything that you can’t do using the web, but they do offer time-saving and usability enhancements that you won’t necessarily get using only the corresponding app for each in a normal browser window. Just because web apps are often convenient and user-friendly doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be more so with a more solid connection to your desktop.

Have any tips on how to make web apps more native? Share them in the comments.

Tales From the Command Line: textutil

I really enjoy the overall experience reading books and articles on my Sony PRS-500 eBook reader, but dislike having to fire up Boot Camp or VMware into Windows in order to purchase books from the Sony eBook Store, especially when there are thousands of books in the public domain and tons of blog and article content on the internets for free.

The problem lies with getting this information onto said device. to make my life easier, I use a utility that first appeared in OS X 10.4 called textutil. As you will see, the utility of this small tool goes far beyond formatting content for eBook readers. As always, fire up Terminal.app and have it ready to roll as we delve once again down to the command line.
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Using Droplets With Transmit

For those of us who don’t have an iDisk up in the MobileMe cloud, it can be very useful to have a way of easily moving files to an FTP server without opening up your FTP client and moving the file manually. Maybe you want to share a photo folder, send a colleague a set of documents or pass an MP3 file along — something which could surpass the attachment limit of your email server.

If you are using Transmit, there is a simple way to automatically upload a file to a given folder on your server, just by dragging and dropping. Known as a ‘Droplet’, it can reside on your desktop, in your dock, or even on Dashboard. While this idea seems a very simple concept, once you have set up and started using Droplets on a regular basis they can become an invaluable time-saver.
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Droplet Drops Hardware for Mobile Video

Droplet isn’t a new company, but it says it has a new way to improve the mobile video experience. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company says it has developed an all-software solution that can handle both capturing and playback of video on a mobile device, as well as move it through the network. The result, according to Droplet President and CEO John D. Ralston, is that recorded videos will be bigger in size, better in quality, and Droplet will enable two-way video communication on just about any phone with video capabilities.

Ralston stopped by the NTV HQ to explain a little more and show us a demo:

The software approach supposedly saves battery life by moving the encoding/decoding off of the chip, though Droplet wouldn’t give us any hard numbers, saying that it depended on the frame size, rate, and length of the video.

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