Working in Teams: Dropbox to the Rescue!

The work I do is generally solitary, but in the last couple of months, I’ve had to work with teams more than usual, and it’s been Dropbox to the rescue every time. Here are some examples of how Dropbox has come in handy for me lately:

Weekly App Store Picks: May 23, 2009


What’s that, you say? You’re looking for iPhone app recommendations alongside a smattering of the week’s Apple (s aapl) news? Read, on my friend, I have just the article for you…

Before I present you with my four recommendations, hand-picked from the freshest apps to launch for the iPhone, it’s time to take stock and review this week’s Apple news.

As if Monday couldn’t get any grimmer, the big news to start the week was all about Microsoft (s msft). Specs and other info about its new Zune, apparently code-named “xYz,” have been doing the rounds. Perhaps presenting a genuine challenge to the iPhone and iPod touch handheld gaming throne, the device may even play XBox Live Arcade content. Very exciting indeed, considering the breadth and quality of games on offer via Microsoft’s online service.

Speaking of which, the big surprise of the week was news that Braid, the top-rated, critically acclaimed Xbox Live Arcade title, has been released on Mac. The game is a side-scrolling platformer, incorporating a host of headache-inducing time-twisting puzzles. Good fun indeed, and a worthy workout for cerebral gamers on the hunt for a challenge.

Coming to the U.S. in the very near future is Spotify, the legal music service that’s essentially like having access to the entire iTunes Store for free. The service has already been on offer in Europe since late 2008. Spotify’s founder, Daniel Ek, believes it’ll be officially available stateside by the start of 2010 at the latest.

While the Spotify iPhone app is still under wraps, founder Kevin Rose has been impressed by the desktop version, “… playing w/Spotify, hot damn it’s responsive – plays pretty much any song on earth in <1 second.” Being stationed in Helsinki, Finland, I’ve had the pleasure of using Spotify for several months now — it really is as fast as Rose describes.

My favorite news of the week concerns the latest update to the iPhone. More rumors abound, as a fresh list of specs has been released. Notable possible enhancements to the iPhone include 32GB of storage in the high-end model, built-in FM transmitter, OLED screen, rubber tread backing and discontinuation of the metal band surrounding the edge of the device.

Moving on to the picks, this week I’ve been looking at Mover, Burger King Now, Lexulous and Flashback.

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SugarSync Goes Free


Good news! SugarSync, a file synchronization and backup service for PC and Mac (reviewed positively here on WWD), today started offering free accounts (previously the cheapest option was $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year.)

The catch is that free accounts are limited to 2GB of storage, which will be inadequate for backing up large collections of files or music, but for syncing a few big files between machines — accessing project files on the road, for example — it could be very useful.

SugarSync differentiates itself from its competitors (like Dropbox) by offering comprehensive mobile support, with clients for iPhone/iPod Touch (s aapl), BlackBerry (s rimm) and Windows Mobile (s msft) devices. The free accounts announced today include access to the mobile clients.

Let us know what you think of SugarSync in the comments.

TextGuru and MagicPad: Mobile Cut-and-Paste Text Editing

The lack of the ability to cut, copy, and paste and to select portions of text makes text editing on the iPhone/iPod touch an exercise in patience. So, for all you writers who are masochistic enough to use your mobile device to write, this one is for you.

Consider this scenario: You start a draft in the Notes app or in the WordPress app and write a paragraph or two. Some time later, you re-read what you’d written and think, “Well, that sentence doesn’t really belong there.” What now? You’ll have to set the cursor to a new insert point and, while referring to that sentence in its existing location, retype it in its new location. Moving just one sentence? Fine. A whole paragraph? Forget it; it’ll be easier to edit the article on your Mac later.
Sounds painfully familiar?
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A.I. Disk Brings MobileMe iDisk to the iPhone

The cloud is gaining ground. Despite early hiccups, I signed up for a MobileMe account shortly after purchasing my iPhone and I haven’t looked back since. Yes, the webmail is buggy, and yes, the Push is sometimes more of a playful shove, but it still keeps my information consistent across two Macs and a phone without any significant drawbacks. And it just got better still, thanks to A.I. Disk from Readdle.
The purpose of A.I. Disk is to provide access to your online MobileMe storage via your iPhone, across any data connection (Wi-Fi, 3G, and EDGE are all supported). The app works much like the popular Air Sharing, allowing you to view multiple document types, including Office (both 2007 and earlier formats), PDF, iWork, and TXT files. Files are copied from your iDisk to your phone for offline viewing, and can be attached to an email and sent from within the application.
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YouSendIt Pursues Integration Strategy

YouSendIt - Send large files - transfer delivery - FTP Replacement - Mozilla Firefox (Build 2008070206)When we looked at the landscape of file-sharing, one of our main concerns was that none of the available file-sharing services provided a compelling advantage over email. With creating email attachments being so simple, why would anyone go to a new service to move files around? Well, one of the entrants in this crowded field, YouSendIt, has been quietly pursuing a strategy that may yet bring them to email parity: increasingly, they’re integrated into your desktop, instead of being just another web service.

When you create a YouSendIt account (1GB of monthly download and 100MB file size comes for free; $10 per month will get you substantially higher limits), you get access to a variety of YouSendIt applications. These applications allow you to work directly from your desktop or from other software. For example, YouSendIt Express sits on your desktop (OS X or Windows, while the YouSendIt Outlook application is implemented as a Microsoft Outlook add-in.

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Vid-Biz: SAG, Starbucks, Freddies

SAG Head Ready for a Fight; Alan Rosenberg has called the producers’ recent deals with directors and writers unsatisfactory for his union. (The New York Times)

Starbucks Expands Pick of the Week to Music Videos; coffee chain to offer free music vids via iTunes. (MarketWatch)

Channel Frederator Award Nominees Announced; vote for your favorite Flash, CG or Funniest vid. (Channel Frederator)

Networks Say A La Carte Cable Would be “Devastating”; MTVN, Turner and Disney among those that sent a letter to FCC Chair Kevin Martin imploring him to drop this particular endeavor. (Multichannel News)

MSN Money Gets on the Money Track; segments from the PBS show to run on finance site. (MediaWeek)

Juno DVD and Download Released on Same Day; hit indie film available in both formats as of yesterday. DVD includes digital copy of the film. (TWICE)

Tremor Media Launches New Ad Platform; Acudeo lets advertisers schedule and consolidate delivery of in-stream video and overlay ads into one central console. (release)

Use your iPhone as an external drive with iPhoneDrive

When the iPhone was released it was semi-surprising that it’s missing one feature iPods have traditionally had: the ability to use the device for external file storage and access. Given the consumer-laden target audience of the phone, perhaps Apple didn’t want to sacrifice the elegant simplicity of the device by including this type of feature, and it’s very possible a software update will add it. If you can’t wait for a possible update, there is an option: Ecamm Network now offers their iPhoneDrive software for $9.95. A free demo download is also available for this software interface that lets you move files between your iPhone and your Mac. Yes, your Mac….no Windows for this software solution.

(via MacUser)

Dead Man Dancing

The founder’s reprieve between funding rounds never feels long enough. Way too often, you find yourself in a room asking your investors to pull out their checkbooks again. Recently, one of my investors tried to cheer me up: “Listen Matt, you aren’t a real entrepreneur if you haven’t run out of money a few times.”

I wish the mood was always so jovial. But I was not having a good week. This round of funding was going to be different, because this time I had no more money of my own to put into the company. That makes a big difference to certain investors. I didn’t know if my angels would be willing to put up more cash, and I had no where else to go.

The bank owned my home (I had already mortgaged it twice), my credit card debt was building up (again), and the company’s commercial bank balance dwindled dangerously close to zero. I had no idea how I was going to cover the month’s payroll and people won’t work long for companies that can’t pay them. I had put everything I owned into this ship and it was in danger of sinking.

So what did I do? I went salsa dancing.

It just so happened that this same week a close friend had asked me to go out to a local salsa club with him. It was important: He was supposed to meet a woman there, and he needed his wingman. In the past I would have shut down my social life to focus on the company crisis, operating in panic mode for days on end until I came up with a solution. This time was different: I had been in and out of the fire enough to know that I could go out for the night to try to relax for a few hours and the sky wouldn’t fall.

As we walked to the club, I outlined the current state of affairs at my company, and explained how dire the scenario had become. Throughout the night, he asked me repeatedly, “Seriously, Matt. What are you going to do?” Here was a guy with a stable 401k plan, who shreds his mail and takes long, careful periods of planning before making any major life decisions. When it comes to risk taking we are polar opposites. He looked at me in the way that one might look at a man whose fate is sealed. You could see it in his concerned—and confused—eyes: “I’m looking at a dead man. A dead man who has gone out dancing.”

I actually found myself consoling him that I would be okay. I told him the truth: I was scared shitless and really couldn’t see through to the other side of this one, but I knew I’d pull through. I knew this because I had done it before and there simple wasn’t any other option: I wasn’t going to die or starve to death, so there could be worse problems to face. I raised my drink to my friend.

“I will tell you this: If you want to be an entrepreneur, you better learn to be able to sleep in the fire. I’ll take that along with the danger of failure over going each day to a job with no reward any day, no matter how safe that job might be.”

I’m not advocating recklessness here, or attempting to romanticize the dangers of risk-taking; businesses are not built on irresponsible behavior. That is often how they are lost. Sure, I decided to go out dancing, but this doesn’t mean my problems weren’t in the back of my mind all night, because they certainly were. My business and my home were at risk – but large problems like these follow an entrepreneur everywhere they go.

What every founder needs to grasp is that there is a line between attentive concern and freaking out. There is a balance between letting a danger move you to aggressive problem solving, while not letting the stress break you down. I went home after an enjoyable night at the club, picked up my pen and put in some serious time cranking out as many creative solutions as I could muster. Then I turned off the light, crawled into bed, and fell asleep. I woke up the next day rested and ready to drive forward.

I survived. My investors didn’t give in to my funding pleas right away. They sent me away a few times and held my feet to the fire as the clock wound down. I remained calm, listened to their requests, and managed to work with them without “going Chernobyl” in the boardroom. Through remaining calm I came out the other side with signed checks and my company in tact.

The lesson here is that an entrepreneur has to learn to be able to live with fear and uncertainty – learn how to sleep in the midst of a fire. If we can’t handle the stress of high pressure situations with calm, our companies don’t have a chance.

Oh, I almost forgot: the girl my friend was supposed to meet that night eventually did show up… with her husband. Had I stayed home wringing my hands over my funding crisis, I would have missed the chance to razz him about it these last six months. (A nice reprieve if ever I had one!) So remember this: Some things in life are worth taking a break for.

Jeff Hawkins Not Quitting PalmOne

In response to my post yesterday, wondering if Jeff Hawkins was going to leave Palm One, Mr. Hawkins replies

jeff hawkinsI have no intention of leaving palmOne or changing the amount of time I work there. I said so in my talk yesterday. Basically I split my time between palmOne and RNI and have been doing so for several years. What is changing is that I will spend less time at RNI so I have some time for the new business.