Sunday, 10 January 2010

How to get 5.25GB on Dropbox with a free account

Dropbox is an excellent utility for syncing files, sharing files and backing up files. With a free account, you get 2GB of free storage.

It is possible to get this free account up to 5.25GB. Following the rules set by Dropbox, you need to refer a number of people, getting 250MB each time someone starts using it. I did this, but some people failed to use my link and others didn't install. I really needed as much space as possible, so I went about trying to cheat the system. I succeeded, and here's how (the text assumes you may have a few referrals already)...
  1. Make sure you've made yourself a "Dropbox Guru" by checking the 5 or 6 tasks on the web interface. You should get an extra 250MB for this (and probably already have).
  2. Work out how many lots of referrals (in 250MB chunks) you need to take you to 5.25GB. Let's say you need x...
  3. Set up x trashmail accounts that will forward 1 message for 1 day
  4. Send a referral to each of these trashmail accounts from your regular Dropbox login
  5. Check the referrals page on the web interface of your regular Dropbox login - all the trashmail accounts should show "invited" or something like that
  6. Sign out of your regular Dropbox account online
  7. Set up an account and password for each of your x trashmail accounts, ensuring to use the referral links that got forwarded to your normal email from trashmail. Suggest making the password the same for each one to save your grey cells
  8. You should now be able to log back into your regular account and check you referral status. All the trashmail accounts should now show "account created" or similar.
  9. Download VirtualBox and install it
  10. Download the latest Ubuntu ISO image (700MB)
  11. Run VirtualBox and load up the Ubuntu ISO. Follow instructions here from the ever dependable Lifehacker
  12. As Ubuntu loads, be sure just to run from the ISO - you don't want to install it
  13. Open Firefox in the Virtual Ubuntu
  14. Navigate to and download the Ubuntu version of Dropbox (strangely it is a 2 step process: you download the file from the web and install, then go into Applications then Internet and click on Dropbox to complete)
  15. Choose the Dropbox prompt "I already have an account" and sign in with your first trashmail account
  16. As soon as it has signed in, your master computer (i.e. not the virtual machine should show you a notification that your storage has increased)
  17. Close the Ubuntu virtual machine window
  18. Delete the virtual machine on the VirtualBox management window
  19. Start again for the next trashmail account with steps 11 to 18 (it is important to delete the Ubuntu virtual machine and start again as Dropbox knows it's the same install)
  20. Once you've done this x times, you should have maxed out your Dropbox account at 5.25GB. You can then uninstall VirtualBox if you like
Slightly evil, I know - but if it gets you using the service and recommending it (which I do), then it's all for the best...

Thursday, 18 June 2009

iPhone OS 3.0: audio and video scrubbing

There has been a lot of hype about the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone OS 3.0. I have decided not to go for the 3GS and to hold off for the next iteration. I will have gadget envy for everyone with the video camera feature, the digital compass and the voice control, but I don't think it's fully worth the upgrade.

In any case, of all the features I saw published, I found a few useful ones today on my trip into work and back whilst I was listening to an audiobook, music and video (plus fiddling with the software on and off!). They are all to do with playback and scrubbing through the media. It used to be a bit patchy and confusing and I'm pleased to say the quality has improved. Moreover, you now have a few options when scrubbing through your media.

Let's start with music. When you activate the bar that shows your position in the track that's playing you could always hold it down and navigate to a point in the track. That was alright, but now, when you hold down your finger, you are presented with this (not easy to read as your finger is covering most of the text!):

The Hi-Speed scrubbing note tells you that you can "slide you finger down to adjust the scrubbing rate". The lower you go, the slower the scrubbing gets, and hence you get greater accuracy. First you go from the default Hi-Speed to Half Speed:

As your finger goes further South, you get Quarter Speed:

And then at the lowest point you get the most accurate Fine scrub:

It's not a massive feature, but I find it quite useful for navigating more accurately. Unfortunately it's not included in the Remote app just yet, but I'm sure they'll get there.

Next we look at Audiobooks. Once again, you get the scrubbing feature, which is potentially even more useful here, since they tend to be long tracks and hence it can be easy to get lost. I haven#'t bothered to show any screenshot, since it's exactly the same as the music version. You also get a nifty 30 second rewind button to press, which is great if you lost concentration or nodded off for a bit. I will press this each time I finish listening so that I get a 30 second recap each time I start again to key me in. You don't get this on music tracks:

You'll notice on the image above that on the right there's a white box with "1x" written in it. This button adjusts the playback speed. You used to be able to do this in the settings of the main iPhone, but now you can do it whilst your listening. One tap changes it to "2x":

A second tap changes it to half speed:

And a third brings it back to normal playback. I don't think I'll use this much, but I'm sure it's useful for some.

Lastly, you get the 30 second recap feature and the scrubbing functionality on Vidcasts, but you have to be watching them in portrait view in order to see the controls. It did not seem to work on videos I had uploaded onto my iPhone:

So far, I've been really impressed with the OS 3.0 upgrade and have also had fun with the MMS functionality, sending pics and audio from the new voice recording app - for once the UK gets something ahead of the US! It took a while for O2 to activate it today, but they got there at about 3pm.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

I Love Stars (for Mac) and SkiniTunes (for Windows)

Skinitunes is something I've found after looking for a windows equivalent of I Love Stars which is only for Macs.

Basically, I wanted to find a way to play music on my computer and to be able to rate tracks without having to turn my attention away from what I'm doing and go into the iTunes window.

Unfortunately, the iTunes miniplayer and toolbar player that Apple include with the software do not allow you to rate tracks.

I Love Stars is a Mac solution that places stars at the bar at the top of your screen:

Screenshot 1

I like it for its imsplicity, but there's nothing like it for WIndows, as far as I could find. I got the next best thing which is SkiniTunes. this gives you more features and flexibility in an iTunes mini player.

I can still choose what I want to play in iTunes, and then activate SkiniTunes to run. I can then rate tracks as they play and skip without losing focus on the current window.

If anyone out there knows of anything like I Love Stars for Windows, please let me know...