Get More Search Help in Google Drive


Google Drive got some useful improvements this week. It added spelling correction while typing in the search words and natural language processing (NLP).

NLP basically means you can search like you talk. You can say something like “open my project paper from last week” and Drive will search for the files that fit these criteria. Cool thing is that Drive will learn your queries, so search gets better over time.

It’s a big surprising that it took a while to get spelling check in the search. Drive will now autocorrect misspelled words and suggest corrections. You have seen this at work; Google search itself has this capability, and now you can use it within Drive.

I like Dropbox a lot, but Drive and, now with Windows 10, OneDrive are becoming my favorites.

Time To Stop Using OneDrive?


Microsoft recently announced that it is reducing the size of storage. For example, if you are an Office 365 subscriber, you had unlimited storage, but it is getting capped at 1 TB. The most disappointing change is that free OneDrive storage will decrease from 15 GB to 5 GB for all users, current and new. The 15 GB camera roll storage bonus will also be discontinued. These changes will start rolling out in early 2016.

Why! I am sure it boils down to money. You can read about the reason behind, mostly that some users “abused” the storage policy. I don’t buy it, but as a free user, I can’t really vote with my money.

I think getting free storage reduced from 15 GB to 5 GB makes OneDrive a lot less desirable. Who knows what Microsoft will do in the future. It may start charging for any storage. I have no idea.

I don’t know too many people using OneDrive, even if they are using Windows. I still think Google Drive, followed by Dropbox, is the best choice for consumers. GDrive gives 15 GB free, and additional storage is reasonably priced. Also its integration with other Google services and Chrome make is very useful. I use it and it works well.

Moving the files is a pain, but I think it’s best done over time before the new OneDrive storage limits take place.

Explain Everything


As I use my iPhone more and more, I find it more useful for learning and teaching. I continue to seek apps that I can integrate in my classroom or presentation. I stumbled up on one app, Explain Everything, that I am very eager to explore.

Explain Everything is “an interactive screencasting whiteboard” according to the developers.  It has a laser pointer to draw attention to a specific area on the screen. You can record everything that you do on a screen, with your voice, so show it again or share with anyone. The app integrates with major cloud service providers such as Google Drive and Dropbox, so it’s easier to access files (I love this integrated feature!).

Here is a video that explain the app’s features. Check it out!

Encrypting Your Dropbox


When I talk about the cloud storage solutions like Dropbox or Google Drive, people’s natural question is about its security. I do think for the most part, security implementations are mostly adequate for everyday use. However, I have seen news stories where the service may have been compromised and thus it required me to change the passwords.

I used SafeMonk to store our delicate files synced with Dropbox. The service is now ending and the company recommends Sookasa.

Basically, you install Dropbox, then install Sookasa. Sookasa creates a folder called “Sookasa” within your Dropbox folder. Put any files in there, and those files are automatically encrypted. This means that, even though these files are synced and visible within Dropbox on the web, the recipient either needs the access code or a Sookasa account to view the files decrypted.

Sookasa seems to be a better option for those who require compliance such as HIPAA and FERPA. I am using the Personal (free) account, but there are Team and Professional options (fee).

I noticed two annoyances which I hope get fixed soon. The software sometimes tells me that the internet connection is lost even though I am connected. Also, it requires a password every time my laptop is rebooted. The company says it is a security feature, but I hope it implements an option to have the password memorized.

If you require encryption in the cloud and you use Dropbox, I think Sookasa is worth a look.

Community Career Center: Where is the Cloud?

You keep hearing about the “cloud,” but you are not sure what it is. You look around and there are so many options that you feel overwhelmed! In this presentation, I will answer the most commonly asked questions about the cloud such as: What exactly is the cloud (computing)? Is it really in the cloud? How does I affect me? How can I take advantage of it? What is Dropbox/Google Drive/Microsoft OneDrive? Is it secure? And more!

Recent Google Drive and Dropbox Updates


I use both Google Drive and Dropbox. I do that to separate my personal files (in Dropbox) and work files (in Google Drive), so there is not mixing up the two. One reason I use Google Drive for work purposes is its easy of sharing files. It just go easier to share files in Google Drive.

Google Drive added the feature to show profile pictures of the collaborators. This helps to ensure the right person sees the files. If you share with more than two people, GDrive now suggests related people with whom you frequently share the files. Neat!

Dropbox moved up to version 3. Version 3 includes the rewrite of Windows and Linux user interface, file identifiers, and better support for Mac menu bar icons. The file identifiers are an interesting addition. They enable Dropbox to detect when the files have been moved or removed. The blog states that this feature will be developed in the future releases.

I am happy to see continuous improvements with both services!

Dropbox vs. Google Drive: Which One is Better for Teachers?

Dropbox vs Google Drive

There are many cloud storage services to use. I use all three major providers: Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. Most of the time though, I only use Dropbox and Google Drive, as between these two services, they do everything I need to do.

Both Dropbox and Google Drive has strengths and weaknesses. For instructional purposes, I think Google Drive wins. I list my reasons below.

Storage Space

From the get-go, Google wins. Anyone can get 15 GB of free space, including storage for Gmail. Dropbox offers 2GB to start, and you are able to increase the amount by referring new users. I did this and now am up to 20 GB, but it was a pain. Google beats Dropbox for additional storage space as well. For a Dropbox Pro Plan subscription, Dropbox charges $9.99/month and you get 100 GB. Google gives you 100 GB at $1.99. For $9.99, you get a whopping 1 TB.

Winner: Google

Ease of Use

Both services are easy to use. I will focus on the desktop clients and the web interface. Dropbox is the easiest service to use. From within the desktop (Windows or Mac), it’s easy to share files and send the links to fellow teachers, and it’s much easier to publicly share your files without the fuss of authorizing who can download what.  The Dropbox web service is usable, but it’s rather sparse.

Google Drive is almost as easy to use as Dropbox. Google Drive focuses more on collaboration, so it has more features to do that. While the features require the users to learn a bit more about collaboration techniques, once you understand them, they are powerful I can share most of my files with my students while restricting access to the files that contain answer keys and such, for example, only to the fellow instructors. The Google Drive web site is also more powerful than Dropbox’s, so unless you are looking for absolute ease of use, Google Drive offers more.

Winner: Google

Extra Features

There are other benefits that make Google Drive better for teachers. Google Drive lets you convert text from uploaded PDF and images files (OCR). The uploaded files are converted to Google Docs and you can edit them. Also Google Drive is getting integrated with other applications such at SnagIt. Again, this makes content sharing much easier, a plus for teachers.

For more information on Google Drive, Google has the Help Center that gets you started. I think it’s well worth the effort to learn all about the Drive. More tips below:

26 Google Drive Tips You Can’t Afford to Miss
Google Drive: Access and Collaborate Around Your Content
16 secrets of Google Drive | Macworld