Monthly Archives: October 2004

a new twist p2p filesharing

Someone mentioned FolderShare on a mailing list at work recently. FolderShare is a combination of an app and a service that lets you easily syncronize files between multiple windows PCs across the internet. I’m curious about using it to share photos and other files with my family. It might also be handy for accessing files at home from work.

I’ve just installed it, it seems pretty easy to configure. I’ve just invited my brother to join, so we’ll see how well it works.

I’ve been looking for tools that let me do this sort of thing for the past few months. I was excited when I found Grouper, but disappointed when I found out that it did annoying things with audio files, presumably to keep the RIAA off their case.

I think I’d prefer FolderShare anyway. I supports a very simple mode of opreration. All you need to do to share files is click a button to create a “library” in the FolderShare application, and tell it what folder you want associated with a library. Then you invite individuals to use the library.

On the other side, all you do is choose to subscribe to the libraries available to you, tell it what folder you want to use the local copy of the library, and leave the application running. Additions, deletions and changes to the library will be automatically reflected in your local copy. If you want to use a file, you just open it like any other file. There is no need to download the files you want to use in a separate step.

However, you can choose which files to download if you wish. This might come in handy if you are using FolderShare from work, or a borrowed computer to get access to specific files on your home computer.

You also are able to use a basic permissions scheme when you share files. Whenever you invite someone to a library, you choose the level of access. There are 4 levels.

  • Readers can only open files
  • Contributors-can add files, but they can’t change or delete files added by other users.
  • Editors have the added ability to delete or change files contributed by other users
  • Senior Editors can invite other users to use a library

You may have multiple libraries, each shared with different groups of people.

The free trial is limited to 2 libraries with 1,500 files/library. For $4.50/month, you can bump that up to 20,000 files a library and 100 libraries on two computers. For $6.75/month you can up that to 50,000 files/library & 250 libraries plus get the advantage of some cool features that optimize bandwidth use.

I think the capabilities seem good and the price point strikes me as reasonable, though not great. If they priced the “personal version” at $30 year instead of $48.50, it would be a no-brainer for me. It’ may seem odd that $18.50/year matters that much to me, but it does, in part because for this to be really useful, I need other people using it, and asking them to spend almost $50/year is harder than asking them to spend $30.

In any case, I hope we see more applications like this.

Google Desktop Search BETA is a dissapointment

After Dave Winer linked to my post about how the new beta of Google’s desktop search lacks support for indexing non-microsoft e-mail and browser history, someone criticised my rush to judgement.

It’s a fair-point that this is a beta, but what is the point of a beta, if not to be a subject for criticism?

So, while I may ultimately be very happy with the Google Desktop Search product when it is eventually released, I remain disappointed in the beta. Google cachet aside, in its current form it is no better for me than the desktop search beta MS previewed this summer. Both tie me to MS browsers and e-mail. The fact that the MS product is as yet unavailable really doesn’t matter, because I’m not going to use either of them.

Others seem to share my wait-and-see attitude.

Google desktop search is a disappointment

So, Google has finally released their desktop search product. I’d like to get excited about it, but I just can’t.

Dave Winer seems pretty excited about the fact that GDS is basically a web application in that the UI is exposed through a local webserver. This is cool, as Dave obseves, “You can use it with any browser. Right on.”

Very cool, except that there is basically no reason I’d want to use it with another browser. GDS only indexes history on IE, and only indexes e-mail in Outlook and Outlook Express. I don’t use IE, and I don’t use Outlook or Outlook express. That leaves the filesystem indexing feature, which frankly isn’t that interesting.

Most of the stuff of interest locally is either stuff in my e-mail, or stuff i’ve already seen on the web and Google won’t touch that for people like me who use something other than the dominant browser and mailreader. Of course, it could be that some clever dev at Google had the presence of mind to index Firefox cache and Thunderbird’s mail, and their marketing people just aren’t mentioning it.

It makes sense for Google to be focusing on the biggest market. Still, its dissapointing to see Google ignoring the people who are probably most likely to embrace cool new technology and evangelize it. Very very uncool.

Please remind me why anyone would vote for Bush in 04?

Informed Comment : 10/01/2004 – 10/31/2004

Juan Cole truly rocks. This essay details the ample evidence of Bush’s failures at waging any sort of successful war on terrror and ends with the folowing.

The Bush administration thinks the problem is rogue states. But the real problem is radical terrorist groups. Bush has done all too little about the latter. Most of the al-Qaeda officials captured have been taken by the Pakistani military, so that this vital task has actually been outsourced. But where the Pakistani military wants to coddle an al-Qaeda-linked group, like the Army of the Prophet’s Companions, it does, and Bush seems too weak to stop it. Bush and Cheney want now to overthrow Syria and Iran, pushing them into the sort of instability we have seen in Iraq.

If you were a company that brought in terror consultants to work on this problem, and after 3 years you saw the sort of results we saw on Thursday, would you really rehire them?

I wonder about the same thing. Earlier today, I was reading a slate article about who novelists were voting for. Most were planning on voting for Kerry. But of those who were voting for Bush gave reasons that I’ve heard coming out of the mouth’s of more commonplace Bush supporters — that he had a strategy to keep us safe.

This dumbfounds me. Bush’s strategy may be sound, but at this point, its abundanty obvious that even if the strategy is a good one, the exectution is absolutely terrible and shows no signs of getting better. Why would anyone want to give him a chance to make things worse?

Your papers please

Schneier on Security: RFID Passports

The Bush administration is deliberately choosing a less secure technology without justification. If there were a good offsetting reason to choose that technology over a contact chip, then the choice might make sense.

Unfortunately, there is only one possible reason: The administration wants surreptitious access themselves. It wants to be able to identify people in crowds. It wants to surreptitiously pick out the Americans, and pick out the foreigners. It wants to do the very thing that it insists, despite demonstrations to the contrary, can’t be done.