Instantly get photos from camera to web with Eye-Fi

Back in May, I started a series of posts that look at desktop apps, and namely productivity.  So far, I have covered Evernote and Dropbox, and rather than being obvious and moving onto Remember the Milk, or Tweetdeck, I have plumped for Eye-Fi next.

There are a three reasons I wanted to try Eye-Fi

  1. The thought that I can take a photo, and without doing anything it appear online appeals.
  2. Everything I take will be geotagged.
  3. I am falling into a big hole of geekiness and everything shiny appeals.

So how have I used it?

When you get the card, you have to connect it to your laptop and set up a wifi network on the card…this is slightly annoying, as you have to do it for every wifi system you want it to work with, but it is a small price to pay for the time it saves.

The first time I used it was at Teach Meet Hampshire where I used a slightly convoluted route to getting the photos online.  It went like this:

  • Camera – auto synched with laptop – auto imported to picasa – moved to synced web folder – link grabbed from web folder – pasted to Tweetdeck and posted…

At TeachMeet East, I was slightly more organised:

  • Camera – auto synced to Picasa web albums – posted to twitter via Tweetdeck (slightly better eh?)

What I hadn’t figured was there are some pretty cool settings in the programme that comes in the Eye-Fi Centre that allow you to configure it to auto upload to places such as flickr, picasa, facebook etc. etc.  Now, all I need is a way to auto tweet when photos are uploaded to picasa!

One other cool feature of the card is that you never run out of memory. If you take a photo, and it auto syncs to your preferred online photo sharing service, you can set it to delete it from your card…which means you never run out of memory!

One last thing – if you have an Eye-Fi card, and an iPhone, check out this link.

My last 24-hours in numbers

Two rubbish US tv programmes last night leading to reading
One chapter of a dodgy crime novel before getting
Five hours sleep, getting ready for work before a
Two hour commute.
2 hours responding to the
230 emails I got yesterday so was late for the first of
Five meetings. After last one I played with
One iPad, before getting in the car for a
Three hour commute, getting home just in time to put
One girl to bed, put
One pizza in the oven, write
One blog post, and start to watch the first of
Two rubbish US tv programmes.

Dropbox – share and collaborate

Funky monkeys

Talking earlier on Twitter, I was asked how I use Dropbox for work.  This is how I do it, and although it may not answer the questions, it certainly works for me!

  • I have Dropbox set up on my home and work laptops.
  • I have a few folders at work set up with SyncToy (thanks to @iteachyear4 for the tip)
  • I have shared a number of folders with staff – meaning every file that I save into those shared folders, automatically gets shared with them.

Put this into a school context, if you have a folder on your school server that has your school planning in, it can be synced with a shared folder within Dropbox that is shared with every teacher in the school/team. As long as every teacher has Dropbox installed on their laptops, they can open, amend and save those files.

This way, you won’t need a separate Dropbox account for work and personal, you can use the same one.

Power to the people!

I am meant to be doing something else, but can’t as I have just had the best day for a very long time! I have to write this down so maybe other people can see the value of trust, and so I can remember it in days, weeks and years to come!

Today I went to interview for some new Area Managers in our London office. We have steadily been growing our force for some time, and have now got to a size where Area Managers were necessary. We advertised in all the usual places for such a job, and if we had gone along the normal interview routine, we would have been finished by lunchtime. However…

Today was different. We needed to make sure we got the best possible people from the very high quality candidates who applied. We did three things. We got them all together in a room, and gave them a ‘Survival Challenge’ – you may have heard of this before, and it is an excellent ice-breaker which also shows a lot about the dynamics of a team. Essentially, a plane has crashed in Canada, it is snowing and cold, and you have twelve things to collect before you get out of the plane. There is a right and wrong answer, but no-one who was evaluating the process cared about it. The fascinating thing was to watch how people put themselves forward in a group where no leader had been designated.

At the end of this, we sent people off with a challenge. To come back after the interviews and lunch with a plan. They had to make a commitment, put timescales and resources behind it, and then they would have five minutes to present it.

Next we did the interviews (well, we have to be slightly conformist!).

Now for the presentations. We decided at last minute to keep the presentations on an individual basis (ie not to the rest of the interviewees), as we really wanted to get to the real person. And the results were amazing. Not one of the presentations were bad, and every single one brought forward fresh new ideas. The best thing, and the thing I will remember for a long time, is that we gave each of these people power. We had set no boundaries at all, allowing them to be as creative as they wanted to be, and they were. It was like turning on a lightbulb – they had energy, enthusiasm and zeal. All of them had costed ideas, had worked out what needed to be done and presented back in ways that we would expect an Area Manager to present. As a result, we will have no problem getting three good Area Managers, we are spoilt for choice.

I have always tried to give as much freedom to my staff as possible, and have seen results over the long term. But today, I saw results in hours.

Enable, don't dictate

I was in a school last week and overheard a conversation between two teachers. They were bartering over print credit. One had 20p the other had £1. The one with £1 needed it so when the ICT Coordinator walked in, a fascinating debate ensued. It went something like this…
Teacher: “I only have 20p of printing credit left and two documents to print.”
ICT Coordinator: “you are the teacher who spends most money on printing, do you really need to print them?”
Teacher: “yes”
ICT Coordinator: “ok, I will up your limit”.

Ok, so maybe not word-for-word, but not far off.

A few things struck me about this, but a conversation with @colport this morning and a blog post from Seth Godin that I read this morning (We are all self-employed) crystalised them.

This isn’t necessarily a school based post. It works for business as well. What is the point of setting arbitary limits for such things as printing? I presume (not a great leap of faith) that it come from saving money due to tight budgets.

For my whole career (until I got to Scholastic) I have worked for small companies. The feeling in small companies is different from many others, as a marketing/sales person, if you don’t sell enough, people lose their jobs. There isn’t any messing! But the great thing about small companies is that every single person is a marketing/sales person. From the person on the end of the phone to the guy driving the machinery on site. Everyone does it because they need to, there is a common purpose, everyone is onside. There is no need for arbitrary print limits. I do have to say that Scholastic are pretty good at this too, mainly because they trust people!

Trusting people, empowering them to make their own decisions by giving them a framework to work to, will deliver much better results.

What would happen if someone stood up in a staff meeting and put up the budget for the school/business on the wall and said “look, here is our budget, look how much we spend on printing, if you cut it by 50%, we can do X with the savings, and while you are at it, take a look and see where else you can save…”

It may appear that doing this is passing the buck to the staff from the senior management team. I would call it strong leadership. It also isn’t just a whole lot of words from someone with too much time on his hands, I do this at work now. And it works.

Do you think you can work this way? Is the stress worth 20p? Give it a go, people can surprise you!

Dropbox: the easiest way to get people using web2 tools

Number two in my series of desktop apps that I use – this time Dropbox.

Dropbox is the simplest concept in the world, so simple that quite often people don’t think about it – they just get on with it – and as I discussed in my Evernote post, it is all about workflow.  Dropbox fits into my workflow as if it has always been there.  If you, like me, like evangelising about the myriad of tools you use online, this is the tool to start with. Right, here is the Elevator Pitch (or Granny Pitch as I like to call it!).

How  many memory sticks do you have? Where are they all? Have  you had to go and invest in an external hard drive to carry all your stuff around because memory sticks aren’t big enough to hold everything? Rather than having to put the memory stick into the computer, why not save the file to a folder that saves your work to a space on the web, which you can access at any time?  Well, why not take a look at Dropbox?  It allows you to save files to the web, backup projects, synchronise files with other computers all with security and privacy?  And, you get all of that for free! Tempted? Click on any of the Dropbox links to take a look!

OK – pitch over, how do I use it?  I use it in three ways:

Like a memory stick

Just like a memory stick, you save your file to a folder on your computer (generally called My Dropbox).  In that folder, you have the option of saving it to a public folder or somewhere only you can see.  The vast majority of things are saved to the private area, and I have about nine different folders, and a gazillion files in there – just like your normal file structure!

For file synchronising between two computers

I use a laptop for work, and we have a laptop at home. Making sure that files are available on both machines at all times, is important.  A good example of how this has worked in practice was when Jet was looking for a new job. She would write an application, and I could open it to check it while she worked on another.

For sharing with the world

If you save an item to the public folder and right-click on it, you can copy the ‘public link’ which then allows you to share it in whatever way you want to.  I did this at BETT quite a bit as I had saved the TeachMeet Takeover flyer and presentation there for other people to save down and use.

So, the file is shared on your computer, the home computer and online, which means  you can access your file whenever you have a web connection. The best bit is that it is all free – I haven’t upgraded my account (you can, up to 100GB) but I haven’t the need as yet!

Have fun!