Dropbox now has 275 million users, most of them consumers who use the service to store their personal files and images. But it’s precisely its popularity at home that could help Dropbox at work, as the company pushes out its latest Dropbox for Business update on Wednesday.
All Work And All Play
Last November, Dropbox announced some long-awaited updates to Dropbox for Business. The most crucial one was a tweak to Dropbox’s familiar, simple interface: In place of the single desktop file folder labeled “Dropbox,” business users would find two folders, one labeled “Personal” and one named after their employer.
Those updates are now live. Dropbox users whose workplace has paid for the service can share pictures, videos, documents and other files, switching between work and personal files without having to juggle two accounts. At the same time, their employers can manage their work files without touching their personal files.
In the past, Dropbox customers had to switch accounts, use kludges like Chrome’s incognito browsing mode, or just mix together personal and business files. While it seems obvious that people might want to share all kinds of files with Dropbox, accommodating this scenario was actually quite a technical problem for the company. It required a full-scale rebuild, according to Ilya Fushman, head of Dropbox for Business.
That rebuild frees up Dropbox to build new features, while keeping most of the simplicity Dropbox is known for. In the place of one folder for all your files, there are now two.
Its rollout comes at a critical time. While Dropbox retails storage services to consumers and businesses, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are slashing prices for wholesale storage. In the short term, this seems like it should be good for Dropbox, dropping the price it must pay Amazon and other service providers for storage and bandwidth. In the long run, though, it seems inevitable that those savings will get passed on to consumers, challenging Dropbox’s pricing.
Box, a Dropbox competitor who recently filed to go public, is emphasizing its collaboration features and industry-specific apps built on its platform. Meanwhile, Google and Microsoft have their own Dropbox competitors, Google Drive and OneDrive, which they are weaving closely into their own suites of online apps.
Dropbox’s account-linking strategy takes full advantage of its biggest asset—its 275 million users, whose ubiquity is a big reason why it’s worked its way into businesses in the first place. People use the tool they’re familiar with in the workplace, and when they need to share with contractors, partners, or other outsiders, the odds are good that they, too, have a Dropbox account.
All those consumer accounts—most of them free—still have value for Dropbox. They are word-of-mouth marketing for the brand and built-in leads for its salesforce. That’s why Dropbox is a prime example of how a consumer-friendly tool can work its way into businesses.
Still, some workplaces ban Dropbox, fear that files will leak out through it. Can Dropbox find its way into these locked-down environments with complex security requirements?
It already has in some cases. Here are some of the features Dropbox has rolled out, in the hope of getting a slice of the IT budgets currently going to giants like IBM and Microsoft:
- Remote wipe: Systems administrators can automatically wipe a business account if they think the account may be compromised—just the business files, leaving personal files untouched.
- Downloadable audit logs: Customers can have more visibility into who is sharing which documents. Those logs can then be put into an analytics system like Splunk for deeper probing.
- Account transfer: Turnover is a fact of business. Account transfer—a feature already seen in Google Drive—moves files from an ex-employee to a current employee.
Even with these new features, Dropbox faces an uphill battle in courting businesses against Box and Microsoft, which have more feet on the street calling on large businesses.
Microsoft is the real power when it comes to documents, thanks to its Office suite, where so many work documents begin. Office is increasingly tied into OneDrive, the company’s file-sharing and -storage service.
It seems unlikely that Dropbox will hire a large army of salespeople to respond. It still has more jobs listed for engineers than for salespeople—and its sales openings include titles like “sales engineer” and “solutions architect.” While others sell, sell, sell their products, the updates to Dropbox for Business represents a bet that the company can engineer its way to customers’ hearts—at home, and at the office.
Really terrible Photoshop, for which he apologizes, by Owen Thomas for ReadWrite
Are you a web programmer? These free ebooks could give you a lot of useful information on your trade. Learning the tricks of the trade and reading about innovative ideas makes you a better web programmer. So, read on..
1. Heroku: Up and Running: Build, deploy, and manage applications in the cloud with Heroku, one of the first PaaS platforms to offer sophisticated hosting and development services. With this book, you’ll learn how to use Heroku’s Cedar runtime stack, a polyglot platform with native support for several languages and frameworks, including Ruby, Python, Node.js, Java, and more.
2. Single Page Apps In Depth: This free book is the book I would have wanted when I started working with single page apps. It’s not an API reference on a particular framework, rather, the focus is on discussing patterns, implementation choices and decent practices.
3. Developing Web Applications with Haskell and Yesod: This fast-moving guide introduces web application development with Haskell and Yesod, a potent language/framework combination that supports high-performing applications that are modular, type-safe, and concise. You’ll work with several samples to explore the way Yesod handles widgets, forms, persistence, and RESTful content. You also get an introduction to various Haskell tools to supplement your basic knowledge of the language.
4. Java Web Programming with Eclipse: The purpose of the book is to introduce students to web application development in Java with the use of Eclipse. It provides instructions on how to construct solutions to various problems. The book assumes a familiarity with HTML and the Java programming language.
5. Exploring Lift: This book will educate you about Lift, a great framework for building compelling web applications. Lift is designed to make powerful techniques easily accessible, while keeping the overall framework simple and flexible. Lift makes it fun to develop because it lets you focus on the interesting parts of coding. By the end of this book, you’ll be able to create and extend any web application you can think of.
6. The Woork Handbook: The Woork Handbook is a free eBook about CSS, HTML, Ajax, web programming, Mootools, Scriptaculous and other topics about web design. The book contains articles with code sections, images, illustrations and links to original contents.
7. HTTP Programming Recipes for Java Bots: The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) allows information to be exchanged between a web server and a web browser. Java allows you to program HTTP directly. HTTP programming allows you to create programs that access the web much like a human user would. These programs, which are called bots, can collect information or automate common web programming tasks. This book presents a collection of very reusable recipes for Java bot programming.
8. Super Awesome Advanced CakePHP Tips: Super Awesome Advanced CakePHP Tips is free e-book about the CakePHP Framework. It covers topics that are generally missed in the beginner books that are on the market. This book isn’t meant for people wanting to learn CakePHP, use it if you want to improve your CakePHP skills.
9. Getting Real: The Smarter, Faster, Easier Way to Build a Successful Web Application: Getting Real details the business, design, programming, and marketing principles of 37signals. The book is packed with keep-it-simple insights, contrarian points of view, and unconventional approaches to software design. This is not a technical book or a design tutorial, it’s a book of ideas. Anyone working on a web app — including entrepreneurs, designers, programmers, executives, or marketers — will find value and inspiration in this book. 37signals used the Getting Real process to launch five successful web-based applications (Basecamp, Campfire, Backpack, Writeboard, Ta-da List), and Ruby on Rails, an open-source web application framework, in just two years with no outside funding, no debt, and only 7 people (distributed across 7 time zones). Over 500,000 people around the world use these applications to get things done. Now you can find out how they did it and how you can do it too. It’s not as hard as you think if you Get Real.
10. Web Client Programming with Perl: Web Client Programming with Perl shows you how to extend scripting skills to the Web. This book teaches you the basics of how browsers communicate with servers and how to write your own customized Web clients to automate common tasks. It is intended for those who are motivated to develop software that offers a more flexible and dynamic response than a standard Web browser.
11. Sun Certified Web Component Developer (SCWCD) Study Guide: The following document was put together as a guide to study for the Sun Certified Web Component Developer Exam. It is intended to filter the important (potentially tested) parts from the Jsp and Servlet specification and not as an all-encompassing guide on how to pass every possible question on the exam.
Facebook has just announced a slight tweak to the Newsfeed algorithm. The newest version of the Newsfeed will show fewer text-based status updates from Pages, but will serve more text-based status updates from users.
The good news for Pages administrators is that Facebook will probably be distributing more status updates from Pages that are media- or link-based, as opposed to text-based.
According to a blog post, Facebook learned through testing that, the more simple, text-only status updates people see, the more they share. In fact, the initial test resulted in an average of 9 million more status updates written every day.
However, a text-only status update from Pages didn’t yield the same result as text status updates from regular users. Knowing this, Facebook has decided to pull back on text updates from Pages.
So what should Page administrators do to make up for the traffic?
Aside from the obvious switch to more media- and link-based content sharing, Facebook recommends using the link share tool rather than embedding a link in the text of the update, as it provides a more rich media experience for the consumer.
Last month, Facebook made changes to the feed that showed more links, likely an attempt to battle other news discovery tools. Of course, rumors suggest that tweaking the newsfeed is just a battle in the war on news discovery apps, as the social network is planning to launcha Flipboard-like newspaper competitor in the near future.
Here’s a copy of the announcement:
The goal of every update to News Feed is to show people the most interesting stories at the top of their feed and display them in the best way possible. We regularly run tests to work out how to make the experience better. Through testing, we have found that when people see more text status updates on Facebook they write more status updates themselves. In fact, in our initial test when we showed more status updates from friends it led to on average 9 million more status updates written each day. Because of this, we showed people more text status updates in their News Feed.
Over time, we noticed that this effect wasn’t true for text status updates from Pages. As a result, the latest update to News Feed ranking treats text status updates from Pages as a different category to text status updates from friends. We are learning that posts from Pages behave differently to posts from friends and we are working to improve our ranking algorithms so that we do a better job of differentiating between the two types. This will help us show people more content they want to see. Page admins can expect a decrease in the distribution of their text status updates, but they may see some increases in engagement and distribution for other story types.
Many Page owners often ask what kind of content they should post. This is difficult to answer, as it depends on who your audience is and what they want to see.
Still, one thing we’ve observed is that when some Pages share links on Facebook, they do so by embedding the link in the status update, like the one below:
The best way to share a link after this update will be to use a link-share, so it looks like the one below. We’ve found that, as compared to sharing links by embedding in status updates, these posts get more engagement (more likes, comments, shares and clicks) and they provide a more visual and compelling experience for people seeing them in their feeds.
There’s tons of advice out there about how exactly to answer interview questions, what to wear to that interview and how to follow-up afterwards, but what if you’re having trouble even getting your foot in the door? For many people, it isn’t a lack of experience, education or training that is keeping them from getting a call back — or these days, an e-mail back. Instead, it often comes down to how you’re presenting yourself via your resume.
As Co-Founder of HireArt, I see hundreds of resumes day. The biggest mistake I see is people overstuffing their resumes, trying to cram every single activity, skill or job they have ever had onto one page instead of focusing on creating a coherent story. Just recently I was reviewing as 12-page resume that started out with the following:
“My skills include marketing, social media, project management, accounting, tax law, labor law, financial management, sales strategy, 6 Sigma, operational effectiveness, ad operations and software sales. I’ve also published two novels and took a few months off to write a poetry book last spring.”
While it might seem tempting to list every skill you have ever acquired, there are actually a few profound disadvantages to this approach.
Employers won’t remember anything if you try to focus on everything. If you list a long list of skills, an employer likely won’t recall any of them. It’s simply impossible to form a mental image if you present yourself as a lawyer, marketer and venture capitalist all in one. Which is it? Pick the one that is most important to you and emphasize it throughout your resume.
Having a clear narrative is a huge advantage. I recently interviewed a candidate for a sales position. Within the first three minutes of the conversation he said, “I live and breathe sales. I love everything about selling.” He spent the next 15 minutes telling me about his different sales roles and why he had excelled at them. As a hiring manager, this really appealed to me — he had a neat narrative that made me believe that he’d excel at the sales job I was hiring for. I later learned that he’d actually done a lot of things other than sales in his life, but he hadn’t focused on those things initially. His resume was sparse and though he didn’t skip his other roles, they just weren’t emphasized. The moral of the story is this: Why do I need to know you’re a great tax accountant if I’m hiring a sales person? It dilutes your narrative and makes me nervous about the sincerity of your passion for sales.
Resumes that exceed two pages are considered unprofessional. There is a lot of advice about resumes out there. If you’re applying for a job at a technology company or corporation, it’s very clear: employers really dislike long resumes. From Facebook to General Assembly down to tiny start-ups, not a single one of company would want you to submit a long resume. Being succinct is among the most important skills for a job applicant.
If you want to impress an employer, it’s much better to show than tell. The most underused trick of the trade is simply to show the employer why you’re good instead of writing an endless resume. One candidate I worked with created a product management portfolio with wireframes and product ideas for each company he was truly interested in. Another candidate, who ultimately got hired, helped the VP of Business Development get a meeting at Stanford Hospital before she was even hired. Seeing someone do excellent work is worth 1000x more than seeing a 12-page resume claiming excellence with no proof.
Finally, a lengthy or unfocused resume smells of desperation. Remember that guy you went on a date who couldn’t stop telling you how good he was at everything? You probably only went on one date with him. Being “good at everything” seems like a lie (even if it’s true!) and it’s unattractive. Don’t forget that landing a job is not that different from landing a date. You want to say just enough to get the hiring manager interested, but not so much that they become overwhelmed.
Before you apply for your next job ask yourself: who am I? Or rather, who am I in the context of this job application? Tailor your resume to tell a story that is so compelling that they’ll want to meet you to hear more.
Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.
Mashable Job Board Listings
The Mashable Job Board connects job seekers across the U.S. with unique career opportunities in the digital space. While we publish a wide range of job listings, we have selected a few job opportunities from the past two weeks to help get you started. Happy hunting!
With the announced acquisition of Nokia’s mobile devices unit for $7.2 billion, Microsoft is positively plowing its way to becoming the devices and services company it feels it must become in order to survive.
But as it stands right now, there seems to be very little chance that Microsoft will survive as anything close to its present state. Microsoft is either beginning a journey that will see it split into at least two companies, or risking the alienation of its existing enterprise and smaller-business customers.
The inclusion of Nokia’s handset business into Microsoft makes sense when looked at from a consumer perspective. After all, both Apple and Google are already playing on variations of the same theme: IT companies that provide end-to-end services that are owned up and down the stack. Apple and Google own the software ecosystems and either own the hardware or, in Google’s case, licenses the software stack to hardware vendors so that Android phones are compatible enough to run Android apps.
Microsoft, which has long been the behemoth horizontal company the provided the operating system layer and some really valuable parts of the application layer to all sectors—consumers to enterprise—will not be expected to pivot 90 degrees to become a more vertically oriented end-to-end vendor.
Much has been said about Microsoft’s ability to make this pivot and become the third part of such a consumer-facing triad, particularly given the rampant non-success of Windows Phone devices in the market to date. But let’s assume, for a moment, that Microsoft can pull it off, and a more focused Nokia-Microsoft synergy actually starts to gain traction in the marketplace.
Here’s my question: where does that leave enterprise customers?
Bring Our Own What?
The message to enterprise customers and channel partners to date has been pretty straightforward: let’s move everything to the cloud. Running apps on Windows server? Move it to the Windows Azure cloud. Building docs and spreadsheets with Office? Migrate yourself right over to Office 365.
From Microsoft’s point of view, getting business customers aligned to the cloud is a better option. There’s money to be made and a cloud-services architecture fits much more neatly with the end-to-end business model they are shooting for than client-server architecture.
There are two big problems with that line of thinking. First, there are a lot of enterprises that are not entirely convinced that cloud is the way to go for them, even private clouds. Second—and even more troublesome—there are a lot of businesses who have spent years and millions of dollars building an IT support infrastructure that is centered around the client-server model. Asking them to stand by while Microsoft tries to pivot and hopefully does not leave them hanging for support or tries to shove unneeded solutions down their throat is a huge risk for Microsoft to take.
Recall, for a moment, how much resistance app developers and device makers are seeing to implement bring-your-own-device policies now. And that’s with mature software and devices that are selling like hotcakes. Microsoft will have to innovate like crazy to push past the business inertia that’s holding BYOD as a safe business process back.
The push to cloud services is especially ironic. For the past couple of years, Microsoft’s marketing team has had loads of fun taking potshots at Google Docs, deriding it in ads as Google’s attempt to “beta test” productivity services. Now, Microsoft is asking companies to forget all those points about security, stability and regulation compliance and trust Office 365 in the cloud anyway.
Microsoft is betting all of its future that enterprise customers will go along with these changes like willing sheep. That characterization is wildly inaccurate: businesses large and small demonstrated through their refusal to abandon Windows XP that just because Microsoft says something is cool and useful, doesn’t always make it so.
Windows 8 is even more of a mental hurdle, because anyone with half a brain can see this is Windows for devices and no one gets real work done on devices.
So, in all of that, where is the attraction for enterprises to stick with Microsoft?
Cleaving Microsoft Apart
I am not alone in this line of thinking. Since the Labor Day announcement of the Nokia buy, there have been a lot of rumors from people in and outside of Microsoft that foresee a day coming soon when Microsoft will have to split itself in two.
One company will carry the Devices group that includes the recently picked-up Nokia, as well as other device services like Xbox. Call this the “digital lifestyles” company.
The other company will be the “enterprise” company, which will hold the Windows Azure, Windows, Office and SharePoint businesses and anything else that faces business users.
Breaking up Microsoft into two entities will leave the enterprise company free to do what should have been going on all along: innovate for the business users, not the device users. Besides enabling such innovation, such a company would also ease the minds of IT managers who are now wondering how they will have to adapt to Microsoft’s continuing allegiance to devices and services.
Because there are a lot of services companies out there, and by pivoting to become another such service vendor, Microsoft has thrown the door wide open for competitors to step in and show nervous enterprise customers the services they have been doing all along, sometimes at a better price and with better results.
If Microsoft does not do something along these lines to assure enterprise customers it has their best interests at heart, then it will have effectively abandoned them to chase a dream many businesses are not yet ready to follow.
Ready to start marketing your new company, product or brand? Before you create a blog, draft content for your brand-spanking-new website or start tweeting, first define your “brand voice.”
In a nutshell, this is the heart and soul of your communications. More than specific words and phrases, your brand voice is the tone in which you speak to and connect with your audience.
Your voice can be authoritative, informative, fun or just plain witty, but regardless, it must beauthentic. As one blogger wrote, “trying to fake your voice is like putting lipstick on a pig.” In other words, your audience will be able to tell if it’s not genuine. And, as studies have shown throughout the years, consumers buy products from brands that they connect to on an emotional level — and stay away from brands that they don’t.
If you’re already familiar with your brand voice, you can skip this stop. Otherwise, we’ve outlined four practices to bring you closer to finding your secret sauce.
1. Build Archetypes
As you work on nailing down your voice, it’s helpful to know who you’re talking to — beyond your audience’s basic demographics. Pick one person from each of your target audiences (e.g., working parents, college students or urban hipsters) and answer the following questions:
- What does he or she look like?
- What does he or she care about?
- Where does he or she work?
- What does he or she do for fun?
- And, most importantly, what does he or she want from your brand?
Getting into the heads of the people you’re ultimately trying to woo is a great way to get started thinking about your brand voice.
2. Fill in the Blank
Now, spend a bit of time answering the following questions:
- I want my brand to make people feel _______.
- _______ makes me feel this way.
- I want people to _______ when they come into contact with my brand.
- Three words that describe my brand are _______ , _______ and _______.
- I want to mimic the brand voice of _______.
- I dislike brand voices that sound _______.
- Interacting with my clients and potential clients makes me feel _______.
Because you want your brand voice to be genuine and natural, it will likely be inspired by yourown voice. So pay attention to the tone you use when you’re filling in these blanks. Is it funny? Laugh-out-loud funny or wink-and-a nod funny? Is it authoritative? Scholarly authoritative, or like an older brother explaining something really cool to his younger brother authoritative?
3. Create a Test Group
In life, our friends and family can often reflect back the things we sometimes miss about ourselves. You can use the same approach when looking for your brand voice.
Get a bunch of your closest people together — ideally, ones that represent your target community — and ask what excites them most about your brand. What’s unique about it? What words or phrases do they associate with it? Then, ask them to answer the same questions about you — the person who will be crafting that brand’s messages.
Based on their feedback, write a one-to-two sentence mission statement in a few different brand voices. Which one feels the most natural to you? Which one do you think is the most exciting? Don’t be afraid to combine parts of them and to keep working on your final product. Finding your brand voice is often like cooking: Sometimes you need a little splash of this and a little pinch of that to make it perfect.
Once you have a couple options you love, send them around to the group and see which resonates the most.
4. Find Your Muse
Once you have an idea of what you’re going for, it can be helpful to find other brands who have similar voices. Need a little inspiration? Check out these industry-spanning brands, both old and new. Some have witty brand voices, others have informative brand voices, but all are approachable and genuine.
Manhattan Mini Storage: They’re right in the heads of their target audience, New Yorkers — and built their voice around the shared issues and experiences this community can understand, laugh at and relate to.
Frank’s Red Hot: This hot sauce brand’s tagline is “We Put That Sh*t On Everything.” Need we say more?
Nike: The company that coined “Just Do It” has built its brand voice around inspiring people both on and off the field.
Whole Foods: Whole Foods is the holy grail of all things healthy living, thanks to its authoritative yet approachable voice.
Charmin: The Charmin team has built its voice around giggle-worthy bathroom humor without going over the top. To get an idea of their sense of humor, search the hashtag#tweetfromtheseat.
GE: GE’s brand voice is like a mole sauce; it’s got a little bit of everything. It’s inspiring, it’s informative, it’s witty, it’s fun. And because it’s been so successful in connecting with its audience, it’s trusted.
Popchips: Reading Popchips’ Twitter feed is like hanging out with my super fun, life-of-the-party friend. Take the brand’s sixth anniversary campaign: “Let’s talk about six, baby.”
Once you’ve got your brand voice down, keep it consistent. You want people who follow you on Tumblr, visit your website and interact with your customer service department to have the same (memorable) experience. In order to do so, build a style guide describing your brand and its voice and distribute it to your team. Or host an event to introduce the brand voice, answer any questions people have, and create a plan to implement it across your platforms.
And then? Time to start talking.