Image via minbox.pressdoc.com
The unofficial policy here at Upstarter is to not write about interesting new products—that is, until I’ve actually used them. Which is why I’m only coming to you now with my take on Minbox, the new file sending utility for Mac that promises to send large files much more quickly than Dropbox.
Minbox does three main things:
1. Allows you to quickly email a large file to someone via a drag-and-drop action to the menu bar icon.
2. Allows you to control-click any file and instantly create a shareable link that anyone can use to download that file from the web.
3. Allows you to organize images into shareable galleries, like so.
Two nice bonuses go along with these functions: first, it’s fast. Or as one tweeter put it, “Minbox is YouSendIt on speed.” Also, they have a really slick preferences panel that lets you automatically convert large file types such as RAW to the more manageable JPEG format. Ok three nice bonuses: Minbox is available free of charge.
Image via wired.com
So. It turns out that somewhere in those 5,000-word Terms of Service documents we clicked “Agree” on for Facebook, Google and more, somewhere in there, we agreed to share everything we ever did with Uncle Sam. Smarter Upstarter does not have an official opinion on Ed Snowden or the NSA or prisms, but I can tell you that this past week has turned my attention toward some alternative forms of internet search.
Blekko: “Privacy of searchers shall not be violated.” That’s rule #10 in Blekko’s Web Search Bill of Rights. The well-financed search engine company just updated its search results layout last month.
DuckDuckGo — It’s been over a year since we covered DDG on the Insider, and they’ve received a lot of nice press in the wake of PrivacyGate 2013.
Gibiru — Believe it or not, it’s the number one result for the Google search of “Anonymous Search Engine”. Bonus: they’ve got a great explanation of what happens when you search the Bings and Googles of the world.
Image via Melon
You’ve skimmed your Twitter feed, updated your Clash of Clans army, deleted the day’s junk mail, and had your morning coffee hangout in the office kitchen. Alas, it may be time to throw on the earbuds and actually get some work done. If you’re like me, the music selection will probably be something along the lines of some soft house or other nondescript genre. Focus@will is a new iOS app that’s offering to do a bit more with your office soundtrack. Using what they claim is “neuroscience based music”, Focus@will can increase your attention span up to 400% by playing specially-designed soundtracks. Test the results with a three week free trial.
If you’re really into self-optimization, you may want to jump on the Melon Kickstarter project. Melon is an EEG-measuring headband and mobile app that tracks and helps you understand focus. Don’t know about you, but I think I’d be afraid to find out my results.
Image via Etch
People are doing really terrific things with Foursquare’s mountain of personal historical location data. I have no idea how I came across Etch, but it’s one of the most creative projects I’ve seen using the 4SQ API. Simply put, Etch creates a lovely data visualization of your Foursquare checkins and then prints it onto art-quality paper stock.
This is Etch, explained in 4 steps:
1) Go to Etch.cc and connect your Foursquare account.
2) Choose a city—currently San Francisco, Portland, or NY. Keep in mind you don’t necessarily have to live in any of these places, you just need to have visited enough times to rack up a good collection of Foursquare checkins.
3) Choose a color palette. I love the names of these, BTW.
4) Choose a “placemarker”, a kind of home base that you want to highlight on the map. This is optional.
Etch is really just an experiment right now, but if things go well they plan on adding more data sources to create even richer maps.
Image via Vimeo
Did you know that military veterans who shop on Overstock.com get free shipping, 5% rewards earnings on every purchase, and free membership in the “O Club”? Similar discounts exist for vets using Regal Cinemas, Shutterfly, and many other online retailers. How do these merchants verify that the customer is an active or retired member of the military? With the help of a really great web tool called Troop ID.
Troop ID allows any service member to create one unique login identity that they can use with any participating website to verify their military ID. With Troop ID, online merchants can offer special benefits to members of the American military without having to worry about fraud. Troop ID has simple developer page with OAuth implementation and API endpoints to make it easy for any website to offer a little something extra for those who serve. God Bless America!
Image via Grubstreet
For a lot of Upstarters, getting food during the day is less about having a nice meal out and more about making sure you don’t pass out at your desk from low blood sugar. For that reason, food trucks are wildly popular in Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, and pretty much everywhere else people are working hard these days. But they have their drawbacks: long lines, some don’t take credit cards, and it’s not always obvious where to find your favorite meal on wheels.
Where there’s friction, there’s a startup idea. EAT Club is a food delivery service that’s been around for a couple of years, and now they’ve got their own food truck that’s doing things a bit differently. Download their app, select your lunch from that day’s menu, get notified when the EAT Club bus is near your office, and go pick up your grub. No waiting in line, and payment is exchanged through the app.
Image via Asus
Since the inception of Smarter Upstarter we’ve never mentioned Asus. And that is obviously our oversight because hello world’s smallest portable router! For the cost of a fancy USB 3.0 flash drive, ASUS brings us a pocket WiFi router that connects to any standard ethernet cable and then broadcasts internet all up in your hotel room, airport lounge, and/or anywhere else you’d like your own private, secure internet hookup.
Hotels and airlines that charge for internet often allow only one device to connect with your purchase. The WL-330NUL bypasses all that. Just plug it into your connected laptop, and it’ll rebroadcast the signal for use on your smartphone or tablet. Finally, lots of smaller laptops like the MacBook Air don’t even have ethernet ports. The ASUS can serve as a simple adapter for these machines if you need to be hardwired. Add this little guy to your list of possible Father’s Day gifts.
Image via Dunked
Basic programming knowledge is a decidedly good skill to have these days, but sometimes you need to build something for yourself without the requisite two weeks muddling through tutorials and GitHub repositories. For the designers out there looking to get a digital portfolio together fast, allow me to introduce Dunked.
Similar to the About.me’s of the world, Dunked allows you to upload your artwork to a pre-designed template, then simply drag and drop things around to your liking. If you want to tweak your own CSS, it’s no problem. Dunked even hosts the site free of charge. The really cool stuff under the hood is device compatibility: Dunked makes sure your site looks good on any mobile device, be it iOS or Android, retina or…what did we call screens before retina?
A good sign: Dunked launched just last month and already has 8K+ Twitter followers.
Image via Justin Beere
If you’ve recently jumped on the cloud storage bandwagon with the likes of Google Drive or Dropbox, you owe it to yourself to understand the single greatest misconception about cloud storage: files you sync to Drive or Dropbox do not live exclusively on some remote drive in Oregon; they still reside on your physical hard drive. A cloud-based service isn’t meant to replace your local storage. Rather, it’s meant to allow your stuff to automatically reside locally on multiple devices.
It doesn’t necessarily have to work like this, exactly. You also owe it to yourself to understand the single best-kept secret of cloud storage: selective storage. You can tell these cloud services to keep certain files exclusively in the cloud, and in doing so protect some valuable hard drive space. Super easy to do in both Dropbox and Google Drive.
Image via Pizza Compass
The only question when it comes to pizza is how to make it easier to acquire. Domino’s took a giant leap forward with the Pizza Tracker®, which, scandalously, has never appeared on the cover of WIRED. Though IT Girl has a point that they may have have gone a little too far with it.
The next step is mobile, and for that we now have Pizza Compass. Next time you’re in need of on-the-go sustenance, skip the Google and Yelp searches and go straight to the compass. The app’s tongue-in-cheek execution notwithstanding (“a life-affirming iPhone app that helps pizza get to your mouth”), it’s worth noting that Pizza Compass provides reviews of the pizza joints it lists. Those reviews aren’t powered by Yelp, but rather by their fast-approaching competitor Foursquare. Interesting.