Thursday, June 14, 2012

Accounting Software & Cloud Storage

Browsing the other night I saw a couple of site that could be of interest.
Wave accounting is a free online accounting tool for small businesses. It seemed like it would be a good option for freelance work. It also integrates personal accounting into the features – something that would be even more helpful for freelance work. I do very little freelancing & use Mint for personal finance – but this tool would be something I would look for if I needed to do more invoicing or tracking for business reasons.

Also, I think I have mentioned that I have been using drop box and like it for sharing files between devices and with other people. Sugar Sync also offers that service and has a 5 free GB account (Drop box starts lower but allows you to earn more space). And of course there are a few others too: Google Drive, iCloud (though really just for apple devices) Box, Carbonite and Mozy, and Miscrosoft’s Skydrive.


Trees…. There are probably as many different ways to fabricate them as there are people fabricating them… Many years ago for a theatre production we took a piece of steel, bent it and covered with plywood and fabric, then muslin & glue to create birch trees. The edges of the muslin “peeled” off in a very realist looking way – but we were only recreating trunks of the trees. Otherwise, I have seen muslin, foam, chicken wire, cnc cut and nested, foam coat, sculptorcoat, supper 88, hardcoat and polygem all used to create trees – and virtually any other sculptural shape. Plus, I have seen many “recipes” for bark usually containing some mixture of glue or binder with sawdust or shavings. One of these days, perhaps we will all get together and try all of the materials at once and be able to compare the products to each other. Until that happens, I wanted to bookmark a few additional resources about trees and sculpting material on Poly Gem’s resource pages.
How To build a tree is their first offering, followed by a page of tips. They refer to using a press mold which EHow has an article on.

In terms of buying out fake bark, take a look at:
Flex Bark
Quality Silks (also for branches and foliage)
Commercial Silk (also for leaves)
Retail Display and Props
Earth Flora
Faux Stone Sheets also sells Flex Bark, a seemingly popular brand of fake tree bark.
Van Dykes Taxidermy offers pieces more suited for props. There are also other taxidermy supply sources that sell similarly sized small pieces of fake bark.

There is also several patents that are online regarding fabricating trees and making tree bark:
Peter J. Fritsch et al
from 1939.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

File Transfering Services

Last week, under the gun to get out of the office, I was faced with an issue that routinely comes up at my office; how to send someone a large file. This seems like a fairly simple issue, yet is an ongoing problem. My work email is limited to 10MB (basically nothing in today’s data world). Online accounts may go up to 20 MG if you use your personal mail, but my file was about half a gig. We have an FTP site, which doesn’t well, and I have dealt with other companies trying to send info that also have unreliable ftp sites. In a world where we stream video, where music sharing is so easy it is illegal, while is sending a work file so complicated? So while the work crunch has ended, I thought it may be time to look up a few options to have on hand next time something comes up. free trial, large sizes. Personal use is 5 gigs free, you can keep docs online. Has solutions for business and enterprise, but I didn’t see prices listed. was the place I was about to go when I found a solution elsewhere. Seems like you can send 50MB for free and you have 2 GB of storage. They also have pro, proplus, workstream and a pay as you go option. has a variety of sized plans available starting at 5 GB sent per month, with 25GB storage with 1 user. It starts at about 10 bucks per month. www.sendthisfile has a free option for 2GB transfers, but does not include storage. It has 5 additional plans, going up to $600 a month for unlimited users, unlimited file sizes, business customization and many more options. has a free plan with 300 MD file sizes, and includes ads. They have two other options, but neither alow business customization the way that some of the above does. I have also been using Dropbox - it has been nice to be able to easily transfer files from one device to another without using a thumb drive - and the files also go to my phone and IPod. It has an option to share a folder / file as well. It starts with 2 gigs free, but you can gain memory space in a variety of ways or purchase a plan with more storage. Obviously this is a partial list – but one that would make my next file much easier to send. The bigger issue really is that in the age of technology, file sharing is a pretty typical work function & one that should be addressed, easily, by the technology employed within your job. I don’t work in a company that has a tight IT policy, but there are many business that do, and sidestepping their IT policy to use an outside service might not go over very well.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Collaborative Technology Links

I am wrapping up the course I am taking in collaboration technologies and have gathered some more links to share. The course was interesting. Less about specific technologies that I expected, but much broader than I expected. I do wish that we would ahve used more of the different types of software available, yet understand that as technology changes so quickly that in the long run, that may be a limited view. I was surprised by some of the topics in teh class - for instance the last week included generational differences in technolgy use. So to the links: Hippo Center has a PM blog that has some interesting posts. I stumbled upon it looking for software evaluation criteria, but read other posts on the site as well. This is a Wiki comparison of project management software. There is really alot out there so determining what your needs are and narrowing down your options to just a couple that can be tested is an inportant step to choosing technology. Once you move out of the realm of email and Google Docs, you start being out of the comfort range of some - and into a wide range of options that can be tricky to navagate. While this wikiisn't comprehnsive, it is a good palce to start. Bright Hub is a bit random - the blog covers a huge amount of different types of articles. However it does cover project management topics and a variety of other topics that kept me occupied for a while.