Archive for August 10th, 2012

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My Favorite Friday #3

August 10, 2012

This post is all about the file synchronization system that saved my sanity this previous year: SugarSync.

All of my materials are on computer. If it’s not something I created, I either recreate it or scan it in (I’m OCD enough that I usually recreate it). Here’s the problem: I have a desktop computer at home, a desktop computer at school (which is connected to a district network drive), and a netbook computer that I like to use sitting on the couch. Keeping files and file versions straight across those machines has periodically driven me crazy. When I was only teaching Geometry, I could keep up with everything by being vigilant about moving files back and forth on a thumb drive.

Then, I started developing and teaching Algebra III. Now I had two subjects to keep in sync. I’m pretty sure it was Shawn Cornally who mentioned SugarSync, but I can’t find where he might have written about it. In any event, that software has made my life a whole lot easier.

Here’s how it works. Sign up at www.sugarsync.com, and you get 5 GB of storage for free. Install their File Manager on each computer you want to sync, and it puts a folder called “Magic Briefcase” in your “My Documents” folder (if you have a PC) on each of these computers. (I don’t know how it works for Macs.)

My “teaching” folder on my home computer is primary — all of my files reside there. SugarSync’s File Manager lets me access any of these files, edit them, and save them. The only drawback of the software is that my computer will not treat the File Manager’s files as a separate drive — for example, when I am creating a new file at school in Word, I can’t save it directly to my computer at home. There are a couple of ways around that. Since I have lots of hard drive storage at school, I can save the file as usual, and then copy it to my home computer using File Manager. A second way (and the method I usually use) is to save the file to the Magic Briefcase folder on whichever computer I am using. I can then copy it from there to my home computer and then delete it out of Magic Briefcase. Any file in Magic Briefcase is copied to every computer on which you have installed File Manager.

Since I have started using this system, I have never had to worry about where a file had gotten to, or which computer I saved it on. I haven’t had to transfer files back and forth on a thumb drive, or worry about losing the thumb drive. In addition, because SugarSync is also web-based, I can access my files from any computer with a browser (I just can’t save changes without File Manager).

One of the keys to being an effective teacher is organization, and this software helps me stay organized. I adore it.

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