How to Send Big Files to Other People


Here’s probably the simplest and most effective way to share files from your computer with others—without clogging up other people’s email inboxes or having them ask you to resend it because they deleted the email by mistake.

And without having to sign up for an account or anything fiddly. Promise.

First off, go to (pronounced dropeeoh, apparently).

You have the option of customizing the link your file(s) will be stored at: Type in your preferred name until finds one that hasn’t been taken already. Your URL will then be something like


Click on the green button below it to add files.


Select the file from the list (to select more than one file hold down the Control/Command key as you select the files).


Click OK and you’ll see the fuel-gauge-type bar to the right of the green button partly fill. You’re allowed up to 100 megabytes of space.


The next window lets you set a password for other people to enter if they want to view the files. (You don’t have to include a password if you don’t want to.)

You can also choose how long the files will be available for  (from one day to one year.) And you can choose whether others just view the files, can add to them, and whether they can delete them.

Once you’re done with these settings (or have skipped over them) click on the red Drop it button.


The button will change briefly to grey and then to a message indicating your files are uploading.


You’ll see the fuel-gauge bar above change to indicate how far your files have to go before they’re done uploading.


Once the files are ready, you’ll be asked if you want to add another password—this one’s for you, so you can change settings later or delete the files. It’s also optional.


You’re done uploading. The only thing left to do is to let your colleagues/friends/family know the link you’ve sent these files to. (Select the link, right click the mouse and copy it to the clipboard. Paste the link into an email or your chat program, or however you intend to alert others to the files’ existence.)


Free tip(s)

You can easily leave notes for others on the page of files you’ve uploaded—a neat feature that could be helpful. Just click on the Notes link at the top of the page and type your note:


If you use the latest version of the Firefox browser (and if not, why not?) there’s an even easier way to do this (for both Mac and Windows users.) (You can see a screencast of this here.)

Install the Firefox extension (a small piece of code that plugs in to Firefox) and you’ll see a little red dot at the right hand corner of your screen. Drag and drop a file from your desktop or a Windows Explorer/Finder window. You won’t get any pop-up messages, only a moving graphic to indicate the file is being uploaded:


When a Country Goes Dark


Ministers’ homes at the new capital, Pyinmana

Burma has shown us that we’re not as clever, or free, as we thought we are.

It’s a sign of how the Burmese generals don’t really understand things that it took them so long to cut off the Internet:

Reporters without Borders and the Burma Media Association reported that the government cut off all Internet access in the country on Friday morning and they said that all Internet cafes in the country also have been closed. The Web site of the Myanmar Post & Telecommunications, the government-run telecommunications provider, appears to be down.

The Internet was something we didn’t have to help us back in 1988 in covering the uprising. Actually we didn’t have very much: a total of about eight international telephone lines into the country, the official radio which would broadcast once or twice a day, and which we’d monitor courtesy of a weird contraption in a special room that also spewed out garbled copies of the official news agency reports.

We’d spend most of the day in the Bangkok office trying to get a line in, cajoling and sweet-talking the female or male (we knew no shame) operators into trying again, and again, to get a line. When we got a connection we’d ask the person who picked up as many questions as we could, whether it was Aung San Suu Kyi or just some guy who happened to have a telephone. Once a day we’d pick up the monitoring by the U.S. embassy of other official radio broadcasts and pore over them as if they were the Dead Sea Scrolls. Occasionally we’d interview someone who managed to get out; my first ever wire service story was the Dutch ambassador going on the record at Don Muang airport about some of the horrors he’d seen. When we did get into Burma all we had in the office was an ancient telex machine.

Nowadays, 19 years on, there’s more technology out there than we could dream of back then. Not just the Internet: camera phones, mobile phones, satellites, GPS. But I’m also surprised at how little these really help. Burmese have bravely organized demonstrations via cellphone, and sent out information by Internet, but those channels are largely closed now, leaving us to join a Facebook group, wear red, or turn to satellite to try to glean information.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has analyzed satellite photos which it says “pinpoints evidence consistent with village destruction, forced relocations, and a growing military presence at 25 sites across eastern Burma where eyewitnesses have reported human rights violations.” This is more about the continuing (and long-running) war against insurgents and populations in border areas caught up in those wars. But it’s instructive to see their before and after satellite photos, like these ones:


Before-and-after satellite images show the site of an apparent military encampment in Burma on 11 November 2000, (top), and again on 13 December 2006 (bottom), when new bamboo fencing can be seen. The human rights group, Free Burma Rangers, reported a major expansion of this camp in 2006, corroborated by the AAAS analysis of images. (Lat: 18.42 N Long: 97.23 E.)

Credit: Top image: © GeoEye, Inc. Bottom image: © 2007 DigitalGlobe.

The AAAS has a Google Earth layer here to illustrate the before and after. The full report (PDF, big file) is here.

The AAAS is currently collecting satellite images of urban areas to see what it can glean; it reminds me of 1999 in East Timor when satellite imagery showed up some of the destruction cause by the retreating Indonesian army. But such images can do little more than illustrate something that has happened, and not bring to life the actual suffering and abuses on the ground.

Indeed, I’m surprised and a bit disappointed that technology can do so little to pry open a country if its government decides to close it off. We talk about information wanting to be free, but we tend to forget how that information still requires power and a channel in order to escape. Shut off the power, shut off the channel and the information is as much a prisoner as the Burmese people presently are.

AAAS – AAAS News Release

The End of VoIP?

A provocative (or is it prophetic?) piece  from The Register’s Andrew Orlowski who sees the end of Skype and VoIP:

It’s small, it’s boring and won’t turn any heads – but it probably spells the end of the road for Skype, Vonage and any other hopeful independent VoIP companies. It’s Nokia’s 6136 phone, which allows you to make calls over your home or office Wi-Fi network, as well as on a regular cellular network. UMA, or unlicensed mobile access, is the mobile operators’ answer to the threat of VoIP – and now it’s reality.

UMA, he says, has the edge because in one phone you will be able “to keep one phone number, one handset, and receive one bill at the end of every month.” In the future phone calls at home — whether you’re on your mobile, landline or online — will be free. This is a neat fit because where quality was worst — inside — you will be able to use WiFi.

Got a signal yet?

This is not good news of course, for those of us who saw the interesting lunatics taking over the asylum. Disruptive technology, it turns out, means just that it disrupts the monsters out of their slumber and they finally get it. As Orlowski concludes: “So long then VoIP, and thanks for the free calls.”