Wednesday, August 25, 2004

GeekStuff: OS X Software: FileChute

I stumbled upon FileChute

This looks like a really nice alternative way of attaching files to e-mail. Instead, it would appear FileChute uploads the file to some online account you may already have, and includes a URL reference to that file in an email you're composing.

I really really like this idea. In fact, EarthLink should integrate such a feature in their software.

I've just downloaded and tried it with my EarthLink account, and it worked very well: Upon launching the application, you are greeted by a welcome screen. At the bottom of that screen, click set-up. Choose the type of account, in my case, "EarthLink". Enter the username and password, and you're done.

What you'll likely want to do is drag FileChute's icon to your Dock. After having set-up the application, I was trying to drag files anywhere in that window, and it wouldn't do anything, a minor usability gripe the authors might want to address.

From this point, you can drag any file to the FileChute icon. This will compress and "copy" the file onto your online storage, in my case, my EarthLink FTP account. You can then control-click, or right-click on the "link box", to compose an email with a link to the file you've just placed online.

This is really quite cool.


Big D said...

Linking to the material has it's own problems.

Problem 1: I use this a lot and I fill up my server with a bunch of crud. This may take a while, but it isn't infinite space. This is relatively easy to fix. Their app ought to help you delete stuff from the server when it gets too full or the material is too old.

Problem 2: How do I know the recipient actually has the material? When I email it to him, it shows up in his mailbox as an attachment. That makes it his responsibility to deal with it by saving it or deleting it. If, for example, I send you a link to a picture, you may just look at it and save the mail message and not the image. Now you try to look at it a couple weeks later and I've already deleted it from my server.

Problem 3: Old email messages no longer make sense. Even if I do save a copy of the data off the server, the context of email message is gone. I send you an email message saying "Hey this is a great picture of our friend froggy" You save a copy of the image and the email. Now you come back six months later but you have no way of knowing which picture on your hard disk goes with the discussion in the email.

Many people keep old email as a record of past events. They can search them later and figure out who they talked to about what. That's a big part of the presime of GMail. Everything you do is saved in a big pool and easily searchable. If you disassociate the attachment from the email you've seriously damaged that archive.

Chris Holland said...

well i did say "alternative" to attaching files in emails, not "replacement".

It all depends on what it is you want to send, and to whom. I can think of a few use cases where this utility would be most handy.

Say you have a 5MB funny movie u ripped off the web. Generally people find it a good idea to email that funny movie to everyone they know. That can't make their ISP's SMTP server too happy. And I don't know about you but I personally hate receiving large files in my inbox, I'm not always on a broadband connection, or my bandwidth might be tied-up for something else. And with the way most POP clients work, you have to wait for that one monolithic e-mail to download before you can read the emails you actually care about.

Anybody who authors a piece of digital asset, may it be video, images, sound, or, more likely, software, that needs to be updated overtime, would also find this utility useful. I'm not talking about dot releases of software either, but more about iterating over creating a package and someone's remotely evaluating each iteration.

Finally, I can easily use this app as a more compelling FTP client, for an admittedly restricted destination. Not that i don't love doing ftp from the command-line or anything. OS X's finder will only do read-only FTP.

anyway. it's a cool piece of ware. heh.