Services for sharing large files (MEGA is still not a Dropbox killer)

Two years ago I wrote an article comparing Mega to Dropbox, two file sharing services. The point of the article was that Mega was not a Dropbox killer. Mega had just launched, and maybe because all the hype around Mega’s owner, Kim Schmitz, many sites were proclaiming the end of Dropbox. Mega’s main offer was generous storage space and very strong file encryption. Back then, it didn’t offer native file synchronization (which now does).

Bauke Roesink has published a very complete roundup of file sharing services titled Transfer Big Files. He asked 44 professionals about their favorite service for sending large files. The article is worth reading. It offers not just the poll’s results but the actual insights. (You can read mine, also published in his article, following this link.)

Based on Roesink’s poll, the most used service for sharing large files is Dropbox (44% votes), followed by Google Drive (13%) and OneDrive(6%). While Mega now offers native file syncing and probably better file encryption than the other services, less than 3% said they used Mega, and none as their first option.

A strong argument for using Dropbox was simplicity. If you want to share a file in your Dropbox folder, just right-click the file to get a link that you can send by mail or using your favorite messaging app.

With Mega, there is no easy right-click action to share your data. You’ll need to log into Mega’s web page. What’s more, MEGA’s cryptographic security model depends on the confidentiality of the keys needed to decrypt the files. But to share a file with someone else, you need to share this confidential key. As Mega’s site warns you, by sharing a file you could be compromising the security of your Mega folder.

I still think that Dropbox and Mega are trying to solve different problems. If you need very strong encryption, Mega is a solid choice. You will be able to sync your files to your machines, but beware of the security implications of trying to share your files with third parties. On the other hand, if you want reliable and simple file sharing with a reasonable level of security, then Dropbox is the service of choice.

Photo Copyright: 3dfoto / 123RF Stock Photo

Tags: file sharing

Silent data and evaluating employees’s performance

Nassim N. Taleb, author of The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable Fragility, has this concept of silent evidence. That is, we tend to make decisions mistakenly taking a limited subset of the information as the whole dataset.

It is not that we don’t acknowledge the existence of silent data. We do. The thing is that, in practice, we unconsciously ignore it again and again.

Silent evidence is what events use to conceal their own randomness, particularly the Black Swan type of randomness. (Nassim N. Taleb, The Black Swan)

Something similar can be said about evaluating people’s performance in an organization. Managers often have to consider if their reports are ready to be promoted. Depending of the company, a more or less formal processes for this may exist. But in the end, it is the manager’s responsibility to judge if the employee is ready to be promoted or not.

If you are a manager, do you pause to think if there is silent data about your candidate that you are not considering? Is her “success” a consequence of chance? In the light of someone consistently exceeding her sales goals, other considerations may not seem important. How did she achieve her goals? How were the goals set?

Perfect information is rarely available.

Developing the habit of looking for silent data is a really important asset.

Tags: silent evidence

Link: The Procrastinator’s Guide to Progress, by Shawn Blanc

Procrastination is one of those words that is difficult to translate to other languages. The English definition for the verb to procrastinate is to delay or postpone action; put off doing something. It is the verb of the defeated1.

When I come to the keyboard to begin writing, a million potential distractions stand at my doorstep. There are many days when I’d rather give in to one of the distractions instead of doing my writing. But I choose not to. I write when I’m tired. I write when I’m uninspired. I write when the weather outside is beautiful. I write when I’m not even sure what to write about.

A few weeks ago, Shawn Blanc started an email newsletter about creativity, focus, and risk called The Fight Spot. Shawn has put all the procrastination-centric content published in his newsletter in a document called The Procrastinator’s Guide to Progress. You can get it for free by subscribing to The Fight Spot newsletter.

(…) there are many ways to beat procrastination. But if I had to boil it all down to just one piece of advice — the first step toward beating procrastination in terms of doing something else instead of making and creating — I would say this:
  Show up every day.
  As in, carve out 30–60 minutes in your day. Every day. Make an appointment with yourself for when you’re going to create. Be it writing, playing music, painting, drawing, photography, or whatever it is you’re trying to create for the world.
  Make that appointment and keep it. And when you’re there, put your phone on Do Not Disturb mode. Get earplugs or headphones. Go somewhere you won’t be distracted. Whatever it takes so you can spend the whole of your time making.

Tags: productivity, procrastination, habits, gtd

Only Enemies and True Leaders Speak the Truth

Two excuses can keep you from giving clear, unambiguous feedback: the fear of falling out of favor of your boss, and the desire to be liked by your peers or reports.

There is a great example of the desire to be liked in the conversation between Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive1, quoted by Ian Parker in his excellent article for The New Yorker titled The Shape of Things to Come:

Jobs’s taste for merciless criticism was notorious; Ive recalled that, years ago, after seeing colleagues crushed, he protested. Jobs replied, “Why would you be vague?,” arguing that ambiguity was a form of selfishness: “You don’t care about how they feel! You’re being vain, you want them to like you.” Ive was furious, but came to agree. “It’s really demeaning to think that, in this deep desire to be liked, you’ve compromised giving clear, unambiguous feedback,” he said.

Author Stephen King puts it bluntly: only enemies speak the truth2. Maybe we should said instead: only enemies and true leaders speak the truth. When was the last time you gave honest feedback?

  1. Jonathan Ive is the genius behind Apple’s beautiful and revolutionary designed products, ranging from the iPod to Apple Watch. He was very close to Steve Jobs and his personal friend. According to Parker, Ive is also one of the two most powerful people in the world’s most valuable company.  

  2. cfr

Tags: feedback, leadership

It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s guaranteed to work

It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s guaranteed to work. Of course you can do it. (All of that is true except for the part about easy, fun and guaranteed.)

From Seth Godin’s new book What to Do When It’s Your Turn (and it’s always your turn).

Link: Nobody will perceive you as a CEO until you’ve been one

Good article by Mark Suster on personal branding. Personal branding is one of those areas you cannot be passive about. (Mark Suster is a 2x entrepreneur turned VC.)

To this day I still tell people the only way to be a CEO is to be a CEO. Nobody will perceive you as a CEO until you’ve been one.

First, live the brand. Then define the brand. Then communicate it carefully but often. (…) If you don’t define your brand, somebody else will.

Tags: personal branding

Care enough to give constructive feedback

As Seth Godin writes, maybe you don’t care enough to give constructive feedback. “We might be rejected, or scolded, or made to feel dumb. And of course there’s the risk that we’ll get our hopes up that something will improve, only to see it revert to the status quo.”

However, if you don’t overcome your fear, don’t expect others to respect you or follow your lead.

Tags: feedback, leadership

80/20 Sales and Marketing, by Perry Marshall (Book Review)

Perry Marshall’s book is all about Pareto’s Principle and Power Curves. Although the author tries to reason the logic under the principle, the value of this book is in the online marketing and sales tactics it offers.

The book covers topics like market discovery, getting traffic, conversion and selling. “To build a sales funnel, you begin with the end in mind.” Since selling starts with traffic, advanced marketers don’t begin with the invention (i.e., the final transaction). “They begin by asking: ‘what would these people want to buy?’ Then they create it or find it.”

Before trying to convince anybody of anything, however, you must disqualify people who don’t fit. Marshall explains what he calls the 5 Power Disqualifiers. They define who of the traffic you are going to buy:

Do they have money? (…) Do they have a bleeding neck? (A dire sense of urgency, an immediate problem that demands to be solved. Right. Now.) (…) Do they buy into you unique selling proposition? (…) Do they have the ability to say YES? (…) Does what you sell fit in with their overall plans?

The three steps to selling anything, according to Marshall, is what he calls the Power Triangle:

  • Get Traffic. Who would buy this?
  • Conversion. What can we say to persuade them to buy?
  • Economics. Can you reach them affordably? Can they give you money?

The Power Triangle can be applied to each corner of the Power Triangle itself, again and again. For example, to get traffic, you should think about traffic in terms of traffic, conversion, and economics. “There is a Power Triangle inside each element of the Triangle.”1

Marshall’s approach finding customer needs and effective marketing actions is to test, test, and test. Test fast. Fail fast. Move on.

“You send a calculated signal that most ignore, but a few respond to. (…) Before you bet your precious time or money on any sales or business project, you need to rack the shotgun.”

The best place to start testing, Marshall argues, is Google Adwords. Test ads. Test landing pages. Test sign-up pages. Test everything. Then, scale up.

Marshall offers some insights about the Bull’s-Eye Social Media Technique, a method developed by Glenn Livingston to narrow your field of competitors and focus on the exact “corner of the internet”.

Finally, Pareto’s principle should be applied to analyzing your client portfolio. Which 20 percent of your clients make the 80 percent of your sales. Marshall goes deeper and proposes three variables that must be considered in the analysis in addition to gross sales: Recency (when was the last time this customer bought something), Frequency (how often does the customer buys from us), and Money (how much does he buy). He then uses this additional variables to build a scoring system and applies Pareto’s Principle to the results.

Although I didn’t like Marshall’s writing style and I found the hype around the 80/20 Principle somewhat excessive, this is a useful book. It will get you up to speed on modern marketing techniques, specially regarding to online sales and advertising.

Find 80/20 Sales and Marketing in Amazon.

  1. What Marshall calls Power Triangle is a Sierpinski Triangle, a fractal with the overall shape of an equilateral triangle, subdivided recursively into smaller equilateral triangles. 

Tags: marketing, sales, Pareto's principle, focus, 80/20

Link: There’s no such thing as a status quo

Matt Mullenweg, founder of Automattic (the company behind the WordPress publishing platform, used by 22% of the web), shares Automattic’s creed:

I will never stop learning. I won’t just work on things that are assigned to me. I know there’s no such thing as a status quo. I will build our business sustainably through passionate and loyal customers. I will never pass up an opportunity to help out a colleague, and I’ll remember the days before I knew everything. I am more motivated by impact than money, and I know that Open Source is one of the most powerful ideas of our generation. I will communicate as much as possible, because it’s the oxygen of a distributed company. I am in a marathon, not a sprint, and no matter how far away the goal is, the only way to get there is by putting one foot in front of another every day. Given time, there is no problem that’s insurmountable.

Tags: leadership

Link: How to Think Big: Tim Ferriss interviews Peter Diamandis

Peter Diamandis is an engineer, physician, and entrepreneur. Among other things, he is:

  • The founder, Chairman and CEO of the XPRIZE Foundation, whose mission is to bring “radical breakthroughs for the benefit of humanity” through incentivized competition.
  • Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Singularity University.
  • Co-founder of Planetary Resources, (a company designing spacecrafts to mine asteroids).

Listen to Peter Ferriss interview Peter Diamandis in Tim Ferriss’ Podcast.

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