Posts Tagged ‘Privacy’

Dropbox Terms of Service and Privacy Policy Change – What it means to your Data and Rights?

 

Today Dropbox has changed the Terms Of Service and Privacy Policy  once again.  We don’t have the legal expertise to comment on the  merits and demerits of Arbitration clause or the importance of user rights to seek legal remedy in a court of law.  From the user comments on the blog post, it does seem like a unpopular move by Dropbox.

But we can say one thing: Once personal data moves from your computer to a 3rd party cloud, the data is not yours anymore…

Luckily our users have Tonido. We are proud of the personal cloud service that we have created and run over 5 years to  safeguard your privacy and online freedom.  At this time, there is no better challenge in the internet and our team is ready to carry on the fight with your help.

We promise to our users that we will make Tonido as the #1 Personal Cloud .

 

SkyDrive Privacy Blunder – Why Tonido is Better?

The reason is very simple. Our Tonido users are fortunate and don’t need to worry about disturbing news like this one : Watch what you store on SkyDrive, You may lose your Microsoft Life.

Quote from wmpoweruser

While Microsoft has the full right to police its property, with cloud services increasingly interwoven into Windows Phone and Windows 8, and even Office, users should be aware that SkyDrive is not in fact an extension of their hard drive and not store anything there, even in private and even if legal, that could in any way be questionably.

Pioneering Personal Cloud – Finally the user owns the data

What is personal cloud computing?

Let me start with asking the obvious question: What is personal cloud computing? To better understand this concept let’s use the following metaphor: Wallet vs Bank.

fig1

Like most people, I have a bank account, and my bank manages my savings, payments, retirement funds, and so on. Basically, the bank offers an advanced functionality which would be impossible or impractical for an individual user to replicate. Moreover, it offers convenience by hiding the complexity of financial operations from the end user. In other words, I don’t have to be an investment guru in order to manage my retirement funds — the bank’s experts do that for me and explain the process in terms I can understand.

But there are also disadvantages of “hosting” your money with a bank. Firstly, there is the issue of privacy: bank employees have access to your financial data, and so have tax authorities. You have no full control over what the bank does with your money either: you rely on the bank’s investment experts to manage your retirement funds, and you have no control over how and where they invest your money. For example, imagine the surprise of some customers of one of the banks in Denmark when they recently discovered that some of their retirement funds were invested into the defense industry and factories producing land mines.

But being a bank customer doesn’t preclude me from having a wallet. The wallet has several advantages compared to the bank. The key among them are availability, complete control, and privacy. My wallet is always with me, so I don’t have to find a bank or ATM every time I need to make a purchase. I’m also in full control of the money in my wallet: I can use the money any way I like, no matter how unwise it may be. But more importantly, the wallet offers complete privacy: no one knows what I have in my wallet, unless I choose to share this with the world or a select group of people. In addition to that, I can also use my wallet for other tasks: I can use it to keep photos, store business cards, and save receipts.

Again, banks and wallets are not mutually exclusive, and depending on the situation, I choose the most suitable solution. When I want to buy a book or a sandwich, I’d most likely use my wallet (or rather cash or a card stored in my wallet). But I’ll use my bank for more complex financial operations.

Of course, I’m oversimplifying things a bit, but the “wallet vs bank” metaphor can be used to define the concept of personal cloud computing.

fig2

A case for Personal Cloud Computing

Let’s start with the conventional cloud-based services. I’m sure that everyone in the audience is using some sort of cloud-based service and is pretty much aware of its advantages and drawbacks. But let’s take a quick look at them through the prism of the “wallet vs bank” metaphor. Obviously, the cloud-based applications and services are the “banks.” They offer advanced features and hide the complexity from the end user. A typical cloud-based service offers functionality and convenience at a reasonable price and even free of charge.

But even when you use a service free of charge, there is a price to pay. For starters, you entrust your data to the service provider, losing complete control over it in the process. Lack of customization is another serious issue with the traditional cloud-based services. While you can tweak a few odd settings, usually you can’t add or modify features offered by the service. In other words, you have limited control not only over your own data but also over the service’s functionality. But, the most serious issue of all is the fact that the cloud-based service is only as good as its weakest link, and in this case it’s the Internet connection. The promise of a pervasive always-on reliable Internet connection still remains just that — a promise. And even if you can gain Internet access, there can be other factors that may prevent you from using it –like price, for example. When abroad, you can use your smart phone for tethering, but you wouldn’t do that anyway due to exorbitant roaming charges.

So to sum up: Like a bank, a conventional cloud-based service offers advanced functionality and convenience, but provides only limited control and availability.

Personal Cloud = Wallet

This is where the personal cloud platform comes into the picture. A personal cloud server shares a lot of similarities with the wallet: it’s simple, it’s always with you (or you can access it at any time), and it offers a range of task-oriented applications. With a personal cloud server you retain full control of your data and you are free to tweak the available functionality to your liking.

At this point you might be thinking “Is personal cloud platform just a fancy name for the home server in my closet?” Well, not exactly. A conventional server usually runs a number of servers such as Apache, MySQL, Samba, and so on. And you use them to build solutions for specific tasks like backup, file sharing, Web server, etc. The personal cloud server, in turn, provides a tightly-integrated bundle of applications and services designed for specific tasks. So the basic characteristics of a personal cloud server include the following:

    * Ease of use (which includes simplified deployment and maintenance) and portability
    * Instant availability (you can access the server via a direct cable connection, over the local network, and the Internet)
    * Subset of functionality (e.g., a simple blog engine to maintain a personal blog instead of a full-blow blog application like WordPress)
    * Absolute privacy (you, and only you, have full control over who has access to your content)
    * Complete control of the software and data

Tonido Architecture

The Tonido software(http://www.tonido.com) and the TonidoPlug device provide a practical implementation of the personal cloud server concept. But before we get to the specifics of both products let’s take a brief look at Tonido’s overall architecture.

fig3

It can be represented as a three-layered cake. The operating system is the bottom layer. Tonido software runs on a variety of Linux distros (including Ubuntu, Fedora, and openSUSE) as well as Windows and Mac OS X. In case of TonidoPlug, the OS layer is a trimmed version of Ubuntu 9.04. On top of the OS layer sits the Tonido framework which powers the Tonido applications.

The Tonido stack is based on the P2P technology, so all Tonido instances are coordinated via the Tonido servers. The servers store only unique user ID which you specify when creating a profile with your Tonido installation. This also means that other users must also have Tonido instances running on their machine if they want to collaborate with you and each other as well as access some shared data. However, Tonido also lets you share content over the Web. The bundled blog engine, for example, allows you to publish a personal blog, you can share files over the Web, and you can instantly create Web-based photo albums.

When you log in to Tonido, you are dropped into a simple interface which lists all available applications grouped by their type. From here you can quickly jump to your blog, stream music, switch to sharing options, and perform other tasks. The advanced view acts as a dashboard which provides quick access to all Tonido’s modules and features.

In order to collaborate and share data with other users, Tonido must be populated with groups and users. Once the group is created, you have the option to send group invites. If the user you want to invite is already in your contacts list, you can create an invite using his or her Tonido ID. Otherwise you can send the invite using the good old email. If you choose the latter approach, the recipient receives an invitation message containing a unique token. The recipient then has to install Tonido and accept the invitation using the token. This creates a secure peer-to-peer connection between two Tonido instances and automatically adds the joined user to your Tonido contacts.

The current version of Tonido ships with several handy applications, including Jukebox, Photos, Thots, Webshare, and Workspace.

Tonido Jukebox – Ultra simple web based music player

Using Jukebox, you can access and manage your music files as well as grant other users access to your music collection. The application lets you create custom playlists, and it sports a few default dynamic playlists which give you quick access to recently added and the most popular tracks. You can use the built-in Tag Editor to edit each track’s information, while the EXT button allows you to open the current playlist in an external player application. Jukebox doesn’t allow you to share your music files with other users, but you can create a guest account which lets other users to access your music collection.

Tonido Photos -  Simple Photo sharing tool without uploading

As you might have guessed, the Photos application lets you share and exchange photos with other Tonido users. Sharing your snaps using Photos is easy. Add a directory containing photos to the application, choose the group you want to share the photos with, and Tonido automatically pushes your photos to all users in the selected group, and all photos shared by other users appear in your Photos application. All shared photos are actually copied and stored on your machine, so you can view them even if the user who shares them is offline. Similar to Flickr and other photosharing services, Photos lets you tag, rate, and comment photos as well as mark them as your favorites. Using the commands in the navigation bar to the left, you can view photos by tags, ratings, and users. You can also quickly view the most recent photos as well as photos in a specific group.

Tonido Thots – Simple, Personal Journal

You can use Tonido to maintain a simple blog courtesy of the Thots application. This no-frills blogging application does have a few nifty uses. It seamlessly integrates with your Twitter account, so you can push blog posts (or thots) on Twitter. Using the supplied ClipThots extension for Firefox, you can use your Thots blog as a place for storing and sharing interesting links and text snippets. When submitting a blog post, you have an option to make it public, which publishes the blog post on the Web. The blog can then be accessed using its public URL. The blog application also supports the XML-RPC interface, so you can manage your blog using a third-party client.

Tonido Webshare – Easy to use web-based File Server

The Webshare application is designed to take care of all your file sharing needs. Using it, you can give users access to specific directories and files on your machine. Sharing a directory with the world requires just a few simple steps. Press the Share Files button to select the directory you want to share and specify the share’s name and description. Once the share is configured, you have to add the users who will have access to the shared directory. You can then email the users a direct link to the share, and they can access and download files via a browser. You can also make the share public by enabling the Allow Everyone option. The Share Photos button lets you create instant photo albums which you can choose to share only with specific users and groups or publish them on the Web. Tonido also offers another, more straightforward, way to share files and directories using the Explorer file manager. Press the Share button next to the file or directory you want to share, and Tonido instantly turns it into a public share.

Tonido Workspace -  Peer-2-Peer, Instant Collaboration Tool

Finally, the Workspace application can help you to collaborate with other Tonido users. The application offers pretty much everything you need to manage schedules, tasks, contacts, notes, and files. The application allows you to create as many workspaces as you need, so you can set a separate workspace for each workgroup or project. Creating a workspace is as easy as creating a group. In fact, Tonido even allows you to turn any existing group into a workspace with a few mouse clicks. The modules of the Workspace application sport some clever features designed to make your work easier and more efficient. The Calendar module, for example, lets you import events from an iCal file, and if you ticked the Enable Public Display check box when creating the workspace, the calendar is automatically published on the Web.

Using the Print button, you can print your calendar as a nicely-formatted agenda. The Tasks module lets you specify a due date and priority for each task as well as assign tasks to users. Using the Filter button, you can quickly view tasks matching certain criteria such as Priority, Assigned to, Due Date, etc. The Notes module offers graphical editing tools, making it easier to create richly formatted notes. The Timeline feature provides a quick overview of all workspace activity, so you can stay abreast of what other users do. As the name suggests, the Files section lets you upload files and documents to a specific workspace. Once the document has been uploaded, you can add tags, comments, notes, tasks, and events to it. But the clever part is that each added item also appears in the appropriate section of the workspace. For example, if you attach an event to the file, the event also appears in the Calendar.

Tonido Apps

The Tonido bundle contains a few other handy applications, including a torrent manager, personal finance manager, and a backup tool. The latter allows you to easily back up data on your machine to another Tonido instance. The Apps section in Tonido lets you manage the existing applications (you can update, suspend, and uninstall them), install new apps, as well as access Tonido’s own App Store. The ability to extend Tonido by installing additional applications is a key feature of the Tonido platform. CodeLathe, the company behind Tonido, provides a Tonido SDK and developer documentation to help you to get started with developing Tonido apps. Developers can then register and sell their creations via the Tonido Store. In other words, Tonido uses the same app store model that works so well for Apple and Google.

TonidoPlug – Personal Cloud Device

Finally, let’s take a brief look at the TonidoPlug device. It’s powered by an embedded Marvell Sheeva CPU core running at 1.2GHz backed up by 512MB DDR2 RAM and a 512MB flash disk. TonidoPlug runs Ubuntu 9.04. The device sports an Ethernet jack for network connectivity and a single USB port. The default 512MB storage can be expanded by plugging a USB stick or a USB hard disk into TonidoPlug. As soon as you do that, TonidoPlug automatically detects the connected storage device, and you can use it right away. Better yet, TonidoPlug makes the storage device available on the network, so you can use the server as a simple NAS solution.

Note: The above topic was presented in LinuxTag 2010 Conference by Dmitri Popov.

SenseCam: Is it sensible?

Recently, I came across the SenseCam Research Project by Microsoft. Although it looks cool, it surely looks like another way to invade your privacy.

Microsoft defines SenseCam as a wearable digital camera that is designed to take photographs passively, without user intervention, while it is being worn.

The next logical question is where to store these photographs in real time? Obviously a handful of corporations will want this piece. So a 3rd party server in a cloud will be an ideal choice. For someone who stores every single life event in Facebook or Twitter it is a cool idea. In reality, it is the ultimate way to encroach the privacy of not only the user but also the people surrounding the user without their knowledge or consent.

Microsoft has outlined some noble ideas where SenseCam can be used such as monitoring food intake, an automatic diary/journal etc.

But this does seem like a slippery slope…

Tonido Workspace: Alternative to Microsoft Groove

Tonido Workspace Main Screen

Tonido Workspace is a powerful application that is part of the Tonido Platform. It is a personal information manager and a P2P group collaboration application. Nearest competitor to Tonido Workspace is Microsoft’s Groove application. To those who don’t know, from Wikipedia,

“Microsoft Groove’s core concept is the shared workspace [3], which consists of a set of files to be shared, plus some aids for group collaboration. Groove users can create workspaces, add documents, and invite other Groove members to a workspace. A user that responds to an invitation is made an active member of that workspace. Each member has privately editable copy of the workspace. Users interact and collaborate in the common workspace which is a private virtual location. All changes are tracked by Groove, sent to all members and all copies of the workspace are synchronized via the network in a peer-to-peer manner.”

This exactly describes Tonido Workspace as well. Tonido Workspace allows you to setup a shared workspace that is shared among a set of group members. Each group member needs to have Tonido installed and the Tonido Workspace application enabled. A group member can invite another group member to be part of the workspace. Once they accept, they will get a privately editable copy of the workspace. Users interact and collaborate via the workspace. These changes are tracked by Tonido workspace, sent to all members of the group via the Tonido P2P network.

So in this post, we will describe some of the features of Tonido Workspace and how it compares with Microsoft Groove.

Before we do that, let us look at the base set of features that Microsoft Groove has and compare that with Tonido Workspace. Instead of using the usual set of hundreds of features most sales materials use, let’s look at a list of general features as listed on a slashdot posting.

1. It’s a rich client in a Web 2.0 world – which means you will see people running it on an airplane (also, incidentally, where you don’t see any Web apps running)

Tonido Workspace is a rich client in a Web 2.0 world. It works online or offline, whether you are at work, at a customer site or on a plane.

2. It runs a distributed directory, so people can collaborate across organizational boundaries without requiring IT to modify directory systems (a challenge that has been vexing the industry for at least 15 years now)

Tonido Workspace uses a fully distributed identity management of Tonido Network. People can fully collaborate across organizations. And if your enterprise requires it, you can run your own custom Tonido Domain Server (TDS), with fully custom IDs (mark@yourenterprise.com)

3. It navigates across firewalls to create a “live” peer-based connection between Groove users – features are presence, awareness, instant messaging, and a whole raft of collaborative tools like file sharing, calendars, discussion threads, and customizable forms.

Tonido Workspace runs on top of the Tonido P2P network. Tonido P2P network establishes fully direct p2p connection between Tonido Group users. Tonido Workspace shows whether a peer is online or offline, chat and a bunch of collaboration tools like a shared calendar, discussions, tasks, contacts and files.

4. Security is built-in from the ground up – every user is authenticated, which has proven to effectively limit spam, viruses and other malware, and all work is protected with FIPS-approved 192bit AES encryption on disk and over the network.

Tonido Workspace runs on top of the Tonido P2P network. Every user is authenticated, all network transmission is via 256 bit AES encryption. Encryption support for Workspace data on disk is coming soon.

5. Trust. Only the people designated to read information you choose to share will have the keys to unlock it. That means that an errant sys admin cannot view Groove workspaces or intercept data intended for another recipient.

Workspace data is transmitted directly between peers. It is never transmitted to third-parties, never relayed through the Tonido DS. The data transmitted across the wire can only be unencrypted by the other party; since the shared key for the session is setup using Diffie-Helman key exchange.

6. Synchronization. This actually should have been first, since at the core, Groove is a great big XML message switch. Here’s where you’ll find the patents. Groove has a very robust synchronization engine that ensures that all documents, files, messages, changes to a workspace, etc. are synchronized with all members, whether they are online or offline. This is a hugely complicated endeavor that the Groove team has been working on since the Lotus Notes days – and they KNOW how to do it right.

This is subjective, but Tonido Workspace also has a full-fledged robust data sync framework with can work with any type of data. The sync feature in Workspace allows all objects to get synchronized whether the group member was online or offline; allows you to resolve conflicts on objects, in case two members edited the same object before synchronization.

Advantages of Tonido Workspace

So far you can see that Workspace matches Groove in most of the main features and functions. Now we will see where Workspace is better.

1. Browser based

Tonido Workspace UI is via the browser. This offers a huge advantage over a normal rich UI. Say for example you have Workspace installed in one machine, you don’t need to install Workspace in 3 other machines just to access your workspace. You can simply access it from another machine. Even better, you can even access it from your mobile phone browser in a pinch.

2. Cross-platform

Tonido runs on all OS variants unlike Microsoft Groove. It hardly matters which OS you wish to use.

3. Hierarchical Organization of Data

In Groove, objects are all straight jacketed to a single type. In the discussion forum tool, you can only add comments or topics. In Tonido Workspace, however, any object can be children to any other type. In a discussion forum, you can add child comments, attach files, attach a note, even attach tasks to be completed. Groove requires you to work within their boundaries while Tonido Workspace is flexible enough not to impose those boundaries. Want to add a reminder for an object, just add a child calendar event and it will appear in your calendar.

4. Cost

It is unknown what Groove really costs an enterprise, but it is probably hundreds of dollars, and thousands more if you want to run the Groove server internally. Tonido Workspace will be a fraction of the cost for small business and enterprises.

Missing Features/Cons in Tonido Workspace compared to Groove

1. More variety of Tools

Groove offers a variety of tools that can be integrated into a workspace. Tonido Workspace offers less. But we believe less is more especially if the less is better integrated with each other and offers a better user experience.

2. Relay Capability

Groove has relay capability so that if peers cannot directly connect to each other, it relays information between them. Tonido, however does not relay information at all. All connections are peer-to-peer. However, there are two mitigating factors.

1. Tonido Workspace can synchronize group information through any set of connected peers. If there are 3 peers (A, B, C), and A connects to B and C, but B and C cannot directly connect to each other. Information added by B and C will still propagate to each other through A.

2. CodeLathe hosted Relays. CodeLathe will host relays that will be always online, and which can be added to your groups as regular members for a nominal monthly costs. Since these relays will be always be on and it will always have internet access, you can depend on syncing information to the group irrespective of whether or when anyone is online.

Screenshots of Key Features in Groove and Comparable Feature in Workspace

Online Status

groove_online_status

ws_online_status

Online Contact Options

groove_online_contact_options

ws_online_contact_options


Files

groove_files_workspace

ws_files_workspace1

Calendar

groove_calendar

ws_calendar2

Chat

groove_chat_window

ws_chat_window

Notes

groove_notes_window

ws_notes1

Forum

groove_forum_window

ws_forum_window1

Contacts (Only in Workspace)

ws_contacts

Learn more about Tonido Workspace and how you can use it to work seamlessly, securely, privately with distributed teams.

Impractical not to rely on servers? Nah!

I was recently reading Dreaming in Code by Scott Rosenberg, which describes the Chandler project; which started out as a PIM and an Microsoft Outlook alternative that could share information between users directly via peer-to-peer without intermediary servers (and Exchange Servers).

Here’s a quote from the book about OSAF rethinking their original plans for Chandler to support peer-to-peer synchronization

“Maybe there was a reason nobody had ever built software that seamlessly shared information across multiple computing platforms without relying on servers. Maybe it just wasn’t practical.”

Maybe. But Tonido does just that. Tonido Workspace and Photos share information without using any third party servers. Tonido only uses Domain (Directory) servers to locate other Tonido instances.

cay7mxyp

Then, there is a section where Kapor (who was behind Chandler) has a change of heart about using peer-to-peer.

“There was a kind of frontier idealism that was well intentioned but not practical on my part. The issue is about empowering people. It’s not about the infrastructure. … My and OSAF’s original position was, electricity is good, therefore everyone should have their own power plant! Unconsciously, I always imagined that user empowerment somehow meant a server-free or server-light environment. Now  I think that’s actually wrong.”

He later says

“This actually turns out to be a deeply charged issue. So many of the people who are thought leaders in open source value freedom and initiative, and those values have been very tied up with this American frontier myth of self-sufficiency ..”

It was a turning point for Chandler because it went from being an symbol of independence to another me-too product in the crowded market and that later became almost irrelevant by the advent of Web Apps.

It is an interesting book in several ways and particularly interesting to me because of some of the parallels between Tonido and Chandler. Tonido has idealistic notions of privacy, freedom and self-sufficiency. And usually, when software is implemented based on some ideals, the first thing that goes out of the window when there are technical problems are ideals. I would be lying if I were to say no such decision happened in Tonido, but at the end of Tonido’s development, I am proud to say that none of the core ideals were sacrificed on the altar of practicality.

Tonido is an alternative to web applications that come today and disappear tomorrow. For us it is a viable alternative. But only you will have to tell us if it is the same for you.

In one way, I am glad I read the book after Tonido reached alpha. It would have been too demotivating otherwise to have read it before. It would have told us that a project of Tonido’s scope and vision was impossible.

I guess we were too busy writing Tonido’s code. As they say, never let anyone tell you that something is impossible.

Tonido Workspace – Personal Information Manager(PIM) and P2P Group Collaboration

In our continuing roundup of Tonido applications, we covered Tonido Jukebox, Tonido Webshare and Tonido Photos. The fourth application that is part of the initial Tonido Beta is Tonido Workspace, which we will cover in more detail in this post.

Tonido stands for freedom to share information without losing privacy and Tonido Workspace continues that theme.

1) At its simplest Tonido Workspace is a Personal Information Manager (PIM). As any information manager, Workspace allows you to add and manage information items such as tasks, notes, contacts, files and calendar in your Personal Workspace. And since this is part of the Tonido platform, you can work on Tonido Workspace remotely from anywhere.

2) Tonido Workspace doesn’t stop there, it has a powerful data synchronization system, that allows a set of people who are part of a Tonido group to collaboratively work together, and more importantly, almost magically without having a central server. Everyone runs a copy of Tonido Workspace in their machines and workspace data is synchronized among all the members of the group. Imagine Microsoft Outlook without Exchange server. Imagine if your Outlook directly talked to other Outlook clients and somehow synchronized information. That is Tonido Group Workspace. Yes, this is “Look Ma, No Servers!”.

tonido_ws_concept

Tonido Workspace as a Personal Information Manager (that runs in your web browser)

Tonido Workspace functions first of all as a full fledged personal information manager with all the functions that PIMs have. You can store and organize your life using Tonido Workspace. Including adding Tasks, Contacts, Calendars, Files and Notes. And the best part is that everything is available via your web browser whether you are sitting on your computer or half-way across the globe.

Here are some of the PIM features:

Dashboard

Your Workspace Dashboard, gives you a bird’s-eye view to track stuff happening in your life. It includes upcoming events from your calendar for the next 2 weeks, your tasks and a timeline of recent changes.

tonido_workspace

Tasks

Add tasks, to which you can add due dates, priorities, assignees etc. You can then sort your task lists, filter it by various categories, print it etc.

Calendar

Workspace has full fledged calendar support that allows setting up recurring calendar events and appointments.

workspace_addevent

Notes

Notes allows rich text formatting and longer documents to be added. Notes also supports versioning. So you can edit Notes and always keep previous versions around as well.

Contacts

Contacts allows any sort of flexible data to be stored about as contact information. There are no limits on number of addresses or pre-set types. You can add any number of phones, emails, addresses and even add any number of custom fields. Import from vcard format is supported (single and multiple contacts).

workspace_contacts1

Files

Workspace allows you attach any files to your workspace. The file is copied into the workspace and can be downloaded later from anywhere.

workspace_files

Tonido Workspace for Seamless Group Collaboration

The features above are interesting, but what sets Workspace apart is the ability to collaborate with any arbitrary group of people by simply creating a Tonido group and enabling Workspace for that group. When each Tonido group member enables their workspace, the data in that group workspace starts to be synchronized among the members of that group directly.

For example, say you had a Tonido group with Tom, Jane and Joe as members. When Tom adds a task to his group workspace using his copy of Tonido, it will be synchronized to Jane’s and Joe’s group workspace as well. And the same thing will happen if Jane or Joe add a task or any other item. It will appear in all other workspaces automagically. Synchronization not only happens for adding, but for modifying and deleting as well. Everything gets synchronized. And it doesn’t even matter if your Tonido Workspace is offline. The next time you come online, information in your workspace gets synchronized. In fact, there is actually no difference between being online or offline, your Workspace functions identically. Perfect for the long plane trip, when you can do everything with Workspace without being connected.

Behind the scenes, Tonido Platform’s Data Synchronization framework does the heavy lifting, allowing essentially peer-to-peer data synchronization. This is one of the powerful features provided by the Tonido Platform which we will talk about in a future blog post.

And, what happens in the case of conflicts? i.e. two people edit the same information for instance.

Tonido workspace data synchronization is implemented with conflict resolution in mind. By default, Workspace can resolve conflicts by using the most recent change first, but it can use a whole host of conflict resolution methods. Not only is conflict resolution a workspace level setting, it can even be an item specific setting. For instance, you may want conflicts for a specific item to be resolved in a particular way and the rest of the workspace using another way.

workspace_conflictresolution

A Tonido group workspace offers more than a personal workspace. In addition to the features of the PIM (shared tasks, shared contacts, shared calendar, shared notes, shared files)

Discussion Forums

You can post topics and have discussions on those topics.

workspace_forum1

Chat

Chat is built-in. All chat for that group workspace is archived and synchronized. So you never miss a thing.

workspace_chatleft

Timeline

Tonido workspace provides a timeline of all events occurring in the workspace. What happened when and who did what.

workspace_timeline1

Hierarchical Information Management

One of the most powerful features in Tonido Workspace is the ability to organize information hierarchically. Any information item in Workspace can contain other item types as children. For example, you could attach any number of files to a task item. You don’t have to stop with files. You can add comments and additional notes to a task as well. And while you are at it, you can throw in a calendar event that will now automatically appear in the calendar. Eureka! Your task now appears in your calendar as well. The flexibility and possibilities are endless.

workspace_hierarchy1

Want to track customer phone calls? No problem, simply add the customer as a contact in Workspace, and log phone call notes as child items to that contact. A simple CRM at your finger tips.

Want to discuss the latest design document or functional spec? Simply attach the document to Tonido workspace and let everyone comment on that file. It is now simple to get everyone involved easily, without getting overwhelmed especially if you work with a large set of documents.

Linking Support

Tonido Workspace supports the concept of links. You can link arbitrary items together. So you can always navigate from one item to another item by following the links.

workspace_links

Tagging Support

Tonido Workspace allows arbitrary categorization of your items by using Tags. Once you tag items, you can filter items using a specific tag; so you can work on them specifically.

workspace_tags1

Unlimited File Sizes

Tonido Group Workspace allows files to be attached to the workspace which will get synchronized to other Tonido members. But there are no size limits to the files you can attach. The files will be transmitted directly to other Workspace members.

Full Text Search

Finding stuff in Workspace is easy with full text search built right in. Type any fragment and all items of any type that match are displayed.

workspace_search3

Tonido Workspace is a great fit for people who like to use PIMs but want the availability of online apps. It is also a great fit for distributed teams, small businesses, student project teams and families. Tonido workspace follows through the dream of a truly distributed and private collaboration system.

Like Tonido Workspace? Get Tonido.


Tonido Photos – Private Photo Sharing Desktop-to-Desktop

In our continuing roundup of Tonido applications, we covered Tonido Jukebox and Tonido Webshare. The third application that is part of the initial Tonido Beta is Tonido Photos, which we will cover in more detail in this post.

One of the most common things people do using the internet is share pictures with each other.  For example, Facebook alone hosts more than 10 billion photos, with Photobucket around 6 billion and Flickr weighing in about 2 billion (a year ago). That is a lot of photos, considering the fact that worlds population stands at 6.7 billion. That is about 3 photos for each person in the world! And we only considered 3 photo sharing web sites. There are countless more.

There are two primary reasons photos are shared. One, as a way to show off your photographic skills, tell a story(journalism, photo blog) or to show something interesting to the world. The second one is to share your life events with a closed group of friends and family. Sites like Photo.net, Flickr, photoblogs etc aim to satisfy the first scenario while, Google’s Picasaweb, Facebook and other more traditional sites target the second scenario. In both cases, the ability to comment, tag, rate adds another dimension of interaction.

Irrespective of the reason, photo sharing is done by uploading photos to a photo hosting site and in the case of the second scenario notifying friends and family by sending a link to the photo site.

This works reasonably well but with several caveats:

1. Photos are never private. They go to a third party site. Do you know who else is looking at it? Do you know what happens to them after you remove them?

2. Photo uploading is still a painful ordeal. Trying to take a full sized jpeg from your run-of-the-mill digital camera which is about  2 MB in size and then uploading them is not fun. If you want to resize them before uploading, it is even less fun. This is going to get worser as digital cameras are still running the megapixel race, taking pictures at high resolution is pretty much useless unless you are going to print, because it becomes impractical to share large pictures easily without spending lots of time babysitting uploads.

3. A subset of people who do view the photos want a copy of the photos in their hard disk for later viewing. There are several reasons for such a requirement. Some don’t have 24×7 internet connection, so they would like to view the photos even when offline. And some want to add the photos to their photo collections.

4. Every comment/rating/tag on a photograph is in public domain in one form or another and stays in circulation long after the photograph is removed by the user.

5. Photos can only be shared in jpeg format in most cases. If there is a need to share large uncompressed raw formats then specialized services would be needed to do that task.

Introducing Tonido Photos

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Tonido Photos gets rid of these caveats by taking a different tack on photo sharing. Instead of involving the photo hosting site, it makes photo sharing private and direct. When you share photos via Tonido Photos, photos are sent directly and securely via the Tonido network to other Tonido users directly to their desktop.

Some of the features Tonido Photos are:

1. Ensures the privacy of  your photos. Photos are directly transferred from your machine to whom you have shared with. Photos never are seen by anyone else.

2. Avoids photo uploading. Just drag and drop new subfolders inside a folder shared within a group and Tonido photos does the rest. There is nothing else to do.

3. Users get a copy for archiving. The copy resides locally because Tonido photos will transfer the photos directly to your computer. You don’t have to be online to view your photos.

4. Organize photos. Photos are automatically organized by user, group, tag. So it is easy to look up any photo.

5. Unlimited size. Since photos are transferred from the owner to members of group, there is no photo size limit.

6. Comment, rating and tag capability. Photos can be tagged, rated and commented. The tags, comments and rating are available to the members of the group. Now you have the power of online applications such as flickr, photo.net with the privacy of desktop applications!

7. Search capability. Tonido Photos has powerful search feature to look up photos by comments, tags and names!

Getting Started

The first thing you want to do is share a specific photo folder with a Tonido Group. Note, that a Tonido group is nothing but a group of Tonido users running on different machines that are connected to each other. You can create a new group or reuse an existing group.

The second thing..err, actually there is no second step. You are done!

photos_getting_started

Tonido photos pushes the contents of your shared photo folder to the members in your Tonido group. When you make a change to a photo or add new photos or sub-folders, the changes are seamlessly synced to other Tonido instances. Tonido photo transmission occurs using the Tonido Network, which is a peer-to-peer network. It requires no configuration or setup. Note, that Photos ensures that only members of the group that you have shared photos with actually get the photos and no-one else.

Resizing is for Dummies

Photos works with full sized images. It will automatically work with images without imposing any silly size limits or resolution limits. Now you can fully share your glorious 21 megapixel image from your 5D MKII so that your family can make a huge blowup. The only limit is the space in your hard drive. And for ease of use, Photos will generate smaller thumbnails and reasonable sized slideshow images automatically from the large image. But the full size image is just a click away if you need it. Note that photos formats [png, jpg, tiff, cr2, crw, nef, bmp, ps] will be transferred to the members of the group but the photos browser based UI will only display jpeg images.

Faster Downloads similar to Torrent

Tonido Photos allows users to download photos not only from a single person, but from multiple people in the group if they already have that photo. So, say if you are downloading photos from someone in a group, if that same photo is also available with other members in that group, your photos will reach you faster as transfer is invisibly done from multiple members at the same time. So your download speed will not be limited by the upload of a single member in a group.

Interaction Capabilities

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Photos gives you the same set of tools to discuss and communicate about photos as you find in any photo sharing site, like Photo.net or Flickr. You can comment and discuss photos. You can rate photos and also tag photos. In short, you can still do the same things you do on most photo sharing websites. Photos also provides activity streams, that allows you to see who has done what. Every comment, every rating generates an entry in the activity stream; so you never miss a thing.

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Organizing Capabilities

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Photos offers a rich set of capabilities to slice and dice photos received from others. You can choose to view photos (and slideshows) by a specific user, in a specific date range, or from a specific group. You can mark certain photos as “favorites”, so you can quickly view them later. You can tag photos, and retrieve photos with a specific tag. All these help users keep up with the huge amount of photos that can start arriving. Of course built-in search is available. You can also browse photos that are  top rated, recently comment, recently received etc!!

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Controlling Tonido Photos

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With such an effortless way to transfer photos, it becomes extremely important to finely control the photos that do come in. Tonido Photos allows you to set size limits on the total amount of photos that can be downloaded to your hard drive. Additionally, you can delete received photos and it will never re-retrieve them unless new photos have been added or existing photos are changed! Not only that, you can selectively block a certain Tonido member who is in your group and your photos will not reach him nor will his reach yours.

If you want your photos to reach and be adored by millions of people, Tonido Photos might not be for you, but for the rest of us who value privacy, we think that Tonido Photos is a great alternative.

Like what you see? Get Tonido.

Protect your children

Would you let a stranger come into your living room and browse your children’s photo album? If not, why would you use online storage services to share your children’s photos?

Every time you upload your children’s photos online to share with your friends and family, you are exposed to the risk of sharing them with unwanted strangers. Not only are you compromising your personal life, but you are letting the online services index your life.

What I mean by indexing your life is, your online activity is monitored without your knowledge. Please don’t be naive and buy into false claims of online security and privacy made by online services. Just to test your online privacy type in your name in www.pipl.com. You will get information of the online accounts you have opened and more. I am sure that when you opened those online accounts you wouldn’t have thought about yourself being exposed. These online services are selling your personal information even though they might claim they don’t.

Share your children’s photos with your trusted family and friends, not with everyone. Take control of your digital life in a better and safer way.

For safer sharing, checkout www.tonido.com

Tonido Webshare – Share your files to the web directly from your desktop

Previously, we covered the Tonido Platform, which is a personal web application platform that safeguards your online privacy and gives back control of your data. We also covered one of the Tonido’s applications, which is Tonido Jukebox, that will ship with the beta; that allows you to listen to your music collection from anywhere.

Another application that will be part of the Tonido beta is Tonido Webshare. Tonido Webshare allows sharing files in your desktop directly to authorized users using a web browser.

Tonido Webshare attempts to solve the file sharing problem that so often crops up for users. You have a large file that is several hundred megabytes that you want to send to a friend. Or, you want to download files from your machine or lookup a document from a remote location. Unluckily, you also don’t have access to the machine. If you had physical access, you could have solved it easily by a myriad number of ways including using a USB drive.

Webshare solves this problem by allowing you to add specifc folders that you want to make available from a remote location. For security, these folders cannot be accessed directly without credentials. So you need to setup user accounts that can access these folders. Then it is pretty simple after that, users can use their credentials to login and view the folder. They can browse all the files and subfolders in the share and download files as needed.

Tonido Webshare Share

Tonido Webshare Shared Folder

When users actually browse the folder, they see a folder view with information on file type, size and last modified date. They can click on the file name to start a download.

Tonido Webshare File View

Tonido Webshare File View

Dynamic Photo Galleries: Not only does Webshare serve up folders and files, it also can handle photo galleries in a special way. When adding a share, you can optionally choose to make the view a “Photo Gallery” view. Webshare will then present the folder contents as a photo gallery, which you can click on individual pictures to begin a slide show of the pictures in that folder. You can also download individual photos.

Tonido Webshare Photo Gallery

Tonido Webshare Photo Gallery


Built in Access History
:When you share your files via Webshare, the number one question you will want to answer is if these files were accessed, when and by whom. Tonido Webshare shows you a complete file access history including time, the user and the file size downloaded.

Send Shares via Email: Webshare allows you to send email directly with the URL of the share. Start sharing in a few clicks.

Private and Secure:Webshare helps you access and share your files privately. You don’t need to upload your files to an online storage just so that someone can access them. Webshare needs credentials for any access to your shared files. In fact, there is no way to even share files without user credentials.

Shares with Expiry Dates: We understand that people sometimes share folders for a limited time and want to turn it off after some time period. But most often they might forget to do that. Webshare helps by allowing you to set up shares that have an expiry date. Past that date, none of the allowed users can access those shares.

No Size Limits:Most online services have size limits to what you can share or if they don’t they can cost money. Tonido Webshare has no such limitations. File and Folder sizes are only limited by your computer’s hard drive capacity.

No Uploading: Most times, sharing is not a lot of fun, because of the time you need to spend uploading. Once you share a folder with Webshare and send the share to someone, you can share additional files and folders by simply copying them to be inside that shared folder. There is nothing else to do.

On the Internet or the Intranet: Tonido Webshare makes your files accessible whether you want to access them from the internet or from the intranet. You could have Tonido running on your central file or media server and can use Webshare as the interface for your files and media.  Who needs Windows Home Server?

Tonido Webshare is no-nonsense direct file sharing at its simplest and most effective.

Like what you see? Want to check out Tonido Webshare? Get a Tonido Beta Invite.