A sample drop, here organized like a simple blog.
The web service drop.io is an excellent site that allows you to store just about anything you might want—text, pictures, audio, video, phone calls, etc.—in a secure, easily accessible “drop.” This may sound pretty basic, and it is, but what makes drop.io worth your time and attention are all the fancy features surrounding it. Let me give you an example that I frequently use.
Don’t Forget Sermon Illustrations
Imagine this situation. You’re preaching on Sunday. In the course of driving to work you frequently listen to the radio, to a book-on-top, or to music or NPR, and suddenly you realize that whatever you’re listening to would be the perfect intro analogy to Sunday’s sermon. What do you do? Trust you’ll remember? You won’t. Pull over and write it down? That’s neither safe nor time-efficient. Call your voice mail? Most voice-mail boxes give you 20 seconds or so, and it’s easy to forget about them.
Each drop has its own phone number
Well, with drop.io you can just call your drop and leave yourself a message, which will be sitting in your email inbox (or feed reader, or medium of choice) when you get to work. This is simple, convenient, and fast. You can’t loose your note or forget about it (since it’s in your inbox), and you can download all your voice messages at any time. And this is just the beginning!
Imagine the possibilities
The possibilities are legion. With drop.io you never have to forget a task or appointment. If you make a promise to someone, but aren’t at your computer to add your new task to Outlook or Remember the Milk, just call your drop. What’s really cool here is that your voice messages each have dedicated web links, so you can just copy the link into your Getting Things Done tool of choice and add a due-date. Easy.
Or perhaps you are prone to dissertation-related brainstorms in the middle of exercising or long walks. No need to pause to get pen and paper! Just call your drop and keep running. Your idea will be ready and waiting for you when you get home. You can even add the link or the file itself directly into Zotero (my Bibliographic/Annotating software of choice).
As mentioned before, you can store any number of items on your drop. You can easily add web links, documents, pictures, and music. You can call your drop or send it a fax. And all of this is then available immediately in your drop to view, download, share with friends or coworkers, or simply store in a safe place until you need it.
Setting Up Your Drop
It’s easy to get started. Just go to drop.io and follow the instructions. Drops are free (you get 100 mb of space per drop) and you can have as many drops as you want (I have one for GTD, one for sermons, one for my dissertation, one for each class I teach, etc). By default your drop will be named by a random set of characters. You can change this, however. Give it a name that means something to you. I created a drop called “nerdletstest” for this guide. You can access your drop by going to http://drop.io/[Your Drop's Name]; in this case, drop.io/nerdletstest.
Be sure to check out the “Additional Settings” on the start page. If you want your drop to be private, set a password. You can than share the drop password with anyone you want, or with no one. Guests can view, add, or delete files, or you can forbid all these actions. It all depends on how you want to use your drop. All of these settings can be changed at any time.
Bookmark your drop so you don’t have to remember where it is. Now you can view it anywhere!
Several options for notifying yourself of new drop content.
You can use drop.io for a number of different things, but if you want to use it in the manner outlined above you will need a way to notify yourself when something has been added to your drop. There are several ways to do this, and they are all located under the “Share” tab.
The simplest notification option is to tell your drop your email address. Anytime you add something to your drop (like a phone message), you will receive an email in your inbox. (If you’re using drop.io for GTD, this is an ideal solution since your email is connected to the rest of GTD methods).
Personally, I’m a big fan of RSS Readers like Google Reader. Drop.io lets you subscribe to drops, and so my preferred notification method is by RSS (the link under Email Alerts). You can also subscribe by Podcast or send your cell phone a text message. Look around—there really is no shortage of options!
Sending Things to Your Drop
We have already mentioned that each drop has its own phone number. You can call your drop and the message you leave will be saved as a downloadable audio file. You can also use drop.io’s web interface to add files, links, text, and other items to your drop.
There are a wealth of other options, however. You can email files to your drop. You can set up conference calss through your drop. There is also a Firefox Plugin that allows you to bookmark your drops and drag-and-drop files into them.
More to Come
Drop.io is a fairly new service (though I mentioned it here last year when it was still in Beta), so expect more features soon. They have a rich programming interface, which means that there will be more and more ways to interact with our drops in the future. In short, drop.io is a great service (and an excellent replacement for the no-longer-free Jott). Give it a try, and please share your thoughts!