January 10, 2009

Geocaching In The Cloud

Lately I've been playing around with a cool little application called, Dropbox. It provides a very simple and convenient way to store, share and access your files across multiple platforms. Any files or folders inside your personal Dropbox folder will get synchronized to Dropbox's servers, and to any other computer linked to your account. Thus, you basically have access to the files you store in your Dropbox folder from any computer with an internet connection.

What I really like about Dropbox, however, is a feature that can give files a unique URL address, or internet link. This allows you to send files to other people in e-mails, IMs, blogs, etc. without requiring those people to sign up for Dropbox. This is also a great way to host Google Earth KML and KMZ files, including network links. In other words, if you keep and update KML files in a designated Dropbox folder on your computer at home, these files will automatically update on the web in a fully scalable fashion.

So for example, if you frequently generate Google Earth KML files from your geocaching.com pocket queries (using either GSAK, GPSvisualizer, or another tool), you can then store those KML files in your public Dropbox folder so that the most recent version of the file will load every time you launch Google Earth; no matter where you launch Google Earth from.

To set this up, all you have to do is right-click on the KML file once it's in your public Dropbox folder, and select"Copy public link" under the Dropbox menu:


Then open Google Earth, go to "Add", then "Network Link", and paste the link you just copied into the Link box:


That's it. From this point on, as long as you continue to replace old KML files with new versions, you'll have instant access to your latest geocaching KML data every time you launch Google Earth; from anywhere!

For more information about Dropbox, take a look at this tour; or, to see Dropbox in action, check out this video. Note that Dropbox is still in beta, so use at your own risk. Even so, I've been using it for a while now, and never had a single problem (and I'm good at breaking things).

Enjoy, and Cache On!

1 comment:

HeadHardHat said...

I must investigate this further... Very cool post, thanks for sharing..