Your private disk drive on the Web -- MangoMind from MangoSoft

by Richard Seltzer, seltzer@samizdat.com, www.samizdat.com

This article was heard on the radio program "The Computer Report," which is broadcast live on WCAP in Lowell, Mass., and is syndicated on WBNW in Boston and WPLM in Plymouth, Mass, and is also available as RealAudio at www.thereport.com

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Now you can have your own disk drive on the Web -- disk space that you access with the same commands and the same ease as the hard drive on your computer or the shared hard drives on your LAN, only this disk is out on the Web and accessible from anywhere. The space is secure and you can share it with designated partners and colleagues. MangoMind from MangoSoft www.mangosoft.comis an extension to the Web of your Windows or NT operating system.

You need to download and install their software and pay a monthly fee. But if you have business uses for this new capability, it's well worth the price.

When was the last time you emailed a critical document to a partner or colleague and then had to phone repeatedly to get confirmation that it was received? Unfortunately, email over the Internet is not completely reliable -- many systems have to pass the message on and hardware or software problems anywhere along the path can delay and sometimes even block receipt -- typically when you are in crisis mode, and absolutely, positively need to be sure the other party has that document in his/her hands immediately. If you and the people you work closely with all have MangoMind installed, and if you have given the appropriate permissions for the folder in question (using the exact same commands you use to setting permissions in Windows and NT), then you simply copy the document to the shared folder and they can see it and copy it and edit it immediately. There's no delay and no email delivery uncertainty.

Also, while Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are now popular at some companies, other companies have not yet set them up, and even when they are set up, you sometimes have to go through lengthy procedures to get permission to add new partners. The MangoMind virtual Web-based disk drive resides not on your company's systems, but rather at MangoSoft. That means that with MangoMind you can give your partners immediate and secure access to the documents you want, as you work on them together, without having to give them VPN access to your company's network. They see just what you want them to see and nothing else.

This application feels very natural for shortterm partnerships and projects -- where a group of people needs access to common documents in common file space for a limited time, without going to enormous hassle and expense. It's a natural for publishing and documentation, where several different reviewers and editors will be looking at the same documents, and can use the color-coded version/revision capability of Word to clearly indicate who has suggested what changes.

It also comes in handy for moving around large files -- such as PowerPoint presentations, which are very awkward to upload/download and email. Imagine you have to fly across the country to deliver a presentation, and while you are in transit, your team is making final edits. When you arrive at the hotel, you just connect to the Internet, check your MangoMind drive to see the latest, and copy it to your local hard drive quickly and smoothly rather than having to go through the uncertainties and slowness of email. You can also use this Web-based drive as a common repository for such large files -- a reliable and economical way of distributing documents within a team, without using email.

For those of us who work in a home office, MangoMind also is an alternative to setting up a LAN. For instance, I have a laptop and two desktop machines in my house, all of which are connected to the Internet by DSL, but which are not connected to one another directly. Now, with MangoMind installed on all of them, I can quickly and easily share documents among these machines -- even move software from one to the other, without using diskettes, or ZIP disks, or doing FTP.

Since I work on projects for a variety of remote customers, I can set up a separate folder for each project, and assign access permissions separately for each, using the shared disk space as a convenience as well as a sort of social glue, making the relationship stronger.

A software development team that includes remote programmers might want to use this capability not just for documentation, but also as a place to post code and patches and bug reports.

Basically, Mangomind as a business-to-business tool, designed to work so smoothly with the Windows and NT environment that you don't need to learn anything new -- you just keep working as you did before, with MangoMind as a Web-based extension of your PC and your LAN. You know everything you need to know to move files around, set permissions, edit, print, etc. This Microsoft compatibility also makes this solution easy for IT departments to understand, accept, and implement.

Eventually, as portable diskless Internet devices and wireless devices with very little disk space become popular, the MangoMind solution could become even more important. You could compose your Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents on full-blown PCs, save them on your MangoMind drive, and then you and others could access them from these stripped down gadgets.


Please send your comments and related suggestions to seltzer@samizdat.com

This site is Published by B&R Samizdat Express, 33 Gould St., West Roxbury, MA 02132. (617) 469-2269. seltzer@samizdat.com


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