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Barkston Ash Beekeepers Association and Dropbox

Graham Crerar, Chair of Barkston Ash Beekeepers Association talks about how Dropbox made life easier for the association when it came to sharing files.

Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m the Chair for the second year running of Barkston Ash Beekeepers Association - . The purpose of the association is to support our members in their beekeeping and promote beekeeping in the wider community. We run courses for new members, both theory and practical and through our meetings ensure our members are aware of the latest developments in beekeeping. Visit our website to find out more:

I’ve been keeping bees for 4 years now. I’m quite technically minded as have a degree in maths and computing and have taught in secondary schools.

Why did you look for this tool in the first place? What did you need help with?
We had a problem with how to share information and with keeping people up to date with various information across the association. Dropbox was a way of being able to share information in an easy way. Two people in the association are not very IT literate, so it was important to find something that was very easy for anyone to use.

How did you find out about the tool?
I’d already used the tool with schools - teachers often use it to set and share homework with students.

What is this tool for?
For sharing files across a number of different devices.

What do you use it for?
We use it to share membership lists, agendas for the committee, documents that everyone can look at and amend. It’s also great for sharing photographs - of which there are lots!

Why has this tool been useful to you?
It was a much easier and quicker way for people to share photographs than sharing them on a website.

Dropbox shows when someone has amended a document so easy to track who last edited a particular paper.

What have been the benefits of using this tool to you?
It is free and freely available. Funds are limited in the association so free is always an advantage! It is expandable if you need more space - though there is a cost for that. Finally, it works across different devices. One person in association uses a smartphone so they can access the shared dropbox folder on it.

Is there any cost attached to using this tool?
It’s free initially but you have to pay if you want to extend the storage available. However there is quite a bit of free space to be getting on with.

Are there any online tutorials available?
There are some Getting started tutorials on the website. However we got everyone together and did an intro session to help people set up, worked really well.

Did this application need much of your time to set it up at the beginning?
No, just 10 - 15 minutes and few bottles of wine!

Are there any limitations to using this tool?
Only if you want to extend the amount of space available to store files. However with good housekeeping you should have enough.

It seems to be restricted on some networks, for example some people using their work laptops cannot access it, but that is down to their work’s policy.

Do you have any top tips for using this tool?
Use sensible filenames so that people can see what the files are about. Also make sure you keep a good file structure when organising your shared folders.

Do you have any other recommendations of tools that could help you do something similar?
Skydrive by Microsoft and Google Drive are similar.

Dropbox sits within the file listing as part of the file system on your device so seemed easier for people to understand.

Are there any other online tools that you have used that you would recommend and why?

Gimp - like photoshop but free. We use it to create labels for honey jars!
Blender - a 3D graphics tool.
Wordle - for analysing text. Good when doing presentations to get a point across.
Prezzi - free presentation tool
Google Docs - some people use the spreadsheet tool for keeping records of their beekeeping.