Category Archives: Software

Uploading Content to Amazon S3 with CloudBerry Labs’ S3 Explorer

I recently made the move to Amazon S3 and CloudFront to store and server static content, in particular images, for some of my e-commerce web sites. We have thousands of images to serve to our visitors, in all different sizes. To get started, I went to Google to do some searching for some quality tools. I stumbled upon CloudBerry Labs‘ application S3 Explorer and downloaded it to give it a try. Installation was a snap and fairly quickly, I was configuring my Amazon S3 account in S3 Explorer. What’s very cool about this is that you can store as many S3 accounts that you might have, storing them for use later on. To configure an S3 connection, you will need your Amazon Access Key and your Amazon Secret Key. Now it was time to upload!

Like I mentioned earlier, we have thousands of images. In fact, we have over 27,000 images. And that’s just in one image dimension size! We have 6 sizes, so that’s well over 160,000 images. That would be a bear to do through Amazon’s S3 web interface. Especially if I needed to set headers and permissions. CloudBerry S3 Explorer came in handy for this. I selected one set of images and before I started the upload, it allowed me to set any HTTP Headers I needed on my images. After that, up they went. I’d say with my connection, it took an hour or so to get all of them up to S3, depending on the file sizes. After uploading, I needed to set permissions, which I was able to do by just selecting all of the S3 objects and setting the proper permissions. This was kind of slow because CloudBerry S3 Explorer needed to get information on all of the objects I had selected, which was over 27,000.

All in all, I think it took me a couple of days to sporadically upload and set up all of our images. The beauty is now we’re serving them from CloudFront, which makes our sites quite a bit faster. A total win win for us.

A few notes about this wonderful application:

  • It’s incredible easy to set permissions on objects. They have a check box if you want to open the objects up for the world to download, which was nice for us. It would have been nice to be able to do this before upload like HTTP Headers, but I didn’t see how.
  • Very easy to set HTTP Headers and any meta data you need on your objects. And you can do it before the upload starts!

  • One thing that confused me a little was on Windows 7, when I minimized S3 Explorer, it went into my task bar and not with other minimized applications. It took me a little while to figure out where it was hiding. At first I just thought the application had crashed on me.
  • Overwriting object preserved HTTP Headers and permissions, something I was a little concerned about.
  • Moving data between S3 folders and buckets was really easy. Again, preserves HTTP Headers and permissions.

So, all in all, my impressions of this application are really good, and I was only using the Freeware version. The pro version, for only $39.99, offers the unlimited S3 accounts and multi-threading which speeds up your uploads. Other features available in the Pro version are:

  • Compression
  • Encryption
  • Search
  • Chunking
  • FTP Support
  • Sync

For more information on CloudBerry Labs’ S3 Explorer, check out their product page for S3 Explorer. Hopefully you’ll find this nifty little application as useful as I did!

Using DropBox For Mac OS X

I recently was able to get in on the limited Beta Release (which is now in public beta) of Evenflow Inc.’s Dropbox application for Mac OS X. Dropbox is a secure file storage application for Mac OS X created by 3 students from MIT. I’ve been using this cool app for about 4-5 months now and I have to say I absolutely love it. Its very intuitive. Its always available. And its fast!

I can get to my shared files via a web browser or the Finder integration for OS X, which is awesome because if I don’t have my MacBook with me (which isn’t often), I can get to a file I need access to. This is great for documents I don’t want to store in Google Docs. I’d say the Finder integration is pretty solid. One thing I’m a little disappointed about is that the default action when dragging files from Dropbox to my MacBook is a Move, not a Copy. There aren’t many instances where I’d want to permanently move a file from Dropbox to my local disk.

Since the limited beta release, it appears they’ve added a new tier of access above the free 2GB storage limit. Now, for $99.99 a year or $9.99 a month, you can have 50GB of storage. I’m not sure I’ll jump on that yet as I don’t use the 2GB I have now, but it could be an interesting backup solution, especially if they can get some integration where you can automatically backup your files either through Dropbox, or perhaps even Time Machine.

All in all I’d say this is an awesome application. No more need to FTP stuff around or email documents and files. You can just fire it up to your Dropbox and share with friends! I’m really looking forward to where these guys can take this app in the future. I’m sure we’ll see great things.

Yahoo Implements OpenID


I was reading on TechCrunch today that Yahoo has implemented OpenID, effectively tripling the number of OpenID accounts. They’ll be going into Beta at the end of the month. This is a huge win for the project, but it got me to thinking.

Remember way back when Microsoft Passport (Microsoft calls it Live ID now I believe and its used mostly on just their sites) came out it was supposed to be the answer to all our password woes? Create a Passport account and log in with the same username and password on any site that implemented it. Well, how far did it get? Nowhere. At least nowhere fast. Reason being I think implementation wasn’t all that easy and there was no real need for it without the abundance of internet users that we have today.

So what will make OpenID different? Well, first, the amount of social networking and information sites, not to mention the sheer number of people online, will make the adoption of some single account interface more appealing at some point. Second, with huge names like Yahoo, Google, Verisign, and IBM getting into the mix, something cool like this will have a shot at gaining some traction. I know I’d love to have one log in for all the sites I use daily. Remembering usernames and passwords is a pain.

Take this one step further. I’m in the e-commerce industry. I started thinking that I’d love to use something like this in all of the e-commerce sites we run. I would basically have one central spot to store authentication and account information instead of separate databases. So what if major brands started getting in on this? Think about it. Amazon, Gap, Target, WalMart, Best Buy, etc. etc. etc. are all on OpenID. You can effectively shop with the same authentication everywhere. No more forgot password reminders because you use this ID every day. You’d never forget! How cool would that be?

Camino Browser Redux

Back in August I wrote about how I had switched to the Camino Browser for my every day browsing needs (I still use Mozilla Firefox for development because of the plugin architecture so I can use the Web Developer Plugin and Firebug).


For the most part, the experience is still an excellent one (i.e. I haven’t switched to something else yet). They seem to update it on a fairly regular basis and its performance still seems to be the best of all the available browsers on the Mac. That said, it still has some annoyances.

Continue reading

Google Apps Not Secure By Default

I read in another blog post the other day (I don’t recall where) that most people don’t realize when the bookmark Google applications, they aren’t secure by default.  Even is you go to, GMail won’t redirect to the secure version.  It will just serve your mail over the unsecure connection.  The article went on to mention if you’re in GMail for instance, and open Google Docs, the Google Docs link won’t be secure either.  This allows the information to be unencrypted as it goes over the wire.  Thinking of this again this morning, I realized my bookmark for GMail was indeed insecure.  So I changed the link from http:// to https://.  The article also said that if you open other apps from GMail even on a secure connection they new window/tab won’t be secure, so you should have secure bookmarks for each app.  I found this to not be the case.  If your Gmail connection is secure via HTTPS and you open Google Docs or Google Calendar, that link will be secure as well.  Just a little tip for all you Google app users out there!

CoRD – Windows RDP Client For OSX

For the longest time I was frustrated with the lack of an Windows Remote Desktop client for OS X. It was actually easier to fire up Parallels to use the build it RDP Client in Windows XP than it was the mess around with what Microsoft had released for OS X (read, lack of multiple sessions, even with the new Beta which claims to support them). So I did some hunting around and found CoRD. Its really easy to use and offers multiple sessions, which is key. It even lets you tab them in a sense giving you a left toolbar with your saved and connected sessions. Cool! Exactly what you expect from a useful OS X application. It’s pretty responsive too, a bit better than I’d say the Microsoft RDP client is.

A couple of complaints though. The drawing of icons and windows is a bit fuzzy. I’m not sure if this is a setting I can tweak. I haven’t dug into it enough to find out. Also, it seems a little bit unstable. Using it tonight, it crashed on me twice. Once out of nowhere and the second when I was logging off of one of my servers. All in all though, I’d say its a great improvement over what I’ve been using.

Update:  I saw in CoRD’s bug fix log that there was a bug supposedly fixed in the 0.4.1 release where CoRD would crash when logging off of a server. I updated to a development release, 0.5.0, and it seems to have subsided. If you experience the same issue, I suggest trying a development version.