New Use for Gmail


 

I have been a user of Gmail for years and still love it as much today as I did back when I was able to first sign in.  That's why I was pleasantly surprised when I came up with yet another way to use it.

 

I deal with many servers that cross numerous system boundaries and I find myself occasionally having to copy textual information from one server to another and, in some configurations,  mapped drives and copy-paste simply aren't available.  This leaves the old stand-by of manually re-typing the information or getting a server support monkey involved and spending an hour talking it through a 3 minute change.  However, almost all of these systems have internet access, which is where I my idea came in.

 

The problem with commonly available internet applications is that there is no quick, easy and reasonably secure way to put data onto a public server on the internet that can be easily managed from multiple locations.  Those that are available involve setting up some form of CMS or FTP, and FTP is almost always disabled or blocked at the firewall. Then my idea struck – use the drafts feature of Gmail to move data across systems.

 

How it works

  • Sign into my Gmail account on the source machine and the destination machine using https://mail.google.com/
  • Create a new message on the Source machine and paste the text to be copied into the message body
  • Save the draft
  • I switch over to the destination machine and open  the draft
  • Copy the text and do whatever I need to with it
  • On rare occasions, I've also used the attached files option of the draft to move files between machines.

 

Advantages

  • Easily, quickly and securely copy data across systems without risking typing errors
  • The draft is shared between computers so you can make changes to either copy and have that change immediately available on the other computer with a simple refresh of the page
  • Drafts can be saved for quite a while or even forwarded on to someone else so that they can see what you had to change.  It's always nice to have changes saved in something a little more permanent than a clipboard buffer.  (Yes, I know, in large corporations, this is handled by a change control process.  This is for the 90% of us that don't work in that type of environment)

 

Ok, so how does this even remotely touch on SharePoint?  One word: Web.config .  The changes that often need to be made in the SharePoint Web.Config tend to be rather difficult to type without error.  Things like GUIDs and Keys abound and are amazingly annoying to type.  This way, those items can be copied intact and I won't have to spend hours troubleshooting a fat-fingered GUID.

 

Obviously, this will not always work due to firewall, proxy, policy and security restrictions but it has worked well the few times I've needed it.  Also, be aware that it likely a violation of company policy to host confidential data on a public server (even temporarily) so be careful what you use this for.

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Posted on October 26, 2007, in Random Thoughts. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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