Just for fun

One giant leap for student-kind

Posted by Franklin Ta on December 11, 2012
Dropbox, Just for fun / 48 Comments

Hey Space Racers!

Over the last eight weeks, millions of students from over 6,000 schools (and 100 countries!) strapped on their space boots and hustled in the greatest race for space the world has ever seen (since the actual space race).

We’ve heard of all sorts of exciting cosmonaut campaigns to get more space, like the billboarding efforts of these TU Delft students from a galaxy far, far away (the Netherlands).

And no matter your place on the leaderboard (congrats National University of Singapore!), every Space Racer made off with an astronomical haul of spacey goodness. 

Over the course of two months, we’ve dished out a bajillion gigabytes (or something) of free space. That’s enough for gobs of group projects, presentations, and final essays — hooray!

So venture forth, earthlings! Fire up your spaceship and go do something cosmic — there’s a whole universe of space to explore.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by Jon Ying on November 22, 2012
Dropbox, Just for fun, Misc / 69 Comments

This Thanksgiving, there’s a lot I’m personally thankful for — good friends, healthy family, and obviously the colossal turkey in the oven as we speak. But what about Dropbox? With all the frenzy both inside and outside our walls, there’s no shortage of things we’re thankful for.

First off, we’re thankful for our first year at our shiny new SF office, and for all the new Dropboxers who’ve joined to help us build the dream (come join us!)

We’re also grateful for our happy developers finding clever new ways to make Dropbox sing. You guys have brought Dropbox to new audiences including our new friends in Spain (hola!) and Italy (ciao!), who we’re also super thankful for. Welcome to the family!

Most importantly, we’re thankful for (and inspired by) people who are thankful for us.

All of us at Dropbox hope your holiday season’s fantastic and full of great times with friends and family. As always, feast hard! …just try not to exceed your quota :).
 

 

New Space Race Leaderboards!

Posted by Brian Chu on October 22, 2012
Dropbox, Just for fun / 25 Comments

Hey Space Racers!

It’s been a week since the Great Space Race began, and we’ve been amazed at the response we’ve gotten from all over the world! We’ve heard all kinds of stories: from professors posting the rankings in their classrooms to students starting Facebook events to rally their school.

Today, we’re excited to tell you that the competition just got even hotter. We’ve added new leaderboards so you can see how your school stacks up against your fiercest competition. Whether it’s the Pac-12, the Southeastern Conference or the Big Ten, now you can always have an eye on your biggest rival. Check it out:




We’ve also created new country-specific leaderboards, so you can view top schools by geography. Click on the flag next to any school to see the national ranking:

You’ll still earn points the same way, but we hope these new groupings will help ignite your school spirit. If you see a school that’s missing from an existing leaderboard or have suggestions for a new one, let us know at spacerace-rivalries@dropbox.com. For other questions, check out our help center.

So, go invite your classmates and professors to dominate your leaderboard and get more free space for your school!

The Great Dropbox Space Race!

Posted by Franklin Ta on October 15, 2012
Dropbox, Just for fun / 490 Comments

Hey everyone!

Ahh, October. Changing colors, rustling leaves, and problematic problem sets can mean only one thing — yup, It’s definitely school o’clock again. As this school year gets into full swing, we’re on a mission to make your life easier by inviting you to the greatest race for space the world has ever seen (you know, aside from the whole moon thing):

 

The Great Dropbox Space Race!

 

So you’re probably shaking in your little space boots and wondering, ‘Okay, great. What’s that?’ Well, Space Race is a chance for you to support your school and compete against other schools for eternal glory (by eternal glory we mean up to 25 GB of free Dropbox space for two years).

How it works

Earn points by referring your classmates, friends, and professors to Dropbox (they just need to sign in with their school email and install Dropbox if they haven’t already), and by getting them to complete the Get Started guide. As you and your classmates earn more points, everyone from your school registered for Space Race will get more free space. Cosmic.

The Details

  • Rules
    • You must register for Space Race with an eligible school email address (if you have an existing Dropbox account you can still join)!
    • If you’ve signed up for Dropbox with a non-school email, no problem! You can verify your school account on the Space Race page.
    • Your school gets 1 point for each person who registers for Space Race and installs Dropbox on their computer (if they haven’t already).
    • Your school gets 2 more points for each person that goes through the Get Started guide (including you!)
  • Free Space!
    • Just by signing up, you get 3 GB for two years.
    • Each level your school achieves means more free space. That means the more classmates and friends you rally to Dropbox, the more space every Space Racer at your school gets, up to 25 GB for two years!
    • In addition to earning points, you’ll still get the normal 500 MB bonus for each referral.
  • You’ll have 8 weeks to get as many people as you can from your school signed up for Space Race!

Why?

Dropbox’s roots are in schools. The earliest set of Dropboxers were fresh college grads (or dropouts), so we know exactly where you guys are coming from. Because of this, we love hiring interns and full-timers straight out of school (come work at Dropbox)! In fact, some recent interns sent Dropbox into space as a Hack Week project, and the space pun was just too convenient.

Schools are also a place where Dropbox really shines. We’ve heard of teachers using Dropbox for submitting homework, groups building amazing feats of engineering through shared folders, and theses being rescued from certain doom at the end of that critical all-nighter. That being said, we wanted to do something for all you students and professors to show how much we love you guys. And while our referral doubling last April was cool and all, it’s nothing compared to how ridiculous the space opportunities are going to be for your school this year.

So suit up, grab some dehydrated ice cream, and let’s do this. Invite your friends, classmates, and professors to Space Race, and conquer ALL the space for your school!

Good luck.

P.S. Check out our Terms and Conditions for more details on eligibility.

Dropbox in Space!

Posted by Adam and Isaac on August 14, 2012
Dropbox, Hack Week, Just for fun / 76 Comments

Hey everyone!

Recently, Hack Week hit Dropbox in a big way. As interns, the two of us hadn’t experienced the awesomeness of a Dropbox Hack Week, but when we were told that we could work on anything–absolutely anything–we knew we had to think big. We played around with a ton of project ideas, from real time collaboration tools to a Dropbox for Xbox app. But we decided to roll bold with a crazy idea: For years, Dropbox has let people take their stuff anywhere on Earth. But why stop there? Why not take Dropbox to space?

Intro

To do this, we decided to launch a high altitude helium balloon into the stratosphere. Attached were two Android smartphones: one programmed to take periodic photos, and the other to record video of the entire flight. At 100,000 feet above the ground, these photos and videos would capture the curvature of the Earth! In true Dropbox spirit, there’s also an added twist: we wanted the balloon to have Internet the entire flight. With an Internet connection, we’d be able to use Dropbox’s brand new Camera Uploads feature to beam live photos from our balloon back to “mission control.”

And it worked! Sort of.

Research & Preparation

About two weeks before Hack Week started, we began researching high altitude weather balloons and the legendary shopping list needed to launch one — from the balloon itself to radar reflectors, parachutes, and oversized helium tanks. Thanks to a few pleading phone calls and lots of overnight shipping (thanks Amazon Prime!), everything arrived in time for Hack Week.

Our next challenge was figuring out how to hook our balloon up with Internet. Since standard cell phone 3G fails at high altitudes, we needed to find an alternative Internet source. We first considered using amateur radio. TCP/IP, the communication protocol of the Internet, has been implemented over amateur radio before, but for us to do so would probably require a Hack Year instead of a week. After (very) briefly investigating a 50-mile long Ethernet cord, we settled on WiFi–the very same WiFi you use every day.

Researchers have successfully broadcast a WiFi signal several hundred miles, so we were optimistic that we’d be able to shoot for a modest 50 miles. Although we expected our balloon to rise only 15 miles vertically, wind could carry it anywhere from 40 to 100 miles laterally, greatly increasing the needed range of our WiFi connection. We purchased a large parabolic dish along with other long-range WiFi equipment from Ubiquiti Networks.

Assembly

Due to the tight power and weight restrictions on our balloon, our WiFi system was pretty complex. On the ground, we tethered a 4G Android smartphone to a laptop as our Internet source. The laptop was then connected to an antenna on our balloon which was connected to an extremely lightweight wireless router. Unfortunately, the wireless router aboard the balloon sported only an Ethernet jack, with no way to connect it to the Android phone.

Our solution was to connect yet another small wireless router to rebroadcast a wireless network for the onboard phone to pick up. And because there were no power outlets on the balloon, we cut open the Ethernet cord connecting the two wireless devices and spliced in two battery packs, one for each wireless device.

We also got a handheld radio with GPS to track our balloon in real time and properly aim our dish from the ground. Our plan was to use the GPS data from the balloon, our position, and trigonometry to aim the dish, even once we could no longer see the balloon. The radio would broadcast GPS information over an amateur radio network. Other radio enthusiasts would pick up the signal, and the balloon’s position would ultimately be displayed on a website where we could view the position on Google Maps. We hoped that the balloon’s altitude, high above the usual obstructions, would give us a consistent GPS signal.

With only two days before launch, we finally received our wireless equipment and started a mad dash to assemble it. Since the clock was ticking, we didn’t get a chance to fully test our setup; the farthest distance we attempted was about half a mile. Come launch day, we could only hope that our setup would work over longer distances.

Launch Day

Early Friday morning, we drove out to our launch site in Vacaville, CA. We chose Vacaville because we wanted a place that wouldn’t carry our balloon into any urban areas or large bodies of water. We arrived in time for sunrise, but spent several hours looking for a clear, flat launch site with strong 4G coverage. Eventually, we were able to set up on a dead end road next to a small hotel.

We slowly began assembling the balloon starting with our wireless equipment. After a stressful couple of hours with several mysterious network failures, we secured the cameras and wireless devices in the styrofoam payload container. Next we began to inflate the balloon. Minutes before launch, we discovered that our GPS transmitter was busted. With no other choice, we packed the GPS device into our payload anyway, hoping that the strong signal it’d get from high up would result in successful transmissions. We wrote our names and phone numbers on the sides of the container. If we were lucky, we’d receive a phone call if our balloon was found after a nice, gentle landing (it’s probably best not to imagine what could have happened if we were unlucky :P).

 

 

Fully inflated, our balloon reached a size of about 8 feet in diameter. With the wind picking up, it was actually incredibly difficult to hold on to. We tied the payload, parachute, and radar reflector to the balloon, and after confirming that photos were appearing in our Dropbox account in real time, we were ready for launch. We aimed our dish, crossed our fingers, and let go of the balloon. At almost exactly noon, several hours behind schedule, we launched!

The first few minutes after lift off were incredibly exciting. The balloon rose quickly (more than 15 feet per second) and in just minutes was a small speck in the sky. For several minutes we successfully aimed our dish at the balloon, feeding it a WiFi signal which resulted in live photos uploaded over Dropbox. But the GPS data never materialized and eventually we were flying blind! We were soon left to search the sky with our dish, waving it back and forth and monitoring the strength of the connection, our only feedback for finding our increasingly invisible balloon.

We received photos in real time from our balloon for the first 3 or 4 minutes. While we maintained a network connection for many miles, we lacked the bandwidth to continue transmitting full photos as the balloon rose higher and higher. Nonetheless, we were incredibly excited by the few photos we received in real time.

After attempting to recover an Internet connection for an hour or so, we decided to drive in the direction of our balloon’s predicted landing. Incredibly, two hours into the flight of the balloon and likely moments after landing, we received a phone call: our balloon had been found! The caller informed us that she’d gone outside to investigate a commotion among her horses when she discovered our balloon! Unbelievably thrilled, we drove to her farm to retrieve our equipment and upload the remaining photos and videos to Dropbox. After conveying our many thanks (and converting a new customer to Dropbox!), we sped back to Dropbox HQ in time for Hack Week’s closing ceremony.

We’d like to give a big shout out to everyone who helped us turn an ambitious project idea into reality. Thank you!

- Isaac & Adam

 

 

Check out the rest of the photos and videos from our flight!


What we used:


Some good resources:

 

Dropquest II: The Future is Now

Posted by Jon Ying on May 02, 2012
Dropbox, Just for fun / 2,180 Comments

Many of you were around for last year’s Dropquest, where we sent y’all on a magical journey through Dropbox and the interwebs. Wordokus were solved, music puzzles were deciphered, origami cranes were folded, and dragons were slain. All in all, nearly half a million Dropquesters were rewarded for their craftiness, skill, and effort. That was well over a year ago, and since then we’ve been holding our cards and toiling away to craft a Dropquest successor worthy of the first.

That being said, we’ve got something to say about the Dropquest landing next weekend:

It’s back.

It’s harder.

It’s epic-er.

 

If you’re experiencing Dropquest for the first time, or if you’re a veteran needing a recap, here’s the scoop:

What is Dropquest? Dropquest is a multi-step scavenger hunt that has you solve a series of puzzles (inspired by the likes of MIT’s Mystery Hunt or Notpron [though not nearly as time/effort-consuming]). Everyone who completes Dropquest will get at least 1 GB of extra free space, even if you participated last year. Also, everyone starts at the same time, but the questers who finish the soonest get additional amazing prizes.

1st place (1) Dropbox employee hoodie, LIMITED EDITION Dropbox Hack Week t-shirt, Dropbox drawing signed by the entire Dropbox team, invitation to help write the next Dropquest, 100 GB for life
2nd place (10) Dropbox employee hoodie, Dropbox t-shirt, 20 GB for life
3rd place (15) Dropbox t-shirt, 5 GB for life
4th place (50) 2 GB for life
5th place (100) 1 GB for life

Any rules? This year, we won’t tolerate use of our support, forums, or blog for Dropquest hints or answers — our wonderful mods and support team would really appreciate it. In fact, you’ll probably get disqualified if we catch you doing this.

When is it? Dropquest starts Saturday, May 12, at 10AM PST (17:00 GMT). Don’t be late.

 

To get started, head here

(this link won’t work until Dropquest is ready)

 

Other questions:

Wait, did you say harder? Yes indeed! We’ve got a whole trove of puzzles that will require a discerning eye and tons of creativity to solve, and many of this year’s puzzles will require you to go several layers deep (*cue Inception horns*). Feel free to grab a friend (last year’s winners Veronica and Evonne would definitely encourage you to do so!), but just be aware that one key doesn’t fit every door this year…

Woah, it’s WAY too hard! After Dropquest has been out for a while, we’ll periodically release hints for each step to help you guys out. Use these at your own risk.

How long will Dropquest take? To be honest, we don’t know! There are a bunch of factors that dynamically shift while Dropquest is running, so it’s pretty hard to tell. Last year Dropquest was finished in a little under 2 hours, but the Black-ops team doubts that it’ll be solved in under 5 hours this year — feel free to prove us wrong ;).

Will I need any special tools? Most if not all of this year’s puzzles can be solved using your internet browser and pencil + paper. While not necessary, we highly suggest downloading and installing the Dropbox desktop application. Several puzzles take place within your Dropbox, and installing will make your life much easier. There won’t be any need for a printer this time (sorry origami enthusiasts!)

What if I win free space? Aside from that being awesome, you should know that your current account type (e.g., Basic, Pro 50, Pro 100) won’t change. Your free space is just for you, so you can’t give it to anyone else or sell it. As always, using Dropbox is subject to our Terms of Service and other terms. Check them out at http://www.dropbox.com/terms.

What’s the story behind Dropquest? Dropquest is written and produced by a two-man cell of the Black-ops Team, and is the result of Dropbox’s very sacred Hack Week, where employees get a full week to work on any project they’d like no matter how technical or random. There are plans to produce a new Quest for every subsequent Hack Week. To learn more about why this is truly an incredible place to work, visit our jobs page.

The Official Dropbox Guide To Getting More Space!

Posted by Ivan on November 21, 2011
Dropbox, Just for fun / 443 Comments

We get asked a lot how to get more space in your Dropbox, and we realized that we’ve never put an official guide together. So here it is! When people start using Dropbox, they start small but often need more and more space over time. We’ve created a bunch of free ways to get more space, but also make it simple to get loads of space really fast.

Take A Tour
For people new to Dropbox, there are a few things you should try out first — we want you to install Dropbox on a bunch of computers, use our sharing features, and more. We’ve put together a list of tasks to get started; and when you finish this quest, you’ll get an extra 250MB free.

Tell Your Friends
A while back, we noticed that most of our growth was from word of mouth: people that love Dropbox tell their friends. We’ve built a way to invite your friends to Dropbox that gives you both extra space (250MB for free)! We’ve made it really easy to email your friends from your address book and post to Twitter or Facebook. We’ve also given you a link to put anywhere on the web. The more people you invite, the more space you get!

Be A Student
The first lines of Dropbox were written back when our cofounder Drew Houston had just graduated from school but forgot his USB key on a bus ride. To commemorate our victory over USB keys, and to make the lives of students even easier, students with a valid school email address get a whopping 500MB for each person they invite to Dropbox. All you need to do is confirm that you’re a student.

Have Fun
We’ve done a bunch of fun challenges and quests where the prize was more space. In January, we had our first DropQuest, which was a scavenger hunt across our site. It was a race to the finish to get some really special prizes, and every person that finished also got a bonus. Last October, Reddit stole our logo, so to say thanks we made a post where the top commenter got a 100GB boost to their Dropbox. We’ve made a fun little quest to make your Dropbox a little more social. A while back when we made an announcement on twitter, we gave a random re-tweeter 100GB to get the word out.

We do this stuff all the time! The best way to keep up with the games is to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

One More Thing
If you ever need even more space, you can always subscribe to Dropbox Pro, available in 50GB or 100GB. Furthermore, referrals double to 500MB (1GB for students) per person you invite! But if you need even more than 100GB, or if you run your own business; you should check out Dropbox for Teams, which is designed specifically for educators, non-profits, and businesses.

Hopefully this gave you a good idea of how to get even more space for your Dropbox! Happy Dropboxing! Ohh, and just for good measure, we’ll pick someone who retweets our tweet about this post and give them a 100GB bonus!

Dropbox + Rock Band = <3

Posted by Jon Ying on August 07, 2009
Just for fun / 13 Comments

Hey Dropboxers!

While we have many traditions and unique habits over here at Dropbox HQ (building your own desk and computer as a rite of passage, weekly treks to our favorite restaurant Shalimar, and blasting ‘The Final Countdown‘ when posting new builds of Dropbox, to name a few), none are as defined or hardcore as our passion for the video game Rock Band.

Having a team that was mostly born in the 80s means having a group of kids who grew up latched onto video games; but the team has developed a special affinity for plastic instruments.  In between our long coding sessions (by the way, LAN Sync beta is now available on the forums!), the team likes to sit back and jam to the likes of Dream Theater and Megadeth.  This isn’t a game that just a few people play in the office, it’s a game that every employee plays, and our specially outfitted Rock Band war room is equipped with pretty much every plastic instrument in existence (Not shown are the 6 other guitars and 2 broken drum sets):

Dropbox RB room!

While the Dbox ‘Dream Team’ hasn’t really practiced much together since our Mozy showdown in March, we’re fully prepared to take on any of you out there who think you’re sporting sufficient chops to take on Dropbox.  Just give us a holler ;).  Rajiv and I also play ranked matches on drums and guitar respectively.

You can look us up as ‘DropTheBox’ on XBox Live :).

Battle of the Bands

Posted by Jon Ying on March 16, 2009
Just for fun, Misc / 12 Comments

After last month’s post about Drew, we got an interesting comment:

Hey guys… we love your work and follow the blog (over here at Mozy). We spotted your Rock Band affinity and all we could think of was this:

ROCK BAND THROWDOWN

Mozy hereby challenges you to a Rock Band Playoff, battle of the bands, best man is the last man standing. Email me if you accept:

tom [at] mozy.com

And yes, we’re totally serious.

One thing led to another, and this Thursday (3/19) Mozy will be sending out their “dream team” (lol) to compete against us in a Rock Band Battle Royale.  If you’d like to witness this spectacle and cheer on the Dropboxers, we’ll be streaming it live Thursday night at 7 PM PST from Justin.tv headquarters (more details to come).  Wish us luck!

In other news, we’re looking for those of you with artistic talent to redesign our Leopard-style tray icon for the Mac clients of Dropbox– but no need to worry, anyone can participate!  The winner gets an extra 50GB of space.  To learn more, head here.

Resolutions

Posted by Jon Ying on January 05, 2009
Just for fun, Misc / 35 Comments

Ahh New Year’s. A great time to make promises that you’ll probably never fulfill. But hey, it’s the thought that counts anyway.

Here are the team’s resolutions for 2009–some Dropbox-related, some not, but we’ll put a little extra effort in following through with the ones that are …we promise!

Drew
My resolution is to start up my 90s rock cover band again and/or play more music.

Arash
I resolve to get my life together.

Aston
I resolve to play less fake drums (on Rock Band) and play more real drums (in a real band?).

Jon
My resolution is not to do anything I wouldn’t do. Namely, everything.

Rajiv
My resolution is not to die while I learn how to ride a motorcycle.

Rian
I resolve to make a musical career out of singing hate songs about Jon.

Mike
I resolve to make the clients faster.

Albert
Come up with ways to reward Dropbox users for spreading the word, and to assemble the still-boxed furniture still sitting in my living room.

Trevor
Make the Dropbox website more standards compliant and accessible to help meet the needs of users with disabilities, and to lead Dropbox to its first ever startup kickball tournament victory.

Michael
Get our new user walkthroughs setup and perfected and do whatever I can to further Dropbox’s global domination.

So, what are all your resolutions?

Happy 2009!