I broke my eyeglasses this morning. While loading a toolbox into the back of the car, my eyeglasses slipped off my face and landed on the concrete driveway. One lens shattered.
Luckily, I also have prescription sunglasses that happened to be in the front seat console of the auto. I put the sunglasses on and had full vision, but I wouldn't want to wear sunglasses around the house, especially at night.
I should also mention that I am in Florida, but I purchased the glasses a bit more than a year ago from a big-name optical franchise in Massachusetts. I drove to a local franchisee of the same chain, hoping they would have my prescription on file in their computers and could make new glasses for me quickly. Alas, it was not that easy. It seems the local store's computers could not access prescription information from another store.
A very helpful clerk suggested I call the office of the ophthalmologist that wrote the prescription and ask someone at that office to FAX the prescription to the local store. I had a better idea.
I remembered that I had taken a picture of the prescription within a few minutes after I received it last year, using my cell phone's camera, and then I had saved the picture in Dropbox. I also remembered that the picture had been very clear and the text of the prescription was easily readable in the picture. While still in the store in Florida, I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket, touched the Dropbox icon, and retrieved the prescription from the Dropbox servers. A few seconds later, a crystal clear image of the prescription appeared on my cellphone screen.
Of course, an optician cannot easily make new glasses while looking at a prescription displayed on a tiny screen. I also did not have a printer with me. Once again, the solution was easy: I asked the store clerk, "Does the store have an email address?" He said they did have email and gave me the address.
While still displaying the prescription on the screen, I touched the "forward" icon in the lower left corner of the screen, touched EMAIL, and then entered the store’s email address. I then touched SEND. The clerk went out to the back room and re-appeared about a minute later with a piece of paper in his hand: my prescription. It was much clearer and easier to read than the typical FAX document.
The total time consumed was less than five minutes. That certainly is much faster than calling an ophthalmologist's office in another state, asking them to FAX the document, and then waiting for it to arrive.
My glasses will be ready this afternoon.
Between Dropbox and Evernote, I have hundreds, perhaps thousands, of documents filed away, including prescriptions, insurance policies, travel itineraries, bills, automobile titles and registrations, all sorts of receipts, and notes to myself that I used to write on yellow "sticky notes." In effect, I am carrying the equivalent of a large filing cabinet in my pocket at all times.
I also save backup copies of all my genealogy data in Dropbox. The copies include the latest update of my genealogy database (and several earlier versions as well), all text notes I have written, all email messages I have sent or received concerning my own family tree, and scanned images of all the old family photographs. Even if I have a fire or a burst water pipe in my home, I know my data is safe on servers in well-managed data centers that are professionally maintained and backed up often. Of course, I always keep copies on my own computers as well.
You can easily do the same. I use both Dropbox and Evernote. Several other, competitive services are also available. I find Dropbox to be better at keeping documents, pictures, and larger computer files. I especially like the quick and easy method of uploading pictures from a camera. I typically upload the photos every week or two and then delete them from the camera in order to make room for new pictures. However, I prefer Evernote for "notes to myself" as well as many smaller things I wish to save by copying-and-pasting from information displayed on the computer screen.
You might have different preferences. You might find images created by a smartphone's camera are perfectly acceptable. Then again, you might prefer to scan various pieces of paper using a desktop or handheld scanner. Evernote and Dropbox don't care; they will accept either method.
NOTE: Almost all the companies I deal with, including my bank, offer paperless billing or paperless banking. I select that option whenever possible. The mailman delivers very little paper to me these days except for junk mail, and I don't scan that. Almost all my bills now arrive in email where I can quickly save them in Dropbox. Bank statements and even canceled checks for the past several years are now available in my Dropbox account. I don't keep any of that on paper.
Security? Online security is much, much better than keeping pieces of paper at the house, where those documents would be available to thieves or to visitors to the house or subject to mold or mildew. Also, if I throw away paper documents at the house, “dumpster divers” can retrieve them from the trash. With electronic documents, I don't even need to buy a shredder. Even better, I can find those receipts and even canceled checks in seconds in Dropbox. Doing the same thing with a filing cabinet will require much more time, especially when on vacation or just traveling down to the local mall to visit an optician.
Both Dropbox and Evernote are available FREE
of charge, up to some reasonable amount of data (two gigabytes of storage space for Dropbox, 60 megabytes of data transfer per month for Evernote). Those limits will hold a LOT
of documents. More storage space and data transfers are available for reasonable fees.
Both Dropbox and Evernote can retrieve your data and store it in Windows or Macintosh systems as well as in most of the popular handheld devices of today. Assuming you carry a smartphone with you, your "filing cabinet" is available to you wherever you are. You can download the Dropbox software to your computer at https://www.dropbox.com/install
and find instructions for installing Dropbox on Android, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, and Kindle mobile devices at https://www.dropbox.com/mobile
. You can download Evernote for computers and mobile devices by starting at https://evernote.com/evernote/
While you hopefully won't break your eyeglasses any time soon and need an emergency prescription, you never know when you will have an urgent need for some piece of information. Having all your documents available to you electronically, wherever you are, can save you time and frustration.
Stop running around! Make your life easier! Store your data in the cloud with Dropbox and/or Evernote.