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Recently I asked you to take a sneak peek at www.Dilbertfiles.com. It's a subscription service that lets you send, receive, and store huge files online.

Your comments were hugely helpful. Thank you for taking the time. Most of the comments were along the lines of "Why would anyone pay for something they can get for free from a dozen different web sites?" There is a good answer, but evidently it wasn't obvious from the site. So we totally redesigned the interface to service that question.

The fast answer is that the free file sending services are a good substitute for dilbertfiles.com in the same way that walking is a free substitute for driving a car. Walking works perfectly until you want to go shopping out of town on a rainy day. It's a features and convenience thing.

The free file sending services are fine if all you want to do is send a photo of your cat to your mom. And the file isn't too large. And you don't care who might see it. And you don't mind the extra steps. And you are sending, not receiving. And you don't want to store the file online for long. And you only want to send it to one person.

But if you are in a business where you routinely send and receive huge files, you'll want an extra level of security and convenience. And you'll probably be moving files that are much larger than the free services handle. I use Dilbertfiles.com to move my own artwork to my syndication company and to my publisher.

This week I bought the rights to a photo that had been taken of me for a magazine. It was an especially good picture and I needed an updated one for publicity purposes. The photographer's company sent me the photo on a CD, via Fedex. What a pain. If they had Dilbertfiles.com, and used the Outlook plug-in, they could have e-mailed me the file with just a few keystrokes. (None of the free services could have handled files of that size.)

I figure there are several million businesses that move huge files around daily and don't know this sort of service would make their lives easier. If they pick Dilbertfiles.com, they get all the benefits plus they can watch a free slideshow of Dilbert comics in the interface while their file is being sent.

I got involved in this project to justify writing a free blog every day. I searched for a type of online service that could help a lot of people if they simply knew it existed. The beauty of this business model is that if you simply forward the Dilbertfiles.com link to a colleague who might find it useful, you will, for all practical purposes, be leaving me a digital tip for my work without spending any of your own money.

Is this a new business model? I haven't seen it in this precise form.
 
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Jan 22, 2009
If I may ask this question: If you wanted to advertise this new service, in every newspaper that carries "Dilbert," four days in a row (and counting), and you wanted a display ad the size of a comic strip... How much would it cost you?

[Life must be easier without nuance. I envy you. -- Scott]
 
 
Dec 5, 2008
@ BigJ:
I disagree completely. I work for a mid-size software company (about 1500 employees), and we use a similar service (leapfile.com and another I'm not sure the name) very frequently. We have a VPN server and an FTP server, but there is still a need for a file transfer service. I work in the IT department so I can tell you with certainty why we use it. We interact with our customers daily to send them software they have purchased, as well as for them to send us data files so that we can assist them in performing their analysis with our software. For many years we used our internal FTP server, but it was a constant source of hassles for us. It needed constant maintenance. Customers would often have problems downloading from it, due to problems on our network, or problems with our ISP. It was always filling up and running out of hard drive space, so we were always having to scramble to clean it up when employees or customers would upload too much. Add to that hardware failures every now and then, and you get the idea. Our IT department is VERY short staffed, and since the ability to transfer large files to/from customers is absolutely essential to our business, we started using a third party. This gives us the uptime and zero maintenance we need without seriously taxing our IT staff.

One other thought. We recently started providing our customers the ability to buy our software in an online store and download it right away. Since we are a public company, we have to be able to prove with some level of certainty that customers have taken delivery of the product to recognize revenue. Our internal FTP server was not reliable enough for this, nor did it allow a good level of certainty that the software has been delivered.

Overall, i think it's a great idea. I think it would be great for our tech support dept to use, as many people interacting with tech support and uploading files will probably enjoy the Dilbert interface and comics while uploading. Trouble is, I doubt management would go for it. Oh well. Management kills the fun again. If I were the tech support mgr, I'd be all over it!
 
 
Dec 3, 2008
Digital tips... business model... OK, the idea is great, BUT why can't you, Scott, offer some Dilbert-branded merchandise, such as this Wally Catbert mug here? http://www.flickr.com/photos/cannysphotos/2727428887/

The lack of branded products (mugs, mouse pads, caps, whatever) is a serious lack of the brand "Dilbert" (and friends).
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 27, 2008
I just had to comment on a bad business.

First, if the photo was too large to send via email, it would have probably taken the photographer a long time to upload, and probably didn't want to have to leave a specific browser window and his PC on for that long, or have his internet connection tied up.

Secondly, any business beyond a certain size that needs to transfer large files frequently will have an in-house solution set up, such as a Virtual Private Network, or an FTP server. This means that most of the people who use your service will not be repeat customers.

Third, there are free services that offer large (beyong 2 GB) temporary file hosting and that do not make those files available to anyone who knows an URL.

And finally, no serious business is going to use a service called "DilbertFiles.com" to send files to their customers.
 
 
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Nov 25, 2008
If there's a way to build a version of this site on a company's own systems (so the files don't sit on a third-party server) and take out the Dilbert stuff, I could see it working because it does look user-friendly and convenient.
 
 
Nov 25, 2008
Probably way too late to comment on this topic, but hopefully Scott is (or has someone) still checking this space. I was thinking maybe you could add a one-time trial file send for people to try out the service and see how funnyunfunny the service is. You may also want to add a PS on the site about there being no funny business with the service. Keeping the Dilbert name has its pros and cons, but it's more likely to work to your advantage with getting the initial push.
 
 
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Nov 23, 2008
This is the first time anyone's suggested that I should tip for writing a blog. As far as I can tell, writing a blog is a labor of love, and if you don't enjoy it as a creative outlet, you shouldn't be doing it.

Some people do try to monetize their blogs, most commonly through ads, and that's fine. But "tipping" suggests that we are somehow beholden to you.
 
 
Nov 23, 2008
I share a few concerns already mentioned:

- The name and branding itself may limit the market who want to use it
- The people who use it *because of* the name will be even fewer, since most of us geeks already have good solutions for this problem

However, I don't agree with the "FTP" comments at all, we're trying to focus on non-techies here as well, and while they can click an Upload button and browse for a file, most will end up stuffing up FTP transfers.

For what it's worth, my workplace has an in-house tool to deal with transferring large files.
 
 
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Nov 23, 2008
Scott, these comments are getting ugly! Start packing for Canada!
 
 
Nov 23, 2008
I am surprised at the number of commenters who see a problem with the Dilbertfiles.com URL. It's my opinion that they are missing the point entirely: the Dilbert brand name will garner more publicity than anything else. What are the better ideas they think will work? FileSender.com? SendMyBigFiles.com? CorporateFileTransferClient.com? I can't believe how many people are so easily embarrassed by a name. I think that, for the majority of people who want to get their jobs done, the name won't matter once they start using it anyway.
 
 
Nov 22, 2008
I'm honestly not trying to be negative, but I suspect my reaction is fairly common and I offer it merely as a thought for consideration.

While this seems like a truly useful service, I as a management-type would be mocked if not fired if I sent a download URL to any client or potential client with "dilbertfiles" as part of the address. If this service were named something more neutral, I might be able to use it. But with this name, I would seriously hurt my credibility by using or recommending it.

Unfortunately, not all of the world operates with a sense of humor lately. It should, but it doesn't. Unfortunately, also, a good idea isn't enough - it requires stellar execution. Used to be, a halfway reasonable idea/execution and a jingle was enough. Just not so these days.

I am a die-hard fan of Dilbert and that will almost definitely never change... but that "loyalty" as it is cannot be automatically converted into anything more than a reasonably willing ear for ideas, humor, thoughts... If you show me something that will actually make my life better, I'm interested. But I will not buy anything (or pay more for something) just because it is branded with the Dilbert name...

I do have some need for this type of service. Luckily, though, that need happens to be fulfilled by my IT department (FTP with a helpful Word doc for non-techies to use.) If they didn't provide it, though, I would probably just have to suffer. Again, using something with the name "dilbertfiles" is a one-way ticket to cubeville... and I'm just not willing to risk my career (even in the pathetic job I have) over using a service that will be interpreted by the PHB's of the world as insubordination and a lack of "leadership potential". Sorry, truly... but those little things still make a difference these days.

Sucks, don't it?
 
 
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Nov 22, 2008
How big of a photo was that of you? The site filedropper.com allows file sizes up to 5GB in size.

[There are lots of competing services. If you don't care about security or convenience, they are fine. -- Scott]
 
 
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Nov 22, 2008
@digi, mark II
<<<You BOUGHT a photo of yourself?
Did they pay you when they took a photo of you?
Even if they did, why do YOU have to PAY? >>>

If they did pay Scott when they took the photo (which I would doubt), why would it be so incredible that he would then have to pay to have that photo? The photographer/magazine would have paid Scott, and then used their photographic expertise and equipment to create the photo. What, they should pay for the right to take a photo, and then give it away?
 
 
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Nov 22, 2008
@digi
Unless some kind of prior arrangements are made, a photographer owns the rights to photos he/she creates. I would guess Scott was happy to have his mug in a magazine, probably alongside an article.
 
 
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Nov 22, 2008
I've worked in Enterprise Content Management for years and generally businesses have a way of dealing with large files. As has been mentioned FTP is always popular as is zipping. Additionally many companies have systems like eRooms (made by EMC, part of the Documentum suite) that allow large files to be shared either within or between business !$%*!$%*! It surprises me that the company you work with doesn't provide you with a way to get them the files they require. I can see that people who are not very tech savvy or who only occasionally need to move large files might use this service but as others have pointed out it is relatively expensive.
 
 
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Nov 22, 2008
To everyone who says using ftp is a good way to do this.... I thought so to until I started spending time on the phone supporting clients who were not technically savvy enough to choose and install an ftp client, much less use it.

That got old real fast.

I think Dilbert Files is an interesting foray for the Dilbert brand - it advances the brand in new ways, and it will be interesting to see how a comics-branded business application is accepted in the staid corporate world.
 
 
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Nov 22, 2008
You BOUGHT a photo of yourself?
Did they pay you when they took a photo of you?
Even if they did, why do YOU have to PAY?
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Nov 21, 2008
Any plans for an Apple Mail plug in or desktop client?
Graphic designers would be a good market for this - we send / receive large files all the time - and tend to use the Apple platform more than Windows.

It's a very nice service - and the price seems reasonable, but for my needs (graphic design agency) not quite as nice as sharefile (www.sharefile.com). You might want to check them out and steal (I mean be inspired by...) some of their features. One thing I really like is that we were able to skin the interface so it looks like our web site / agency brand. Also, I can give my clients logins so they can upload / download files from folders I set up.
 
 
Nov 21, 2008
@rodeoclown

Au contraire. I work for a government and they've implemented a service very similar (but not as nice) for both their internal mail and e-mail outside of the government. And who said anything about external hosting? Google sells their search appliance for intranets and local (public) website searches. Scott can sell the Dilbertfiles appliance. And the expense of in-house application developement and maintenance is out the door.
 
 
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Nov 21, 2008
What's this this tiered payment system? Why can't it just be simple? just say this: "Look, for every GiB of bandwidth you use, we'll charge $0.40. and for every GiB of online storage you use, we charge $0.20. Simple, easy. Is there some reason that wont work? Then charge them ever month or year or whenever the bandwidth costs reach $30.00.
 
 
 
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