Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board


How come tokens are anything revolutionary? What is wrong with putting the file under a web/ftp/server and send the url? Seriously, it takes about 2 or 3 seconds.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

uh, messing around with ftp? moving a file to a certain directory is hard? why? Why should anyone pay 50 dollars to have the same functionality?

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Isn't there a potential for misuse spreading viruses? From

8. Can my computer be infected with viruses when I redeem a Token?

When the Token is redeemed, all the files referenced by that Token are recreated on the recipient’s computer. If any of the original files contained viruses, the recreated files will also contain the same viruses.

Bill Rayer
Saturday, October 25, 2003

Bill - Like ANY file transfer, there's an inherent potential for spreading viruses.

Someone can e-mail you a .exe, does it mean you should open it? Why should this form of file transfer be any different?

Re: Why Tokens are so Good

It makes an otherwise complex task very simple. Akin go the (mentioned in another thread) Printscreen / Paste into Word / eMail that so many people do.

Sure from a tech geek's point of view a .jpg or .gif with enough compression to make the file smaller without making it illegible is a better way to transfer files, but everone already knows how to use MS Word.

I'm surprised Apple didn't think of this and/or think of something better.... Tokens tied to your .mac space where file transfers are automatically uploaded, and later deleted when the user has confirmed they downloaded it, all done seamlessly in the background with spare bandwidth & processor time so it doesn't affect your performance.

Other thoughts:

Isn't this "just an email attachment where the attachment doesn't get sent until the user requests it" ? IMHO this is (a) one of those d!oh that's so simple things that (b) is easy to do in concept, but difficult in execution (i.e. firewall issues, what happens when the sender's computer gets turned off, etc.).

It also frees clogged email servers a bit, not to mention allows you to tranfer large files to your 2mb hotmail account. On the other hand, the sender's bandwidth is used every time someone requests a file, not just the first time they send it.
Saturday, October 25, 2003

I would much rather see this as a feature implemented on a mail server.

The mail server could:
examine large emails
replace large attachments with a hyperlink
transfer the attachment to an http server

It could be your own server or it could belong to your ISP.

What do you think?

John Ridout
Saturday, October 25, 2003

You're missing the point here.

The "brilliant" feature isn't that someone can download file attachments at a later date. The "brilliant" feature is that the mail sever is never taxed at all, and people with limited mailbox space can share large files easily.

Distributed disc space will always be greater than centralized disc space - think of your corporate mail server vs. every computer that connects to it, or hotmail v. every computer that connects to it. Or even something with a HUGE server farm like Google or Amazon.

Only in "extreme" cases where you can't directly connect is a 3rd party server ever invoked.

The downside is people will be playing "how do I get the file" for a while until the technology & people's mindsets are up to speed. The very concept is bound to escape some people, and countless hours will be spent trying to figure out how to get a file, or wrapping their minds around how a peer to peer network works.

Other downsides are more along the lines of technicalities - your computer has to serve up 50 versions of the file if you send an email to 50 people. Mailing to people in India and Singapore will gaurantee that they're trying to connect while you're at home - do you turn your computer off when you leave work?
Saturday, October 25, 2003

Well, running a "file sharing web server" on your own PC is really pretty easy now with BadBlue and other packages out there.

Say you have a large music^H^H^H^H^H, I mean, photo album collection, and you want your friends/family/etc to browse it, search it, etc.

The token solution doesn't really help.  I need thumbnail images of photos, a search interface to find files by name, etc.

Doug Ross
Saturday, October 25, 2003

Creo is a little company in Vancouver, they will never spend the kinda time on this Token thing the way they spend time (AND money) on their other ventures. It's a quiet company that makes good money selling high tech printing systems. Unless the printing industry is a dying proposition, they won't bet their farm on a little tool like this the way napster's founders would.

Li-fan Chen
Saturday, October 25, 2003

>>I would much rather see this as a feature implemented on a mail server.<<


Creo does sell a server version of this product, which basically does exactly what you described.  In that case, you configure your Token creator client to point at the 24x7 server, and then you can create a file token that is redeemed from the server instead of peer-to-peer from your computer.

I like the idea you are suggesting, though, for making it more automatic by having the mail server on the lookout for big / multi-file / other cumbersome attachments and just creating the Token for you invisibly and passing it on.  That *would* be cool.

As far as all the people who keep bringing up the "so what? I can already do this another way" argument, you are indeed missing the point here.  Tokens is not claiming to do anything that couldn't be done in other ways -- it simply provides a more user friendly approach.  Obviously, programmer types have no problem using Zip utilitiles and FTP and/or web servers to do the same thing.  In my experience doing IT support, however, these types of things are still *WAY TOO HARD* for 90% of general business users out there.  (Or most people's moms and dads).

People can't remember passwords or server addresses.  If anything takes more than a couple of steps, they will forget a critical one, as most novice users who are following a list of steps they've been given don't really understand WHY they're performing each step, they just want to get to the end result.  If anything deviates, then they're lost.  I've actually trained many people who click around on MSN or AOL everyday, but still don't really understand the concept of what a hyperlink is.

Case in point:  At our company, I actually set up a file directory-type list on one of our web servers for people to download master copies of PDF files that we used to just store hardcopies of in file cabinets at our various store locations.  Even this concept was too hard for many of our users!  I'm not bringing this up to disparage anyone's intelligence, but to just to illustrate that you can't assume that non-techie people are going to have even the most basic computer knowledge that geeks take for granted.

The bottom line:  You can NEVER make something too easy.

Tim Lara
Sunday, October 26, 2003

Cllick on this link to get your files is not too hard for the user; if it is the tokens are likely to be just as hard.

Now the person sending the files has to be a little computer savvy, and will probably be able to set up a web server without too much problem..

So the use of the system seems restricted to people like Joel and Albert, software houses or professionals that want to send large update files to their customers but who do not want to put the files directly on their ftp server for security reasons.

The idea might spread like wildfire with these people, and in the graphics world, but elsewhere I doubt it.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, October 26, 2003


It is too hard if they need to unzip the file to get the files and folders that are being sent. I can't describe the number of times I've had to walk someone through downloading WinZip, installing it, then opening the zip file, and extracting all the files. Nightmare.

Creo's Token system is an easier install, and an easier extract. It's _way_ easier than any other option, including putting things on a web server, especially when there is more than one file involved.

Tim Sullivan
Monday, October 27, 2003

If you already have a web/FTP server set up, then you are not the target audience for Tokens. It's for people who don't have the time, knowledge, or access to a suitable server for web/FTP. Without these things, it's hard to send and receive large files.

The only other thing I'd like to see is a Linux version of their server product.

Dan Maas
Monday, October 27, 2003

Dear Tim,
                If they guy is getting the file from an http or ftp server then you can simply use a self extracting zip file, since it's not going to get quarantined by Outlook or Exchange. Anyway, most large files are graphics, and they would be compressed with .jpg or .gif and would open natively.

                The token will not save the uncompressing problem anyway, unless it unloads an unzip program with its software, in which case you can just as easily send one with your first large zipped flle.

                  If the other guy has set up an ftp server than receiving the large files is a piece of cake. The only person who saves on setting thngs up is the sender, and as he has to be online 24/7 and have his firewall set up correctly, I am not at all sure that the system offers him ease of maintenance.

Stephen Jones
Monday, October 27, 2003


Your scenario has a lot of "if"s. With tokens you don't need zip files, because it manages compression internally. So: you don't need to zip them in the first place, and you don't need to unzip them afterward. You don't need to set up a server, because it handles that. You don't need to configure your filewall, you don't need to do anything except indicate what files you want to send, and then email the token. If you really think that zipping, putting on an FTP server, having the other person download from the FTP server and unzip is easier than that, you need to define "easier" for me, because we're not talking about the same thing.

It really sounds like you've not actually tried the program. Give it a shot, I was really impressed to see it in action.

Tim Sullivan
Monday, October 27, 2003


Killer Idea..

ideas, ideas...
Monday, October 27, 2003

Tim; I really fail to see how there can be anything easier than clicking on a hyperlink in an email and downloading a self-extracting zip file. Surely that is basically what you are doing with tokens anyway. I fail to see any advantage whatsoever for the recipient, apart from the time taken to download software he may never use again.

I haven't tried the software. I am sure it is easier on the sender's side than setting up a ftp server, but the point I am making is that the sender needs to have his computer on 24/7, and presumably needs to configure the program to work through the firewalls that will be in place. This does not seem very granny friendly to me.

Stephen Jones
Monday, October 27, 2003

Stephen: Not necessarily. In a corporate environment you don't need your computer on at all.

Take my mom, for instance. She couldn't use a self-estractor, especially if the person sending it hadn't set it to "automatically extract and run", which is often inappropriate (like when you're sending a bunch of folders). It's also a multi-step process: when you open the self extractor, it gives you a (crappy) dialog that asks where to extract the files, usually with the windows temp folder in it. That alone would widow my father. :-)

Also, most consumer type people I know have their computers on 24/7 anyway. And in offices, as well, so that isn't usually a problem unless you're on a laptop.

Finally, unless you take a look at the product, it's unfair of you to comment on it, don't you think? It's the implementation that is so elegant, not just the idea.

Tim Sullivan
Monday, October 27, 2003

One other thing: your suggestion implies that everyone has web or ftp space enough for any large file. That's not always the case. Many people have size limits of a few mb on their web servers, since if your machine isn't going to be on, I'm assuming you need to place the file somewhere that IS going to be on. This means, in many cases, uploading the file to an intermediate place, creating an additional time sync. It's not even close to the same as just sending a Token. It's additional steps, it's more work for both the sender and receiver (having to create the self extracting zip file is just ANOTHER step)... To me, none of this is simple.

Tim Sullivan
Monday, October 27, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home