Review of Offcloud and Rclone

Introduction

A couple of months ago, as my ~640GB (~598 GiB) external drive stopped working, I decided to buy some space in the cloud. After several days of investigation, I decided to purchase the premium package on Onedrive (1TiB for 69€/year). After doing this, soon I realised that an external drive was better because of my internet speed (I have a ~3Mb download speed and ~1Mb upload speed). But, seeing as my external drive had stopped working because I dropped it to the floor by accident, I didn't want to buy one. So, what were my options? Was there a service which allowed me to download things directly to the cloud?

Offcloud

Offcloud is a service which lets you do three things:

  • Download things using it as a proxy ("Instant downloading)";
  • Save things temporarily in its cloud ("Cloud backup"); and
  • Download things to one of your storage cloud services (Dropbox, Onedrive, Google Drive...) or through FTP or WebDAV ("Remote upload").

But wait, let's be more specific about these "things". These include:

  • Direct links and webpages (webpages can be downloaded as html or pdf)
  • Videos and files from several cloud storage services (both free and paid) (list of supported sites)
  • Torrent files and magnet links
  • .nzb files

The system is pretty simple. You paste a link or upload a torrent or .nzb file, choose your download method, and wait until it finishes. Then, you can delete the entry (and file, if it's in Offcloud's cloud), or re-download it somewhere else. It lets you download three links for free per month. If that's not enough for you, you can purchase unlimited links for a month or for a year, or purchase just some links. It has an API which lets you add links to it from other applications, it has plugins for download managers and browsers, and it works with IFTTT and Zapier. And of course, the downloads to its cloud or to your cloud storage service work even if you turn off your computer.

Sign up to Offcloud (non-ref)

So, this is great. Now I can upload things directly to my cloud, at a much faster speed than using my home connection. But my computer space is quite limited (I have a ~103GiB SSD), so I cannot download many files there if I need to transfer them to, say, a thumb drive. Luckily, there is a piece of software for solving that, too.

Rclone

Rclone lets you manage your cloud services without needing to synchronize them to your hard drive, or to open a browser. This includes:

  • Transferring files and folders between cloud services, or between a service's directories;
  • Transferring files and folders between your computer (or any device connected to it) and the cloud;
  • Renaming and deleting files from the cloud without downloading anything; and
  • Accessing a cloud drive via http, WebDAV or Fuse.

It lets you apply filters for managing files or folders, so you don't need to remember long names (I use them exclusively for this), or to filter based on other criteria. It is used from the command line, and it's available for Windows, Linux and Mac. And it's free and open source.

Conclusion

This is the setup I use now: I download one or more files using Offcloud to Onedrive, and then copy it to a USB thumb drive (which, you will agree, is much less prone to fall) using Rclone. And, in the meantime, I save disk space and bandwidth.

Syntax trees for blind people

Introduction

As I study English Philology, I have to take a course called English Grammar. In this course, I need, among other things, to analise sentences, and make syntax trees of them. Yes, those trees where you disect a sentence into phrases. But how do I, a completely blind person, do it? Images and arrows are inaccessible for me, and the Arboreal and ArborWin fonts, although I haven't tested them, seem to be inaccessible too. Here, I'll show the method I use.

How I do it

To draw a tree, I use Excel spreadsheets. To draw a node (an item of a tree) which has two branches, I use a merged cell, which splits into two cells below it. Then, if one of the cells has further branches, I do the same thing.

With this procedure, I can draw a tree with an arbitrary depth, and an arbitrary number of branches by node (although normally I work with two branches per node for this kind of tree). I think that with this system trees are easy to draw, or at least, easier than other systems I have tried. Visually, it works too, which is a plus.

Why I don't use brackets

I don't use them because trees can get really complex. I don't know if linguists use them for large trees, but I think that, in trees with brackets, fixing mistakes is harder than in my system. But, if you don't know how to use spreadsheets, or simply you want a more conventional system, this one may work for you.

Other systems

Of course, the possibilities are endless. If these systems don't convince you, and if you reach an agreement with your instructor (or your student), you may invent a system of your own. Also, if you are a better programmer than me, you may use something like nested dictionaries in YAML1 or the Natural Language ToolKit.

Conclusion

I hope you have found this post helpful and informative. If you have any comments, send my an email or contact me through Twitter. At the time of writing, I haven't added the possibility to post comments yet, but if it's available when you read this, and if you prefer a more public comunication, post a comment. Also, contact me if you have any doubts, and I'll try to answer your questions. Thanks for reading!


  1. I used YAML (although without any programming involved), and although it worked, I found it too space-consumming. 

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