Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Cloud

What's fun about this lil project that i've got going on, is the participation of the readers.  Yes you guys.  Specially when i get suggestions and tips right back from y'all who are reading this blog.  I appreciate it. And the reason i mention it is cos, Jaime Madrox left me a comment about using online storage as a means to share files like pictures and music and ebooks and stuff like that, rather than uploading sensitive data.  I still believe that having online space to back up a flashdrive, or things like your resume, or portfolio is a good idea just because having a backup of your stuff, at some other place aside from your house is generally a good idea.  Just in case your house gets broken into or you get hit with lightning and all the electronics in your house gets fried.  The cloud is just another place where you can get to your data easily, and quickly. But otherwise his point was a good one. So thanks for that tip.

Which brings us to my next topic.  Cloud Computing. Which simply means computing on the internet where all your apps and data are stored online, or "The cloud." rather than your hard drives at home. With the proliferation of more powerful and more portable gadgets which have access to the internet, it's become much easier, and more convenient to just do your "work" online and not have to worry about purchasing software or trying to find that term paper, that you saved somewhere on your hard drives.

The first thing that comes to mind is the word processor.  There used to be a time, before the internet was widely available that most computers had Microsoft's Office Suite installed on them.  You simply couldn't find programs that had the features that say Word, or Excel or Power Point had.  So you were limited to using Microsoft Products.  And as most people know, Microsoft doesn't come cheap.  Fast forward to the age of the internet, and while Microsoft still dominates the Office Suite landscape, users are not left without options. For users on a budget, there is the free Open Office Suite (formerly known as StarOffice,) by StarDivision, which was acquired by Sun Microsystems, which was acquired by Oracle Corporation. But that's not quite what we need when it comes to cloud computing, and for that we turn to Google, and Google Docs.

Google Docs is probably the most popular office suite in the "cloud." Google Docs isn't the only option despite being the most complete.  With Google Docs, you can edit word documents, create spreadsheets and put together presentations and slideshows without ever having to install anything on your computer.  Another option is ThinkFree Online. Which like Google Docs is a full featured office suite which also offers a gig of storage space all for free. But there are other alternatives albeit not in one place like they are in Google Docs or ThinkFree Online.

For word processing there's also Zoho Writer, and Goffice. Which is your full featured word processor, but online and without the need to download anything.  Just upload the documents you're working on, or start a new one and away you go.  If you work with a lot of spreadsheets, Zoho Sheet, and Edit Grid. And if Presentations are your thing, you can use Ajax Presents or Brink Pad.  Remember that you have these options besides Google Docs and Think Free online, so the internet is a pretty good place to get some office productivity done for free, with programs that have features that rival Microsoft's bloated software. 

At the end of the day, if you find yourself in need of an Office Suite, or even just one of the programs out of a full suite, the cloud is your answer.  Or as some would call it, Office 2.0.  So check it out. and if there's a site, that you use and recommend, leave a link in the comments, i'm sure other readers would appreciate it.

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