Living in the Cloud

So having had my Cr-48 Laptop for a week and seeing what it is like to live completely without a hard drive, I must say I had no idea how much I rely upon software. Even though I save almost no data to my hard drive, I still am unable to live fully in the cloud.

That is fine with me, as Chrome OS has not even reached version 1.0 and it has a long way to go, yet it is ironic that living completely in the cloud had the same feeling as roughing it in the mountains. There are so many creature comforts that are just not yet there yet, but it wasn't too long ago that I was educating people about the surge in Open Source technology so I have great expectations for its potential.

In this post I wanted to share the great cloud/web apps that are out there now and also what I would need to see emerge to feel completely free to soar among the eagles.

First in 100 words or less, what is the cloud and why would I want to "live in it"? The cloud is the term given to the applications and network storage that work together so you can sync up your data online. This allows you to work from any computer (Apple/PC/Linux, Home/Work/In-Laws, etc). It also affords you the assurance that even if your computer is lost or broken, your data can be recovered.

As always out of respect to your time and pocket, I will recommend only that which is free or worth the cost and tested by me.

It would be impossible to have a cloud computing post without including the giant that made it popular. Google has provided so many different ways to work online and all of them are free.

Google Apps
Books (Store), Blogs, ChromeGmailCalendarDocuments, Photos, Sites

Bundled into Gapps or you can run them separately is the Aviary suite. In it you will find:

  • Image Editing
  • Screen Capturing
  • Vector Editor (think Illustrator/Inkscape)
  • Visual Effects Editor (very cool, lots of amazing potential)
  • Music Creator (ability to create beats and tracks)
  • Audio Editor (an online Audacity with a built in library of samples from Quantum Tracks)
  • Image Markup
  • Color Editor
The Aviary applications are amazing and some are even better than their desktop counterparts. If you have a creative bone in your body, you should definitely give them a try.

This is the cleanest, simplest, best way to sync your files. Simply install the software on any and every computer you want to synchronize and then simply drag and drop your files into the Dropbox folder and it is automatically backed up. Then you can access your files from any of the computers, online, or even from your phone.

I don't personally use this app but I know many others who I respect that love it. Evernote allows you to capture files, images, text, and more then share it and store it.

The cloud applications are getting better and better but I am still unwilling to leave my software. As more and more developers start moving familiar features into the cloud then the age of the Personal Computer is going to draw to a close and it will become more and more about having a constant Internet Connection.

My wish list for the cloud:
  • To be able to sync settings (display, sound, hotkeys, etc). Google Chrome lets you sync quite a bit right now but everytime I am on another computer I am never as productive as when things are just right on my fine tuned computer.
  • A great screencaster. I currently use CamStudio and as more and more people are creating video tutorials, the need for this is going to increase.
  • A better way to connect the files on my computer to the ones on my phone. I still feel like there are two worlds, the mobile one and the desktop one. Merge those two please.
Far from complaining, I love the technology I have and am old enough to remember how far we have come from code on floppy disks/punch cards. With everyday I feel empowered to do more and more and the opportunities my students are able to explore and achieve are mind boggling. What will the technology world look like in 1 year? 5 years? 20 years? 100 years!?

Do you have any "cloud" tech that keeps your data safe and allows you to be productive everywhere? Share it with us in the comments.

Subscribe to BrokenAirplane!