Cloud, cloud, cloud, cloud, cloud. This fairly innocuous word has become one that is bandied around with abandon, often with the misplaced notion that it adds an element of 'cool' that was not previously present. But is working in the cl...
Cloud, cloud, cloud, cloud, cloud. This fairly innocuous word has become one that is bandied around with abandon, often with the misplaced notion that it adds an element of 'cool' that was not previously present. But is working in the cloud all it's cracked up to be? Is it necessary? Should you care about it?
You don't have to think back all that far to remember a time when simply being online seemed like a fairly alien concept -- never mind actually working online. When the concept of Active Desktop was added to Windows 9x the notion of staying online throughout the day just to see the desktop update with the latest weather forecast, news, stock prices or other data was unimaginable.
These were the days of dialup connections; every minute online cost money and downloading files of almost any size was a somewhat painful experience.
For home users, the thought of using software that was not installed locally seemed incredibly futuristic.
Software as a service was very much in its infancy and few people could imagine that in just a few short years internet connections would have become fast enough and stable enough to be used to deliver not just downloadable files, but also streaming videos and music, on-demand television shows and even online word processors, image editors and much, much more.
But all of these things are now available to virtually everyone -- and for the most part they are available completely free of charge. In some instances the concept of working online has become so commonplace that it's easy to take some services for granted.
It's likely the only time you really think about Gmail consciously is when you find yourself somewhere remote enough to be devoid of wifi networks and data connections.
The prevalence of online tools -- particularly those from Google -- means that it is very easy to take them for granted, but also become blinkered and forget just what is possible. Spend a moment thinking about Google Drive.
Put aside any anti-Google prejudices you may have and just consider what an astonishing piece of technology it is. Anyone with an internet connected computer can create a free account and then create, edit, store and share documents online.
The only software that's needed is a web browser, everything else is taken care of by Google's servers. How cool is that? Never forget to be astonished by the web.
With an online word processor, spreadsheet, presentation and drawing tool -- and your inbox not far behind -- Google is a great starting point for anyone looking to start working in the cloud. Of course, it is far from being the end of the story, and there are certainly better tools available in each of these categories, but they are a great first point of entry.
These are not just online versions of applications you need to use every day, the fact that they are online tool means that it is possible to introduce features such as collaborative working and much more.
Need an image editor? There are plenty to choose from Aviary is a great example, but even Adobe has got in on the act and made a version of Photoshop available online.
Received a file that is in a format you don't have the software to open? Rather than seeking out the program you need, you could instead turn to any of a number of online for conversion tools which will quickly and painlessly provide you with a file you can open up online or using your preferred application.
Comet Docs is one such online conversion service, but there are plenty of others to choose from.
Working online using the tools and services is a great solution when you're on the move or if you're looking to keep software costs to a minimum.
Of course there will be some tools you use that do not have online cousins. This does not mean that you need to find a new way of working as remote access is always an option.
Even this does not mean that you need to have a great deal of traditional software installed on your laptop. If you have Chrome as your web browser you can use