Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cloud Living

When I look at how I used technology the last time I was working (circa 2006) compared to now, its a totally different way of operating. Back then I had my Treo (or Blackjack, etc) and I would sync with my work PC each day- a one-way sync, if I remember correctly- and then I'd get home at the end of the day and sync again with Outlook on my home PC. Daily syncs were a huge part of my process and was also the way I got my iSilo off-line data to read on the subway.

Fast forward 3 years, and these days I'm lucky if I even get into our home office 2 days in the week. We have a shared laptop in the den, and both Dean and I use that more than our desktop PCs upstairs. I also have my HP Mini in the bedroom which I use with some frequency, especially if we are watching a movie or something upstairs. Syncing is becoming more and more of a luxury that I can barely afford. In fact, one of my largest gripes with my iPod Touch is that its not able to update my podcasts automatically. I'm grateful that it can use my wifi to do it without connecting to my PC, but I really wish it could all happen behind the scenes. But because I add a new movie to my iPod every few days, I'm forced to go to my desktop anyway, so this isn't a major deal. However, while I can comfortably leave my iPod in the home office overnight while it syncs, I absolutely can't fathom not having my Blackberry in my hand at every moment.

The concept of cloud computing appealed to me from the perspective of being able to have my information available on any platform, without me needing to do any extra steps to get it there. This is probably one of the main reasons why the Nokia N800 did not fit well in my lifestyle- even then I realized that it 'needed' too much from me. I've had a Gmail account for some 5 years now, and its only in recent months that I've really delved into the other Google services, and now that I have, I find that I am totally sold on the lifestyle.

My calendar and contacts are synced from my Blackberry Bold to Google using GoogleSync. I liked the calendar so much that when I started working out 2 months or so ago, I began logging the details of my workout on my Blackberry calendar so they would carry-over (here's a tip: preface each entry with 'workout' and you can easily search your calendar and get a list of all your aerobic activity!). I installed Google Calendar Sync on my work PC and after setting up a one-way sync, it pushes all my work calendar data to Outlook (useful tip: use a separate email for the work sync and then share that calendar to your main Google Account. This lets you label it and keeps it separately identifiable). On my iPod Touch I use CalenGoo which shows me my Google calendars.

For tasks, I decided to use Remember the Milk which also integrates with the Google Calendar desktop. It has a robust iPod Touch client as well, so I am able to access my data from there too. It doesn't integrate with Outlook (as far as I know) but that's fine. For the most part, I use my work tasks for things I need to do today. Everything else goes on my calendar: this is a habit formed out of necessity as well- the Blackberry homescreen only shows calendar entries, so if I want it to come across clearly with no chance of my forgetting- that's the best place for it.

For notes, I use Evernote. In fact, lately I seem to be finding more uses everyday for Evernote- I forward copies of important emails to my Evernote address, I email chat transcripts from Beejive IM, and I even use it as 'sticky notes' to remind of what bills I need to pay in the next pay period. I've even got Evernote set up to connect to my Twitter account, so that I can forward interesting data right to my notebook. After a much-anticipated wait, Evernote finally released a Blackberry client. Although its strength currently lies in note creation, I am optimistic that it won't be long before it follows the progression of the Windows Mobile version.
For my use, Cloud computing has to be more than just a web portal to my information- it needs to seamlessly integrate with my mobile device as well. After all, isn't the whole point of having your data in a cloud the convenience of having access to it anywhere?

blog comments powered by Disqus