Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Living in the Cloud

Cloud Computing is the new phenomenon hit the world. Everyone is busy repackaging their server software with the custom stickers of 'Its about Cloud'. However, there are some genuine cloud providers out there, who offer great service. How to differentiate between the original and fake? Understand what is cloud, this infographic created an infographic to explain what exactly is cloud computing.


During a drinking session with a friend, we got discussing how everyone is taking about cloud. I pointed out that soon cloud is going to replace a computer and he said that was not possible.

Computer will still be needed for many professional work like movie editing, photo editing, animation and a lot other things. But what about personal computing? Can I use only cloud systems and survive for many days?

The short answer is 'yes' I can. The long answer is this blog post. The challenge was accepted, that for seven days I will use only cloud services for my personal computing needs. Funny part was, I ended up continuing using those services way beyond seven days. Enlisting the top ten things I needed a computer for and how I used only cloud services for them.

1. Editing my novel
Thats the easiest thing anyone can relate to. How do I create documents, the dreaded excel sheets and powerpoint presentation. The common answer would be Google Docs but somehow in past few days, I am not really in Moodle for Google (neither am I switching back to the old nemesis microsoft). I used Zoho Writer to edit my novel online. I preferred their services much better than other online tools.


2. Create Graphic for the blogs
This was a tricky one. If you look at the header of this blog or on the sidebar, you will see many beautiful icons that I created using photoshop.  I could not believe any online provider could provide me the beauty of a photoshop editing. None of the offline tools came close to offering what photoshop offered. However, to my delight, I found the online editor Pixlr.com to come in handy. It can be using for cropping, pasting and editing pictures. The new banner for my blog (http://sidoscope.co.in) and my wifes blog (http://thecanvasplatter.blogspot.in) is created using pixlr. This startup was taken over by autodesk and is one of the best thing that has come up in the crowd.

3. Creating presentation
When I am not doing anything, I am busy creating presentations. I love those things that move around. You can see some of the things I created on my site showcase. Most of the presentations on the page are created using Prezi.com the online 3D presentation maker. Prezi gives an extra dimension to the presentation and that wow factor helps.

4. Making Infographics
I have used many corporate tools for making infographics. The best one was obviously illustrator, adobe knows how to do stuff right. But then can I make infographics online? I tried with pixlr but since there was a screen limit with their editor, making a long infographic like the one for cloud computing was a tedious job. Just when I thought, I am losing the challenge, ta da, Cacoo.com came to the rescue. Cacoo has an easy to use interface where you can create beautiful graphics for free. They offer 25 diagrams on the free license which is really cool.

5. Sharing files and photos
One of the many things you need a computer and those little USB drives is transfer of files. During my college days when I did not have a computer, I used to carry a rewritable CD in my bag and borrow CD writers on my friends computer to burn disc. Things changed and we now have those USB drives. So the real question here was how do I transfer more than a GB of file? Now in real world scenario there are very few things that are more than one GB, however lets say I wanted to transfer a heavy file? And there Dropbox came to rescue. What was more with the camera upload feature, I did not have to do anything. When I took photos, they were safely upload to dropbox and all I had to do was share it with my friend.
With Samsung Promotion on Dropbox, I got 96 GB of extra space (I have four devices) along with multiple camera upload spaces. So my total dropbox space was way beyond 100 GB (which was ironic since my first computer, I had only 40 GB of space)


6. Watching Movies
When was the last time you stepped into a DVD store and purchased a nice DVD, picked up a bottle of whiskey and made some pop-corn. If you never did, I highly suggest you do. Anyways, so since this was a post computer world, the best alternative I found online was bigflicks.com. It is a on-demand movie site that streams bollywood movies. It also streams selected english movies. A quick google search also brought me to the cinemanow.com that streams english movies in USA and Canada. There are many other on-demand movie site for other regions. Since cinemanow does not stream in India, I could not test it. If you are using any other service mention it in comments below.

7. Listening to Songs
Listening to songs while doing stuff is one of the many things one can do. However, iTunes has already brought those on  cloud. Just like movies, listening to songs is also a regional thing. One of the best service I use regularly is Dhingana.com. It streams not only bollywood but also regional marathi songs.
If there is any such internal service which is popular, mention it in comments below.

There are many other services that are available online like Games, e-Learning courses and many more.

I won the challenge very easily. There has been a paradigm shift in the way we look at software and computers. The bulky DVDs are now used only to watch on a DVD player (which ill be selling on ebay soon). There is a big shift from the way we conceive social notion.

This change is good or bad, I do not know but somewhere I have heard, some governments are already building their cloud army.  An army of hackers who will bring down the internet and countries along with it.

Disclaimer: None of the services mentioned above have paid me to write their names here. These are the services I use daily and is a personal choice not determined by merit.