Friday, 13 April 2012

Really living in the cloud ...

I have periodically ranted on about how it's applications that are important, not platforms, the browser is the new desktop etc etc.

Well I've had to eat my own dogfood. My work laptop started showing all sorts of weird permission based problems and lost blocks on the disk so it's gone off to be poked at and either rebuilt or acquire a replacement hard disk.

That of course left me with a problem - no work laptop. I could have brought in my personal windows 7 machine fom home  but instead opted to use my linux (ubuntu) development machine.

As my mac was dying I'd had the good sense to burn myself a dvd of my recent work and move the really recent documents into either windows live skydrive or google docs, and have chrome sync things as well as installing Chromium on my ubuntu machine.

I also piped my work email into my personal gmail account so that I only needed on mail feed - incidentally this also works really nicely on the android email reader - all your work mail sitting there neatly sorted into a folder for you to ignore.

Twitter's not a problem for me as luddite  that I am I use the web version.

So how's it going?

Pretty good, but not perfectly:

  • No unbuntu evernote client. NixNote/Nevernote is slow to update and the web version is a little slow
  • No editing complex spreadsheets with macros. Windows Live's Excel client doesn't like them and neither does libre office. But at least you can look
  • Google Docs doesn't like some embedded images . So far Libre Office has got me out of the hole
Otherwise it's all there - you really can do everything that you would normally do on a normal desktop or laptop, which means that you could probably get away with something more basic such as a netbook in a lot of cases.

The key of course is that I'm sitting on high speed university network that basically doesn't ever go down. If I was working at home on our attenuation challenged adsl service that seems to go down several time a day it might be a more frustrating experience.

I don't have enough experience of working plugged into a 3G network to make a call on how good an experience that would be - certainly when I recently did a review for librarything I wrote the review using AbiWord on my netbook and uploaded it as I was only getting a reliable 2G GPRS service at the time as opposed to the more usual 3G service.

So, conclusions

1) yes you can work in the cloud using free apps but Google Apps and Windows live is not an either/or  - you really need both they both have strenghts
2) you need a really really good reliable network connection
3) the underlying operating system is irrelevant but it does need to provide a decent pdf viewer and office aware suite capable of dealing with the newer Office 2010 formats
4) having essentially the same browser across machines is a boon, especially when you can sync data
 between them
5) dropbox (or equivalent) is your friend - keep your work there by default
6) Skydrive and its 25GB storage is a lifesaver

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