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NedWolf’s Dog-Simple Guide to Cloud Storage - Part 1: The 800 Pound Gorillas
Cloud Storage. What is it?
Cloud storage is nothing more than storing files on the internet.
Why do I need it?
- File Sharing
- Access from anywhere
Is it free / How much does it cost?
Almost all services start out free, with options of paying for more storage.
Zoho Office Suite
Full-fledged cloud-based office applications have been available for about seven years now, yet the vast majority of users still stick to traditional desktop apps, i.e., MS Office.
There is only one company that has a fully cloud-based suite of applications that can completely fulfill the needs of a business. Without the need for extra applications. Zoho.
When I say complete, I mean complete.
If you have a website, you need to know whether it's up or not. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Unfortunately, unless you have an IT staff (or are the IT staff), it's likely that you don't have any system in place to make sure your webhost is actually delivering on their promised 99.9% uptime. Website monitors have a simple but necessary job, to make sure that websites are up and reachable 24/7. If there is a problem, you will be notified immediately via SMS or email. Additionally, you may want to check your uptime statistics to evaluate webhost providers (or to argue about a bill).
Uptime Robot monitors up to 50 websites every five minutes and alerts you via email, SMS, Twitter or RSS if there are any problems. Most other monitoring services limit you to one site or only check every half-hour or hour. Very, very useful.
Okay, what the hell is a "Web Application Framework Environment"? It's a server configured to run Joomla and/or Drupal and/or, PHPmyAdmin and/or Wordpress, etc. The boys at Kodingen have a treat for Web Developers and Designers that need a playground to build and test out their new sites or web apps without having to deal with the hassle of running a development server.
But what about the children! Won't somebody think of the children?
I'm being silly, but the sad truth is that the 'net can be a pretty slimy place. The best way to watch out for your kids is to monitor and filter their surfing activities. OpenDNS is a simple, effective method of filtering and monitoring the network activity on your home network. Various categories such as games, sports and adult can be easily allowed or disallowed. You can set up a white-list for approved sites, or a black-list for the no-no's.
For those that don't know, bookmark managers allow you to save, manage and share your bookmarks from computer to computer.
There are quite a few online bookmark services out there. Some are browser-specific. Some are social-centric. The best all-around bookmark manager / bookmark synchronizer is Xmarks. It integrates with all major browsers and operation systems and works flawlessly.
Greplin indexes and searches your online accounts and returns immediate results to you as you type.
You have a lot of online accounts. Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, Dropbox, LinkedIn. How do you keep the information from all these sources straight? Greplin aims to bridge the gap between these various services. When you send or receive an email, Greplin will scour your accounts and return relevant information and a history of your contacts with that person.
The Last Password You'll Have to Remember
If you're like most people, you use the same two or three (or one) password for all your webite logins. Not good. LastPass is a service that lets you use an unlimited number of paswords and logins for different sites, but only have to remember one. Your passwords are transmitted and stored encrypted on their servers, allowing you to access them from anywhere.
Just pick your apps and click Get Installer. Ninite does the rest — fully automatic.
Online PDF Converter
Online PDF Converter converts an amazing number of formats to PDF files. If you desire, it will watermark your PDF or encrypt it using Adobe's Acrobat encryption method. Limit of 1MB per file.
DocMorph will convert fifty different file formats not only to PDF's, but also to TIFF's, text, or even to synthesized speech.
Google is the king of webmail. When Gmail was invititaion-only, people were literally buying and trading invitiations for as much as $100.
In addition to the over 2.5GB of storage currently available (which keeps going up), the interface has revolutionized what we now expect from a web application. It is the single biggest precipitator of the flood of AJAX applications that are coming out. Many, many people prefer its web interface to their desktop email client.
Made by the same company that created Backpack, Basecamp is a solid project management system. The free version allows you to track one project at a time, but allows an unlimited number of clients.
YouSendIt is not for long-term storage. Files placed there will be deleted after seven days, but it's great for sending large files to someone else. They will accept files up to 1 gigabyte (you read that right) and will allow downloads an unspecified number of times.
Remember The Milk
If you're a user of the popular David Allen's "Getting Things Done (GTD)" system, this is an excellent companion.
Writely - now Google Docs
Both these web applications allow you to create and edit text-based documents online. Setting up collaboration groups with others is as simple as entering their email addresses. An email is automatically sent to them with a link to the document and a password.
In their words, "Convert just about anything to anything else. Over 5000 units and 50,000 conversions."
Mail2web supports any POP3 or IMAP mail server and has optional SSL encryption to protect your privacy on the road. It requires no registration and is very fast.
Chat on any of the major networks: AIM, ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, Jabber, GTalk, or MSN. Nice, clean interface and very responsive.
GoogleMaps (Google Local)
I have to admit. I feel a little sorry for MapQuest. For years, it dominated the online map niche. They were true innovators, and are probably the single most important reason I haven't bought a paper map in many years. You might not be aware, but most alternatives, like Yahoo! Maps, actually licensed and re-branded MapQuest.
I need to be clear about this. This is by no means the best online dictionary. It's the best, most user-friendly, dictionary application. For more authoritative word definitions, go to Merriam-Webster or Dictionary.com, both of which are great resources.
ObjectGraph Dictionary makes the list because it acts the most like a paper dictionary, only a lot faster. It uses the type-ahead technique, which Google made famous with Google Suggest. I found it interesting when used by Google, but ideal when used by a dictionary. If you haven't seen this type of application yet, prepare to be impressed.
Jalenack's AJAX Periodic Table of the Elements
For all your periodic table of the elements needs.
Okay, this might be kind of specialized, but I just had to include it because it's so nicely implemented. I guess the only way to describe it is that it's the nicest and potentially most useful periodic table of the elements I've ever seen.
The Phone Company (TPC)
Send a text-based fax many places in the world via email or the browser interface.
The most complete collection of web-based network information tools.
FTP to any server through this web interface. Supports SSL and has a built-in editor for text, HTML, or PHP files.
You have to fill out a form, but you're worried that your email will harvested for spam. Enter "Disposable Email".
Mailinator is the easiest to use. Whenever you need a disposable email address, just make up any word, then follow it with "@mailinator.com". You don't need to register in advance. Go to mailinator.com and enter that word. You can then retrieve any email that has been sent to that address. It will expire automatically sometime in the future.