January 4, 2012

Tools for 2012

Given that these cloud things all seem to be coming together, I find myself looking at specific scenarios whereby me, myself and my family can live more fruitfully in the cloud.  Here are a few things that I’ve cooked up so far:

  1. Google Docs for raw storage – price point is better than anything else I’ve seen – even Azure BLOB but not for long.
  2. A tool called insync that does ‘DropBox’ style synchronization to all your computers (not iOS tablet yet) with your Google Docs storage.
  3. Gladinet (the free version) – mounts a virtual drive to any number of providers that can’t seem to get themselves to do it…themselves.  Such things include box.Net – who graciously gave me 50 Gb free but put some weird limits on things, Picassa storage (where all our pics go), Azure BLOB (I’m noodling on what to do here – the possibilities are endless!!!), etc.  Excellent idea – crappy interface though – hopefully it gets more ‘disappeared’ soon (I just want it to go, not have an interface!)
  4. CyberDuck to provide synchronization services between insync folder and gladinet folders for SkyDrive:  I want most of my active files (including my insanely awesome OneNote action) in SkyDrive for obvious reasons: Windows Phone 7 access, Office Web Apps access, etc – but I also want to keep everything together.  I love that MSFT gives my 25 gig free, but I have no option above that and the sync tool (blessed Windows Live Mesh) still has separate sync folder goo (which is stupid) and doesn’t work really well on Mac and has no iOS counterpart.  So – I sync.
  5. Google Calendar Sync – the Martin family is currently living in Google Apps sadly, because of the absence of annoying ads in the interface and, well, that’s about it.  However, my work world is in Exchange of course, so from my main computer, I sync my Outlook work calendar with my Gmail personal calendar which is then shared with the Mrs. who actually runs the show.
  6. Google Music Manager runs on the main computer to keep all of my songs available in the cloud for free (20,000 songs is nothing to sneeze at).  I could have gone with Amazon, but since everything else is Google (for the moment), going that route.  Where does my music come from?  Zune of course – as I do all my music’ing from my amazing HTC WP7 – and from the internets in general from any workstation – I haven’t gotten on board with Mog, Spotify, etc just yet, but I’m leaning towards it.
  7. Lots of passwords!  I’m a bit of a paranoia dude about such things so I have lived and breathed with KeppPass since the early 2000s.  Literally – I love it.  It has all my passwords, works on WP7, Windows, Mac (sorta – I hate Mono but then again it probably hates me too), etc – I control the file with an insane security level (takes my poor WP7 about a minute to transform), syncs with Dropbox (which is then synced to Google Docs automatically via CyberDuck for ‘simplicity’ from my main computer) and allows me to keep literally all my passwords both different and complex.
  8. Video – we’re Netflix fans – we dumped Uverse because of price and went with pure HD over the air for the national networks, all recorded via the main computer in Windows Media Center which makes my shows available on my living room computer via the XBox 360 – which conveniently also does Netflix. We have a Roku in the bedroom which does Netflix, my iPad does Netflix, as does my Nook.  Netflix is cheap ($8/mo!!!) – selection is finally decent and doesn’t suck ass like Hulu Plus.  Sorry guys – paying $9/mo and still having to watch commercials?  I’ll stick with Windows Media Center and free HD over the air signals.   Now – I haven’t found a good cloud delivery mechanism yet other than Orb but that poor piece of software has gone downhill pretty significantly lately.  I don’t NEED to watch video from the cloud that often but it would be nice – might be about time to invest in a Windows Home Server – that would certainly do the trick with a few plugins.  Also – it would help me keep my iomga nas device more organized (as it stores additional copies of everything, synchronized via Cyberduck and encrypted in addition to all of the video I have, um…digitized over the years.
  9. Not current but soon – we have two little ones in the house and I’m intrigued by some amazingness I saw in the Apple store the other day – motion activated, remote control pan/tilt/zoom via an iPad app child monitoring device which records to a private YouTube account.  Too far?

Yeah, it is a pretty disruptive time with the cloud.  I continue to work to streamline my setup, be impressed by what many of the companies out there are doing and love the prices as they continue to drop.  Hopefully we’ll be in a more automated scenario soon (hooray for CyberDuck though!).

So, what are you doing in this, the year of the cloud?  Drop me a line either in comments, email (still doing that?) or Twitters.