Working in the Cloud – Part 1

cloud-300x300In a recent post, George Siemens discussed his desire to move to the “cloud” for the coming year in order to become device neutral. “Cloud computing is a general concept that incorporates software as a service (SaaS), Web 2.0 and other recent, well-known technology trends, in which the common theme is reliance on the Internet for satisfying the computing needs of the users.” (Wikipedia)  I’ve been working in the cloud for quite a while now and find it highly efficient and productive. Freed of a particular device, I need only a connection to the Internet, and sometimes not even that, to get my work done.

Since they became available, Google Docs and the iGoogle sticky note widget have been the starting point for much of the writing I do. The first draft of this posting was completed in the Sticky Note widget embedded in my iGoogle personal portal, or webtop as some like to call such technologies. I’ve found it easier to begin drafts in the widget as it is quick to return to in subsequent writing sessions, and my Firefox browser checks the spelling on the fly. There’s no fancy formatting available which is not a hindrance with a first draft. Once I’ve finished with a majority of the content, I simply copy and paste it into whatever application I need, in many situations another web app. For a blog post this means WordPress.com, for other documents it usually means Google Docs.

Though I’m not far from an Internet connection during much of my day, the fact that my documents required a connection to work on them was somewhat bothersome, enter Google Gears. Google Gears enables web apps like Google Docs to be synced with your local desktop  computer for offline use. with Google Gears one can edit a local copy of a document and then automatically sync it once you go back online.

More “Working in the Cloud” to come …..

(Image source)

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About Michael Ritter PhD
Professor of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, science textbook author, educational technology blogger, podcaster, and freelance media consultant.

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