Not only is it a great time to recharge and unwind from the school year with family and friends, it also allows me to have large chunks of time to focus on my blog. During one of these chunks of time I got up from my computer for a couple of minutes and upon my return it occurred to me that all of the tools I was using to plan, write, and organize my blog and my life are in “the cloud.”
If you’ve ever wondered what people referred to when the mentioned the cloud I thought I would share Wikipedia’s definition:
Cloud computing is a marketing term for technologies that provide computation, software, data access, and storage services that do not require end-user knowledge of the physical location and configuration of the system that delivers the services. A parallel to this concept can be drawn with the electricity grid, wherein end-users consume power without needing to understand the component devices or infrastructure required to provide the service.
Not only do most of the computer applications I use now reside in the cloud but a prerequisite for new applications I might use need to have the features of the cloud including universal access across platforms and be available for little or no cost.
The center of my digital life is stored in the cloud and I wanted to mention the main applications that I use on a daily basis.
Evernote is “The” center of my digital life and their tagline says it all, “Remember Everything.” I use Evernote as a digital filing cabinet for everything except files – for files I use Dropbox.
Evernote is accessible over the web, on my iPhone, iPad, Macintosh at home, and even my PC at work. I love Evernote because I can save anything – text, images, or even my voice. I especially like the feature that allows me to email anything I want into Evernote.
A few of ways I use Evernote:
- Email blog posts into Evernote to read later
- Take pictures of things I want to remember – i.e. whiteboards, advertisements, receipts, and even wine
- Send emails that I need to keep but don’t want to save in my inbox
I’ve been using MindMeister for a few months now and can’t say enough wonderful things about this online mind mapping tool.
There are a number of reasons that I love MindMeister including it’s elegant and clean interface and universal access over the web, on my iPhone, and even on my iPad. The main reason I love using this tool is because it has helped me be more productive and, because of it’s visual interface, I feel like I’m able to flush out my ideas and thoughts more fully.
A few ways I use MindMeister:
- Plan blog posts
- Work on the outline for my upcoming eBook
- Take notes in meetings
If Evernote is the center of my digital life – Dropbox is the center of my document life. I store everything and anything on Dropbox. I like to think of it as my networked drive which is accessible anywhere and on anything.
Dropbox works with Windows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android, and even Blackberry.
The reason I love Dropbox is that anything I upload to Dropbox is available anywhere I have Dropbox installed and I instantly have a back-up.
A couple of ways I use Dropbox:
- Store files from work that I need to have access to at home
- Keep all of my personal files stored on Dropbox as a back-up system
4. Google Docs
Google Docs is the basic office suite offered as either part of your basic Google account or part of your Google Apps account. I utilize Google Apps for my blog’s domain, schneiderb.com, and use Google Docs as part of that suite.
Google Docs has come a long way since it’s introduction and if you haven’t checked it out recently I encourage you to give it another try. While I still use Microsoft Office at my school I use Google Docs for everything else for the simple reason that it’s free, offers universal access through a web browser, and saves so frequently that the application doesn’t even offer a Save Button which results in the fact that I haven’t lost work on a file – ever!
A couple of ways I use Google Docs:
- Write my blog posts – including this one
- Begin draft writing for work documents that I know I’ll work on at school and at home so I don’t have to worry about cross-platform issues.
If you haven’t tried these cloud-based applications I encourage you to take them for a spin – especially considering that each one of them offers a free version.
Additionally, I’m always on the look out for other cool cloud-based applications so please share any of your favorites in the comment sections below.