Cloudware

My recent experience of being laptop-less, and having to execute a major project using handwritten notes and cyber cafes, got me to thinking:

Assuming your work requires digital technology (and whose doesn’t, really?), is it possible to conduct your day-to-day affairs, using cloudware, alone?

And What IS Cloudware, Anyway?

Well, cloudware is software that runs online, via Internet servers, rather than from your computer hard drive.
Little or no installation (or download) is required.

It is also known as Software as a Service (SaaS).

Applications (ie. programs) exist as hosted services, which you can access using a standard Web browser.

Customers subscribe to applications, rather than buying them.
Typically, this is done on a per-month basis. But many services are available, for free.

There’s a lot of stuff, out there.

Check out Cloudware City (https://cloudwarecity.com), and you’ll see what I mean.

Here, I’m going to concentrate on the basics.

But, first…

A Little, About Archiving

Keeping backups. Making copies. Saving stuff. Online.

You’ll find this a life-saver if (for example) your laptop goes ka-blooey, or the flash drive with all your important files on it falls down a sewer grating (It could happen; you never know).

Your hardware’s gone. What do you do?

Post It: Note

One of the simplest things is to send yourself a note, via email.
Use your Yahoo! or GMail account.

Compose a message with a provocative / memorable title (eg. My Awesome Novel – May 2012), and send the document to yourself, as an attachment.
Paste the raw text into the body of the message, while you’re at it.

Do this regularly – especially if you update your work on a frequent basis.

Yahoo! and Google give you tons of storage space for your email accounts, so use it. Send yourself documents, photographs, MP3 files, YouTube video links, or whatever. Create an online email library, of your favorite stuff.

Email attachments may not be the solution, if you want to save copies of program files (software, presentations, etc.). So…

Try File Sharing

File sharing websites let you store pretty much any kind of file, in your personal accounts with them.

4Shared (www.4shared.com) will let you create a personal archive, for free.
You must provide a valid email address (as your username), and a password.
You will get 15 Gigabytes of storage space, which you can lock as a private library, or share files from, as you want.

Remember to log in to 4Shared at least once, every 60 days, and you’ll have an archive, for life.

So much, for archiving.

Let’s talk productivity.

I’m a writer, so I’ll start with what I know.

Screenwriting: From Reel, To Real

Maybe. But you’ve got to write the screenplay, first.

And you can do that online, by opening a free account at Scripped (www.scripped.com).
You will need a valid email address, and password.

Standard screenplay formatting is done by the online software, and you can download your partial or completed scripts in Portable Document Format (PDF).

By paying a monthly fee, you will also have the option to download your work in Rich Text Format (RTF), or as raw text (TXT).

Mind you, if you just select all the text in your script (Press [CTRL] + [A], on your keyboard) and copy it ([CTRL] + [C]), you can paste it all into a word processor ([CTRL] + [V]), and do that, anyway.

A Novel Experience

One to be had, at Yarny (https://yarny.me), the online novel-writing website.

Membership is free (valid email address, and password), and the software is fast and friendly.

You can compose your manuscript from Snippets – which are just blocks of text (chapters, notes, dialogue, whatever) that you can name and work on, individually.

There is a sidebar for People, Places, and Things, where you can write notes and ramblings on topics related to your novel (like character profiles, or locations) which aren’t necessarily part of the book, itself.

Yarny lets you export as many Snippets as you choose into a single file (ie. the novel), in Rich Text Format (RTF) – which can be read by any MS Word-compatible word processor.

Speaking of which…

Other Words

Here are some options for creating general documents: letters, memos, essays, and the like.

Google Docs (https://docs.google.com) is the free online word processor that can be accessed from within your Google account (GMail, YouTube, etc.). It does pretty much what you would expect a word processor to do.

But if (like me) you find Google Docs slow, temperamental, or somewhat problematic, you could try Shutterborg (http://shutterb.org) – which is also free.

The Shutterborg interface is friendlier than Google’s – and also loads faster, in your browser.
Documents can be opened and saved as HTML (Web page format), PDF, or DOC (MS Word format).

Straightforward software that proves it:

You CAN live, without Microsoft.

Word.

Pictures, Too

FotoFlexer (http://fotoflexer.com) is a free online image editor, with advanced filters and effects for retouching (“PhotoShopping”) your pictures.

Pixlr Photo Editor (http://pixlr.com) does not require you to register with the service – but you must have Adobe Flash Player 10 (or better), to be able to use it.

Some Number Crunching

Stock taking? Inventory sheets? Employee roster?

No problem; there are free online spreadsheets programs, too.

SmartSheet (www.smartsheet.com) requires a valid email address, to create your account. You will get an confirmation email with a link back to the site, where you can then specify your login password.

EditGrid (www.editgrid.com) lets you create a spreadsheet on site, or upload one from MS Excel, OpenDocument, Gnumeric, OpenOffice, Lotus 1-2-3, or CSV file formats.

And if all you want to do is multiply 2012 by 17?
Try Calculate For Free (www.calculateforfree.com)

So, Get Ahead, In The Cloud

Because you can.

Back to Earth, with a bump, now.

I have to go.

Peace.

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