Living in the cloud is a powerful concept, but in practice there are
still times when we need to have access to our data when we are most
definitely not online.
Here are five powerful tools you can start using today to enjoy the back up and access benefits of making the cloud your main work filing and storage destination, while keeping everything synced on your desktop so it is still there when you need it in a pinch.
A lack of offsite backup in any business is asking for trouble. Dropbox has to be the easiest way to add this to your business, with plenty of additional tricks up its sleeve.
Once installed, Dropbox adds a new folder to your main Document storage area (whether Windows, Mac, or Linux) that is instantly synced to the Internet anytime you are online. You can access these files through a web interface, and you can install the same account on multiple machines, which then ensures all documents in the Dropbox folder are in sync across all machines.
Add to this smart management features like version tracking and the ability to restore old copies of files from your online storage, and Dropbox becomes an essential service.
Simple notetaking solutions are easy to come by, and Evernote was originally developed as an independent competitor to Microsoft OneNote. But then it took on a life of its own, and today Evernote lets you capture any note, anywhere, and sync it to a central note storage environment.
Whether text, audio, photo or even a whole web page, you can use a wide array of intelligent shortcuts and plug-ins to send quick notes to Evernote from anywhere you may be. You can send it tweets, emails, text messages, and more, and they all arrive in your Evernote inbox where you can organise them for future reference.
Evernote will even attempt to OCR your photos for any text that you may want to be able to search at a later date. Once it's synced to your desktop application, all your notes are on hand and will sync back to the cloud when available.
Just because Firefox is a web browser, it doesn't mean it only works when you're 100% online. ScribeFire is a Firefox plug-in that lets you draft blog entries for almost any blogging platform – WordPress, Movable Type, Drupal, Blogger, and many more.
You can prepare entries complete with images and even YouTube videos. You can edit in WYSIWYG or raw HTML, depending on your prerferences. Draft all you want, and when you're ready to go you can send your work live with a click.
Google's general purpose system for turning web applications into browser-based desktop software, there are more than a few services that now support Google Gears. Compatible with Firefox 1.5 or better, Internet Explorer 6 or better, Safari 3.1.1 or better, and, of course, Google Chrome, Gears lets an intelligent website act locally until you tell it to sync back to the online service.
Google's own services like Google Docs and Google Reader can be run through Gears, but there's another example that is another ideal option for any business brain.
Remember the Milk
So much more than just a To Do List manager, but as simple as pen and paper if that's all you want it to be. Keep basic to do lists, split them into project lists, add due dates, and before you know it you're running what amounts to a complete idea and task management system.
As well as using Gears to keep it tied to your desktop at all times, you can use desktop widgets, smartphone applications, and calendar integration, plus receive reminder via email, IM, or SMS. It's always a nice bonus that the world's most popular To Do list manager is also Australian made. #