Martin’s Weblog

Video confession 19 – In the clouds with Google Docs and Microsoft Skydrive

I haven’t blogged for several weeks and haven’t video confessed for even longer – we have been extremely busy with the “plumbing” – radically changing our wireless network and network core to support the radical changes happening in IT.

In the video we talk about two very easy DIY ways of sharing and accessing documents on-line – we talk about Google Docs and Microsoft’s Skydrive and by implication cloud computing.

Google docs provide the applications and integrate storage with the application. Skydrive provides the storage space but not the application – Skydrive extends the client-server model into the cloud.  If you have the applications and want to store and share files then Skydrive is useful, if you don’t have the applications and want to use and share documents then Google Docs is useful.

Google Docs:

Google docs provide on-line word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation. If you are on the Internet and have a browser you can do all the normal things you can do with documents, spreadsheets and presentations like create, save, edit and print but you can also do a lot more.

Google Docs for educators

Tour of Google Docs – by Google

Google docs in plain English – how to avoid email ping-pong

Students, teachers and principles talk about Google docs

Advantages:

– It’s free

– No need to install any software (or worry about security patches and updates) just use a browser

– Access from any machine on that is on the net including smartphones, PC, Apple, Linux etc

– Collaboration and sharing are easy and natural

– Integrate Internet lookup functions and resources – e.g. NASA databases.

Disadvantages:

– It is mainly for on-line use BUT there is off-line capability to edit documents and to view spreadsheets which then automatically synchronise when you go on-line.

– It’s only for documents, spreadsheets and presentations – you can’t upload database files for example.

– Print formatting is very limited – its focus is on-line

Here are a few links for more information about Google Docs

Microsoft Skydrive

This provides a free storage folder that you can use to save files to – If you are on the Internet and have a browser you can use Skydrive to do all the normal things you can do with a storage folder plus more.

Video Demonstration of Skydrive

Another video description of Skydrive

Advantages

– It’s free

– It allows you to store any file

– File sharing and publication is easy and natural

– Files can be access any machine on that is on the net using a browser

 Disadvantages

– You need client software to create and work with the files (e.g. a traditional wordprocessor)

– It can be slow to upload, download and work with files across the Internet

Other systems

Zoho – another free on-line application suite

Description and list of free on-line storage systems

Another description and List of free on-line storage systems

In the video

Abdul talks about using Skydrive to share all manner of program files with colleagues at different colleges  and just before we made the video he shared a SQL data file with me.

Mark Talks about using Google Docs to access and collaborate on the IT projects documentation held as a Google spreadsheet workbook.  Together Mark, Richard and I refer to and update this document on-line from anywhere and at anytime. Mark also talks about how he accesses Google Docs from his iPhone.

Peter suggests that the iPhone’ bright and large screen is perfect for the older person – a new massive market opportunity for Apple.

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September 13, 2008 - Posted by | video blog |

4 Comments »

  1. Martin – thanks for this, I’m experimenting with Google Docs and Skydrive, a little frustrated that you can only read (not edit) Google Docs on a Smartphone at the moment, but I’m sure this will come.

    As to iPhones – they certainly seem to have some advantages over our current Smartphones, but they are only availablke on O2 network in the UK at the moment. The College uses the very favourable Public Sector Vodafone tariff, so big bad FD has to say we can’t support iPhones for general College use for the time being.

    Finally – I’d be interested in your view of the security of the cloud and how this compares to traditional emails. Email has been compared to writing a message on a postcard – what analagy would you choose for uploading an attachment to the cloud?

    Thanks

    Mark

    Comment by Mark Sellis | September 15, 2008 | Reply

  2. Mark,
    Thanks for your comments.

    Google docs on a smartphone – although you can only vuew at the moment – this is still better than traditional file sharing e.g. your college home folder or the “pool” – although a publicly accessible college Sharepoint should be able to offer some form of access to documents. It is just a matter of time until we can get mobile software to be able to ceate and edit on Google docs – Google may acheive this with their Android mobile O/S and maybe later with Chrome browsers for otehr mobile platforms.

    2. Iphones – they have “changed the mobile world” – other suppliers are flattering Apple by imitating – the Samsung Omnia is very similar and has better hardware – this is available on Vodaphone.

    3. Security and the cloud – an excellent question and a hot topic. Many security specialists are now recommending that we move security into the cloud where specialist resources and power can be applied. I would say that the cloud is more secure than the traditional client-server system where documents end up on user computers. You could use where you keep your money as an analogy – is it safer under the bed or in the bank. However, with teh current banking problems the analogy may break down a little.

    Comment by martinking | September 15, 2008 | Reply

  3. My main concern would be security. People still want something tangible for their documents, hence people clinging to their laptops, memory sticks, burning data to cd etc. I think it would take some convincing for people to give control over to ‘the cloud’.

    And who is to say your data would be safe in the hands of ‘the bank’ – could data be hacked and stolen? Or copied and monitored?

    However, with the recent high-profile data security cockups, with laptops/cds being left on trains etc, it may be a better solution.

    I watched the Google docs in plain English video – it looks good, and a great solution to email pile up and over-storage of attachment data. Although again, people will need convincing. Some people want or need the ‘traces’ that email leaves behind – I suppose to cover their or their clients’ backs in the event of something going wrong etc.

    Comment by Jonny | September 16, 2008 | Reply

  4. […] certainly an interest here at the College to try and utilize this technology and the advantages are numerous: No maintenance, free storage, no […]

    Pingback by Cloud computing Vs Personal storage « Jonny Crook | October 2, 2008 | Reply


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