The semi-regular review of my personal cloud apps

Last time I updated this was back in 2012, so, I guess it’s about time …

So, what’s changed?

Well, I still utilise Android as my phone OS of choice, I still have the iPad bought back then, but I haven’t updated it, and when it dies, I am unlikely to replace it – or if I do, it may be an Android device it is replaced with.

I considered buying a surface or Samsung Note to go BYOD, but in the end decided none of those options had the level of processing and memory capacity I required for some of the DABI tasks I undertook, thus I chose to upcycle my early-2011 17″ Macbook Pro by adding a 1TB SSD and 16GB RAM to it, upgrading to Yosemite and Parallels 10 to run a Windows 7 VM for use with work based apps such as Lotus Notes, MS Office and MS Sharepoint tools.  This has been a rather satisfactory result.

I have been making a concerted effort to evaluate the differing cloud based application offerings – choosing those that offered a good mix of bang-for-buck, cross-platform compatibility,  security and ease of use. Thus some of my offering choices have changed. 

  • eMail is maintained via the Google Mail & App Services which is still the no brainer choice here. The continued improvements of the integrated Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Drive and if you are inclined, hangouts and plus,  The implementation of inbox is also making this a choice of preference for another year. I just wish they would allow inbox to become the one window view to all my accounts, not just one eMail address at a time.
  • Storage is something that has undergone a number of contenders over the last few years. I was a fan of Dropbox, but then SugarSync stole my heart. Then I flirted and had serious affairs with Cubby and Box.com but in the end, I started forking out my hard earned dollars to TresorIT. Built for security, it offers a range of ACL options, the ability to selectively sync folders between devices, the ability to implement two-factor authentication, the ability to utilise groups and policies, IP Filtering, Device management, DRM … well, you get the idea – plus they are constantly tryinbg to improve and add new features, which is nice.
  • Evernote : It’s a constant for me – I was introduced to the application back in the day when it was still a thick client that had just introduced a “run on USB” portable option. It is the next best solution for keeping all your ‘business’ in one place. It has replaced Pocket, Reader and Instapaper for my “read it later” functions and now it is lIke a digital memory box – with OCR, camera, handwriting and audio notes, plus and an ever increasing set of capabilities that makes it hard to leave the platform. In fact, when I looked at onenote as part of the (workplace) desktop SOE, I decided that I would need IFTTT to have a better connector to send my content back into Evernote.
  • The Chrome browser : A few years ago, I was using the “Chrome to Phone” and  “Phone to Chrome” as well as the XMARKS bookmark sync engine. Frankly though, simply utilising Chrome on all of my devices allows me to synchronise bookmarks, form data, tabs and even push pages to a specific mobile device. It has all but become a cloud based browser. Though, with the known memory leak issues of Chrome on Windows, I can understand why people are starting to get annoyed with it.
  • LastPass : The “last password you need to remember” password managment system that integrates across devices, browsers and is cloud accessible. Plus the secure notes feature now allows you to add attachments (images, pdf, etc) to them, making it a great way to photograph all of your IDs, cards, passports, etc and keep them lockd behind a two-factor authentication and the best part is, this “premium” feature costs all of $12/year!
  • Whilst I like the google Doc options, the CloudOn service when I originally discovered it a few years back was a cloud based MS Word, Excel and Powerpoint service that was not just “compatible” but was an actual MS Office environment. However, since then it has reinvented itself into a Simple, Powerful Doc Editor. It’s nice, but it’s not what I wanted, but essentially, I guess the O365 made the original venture uncompetitive. This has led me to need to look at this arena again. For 90% of my document writing, editing and presentation needs, the Google offerings are fine. Yet, nothing I have found (yet) is as powerful as excel for the DABI that I do. The range of array formulas and index lookups I perform on even my simplest sheets is enough to drain most machines into a paging frenzy – so for now, excel must remain a thick client.
  • The demise of the google reader left a few of us in the lurch. There were a number of contenders for replacement, but in the end, Flipboard became my default reader. RSS feeds aren’t as simple to feed into it, but via various methods, they can still be fed into your account, plus, if you’re so inclined, you can create your own flipboard magazine to keep articles of interest on for yourself or to share with your friends.
  • Task managment is somethign I am still flipping between with Any.do and Google.Tasks both leapfrogging each other every six months or so to become my flavour of the month, as it were. I’m not sure which one will win out in the end.

So, other than the LIMA I am expecting to receive when it exits beta next year, then that’s it for now. I may not end up getting a new PC or laptop in a few years, the new QNAP devices are now offering virtualisation engines and the ability to plug a keyboard, mouse and HDMI device directly into them to utilise VMs directly when at home, and with a good tablet, remote access to them will also be a breeze.

So, once again, So, that’s my list for now … what else is out there that you’d recommend? If so, let me know, otherwise, untill next time.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s