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Click to see full-sizeIn the article 'Personal Cloud' to Replace PC by 2014 we see a prediction that most PC/tablet/smartphone users will be storing all their data "in the clouds" by 2014, just over a year away. As I wrote in the last issue of CN.Net-News, many cloud services such as the free Dropbox, Evernote and Google Docs are already attracting millions of users.

The plus side is that your files are available anywhere, from any device connected to the Internet - even if you don't have your own PC, tablet or smartphone. You can use a device in a library, coffee shop, Internet cafe, or borrow a friend's device. I teach computer skills in a nearby neighborhood center where many lower-income people live: they can use one of the six PCs there for free, and I show them how to use such free services as Gmail and Google Docs that are totally cloud-based. I've even created a free website for them using Google Sites: Meadowood Center.

For $5 a month you can get Google Apps - the business-oriented version of Google Docs that lets you share files, chat and collaborate between co-workers. But what's the negative side? It's hidden in the question "Is Your Head In The Clouds?" Where's all your personal and business information being kept, and therefore who owns your information? "Possession is nine-tenths of the law!"

Last week I moved the editorial section of the previous two issues of my other e-newsletter to "the cloud" - to my Blogger site. That way people could post comments immediately, instead of the old method of waiting for me to reply to a webmail form - sometimes days or weeks. So I put those two editorial articles in my new blog, with an IFRAME in my e-newsletters linking to the blog. But then I re-thought that decision: what if for some reason Google decides to dump Blogger? Or what if Google decides to ban me from their system? Would my information simply be deleted, gone forever? So I changed my blog to instead use an IFRAME linking to each editorial article on my website that I backup regularly: take a look at my Hosken-News Blog.

Intelligence is limited by the laws of logic, but stupidity knows no such bounds.

My "personal clouds" might be distributed over a few websites, but my data - personal information, about 17,000 development files for my 4 websites, my emails, browser bookmarks and local storage, e-books, photos, music files, etc. - are safely stored on my hard drive and backed up daily to my flash drive and automatic offsite backup service. So I recommend the free Office Web Apps from Microsoft, which also includes SkyDrive, a free 25Gb "cloud" drive. You can read and edit your files online from any web device or share things from your PC: a Word document, an Excel spreadsheet, a PowerPoint presentation, something in OneNote, or share almost any file with friends or co-workers where they can either just view them or even edit them. If you have Office 2007 or Office 2010 installed on your PC, you can sync with and edit files in your "personal cloud."

But if you use the free LibreOffice programs, you can save, upload and download files in the XML formats that Office 2007 and 2010 use, to be compatible with Office Web Apps. And you can use EverNote instead of OneNote. If you combine Office Web Apps with Windows Live you also get Live Mail that also works offline and includes a calendar and instant messaging, Live Movie Maker, Live Photo Gallery and Live Blog Writer.

The Live Mesh program, an automatic file and folder sychronization service, lets you sync your PC files with your online 25Gb SkyDrive, but only lets you edit or view your synced online files if you have Microsoft Office installed on your PC. If you don't care for Microsoft's Messenger, you can use Microsoft's new aquisition Skype that now includes your Facebook contacts. I imagine that Microsoft will integrate your Messenger contacts into Skype too, and perhaps phase out Messenger. For group video you can use the free AnyMeeting - great for personal use and perhaps start-up businesses.

The "grown-up," business version of Office Web Apps and Windows Live is Microsoft Office 365 that provides shared Outlook calendars and email using your own domain name, shared web versions of Excel, PowerPoint, Word, OneNote, Website hosting, Lync Online for meetings and webinars, instant messaging, voice and video chat. Pricing starts at $6 a month per user (just $1 a month more than Google Apps) for up to 50 users, or $8 a month for up to 50,000 users for the "Enterprise" version that includes Sharepoint Online for secure file sharing, workflow engine and more. Of course, it requires that you have Microsoft Office installed on your PC.

Although the online Office 365 versions don't offer all the functionality of Microsoft Office installed on your PC, files are fully compatible with your PC-based Office - unlike Google Apps and other online Office-like alternatives such as HyperOffice or Zoho Docs. Also, these latter 3 systems don't use the new Office XML file formats. My net take-away from the question: "Is Your Head In The Clouds?" - Check them out carefully, and keep your data in your own hands and your feet on the ground if your head's in the Clouds!

Click on Online PC Support for our worldwide help   &   Offsite Backup Services for securing your files!

The Security Blurb:
The NSA Is Building the Country's Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say) - this article describes in gory detail the enormous supercomputer system that will be able to sort, sift and categorize all the diplomatic cables, telephone calls, email messages, blog posts, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ posts, etc. that are gathered from NSA listening posts all over the world as well as from NSA's "black office" at every cell phone and landline telephone company and ISP (Internet Service Provider} in the United States. The supercomputer complex will be so powerful that it should be able to brute-force crack encrypted messages that use the best encryption algorythms. So let's keep our words soft and sweet, because we may have to eat them someday!

The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk or at your side, your computer. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. Thanks for your time!

Best regards,

"Dr. Bob the CompuNerd"

Robert D hoskEN
See the "nerd" in my name? (It helps if you're a little dyslexic!)
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