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Click to see full-sizeIn our last issue of CompuNerds.Net-News, we discussed several different cloud-based office software suites. Today let's compare just two in more detail. An Australian product, Syncdocs offers online backup, syncing various computers, online viewing and editing files using Google Docs, and sharing files between your computing devices and with other users. The basic Syncdocs program gives you 1Gb of storage for free, with an initial limit of 250 files.

So I downloaded and installed their program, then decided to upload my whole Documents folder to Google Docs. After running a while, it had uploaded the first 250 files, then gave me a message that I had reached the limit. To get more free file storage, you can refer other people to Syncdocs either by entering their email addresses on the Syncdocs website, or by placing a custom link like this - http://goo.gl/HbqAo on your Google+, Facebook or LinkedIn page. For each person who clicks on your custom link, you get another free 250 files, up to 10,000 files.

But then I decided to buy the "pro" version of Syncdocs for $19.95 a year giving me unlimited files, up to 5Gb of storage. What could I lose, for about $1.66 a month? Now I can view my *.doc, *.docx, *.xls, *.xlsx, *.ppt, *.pptx and *.pdf files online, and when I right-click on a file in Google Docs, I can edit all those file types (except *.pdf, of course) using the web-based Google Docs programs. This converts the file to Google Docs format, which can change some formatting. I found that a few *.doc files wouldn't fit on 1 page any more, but my *.xls spreadsheets worked fine. If you choose, you can let Syncdocs automatically convert your files to Google Docs format, then use Google Docs as your default editor, even offline. Syncdocs has lots of other options - check it out!

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of its blessings,
but the inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery. - W. Churchill

During this week at the office where I work, we converted the entire staff's PCs, about 120 people's computers, to Microsoft Office365. We in IT were the "guinea pigs" and have already been using it for a few weeks. At first, we've installed the Outlook side of it, uploading all of our Outlook emails, contacts, calendar items and task lists to "the cloud" - Microsoft's Office365 servers. It's working great, and now we can access our emails, calendars, contacts, etc. from any computing device - PC, Mac, Android or iPhone (we haven't tried it on the iPad yet) - and communicate by email or by Lync, the integrated IM-voice-video program. Next month we'll install the Office Web Apps portion of it, which will let us view, edit and share Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote files in "the cloud."

This led me to have another go at Windows Live, the free version for personal use, hoping for a similar experience. As mentioned in our last issue, Windows Live gives you access to Office Web Apps and 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, etc.

So I uploaded my whole Documents folder to SkyDrive, thinking I could use Office Web Apps to edit them. But then I discovered the big drawback: you can only sync your files between your PC or other device and your SkyDrive storage. That's it - SkyDrive is just synced storage. You can't view or edit your files online, you can only download them if you need to view or edit them. The only way to use Office Web Apps is to upload individual files, not folders, and they're not kept in sync with the files on your PC. You need to buy Microsoft Office and pay $6 a month for Office365 if you want that. Bummer! It would be great if somebody like Syncdocs would develop a version of their software for Windows Live!

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The Security Blurb:
The new "Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act," or CISPA, is stirring up lots of controversy, like the similar SOPA bill that failed to pass in the U.S. Congress. But how similar are they, really? In New CISPA Draft Narrows Cybersecurity Language as Protests Loom we read that the bill allows private companies and governmental agencies to share information about computer hacking threats and theft of "intellectual property," which it defines as "efforts to gain unauthorized access to a system or network, including efforts to gain such unauthorized access to steal or misappropriate private or government information." Several large companies such as Microsoft, Intel and Facebook have signed on, supporting this bill. It's something we should keep our eyes on and express our views about, before it becomes law and we have to live with it.

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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