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TODAY'S TOPIC: CLOUD WARS
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Click to see full-sizeIn the article Google Drive vs. Dropbox, SkyDrive, SugarSync, and others: a cloud sync storage face-off, The Verge takes a somewhat skeptical view of Google's new and long-awaited Google Drive (sometimes called "G-Drive") that was just released on Tuesday this week: "While Google Drive isn't much more than a Docs rebranding that syncs to a folder on your computer, it has a few key features that make it worth checking out." Then it mentions these "few" features - it can open 30 kinds of files right in your browser, including Photoshop files, PDFs, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, *.txt, *.htm, *.jpg and many other formats. Google Drive gives you 5Gb free, and you can buy 25Gb for $2.49 a month, or 100Gb for $4.99 a month.

Compared to this, Microsoft's update of SkyDrive released on Monday this week can only open Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and *.jpg files. I was frankly shocked that you can't even open a simple *.txt or *.htm file! SkyDrive gives you 7Gb free, and you can buy 50Gb for $25 a year or 100Gb for $50 a year. Size of storage, though, doesn't count for much if you can't do very much with it. But the way Microsoft has now integrated SkyDrive with their Office Web Apps may be a foretaste of more integration to come. Remember, in our last issue I mentioned you couldn't even open Microsoft Office files in your SkyDrive "cloud"? Well, now you can!


THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
No matter how much you push the envelope, it still remains stationery.


Also, in our last issue I wrote that Microsoft's Web Apps preserve the Office file formats, whereas Google's online word processor, spreadsheet and presentation programs might change the formatting of Office documents. Well, that's not quite true: I experimented with a *.doc file that divided a page into a table of four equal parts. This would print out nicely from LibreOffice on my PC, but Google's word processor pushed part of the bottom two parts onto a second page: minus one for Google. Then I tried the same thing with Microsoft's Word Web App after making sure the file displayed properly in Word 2010 where I work, and the Word Web App did the same thing as Google's word processor, shoving the bottom two parts onto a second page: minus one for Microsoft too.

Google Drive can also do OCR scanning to convert text in *.jpg to a text file. It can't open *.mp3 files, but in Google's Music Manager you can sync the music files in your PC with the Web, where you can store up to 20,000 tunes, play, share and buy thousands of music files. I have almost 15Gb of audio files stored in Music Manager. It's now part of Google Play, which also includes movies, books, apps and games, all accessible on the Web from your PC, ChromeBook, Mac or Android device. And of course, with Picasa you can also edit your photos on your PC and sync them with "the cloud," unlimited storage for photos that are 2048 pixels or less on the longest side and videos 15 minutes or less in length. I keep my digital photos and videos fairly small in size, so I only have about 1.2Gb from the last 12 years.


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There was some initial concern about Google Drive's terms of service, but that seems to have blown over. Both Google and Microsoft state that the user's files remain the property of that user. Google's legalese stating they can reproduce and make derivative works of a user's files are written simply to give Google the legal right to show your videos on YouTube or for Google to make a translation if you share an English-language document with someone who speaks only Chinese. So I've decided to stick with Google Drive for the time being at least, but I will keep checking on what Microsoft will do to improve SkyDrive and Windows Live. Both companies want to lock you into their ecosystems: Google so that it can sell advertising, and Microsoft so that it can sell you software.

Keep in mind that neither Google Drive nor Microsoft's SkyDrive should replace a full-fledged offsite backup system. If you mistakenly delete a file on your hard drive that's synced with "the cloud," your copy on "the cloud" will be deleted too. And if you need to go back to a previous version of a file, your cloud file sync will probably not have retained it. So you still need a real, full-fledged offsite backup system.


The Security Blurb:
In The House Passes CISPA with a Vote of 248 to 168 we read: "CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, has just passed the House by a vote of 248 to 168. The vote was largely along partisan lines, with some leaking." Some say it's more dangerous than SOPA which was defeated, others say it contains the necessary privacy protections. The U.S. Senate has yet to vote on some form of this act, most likely with changes, and President Obama has threatened to veto it in its present form. So keep following this in the news, and if necessary contact your congress-persons about 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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