7 days in the cloud. Or so was my intention…

I have to be honest here and admit that my intention for this article was to spend 1 week using and solely relying online and cloud applications for my work and productivity. But only 2 days in to my experiment, things changed and many things become apparent to me. So read on, you may find this just a little bit interesting. And if you don’t, by all means let me know!

 Day 1

My 7 day test started off alright, initially. The first day was fine. I had to do some work with a spreadsheet which was already drawn up in Gnumeric. Gnumeric is my locally installed package I use for all my spreadsheet work on Ubuntu. Naturally, my first port of call for online spreadsheet work would be Google Documents. And thanks to Google Docs, uploading the file was of absolute ease. And once loaded into Google Docs, working on the file was equal an experience of working on the file on a locally installed system. I’ve been dabbling with Google Docs since before Google even acquired the service. Veterans might remember the original service was located at writely.com. Once it had been acquired by Google along with other online services, the lot were bundled together and integrated to create the Google Docs suite that you see today. It has come a long way. And Google Docs provides a nice online option for word processing, spreadsheet and more. I’m impressed with the service of what Google present us with today. And it is truly the best example of what can be done with cloud computing.

 Day 2… and the rest…

This is where things began to take a different turn. And on day 2, I realized that I would never be able to survive 7 days in the cloud, as was my original intention. There is a few contributing factors that presented hurdles and create a few problems for me.

The first problem is multimedia. I like to listen to a lot of music and watch on a lot of video. In fact, like many geeks alike I have many gigabytes of media sitting on my hard drive waiting for my attention, but there just is no simple single answer at present for audio/video and cloud applications. And the very few attempts at it are very limited. Allow me to explain why, read on.

I live in Australia. Now, anyone familiar with the current state of Australian broadband will understand that we have some of the worst performing broadband in comparison to other fully developed countries. And multimedia, whether it be audio or video, requires very high bandwidth usage. And in most cases more bandwidth than what Australian broadband can provide. Or at least at an affordable price that us mere mortals can afford.

And then I am posed with another problem. Australia, the great country that we are, sometimes does get a little forgotten about and left in the dark when it comes to certain internet services. Many multimedia cloud services just do not service Australia. And there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing that dreaded screen with large text stating, “SORRY, WE DO NOT CURRENTLY HAVE THIS SERVICE FOR USE IN YOUR COUNTRY!”. So as a result, multimedia remains in usage the good old fashioned way: Locally installed applications and locally installed files.

I was a little disappointed of the multimedia hurdle that I faced. But trying to get over that and move on to some other tasks using online and cloud applications, I decided to do some digital image work. Image editing, to be precise.

After my bitter disappointment with my multimedia experience, I didn’t really expect much when it came to online image manipulation. How wrong I was. I found a website called http://pixlr.com/editor/. What a great experience it was. I was pleasantly surprised of what this very capable online image editor was, well, capable of! Of course, as expected it’s certainly no match for GIMP or Inkscape, but it’s probably more than adequate for most end-users requirements. It has limited file format support for both its import and export functions. But it does support the most commonly used formats of JPG, GIF and PNG plus a few more options. It can export to TIFF format but can not import TIF format, which is a real shame for professionals in the industry like like myself. However, it does support Adobe Photoshop PSD format for the Windows users out there.

I am a Kodak trained Photographic Imaging Professional and I was just so excited with the sheer performance of the Pixlr Open Editor. I have bookmarked this site and will take a closer look at this service a little further on down the track. But if you have the time, take a look at it yourself and you’ll be pleasantly surprised of what the Pixlr Open Editor is capable of. It truly has to be seen to be believed. And it also presents a good example of a cloud application done properly.

Along with digital imaging, another popular task I do is coding and developing, primarily web development. There’s almost infinite choice when it comes to online HTML and code editors. So I won’t go into details of any specific website or service of choice. But I suggest you perform a Google search and see for yourself of the many offerings and services available for both web and software development. There is lots of them. And mnay of them very good.


What I have outlined in this article is just a brief look at what online and cloud services are available. I could go into more detail of all online offerings, but if there’s anything that I have learned during this experience, it’s that the world of online and cloud applications is a very large world indeed.

And I would need more than 1 week to experience even the best of them. As you can see here, there are some very high end sales and productivity cloud applications available.

. In fact, I’ve barely even scratched the surface. And I have found it to be interesting enough for me to continue prowling the internet to see what gems I can really find out there in the wild. I highly encourage you to do the same. And you might just find yourself as surprised as what I was. But at the moment, I can’t recommend you rely solely on online and cloud applications as it is not quite there yet. But it is at the point to at least complement your locally installed software application. Which is great progress from just a couple of years ago when everyone was laughing at the concept of cloud applications and services. And I am embarrassed to admit it, but I am one of those geeks that was in the laughing party. But I can also admit, that I am no longer a member of that party.

  • Mark Johnson

    Aviary is one of the more remarkable cloud application suites, definitely worth checking out.  BUT I personally don’t see the point in shifting to the cloud as an end user when the processing power required for these basic activities is increasingly cheap (look at the Raspberry Pi).  The only thing that makes much sense at all for end users is hosted data storage, which I make active use of, as it lets me access my data on multiple machines in synchronization.  

    I think instead it makes sense to use cloud applications when you need the cooperative and collaborative viewing and editing between different parties in various locations.

  • Darrel Johnston

    There are some good articles here. Many are linked to on LXer.com. My advice: either lose the floating Share bar on the left of the screen or move it elsewhere. It blocks the content people are trying to read.

  • Chris

    For music there is last.fm player, it plays streamed music on your “station” where “station” means something vaguely related to what you have listened to in the past.  You can also listen to other people’s stations, artist and genre stations.  For video there is YouTube, now with Bad Boys and a few other movies.  But yes, for both of these options you are at the mercy of what they have on their servers, you don’t get to play your own media.

  • Scott

    No one has yet convinced me of any advantages to editing my files using remote applications. What is apparent is that more points of failure are introduced by whatever networks connect my machine to the application server. What compelling advantages accrue to me by using a remote word processor or image editor rather than my own locally installed application? Are my documents formatted better? Are my documents and images more compelling? Is the process of creating them faster or easier? Are the resulting files smaller or even more portable between applications? Why should I favor these so-called cloud applications?

  • Chris

    The advantages are that you don’t have to store the data (Not really a problem with most file types but cloud movies and games could be good), you don’t have to backup your data (If you trust the provider), the data is available on all your devices (You don’t have to use local shares any more), the service could serve your data to other people if you wanted and if the law suddenly got better (Pirate bay but where only one person needs to upload anything).
    I agree though, at the moment for most tasks the disadvantages out weigh the advantages.