Upgrading to Windows 7 – thanks to the Cloud

I have just upgraded my Laptop to Windows 7. Not an exercise for the faint hearted, but after a few failed attempts I succeeded. I had previously been using XP and over the years I had downloaded so much rubbish and deleted loads more, the whole system was getting decidedly dodgy. And when it took over 30 minutes to boot up the other day I decided I had to act!

I duly went to the Microsoft site and downloaded and installed Windows 7. There were a few false starts but I got there in the end and I now have, what is effectively, a new lap top running sweetly until I fill it up with cr.p again.

One of the “drawbacks” about upgrading from XP is that the Windows 7 installation overwrites your system and unless you have backups, you lose the lot. Actually, in view of my previous comments, loosing most of the rubbish on my laptop was no great shame but there was a lot of important data I needed to keep.

And this, of course, is where the Cloud comes to the rescue. I now keep virtually 100% of my data, photos and music on the web so reinstalling on my “new laptop” was simplicity itself. Other than having to re- download programmes such as Itunes and a few others, everything I needed was there and ready to go.

These are the main applications I use for my Cloud Computing:

1. Mail – Googlemail
2. Documents and spreadsheets – Zoho and Google Docs. Anything I do need to keep on my hard disk I synchronise online using Dropbox as my virtual drive.
3. Pictures – Google Picasa – again synchronised to the web model.
4. Music – ITunes – but synchronised to MP3 Tunes on-line. As I write this I am downloading my entire collection from the web.

A further comment . I had lunch the other day with my major new client and was discussing how we would be using online accounting as the main part of our service offering. The client queried what would happen to the data in the event of the SaaS provider’s failure and I was explaining that the SLA’s with the data storage provider – in this instance Fujitsu – enabled access for a period of time after any demise of the principal supplier.

The client’s comment was…” so we can access the data but we don’t own it.” A fair point and one that I can understand is a major concern for those not convinced of the Cloud’s advantages. My response was that the system we are using enables all data to be downloaded almost literally at the touch of a button, so if it was a concern it would easy enough for the client to regularly download the data as an additional level of security.

In considering what SaaS or Cloud service to use, this should be one of the principal considerations.

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Kindle (Part 2) – Function over form?

I had an interesting meeting with David Terrar discussing all things Cloud, gadgets and generally putting the world to rights. I happened to mention my new Kindle and that my wife, who is a self-confessed bookaholic, said she would never use one.

There is no substitute, she says, for the feel and smell of a new book and all that it evokes and reading from an e-book just doesn’t offer an equivalent experience. In this, of course (as with most things!) she is right – but it started me thinking about the way we adapt to technology and how what is important at one point in time, changes its emphasis as we embrace the current trend.

Take the LP for example. Those of us of a certain age will have fond memories of the experience of bringing home a new record – not just for the music inside the sleeve, but for the enjoyment of the sleeve itself and the write ups on the back.

With the advent of the CD, we felt that it was a poor substitute for the LP. But what the CD provided for the first time was that our music collection had become portable. Yes, a decision had to be made as to what music was going to be taken on a long journey but, nevertheless a music selection could be brought with you.

And then came the Ipod. The tactile experience of music buying disappeared entirely but what replaced it was the total portability the Ipod provided. It was no longer a question of what music you chose for a journey – you took the whole collection!

Will the same happen with the ebook? I wonder if the ability to take your whole reading collection with you on holiday or – in the case of the Kindle – the ability to choose a book and immediately download it will prove that function over form will win the day?

Sage – you've got to love them (not!)

This is a true story (only the names and a few of the facts have been changed to protect the innocent!)

A client rings me the other day ..”I have a bit of a problem. I need to get my accounts done very urgently… problems with the bank etc. Can you turn them round quickly for me?”

“No worries” I say (always helpful) “send me the records and we can get started on it.”

“It should be a lot easier this year” he says, ” I am using Sage and I can send you the back up file by email and you can get going”

My heart sinks – I know what is going to happen next but being the resolute kind of guy I am, I duly forward the backup to my trusty assistant, Marilyn and task her to get on with it. Delegation is the key!

A few hours later I wander into the general office to see how she is getting on, but of Marilyn there is no sign. A few minutes later the phone on my desk rings.

After some dust induced coughing and spluttering the voice on the other end says “Boss, its Marilyn – I understand you were looking for me”, ( she didn’t really say Boss, but it sounds good when they do it on the TV) “I’m in the old store room in the basement.”

“I suppose there is a good reason for that” I say – always sympathetic to my staff.

“Well, you know the Sage backup you sent me – it’s an earlier version than the one I have on my laptop…. and after much hunting around the only PC we have running this version is in the store room, so I am down here trying to down load the info…”

Now there is a moral to this story and for those who are familiar with my favourite topic I don’t need to explain further. To the Sage enthusiasts in dusty storerooms everywhere, good luck to you!


Travelling Light

I am writing this blog, sitting in the kitchen at my son’s home in Brussels where my wife and I are visiting for the weekend. As usual when I travel abroad, I have my trusted Iphone – wouldn’t go anywhere without that – and my acer net book.

It occurs to me as I type this, that all of my PC content is now stored in the Cloud and that everything I need to access is readily available irrespective of what computer I use. What’s more, I think that most of what I need to look at at any one time can be viewed on my Iphone – and no doubt the Ipad when I get it – which makes obsolete the requirement to lug around loads of equipment.

It is the way of the future no doubt.

The IPad – I can't wait

Unfortunately, I am not one of the select few who had the opportunity to get their hands on the new IPad at the recent Apple Launch last week. So my views are based solely on what I have read and seen about the product having watched the presentation by Steve Jobs (what a great marketer!)

The first impression is that in look and feel, it is a large Iphone – and if that is so, it is no bad thing. Those of us who are committed Iphone users know how the slick interface and responsive touch works so well -so to have this on a larger scale is great. That any of the Iphone applications will also work on the IPad interface provides a seamless integration of the two items. It wont be too long, I am sure, before the hackers have done their work and there will be the Cydia equivalent for the Ipad which would be terrific.

The continuing lack of flash is an interesting omission – one that is more political, I suspect, than practical and it will be interesting to see where this goes in the future. The introduction of the Ibook store will prove to be direct competition to Amazon’s Kindle. I have been using the Kindle for the last few weeks and it is a positive experience. How the Ipad interface and screen will work with this remains to be seen but the graphical interface looks appealing.

Whether the Ipad can be used in place of a laptop remains to be seen – the fact that a dock and a keyboard is provided as an extra is some sort of acknowledgement that it will have its limitations in this area. Having said that it does introduce a whole new concept and way of working – where the touch screen will replace the mouse.

I for one can’t wait.