What is the cloud?
There is a lot of confusion in people’s mind as to what the cloud is so here is a brief description of what it is:-
“ The cloud refers to network servers that are on the internet that can store your data and allow access to your software.”
In reality this means the following:-
- You data can be stored and accessed remotely
- Meaning you are not dependent on a particular computer to have your data stored
- You can share that data if you so wish with others
- You can have apps that are always the latest version and deployed remotely, thus saving maintenance time
- Cost-effective way to deploy and maintain software
- You can protect that data so that others don’t see it!
But there is a safety issue! Data can be compromised . Accidental uploading of your images can lead to safety issues and problems with your clients.
Using the cloud has been a liberating experience as I can turn to any computer with an internet access and be able to continue working. The cloud is ideal for the mobile person in their mobile office.
What are cloud apps?
These are software applications that can be stored and deployed to your computer remotely. Software companies are moving more and more to providing their customers with cloud based applications. Some of the major applications are:-
- Google Drive
- Adobe Photoshop and related products C
- And many are coming online daily
In terms of special needs we see applications like:-
- Choose it Maker 3
- Matrix Maker
- Symwriter Online
Is this a trend that will continue?
Yes, pretty much so I think as its cost-effective. The downside is compatibility issues and internet connection problems. As the applications run remotely they sometimes are not downloaded on the device having limited to no internet access causes users to experience frustrations due to not being able to access the application or data. So like in everything it is best to have a range of alternatives to use. In other words have devices with software on them but take advantage of having the online alternative. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages at this time.
From my personal experience having the ability to switch devices and still access my data has been huge on my work. Syncronisation of your files are key for this so its important to make this a regular habit. Auto-syncronizations is good as long as you are able to keep an eye on what the content is. The major danger is images of people without their permission!
Any Platform, any Software!
I have been really impressed by the fact that I can use my £169 Chromebook and have access to my work at anytime. Even Microsoft Office with Office 365. Starting up is a dream at 6-8 seconds and the fact that browsing happens at a speed that is useable saves me time. Going back to my standard laptop and I am subject to waiting and crashes. I must say I thought I would find the change to a virtual operating system that runs nothing would be limiting but actually I am pleased to report that the opposite is true! Can I do everything? No, I will still need my PC to do my specialist software but the admin and many everyday essential tasks can be done. Using a chromebook you need to adapt to using two fingers to scroll and double tap to open a menu to save things with. This needs to be the learning curve.
The fastest PC I use is my Windows Surface Pro 3. A great device and if they made a more user friendly stand for your knees it would be a perfect PC. Load times are comparible with the chromebook and its battery life is equally as good, Again with only a small hard disc it requires cloud-based storage to be practical. And then the touchscreen is there and a pen which with the one press puts you straight into the most underused application of the Microsoft Family – OneNote. Having run Windows10 now for a few months the integration of the new browser system code name “Project Spartan” has enabled the annotation using the stylus to go straight into onenote. A useful feature which will make the tablet a more effective browsing and research tool. Cordano speech searching is also included into the browser so may have uses for the visually impaired. This is a work in beta so best to see what the final results will be.
iPads offer the benefit of ease of use and speed as well as long battery life. Apps are generally stored on the iPad but where cloud based apps are used they have a good interface. Flickr has a useful and practical interface to use as well as Dropbox and Google Drive. File handling is a key thing when using an iPad so being able to transfer data to the cloud efficiently is key to its success.
We are still someway off in practical terms of any platform , any software but as the trends continue the reality will occur. In the meantime, back to my lovely, cheap , chromebook!
Specialist SEN&D ICT Consultant