How to Move to the Cloud

Well, it happened.
My life reached critical mass, I had lots of things to do in many places, all of which require a variety of internet access, and an infinite amount of patience.
If only I could defrag my brain this easily

If only I could defrag my brain this easily- Time to get organised

Time to move to the cloud …but how to do it without going bonkers?  The subject of my latest post,  I regret to admit, is the reason for a lot of non-blogging.

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The mission was to move everything away from a specific platform (i.e. one laptop) and move it somewhere I can access EVERYWHERE, that would be on the mobile, both laptops, both desktops and at internet locations all over the known universe. Bleh.
Does that sound like a nightmare? It was.  I’m nearly there, though.
So here goes.
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1. I have 37,000 emails I need to have access to on my outlook email – how can I access them somewhere else?
Google Email Uploader for Apps
First of all, I needed to find a way to see my old emails on the internet. As I own a domain, I opened a free google apps account – then took advantage of the free google email uploader.

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I faffed about with pointing CNAMEs in the right direction etc and used the help pages quite a bit. Now your domain hosting service should be able to help out  if you’re thinking of doing this too, and they will be the people to talk to if you’re having a spot of bother.  It all worked fine after I’d sorted out the settings, but took AGES to run as there was so much email to upload.  Happily, after leaving it to do its business, I now have a fully searchable online email database.

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2. Can I get GMail on the move?
I use a Nokia N95  (although its days are numbered, poor thing takes a lifetime to go to “image gallery” now bless it) – and visited the Gmail mobile apps page to download gmail for my phone.  The mobile application for Nokia is now playing nicely with google apps users (if you’re on the mobile reading this, then go here m.google.com) So now I access my Gmail from my phone and any computer with an internet connection.

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Only problem is that it’s still pull, but I’m not too bothered about that at the moment.

3. I add appointments on my mobile phone and while I’m at the computer.  How can I see everything without it all going wrong?
Goosync

Goosync

Now, it so happens that there is a little programme called GooSync which will happily sync your calendar with your google calendar for free. If you want to do other things as well, you’ll have to pay.
(UPDATE – Goosync has now started charging as at 19-10-09 – £5.99 per year for this service. Oh well, there goes the “free”…)

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Once set up  (and GooSync will send you a text message to sort all your settings out) you just go to the Sync menu of your phone, and synchronize your calendar.  Like Gmail on the phone, you have to remember to do it reasonably often – (do let me know if there’s a way to schedule it to sync regularly)  – but it means I can sync my phone calendar without needing a computer USB cable.

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4. What about stuff  like Documents, spreadsheets – that kind of thing…?
Dropbox File Holder

Dropbox File Holder

Enter dropbox, a brilliantly simple and automatic way of keeping your stuff in one virtual place.
The way this works is you have a “dropbox” folder in, say, “my documents” and anything you store there gets Sync’ed up to your dropbox folder in the cloud, and back down to any other dropbox folders on, say, your other computers when they next connect to the internet.  The whole thing is done quickly and without any drama.

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I have a dropbox app on my (mobile) laptop, and one on my (stationary) monster Mac Pro.  I access my docs on other computers by logging into the service online and accessing my files from there – downloading and uploading as I wish.

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How clever – and great if you are on a work or shared computer and you don’t want to download your dropbox there.

Yes, of course I use Google docs but find that sometimes docs uploaded from Excel/Word don’t really like it up there, and go a bit squiffy.  I love Google docs for the sharing,  but not for the sort of anorak-style colour-coding obsessed spreadsheet madness that I’m afflicted with.
Dropbox is completely free for the 2GB version, however if you’re storing video or music, you might feel the need to upgrade to one of their paid-for options with more storage.

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5. My infinite things to do list… er, a little help?
nozbe project manager

nozbe project manager

I’ve been using Nozbe for a while, which has a “free 5 project plan” that you have to hunt for on the home page.
Nozbe Project Managment

Nozbe Project Managment

If you’re a fan of “getting things done” by David Allen (and I am) , you’ll be familiar with the ideas behind this project management site – Although there’s a “nearly there”  ipod touch/ iphone app which accompanies this website where you  sync your “to-do’s” online with your nozbe account, I use Nozbe exclusively on a browser at whichever computer I’m plonked in front of.

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This online project management tool will give you your “next actions” across projects.  This means that once you’ve entered your various (and copious) things to do in different areas – say “music composing”, “home admin” and “holiday planning” – you can see what needs to be done on each project THAT DAY. Really good if you are working on a few different things at once 🙂

6. What about my contacts?
Everything needs to be sync-able with everything else, so any changes made on one platform have to be reflected in the other.
Zyb contact sync

Zyb contact sync

I’m so close to getting my contacts sorted.  Using zyb to synchronise my contacts from my phone to their internet site is pretty cool, but I’m still working out how to merge the ridiculous contact list on my phone with the laughably giant contact list on google apps.  I also have a gmail account that could do with a bit of a tidy.

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This is the only area where I’m not quite sorted yet – and yes, I bet there are lots of paid-for ways to get my contacts in order and in sync, but I want to do it for free. And not with an iPhone 🙂
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So there we have it – a move to the cloud which I’ve nearly managed… please comment if you’ve found something awesome that I’ve missed.

Now for some chocolate.

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21 thoughts on “How to Move to the Cloud

  1. Great article – but you really need to dump that Nokia and get yourself an Android handset.

    You can use your domain based google-apps account to set up your Android phone, and voilà: all your contacts, emails and calendar appointments are always in synch.

    • Thanks – and yes, I’m looking at new handsets at the moment – although I’m rather taken with the idea of doing it “old skool” just to see if it’s possible 🙂

      • Although i really like this approach of keeping it oldskool, Ian has a point, android just works and once you get going you will not be able to go back. Life is just easier.

      • -very interesting! Although I am trying out Android now on a mobile (the Motorola Dext) there’s still some issues with Google Apps calendar and a few other Apps things I’m trying to jump over 🙂

  2. Hi LJ, interesting post, hopefully your life will be less complex now you have moved everything into the cloud. One question – is your blog hosted in the cloud as well?

    Kate

    • Well, I do tend to scattergun REALLY important files (at least 3 copies and on something removable) – and with dropbox I have a local copy as well – but you’re right, there’s a certain element of trust involved…

  3. I use and love emoze, one account is free – if you want multiple accounts, you pay a nominal fee of about a euro per month!! It’s a great application, and I’m pushing OWA, my gmail account and Facebook messaging. BTW, you can download it to your phone from m.emoze.com. Who needs a Blackberry and the added expenses????

  4. If you’d like a tool for managing your time and projects, you can use this application inspired by David Allen’s GTD:

    http://www.Gtdagenda.com

    You can use it to manage and prioritize your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, schedules and a calendar.
    A mobile version is available too.

  5. Good post, but why not just use MobileMe.

    MobileMe can run exactly like Dropbox if you so wish and you get 20Gb.

    Calender / Contacts syncing too.

    A good option to cut down on the number of different services used.

  6. As a Google Apps partner, I second the advice (with knobs on!) to get yourself an Android handset. I actually run a number of domains, accessing email, calendar and contacts very easily on the move. I would also suggest Google Docs for in place editing of documents, spreadsheets and presentations (as I’m sure you love them sooo much 😉

    Regarding organisation, there are a number of GTD apps for the android platform.

    HTH

    Colman

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