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.

_

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.
__
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.

_

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.

_

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.

_

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”…)

_

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.

_

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.

_

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.

_

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.

_

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.

_

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.

_

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 🙂
_
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.

Surviving Twitter

With the recent mass adaptation of Twitter in my immediate surroundings, it has been suggested by people who aren’t yet on it that it would be rather nice to have some kind of guide to Twitter etiquette for those who are new to it.

I’ve been tweeting for around a year and although I’ve learned a lot about how to make the most of this continually evolving social network tool, I still remember how bewildering it all was when I first took the plunge.

So here’s a guide for those who want to join in.

I’m assuming you’ve already logged in or you’ve joined twitter (go to www.twitter.com and join from there), then you’ll see similar screens to the ones below, albeit with different background colours.

OK, so what is it?

Twitter is, essentially, a micro-blog, or a mini online diary. You can type the answer to “What Are You Doing?” in 140 characters or less as frequently as you like, a bit like your facebook status. 

whatareyoudoing

 

If you keep updating (but not too often!) you’ll end up with a profile that looks a bit like the page below –  a list of your updates.

This is what other people will see when they go to your twitter page.

Profile

You can see what other people are writing by “following” them.  Their updates (or “tweets”) will come up on your Home area in chronological order.

mainpage

 

Other people can follow your updates – they are called (predictably) your “followers”. You can see how many followers you have underneath your profile picture.

followers

To follow someone, find them on twitter while you’re logged in, then click “follow”. Their updates will now appear in your stream.

follow

 

Once you’ve joined up, it’s good to find people to follow – good places to start are http://www.twitter.com/bbcnews , http://www.twitter.com/towerbridge and of course http://www.twitter.com/ljrich (if you want to see what I get up to!)

 

Tweet Notes

1. There aren’t really many rules about frequency or content when you tweet, but be aware if you are doing 20 updates a day, people might be less inclined to follow you as it will bung up their timeline and stop them seeing their other updates.  I try and tweet between 0 and 5 times a day – with a ratio of (I hope) 80% interesting to 20% pointless, ranging from random thoughts through to music tech and hyperlinks.

2. Engage with your followers! if someone asks you a question, reply to them with an @ symbol in front of their name, (like this: @ljrich ) – this tweet will come up in their “replies” section and not get lost in the stream. 

Using the @ in front is the way to make someone’s twitter name clickable. 

You can also “Retweet”, which is effectively to forward someone else’s tweet, normally with a view to helping them get answers, or to disseminate information.  The usage is to add “RT” at the beginning of your retweet – for example:

What are you doing?

RT @ljrich how do you use twitter? I’d love to hear from you.

3. Twitter Hashtags: You can tag your own tweets so they can appear in “filters” – for example, #ces09 will show all tweets that have been tagged with this consumer electronics show marker.  Rather like football chants, these tags appear to proliferate organically until everyone is using the same one.  Let’s take a newer hashtag to show you the usage:  #lunchtweet .

What are you doing?

#lunchtweet salmon sushi set, sesame spinach and soba noodles. Mmm Tokyo Diner.

It doesn’t matter where you put your hashtag in your tweet.

4. Be aware that everything you write is EVIDENCE, and will be on the internet FOREVER! 

5.  It’s the interactivity aspect that trips so many people up – to make the most out of Twitter, remember that it’s not just about broadcasting your thoughts, it’s also about having conversations, answering queries and adding your voice to a debate.  Tweeting should be human and reasonably informal. 

*

Meet ‘n’ Tweet

In summary, there’s a lot of fun to be had on Twitter, as long as you’re not expecting to monetize.  In my experience, it’s first and foremost a site for socialising and sharing the minutae of life as we live it, although it’s becoming a valuable networking tool for linking people together in a relaxed manner. 

I tweeted a while back (and got retweeted – the ultimate accolade!) that ” if LinkedIn is the office, Twitter is the pub” – the corollary of which appears to be: it doesn’t matter what you drink, as long as you’re reasonably sociable.

See you at the bar.

 

Oooh comments please…

Tell me, what do you use Twitter for? When did you join? What do you like about it? How has Twitter changed in the last few months? Feel free to leave comments here or on my twitter account.

 

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]