Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Suite of Web Apps That's Replaced My Desktop and Local Storage

Last year I successfully went paperless and this year my goal is to render my desktop and local storage  redundant for as many day-to-day activities as possible, using a browser as my only client for a new life completely in cyberspace. I still have 3 months to go until the end of the year, but even now the only thing I need my desktop for is audiovisual editing and the only thing I need my external storage for is archiving my extensive audiovisual library that I can't yet move completely to cyberspace. So I can now list the basic suite of web apps that have allowed me to fulfill this year's goal a bit early:

First,  some noteworthy web apps I use regularly that never had equivalents on my desktop:

  • Twitter - microblogging

  • Blogger, Wordpress - blogging


Next, the web apps that have replaced their desktop equivalents:

  • Diigo, Del.icio.us - bookmarking

  • Yahoo Mail, Google Mail- email

  • Yahoo Contacts, Ovi - contacts

  • Google Calendar, Ovi - calendar

  • Google Reader, Feedly - feed reader

  • Google Notebook, Evernote - note-taking

  • Google Documents, Zoho - word processing, spreadsheets, presentations

  • EditGrid - spreadsheets

  • Autodesk Project DRAW - drawing

  • Aviary - image, color, and vector editing

  • Meebo - instant messaging

  • Toodledo - get things done (GTD)

  • TSheets - time management

  • MindMeister - mind mapping


Finally, the storage I currently use in cyberspace, replacing my local storage:

  • Box.net

  • DropBoks

  • Gspace - turns each Google Gmail account into a virtual 8GB "drive"


The redundancy you see in some cases is deliberate and you can consider it as risk management. I also use various synchronization programs, all freely available to synch online services on the web with my Nokia N95 8GB and Windows Vista desktop, the latter is mainly to ensure high availability of my data in the absence of an Internet connection or when a service is offline. Google Gears takes care of my data from many of their online services with an offline mode synched to my desktop, so I use this as well. I'm using the free versions of all of the services I've listed, which completely fills my needs for now. I use the Firefox 3 browser almost exclusively, but I'm also testing Google Chrome. To ensure ultimate portability "on the go" I keep some open source portable applications, including a Firefox 3 browser with all of my addons and plugins along with Google Chrome, on a 2GB USB memory stick on my keychain.

I've kept this post relatively short because I plan to go deeper into detail later about these and other web apps I'm using. I mainly wanted to start a dialogue about the use of these web apps and their lessening of our dependence on the desktop and local storage, so I'm looking forward to seeing your comments about your own experiences.  I've already become fairly comfortable living in my browser as a denizen of cyberspace, what about you?


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