iCloud is Your Cloud

You can go sort of cloud by using cool tools like Dropbox and Gmail. Or you can REALLY go cloud and move your entire desktop up there. If that concept intrigues you, check out iCloud – a virtual computer on the Web. It’s not an operating system per se, but sure looks and acts like one, albeit one that works in the cloud, from any computer with internet access. Accessing your online computer is as easy as navigating to icloud.com in your web browser. When you do, log in, and your  own desktop emerges, giving you access to your most frequently used files and applications. Application gadgets, such as clock, calendar, weather, can be stored in the sidebar to the right. And, like your regular local desktop, your start menu resides to the lower left.

iCloud offers and impressive list of applications, including tools for mail, instant messaging, photo organization, file exploring, music and video playing, writing, calendaring, contacting and gaming.

iCloud utilizes the same general functions for file storing, backing up and managing as local systems, making it comfortably familiar to use. The extra cool feature is automatic syncing via it’s “Easy Upload” system, which keeps your virtual files synced with your local files similar to Dropbox.

Because it is cloud-based, sharing becomes much simpler – you are not limited to email or messaging to deliver your content:

And here is the kicker – because it is Web-based, iCloud can leverage technologies that make managing your virtual “desktop” from your mobile device possible. The mobile app allows you to access your iCloud files, view documents, and upload photos directly from your mobile camera. With the iPhone version, you can directly share any file from the phone, and email the file with a link using the iPhone’s built-in email.

iCloud is actively seeking developers to create applications that can leverage iCloud’s tools and services, much like Dropbox’s app “store.” Check out some of the apps that are already in cahoots with iCloud here.

For free, you get 3gb of storage space. A 100 gb superdrive is available for $39.95 per year – not too shabby for cloud space plus virtual desktop and integrated apps.

Intrigued? I know I am. Offering a free version gives you and I the opportunity to check out iCloud with little commitment. If it is impressive as it sounds, the paid version is not a lot to shell out for a lot of functionality and virtual, cloud space. Thanks, iCloud!

A Student Organizer That's Not Just For Students

If you are trying to get organized in the New Year, check out this tool from a (somewhat) unlikely source. Student Dog Organizer is a virtual organizer for students, created by a student. It’s a download, but you might want to make some space for this one on your Windows-based system. From their site:

  • Denní přehledDay overview – Date, database state, clock (analog/digital). If you go to school with laptop, you will appreciate “In-school” mode, which will determinate upcoming lesson, when it ends and what lesson is next. It uses system time and timetable.
  • KontaktyContacts – Controlls all your important contacts. It can import contacts from MS Outlook and functions like age counting, automatic determination of name day or reminding of birthdays and name days are not missing.
  • KalendářCalendar – Here you can record all you school and non-school activities. Every record can be marked with different icon (phone, book, person…), you can also choose if you want to enter time and if record should occurs more than once (weekly, monthly etc.)
  • ÚlohyTasks – Classic checking tasks which can be stored in user defined categories (Homeworks, Shopping list, Downloads, Borrows etc.)
  • ZnámkyMarks – Virtual student sheet which automatically counts averages/sums of your marks. It’s a table of subjects and every subject can contain marks. Subject list can be modified so it fits to all kinds of schools. It supports Marks (ABCDF, 1-5, 1-6), Percents and Points.
  • PoznámkyNotes – This category keeps all your important texts, notes from speeches and ideas in one place. It supports inserting WWW links and images and you can choose different editors.
  • Time table – Your time table. If “In-school” mode is on, here’s the place from where program determinates information in Overview. It supports 2 time tables for even/odd weeks (on/off) and lesson times are changeable. Supports university timetable.

Maybe because it is student designed and targeted, the interface is clean and simple, yet very effective. It offers a dashboard-like view of several different organizational tools accessible within the program. The overview includes the Date, database state, clock (analog/digital), upcoming calendar events, tips and quick access to the other functions. Oh, and don’t be troubled by the language in the image – it comes in English too.

Those other functions include the full calendar, your Contacts importable from MS Outlook and birthdays, Tasks that can be categorized, Notes with support for links and images, and a Time table mode, with support for two separate time tables. There is also a Marks function, which allows you to record grades, which may not be so useful for the graduated professional. Notes can be organized via category, which allows for sorting and tagging. You can also categorize and icon-ize Tasks, in much the same way as Notes. Timetable offers a great visualization of your day – if you use the College format, you can pretty much set and organize your schedule freely.

Best of all, it’s free.

If you are an organizational junkie, it might be in your interest to check out Student DOG Organizer – it is a great implementation of features for an even better price.