How's Your Cloud Looking These Days?

If you want to know, check out this visual showing the results of a report compiled by BitNami, Cloud and Zenoss via ReadWriteWeb. All respondents, save 20% polled, have some plans to utilize the cloud in 2011. While this is a pretty sizable number, respondents also seem sort of reluctant to go fully hosted or virtual, with a preference for keeping some measure of hardware control. Linux is the most popular cloud operating system, and a whopping 60% prefer to use open source software whenever possible. Wow. Scalability, savings and easier management are the most cited reasons for “going cloud.” Are you in the cloud or do you plan to do so in the near future? What are your reasons?

Nice Gmail Add – Copy / Paste Images

I love Gmail. And it just got even better, in a small but oh-so-convenient way. You can now copy web images – or any other images for that matter – to your clipboard and paste them into your Gmail messages. This works in the latest version of Google Chrome (my browser of choice). So cool! No more saving the image to the desktop or some other folder. And, while it only works in Chrome right now, Google is indicating that it hopes to extend this ability to other browsers in the near future.

Go Gmail!

This Is Why I Love The Internet (UPDATED)

It’s little treasures like this that make me smile and keep me coming back to the Interconnected Internet to see what new wonder I might behold. For Les Paul’s 96th Birthday, the Google doodle was a fantastic playable and recordable guitar. It was so clever and so much fun, I spent far more of my time playing it than I could really afford to do. And why did Google do it? Well, just to be cool, I suppose. I like it almost better than my 1978 Les Paul Standard Gold Top. Almost, but not quite.

What will they think of next?

“This Land Is Your Land” arranged and performed by Martha Sperry on Google-tar.

UPDATE: because of the unsurprisingly huge popularity of this little “toy”, Google has decided to give the Les Paul doodle a permanent place on the Web. +1 to THAT, Google!

Mapping the News

Sometimes the standard Google search doesn’t cut it when you are looking to filter by location. If you need to get the best local news in a particular, international region, there is a tool for you: Newspaper Map. Newspaper Map uses Google Maps to show the world’s leading newspapers pinned to their appropriate locale. Zoom into the map for a particular region or search by name and get the best papers. If you click the pin, you are taken to the newspaper’s website and Google Translate is integrated so you don’t need to worry about the language deficit. Filter by major papers only or include all the small town dailies as well. And, if you are on the run (or simply visiting a foreign land and looking for the local goods), Newspaper Map works well on mobile tool. Definitely one for the Cool Tools list.

Hat tip to Digital Inspiration Technology.

The Vault: Public FBI Records On Line

If you find yourself needing an important FBI document from, say, 1909, you actually might be in luck. The FBI is now making available scads of public documents, over 2,000 to be more exact, via a site called The Vault, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. All that paper has been scanned and added and you can search the site by name or browse by categories, such as:

Administrative Policy Procedures


Bureau Personnel

Civil Rights


Foreign Counterintelligence


Gangs Extremist Groups

Gangster Era

Hot Topics



Organized Crime

Political Figure Events

Popular Culture

Public Corruption

Supreme Court

Unexplained Phenomena

World War II

Violent Crime

Get a list of docs by title and summary within each category. I find myself wondering as I write, though, what could possibly be considered a hot topic when you have dedicated categories for gangster era stuff and unexplained phenomena. But seriously, what a fantastic resource for students seeking information to support a research project.

Hat tip to MakeUseOf.

LinkedIn and Tetris? Really?

How could I NOT write about this? Hi, my name is Martha. I used to play Tetris. A whole freaking metric ton of Tetris. I used to curse that Microsoft included the habit-forming game right in its operating system. Minesweeper was bad. Tetris was far far worse – the most addictive game I have ever played. But that is all behind me now. Or is it?

Matthew Shoup and Steve Pecko created this dastardly mix of Tetris and LinkedIn. The game, called DropIn, is a great little Java script program that works in your browser. The blocks consist of the profile pictures of your LinkedIn connections. Authorize the app to connect with  your LinkedIn profile, and you are good to go. Just like the classic version, the arrow keys to move and rotate the shapes and then you can slam that puppy to the bottom with your space bar. Just like the classic, you can see the next shape on the right side of the screen.

Sort of like the “building blocks” of your professional networking community. Heh, heh. Couldn’t resist.

Hat tip to Digital Inspiration Blog.


Sarah Palin & Wikipedia. A Match Made in … ?

More grist for your mill, whichever grist (Palin or Wikipedia) you happen to be milling. And, a cautionary tale (again) for those inclined to rely on Wikipedia as an authoritative resource. Maybe you heard recently about Sarah Palin’s “interpretation” of Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride. You know, the one in which he stealthily rode to warn the colonists of the presence of British troops? According to Palin, Paul Revere actually was riding his horse at breakneck speed in order to warn the British that the colonists were readying to fight against them. Ringing a bell, no less. Huh? There goes my fourth grade history out the window.

Sad as this lack of education may seem, the fall out has impacted Wikipedia in a negative way. According to Curt Hopkins at ReadWriteWeb, Palin supporters have taken it to the Grand Wiki, specifically Paul Revere’s page, to duke it out as to what really happened more than 200 years before. Apparently, pro-Palin contributors have been changing, while others are reversing, language justifying her comments, as can be seen in the Revisions page for the entry. Here is a discussion centering on the controversy. While Wikipedia’s management assures that measures are being taken to reduce the chances of error – the article is in “protection” status, which means only “experienced” Wikipedians can edit at this time, consider the cautions raised by Mr. Hopkins and what it might mean for your own research results:

Anyone who has written an article or a paper or just done a search in the last few years can tell you how important Wikipedia is as an initial (alas, all too often also an only source) for information. The give-and-take built into the Wiki process seems to be keeping the boat upright, but only just.

Imagine pulling up the entry on deadline for a school paper. Depending on when you tune in, you might be making Paul into a Ninja messenger or a bell-ringing Muppet. Naturally, anyone who accepts a single source as Gospel is not doing the job of a thinking person, but it happens.

Fun, fun, fun. One if by land, two if by sea ….

iCloud is Your Cloud, Only Different This Time

Ahhh, WWDC. There is always something fun to be had, particularly if you are an Apple fan. Today was no exception. From a new Mac OS, dubbed Lion, that will be available in the Mac App Store in July, to the brand new, re-imagined iOS 5 with tons of new goodies for iPhone / Pad / Touch toting devotees, and finally, to the widely rumored and now reality iCloud, Apple is clearly taking it to the skies.

I followed the liveblog here, working around a conference call to get it all in. Hey, I have my priorities in line with my ducks!

Skipping for now the new features in OSX Lion, iOS 5 has some great new adds. Notifications have become more unobtrusive and Android-like. No more pop-ups on the screen that have to be dismissed. Now they will discretely show at the top and disappear until you scroll them back with a downward swipe. Or dismiss them by clicking the “X” next to them. App-specific notifications will show up on the lock screen which opens the app when you unlock the phone. There are widgets for stocks and weather and such in the drop down as well. Another long overdue but still welcome change is the fact that updates and syncing will now occur over the air and without the need for cable-based tethering – Woo Hoo! Messaging between iPhones also has undergone a dramatic change, becoming more Blackberry-like with a native MMS – SMS protocol.  There is a new app, Newstand, that looks to be the iBooks for your magazine subscriptions, with automatic over air updates for new issues. Twitter is now tightly integrated into the OS, with buttons for instant share in the Maps, Camera and Photo apps. Photo editing features too, with some better control over zoom (pinch) and setting focus / light. Mobile Safari will look a LOT more like Safari on your desk top, complete with tabbed browsing, but the really cool new add is a Reading List, which lets you save articles for later reading (think Instapaper). The new iOS also includes a Reminders app, which essentially is a to do list, making all those to do list apps obsolete – it syncs across devices and with calendars automatically. A camera button on the lock screen, a split keyboard for more comfortable iPad typing, and it really is ALL GOOD in iOS 5. Can’t wait until it is available for us consumers in the fall (developers can get their hands on it right now).

Now, for something totally different and new, where there once was MobileMe, there is now iCloud. What was once $99 per year is now free. What was once limited to email, cloud disc space and calendar, now includes photos, documents, music, and apps. When you sign up for iCloud, you get 5GB of free storage, but purchased music, apps, and books, as well as the new Photo Stream, don’t count against free storage. 5GB for mail, documents, Camera Roll, account information, settings, and other app data.That is a few GB more than Dropbox but same as Box’s free cloud storage offering. What makes iCloud nice is the effortless, behind the scenes syncing and back up of vital information – it is integrated into applications and a lot of the magic occurs without much user intervention. All the data to be synced is shared across all iCloud connected devices. For example, take a photo on your iPhone and instantly see it on your iPad and instantly store it in iPhoto on your Mac or in your Picture file on your PC. And it works with both Mac and PC computers, so you really can connect your digital life to iCloud if you choose.

Is there a downside? Well, yes if your focus is cloud-based music storage. iCloud will allow you access to all your iTunes purchased music on all devices with a few button clicks. If you want more than that, i.e. your non-iTunes music stored in the Cloud, you will need to pay $24.99 per year to get the iTunes matching service – your library is checked against iTunes library and matches are made available within the iCloud ecosystem. Or you can manually sync with a cable. :(. And, here is the kicker: there is no streaming. You still have to download the media onto the devices, so storage is still an issue, particularly with big music collections like mine.

Guess I will stick with Google Music, with 20,000 songs streamed from the cloud, for free.

Save for these disappointments, the new iOS and iCloud features are still exciting and will push mobile and Cloud computing forward a substantial distance. I can’t wait for Fall, and it is hardly Summer!

UPDATE: There are a few new iOS 5 features that I cannot believe I failed to mention yesterday. That is what I get for cooking dinner and writing a blog post at the same time. Probably my most used app, Mail, is getting some great new features.

Your inbox is about to receive some great new features. Rich text formatting with bold, italic, or underlined fonts. Control over indents within the text of the message. The ability to drag email addresses and rearrange names in address fields. The ability to flag important messages, add and delete mailbox folders on the fly and search the full-text, including body, of email messages. Combined with iCloud’s free email account synced on all your devices, the new Mail app is starting to approach desktop functionality. Calendar, the second most used app on my iPhone, is also getting some tweaks. You can now see year view on iPad and week view on iPhone or iPod Touch. Tap and drag to create events and adjust time and duration. Add, rename, and delete calendars directly from the device. View event attachments without leaving the Calendar app. And, of course, use  iCloud to share calendars with friends and family, with the same information synced to all devices. I can’t wait to try the multi-tasking gestures on the iPad with the new OS – you  can use four or five fingers to swipe up to reveal the multitasking bar, pinch to return to the Home screen, and swipe left or right to switch between apps. Very cool indeed! I also like the automatic WiFi sync – plug in your device and automatically and wirelessly backs up to new content to iTunes.  

There are more features, over 200 new I believe, but these are the top features for me. What are you looking most forward to?

Nemo Docs Shows Your Docs On A Calendar – Brilliant!

Thanks to Lifehacker for this awesome suggestion – free download Nemo Docs will show your documents on a calendar grid so that you can see what you worked on when and open them from the calendar grid. Windows and Linux only, this application can view your file folder structure on your computer and in Google Docs and maps them on a calendar. You access Nemo via button on the Windows notification bar and integrates with Windows desktop search so you can search phrases within documents via Nemo as well. It works with a broad range of file types, including Office files such as Word, Excel and Powerpoint, PDF, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, images, video files and more. You can also add labels to docs via Nemo to create another layer of organization to supplement your desktop’s structure.

I know that sometimes I think in terms of when I worked on a particular matter so tagging and viewing by date can serve as a valuable organization tool for me. Check out Nemo and see if it doesn’t fill a need for you as well.