Having spoken in my last article about the potential issues of cloud computing, I would now recommend you spend a couple of minutes looking at how two awesome cloud computing companies have come together to offer businesses, one sweet tool. This video shows how the CRM application Salesforce and Google Apps, like Gmail, Calendar and Talk, can provide companies with a big competitive advantage. What's more, it allows sales and other people to access information from any device which has Internet access. Some months' back I saw how Salesforce could combine with a simple web enquiry form to register leads which originated from Google AdWords - this takes that one step further. Something tells me that this video may be making its way into the eCRM module of my eMarketing Award course!
Over the past couple of weeks I have had a couple of issues with some of the applications that I use and it has made me think about how reliant we really are on cloud computing. If you're not too sure what cloud computing is, here's the Wiki definition:
[Cloud Computing]is a style of computing in which IT-related capabilities are provided “as a service”, allowing users to access technology-enabled services from the Internet ("in the cloud") without knowledge of, expertise with, or control over the technology infrastructure that supports them.
And to put it into perspective
I suppose that we are all using to a greater or lesser extent cloud computing apps like Skype, Google, Facebook, Google Docs, Twitter, Salesforce ad much more.
In a typical day I may do the following:
- Sign In to Google Mail on my Blackberry to check who has emailed me.
- Telephone my wife's family in Spain and speak to her brother using Skype.
- Send some documents out to clients and invite them to make modifications through Google Docs.
- Go to Typepad and write an article just like this
- Head over to Google AdWords and Analytics and see how some of the campaigns are running.
- Log in to Twitterberry and tweet about the first thing that comes in to my head.
- Upload a video to YouTube and embed it into my TypePad post.
- Check the news through RSS updates either through Firefox Live Bookmarks or through Viigo on my Blackberry
Aside from using Excel, Word, Outlook and PowerPoint the bulk of my working time is spent using Cloud Applications.
Which brings me back to the first point I raised - our dependence on these applications. Typepad has been playing up a little recently - it's spell checker is not working correctly and there have been some issues with its new WYSIWYG editor. If TypePad was to go down, I would be unable to update clients about new stories and courses and my clients would be unable to find out about my services or courses. I have heard, though haven't experienced, that the web app of choice: Twitter had some outages last week which meant people weren't able to post.
It's interesting to see what happens when someone who is reliant on technology can't connect to the Internet. You may have noticed that I haven't blogged for well over a week - the main reason is that I have been in West Wales with my family. Though I took my laptop and Blackberry to do a little work, the place we were staying didn't have any Internet access and boy did I struggle. My Acer Aspire computer may have had Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 with Small Business but the only thing I managed to do was knock into shape a presentation I am giving next week.
I suppose a big concern, and one which I don't have a contingency plan for, is what would happen if any of these companies went bust or someone managed to compromise their servers? The words creek and paddle come straight to mind! We are going through some difficult times at the moment and no company seems to be immune to global financial issues. And it is so difficult to find a solution when your work revolves around providing clients with cloud computing solutions.
Cloud Computing: The Future Web - a video from the Web 2.0 Summit '08
Working independently of each other
Being paid $0.01 each
Via Amazon's Mechanical Turk distributed labour tool
Using a custom drawing tool
Take a look how...
I decided to uninstall my Xobni plug in for Outlook today as I thought it was slowing down the application a little. Having seen the message that Xobni gave me on uninstalling, I may have to think again!
I just came across this on the Yahoo! blog:
Now, in addition to gaining access to all of the artist background that you could before, you'll also be able to play up to 25 full songs a month, as opposed to the 30-second samples from before. And, by tapping into the vast catalog of songs available on Rhapsody, we're expanding the number of audio files that are available for playback and increasing the number of tracks in the shortcut from three songs to four.
So, just to test it out I typed in the name of the group "coldplay" and this came up:
Simply click on one of the tracks and the "Foxy Player" strip appears towards the bottom of the screen.
It's really neat that instead of listening to excerpts you can now listen to entire tracks. I suppose the drawback is that once you navigate away from this particular results page, the song and player finish but, hell, I can live with that.
It's certainly an improvement on the music results you get from Google.
It's quite nice to hear of an interesting concept that has not been hatched by some 19 year old in Silicon Valley.
This time the idea comes from the UK government or more specifically from the Power Of Information Taskforce (sounds very Orwellian, doesn't it?), whose remit is:
To advise and assist the government on delivering benefit to the public from new developments in digital media and the use of citizen- and state-generated information in the UK, including those identified in the Power of Information Review.
Well, it seems that they are organising a competition and are:
asking for your help in developing better ways to publish the vast swathes of non-personal information that the government collects & creates on your behalf
Public data is your data. Tell us what you'd build with it and you could win £20k to develop your idea to the next level.
The Show Us A Better Way website says that the UK government produces vast amount of information on crime, education and health, yet much of the information is buried away on servers.
And the Great British public is now being asked to come up with ideas on how to use this information better. There are already a stack of ideas listed on the site (competition closes at the end of September) and here are a couple of them:
On a basic level Clean Restaurants would offer a google maps mash up highlighting the official hygiene ratings given by local Trading Standards.
An online map that shows where crime has taken place.
What's very interesting is that the public are also invited to leave their own comments on these ideas - very government 2.0!
For those who are worried about use of public information, there is some reassurance on the site:
Rest assured, this competition does not include personal information about people.
No, that information is entrusted to civil servants who travel by train and to American firms like Lockheed Martin.
[Hat tip to Gallomanor for pointing me to this article]
If this goes the way I intend, then this post will have been created through Flock, the Social Web Browser. Flock, according to its website is "powered by Mozilla, the same fast and secure engine that powers the Firefox browser."
After months of hearing about people using it, I have finally decided to dip my toe into the water.
It looks like a superb tool for updating your Facebook profile, Twitter account, Flickr, YouTube, Photobucket and Picassa accounts. It also looks like an ideal tool for publishing direct to your favourite blogging software - in my case Typepad.
Having just started to read Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff's brilliant book Groundswell, where their Social Technographic Ladder breaks consumers down into 6 categories, I was quite taken by Flock's use of tabs to reach out to:
- Social Animals
- Media Junkies and
- News Hounds
Go ahead, give it a try!
After 7 months of invite-only access, Xobni is now open to the public. For those who don't know, Xobni is:
"the Outlook plug-in that helps you organize your flooded inbox"
Xobni appears in your Outlook screen as a panel. It allows you to see your Outlook contacts in a whole new light by letting you see their conversations with them, the network (from your Outlook contacts) they belong to and even the files you have exchanged with them. At a glance it shows you how many emails you received from a given contact and the emails you also sent them. In graph format it will even show at what times of the day the contact is most likely to email you!
I haven't been using it for a couple of months and boy, does it offer you a whole new outlook on the way you handle email contacts.
If you haven't used Xobni, I would strongly recommend that you take a look at it. Here's a video to get you started:
Over the past week I have noticed that the telephone numbers on the websites have been visiting have turned into 'active' Skype buttons. So, if you have Skype connected, you can click the button and make direct phone contact (ususally through Skype Out). I saw it first on some Spanish travel sites and cost/time barriers seemed to suddenly seem very small.
This is a brilliant stroke by Skype and must surely have telecoms companies quaking in their boots (again!).