Fickle About Storage

I confess freely when I make presentations.  I can be fickle when it comes to software and its use.  I am constantly in search for the perfect solution to everything.

The same thing comes to cloud storage.

The big news over the past while has been about Google Drive.  Like many, I indicated a desire for the free storage online and I received my invitation today.

So now I have it and I’m thinking about fickleness with cloud storage again.

Like many people who compute in different places, I often have a problem.  The file that I want/need/desperately desire used to be “at home on the home computer”.

I remember the excitement when USB drives came along.  I could now carry my files with me wherever I go.  That enthusiasm lastest until the first time one went through the washing machine when I neglected to empty my pockets.  Now, I have a bag of them that I’ve collected from various locations, that I don’t use but can’t bring myself to disposing of them.

My next survival technique involved emailing files to myself.  That worked really nicely until my email account ended up having a quota on file attachments or I forgot to send the latest revision of a document.  Sigh.  So, I left the computer on at home, connected to the internet and hosting an FTP solution.  That certainly was a poor person’s data centre and it didn’t last long.  When I purchased my online presence at http://www.dougpeterson.ca, I started to just FTP files there.  That works so nicely and, as long as all I want to do is send files to myself, it works nicely.

But, time and ways of doing things move along.  There comes a point where storing files equates to more than just having your stuff online.  I wanted to become more sophisticated and more productive doing things like inviting others to send me files, have me distribute files, and work collaboratively on documents.

It was there that cloud based solutions made sense to me.

My first experience in this field was working with Ubuntu One.  It was a feature of a Ubuntu release and it’s sweet.  5GB of storage online for free and available anytime that I’m connected to the internet.  What a concept!  Time marches on and there are more places to store your content and, of course, I have to have accounts to check them out.  So, I have a SkyDrive account, a Boxnet account, a Dropbox account, and now a Google Drive account.

I must admit that the current, biggest player in this whole area for me is Dropbox.  I’ve blogged a couple of times about how to use it to collect student files.  Here and here.  I really like the ease and functionality of this.  Developers have been working to make Dropbox so functional and then third party developers extending the concept.  Dropittome, in particular is a nice, simple, sweet solution for education and any situation where you need the ability for someone to send you a file and you don’t want the hassles and hurdles of doing so via email.

In fact, I was very happy with the way things are going.  I like the everyday functionality of Dropbox and have clients on every device I own.  I also use Ubuntu One and Skydrive for specific purposes.  Why would I want to jump on the Google Drive bandwagon?

Well, it gives me a topic to blog about….

But, secondly, it goes much deeper than that.  We’ve seen bits and pieces of the functionality in Google Docs in the past but now it gets serious.  Gone is Google Docs; welcome Google Drive.

drive

The internet is literally hopping with stories of conspiracy theories and comparisons between Google Drive and the other services.  There’s talk about what’s free and what’s available for a price.  There’s talk about losing ownership of your content and how your search results will be influenced by the content of your files.  Sigh.  I guess people have to write about something.

For me, I installed the client on my computer and noted that the first thing that happened was that all of the files from my old Google Docs account were now synchronized onto my computer.  That’s pretty neat.  It’s also a walk down memory lane!  There’s a planning document in there for Symposium 2006.  Gulp.  File maintenance has never been one of my strong points.  But, I now have copies of those documents on my computer and changes are synching nicely.  For as long as I’ve worked with computers, playing around at moments like this make it all seem a bit like magic.

The power of these services is in how easily they can be extended by third party developers.  Now, I know the rest of the world got their Google Drive access yesterday and I just got mine this afternoon but already, there are already 17 extensions for Google Chrome to enhance the Google Drive service.  I don’t care who you are; you’ve got to be impressed with that.

My first impressions are very favourable.  I like the concept of the synchronization of files like this.  Like many applications, Google Drive is undoubtedly not done but rather thrown out to see how the general public responds.  There will be additional functionality added, to be sure.  Promises of an iOS client are in the offing.  Say what you will, that will be certainly a measure of success.  However, even a couple of days in, there are complaints.

If you’re a user of Google Docs, you’ll take to this immediately.  Whether or not I continue my fickle streak waits to be seen.

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