How the Cloud has Made me Free

Warning: If you’re not one of those who sleeps with a laptop and breathes connectivity, you might find this piece a shade boring. Or not!
I am a self-professed geek. I bought my first laptop in 1994 and since then, have hardly ever been without one by my side, day or night. My wife used to call it (and still sometimes does) her “souten” (mistress). I have emails from 1999 still stored on my hard-disks and backup drives and have successfully migrated photographs and videos across multiple laptops and platforms over all these years. From using Windows 3.1 to XP and now OsX on the Macbook Pro and the Air, I’ve been through it all, save UNIX.
Last Friday, my Air froze.
And for the first time in 16 years, I didn’t and haven’t panicked.
One of the important things that I had to do last Friday was to finish my piece for this column. I wrote it online using Google Docs, re-edited it on the family IMAC at home and then emailed it out. I’m doing the same thing today.
And all the other stuff?
Almost everything is up in the (Internet) cloud.
My contacts are all on Google and seamlessly sync with my IPhone. Google Calendar now controls my time and schedules and all its multiple, multi-colored calendars sync in real-time with my IPhone. About six months ago, after buying 80GB of space on Google for 20 US dollars, I created POP accounts in my Gmail account for my work, personal and a couple of other email IDs, to ensure that all my emails, from all my accounts would be automatically archived in Gmail and then be easily and rapidly searchable using Google’s search engine. More importantly, I no longer have to worry about deleted or lost emails. As for sending and receiving emails on the go, the IPhone (like the Blackberry) works so well even with multiple accounts that I hardly feel the absence of a laptop. For spreadsheets and now even .pdfs, Google Docs works quite well too. And as for photographs, all of them since 1999 are on IPhoto and simultaneously archived on Picasa online.
I carry two USB devices. The first is a 64GB stick that has a bunch of backed up and archived files and videos for reference, including my Powerpoint presentations. These too, over the next few weeks, will be uploaded into Google Docs as well as Windows Live Sync, and will then be available whenever and wherever I want them, without any laptop issues to worry over. A bunch of my scanned documents has also been dumped into Evernote, the desktop version of which constantly syncs with an online server, which in turn allows me to access all these files from anywhere in the world using just a browser. The other USB device I carry, is a Tata Indicom Photon device (Reliance I believe works equally well) that allows me to go online anywhere in the country, at high-enough speeds.
Not having a laptop also means not having to carry a bag; the two USB sticks stay in my wallet and the Iphone lies in my shirt pocket, and I suddenly feel so untethered and free. Imagine the pleasure of this freedom after 16 years of being wedded to a square-shaped metal/aluminum, mice-infested object that has power (and control) issues, is prone to frequent breakdowns and constantly freezes up.
Now if only I can find a way to get rid of my phone as well!

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