I love living life in the cloud. Now that I have located my office here, as long as I have access to a Mac or PC, I can access all critical information for my personal and professional life.
EverNote (http://www.evernote.com) – An amazing note-taking application that works on the web, PC, Mac and even the iPhone and Blackberry. I have over 3,000 notes in Evernote. It takes a fraction of a second to search my notes. Photos are automatically indexed if any text appears in them. I could go on and on about Evernote. It is one of my most used applications. It replaced Microsoft OneNote on my PC system.
Jott (http://www.jott.com) – This innovative service will save you time and possibly even an auto accident. Simply set up an account. Call Jott when you want to write yourself a note. Speak your note and a transcribed version with the sound file will be sent to you. It gets better!… You can send Jotts to others. An iPhone application let’s you do text and voice easily notes on the fly. An Adobe AIR application let’s you access all your Jotts on a PC or Mac. Link Jott to Google Calendar and other services and you can call, speak the details of an appointment, and they are auto-magically placed on your calendar. The same holds for popular To Do and GTD applications and even an Expense Reporting system (Xpenser.com)… Jott is your personal secretary! These quick notes live in the cloud and sync across all your devices.
GMail – (http://www.gmail.com) – Mail in the cloud. Need I say more. You are probably using it already. If not, why not?
Google Calendar – (http://www.google.com/calendar) – Your calendar in the cloud. Layer in other calendars (holidays, events.) Share events with friends or others in business. Sync across your devices.
Plaxo (http://www.plaxo.com) – Why type in all those change of address notifications you receive? Plaxo is your address book in the cloud. Applications to sync with your PC and Mac are available. And from your PC or Mac you can sync your other calendars.
Apple’s MobileMe (http://www.me.com) – I use Apple’s MobileMe service to bring my contact list together across all platforms I use.
LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com) – LinkedIn is networking for business on steroids. Like Plaxo, LinkedIn let’s you stay connected with your industry and other professional relationships. It is an outstanding research tool. It is said that we will each have at least six careers in our lifetime (unlike the view of working life in the 50′s and 60′s where most people looked at a career as a lifetime place of employment.) LinkedIn makes staying connected and tracking changes in the companies that matter to you easier than any alternative that I know.
Facebook (http://www.facebook.com) – Social Networking’s winning app (so far.) I am continually amazed at the value of Facebook and Twitter in business as well as personal situations.
Twitter (http://www.twitter.com) – Twitter answers the simple question What are you doing right now? in 140 characters or less. Some call it “micro-blogging.” I call it ingenious. I have Twitter linked to my Facebook feed. It also updates my Plaxo Connections. It also updates my blog. Follow the right people and you can get industry relevant and timely information in a more effective way than the traditional newspaper. Thank you to Mr. Tweet for helping find the right people here (http://www.mrtweet.com.) Twitter’s direct messaging feature is a great way to text message people from any device.
Gist (http://www.gist.com) - New tools such as Gist promise to add a connecting fiber across services like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Forget reading the morning paper… how about a custom feed of information from the people and companies you care about? This is one to watch.
Basecamp (http://www.basecamphq.com) – This service of 37 Signals is part of a growing suite of online cloud applications to manage projects. There are times when email is not enough… You need an online system for each project to track deliverables, milestones, files, contacts, etc. Basecamp does this with ease.
What hasn’t moved to the cloud yet in my suite of “core applications”?
Mindjet MindManager (http://www.mindjet.com) – Mind Mapping, invented by Tony Buzan, is a critical part of my toolkit. I use it daily. I have found no way to communicate and organize a volume of information as effectively as a well done Mind Map. In fact, I just completed a 50+ page document this week that came from a series of meetings where we developed and then refined a MindMap. It is particularly effective in a live session for brainstorming, organizing or getting a team on the same page. MindMaps richly and easily integrated with Evernote – that would be a killer-app.
NEO Pro (http://www.emailorganizer.com) – This work horse sits on top of gigabytes of email archives, letting me find needles in my email haystacks (PST archives) from years of Exchange usage. I look forward to being able to move all of my PSTs to the cloud when an application can offer me the richness of NEO Pro. There is a cloud version of NEO Pro, yet nothing that I am yet aware of for handing the volume of data I maintain. Storage is cheap, so I expect this will come sooner than later. NEO Pro takes the headache out of complex filing systems for email and lets me search and locate necessary information with minimal effort.
But wait… there’s more!
I use online banking, online travel booking, and many other cloud-based services in the course of my daily life. It is amazing to think about how fast the transition is now going from applications based on your own computer to cloud-based applications, tools and services. There’s no going back once you’ve headed down this path. You are liberated to use your data how you want it, when you want it, and where you want it. Microsoft articulated a vision for “information at your fingertips” years ago. Cloud computing is delivering exactly that today.
Come fly with me in the cloud. After a few flights you’ll never want to be stuck on the ground again. Let me know your favorite cloud applications. This space is changing so fast, I’d appreciate your help in continuing to surf this wave of innovation.