The "cloud" is where we've been sharing our lives and storing our files for awhile now, but with so many cloud services there's much more you can do that may not have crossed your mind. Here are our top ten ideas.
Photo by Satchell Drakes
10. Write In Public Without A Blog
Everyone and their mother has a blog nowadays, but how often is it really updated? And even then, how often are people saying anything worthwhile? That said, there are plenty of times we all have a good piece of writing to share but we don't really need to have a blog to share it. QuietWrite (our first look) gives you a place to write anything you want, include pictures, and publish online. If you want to write an article but don't want to create a site just for your occasional writing, QuietWrite offers you that possibility. It's a good way to store and share your written work publicly, in the cloudy.
9. Update Your Resume And Get Feedback
Updating your resume is tedious and often ends up being a last-minute task write before you need to send it out. Each time you have to consider new information, reorganise, and make sure everything fits well on a page. Webapps like CeeVee (our take) help you create a nice resume, or you can leverage LinkedIn's Resume Builder to use information you already have stored in the cloud to create an already up-to-date and well-organised resume. Getting a grade on your resume is also possible with RezScore, which uses proprietary algorithms to analyse your resume and provide you with advice on how to improve it.
8. Keep A Visual Food Log To Aid In Your Diet
We've all heard of keeping food logs when dieting to make sure we stay on track, but according to a study referenced in the Daily Mail, taking pictures of food you're going to eat can make it easier to avoid overeating or just eating poorly by making you really examine what's going in your body. Additionally, we've seen a trend lately with diet, exercise, and weight loss where you publicize your progress so everyone knows how good or bad you're doing. Combine these two things and add your smartphone to get a live food blog. Sign up for an account with Tumblr, Posterous or a similar site and upload photos of what you eat directly from your phone. This will provide you with a public log and a means of examining your food before you choose whether or not to relentlessly stuff it in your face.
7. Set Up Cloud Printing
Thanks to Google, printing from the cloud is now a possibility. Well, sort of—you currently need a dev build of Chrome for Windows, but that's inevitable a sign of what's to come for those of us on other platforms (or who simply prefer to wait for stable releases). If you don't want to wait for Google and are willing to pay a few dollars, you can set up similar remote printing with a Pogoplug (which also make great little Linux servers). Another cloud-based printing option is making use of the wonderfully versatile Dropbox. We've got instructions on setting it up for both Windows and Mac.
6. Run Your Own Makeshift, Private Social Network With A Free Webapp
My friend Erica and I are both big talkers and have trouble shutting up. We get lots in conversations about the most bizarre minutia on a regular basis. Email became a poor way of communicating when we weren't hanging out because it was so hard to keep track of the different threads, so we decided we needed something different. That something ended up being a project management webapp called Teambox (which I looked at last September). Now our communication is up in the cloud using a free Teambox account. It helps us track restaurants we want to try, things we're thinking about, and we can also communicate better by using speed-appropriate channels. While it's just us using Teambox, it's more than capable of handling a group of friends. If you want an actually private social network where you only communicate with friends, you may not have to look farther than free project management webapp. Teambox is an especially great solution because it takes its influences from social media.
5. Manage All Aspects Of Your Online Presence
Your social media conversations can get overwhelming at times, what with all the friends and followers you undoubtedly have. Because all of that data is stored online and most social media sites provide useful APIs, several services have been built to help you keep on top of your social media. For example, ManageFlitter can help you clean up your Twitter account, ThinkUp can give you all sorts of informative statistics about your interactions on Twitter, and you can find out what Facebook is publicly publishing about you. You may also want to consider backing up your cloud-based services. Even though data in the cloud often feels like it's always going to be there, you never really know what's going to happen and it's a good idea to keep backups of your data if you don't want to lose it.
4. Use Dropbox To Manage Your Torrents
There are a lot of great hacks for Dropbox, the cloud-based syncing and backup service we love, but one of the coolest is remotely starting your torrents. It's actually very simple to set up. Just set your BitTorrent client to watch a folder in your Dropbox for new torrents and add them automatically. This way when you add any torrents to that folder remotely, they'll be synced back to your home computer and your BitTorrent client will see them. It's a really awesome, simple trick.
3. Make A Cloud-Focused Netbook With Jolicloud
Jolicloud is a lot like Chrome OS, but with great Linux desktop features as well. Even if you're eagerly waiting to purchase a Chrome OS notebook when they're readily available, you might find that putting together a netbook with Jolicloud will work even better for you as you don't have to fully give up the comfort of the desktop while still reaping the benefits of the cloud. Jolicloud is a free OS and makes for a fun installation project with a new or old netbook (or even an old regular computer). Just be sure to check Jolicloud's compatibility page before you dive in.
2. Create A Database Of Frequently Asked Questions And Answers
If you're a regular Lifehacker reader, you're probably fairly tech-savvy and also likely to be the person your family, friends, and maybe even co-workers go to for technical support. Beyond that, you're probably a pretty decent problem solver and people come to you for help fairly often. It's always nice to know people trust you to help them, but sometimes it can get a little tedious when the same questions come up again and again. What's an easy way to solve that? Create a database of answers so you can simply search it and send the troubled friend a link. You don't even need to create a true database. You could easily get by with something like Tumblr or Posterous. Not only will you be able to send off frequent answers with ease and save yourself a bunch of time, you'll be contributing your knowledge to the world. Next time you need to help someone with something, write it up and post it. Even if you can't post a great article, simply recording yours or their screen as a demonstration can be a big help down the road.
1. Roll Your Own Dropbox-Like Service With Open Source Software And Amazon S3
We've taken a look at creating an open-source Dropbox-like backup service that you can run out of your home with a couple of computers, but this doesn't provide any off-site backup options. If you really want to make it Dropbox-like you're going to need to start backing up online as well. One excellent resource for backups is Amazon S3. Add that to the mix, or even a web host that allows backups, and you'll have yourself a great homespun alternative.