At the recent Engage your Community conference in Hamilton, Mike Riversdale ran a workshop about using the free Google Apps (word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, calendar), rather than using Office applications on your own computer.
This is known as ‘cloud computing’ — your documents are stored on a server on the Internet, instead of on your own computer. You store and edit documents online, sometimes in collaboration with others. If you like, you can also save the files to your own computer.
If you have access to broadband connections, there are quite a lot of advantages to doing this.
- Your documents are stored on the Internet. You can access them from any computer, if you have the correct login information. No longer worry about leaving important files behind when you attend a meeting.
- If you like, share a document with others. Decide whether or not they need a password to access the file, and whether or not they are allowed to edit it.
- Make documents immediately available to others, because they are on a website. Forget emailing attachments.
- You don’t need to keep Office software on your own computer, and to keep updating it.
- If you lose your computer, for example if it’s stolen, your documents are still safe in their online home.
- If you’re travelling across US borders with a computer,
border security officers at international airports can search personal computers without requiring any specific evidence of criminal activity. Any personal private information, or organisation or company confidential information is now open to the view of US officials. (Source.)
Google Apps isn’t the only way to store and edit Office documents ‘in the cloud’, but it’s a useful place to start. Cost: free. Try it out.
Written for and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, May 2008. This article may have been modified from the original.