Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Heads in the Cloud

As we wait for the dust to settle from this year's NAB, and for the promised products to appear before us, if not on the shelves, there's time to round up other news on the digital front, where clouds appear all before us.  A plethora of suppliers with free offers, hoping to entice us to paying each month for that little bit more storage.   For most of us, it's not yet time for editing in the cloud - storage and access costs for digital media put it out of the reach (for the time being) for all but the most gold-plated of commissions.   But who knows what the future holds (apart from more rain)?   All it takes is for IT transport costs to come down and fuel prices to go up, and a REALLY expensive dayrate for producers/directors...seems like a safe bet to me.

For those with smaller wallets and less data to wrangle, there's good news bursting out everywhere:

Apple of course has the iCloud which syncs iOS devices with desktops / laptops and the like.  5GB for free.   Shares documents you want to make explicitly available, but primarily works behind the scenes as a synchroniser for photos/music/calendar and email data between your devices.

There's always been Dropbox which is an easy way to put files on your system into the cloud - and now it comes with more storage for free, and better ways of sharing the media with others.  Initially 2GB for free, more becomes available if you recommend other users, to a max of 18GB.   (Hint, if you want to sign up, contact phil!)   Works across platforms, well integrated with desktops.  (eg Finder).   Cleverly will use an internal ethernet connection if it senses that two computers it's syncing are on the same network.

And the latest contender is Google Drive - an update and widening of the Google Docs service to provide full cloud-based storage and access.    5GB for free, across platforms (including Android of course).   Somewhat restricted at launch - you need to declare an interest, then wait for the invite.   Beware though - this is a buggy app for Mac desktop - it sends Finder into constant crashes on some machines (including your reviewer's), and you may have concerns over privacy.  It is Google, after all:  if you're happy with Gmail then you're comfortable with Google Drive.

Also on the fringes is Evernote - more a cloud-based snippets collection than a real storage offering, but nicely integrated with mobiles and Skitch, a screen-grab app.   Again free with paid upgrading of storage.