Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Elusive Google G-Drive

Where is the Google G-drive that we’ve all been waiting for?

After a perusal of the Google Apps Marketplace, it becomes apparent that there is yet no standard tool whose primary purpose it to give us that “connected” feeling we get when we map network drives to our local machines.

Yes, if we’re looking for a Google App that mysteriously and magically keeps a copy of our file on the local workstation and another copy in the Google Cloud, there’s an app for that. And if we need to share documents among collaborators via the services that Google Apps and the Google Cloud provide, there’s an app for that, too. But for vanilla file access and storage to the Google Cloud, via webdav, I guess we’re forced to look elsewhere.

And elsewhere it is.

Gladinet has positioned itself as the integrator of not just the elusive G-drive, but of all cloud-based storage and access solutions. Gladinet makes the software behind its Cloud Desktop Service, which does the heavy lifting for those less-than-stellar WAN link connections.

As a regular user of other webdav services, I’ve experienced the pain associated with large files or multiple files that I access and edit via mapped drives using webdav. As such, I’m intrigued with the possibility of letting the Gladinet’s Cloud Desktop Service smooth out the fits and starts associated with webdav.

I’ll give it a try and report back.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tablet PC Software, Installment 3

One of the more challenging areas of slate tablet pc usage is navigation. Transitioning from the keyboard and mouse to stylus and hardware buttons is not as natural as it could be. Moving up and down in a document or in a webpage can be painful when searching for that narrow scroll bar or that teensy scroll arrow. Moreover for left-handed users, reaching across the page with your arm, thereby obstructing one’s view of the contents of the page can be downright frustrating.

So what choice do we have?

Scroll Control.

Scroll Control is really merely a component of a larger program—InkSeine, by Microsoft Research-- which attempts to capitalize on the merits of stylus-in-hand tablet computing. The genius of the Scroll Control executable is that rather than confine your stylus to one are of the page (for instance, the scroll bar), the stylus can actually initiate a scrolling action from the scroll control, but control the scrolling activity from anywhere. The beauty of this refinement is the user can control the scrolling of his pages from where it is comfortable to do so—anywhere on the screen.

Like so many other tweaks to a power tablet user’s pc, the trick is to avail the utility when you want it, and with minimal fuss. Normally, Scroll Control will load whenever InkSeine is invoked. But I prefer to just pin a shortcut to the Scroll Control executable to the Windows task bar. Another option is to drop a link to the executable in the Windows Startup folder, whereby it will already be running soon after loading the Windows environment.

Give it a try! Scroll Control is available in InkSeine from Microsoft Research and is free for download.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tablet PC Software, Installment 2

This post is a continuation of our look at tablet software.

One of the first things a tablet user contends with when he makes the switch to pen-computing is the elimination of the optical drive. Well, to be precise, one of the things that the slate tablet pc user gives up when he makes the switch is the readily available optical drive. Years ago during my foray into the realm of the HP TC-1100, I can remember thinking that that was a limiting feature—a tradeoff of weight savings for convenience. Yet somehow from TC-1100 to Electrovaya’s Scribbler SC-3100 to my current Fujitsu ST-5112 twins, the elimination of the optical drive has proven to be more of an emancipating feature than that of a limiting one.

How so?

For one, I save weight, gain form factor and reduce battery use. What this means from a business perspective is that I am more apt to carry the tablet with me, and that it is more than likely going to have ample juice to perform as it was intended—outside the dock and comfortably cradled in my lap.

For two, I have ridden myself of the need to pipe software from CDs for loading large programs such as Microsoft Office or any of its complementary productivity software. Frankly, if not for my move to the slate tablet pc, I’d probably still be loading things off CDs and DVDs.

So what do I use to move ISOs onto my machines? My software of choice is Power ISO.

With a simple right-click of the mouse, an ISO is now mountable as a virtual drive in the Windows Explorer environment. The time

savings is immediately noticeable, in that files run off the hard drive, and best of all the capability is always available in the Windows Explorer environment, and yet is light and unobtrusive-the way good utilities should be.

Of course, I have managed to accumulate CDs, but those are stored safely in a physical storage container. But before stowing away those pesky CDs, I make a point of burning their ISO images, so that I may pull them on demand from my software library, as needed.