QT in the Clouds: Do More Online

by Jeffrey Bridgman

With the proliferation of mobile, on-the-go, devices and the relatively easy access to the Internet, we’re getting more and more done online. Here are some programs, websites, and apps the let you walk around with your head up in the clouds.

Documents
Who needs Microsoft Office when you can do it all online? Use Google Docs (docs.google.com) to work and save your files online. You can share you documents and even have multiple people work on the same file at once. Microsoft also has an alternative called SkyDrive (skydrive.live.com) which doubles as online storage for any kind of file, similar to DropBox (dropbox.com) which provides you 2GB of free storage and even more if you get friends to join.

Entertainment
Why pay for cable or listen to staticy radio when you can watch TV and movies for free on Hulu (hulu.com), or make your own custom radio station on Pandora (pandora.com), or listen to whatever song you like on Spotify (spotify.com)?

Screen share
The ability to share what’s on your screen doesn’t seem like a big deal, but once you’ve done it there’s no going back. Use join.me (join.me) or Quick Screen Share (quickscreenshare.com), which doesn’t require you to install or signup (you’ll need Java though). For fancier screen-casting and web conferencing, you can give Yugma (yugma.com) a try for free.

Communicate
Jump forward into the future where we have video phones! Oh wait, we’re already there. You can use Skype (skype.com) on your computer to place phone calls, video chat with other users, and even screen share to help your grandma figure out how to use Farmville on Facebook. If you don’t want to use your computer, you could use Rebtel (rebtel.com). I use it to call internationally to family for pennies per minute. It gives me a local number that redirects to another number when I call it. Or how about Google Voice? You can get a free phone number through them and set it up to dial any of your phones, depending on who is calling at what time. It can also send you transcriptions of voice mail, transfer calls between phones, and it lets you make long distance calls for a low price. If you need to send a Fax, you can send it with GotFreeFax.com (gotfreefax.com).

Create
Who needs Microsoft Paint when you could make art online! Make hand-drawn looking sketches with zwibbler (zwibbler.com), or make fancier art with iScribble (iScribble.net). Edit your photos and add some spice at Picnik (picnik.com) (soon to be integrated into Google+). Easily create music online with JamStudio.com (jamstudio.com) or for more advanced features, Soundation (soundation.com).

Organization
Stickynotes are great, but unless you’ve got them stuck to your clothes, they don’t go with you wherever you go. Apps like Remember the Milk (rememberthemilk.com) or EverNote (evernote.com) can help fill that gap. Trello (trello.com) goes one step further allowing you to share lists of “cards” that can contain files, pictures, links, text or lists with others. You easily shuffle the cards around, organize, color-code and delegate them to people as necessary.

Making the Web Better
Ever get tired of clutter while browsing the web? Maybe you have too many tabs open? Try Instapaper (instapaper.com) which allows you to save webpages to read for later, and sync it to your device to even read offline. Or maybe the problem is webpages that are cluttered? Try Readability (readability.com) which takes a website and magically removes all the clutter to give just the content. It’s great for reading articles or blog posts without getting distract. There’s an app you can download as well as browser add-ons. ViewPure (viewpure.com) does the same thing for YouTube. Ever wished you could do things like send yourself a text when it’s going to rain? Or send yourself and email when what you’ve been looking for is for sale online? Or save pictures you’re tagged in on Facebook to DropBox? With IfThisThenThat (ifttt.com) you can! You can choose triggers from all sorts of different social media services and tie them to actions. Check out their recipes sections for some awesome ideas on how to use this free service.

Free Wi-Fi
Of course, none of these tools are any good without internet connection. What to do when you’re away from home? McDonald’s and Starbucks among many other food chains have free Wi-Fi, along with most libraries and many other public places. Find out what’s around you at Wi-Fi free Spot (wififreespot.com) or OpenWiFiSpots (openwifispots.com).

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