No doubt some of you, over the past ten years, have heard of Google. Even so – dry sarcasm aside – the prodigiously successful search engine has achieved such wide recognition, that the world Google is now synonymous with the Internet, even often confused with it (to our great and utter despair). Riding on that well earned success, Google as a company has expanded its repertoire of web and software products to include YouTube, Chrome and a host of other useful tools, and it is from that which in recent months, the wonder of Google Drive has begun to shine.
Google Drive is part of an ever expanding horde of Cloud Storage solutions (I wrote something about Cloud Computing here), but its not at all lost in the mess. While there are the obvious contenders for the crown in the increasingly heated battle to get things onto the cloud, such as Dropbox, iCloud, Steam or Xbox Cloud Saves, but Google drive manages to keep a step ahead of the game with possibly one of the most complete, portable and intuitive cloud storage programs out there.
However, the Cloud is a strange step for a lot of internet users (myself included). I am finding more and more that even in the ever changing world of computers, a complete online world is somewhat ominous. I’ll endeavour to convert you despite this, because I have come to feel that Google Drive is a big step in the right direction. Here’s why:
Forget DropBox, it’s always seemed clunky to me. Well put together, solid and efficient, but clunky. To get started on Google Drive, grab a Google account (which is possibly the easiest thing on the planet to set up) provides you with an automatic 2 Gigabytes of storage. Downloading the Google Drive app allows a DropBox esque functionality whereby you place files in a specified folder, and they are synchronised with your online storage. Alternatively, one can upload directly from the Google Drive page (provided you are logged in). Having fun yet? Perhaps not, but there are updates coming that will allow uploaded word documents and other office documents to be edited on the fly with Google Drive’s in-house software (which I will go over next). This makes it easy to keep the latest updates of all your files handy and editable on all platforms. As both a web designer and a writer (with no organisation in my plethora of novel notes whatsoever), I can endorse the Cloud Save feature very heavily. Speaking of which, this is a perfect lead into;
Look into any handbook for short courses at a Tafe, and under the IT section, day courses to learn Microsoft Office are peppered infinitely across the swatch of other useful courses. Apart from teaching the totally computer illiterate how to turn a computer on (or what one even looks like for that matter), they serve only to fill out a resume with someone no employer has possibly ever cared about (unless they themselves did said short course).
What is totally silly about Microsoft Office skills is that as soon as a computer comes flying by without it, or worse, a newer version of it, all that meticulous training is dust.
As a long time Microsoft Word user myself, I have found no better platform for writing a story. It lacks the precision and design finesse of inDesign, or the stark practicality of Notepad, but strikes a fine balance for professional documents, manuscripts and terrible Word Art. But, like the rest of the office suite, it is overly complicated for a variety of tasks that are mostly used by soccer mums designing children’s invitations.
You can see where I’m going here.
The brilliant Google offers, within it’s Drive Application, a suite of Office like products – Documents, Spreadsheets, Forms, Slideshows and more – that are so simple, so pleasing that Mother Theresa would asphyxiate of jealousy. Being available through the Google Drive website, it means these are entirely within the browser, requiring no install and near to no hardware or platform requirements. Further, each file created in the Google format doesn’t count against your allocated cloud space. It’s almost too good to be true. Google Documents, though, is a beast within itself. It is something I now use daily to write up documents, stories, ideas and for research. I might write a dedicated article for it one day.
The long standing beauty of all this Cloud and browser functionality is that it is not exclusively required to be online. I have over 150,000 words worth of notes on my book as of today, and the majority of it on Google Docs. It’s just part of writing to have a large volume of everything, with nowhere to put it. However, with the click of a button, I was able to select all my note folders, export them and it will automatically zip them up, convert them to a .doc format (or a range of other formats). This not only keeps me able to write where there is no internet (as I can upload it right back on with the changes), but makes it easy for mass incremental backup – which is vital in any document heavy industry.
Before I ramble on for thousands of words, I’ll just leave you with the link to discover Google Drive yourself. I have been converted where many other attempts at pulling me out of my ways of office computing have failed, and I highly recommend it:
Link To Google Drive!
I’d close with a witty quip, but I’ve not the wit on a Friday afternoon. I promise one on my next article. Really.