August 15, 2011

A Web-Based Transition

My desktop blew up a couple of weeks ago. It was just about seven years old, and though it was built for power and speed, I put it through the ringer during my years at the helm of AAR. Serviced several times in the last couple of years, I knew it would go at any moment, so when it died, I wasn't altogether surprised.

The biggest pain in the ass associated with its loss was coping with iTunes. It took an entire weekend to make it work properly via my laptop from its backup on an external hard drive, but because my laptop is itself several years old and not in the best condition, until iCloud becomes fully functional this fall and I can move all my music (including non-iTunes music) online, I'm being smart and keeping the library on that external hard drive rather than chancing my music to my laptop.

Frankly, because my laptop seems to also be on its last legs, and because I often resort to using our "family desktop," which is old and slow, I need to move as much as I can into web-based applications. Copies of all my PW reviews beginning with this year are now a part of Googledocs, and rather than maintain a database that tracks the assignment of a book through publication and payment, I created a Googledocs spreadsheet to do so. While I can't make the form for PW invoices work properly in Googledocs, I can for Macmillan (Heroes & Heartbreakers), and so I have. My PW invoices are saved both to my laptop and a flash drive (my Calibre library and a copy of my Kindle files are also on flash drives); the same goes for my H&H articles, which also don't save correctly in Googledocs.

As of today I've translated my reading database into a Googledocs spreadsheet. I'd initially tried to create a database elsewhere online using a "free" application, but the app charges $240 a year to create backups. Ain't gonna happen. The spreadsheet isn't as detailed or quite as useful, but as I've begun to use my husband's netbook to conserve my laptop for those things I cannot do using web-based applications, it'll have to do.

Because of Google's meltdown a few months ago during which time thousands of user accounts were unavailable, I'm making sure to mail myself copies of certain documents to a web-mail account entirely outside of Google's system...or saving them to a flash drive. After working with computers for so long, I know it's imperitive to have at least one backup of everything.

Making use of cloud computing makes sense if using more than one computer, as many of us already do. I'm not entirely comfortable with it, but apparently it's the coming thing, and I know I must adapt. Doing so requires giving up some control as far as design is concerned, but at this point, accessibility and convenience win out over perfection, particularly as it's perfection only important to me.

At some point I will need to replace my laptop, but refuse to shell out the money to buy one right now. Ever since my days at the City of Dallas, when I scrounged my computer out of the trash of a department with an actual technology budget, I've learned to make do. Although it's been a lifetime since then, it's still my M.O.. When I absolutely need to buy a new computer, I will. Hopefully the prices will have fallen by then. My guess is that that time is coming sooner rather than later, but if I can make the transition to The Cloud between now and then, so much the better.


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