Unlimited Cloud Storage from Google and Amazon

Apple’s “cloud” service has spurred Amazon and Google in providing unlimited storage, for free, with restrictions. In Google’s case, if you have a Google+ account you are given unlimited storage for pictures and videos on their Google Photos (formerly Picasa), as long as they aren’t more than 2048×2048 in size and videos are under 15 minutes. For most people this isn’t an issue; there’s little rssaon to have photos larger than 2048 in width on the web.

Amazon has changed their policy in regards to their Cloud Player that now gives unlimited storage to upload all your MP3’s to their service, as long as they don’t have DRM on them. This means that if you bought songs on the iTunes Music Store then they won’t play on the Cloud Player unless you strip the DRM from them using an app.

However with these new services people will have to pay close attention to the terms of service to see what happens when they copy over their data to these services. Already there’s some apprehension about Google’s copyright policy when you upload pictures to their Google Photos service. This article outlines those issues.

With this in mind, why use these cloud services at all? There are a number of good reasons, namely as a backup source, to protect your precious photos, music, home videos, etc. in the event of a hard drive failure, fire, or other means of losing your data. Another reason is for convenience; to access and share them across multiple platforms. For example, listen to your music on any device without taking up space on your device’s limited drive, or show friends your photos without having to load them on your laptop.

There’s no set definition on what exactly the cloud is. To numerous people it means different things. One of them is basically storing your data on the internet using the variety of services such as YouTube and Flickr, for example. By uploading your files to these different services, you’re no longer constrained to having to access them on your own computer but can access them from anywhere, using any device, so long as you have an internet connection.


Build a Website (for Beginners)

Not everyone has the time to learn HTML and CSS, the code that are used to structure and design websites. Many people just want to put one up with no fuss and be done with it. Fortunately, today there are many options to create and build a website without any technical knowledge at all, just a little bit of time and motivation is all that’s required.

There are 3 different options to choose from when you decide you want a website. The complete site building service, the web blog service, and the hire a web designer service. Many of the services in the first two categories I list below as options are free.

Site Builders:

Site Builders allow you to create a complete website, allowing you to focus on creating the content, choosing a look (theme) for your site, and arranging the different elements as you see fit. Many offer more advanced features if you so choose to use them, and some require payment to use certain features. Which one is the best? That’s up to you and what you’re looking for; so check out each one and see which fits your goal best.

Weblogs:

Weblogs, or more simply just blogs, are the popular diaries and journals of the internet where people post about just about anything. Blogs are handy in providing an outlet for anyone to get their word out there for friends, family, or strangers to read. It’s a great way to share travel stories, personal hobbies, thoughts about your favorite team, and much more. Blogs also let you share photographs, music, videos, and other rich multimedia on the web. Visit the Wikipedia entry on the subject to understand what a blog can encompass. Below you will find many services that offer blogs, many which are free and easy to use.

Hiring a Web Designer:

Hiring a web designer, while it can be expensive, can go a long way towards a strong internet presence. A good web designer creates a clean, usable website that is naturally optimized for search engines such as Google. They focus on standards-compliant coding, proper use of whitespace, make sure their site is accessible (for disabled people using assistive devices), and know how to use typography and bold to highlight content.

Unfortunately finding someone such as this is difficult in a sea of bad web designers who think if they just know a little HTML and CSS that that is good enough. Turning to your uncle’s friend’s former roommate for a website design just because it is convenient and cheap can be more harmful than good in the long run.

This is why, when it comes to your money, it is a good idea to shop around and find someone who is good at his craft and is good with working with people who aren’t so knowledgeable when it comes to websites. If you decide to go with this option, do your homework and don’t be afraid to ask for examples of past work. Most web designers love to proudly show off their portfolio. See if their style is good enough for you, and then go from there.


Recommended Google Chrome Extensions

Google Chrome

Now that Google Chrome supports extensions in the latest builds, we can now extend and make the best and fastest browser on the planet even better. Below is a list of extensions that I recommend and personally love:

  • AdBlock: Blocks ads on websites.
  • AutoPager: Popular sites with pages are all put on one page so you don’t have to constantly click to go to each page.
  • Better Gmail: Features to make Gmail … better.
  • Clickable Links: Text with http: and mailto: are made clickable if they’re not already.
  • Google Quick Scroll: Quickly find the passage you were searching for on Google.
  • IETab: For those websites that only works in IE (banks and government sites for example)
  • LastPass: Securely save and generate passwords to sites. Stores in the cloud.
  • Slinky: Google image links go straight to the image, instead of the frame/website.
  • Xmarks: For bookmark backup and syncing.

Be sure to check out all the other Google Chrome Extensions for others that fit your personal preferences.


Reading on the Web – Tools to Live By

If you find yourself reading a lot of articles online, there are certain tools on the web, and for your browser, that will make reading a whole lot easier, and more efficient. Below I will list some tools you should check out.

The first recommendation is a bookmarklet that makes reading articles much easier, and with less clutter.  A bookmarklet is a bookmark, that when pressed, executes an action on your browser instead of going to a webpage.  There are a bunch of these type of bookmarklets, so it’s best to try them all to see which one you like the best.  My personal favorite is the first one:

A handy web service for setting aside articles you want to read later is Instapaper.  Instapaper lets you use a bookmarklet to save articles to their service to read it later.  There are some nifty features, such as the ability to make the articles more readable (similar to how the above bookmarklets work), the ability to download an article in Kindle or ePub format to read on your eReader, and more.  They even offer a free and pro version for the iPhone, which I’ve found to be incredibly handy for catching up on my reading while on the go.  A side service of their’s provides recommended reading material at givemesomethingtoread.com.

While Delicious is a handy bookmarking service, it has become incredibly cluttered and slow ever since it was sold to Yahoo.  A fantastic alternative is Pinboard.in, which is what Delicious used to be, and then some.  It is speedy, easy to use, and allows importing from links from services like Delicious, Instapaper, Twitter, and even email links in.  While it is not free, I paid a $5.82 signup fee and it goes higher as more people sign up, it does keep spam off of the service and allows them to keep the service running smoothly and speedily.