As a Librarian with a geek tech side, I am always on the lookout for ways technology can help patrons do more with certain parameters. For example, I saw lots of patrons use our public computer to do lots of IMs (instant messaging). Unfortunately, many IMs require the user to download and install these programs which they are not allowed to do. I can understand the needs of the patron; however, not allowing patrons to download and install programs is a necessary evil. So, what can one do to stay connected online while not using your own computer? Meebo was the perfect solution because it was a web based program that did not require any downloading and installing of any programs. What is even better, Meebo runs multiplatform from MSN Messenger, Gtalk, Aim and so forth. The only requirement is to create a profile on Meebo and let Meebo help transfer whatever contacts to whatever IM program you are using. This is when we get the term cloud computing from roughly.
Many web based programs or browser bases programs allow people to run programs via the internet without the need to install any programs or software to any one specific computer. This is when I stumbled on iCloud.com. Think of your desktop from your computer with your programs now running through your web browser. How does this help my patrons? This is when I found a great connection to fill a need with technology that is free to use and no harm to our computer system.
For the many patrons who work on our computers their own reasons for needing our public computers. More importantly, those who need to work on documents online or in Word/ Excel/ Powerpoint can not save files unless they have their own diskettes or memory sticks. Now, using iCloud, they have access to a similar or clone MS Office programs in which they can now save their work online and retrieve it from any computer. While there is a 3 GB virtual storage which may seem small, for the average user who needs to work on their resume and so forth, this comes in very handy. And yes, I know memory stick are a god send and can save more than 3 GB but some patrons can not afford to spend the cash when they are looking for work. Or why not just use Google docs? iCloud is the 11 to Google docs 10 – Spinal Tap reference; it’s one more. There is video, photo and music application which Google does not have. I’m not knocking Google docs but the whole package can be found on iCloud.
Now, said all this greatness about cloud computing, there is still a downside. There is a bit of a lag time that cloud computing will have to overcome. This is not just for iCloud but for all practical applications including gaming which is down the pipeline. Also, I tried to access this program on some public pcs and on some, I have to install MSXML6. The operating system for iCloud runs on XML and works fine on my own laptop. There are still some kinks that I have to figure out how to overcome before I can even propose this but I’m excited for the future.