Net cloud is the main action centre of digital life

Net is brimming with tools and services that facilitate collaborative tasks. This edition of NetSpeak discusses the latest developments in this front.

It is common knowledge that the Net cloud is fast becoming the main action centre of our digital life.

The facility to store content at a central location and the availability of on-line applications, accessible from anywhere, are the two major reasons for this shift. A significant aspect of the majority of on-line applications being released in recent times is that they come bundled with tools meant for collaboration as well.

Collaborative tasks

The first step in collaborative tasks relates to collaborative editing. Thanks to the availability of feature-packed tools such as Google docs, collaborative document creation by authors distributed across the globe has become absolutely hassle-free.

However, despite the popularity of web based office suites, the desktop word-processing package MS-Word continues to be the darling of a large majority of computer users.

Now, is it possible to add collaborative power to Word without draining any of its power?

The product ‘Google cloud connect' addresses this issue and attempts to offer us best of both worlds.

Google cloud connect (http://tools.google.com/dlpage/cloudconnect) is MS-Word plug-in that lets you connect the Word package to your Google docs account and sync your Word documents to it. The advantage is that the tool allows you to automatically keep a copy of your Word document on to your Google docs account too. Aside this, the plug-in enables you to share this Word document with your teammates and simultaneous editing as well.

Of course, for this, your collaborator should also integrate her Word package with the cloud connect plug-in.

Once the plug-in is installed, you will find a toolbar labelled ‘Google cloud connect' on your Word window. To get started, connect your Google account with this toolbar by entering your (Google) account details. Once this is done, you can set up the sync parameters for your document — you can make it either automatic (automatically sync on every save) or manual.

Zipcast

Now, if you wish to co-edit with others, share the document with the ‘Share' option. If your sync option is set to ‘Automatic', all the updates made by your collaborators will automatically appear on your Word window and this way you get a real-time co-editing experience.

The point to be noted is that the complete editing happens in MS-Word and the updates take place automatically. Another collaborative tool that recently hit the cyberspace is Zipcast (http://www.slideshare.net/zipcast), an on-line meeting tool from the promoters of Slideshare, the popular presentation sharing application.

This on-line meeting application helps you organise web-based meetings with ease.

An account holder automatically gets a meeting room link (like this: http://www.slideshare.net/your-user-name/meeting/).

After initiating a meeting, you can send the link to collaborators for accessing it. You can make your meetings public or make it private through password protection.

Though publishing content has become easier, thanks to the availability of technologies such as Blog, Wiki and so on, the publication process still demands extra effort from the creator.

The long drawn out signing-up process and the administrivia (essential details) associated with managing such a blog or wiki may deter the uninitiated, interested in instant sharing of content.

The issue becomes murkier if the content creator wishes to enlist the service of a few of his collaborators to edit or further enrich the text. This could either be resolved by the traditional e-mail system or through services like Google docs. If you are looking for a document creation/collaboration platform with little administrative overhead, the free service ‘pen.io' could come in handy.

Pen.io offers a simple means to create a web page with content instantaneously.

You just have to enter a name for your site and a password to edit the content later. Once these parameters are entered, the service will provide you with an editable web site and a URL of the form ‘http://your-page-name.pen.io'. Once finished with content creation, you can share the URL with anyone.

Now, if you wish your teammates to not only read the content but also edit it, just send them site's password.

Video downloader

Several alternative tools (like Orbit) exist for downloading videos from different video hosting services.

The video downloader from Freemake (http://www.freemake.com/) is yet another one of this kind that has recently hit NetSpeak's radar.

This free tool allows us to download videos from around 40 video hosting services that include Youtube, Google video, Megavideo and so on.

Besides helping you download videos, the service offers facilities to convert the video into formats such as AVI and MP4 too.

If you are using Firefox, an extension will also get installed on its toolbar.

He can be contacted at jmurali@gmail.com