This edition of NetSpeak discusses the evolution of file back-up/sharing services and profiles the features of Insync, a new entrant in this realm. As regular readers of this column would know, a plethora of file storage/sharing services are available on the Net.

Many such services have been featured in this column, like e-snips, filephile, drop.io, and so on (http://www.hindu.com/biz/2008/12/08/stories/2008120850051400.htm).

As mentioned in the past (http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/internet/article6158 76.ece), the document storage model that has gained widespread acceptance among netizens is the one offered by the popular on-line storage service Dropbox. Here, you can keep your files (to be backed up/shared) on a specified desktop folder and the dropbox client (working in the background) will automatically transfer those files to its server.

In addition, if you install the drop box client in another machine, all those files stored on your account in dropbox will get downloaded on to this machine too. Everything happens automatically, without any intervention from your end. The popularity of this storage model is furthering more innovative file sharing solutions. The new storage service Insync, which integrates this file backup model with document sharing/syncing capabilities into Google Docs, is a good instance of this trend.

Google Docs, the on-line office suite, which lets us collaboratively edit/access documents from anywhere on the Net, has become a prominent collaboration tool. Besides being used as a collaborative tool, many use Google Docs as an on-line storage as well. However, to keep a document on your Google Docs account, you need to login to the service and upload the document manually. And if you or your collaborator updates this document on-line, it will not be automatically reflected in the version stored on your local folder — you need to log in again and download it. So, the whole file sharing/editing process is not that seamless. This means, we need a solution that brings the Google Docs folder on to the desktop and enables us to keep this folder always in-sync with the Google Docs' on-line content. A Dropbox kind of storage model implemented on top of Google Docs could solve this issue smoothly. This is the context in which the service Insync meets a need.

Insync is a file syncing/backup service that allows you to specify a folder for backing up files.

The service, via its client software, automatically copies all the files/folders placed on this folder to the Insync server. In addition, it downloads all the documents now stored in your Google Docs folder.

This is where it departs from Dropbox. Now, if you install Insync in another machine (say machine at ‘ office'), you will find an exact copy of this Insync folder in the ‘office' machine too.

Of course, this is not the only advantage of this tool; rather the real charm begins here.

Assume you had to edit a Google Docs document from a public machine. Once you are done with the editing, a copy of this document will get automatically pushed to all the machines running Insync (with your account).

Likewise, if you edit a file in the local Google Docs folder, this file will automatically replace the corresponding one stored in the Google Docs server. The facility that lets you share folders on your desktop with anyone on the Net is yet another feature of this awesome service. (As per Terence Pua, Co-founder of Insync, the service is free for up to 1GB) Insync is in beta now and you may experience some hiccups in the beginning — especially while syncing the Google Docs folder.

Also, if you are an uncompromising, dyed-in-the-wool security conscious person, you better wait till the service settles down. At present you need an invite to try this service with your Gmail account. However, if you have a ‘Google Apps' account you can start using it immediately. Colouring pages with pictures is one of the popular pastimes of children of all generations.

A travel down memory lane would invoke lots of nostalgic memories of such indulgences. Parents spend quite a bit on picture books and other drawing accessories. If you are one such parent or a child interested in colouring pages, take a look at the free colouring page application available at Kidopo (http://www.kidopo.com/). This service offers all the essential colouring tools _ a pen, a pencil, colouring palette etc _ and presents a variety of colourable pictures for helping the child simulate a real colouring experience.

Gooreader

GoogleBooks is a popular service that helps us find new and old books with ease. Besides helping us spot books pertaining to a subject, the service lets us read a few pages (a full book, if it is freely available) of those books too. However, reading through GoogleBook's interface is not a pleasant experience.

If you are on the hunt for a better client to dig out the books via GoogleBooks, take a look at the free software GooReader (http://www.gooreader.com/). The most significant aspect of this software is its feature-packed interface that lets you download a book and read it like you read the printed version _ you can turn a page with a single mouse click.

He can be contacted at: jmurali@gmail.com