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Take your office to the cloud with Microsoft Office Web Apps

Microsoft recently introduced Office Web Apps, a cloud based version of their popular productivity suite. Office Web Apps is part of Windows Live and includes versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. You can create, edit, copy, rename and delete files (via SkyDrive, see below).

With Office Web Apps and Windows Live SkyDrive, you can also share your files with friends, co-workers or clients. You can even work simultaneously with others on the same Excel workbook with Office Web Apps. Or you can embed an interactive PowerPoint presentation or Excel spreadsheet into a web page.

View of files inside Microsoft Office Web Apps
View of files inside Microsoft Office Web Apps

Excel Web App running in a browser window
Excel Web App running in a browser window

And if you have Microsoft Office on installed on your current system, you can open documents directly to that program. If you are using Office 2003 or Office XP, you will need the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack. Also, Office Web Apps have limited functionally and some of the more advanced features of the desktop programs, like Comments in Excel, do not work.

Here's a quote from their website:

INTRODUCING OFFICE WEB APPS.
Work online, anytime, from almost anywhere!

  • Office Web Apps are compatible with just about any version of Office.
  • Office Web Apps save your formatting - no matter how often you edit online or take it back into Office on your PC or Mac.
  • Office Web Apps are ready wherever you are - work from the office, your home, the airport, a coffee shop ... or France.

Windows Live SkyDrive
Free online storage

Store, access, and share thousands of documents, photos, and Microsoft Office files on Windows Live SkyDrive. SkyDrive password-protects your files so you control who has access to them.

For more information on Microsoft Office Web Apps or Windows Live SkyDrive, just follow the links below:

Microsoft Office Web Apps
Windows Live SkyDrive
Office Web Apps on SkyDrive

Geek Notes:

  • Office Web Apps is integrated into Office 2010
  • Office Web Apps is built into Windows Live, so you will need a Windows Live Id to use them
  • There is 25 GB of storage per Windows Live SkyDrive account

Drafting on the cloud with AutoCAD WS

Long gone are the days of drafting tables. And with AutoCAD WS, drafting has just gone mobile. The concept of storing your drawing files on the cloud is not new, but the interface Autodesk has provided is. You can actually access / edit your drawing files three different ways, AutoCAD plug-in, Android / iPad app or the Flash based editor on the website. The AutoCAD plug-in is self-explanatory, so let's look at the other two.

Autodesk's AutoCAD WS Android app running on a Motorola Android A855
Autodesk's AutoCAD WS Android app running on a Motorola Android A855

I started by creating an account on the AutoCAD WS website. I then uploaded a blank sample drawing to the website and then download the AutoCAD WS Android app. The small screen area on my Motorola A855 did not work well when it came to actually drafting. A general rule for drafting, the more screen area, the better. But for those 'mouse jockeys' out there (myself included), the touch screen can be kind of tricky, to say the least. But then there is the website.

Autodesk's AutoCAD WS website
Autodesk's AutoCAD WS website

I found the website to be easy to use and within five minutes, was drafting away (I do have several years of experience with AutoCAD). The feature set is quite rich, with layers, x-refs, blocks, etc. The commands are toolbar based (no command line for input) and no LISP support, but still is a great way to draft when you are mobile. I can see tethering a smartphone's 3G /4G on Netbook and drafting on-site. Here's a quote from Autodesk's website:

The AutoCAD® WS web and mobile application for AutoCAD® software lets you view, edit, and share DWG™ drawings through a web browser or mobile device. Now you have the freedom to work anywhere and with anyone. Store AutoCAD drawings and project files in an easy-to-access online workspace. View and edit your designs online or on your Android OS device, Apple® iPad™, iPhone®, or iPod touch®. Share and collaborate easily with others; there’s no software required, and it’s free*.

  • Online DWG viewer—Access your AutoCAD drawings from anywhere; all you need is a web browser.
  • Web-based CAD—Edit drawings online using many familiar and intuitive drawing and editing tools.
  • CAD for Android OS devices / Apple iOS devices—Work on AutoCAD drawings directly on your Android, iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.
  • No software required—Invite team members to review and edit DWG drawings online.
  • Collaborate in real time—Conduct online design reviews with participants in multiple locations.
  • Track and manage changes—Record changes to designs in a timeline for version control and auditing.
  • Edit Offline—Work with your DWG files offline without a 3G or Wi-Fi connection from your mobile device (Android OS, Apple iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch)

The AutoCAD WS website editor is Flash based and can download your drawing files in the following formats:

  • AutoCAD 2010
  • AutoCAD 2007
  • AutoCAD 2004
  • AutoCAD 2000
  • AutoCAD R14
  • ZIP with X-refs

For more information on AutoCAD WS, check out the following links:

AutoCAD WS
Watch AutoCAD WS Overview Video on YouTube

Play your music anywhere with the Amazon Cloud Player for Web and Android

The folks at Amazon are at it again. Amazon just introduced the Amazon Cloud Player for Web & Android. Using the Amazon Cloud Player for Web and Android, you can stream the music contained in your Amazon Cloud Drive using the Amazon MP3 Android app or a web browser.

Part of the introduction e-mail I received
Part of the introduction e-mail I received.

The Amazon MP3 app for Android page at the Google Android Market
The Amazon MP3 app for Android page at the Google Android Market.

With the Amazon Cloud Drive, you get 5 Gb of space for free, if you already have an Amazon account. You can also store documents, pictures and videos along with music. If you don't have an Amazon account, create one (it's free too).

A default Amazon Cloud Drive page
A default Amazon Cloud Drive page.

Any new MP3's you purchase from the Amazon MP3 Store will automatically go to your Cloud Drive. And if you purchase an MP3 album from Amazon, they will increase your storage tier to the 20 Gb level for a year. Here's a quote from Amazon's website:

Amazon allows you to securely store your entire digital music collection using Amazon Cloud Drive and play it on any Mac, PC, or Android device using Amazon Cloud Player. Any new Amazon MP3 Store purchases can be saved directly to your Amazon Cloud Drive for free. You can also upload your existing music library to Amazon Cloud Drive so you have all your music in one place, accessible from anywhere.

All new Amazon Cloud Drive accounts are given 5GB of free storage for uploading content. Additional storage is available for an annual fee. See the Amazon Cloud Drive settings page for more information on special offers and pricing for larger storage solutions. All Amazon MP3 purchases saved directly to your Cloud Drive are stored for free and don't count against your storage limits.

System Requirements

Amazon Cloud Player is a browser based application that supports both Mac and PC computers. Cloud Player is not optimized to run on mobile phones or tablets including: iPhones, Blackberrys, Windows Mobile devices, and iPads. For Android phones and tablets, we recommend installing the Amazon MP3 app for Android which includes Amazon Cloud Player for Android.

For more information on the Amazon Cloud Player for Web and Android, just click on the following links.

Amazon Cloud Player for Web & Android
Amazon Cloud Drive
Amazon MP3 Android app

    Geek Note:
  • Amazon Cloud Player for Web & Android is currently only available in the United States.

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