Several years ago, I had a client who used her computer to schedule our appointments. Ok, that wasn’t too exciting – I’ve looked at the calendar apps on computers, but they weren’t really for me. Then she told me that she was using something different: Google calendar. What she loved about it was that her son also used Google calendar – it came with each of their gmail accounts – and they had linked their calendars together. He could see when she was on a business trip and needed his help taking care of her dog, and she could see when her grandson’s birthday party was and not forget the date. I wasn’t sure what I made of this at the time – I was still lugging around my large planner and using a pencil to mark appointments!
Then I got a smart phone where I had a calendar and could put my appointments in that. My shoulder certainly appreciated not lugging that planner around, yet accessing the calendar on the phone was not always convenient. If I was talking to someone and needed to consult my schedule, I either needed to put on the headset or use the speaker and hope that as I navigated this new device I would not inadvertently hang-up on the person.
This is when I started using Google calendar for myself. I could still use my phone to put appointments in, but I could also open up my computer, take the same information, and put in what I needed. Truthfully using the computer for Google calendar is easier – I have access to a full keyboard and scheduling repeating events is simpler. My husband started using Google calendar at the same time, and it provides an easy way for he and I to share our schedules with each other. If one of us wants to make plans for the night, we can check the other’s schedule to see if they’re available or not.
Google calendar was my first foray into cloud computing. The calendar is stored out on the Internet on a secure server, where it is backed up regularly. This is what is called the cloud. To access it, all I need is access to the Internet. All I need to do is log into Google with my e-mail user name and password, go to the calendar, and all my information is there. This is great because if I was visiting my mom and didn’t want to boot up my computer, I could just use hers. It is also wonderfully free and I’m actually saving money since I no longer need to buy a paper calendar for my purse.
It does not matter whether you use a PC or a Mac, Droid or iPhone, Google calendar will function with whatever you use it with. Some devices – like my phone – will even access it with their own calendar app. I helped a client learn about Google calendar recently – it will sync with her new smart phone and we set up her schedules, with a reminder beep to keep her on track. That ability to set an alarm, at the time you want, is another feature I really appreciate.
Too often, I’m a little paranoid about losing data. That is another reason I appreciate cloud computing, although there is always a risk of losing information – the information “living” out in the cloud means that it’s more likely to be accessible. In this case, if something were to happen to my phone, my appointments are available by using another device to access the Internet.
In my blog, I’ll be exploring a different cloud computing app each month. Here are a couple of the ones I’ll talk about fairly soon:
Soon, hopefully you, too, will learn to stop worrying (about your data) and love the cloud (computing). 🙂