A convoluted plethora of barely connected cloud silos

Recently on Facebook JP was lamenting the confused state of managing our data in the cloud when multiple identities and platforms are involved.

JP Rangaswami
New Windsor, United Kingdom ·
iCloud is terrible. Going back to Microsoft is unthinkable. Having lived through trying to use personal and corporate gmail accounts in parallel, Google is ruled out as well. Actually contemplating living a life without Apple or Google now, not just Microsoft. All three now excel at making simple things hard.


And it’s true. Trying to make sense out of the various cloud services is a convoluted mess.

I liked his post and in comments he asked me

JP Rangaswami David I’d be interested in knowing whether your experience of these services has deteriorated similarly. For me, as soon as you have multiple family accounts, multiple devices and want access to any sort of “content”, the user experience is Kafkaesque. Codified bureaucratic incompetence at Olympic levels.


There’s not an easy response to that. So as to not clog up Facebook comments I outline here what I’ve found the best solution – and by best I mean the one I currently use – none of this stuff is best… it’s all a kludge.

I need to use the following devices
A iMac and a Windows 7 PC at my desk at home
A Windows 7 laptop at my bed
A Windows 7 PC at my desk at work
An iPhone – on my desk when home; hanging around my neck on a lanyard when not.
All controlled by a stick held in my mouth – the iPhone, a stylus.

The biggest thing I use is email. Because I have to use 4 different computers at different times a stand alone email app is out and the browser email from google is in. For that I use Gmail – in the web browser on the computers and via the builtin app on iPhone.

I can’t use my iPhone very well when away from desk so most of what I do is at a keyboard and screen at a desk.

All my email accounts are fed into gmail and aliases setup so when replying to any email it appears as coming from the account to which it was sent. Mind you, this is only personal email.

Contacts are a pita and keeping the correct information synced and available across all devices is no fun. Google contacts I make the centre as I can always get to them from a browser. They are synced to my iMac via the contacts app but the app on Mac doesn’t sync to iCloud. Nor does the app on my iPhone. I make google contacts the centre repository and turn off iCloud syncing contacts. I know I can login to iCloud in my browser to get contacts but I’m forever on gmail so that makes more sense.

Calendars are the next big hurdle. Forgetting work for a while, just keeping my calendars in sync is done via my iMac. I turn on iCloud syncing on my iPhone for calendars to sync with my mac and then sync my Mac calendar also with google calendars.


For work, as I work for Government I can’t bridge the Govt. divide and so work email is via Outlook when at work or Outlook Web Access via a browser anywhere else (unless on the work vpn).

Same with calendars. I’m forever having to check clashes between my work and home calendar manually. I often send myself meeting requests between my work/home so I’ll know what I’m meant to be doing. I’m sure there’s Managers who can have a better experience being mobile… but not us plebs.

Contacts. Never the twain shall meet. Work contacts are duplicated on my personal contacts manually.


Google drive acts as an online repository for documents needed between devices. I’d love to use Microsoft’s cloud but again work seems to not want me to share.The one area of apps that does work for me is Adobe Creative Cloud which work have purchased as a service and I can run on any of my devices anywhere. Being a non-firewalled SAAS cloud controlled offering gives me great flexibility. As Govt. is so Microsoft Office based, a full move to Office in the cloud would be a game changer for me. Currently I’m on a trial at work for Office but it’s restricted to only within the Govt. network.. so only works if vpn connected.
Notes is one area I’ve never been able to settle on for a decade or more. If work didn’t restrict my syncing Onenote I’d be on that but that one aspect means I struggle along with transient notes strewn across everything. I used to love google notebook.. but alas they canned that. I try and focus on using google apps but thats not much use on my phone. The Notes app on my iMac is good now I can have it on my mac and sync it to iCloud to my phone. But that still leaves me to have to login to iCloud if on a PC to leave a note.

So I seem to have Google as the centre of much of what I do but only on account of being restricted by where I work. If work removed that, now that the majority of Microsft apps are available on the Mac, I’d be on Microsoft cloud like a shot for docs and apps, notes, calendars and contacts. It’d be hard to ditch google for email… but even that might become a funnel to Microsoft’s offerings.

The cloud services seem to be great if you’re one person with one identity and can find everything you need from one economy and that economy’s preferred devices.

That’s a lot of “ones” in one sentence. Which makes me think that silos haven’t gone away with the cloud … they’ve merely migrated there.

Sorry to confuse you more JP.

* Photo : Industrial Other by Sydney Architects & Building Designers Alexander Michael & Assoc

Govcamp Queensland 2012

govcampqld image
GovCamp provides a space for those inside and outside of government to share innovative ideas, initiatives and experiences relating to the use of social and technology solutions, and to find opportunities to collaborate.
This is a place to hold my bits from Govcamp Queensland event, held March 3rd 2012 at The Edge, Brisbane, Queensland.
Event twitter hashtag #govcampqld
  • Slides from my keynote presentation can be seen on Slideshare here : Link or
  • Powerpoint format stack here : Link
  • Video of my talk on Inversion + Connectedness = Resilience : Link
  • Audio (mp3) of my presentation : Link
  • All recorded video: Link
  • RSS podcast feed (audio) : Link
  • My twitter list of govcampqld ppl : Link
  • Some Flickr photos : Link




"Connectedness is a state of being" David Wallace



wordcamp take-aways

Wordcamp to me was the right un-conference at the right time.

At work we’ve been going through some tough stuff after getting near 50% of our budget cut earlier this year. I’ve been re-evaluating everything we do and trying to gaze into the future and direct the IT side of our frail mothership forward. Slash-and -Burn and re-group kinda thing. We’d been through a few ideas and came to wpmu as a platform to drive us forward.

I wanted to get a feel for where we stood with wpmu and alaso take opportunity to plug my programmer colleague, Trent, into some of the WP network/community and give him some exposure to it.

The trip was definitely worth it. I gained some good strategic ideas and clarfied some of my thinking thanks to the sharing of experiences by those attending and those speaking. It was good to see examples of people actually using wordpress in the different ways I’d been thinking we could use it as well.

Trent got enthused about lots of things, microformats being one , and within a few days had implemented them on his own blog. We also tried to pimp the Flickr Manager Plugin for WordPress he’s written, which allows you to upload and manage and include your Flickr photos in your blog posts all from your wordpress – you can find a copy of Flickr Manager v1.0 Plugin v1.0 here.

So, thanks to all who made the camp happen and made us welcome. Look forward to more sharing in the future.

To top it all off I won a door prize of a iPod Nano.

Photos of me at wordcamp:

Trent n I after a hard days wordcamp and walk home in the wind

Back of my head at the panel

Me looking all serious at Chris Burgess at the Non-Profit roundtable 

Me at yet another round table – not so serious this time  (with @cait on my left)

All photos on flickr tagged wcm07

Videos etc over at Eight Black 


Re-Making History

hgv2.gifA few months ago, while on a diversion not usually seen here, I wrote about the ”History of Disability in South Australia” site we’d just opened at work. It came after a whirlwind of activity that turned into a marathon of cutting features to meet deadline. At that time I hinted at some of the features missing that I didn’t get a chance to impliment.Well I’m pleased that the site has been revamped and now is more representative of my original vision.

History v2 incorporates a lot of the features to enable participation in the site, including:

.search function
.comments on every article
.tags on each article linking to other resources
.inclusion of images relevant to what’s being viewed
.enhanced image viewing
.faster page loading of images
.improved topics page linking to tags
.rss feeds

Now, for a rehash of all the other sites into something that offers a platform for participation and conversation in information provision.


Making History

I try not to talk too much about work but I’m laid up here in Horizontal HQ (bed) and a certain pixie has been on my back (figuratively speaking) to blog yet my mind’s a bit of a haze from a cold. So I thought I’d show you what we been working on as it went live today.

History of Disability in South Australia.

You can go there to find out what it’s all about. I wanted to relay a few details about it. I kind of wanted to put a (beta) sign on it as there’s much more in plan for it. We want to enable a way to comment on the articles and stories, to allow conversations about and around the content while it adds to the richness at the same time. You know, “I went to that school too, I found…” type discussion.

My major focus when building out the infrastructure was to allow it to scale over time and be easy for the staff who adds stuff to do so. Also not having access to bunches of resources (including our funding which was recently cut in half) I wanted to use tools and services available where possible and not re-invent the wheel.

It’s based on a wordpress backend that’s been modded for easy content management, Flickr for images and lots of custom kludges to bring it together. The whole thing is tag based so offers extreme flexibility for future. We plan to also build fulfilment services in and make use of classification of resources ongoing by incorporating the ability for people to add to the collective by submitting tags. Search also is anticipated.

All these things should be relatively easy to implement given time due the nature of wordpress.

There’s been lots of behind the scenes things that conspired to never let it come to pass, but at least now we have the first building blocks down.

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