Sunday, May 21, 2006

Dematerialize Me

Every computer crash or re-install is the occasion for asking the right questions: what was wrong in my previous set-up? What can I improve?

Switching the OS for another one that asks much less care (defragmentation anyone?) is certainly an appropriate action: I will come back to it in a later post.

Reducing the hard disk drive footprint is surely another one. This means less to re-install and less to lose between two backups. This means dematerializing applications and use their web counterparts in lieu. So far, here I am:

Of course, this poses the question of confidentiality as my data is in other people's hands. I try not to store anything confidential there and I will probably resume using PGP. But the advantages, to my sense, over-exceed this inconvenient.

Not only my web related tools are available anywhere there is internet connectivity, but session state is persisted: for example, all the RSS feeds that I have marked as read will remain so (which is not the case when you have multiple clients on multiple machines).

The next step is to dematerialize me: I am still thinking on how I could be replaced with my web counterpart... In the meantime, if you know other smart tools like the ones I have listed before, please comment on this post!


Dennis said...

A few other online tools:
- in stead of bookmarks in your browser
- backpack ( for all that stuff that you need to jot down. If you've got access to a webserver or something, you could just install a wiki-system and lock it down, so only you can access it.
- tadalist ( if you want fancy todo lists, online
- Writely ( instead of installing a word processor

there are loads of other great tools out there, but these are the ones I either use, or would be using if I were to use only online tools :)

David Dossot said...

Great additions, thanks a lot Dennis!

alex said...


I have been unable to make the move of having everything online despite several trials since 2001. I tried Intranet tools and professional online environments like SalesForce. These were admittedly good experiences, but I am still quite uncomfortable with several issues relating to the fact that I have no control whatsoever on the people who have my data. Not only privacy, but also availability, continuity...

Anyhow, if I were to use only online tools, one of them would definitely be Virtual Office ( because it is well built, seems robust and has no useless features. Trying out the platform I found it matched many of the requirements that were not really addressed with other solutions. Worth taking a look at IMHO.

David Dossot said...

Hi Alex,

I fully agree on the confidentiality issues. I am less concerned about availability - though I should as both Gmail and Meebo are betas 8-S

Anyway, I basically use online tools for online activities like email, chat or reading blogs.

For the rest, I stick to the usual heavy application: OOO for office productivity, Eclipse and SharpDevelop for my favorite activity ;-)


JF Declercq said...


I indeed do what you say David, I use Yahoo! Mail as primary personal email system.

But I also like to have productivity tools (fat clients) wich are (until today) richer in functionality - Even if AJAX is amazing.

A PC is a personal thing (see and until know I prefer to accept that I'll need 3 days to re-install.

David Dossot said...

Thanks for sharing your experience, Jean-Fran├žois.