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Cloud Tools to Work and Live by - #1: Live Mesh

I am completely obsessed with working in a virtual environment

Derrek Cooper's Blog

I am completely obsessed with working in a virtual environment. There is no better extension of this obsession than cloud computing. I will intermittently post snippets of various "cloud" tools that I use to work and live. There are fanatics out there that "need" a clear line and definition on what cloud computing really is and what it isn't. I'm not into formal definitions.

In general, working in the "clouds" to me is leveraging the web for communication, file storage, file sharing, computing (running calculations), sharing information, obtaining information and relaying information.

I literally use a ton of various applications to do all of the above. But let's talk about how I keep my files in synch just for my own use. So I have a few computers that I use for work. Some are desktops, some are laptops. Some I use all the time, some I use only to do "computations". But I have found that there are certain files that I want to have accessible on all machines all the time. Sure, I can copy and paste and "share" drives etc. But suppose I am on the road? Suppose I only have my phone with me and need to snag a file and send it to someone?

For this type of stuff, I have been using Microsoft's Live Mesh. I want even begin to try and explain whether it is a platform, application, client-server..whatever. I'll just try and show you how it works and leave the marketing stuff to MS.

In a nutshell, you create an account on the Live Mesh website. If you do nothing else, you can consider Live Mesh like any other online storage folder system. It gives you 5GB/month for free. But Mesh is way more than that.



You can then begin to "add" devices to your "Mesh". You can then choose what folders on each of the devices you want to keep in "synch" and also allows simple drag and drop between devices and your online "Live Desktop" etc. So, for example, if I am working on some documents (any type) on my laptop in a hotel and I want to be able to access these files later either via a web browser or my desktop at home (maybe my personal pc) OR my phone. I save these files to a folder that has been "flagged" as a Live Mesh folder. In Vista, the folders turn a cool ice blue color, indicating they are Mesh folders.

When not using my Live Desktop via a browser, I have the above widget to manage my Mesh settings etc.

There are a few other cool things. For example, I can also "Remote Desktop" from one machine to the other via Mesh. I have found performance is so-so for now. GOTOMYPC is way faster, which probably means less secure?? I mentioned mobile phone support above, personally I use the mobile web site to access my Live Desktop as opposed to installing the actual application on my phone. Other guys on our team have had issues with the application.

Some really cool things coming out of Microsoft in the days to come. It's easy to become cynical and poke fun, but from where I am sitting, the stuff coming will help me tremendously in my work life. Interested to hear people's experience with Mesh, both good and bad?!? 

More Stories By Derrek Cooper

Derrek Cooper is a mechanical engineer with over 10 years experience working in the CFD/CAD/FEA market. He works for Blue Ridge Numerics, the developers of CFdesign, where he is the Product Manager - responsible for the overall product line life cycle from strategic planning to tactical activities.

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