In the aftermath of temporarily losing the content of Obama Conspiracy Theories, I implemented a backup plan. I had a little trouble getting the backup working because the size of temporary files needed by the backup exceeded space limits imposed by my web host (Obama Conspiracy Theories is about 1.2 GB right now, and it’s not the only site I host there). So I looked at reducing the amount of space used.
One item I found was a 14.2 MB PDF file. As part of our discussions of Obama’s birth certificate and how well the Xerox scanner compressed it, I decided to run this PDF file through Adobe Acrobat 9.5, which has an “optimize scanned PDF” feature implementing a form of MRC compression. The resulting document looked good, had its pages straightened, and was reduced in size to 1.2 MB. Acrobat also has a “reduce size” feature, but you lose quality and the compression is not nearly as great.
Recently I got a multi-function printer that includes a sheet-fed scanner that I’m using on my personal records in an attempt to get rid of accumulated paper, and to make them searchable. The desktop software that comes with the scanner will automatically implement “scan to PDF” but it’s not sophisticated. A run through Acrobat for the OCR and optimization makes a huge difference in the size, and makes it practical for current documents to be stored in the cloud. I am on the board of a couple of organizations that hand out paper minutes. I just scan them to the cloud and take a tablet PC with me to the meetings instead of a bulging notebook.
While I was poking around in the cloud, I looked at Google Drive. It’s a free storage solution providing 15 GB of space, and a mechanism for storing files to and sharing (optionally) with others (there are limits to the number of free shared accesses to the files). It comes with Windows desktop integration to make your Google Drive a folder on the computer. It also installs links to three web-based applications: Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides (word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations).
Google Drive is very much like Microsoft SkyDrive, which provides 7 GB of free storage in the cloud, desktop integration, sharing and web-based office applications. One significant difference is that SkyDrive may not be used for automated backup solutions, while Google Drive can.1
Both Google Drive and SkyDrive have apps that run on most tablets and smart phones. I prefer the Microsoft web-based office apps to the Google ones. Both SkyDrive and Google drive also provide a way to publish and embed documents in a blog—we see this from Orly Taitz these days; however, she’s running up against the number of free shared accesses and sometimes her documents don’t display. I’m hesitant these days about embedding documents in my articles just because they generate traffic for wherever it’s hosted on my home page, and any time the article is displayed, whether someone wants to read the document or not. At least I’m putting embeds “below the fold” so that you won’t see them on the home page, and more often than not, just providing a link.
To put some of this into practical use, I have redone my Site Statistics page. Before, I had to download and open the HTML for the page, and add new table rows and then publish it again. Now I just keep the statistics in a spreadsheet on SkyDrive, and embedded the sheet in the web page in an <iframe>. There’s also a download link if you want to play with the statistics on your own.
1I canceled my DropBox account because its storage is more limited, and I don’t need that many clouds in my life anyway. I also have (but really don’t use) Amazon cloud and iCloud. This site is backed up to another hosting account with another company, rather than in the cloud.