Free Cloud, Sport.

Posted under: From the Blog 1st of March, 2011

A colleague asked me recently what free cloud services I would recommend for his sport club – to improve their record keeping and collaboration. A few ideas follow. I am sure many of you have better ones.

You can get Gmail and Live accounts  for club persona with total free storage of nearly 20 GB. Someone in the club still needs to look after these accounts – I suggest it is the club secretary’s job – you might even get that in their role statement or even the constitution.

Auto forward Gmail to Live and then you have your club email and all emailed documents backed up in two email systems. Once it’s in the cloud you can see it from anywhere in either system – I use Live when Gmail is (rarely) down. MobileMe is good option too but very little is free.

Generally use my gmail account as hub – my cloud-juice and other accounts get aggregated in gmail (and then backed up in Live)  - google stuff is the most flexible. Cloud Juice are big users of ithings as cloud access devices. We have found gmail contacts very useful for cloud syncing contacts via iTunes across multiple ithings. And for persistent storage of your contacts along with your mail of course. The latest Google syncing of iThing Notes is really useful too – so now email, calendar, contacts and notes synced across multiple iThings via gmail account (contacts via iTunes).

Dropbox has free 2Gb and is still one of the best for larger file sharing. Use the public folder. There are plenty of others – you can find comparators via Google but why would you bother? I use dropbox as distributor and file store for larger files and consulting resources I want persistent access too. A bit more efficient than hunting through email folders – you can do in email if you have good folder structure and discipline. Vivian tells me iDisk is great because you can cloud-store  your folder structure too, like desktop Dropbox one of my sons tells me – probably one of the key differentiators for these services – how easily you can copy and sync with  a subset of your desktop files.

If you want collaborative access I would play with buddypress – bit of messing around. Google Groups has some uses too – it mainly depends on how keen your club people are. If everyone has gmail accounts you can do chat and phone calls. I think that is a good place to start. Most people are happy just to use email. There are lots of others in this category too but we use gmail, dropbox and wordpress based website primarily and keep it pretty simple for sport club members – its about the sport not IT after all.

One of the things we still struggle with is integrating use of SMS for urgent messages eg when rescheduling or confirming sports games. Using iPhone messages conversation persistence at the moment. Would like to find free/cheap persistent groups across cloud/ithings. Maybe Google will save us soon.

There are sport specific apps in the cloud and on ithings too eg tournament rostering, game stats. I am using an ipad app called Coachpad which is very handy for hockey drills and cost the nominal $1.19. Way too much app out there to consider building your own. Only have to volunteer to try it.

Free cloud, sport.

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