On the last possible day to write about my 2011 New Year's resolution, here it is:
Live in the cloud.
The term "cloud" has most often been used in the context of enterprise computing, but there are lots of cloud services for your personal life as well.
In 2011 I attempted to get rid of as many physical things as I could. I took some risks and purposefully sought out new services I could use to further my cloud lifestyle. Here's a rundown of all the cloud services I used to replace all the "stuff" in my life.
I started off the year by moving all my personal files to Dropbox. I purchased some extra space on Dropbox and was able to toss out my old backup drive. At first I was wary of putting all my personal files on someone else's machine(s) but I've had an excellent experience so far. It's super convenient not to have to manage my own backups anymore and I don't even have to worry about actually backing up my computer.
For music, I began listening to Rdio this year. Around the time I switched to Dropbox, I realized that it didn't really make sense to own my own mp3s when I could just stream anything I wanted to listen to at any time. I haven't owned any physical albums in years, but now I don't even own any digital albums. Yay. Spotify is also a good option for streaming music. However, I started using Rdio before Spotify was available in the US and I still like Rdio better (my friends are on Rdio, nicer design, better community).
I also finally got rid of most of my books this year. It was difficult parting with my books. However, I've been reading new books on Kindle anyway, so it didn't really make sense for me to have a bunch of physical books taking up space in my tiny apartment.
I won't talk much about my TV and movie setup because although it's totally awesome, it's not very legal. I do rent a lot of movies on iTunes and watch TV shows on Hulu and ABC, but the selection just isn't there yet.
Last October I got rid of my car - I donated my beloved 1991 Jetta to charity. In exchange I picked up a Clipper card for public transit, a Public bike for my daily commute, and Zipcar for the times I just had to have a car (not really that many). I realize that this is mostly possible because I live in San Francisco, a city with nice weather for biking and walking and not great for driving a car anyway.
In addition to biking and walking, I enjoy taking a nice Ubercab when I go out and the Ubercab iPhone app has an amazing view where you can watch the cab as it travels to your location. Ubercab can be a bit expensive though, so sometimes I'll settle for using TaxiMagic or Cabulous to virtually hail a cab.
For the past few years, I've used a housekeeping service to clean my apartment every couple of weeks. I hate cleaning. When compared with my hourly rate for programming work, it's a great deal to have someone else clean my apartment.
Just this past year I started looking for other ways to move my household chores to the "cloud".
Grocery delivery by Safeway has been a huge timesaver for me. I'll buy my groceries online and have them delivered on the weekend.
I only recently heard of TaskRabbit which helps connect you to people who will do your chores for you. I'm excited to try them out as soon as I can come up with a suitable task (building furniture?).
2011 was a great year to book travel in the cloud. Hipmunk made booking my flights much faster and better with their awesome Agony rating (you can see which flights cause you the least agony!).
I booked my trip to SXSW this year super late and no hotels were available. However, I was able to find a great place via Airbnb and I ended up staying at an apartment close to all the action. I also used Airbnb to book an apartment for a 3-week stay in Amsterdam. I don't think there's anything closer to living like a local!
Right now I'm in NYC for New Year's. I left booking a hotel until the last minute (oops.) but was able to find an affordable room near Times Square using the Hotel Tonight iPhone app.
Going out and staying in
The best cloud service I discovered this year was Rent the Runway. On Rent the Runway you can rent designer dresses (as well as acessories) at an affordable rate and return them a few days later. I rented a $385 dress for Valentine's Day for only $25! I also rented a dress for attending a summer wedding. I loved being able to wear a different designer dress for each event.
I've started using Foursquare and the Yelp iPhone app to discover new restaurants. It's great to find places that my friends like on Foursquare and I love trying Hot New Businesses on Yelp. I've been making almost all my restaurant reservations on OpenTable. I even reserved a table for Thanksgiving dinner on OpenTable.
For the nights I want to stay in, I now order food online using GrubHub. A bunch of my favorite restaurants are available for delivery on GrubHub and the website copy is by far the funniest (Groupon and Yelp are runners up).
Living in the cloud this past year has been an amazing experience. My apartment has gotten less cluttered as I've gotted rid of all the extra stuff. I've also had an amazing experience discovering new places and saving lots of time.
Are there any other great personal cloud services that I've missed? Anything I just have to try in 2012?