Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cloud Computing and me

I read a blog post on cloud computing recently that got me thinking. It’s came from my friend Ann Dawson, who works for Tortus, a local web company.


Here's her story

I thought of my own situation and how it’s evolved. I dismissed the cloud phrase at first but the more I thought about it, the more I saw I am definitely into the concept if not the name.

In my pre-cloud days I had endless trouble keeping track of appointments. I’d fail to show up somewhere, and the only thing that saved me was the residual goodwill people had for me. Something better was clearly needed, but what? I had Outlook on my computer at home, and I synced the calendar with my Blackberry, but stuff still fell through the cracks because I never had a single calendar that was accessible anywhere.

As an example, I’d get a phone call at work inviting me to do a radio show, and I’d agree and set a time, but it was just too much trouble to type all the info into the tiny phone keyboard. I could write a note in my work computer, but I promptly forgot these half the time. I just had to hope I remembered till I got home and put it in Outlook. It wasn’t a very good system.

That was where thing stood when I found MobileMe from Apple. MM has a virtual version of Outlook that keeps all my contacts and appointments and tasks online, and it synchronizes seamlessly with Outlook at home and my new iphone. I had seen MM before but I didn’t pick up on it. I decided to give it a try when I got my new iphone a few weeks back.

The new iphone is such a marvel it’s deserving of a post of its own, but that’s something for another day.

It’s really remarkable how well MM works, and what a huge improvement a small thing like that can make. I can sit here at my desk at work, and schedule a date two months from now, and it’s just there. It’s downloaded into my phone right away, and it will be on the Outlook calendar when I get home. All automatically.

In itself, that isn’t too magical. There are other apps that do something similar but Apple’s seamless integration with the online calendar and my phone is really neat. But Wait! As the late Billy Mays would say, There’s more!

The same MM app also makes backups of my writing and stores them online. There was a time that we thought of online backup as vague and insecure, but frankly, I’d trust Apple’s servers a lot more than some local web hosting firm. Wouldn’t you? Some people are really good at making backup discs and carrying them to a safe location, but I’m not one of them.

And at the same time, I keep another backup on the Google servers. I don’t know how to calculate the reliability of that dual online system, but I’ll bet it’s far better than any of the do-it-yourself home backups it replaced. Anyone who ever tried to restore a home backup and found an unreadable CD knows what I mean.

MM also synchronizes email from multiple accounts, something I was never able to master till now. Gmail was a huge step forward in terms of search ability and storage, but this goes a big step farther.

I can now access all my writing from any computer, anywhere and any time. I can do the same with all my appointments, and my contacts. I can even remotely wipe all that stuff off my phone if I lose it.

MM even holds the backup records from my company, so those computers are protected by the same inexpensive solution. And finally – this is a small thing but it’s really a big deal – MM keeps all the Internet bookmarks from my various browser in one place. I never realized how useful that was till I saw it.

I no longer depend on any particular computer for anything but photo processing. I could lose any one or two machines and those aspects of my life would be totally unaffected. The only place I remain machine-dependent is my photography. Those files are really big, and I need an online backup provider for them. I thought I had one with HP, but as soon as I signed up they got out of the business.

At least they gave me a refund. That’s more than you get from some startups.

I’m still looking for the best online backup for my original image files. I’ve got 80,000 of them, so it’s a lot of space. Any suggestions?

6 comments:

writeloudly said...

John,

great article. I have a comment about your photography storage. I was pretty certain that Mobile Me had the capability to back up your computers. It does have a gallery for your photos, but I am not sure if the quality is the same. If you have a Mac as your computer, you can use the Time Machine to back up your entire computer (even software I believe) in a tiny piece of cyberspace so that you can access you Mac anywhere in the world.

Aranittara said...

flickr has unlimited space for $30 a year I think (for photos)

Lori B said...

I love mobile me too! There's some free stuff that does parts of what mm does, and I use some of that too, but nothing beats the seamless ingtegration of desktop, laptop, iphone, and online access.

Eric said...

John, try Photobucket.com. I have used it in the past, and it's wonderful. If I remember right, it's $25.00 per year, and will take large files. Give it a try.

333prime.curios said...

Oh my, I am stunned. You are for real. I am doing something very similar with my brain. I have studied cloud computer pretty extensively and decided to go with a DOS system. I know it sounds silly to go with old technology to manage the brain but it's perfect. I will simplify it and pass over bios and firm ware. I start with the root "c:\\brain\family\mom\momskitchen\cupboard\beverageholder\glass\favoriteglassdontlose\drink.exe

I don't know if you follow but that is how I'm learning to do things the right way!

You are for real!

Sharon said...

For digital management, check out mydl.me They are photographers and very anal about their storage.