Tech

Cloudless

Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain (c) 2013 Andy Vickers

Like walking into a house when you’ve been away for a while I pull off the dust-sheets and open all the curtains…

It feels like such a long time since I’ve been able to post anything here, in reality it’s been a couple of weeks that I’ve not been able to access The Lunch’s dashboard or create new posts.  At first I thought it was my browser, my computer, my ISP, I searched online for WordPress issues but couldn’t find anything so was stumped.  Then finally via Google I found mention of a similar issue on another blog which told me it was a problem with WordPress servers being blocked by ISPs due to someone’s blog breaking Terms of Service.  A demonstration of how one persons actions can cascade on systems like the internet.

Secondly the other week we had rain that looked like a monsoon, almost as dense as fog, waves of water were flowing off the tops of roofs across the road, the road outside itself became a river, water erupted from drain covers.  One driver of an expensive saloon car *cough*a BMW*cough* clearly felt that a couple of inches of water was too risky and reversed back then drove down the pavement instead while others ploughed through regardless spraying people and buildings with torrents of water.  One especially impressive young man managed to leap completely over the large bow-wave created by one passing car as it rolled along the pavement.  As usual I watched the rain and lightning, listened to the thunder.

All seemed ok that evening as the storm passed and things settled back to normal.  The next evening though I found my landline phone wasn’t working, seems the storm had taken out the phone lines locally, and then the terrible reality struck.  NO INTERNET EITHER – The Cloud taken out by Rain Clouds.   Arghhh.  I couldn’t even use 3G on my mobile because I hadn’t got enough credit.  It didn’t bother me that much, the emails can wait, I’d perhaps miss one of the Deals of the Day emails but there probably wouldn’t be anything decent anyway.  I watched some TV then thought about listening to some music, the new CD I’d ordered for example, I’d got the MP3 version free, downloaded it and then uploaded it to Google Music, I’ll listen to that…  Ah.  Maybe not.

Luckily I’d still got it on my computer too (the CD itself hadn’t arrived yet) so I could still listen but it was a little reminder that when you put everything in the cloud and you lose your connection you’re stuffed.  This is why I only use cloud services as backups or as a quick and convenient way of accessing music or photos on just about any device I have.   Other services like Evernote and Wunderlist will sync with the cloud database once reconnected so at least they’re still usable locally.

Lifehacker has some useful advice in case of internet outages including using a mobile hotspot or tethered 3G phone, borrowing a neighbour’s internet or using public wifi if these are available which shows that thinking ahead can save the day but even then at the wrong time you might still be netless.

Maybe one day the dreams of the likes of Google with their (mostly) everything-online Chrome OS will be realised but we’d need an internet that only goes off when the power to run the computer does too.

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Tech

A Syncing Feeling

Cloud Computing Image

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some may be forgiven for thinking that The Cloud was something Apple invented due to the high-profile launch of iCloud – it’s much touted system for sharing content seamlessly between iDevices and Macs – but it was a ‘thing’ long before it was an ‘iThing’.

The ubiquity of internet connectivity has enabled cloud computing to blossom in recent years.  Now there are the online file storage and sharing services like  Box, Microsoft’s Skydrive and others; cloud disk drives like that provided by Dropbox (and the upcoming file system integration of Windows Skydrive); and automatic content syncing systems like iCloud.

The ultimate goal of cloud computing is beyond such storage and syncing of files and moves all of your apps and data onto remote servers operating in a similar way to the thin-client terminals that those of us old enough remember fondly.  Google’s ChromeOS running on ChromeBook laptops are the first foray into this new world however they assume a mostly connected situation and online OSes and apps won’t be replacing Windows, MacOS and desktop apps anytime soon though their features and functionality are improving all the time.

The most useful aspect of the cloud for me so far has been syncing of data.  To be able to add an item to my to-do list on either my laptop, netbook, tablet or, using the webapp, my work laptop and know that it’ll be there when I fire up one of the other devices is a joy.  My app of choice for this is Wunderlist but others have similar functionality.  (I also use the similarly syncable Evernote for more in-depth notes).  The same is true of having files I use on the laptop synced via Microsoft’s servers to my netbook whilst being simultaneously backed-up in the cloud as well.

The future may not be entirely based in the cloud but in huge server farms cooled by Arctic fjords our data will be shuffled between our devices and shared with our friends, seamlessly and effortlessly.

And I won’t have any excuses for forgetting to do something on my to-do list.

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