Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Wisdom of Clouds

"At last! My arm! It is complete... again!"
-- Sweeny Todd

A week ago last Sunday, my home computer, uh... well... the most accurate term is, "Shit the bed." More technically, the motherboard shit the bed. [Insert standard 15 minute rant about how losing a computer sucks; how Time Warner sucks because they don't support Vista; how Vista sucks; how technicians suck; how it sucks that it takes so long to restore everything (or anything) onto a new machine; etc.] Actually, compared to other new builds I've done, this one wasn't too bad. Only 9 trips to the computer stores to get all the pieces-parts a'working.

The good news is, the new rig kicks righteous ass. I loaded on some games that ran, on my old box, at the lowest levels and, even then pitifully. On the new machine... mmmm.... meaty. And I finally, 10 minutes ago, got Adobe CS2  and my Wacom drawing tablet running. Thus, the quote from Sweeny Todd.

So... what's up with the post title? Well, cloud computing is all about doing stuff at the network level. You know... keeping things on the Web instead of on your local box. I'd recently switched to Gmail, Google Reader and Google Bookmarks, and the death of my old machine made me very glad that I had. All my email, contacts, bookmarks, RSS feeds and even a bunch of documents that I had in Google Docs were untouched by my troubles with hardware. I could still get to the stuff from my wife's machine, my work machine and even (in many cases) my mobile phone/pc thing.

When I did finally get the new computer up and running, about a half of the software (by number of installs, not volume) was stuff that I could download for free (open source) or re-download (purchased) from the Web. Many new drivers came to me from the friendly Intertubes, too.

So... much of my home computing experience now relies on "The Clouds." I suspect this will continue. I'm OK with that.

When I talked to a friend about switching my email to Gmail, he wondered aloud to me if I was wise to trust Google with my data more than myself.

"Yes," I replied. "Oh, yes. The odds of Google knocking over the 'thing' that holds my data while rummaging under the desk for Legos are small. The odds of Google frying their mother boards are small. The chances that a powersurge will take out all their backups are small.

"I, on the other hand, am an idiot."

It's not that I trust Google a whole heckuva lot. It's just that I know how clumsy I am.

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