Tag Archives: cloud-computing

What is the Cloud?


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Over on Lockergnome, PhidiasBob was wondering what – exactly – IS Cloud computing. He’s also curious about how it works.

For the longest time, we knew where our data existed. It was typically found on our hard drive or even a floppy disk. When we create information in a service such as Google Docs these days, we don’t know what the physical location of the file is… it’s just out there – in the Cloud. We don’t even need to know where the files are located exactly. We just need them to be there whenever we want access to them.

One day, most of our life will be in the Cloud. Heck, I don’t even buy physical media anymore. I have a Rhapsody account. I have a Netflix account. Those files all exist somewhere… but they aren’t on MY drives. As long as I have my credentials, I can access that bit of my life. I don’t have to worry about tracking it anymore.

Services are doing the heavy lifting and hard work for you. You don’t have to worry as much about keeping track of things or making sure you have enough storage space. When we discuss the Cloud, we’re talking about the range of services that store our files and life for us. It can seem stressful, yes. Some people worry about their security and about handing over their important data to a third party.

Just because technology has gotten to a point that you can store all of your information remotely, you should still tread lightly. Do your research on services before you begin using them. See what others think, and make sure the company in question is reputable. Read your EULA! You’d be surprised what you might uncover there, honestly.

Hopefully this gives you a good idea as to what Cloud computing is all about – at least in general terms.

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Et Tu, Cloud? Caveat Clickor!

For the longest time, we knew where our data existed – it existed on our computers, typically on a hard drive or potentially a floppy disk. So now when we create files, let’s say on a Web service like Google Docs, for example, we may never actually know where that file sits. We know we can get to it from anywhere, of course, but it’s out there. In The Cloud. We don’t know the physical location of that file, but do we need to know, anymore? No, we don’t. That’s for someone else to worry about and track.

Our whole life is eventually going to be stored in The Cloud, no longer tied to a physical machine or hard drive. I’m not even really tracking any of my media, anymore. I have a Rhapsody account for my music; I subscribe to Netflix and Hulu. I’m not really buying any physical media, anymore. I’m not storing them on my local network. This data exists in The Cloud on these Web services that I pay to access. I know that, somewhere, the file is sitting on a hard drive waiting for me to point and click my way to it, but the responsibility of holding on to it is no longer mine.

Think of a public library – you can check out books, read them, and then put them back on its shelves without cluttering up your own at home. The archives are there for your benefit without requiring you to be their ever-vigilant custodian. The Cloud doesn’t charge you overdue fees, either, so don’t go saying the 21st century’s never done you any favors!

Storing your life remotely has its benefits, but as with any service that offers to simplify your day-to-day doings, be sure to research these places in The Cloud and make sure they’re reliable. Let your vision look toward The Cloud, but keep your head on Earth when you’re making the decision about what chunks of your life to stow away there.

If Your Life Had a Theme Song, What Would it Be?

This fun little question showed up on Lockergnome earlier today. I admit, it has me stumped. I’m not sure that I could come up with just one song to be my official theme song. There are so many good ones out there which fit me… especially stuff that Weird Al Yankovic writes. Many of you will likely choose an emotional or inspirational song – something that has meaning to you. However, I’m willing to be I’m not the only goofball out there.

So let’s have it: what song fits you the best? Which track is going to be your theme song? Additionally, what piece of music do you feel should tell MY life story?

There are no theme songs or title tracks to wade through when you visit our software center. All you’ll find is the latest – and best – software and apps for all of your devices and machines.

Which Camera is Better?

Over on Geeks, someone was wondering which camera is the best. The first thought that came to my mind was what the bot in our chat room will tell you if you ask “what is better.”

“Chris recommends you use what you want to use, download what you want to download, try what you want to try, buy what you want to buy. These choices are all personal in nature, so it’s always difficult to answer the question of “which is better” (so don’t be surprised if Chris doesn’t answer your impossible question).”

No one can answer this question for you. It’s one thing to ask which cameras (or whatever it is you’re looking for) someone uses, why they prefer it, and whether they’ve had any issues with it. That is called information gathering, and is an important part of the research you should be doing before buying anything new. Always ask questions of others. Find out what their experiences have been with their devices. Read reviews online. Ask for recommendations.

Don’t ask ME what the best is, or you’ll likely get a reply much like the one above from the Pixie bot. What’s best for me may not be what works the best for you.

I DO know that what’s best for your computer is to keep it updated with the latest and greatest software we can find!

What's Up, Google Docs?

The Google Docs team announced preview versions today for the new Google document and spreadsheet editors. There is also a new standalone drawings editor. All of these were built with a larger focus towards speed and collaboration in mind.

With the document editor, Google has included the real-time editing experience you rely on in their spreadsheets. Now you can see changes the moment other collaborators make an edit. They’ve also included the sidebar chat feature from the spreadsheet side of things. You’ll be able to talk with others while you’re working on the document. Highly-requested features have now been added including better import/export capabilities, a new commenting system, real margins and tab stops and an improved image layout within your documents.

For spreadsheets, Google has created a back-end that helps your work load and run faster. “You’ll see significant speed and performance improvements — spreadsheets load faster, are more responsive and scroll more seamlessly.” Other new features include a formula bar to use when editing cells, auto-complete capability, drag-and-drop columns and easier navigation between sheets you’ve created.

The biggest news, of course, is the inclusion of a new collaborative drawing editor. The new tool lets you work in real time with others on things such as flow charts, designs and diagrams. You can copy your drawings into documents, spreadsheets or presentations using the web clipboard. You can also share or publish your drawings just like you do with other Google Docs you have created.

The drawings editor will be available later today, and preview versions of spreadsheets and documents will roll out to all individual users over the next few days. To try them out, click “New version” at the top of any spreadsheet or go to the ‘Document Settings’ page and select ‘New version of Google documents.’

These types of changes could mean an even larger share of the market for Google. Millions of us already use (and love) Google Docs. I have a feeling thousands more will jump into the fray and make this their preferred “document suite” of choice. Cloud Computing isn’t just a term that will soon disappear. It’s something very real – and very important. With so much of our lives spent online, working in the Cloud is nearly a necessity. Google Docs is just one way to get things done – whether you’re working from home or on the road.

What Technology of Today Will be Obsolete Tomorrow?

Earlier on Geeks, I read a thread someone had started asking what basic technology that we use today will not even be around in the future. The author lists such things as the keyboard and mouse, a land-line telephone, public Wi-Fi, and even operating systems! Wait, what? You don’t think operating systems will be around in the future? Well, you could be right, actually. With more and more computing being done in the Cloud, that’s something we may yet see in our lifetimes.

What pieces of everyday tech do you feel will become obsolete in the near future – or at least during your lifetime? It’ll be interesting to see everyone’s lists and reasoning, and to compare our thoughts. You can leave a follow-up comment here, or reply directing in the thread on Geeks.

Even on Halloween, we have some excellent deals (and freebies!) on various types of software and applications. You’ll find thing for your phone, even, so be sure to check them out.

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Is Your Head – or Your Computer – in the Cloud?

Everywhere you turn, there’s someone talking about Cloud Computing lately. Let’s face it – it’s a hot concept. However, there is a large difference of opinion as to what Cloud Computing even means, much as there is with “Web 2.0”. To some, Cloud Computing is simply another term for virtually anything you do on the Internet. To others, it’s more specifically virtual servers. It gets fuzzy when you try to nail down a full description of what Cloud Computing really is.

To me, Cloud Computing is simply anything I can do online, instead of having to rely on software on my computer. There are full applications available now that cover everything from picture editing to paper writing to handling your taxes… and it’s all done from within your browser. How much easier can it get to simply go to a website and do what you need to do, instead of having to buy and install software, make sure it’s compatible with your system and other software, launch the program every time… you get where I’m going. Cloud Computing, by my definition at least, just makes life so much simpler.

How do you define Cloud Computing, and what are your thoughts on the whole thing?

I keep a fairly close eye on the programs we feature every day on our downloads page. There are some excellent pieces of software there – even a few I found I can no longer live without!

This One Time, at Band Camp

This phrase is used all over the world, I think, and can have many different meanings. However, in the case of a thread on Geeks today, it means exactly what it says! The poster is asking who else was (or is) involved in band during high school. I was never in band, but my assistant Kat was. Not only that – she was also the marching band Drum Major for two years!

It’s been said that what happens at band camp stays at band camp. However, I’m curious. Do you have any stories you’re willing to share? Was it as awesome of an experience as people have claimed? Keep your comments/stories family friendly and clean, please! Remember our younger audience!

While you’re thinking up your story, or reliving your memories, make sure to check out what else our community has in store for you today.

How to Save Money with Online Backup Service Discounts


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When is the last time you backed up your important data? I’m talking about things that cannot be reinstalled. I know people who have never done it at all, because they simply don’t know how or where to do so! I’m about to tell you about a way you can do offsite backups easily. These guys wanted me to do a video about their services, but I wasn’t too keen on the idea. Until, that is, they offered up discounts for our community!

Both Spideroak and BackBlaze offer excellent, encrypted backup plans. Both are also offering you guys a nice 10% discount by ordering through my link! Nice, eh?

Spideroak offers a different approach to online backup and sharing. This difference is not only measured in the zero-knowledge privacy policy. It’s also found in the flexible design in handling your data from all platforms and locations into one centralized account. It doesn’t matter if you’re using Windows, OS X or Ubuntu. And it doesn’t matter if you’re uploading data from your computer, a USB drive or an external drive. It will all be stored in one easy-to-get-to location for you!

BackBlaze backs up your data online to their datacenters. Using military-grade security, files are encrypted on your PC, then sent and stored encrypted on their facility. You can restore from the web… or have a DVD or USB drive sent to you via FedEx! Now that is service.

So there you go. You absolutely should be backing up your data. Both of these options are an excellent resource, and now you can save money on them!

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Will we be Saying Goodbye to Windows any Time Soon?

Many people feel that Windows is coming to an end, and that any new operating system from Microsoft will be radically different. Still others vehemently deny this, and claim that it’s a “bunch of hooey”. I threw this question out to people on FriendFeed to see what they have to say.

Sounds like MS is going for cloud computing. – Tim via twhirl

This is all bullshit. Anyone who knows Windows and Microsoft well is laughing their asses off at these kinds of headlines. Just isn’t going to happen. At least not anytime in forseable future. – Robert Scoble

i like this nonsense, it’s like thinking of bread without flour – marcantonio severgnini

+1 @Scoble – sebmos

Windows has been closely associated and branded as THE operating system for all needs by MS. It has also become the main cash cow and generator of its revenues during the entire period of its existence. I don’t see how can MS shed off the Windows skin all that easily or in such a short time, especially considering that Vista is just out and it has "Windows" in front of its name. – Hayk Hakobyan

Any future successor "non-Windows" operating system will still be branded as Windows. Precedent is Windows NT. The Windows brand is too important to sideline. – Ian Fogg

These same speculations have been going on for years. Just because Microsoft is branching into developing another breed of OS doesn’t mean they are going to abandon Windows. – Amit Morson

@Ian – More your area than mine, but Windows is many things including a brand, a product, a paradigm, an architecture and a platform. MS might keep any combo of those five things, but you’re right – the brand is the appealing part. – Rob Sterling

"The Cloud" is simply a word for remote services – not a magical mystery future. The reality is that the personal workstation will in some form always be with us. There will always be advantages to having a local (non bandwidth limited) source of computing cycles to enhance the manipulation or presentation of data in a lot of tasks. That workstation will ALWAYS need an OS of some form. – Soulhuntre

Microsoft is aggressively evolving Windows so that it will be capable of supplying that part of the computing chain. Research projects are playgrounds for that. Those folks who claim that the "operating system is dead" are simply not looking at what they are saying from a systems point of view. They are using the term "Operating System" and "PC" to refer to a type of workstation use case… not a technology. – Soulhuntre

Didn’t it already "die" and "everything move online"…like…6 or 7 times already? Each time, people realize that there are places where the internet isn’t accessible, isn’t fast (relative to the desktop), and isn’t private enough. Not to say there isn’t a place for web services (obviously — we’re on one), but this whole "The desktop is dead! Dumb terminals for everyone!" hype is just pendulum swing nonsense. – Robert Fischer

Weather it happens or not is irrelevant Robert. It’s a plan B and a pretty good one imo 🙂 – DC Crowley

You guys are missing the point here. It’s about virtualization. Right now with free OSes like Linux you can bascially run as many computers as your hardware has memory to support on a single physical machine. There are lots of benefits to this. One being you can literally take your desktop from one computer to another. Window’s licensing won’t allow that. They need to come up with this lightweight OS with flexible licensing to compete. – Lindsay Donaghe

Will it get rid of Windows for most consumers and as the host OS for your machine? Probably not. But it will enable you to use Windows anywhere you want to as long as there’s a virtualization product installed that can run your VM. Ultimately they might end up getting more exposure through that since people will stop caring which OS runs on the hardware… just which OS runs on their personal VMs. – Lindsay Donaghe

Whatever apps don’t end up in the cloud in a few years will end up on your personal VMs. And you’ll be able to take those with you wherever you go (we’ve already got USB drives that are cheap and hold upwards of 16GB). It’s the future. – Lindsay Donaghe

I talked to Microsoft PR yesterday about this. This is an incubation project and will NOT replace Windows. Anyone remember Netdocs? That was supposed to replace Office, too, remember? – Robert Scoble

Just another roll of the dice in Redmond’s labs. – Bill Sodeman

Ina got it right. http://tinyurl.com/6xgqjnjeff

I don’t think it’s dice. It’s generally a good practice to build something from the ground up to learn what’s possible and then take those possibilities into an existing project. If you tried it against an existing codebase you get more "can’t do that" then "How can we make this work." I do it all the time, probably more then I should. – shawn

When PC’s started to become available we [old geeks] flocked away from the dumb terminal en masse. I don’t envision us going back there anytime soon. – Jody Carbone

Over the top headlines definitely get attention. Take note: anyone looking for hits might want to post an article called "Apple sees end of OS X era." There are sure to be some patents or dubious screenshots that you could use. – Loren Heiny

What do you think? Will (or should) Microsoft get completely away from Windows as we know it? Or should they stay with what they have in place, and improve upon it? What does the future of any operating system have in store, and what should we look for?