I received my Macbook back from the Apple Store last week after turning it in for warranty repair for strange intermittent slowdown problems. They replaced my “M42 BAttery Transfer Board Cli,” which apparently connects the CPU to the battery and electrical system. Hopefully this will remedy my problem! Since I had installed a new hard drive the week before, Apple returned the Macbook to me with my 3rd party hard drive uninstalled, but it was a snap to slide it back into place and boot everything up. I’m delighted to be back up and running with 250 GBs of storage, and hopefully my intermittent slowdown problem behind me.

I titled this post “The joy of data in the clouds” because cloud computing refers to a computing configuration where terminals are used and data is stored and accessed via online servers. I certainly DO still use files for presentations and other work which are saved to my local hard drive, but increasingly I find myself saving my work to the web– either to Google Docs or to my workshop wiki. My blog runs WordPress, which is web-based as well. By saving my work to the web in these ways, I am able to continue working with minimal disruptions on another workstation (in this case, my wife’s Macbook just temporarily) when my own computer is in for repairs. During these short times of using another computer, I find it very helpful to have access to a linked list of Macintosh applications I use regularly as well, since some of these needed to be installed on the temporary system I was using. It is also VERY handy to have a web-based list of host names, userids and passwords which I need for different applications.

Cloud-based computing. What I’m describing here does NOT precisely conform to that definition, but I am operationally getting closer to the ideal of “working on the network” for a large percentage of my computing day. While this is beneficial from an accessibility standpoint, it also makes me almost wholly dependent on Internet access– and relatively fast Internet access at that. This reminds me of a couple of days when I worked at the university and our Internet access was temporarily down for most of the day. The question my staff members and I seriously joked about was, “Is there any reason to be at work?” If our access to the web is down, how much of an impact does that have on the work, teaching and learning which we are able to do during the day?

I am increasingly relying on “the network” and taking access to it for granted in my everyday life, like water from the tap or oxygen in the air. As long as that access is available, there is “joy” in having my data “in the clouds.” 🙂

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4 Responses to The joy of data in the clouds

  1. Wes, this type of cloud computing is more like cloud back-up to me. I am in favor of off site back-ups and with the low cost of online storage and increasing upload speeds it makes sense and is more convenient to back-up online. I also use a wiki, blog, google docs, igoogle, twitter, facebook, and linkedin, as well as del.icio.us. More and more of my information is moving from local storage to online.

    I am becoming more and more dependent on being connected. This is wonderful as long as my local isp can maintain my connection.

  2. I’m wondering what the parallel is for past masters or even more modern authors who struggled alone or within small circles of friends to find the right words to bring their work to the stage when they felt right to publish it for the world to see. I guess the parallel would be if past authors stored copies of their work in several convenient locations for ready access: the local pub, a friend’s house, the university, maybe at a summer home. Work space under those or more contemporary circumstances becomes a movable feast. I guess the fear I have is associated with moving into a time where the entire record of human feeling and thought would be dependent on ephemeral repositories divorced from the authors who created them. Just a thought….

  3. I have been using GoogleDocs as a central working space, mostly because it allows teamwork to be transparently recorded and viewed. I use my local computer to back it up, in case the credit-crunch eats Google! Seriously, the dependency worry is offset nicely by the welcome chance to do something different when the net goes down. We lost connection for three days once and all kinds of creativity, reflection and bonding took place amongst my colleagues…

  4. Neil Winton says:

    It might be a worthwhile exercise for you to try Wakoopa.com

    This is an online site where you can keep tabs on your software use (including a nifty timer!). You can also see what others are using… Yes, it is a form of spyware, but it’s elective and useful!

    Neil W

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