It was Sunday morning. I was sitting on the sofa with my wife. She was trying to open an “eCard” and watching a spinning animation instead. I was trying to access a website and getting a spinning animation, too.
It wasn’t the internet connection. It was that technology is shitty.
How sad is this? I thought as we sat there clicking refresh umpteen times. This is the world that technology has promised.
Futuristic togetherness. Watching. Waiting. Together. Forever.
This is one of those topics on which I harp on from time to time. And by “harp” I pretty much mean the instrument my family members must be playing up in Heaven. Right after they accidentally burned down the family tree with a carelessly discarded lit cigarette.
Apparently I’m the proverbial apple that fell far from the tree. Or, in Taker family terms, I’m a mutant. Ironically, at least in this context, I’m a dying breed. You see, I don’t smoke and I never have.
I grew up in the “typical” American family. Our core family unit consisted of mom, dad, a sister, myself and 2.3 cats. Assuming the smoking rate back then, the math is already amazing. For simplicity’s sake we’ll say the odds of an adult smoking were one-in-three back when I was a youngling. Based on that, the odds of me being the only non-smoker in a family of four was about 1 in 27.
But wait, the fun doesn’t stop there. My sister had some children. 4 out of 4 of them are smokers. I had a son. He’s a smoker. My wife had a son. He’s a smoker. My son just announced his pending nuptials on Facebook. Nearby was a picture of the lucky couple. Both were proudly holding cigarettes.
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It’s been about eight months since we moved to the big, big city of Portland, Oregon. The snow storm was fun. Sure, it wasn’t the 50′ of being buried alive of my dreams, but it was cute. We spent seven cozy days “trapped” in our home.
Then came the wind.
Last night the wind mercilessly ravaged our house. As much as I’m loathe to consider any weather-related thought, it finally crossed my mind: Jeez, when is the wind going to die down?
Sure, I enjoy as much as the next person finding my garbage cans tossed about and the contents strewn about the neighborhood. Who doesn’t? But even that can eventually get old.
What gives? Is this typical for Rip City? Or is it something new, perhaps a harbinger of doom?
I’m betting on the latter. Take off your helmet, stay awhile and listen. Lend me your ears because I’ve got some of the indigenous lifeforms ready to help us bore down into the story.
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Today I offer two photographs for your consideration. Two shots from Takerville that prove the End Times are nigh upon us. Shot one is entitled Invading Cloud and the other is called Colorful Death Ray.
Don’t look unless you are mentally prepared to deal with the ramifications. The rest of you can keep your heads buried in the sand like always.
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give up (power or territory)
Here’s your first clue about what you need to know about the so-called Cloud. They want it, they want you using it, they want you relying on it, and they want you paying for it. And they want it bad.
That’s pretty much all you need to know.
If you need more, consider this. Potentially tens of thousands of Gmail users were affected earlier this week when they lost their emails stored in The Cloud. Google said the outage was caused be a “faulty software update.”
Restoration of lost emails took a bit of extra time because Google had to use an old-fashioned tape backup. It seems that even though several electronic copies of emails are made, they were also wiped out by the glitch. Luckily there were also tape backups that were unaffected by the glitch since they were stored offline.
From the Wall Street Journal:
This is a black eye for companies like Google, which is actively trying to convince businesses and governments to switch their on-premise email systems to online services, which it promotes as less expensive and more reliable. In a blog post a year ago, Google boasted about how its Google Apps customers don’t need to worry about protecting their data. “They get best-in-class disaster recovery for free, no matter their size.”
So what is this so-called “cloud?” Basically it mans your applications and/or data are stored on remote servers on the internet. As opposed to your applications and/or data being stored physically on your own computer.
As with most things in computing (and life) there are pros and cons to the scheme.
The pros include things like accessibility and data security. On the cloud you can access your stuff from most any computer in the world. Want to check your email while at the airport? No problem. Listen to your music library while out of the home? That’s possible, too. And the services that perform these functions usually do things like automatically backup your data, too. They maintain all equipment and perform sofware updates, too.
The cons are not that trivial, despite what they want you to believe. What if your internet connection goes sideways? As long as it’s out you have no access to anything. It is extremely frustrating when I try to access something on the cloud and it doesn’t work. It is a very helpless feeling. Is the problem my computer? The operating system? The browser? The ISP? The internet routing? The application server? Good luck figuring that out. Meanwhile you just sits.
Another con is privacy. Sure, we can trust companies like Google with our emails, but the point is, they have the access. They can literally do what they want. Companies in the cloud have buried in their terms clauses that give them the right to share your data to trusted third parties and “partners.” And every once in a while there are stories in the news about renegade employees with access to data who did something they shouldn’t. Or companies may change policies and do things with our data that we don’t want. Or hackers can get in and steal our information. The larger the database the more attractive the target to hackers.
Recently I’ve been noticing another element of the cloud that has been causing me frustration. This is the distributed nature of most everything on the internet.
When you load a typical web page, what do you see? It might look like a page hosted on your favorite service, like WordPress, but in reality pieces of that page may be served from other locations. Big web sites distribute load to other servers. They might have one server for web pages, another for images, another for applications, and another for databases. The architecture is such that each server may be protected by its own physical firewall. (Depending on the size of the web site.)
It’s also common for cookies and other little applications, like advertising, to be originate from servers that are remote to the page you are viewing.
I actually experienced this yesterday. WordPress pages were working but there was some stange and undefinable problem on the internet that prevented Gravatar images from loading. Some of those distributed remote pieces weren’t working for me.
So when the internet gets goofy, you may only partially be able to surf, and all of the distributed pieces might not work and everything will look wonky.
If I remember correctly, Microsoft was a visionary when it came to the cloud, although I don’t think they called it that back then. What Microsoft wanted was your applications, like Word and Excel, hosted on the internet. No longer would you have to buy and install these applications on your own computer. Instead you’d sign up and use the applications as a service. With a monthly fee, of course. In the end, Microsoft would stand to make a lot more money than by merely having customers pay for a one-time purchase of software.
“Microsoft applications” would then become just another item in your monthly budget. Gas, phone, electric, water, and oh yeah, Microsoft. “Honey? Did we pay the Microsoft Word bill this month, yet?”
Here I am already hip deep in the cloud. In addition to Gmail there is also Google Docs, Dropbox, Toggl and more.
Gmail is a free service. Which begs the question: Who is the “customer?” I bet it’s not you, the humble user. Nope, the true customer of Gmail is the advertisers. They pay the bills. In fact, does Google make any guarantees or warranties at all about the service to the end user? I just read their terms and I couldn’t find anything about. I did notice, however, these little tidbits:
YOU EXPRESSLY UNDERSTAND AND AGREE THAT YOUR USE OF THE SERVICES IS AT YOUR SOLE RISK AND THAT THE SERVICES ARE PROVIDED “AS IS” AND “AS AVAILABLE.”
IN PARTICULAR, GOOGLE, ITS SUBSIDIARIES AND AFFILIATES, AND ITS LICENSORS DO NOT REPRESENT OR WARRANT TO YOU THAT DEFECTS IN THE OPERATION OR FUNCTIONALITY OF ANY SOFTWARE PROVIDED TO YOU AS PART OF THE SERVICES WILL BE CORRECTED.
Source: Google Terms of Service (linked from this page)
Doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy about trusting the cloud with years of your email data? In other words, Google is saying, “We don’t have to fix anything if we don’t want to.” Sure, this time they will fix the Gmail outage in the name of good public relations. Especially because they want you to buy into the cloud more and more. But what if it was something they couldn’t fix? Google would then say, “Too bad, so sad. What? Didn’t you have a backup? You have gots to have a backup!”
Look now who’s running a TV campaign promoting the cloud? Yep. Microsoft. To bring this back full circle, just remember two things: Who wants this and how bad do they want it?
Isn’t that really all you need to know about how good the cloud will really be for you?
To the cloud!
Live blogging is the act of writing, blogging and/or tweeting about events happening in real-time and as they happen.
Therefore, the logical extension of that definition is when real-time blogging is delayed, it must be dead. This is sure to be a hit with procrastinators like me. Blawg ya laterz! Rawr!
Without further ado, here is my dead blogging feed from day one of jury duty:
7:40am – The luxurious juror parking lot is blocks away from the Courthouse. After walking several blocks we finally pass by the lot where the judges, attorneys and staff get to park.
7:45 – Trudging up the steps to the Courthouse. Why do Courthouses always have to be higher than every other building in sight? I think it’s about justice and equality, with the Courthouse being just a bit more “equal” than everywhere else.
7:46 – Four human bodies can’t fit in the doorway at the same time. Noted.
7:47 – Handed a clipboard by a perky and very nice looking – OMFG!!! Turd buckets!!! Look at the size of that fucking form!
7:49 – Trying to write on my lap since no surface is provided.
7:51 – Analyzing the section about what to do if your employer offers jury duty pay. Does not compute. Where’s the checkbox for “The douchenozzle hates freedom?”
7:52 – Trying to grapple with an essay question regarding my feelings towards alcohol. Wondering if I’ll get in trouble for writing, “Hells, yeah!”
8:05 – Wondering if the world would come to an end if orientation actually started on time.
8:08 – Being told by the jury coordinator that today is going to be more “chaotic” than normal and that the room isn’t big enough to hold us all so we’ll have to “snuggle up” with our neighbor. Of course my “neighbor” is already touching me and, for bonus, has a lovely “I just threw up” smell.
8:20 – Jury instructions consist of 30 seconds of useful information and 19 minutes and 30 seconds of trying to convince me to give up the whopping $10 a day I’m earning for going a day without work. The word “donate” is being bandied about. The phrase “cold dead fingers” leaps unbidden to my cerebral cortex. I squirm in my uncomfortable chair and glare at the jury assistant.
8:21 to 8:41 – The video. ‘Nuff said. Can’t … speak … must … hang … on.
8:45 – Here comes da judge! What? A stand up routine? Ok. Perhaps this will be fun after all.
8:47 – Fuck. Now the judge is all serious and shit.
9:00 – The jury assistant is explaining more rules. No phones, no guns, no knives, and, this is a verbatim quote, “no blogging.”
9:01 to 9:06 – More stuff about important juror concerns like parking and weapons.
9:07 – There will be a slight delay as staff disappears to figure out what the hell might happen today. Apparently today is especially wonky.
9:08 – Now we’re being told what restrooms we can use. I want my mommy!
9:09 – They have commenced with the reading of The Long List of Numbers. This, of course, has been scientifically proven to put jurors into an “unbiased” state.
9:17 – Sardines swim towards a small opening known as The Door. I hate everyone.
9:19 – Now I know why I hate “The Cloud.” I’m at the rear edge of a human-puffed mushroom cloud. Why am I the only non-smoker in a four-block radius?
9:30 – Finally! I’m safely at someplace where I can relax and have some fun. Work! (Now I know I’m sick.)
4:45 to 4:50pm – Calling the automated hotline. It takes them five whopping minutes to get to my number. I’m on deck for tomorrow.
Stay tuned for more dead blogging entries mere hours and days after they actually happened…
Apparently “Project Natal” has a name now. Microsoft is calling it the Kinect.
For the scariest possible Halloween I plan to dress up as a “Kinect” this year. (I just peed myself.)
Here are my predictions: This is one of the dumbest devices ever conceived. Therefore, of course, the public will gobble it up like lambs led to the slaughter.
The last thing I want to do while video gaming is stand up, much less jerk around like a drunken fool. This is one bad, bad idea.
Microsoft has forgotten one of the most important core principles about video gaming: It’s about sitting on your lazy ass as much as humanly possible.
Fail, fail, fail, fail, fail, and FAIL!
I just can’t wait to do this shit in the fucking “cloud.”