Sometimes I notice things. Yeah, I’m clever that way. Compare and contrast. How are these things different? Sesame Street has got nothing on me.
I’ve been using Google’s Gmail web-based email for some time. (Even though I plan to dump it when I get off my ass for privacy reasons.) To support my anonymous blogging habit, though, I started using Microsoft’s Hotmail web-based email, too. I like keeping my real and fake worlds separate.
It wasn’t too long until I noticed a few subtle differences.
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This weekend I did something I should have done about one year ago when I got my new iMac. I dragged out an ethernet cable, hooked it up to the old PC running Windows XP, and began the arduous task of retrieving my data.
First I had to get the computers to talk to each other. I thought it will be a process like finding the other computer on the local network and clicking it and being prompted for a username and password. I figured the latter would be no big deal because I was the “administrator” on both of the computers.
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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!
This post is an abyss-style product review. What that means, of course, is that I’ll criticize a product I’ve never used, seen or touched.
When we last heard from the Windows Phone it was featured in a humorous ad campaign that promised to “save us from our phones.”
Well, how did it do?
The new ad campaign features people doing Important Things. In one commercial a parent is about to attend their child’s soccer game. In another a person is out clubbing.
In each case, however, before the people enjoy the real life activity at hand, they have to check their Windows Phone 7 to make sure all is well with the online world before engaging in some real life.
The clubbing commercial is particularly telling. Although the man is on a dance floor in a target-rich environment, he has to check his “Xbox LIVE” before he can even think about cutting a rug with the ladies. What is Xbox LIVE? It is merely the “unbeatable entertainment experience” for the Xbox 360. What is the Xbox 360? It’s a video game console made by Microsoft. I assume in the commercial the man must be keeping the unit under his shirt. Or maybe in his pants to improve his appeal the opposite sex and/or gender of his preference.
Yes, in the view of Microsoft, it would be normal for someone to go out on the dance floor and stop to check the status of their video game console before engaging with live human beings.
Maybe with the new Kinect live feature the man can put the phone in Kinect Live mode and dance with his video game system back home. No longer does dancing by yourself have to be embarrassing!
I have judged enough. I deem Microsoft’s promise of saving us from our phones to be an EPIC FAIL. At the end of the day Microsoft merely wants people doing more of the same with their electronic leashes. They merely prefer that it happens with their product rather than a competitor’s.
If Microsoft truly wanted to save us from our phones they’d invent a feature that tells the online world it will have to wait while we are out doing real stuff. They could call it an answering machine or something like that.
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.”
Still running Windows XP like me on my home computer? Read on and enjoy:
We’ve all heard about computer exploits and security dangers. Recently announced was a good one. It affects Microsoft Windows (of course) and get this: multiple versions of Windows including the shiny new Windows 7 and all versions back to Windows XP.
The exploit can run malicious code on your computer, and that’s not a good thing.
Microsoft previously announced that it has ended support for Windows XP SP2 so that means Microsoft won’t be issuing a security patch for you folks. Too bad, so sad.
For those with more recent operating systems, yes, Microsoft is willing to help you out. They’ll be releasing a patch in an upcoming Windows update.
The flaw is apparently pretty serious. One article says that experts are predicting “extensive attacks.”
If you’re curious about the term “zero day,” like I was, this is what I found out: A zero-day exploit is one that exists and is known and/or used my malicious hackers prior to the software developer being aware of the flaw. Once again Microsoft is caught with their pants down.
The top margin contained one line:
3/22/2010 – Print Full Page – MyRecipies
The bottom margin contains one line:
find.myrecipes.com/…/recipefinder.dyn?… – 2/2
In between those two margins? Nothing but wide open space, baby!
Wouldn’t it be nice if your operating system detected such situations and popped up a preview window? “You are about to waste a tree. Do you really want to print this page?”
“I’m a computer user held against my will in bondage and Macrocost Winblows Se7en was not my idea.”