Aztext Press

Life Off-the-Grid

Puff the Magic Dragon… Meet Cloud Computing

By Cam Mather

What are people smoking when they think about using “The Cloud” for their computing? Really? Am I the only one who sees how this is going to end? My guess is that it will all end in tears.

“Cloud” computing is the concept that you use other people’s servers and do all, yes “ALL” of your computing on their computers. You store everything on THEIR computers. It’s the new big thing and it proves to me that our species is doomed.

Let me get this straight. You want me to give up all control of my software and data to you, and store everything on your computers. Why would I do this? Well, it’s cheaper. The provider does all of the hard stuff. They keep everything upgraded and they pay for all the electricity in their warehouses full of servers. It allows businesses using “the cloud” to cut back on their IT Departments. I think any business that does this is asking for a compost heap full of problems.

Why would anyone give up control of his or her data, especially a business? Now to a certain degree many already do, by having other companies host their websites. The company that hosts our business website has multiple server facilities where they have back ups of our website. So if somebody on a backhoe cuts a major cable in New York, or wherever the current server is that runs our website, they switch to another server bank that mirror backups our site so it should keep going. As companies become more and more dependent on their websites it can be a catastrophe if their website is down for an extended period of time. It’s one of things I remember about the movie “The Social Network” where Mark Zuckerberg is so paranoid about “The Facebook” ever going off line. Because if they do, people will jump to competing services. Ah, customer loyalty in the age of the internet.

But we keep a backup of our website here and if we ever had to restore it, we, with the help of our web guy Jaeson, could do it. When it comes to completely giving up control of my accounting and computing to an outside service though … no thanks.

We use “Gmail” as a backup to our email program Eudora. I have my emails forwarded to my Gmail account for those times when I am having problems with the server that administers my Eudora accounts. Eudora saves all of my emails, ingoing and outgoing, on my computer. Lots of people have said to me “Why do you use Eudora, when Gmail is free and you don’t need to store all of your emails on your hard drive?”

Well here’s why. Recently on Huffington Post there was an article entitled “Gmail Users Report All Emails Disappear.”

This might just be internet chat, and the emails might have been restored, or they may be gone, but it confirmed to me to that giving up control of this stuff to someone else is not a good idea.

But then again, I’m not a big fan of giving up control in other aspects of my life either. I make my own energy from the sun and wind, and I grow my own food. I heat with wood I cut from my own property. I depend on some gasoline to do that, but I have a back up plan that would allow me to heat even if I couldn’t get gas for my chainsaw. It would be a lot more work, but by the time gasoline is hard to come by, I think growing our own food and staying warm will be how most of us spend our time so it won’t be a problem. In fact it will be a welcome relief to me.

This technology-based world has burned me out. We want to provide more of our books electronically, so I’ve just upgraded my Adobe Creative Suite to version 5, and I went with the Premium version which includes Flash Catalyst and Dreamweaver so I can do more with the website. I started working with computers in 1982, almost 30 years ago and I have to tell you, I’m not enthused about learning all this software. Of course they’ve even changed the software programs that I am familiar with! I know using your brain is what keeps Alzheimer’s away, but frankly, the complexity of everything gives me a headache. A few years ago we invested a couple of thousand dollars in Final Cut Pro, which is basically like having a million dollar video editing suite on your computer. I invested many hours in learning it and now we produce our own DVDs. But all this technology is a young man’s game and I’m rapidly burning out on it.

I just want to grow potatoes and garlic and fill up my root cellar every fall and read novels all winter when I’m not cutting my firewood. But it doesn’t matter how old I get, I will not rely on someone else for my power, and my heat and my food. And I will never, ever, give up control of my computing to some guy floating around on a cloud. I’m confident they don’t want misanthropes like me on the cloud anyway, and I’m pretty comfortable with that.



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