All about cloud computing

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing is the management and provision of data and applications via the internet. In non technical jargon that basically means is that it is the storing your programs and documents on the internet, rather than on your computer.


What is an example of cloud computing?

If you watch the tv, you will probably have seen those adverts that promote laptops and phones which allow you to work anywhere because of the ability to store your data in the cloud.

This basically means that your device merely holds the operating system and sometimes the software. The date you access is stored on a server somewhere. This means that you can access your data from almost anywhere with multiple devices.

The good and the bad…

As with most things in life, cloud computing has positives and (you guessed it) negatives. Here is a list of the pros and the cons of cloud computing:

The Pros

  • Less hard disk space needed
  • Your computer runs much faster – like the Chromebooks are meant to (this is dependant on your internet connection)
  • You can access your data from anywhere at anytime
  • Most providers of cloud services, regularly backup your data, meaning if you loose some data or if they loose some, it shouldn’t be too hard to recover
  • Avoid costly hardware (and to some extent software) upgrades

The Cons

  • If your internet dies, you can’t access your data, and in the case of a Chromebook, you can’t even access your programs
  • Some security risks are removed (like if your PC is stolen, someone may steel your data too) but loads of new threats from corrupt employees, hackers etc. are born
  • The services (initially) probably won’t be as reliable as you would like them to be
  • Big brother is watching you! – every move you make online or in a cloud based application can be monitored by your provider
  • You need a really fast internet connection, both download and upload, to really feel the benefit of it – the problem is, most peoples download speed is really fast, but their upload speed is rubbish!

Where is cloud computing data stored?

Good question – presumably not in the clouds! Applications, data etc. would be stored in server farms. Server farms are massive, usually very cool (air conditioned to increase machine performance and to prevent overheating) areas, full of loads of server towers.

Server Room

A Server Room in a Server Farm

Google, Facebook and similar massive sites generally have their own server farms, which they often store underground, and they make sure that they are very well connected!

What’s your opinion on cloud computing? Is it the way of the future, or will it do more harm than good?

Could you be a net champion?

Did you know around 9 million people in the UK have never used the internet?

That is why, this week the UK government announced that it has 100,000 people volunteering to be net champions.

What is a net champion?

A net champion is someone who helps someone else get online.

Who are the current net champions?

Many of the current volunteers are Scouts, Post Office workers and librarians.

Scouts 'be prepared' logoWhy try to help people get online

People in low income households save around £270 per year, just from being online. These savings may come via using tools like Skype, having the ability to shop around more, or by switching to better deals online.

The thing is many people, especially the elderly don’t realise this. Therefore helping and educating them should increase their ability to save money, and will hopefully also enrich their lives via using things like social media.

What if you don’t have a computer?

Some firms, including Microsoft have made available a range of cheap computers. These  low-priced ‘recycled’ PCs will be available from about £95.

The UK Prime Minister, David Cameron has backed the campaign. From what I have heard and read about it, it seems like a good idea to me too. What do you think, should we encourage more people onto the net, especially the elderly, or would they make the net a more dangerous place?

Would you consider volunteering?

A range of cheap computers is being made available to further entice them.The low-price recycled PCs will be available from Microsoft, among others, for about £95. 

Is technology taking over your life?

Blogs.

Tweets.

Feeds.

Not too long ago if you had told someone that you spent a good chunk of your spare time with these things, they wouldn’t have had a clue what you were talking about.

As citizens of the new virtual landscape, we are pioneering new technologies at what seems like lightning speed.

It’s Hard To Fly Underwater

The ancient Greeks tell the story of Daedalus and his son Icarus. Trapped on the island of Crete (home the vicious and anatomically incorrect Minotaur), Daedalus skilfully crafted two sets of wings for him and his son thus enabling them to fly away off the island in an impressive escape.

But as they made their getaway, Icarus started to become quite enamoured with this new gift of flight. He flew higher and higher, closer and closer to the sun…

You know the story.

I think this parable could very easily be about our modern relationship with technology. Please, don’t get me wrong. I’m not against technology at all.

In fact, I’m madly in love with it. The new tools available to us today would have been unthinkable in any other period in history. It’s exhilarating to say the least.

But as we integrate more of these “tools” into our life, venturing deeper and deeper into the unknown, we have to realize we are taking a risk. We are flying higher without checking to look at the state of our wings.

Technology wants more and more of our limited time and resources. And as if right on cue, we keep on flying higher and higher, oblivious the wax melting all around us.

No one knew Twitter could spark a democratic revolution.

No one knew that blogs could provide news better and faster than traditional media outlets.

But no one knew either just how heavily addicted to and reliant on the internet we could become. No one knew that World of Warcraft could cost you your job or your marriage. No one knew that without warning their self-esteem could become dependent on how many anonymous “subscribers” or “page hits” they receive on a given day.

Who could have known?

I’m not here to bash technology. (This is after all, a pro-technology blog is it not?) But what I’d like to say is that in our adoption and usage of technology, new and old, we should be careful not to fly too high.

I wont pretend to have all the answers, but here are some guidelines to enjoy a smooth flight away from the evil Minotaur of the interwebs.

Take A Time-Out

Have you ever counted just how many hours you spend online?

Give your self a time-out every once in a while. My wife and I do our very best to be completely done with our computers by 9 pm every night so that we can actually spend some time together.

It’s shocking how hard that can be sometimes. But it’s amazing how much you can think of to do when you’re not on your computer.

Prioritize, Then Move On

Read only the blogs you want to read. Remove the bookmarks and feeds that aren’t quite contributing to where you want to go.

If you have too many sites and social media services in your diet, you are overfeeding yourself. Your body won’t be able to digest it all and it will start to make you sick, depressed, and lonely.

Figure out what is actually important to you and then swiftly and deliberately cut out all the rest. Do online what you came there to do and then move on to something else.

Discover Your Inner Chimp

Humans are social animals. The internet is a great playground, but it’s not always the ideal place to foster healthy and deep relationships.

We are genetically predisposed to want to interact with other human beings. Did I say want? I meant need.

An avatar will not provide the same warmth and connection as another person in the flesh. Find real live human beings in your neighbourhood to play with. I promise you they are more fun and they will (almost always) respond to your comments.

I’m no psychologist but the place where I find deepest and most lasting fulfilment? Yep, it’s offline.

Get Sober

About a month ago, I realized something was wrong. After about a year and half of being a die hard fan of Netflix, I realized that the amazing miracle of streaming movies and television had taken hold of me.

I was watching more than I planned to. It was keeping me up later than I wanted it to. And all of a sudden, it was hurting more than helping.

I love Netflix and think it’s a wonderful company. But it was time for it to go. I had to break the spell it had over me.

You see, I had a goal of reading more books and to improve my writing. But without sacrificing a few episodes of Burn Notice, this blog post would never have been written.

Find out what technological “tool” has a hold over you. Examine where your bigger goals are not matching up with your daily technology habits. Then get some freedom. Sober up.

It’ll be hard but it’s worth it.

Spread Your Wings

So what’s the big take away? Make sure that these new wings of yours are flapping for you.

Or in other words:

Make sure technology is your slave.

Otherwise you might unknowingly become its slave.

And if you are a slave to technology, the only place that will lead… is down.

Happy flying!