Hey, you! Get off of my cloud.

October 1, 2009 by

Hey, you! Get off of my cloud. Don’t hang around, baby, two’s a crowd… ~The Rolling Stones

9.21.09 Though I generally consider myself a cautious realist, it seems that when it comes to the hurricane of new technology that has swept the world in the last few decades, I am a down right cynic. Though I cannot and do not wish to deny the marvelous benefits of these technologies, I also cannot put aside my feelings of unease when it comes to the side effects of cloud computing. I am as guilty as the next college student of wasting away countless hours on Facebook, Hulu, and YouTube. I enjoy the benefits of GoogleDocs and my school’s Blackboard system. But at the end of the day, these very services are leading to an unfortunate phenomenon that I like to call the Diva Bubble.

The Diva Bubble places two basic constraints on the average occupant: the first is the over-personalization of media and entertainment, mentioned in Nicholas Carr’s article, The Big Switch, and the second is the inability to focus on other people. To break this down, because of the rise of cloud computing, more online services are available to more people. These services are entrapping us in only the news we want, keeping us in contact with all the friends we want, allowing us to post countless blogs about whatever subjects we want, and giving us hundreds of other choices that are distancing us from what we find distasteful. If all you find distasteful is ugly clothes and brussels sprouts, this might not be a big deal. If however, you find genocide, national debt, and global warming distasteful, you’ll likely choose to ignore these and focus on pleasanter things (like brussels sprouts).

Due to cloud computing, the majority of computer users have access to Facebook and Twitter. These sites allow a user to enlighten his friends about anything going on in his life. He can update it once a year or once a minute. He can talk about the War in Iraq or the consistency of his spaghetti sauce. Whatever he wants to comment on, he can blast to an entire network of people with one click. In a closely related vein, GoogleBlogSpot allows the user to write thousands and thousands of words on thousands and thousands of topics. While very useful for the spread of knowledge, what the users of these sites often fail to recognize is that not all knowledge needs to be spread.

Once the privilege of publishing a book of poems or hanging a masterpiece painting in the Louvre was reserved for the truly gifted. Now, anyone can write a 2,000 word blog on the color of his couch and, when he gets 15 replies to his post, feel every bit as special as George Orwell when Time chose his novel Animal Farm as one of the 100 best English novels of the 20th Century. The same goes for the teenager who wants to feel like John Lennon, so he messes around on GarageBand for half an hour and then posts his music to his MySpace page. While hyperbolical, this idea shows the dangers of entering the Diva Bubble. It is disheartening to think that because of the opening up of public space to so many “artisans”, we might perhaps be missing out on the next Picasso or Shakespeare.

Everyone has something to share, and it is important for individuals to feel valued by their peers. However, some corner of the world must still be reserved for truly special human achievements. After all, if everyone is special and unique, no one will have time or energy to pay attention to all the other special and unique people in the world.

On Cloud 9

October 1, 2009 by

So until about 2 weeks ago if you had asked me what cloud computing was I would have said it’s where the gods go to get on the internet.   And I would have been completely wrong.  Cloud computing is a nice easy way to store information online and use servers without actually having any of that.  Obviously, I had no idea what I was talking about.  Until I started my computer science class 5 weeks ago, any technology jargon I would have tried to make some silly pun out of.  I don’t know too much about it.  But I am learning…

So the cool thing about cloud computing is that there is basically in infinite amount of space for you to store all of you information and then someone else manages it.  If only we had that for the rest of our lives, right?  To be honest, if you asked me about the nuances of the technology all you would get is a blank stare.  I think that the concept is great.  It allows for companies to focus on their websites and their applications and not on spikes in usage and where they are going to actually keep all of their information.  To be honest, that doesnt apply to me, a a student of art history, so I don’t find it terribly interesting, but I get it.

What does fascinate me is the fact I had been using websites that are part of the cloud and didn’t even know it.  Like facebook.  Think about how many people are signed on at any given time.  Millions, right?  And all the photos stored on the website, not to mention the thousands of other applications you can download.  And how about YouTube.  All of those videos in one place for us to find.  Most of the world is part of the cloud in some form or another, whether it is through employing a cloud to manage your website or using a website that is managed by a cloud computing system.  The whole word seems to have its head in the clouds (even if they don’t know it yet)!

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have a “Big Switch” Upon Us

October 1, 2009 by

Our means of receiving software has changed so much over the years. A literal big switch would look a lot like the one above. We have gone from getting into our cars and driving to the nearest Best Buy to bring home a new copy of Microsoft Office to having the means necessary to get any software we need with our greasy hands and a computer. A parallel made by Nicholas Carr, author of The Big Switch, is one of power production. In the olden days, people used waterwheels, windmills, and even their own muscles to produce power. Nowadays, our good friend Electricity does everything we need, thanks to Thomas Edison. It really does make a lot of sense, though. I mean, hobbling into a car and drive a few miles is no big chore compared to operating a steam engine some other physical way to produce a product, but the analogy fits. It could sound absurd but that is because the current generation has never seen life without light switches and computers. Plus, the way in which electricty is produced is a much less vague topic than the various ways to obtain software.

Has this big switch desensitized America? Are we no longer human because we would rather find the exact, most relevant answer to our questions in seconds instead of flipping through a 3000 page book? I think not. Just as the people of past generations have learned to do things such as “Tweet” or “determine the speed of their wireless access point”, this generation will learn to live the way we always as more or less, and take our fast download speeds with us.

Cloud Computing in a Nutshell

October 1, 2009 by

“Cloud Computing Will Be As Influential As E-Business” -Gartner

Cloud Computing is a hot term among techies across the world. One can hardly flip through a Wired magazine or even watch Jimmy Fallon’s late night show without catching word of all the neat benefits of “the cloud”. However, Cloud Computing has “pulled a global warming” on America: most are aware of its existence without having much knowledge of what the catchy title actually entails. A web phenomenon that continues to grow every day (with the help of major website such as Facebook and Youtube), it can be beneficial to understand the term. As a quick and easy icebreaker to the potentially arduous topic, check out this video for a basic rundown of Cloud Computing:

As the young man in the video explains, there are two major benefits to Cloud Computing. So let’s just get right into it, shall we?

1. Cloud Computing allows users to access web sites from any device. But I lie: it it limited to web sites… kind of. In all actuality, one can access anything served up in the cloud from any device that has web access. Sounds simple, right?

As an example, take the Google Android phone:

Sexy, I know. The Android is a great device to explain cloud computing. Out of the box, with a web access plan, the Android walks you through a series of menus which, when finished, allows for many very useful aspects of cloud computing. Within minutes, users can access their email, download applications, and visits web pages easily. So there you have it: one facet of cloud computing that you have invariably already used.

2. Cloud Computing reduces the cost for web developers and entrepreneurs because back in the day all web content was put on physical servers that you would have to handle personally. Naturally, a quick gain in popularity would lead to web developers having to run out and buy various other servers to support all of their new found users. With cloud computing, one has the ability to claim a piece of a cloud and release a piece of the cloud instantly. No wires and no boxes, just a few browser clicks and you’re there. Essentially, it is possible to scale up your server space on a whim. This leaves web developers, specifically those not extremely well versed in technology, to focus more time and energy on their website, as opposed to server space.

If you were to describe cloud computing in two very important words, they would be “instant” and “scalability”

So there you have it: Cloud Computing in  nutshell.

The Right Switch

October 1, 2009 by

     Computers are fairly important to me. I wouldn’t say that I use them any more than most other people, and I definitely wouldn’t say that I know anything more about them than the average person. However, it seems that I’ve been depending more and more on my computer to do everyday work. More specifically, the using the internet has become quite a daily routine. I use the web for everything from staying in contact with friends to buying school books. This is what made the article “The Big Switch,” by Nicholas Carr, so interesting to me. When I was younger, all I would use were hard copies of programs and games. Nowadays, I barely ever use the computer itself to do these things. Most games are now played on the internet, as well as almost any application you would need for schoolwork or work in general. Therefore, I found it very interesting when Carr said the following:

Now that they’ve been connected with fiber optic cables, all the machines hooked up to the Net are merging together into one giant, incredibly powerful computer – the World Wide Computer. Our own personal PCs, not to mention our cell phones and gaming consoles, are turning into terminals hooked up to that big shared computer. They get most of their power and usefulness from all the software and information that’s floating around out on the Net.

As I said earlier, most of my computer usage is through the internet, which means that I have been experiencing the big switch without even noticing it. 

     I think that this ‘Big Switch’ is definitely a good thing overall. Because everything is available online, there is no need to run out to the store every time you need to use a new application or program. This makes information much more accessible, meaning that instead of running out to buy the newest version of software to install on your computer, you can download it straight from a website. This also makes the need to buy newer versions of software obsolete. One aspect of the big switch that I didn’t predict, however, is the loss of many middle-class jobs. The workers who would be hit the hardest would be the computer technicians and any other people who worked on the computer itself. Some of these jobs could be allocated to work on something concerning the new mass of information on the internet, or the ‘World Wide Computer.’ Technicians would be needed to protect this information and to make sure that everything was running smoothly, but there would still be a large amount of people out of work. 

Despite the loss of jobs, I see the ‘Big Switch’ as a good thing. Without needing to run applications off of the computer itself, the process of using computer applications would become much easier and much more accessible. As far as I’m concerned, anything that allows me to deal with computer software less is a good thing.

Cloud Computing to the max!

October 1, 2009 by

Before taking my computer science class, I had never heard of anything concerning cloud computing. That is, I had never thought I knew anything about it. It turns out that I use something working off of a cloud every day. Every time I’ve ever signed on to Facebook or watched a Youtube video, I’ve benefited from the cloud. After learning a bit more about it and how it works, I believe that cloud computing is one of the better ideas in the computer world. The main benefit I see from working with a cloud is that it would be much easier to start a successful online business. Instead of needing to invest a fortune in servers and bandwidth storage, one can use the resources within the cloud to handle almost all of the processes involved in the running of a business. For example, the application based out of New York called Animoto had doubts about whether or not they had enough space, servers, or other resources to successfully run their business. After looking into cloud computing services based out of Amazon, however, they found that they could use as much bandwidth and as many servers as necessary. In fact, during one of their biggest peaks in usage, Animoto didn’t have to buy a single server. This shows just how versatile the cloud can actually be.

     The other main benefit that I see coming from cloud computing is that it’s possible to run many useful applications using the cloud. Websites like Facebook, Wikipedia, and even USF’s blackboard program are all examples of cloud computing at work. Instead of needing to buy extra memory for a computer, you are able to store anything necessary in the cloud. It is also convenient because you don’t necessarily need to worry as much about the security of your information. Instead of buying expensive external hard drives, all of your data is stored via the cloud. If cloud computing continues to progress as it is now, there’s no telling what could be in store for us next.

For those still confused as to exactly what cloud computing is, I found that this video explained it pretty well.

Living in the Cloud

September 29, 2009 by

The idea of cloud computing is very different from most forms of computing because it takes one of the main parts of a computer and throws it out the window. What I mean is that the hard drives that are found in today’s computers could be gone tomorrow and replaced with small drives once again. I have a two terabyte hard drive for storage of all my data. Cloud commuting would eliminate the need for this and I would only need enough space to hold my OS and a few gigs of RAM.
Cloud computing would take all of my data and allow it to be accessible from anyplace with an Internet connection. Now this would be great but our current info structure that brings us our connection to the web will need to be drastically changed before cloud computing can ever have a chance of making it in the mainstream.

In the United States high-speed Internet companies charge extremely high rates for what is comparable to slow speeds in other countries. On top of this, they are currently trying to cap our services, so that they could charge us more if we go over this cap and one such company that is planning to do this is Comcast. Comcast has decided to place a 250 gigabyte a month cap on all users service. Further more I feel that in order for cloud computing to work we need to be able to be connected wherever we go. Currently technologies such as 3G-cell service cards are regulated even more heavily then our broadband. Once you use your 5gigs of bandwidth you will be charged extremely high rates. Ultimately before we can embrace cloud computing we need to fix our connection to the Internet.

the clouds are looking mighty fine

September 28, 2009 by

You may be familiar with cloud computing but you just didn’t know it. Google apps such as Gmail and Google Docs are taking advantage of the infinite storage possibilities that are presented by the cloud. The cloud makes life a lot easier for an individual user like me or for a small company that needs someone else to take care of the storage space that they may need to be able to run their products (such as, Animoto, Twitter). Last year I was able to take advantage of the cloud’s benefits. My class partner and I were working on USF’s Wikipedia page for our final project. We had to edit a section of USF’s page but because our schedules were hectic, it was difficult to meet and collaborate on the changes we wanted to make. But Google Docs allowed us to have a document online with the information we wanted to present and be able to edit it. Now, we didn’t have to worry about being in the same place at the same time. The cloud is definitely taking off and it’s pretty awesome.

Up in the Clouds

September 24, 2009 by

“Cloud computing” is definitely a new term in my vocabulary.  The other day when I was explaining cloud computing to my friend she was a bit impressed.  She thought that it was one of those rarefied concepts that only IT professionals know.  Which is kind of true because I don’t know anyone outside my computer science class that knows the term.  And yet, every internet user engages in this new concept.  It is one of those blind things that humans tend to do without knowing what it is called because cloud computing is something that happens behind the scenes.  That is unless someone tries to do business or applications with this.  When someone begins using the cloud they notice some beneficial characteristics of the cloud like: scalability, reliability, sustainability, security, and, especially, the low cost.

In this article the pros and cons of cloud computing are noted.  In addition to the cons, I would like to ask: What would happen if one day the cloud disintegrated into thin air?  All of the files uploaded, all of the service provided to internet users would be erased.  This would be a technological apocalypse.

Technology=Stress!

September 24, 2009 by

I can share Carrs pessimistic view on his topic, The Big Switch.  I do see how much more complication this advancement in technology is putting in our lives.  We will no longer resort to the simple way of receiving information through observing one another, through reading an article, through conversing with our neighbour.  We now have the opportunity in using so many resources.  In a way this is really good.  We can now become a more informed public.  Not only is it cheaper, but we can also shape our searches better to our likings.  Despite all of this however, complexity in the long run only adds stress.

I went online and found an article that talks about “technostress”.  I agreed on one statement that the writer said:

“Because technology lets us do so much, today we take on too much and end up feeling overwhelmed and never finished. We feel invaded by technology on all fronts, by the beeps of our pagers, cell phones, incoming faxes and those of others around us. We tote our laptops on vacation and our bosses expect us to carry sky pagers. Our personal and work boundaries are blurred and we never feel true “down time” any more.”

In Leonardo DaVinci’s words, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.  I feel like this and future generations are straying farther from simplicity and ease and nearer towards complexity and difficulty.  I feel like we are losing our values of self-sufficiency and gaining the negative effects of leisure and sloth.  I anticipate a loss within us and around us as well.  Working people will be affected with this sudden switch in society.  It is not hard to imagine a  program replacing the hands and mind of a human like when one sets their automatic sprinklers to water the lawn.  I just feel like it is getting even harder to connect to the simple way and beauty of life.
After reading this I know that it may seem ironic in my decision to enroll in this class and add to the kink of technology.  However, I am interesting with just running with it and doing something useful or beneficial (hopefully).