Archive for July, 2011

Cloud computing may not be for the faint of heart just yet

That’s the conclusion that I couldn’t help jumping to after reading this piece:

In short the guy writes about how he spent months painstakingly  migrating all his other email accounts to his one gmail account and uploading all his documents to his google docs account only to have his google account deleted (or suspended) by google.

It’s sort of like when you have all your info on this one laptop that you lug around with you everywhere you go and then you drop it and it breaks into tiny little pieces from which no information can be recovered only it’s probably more like having somebody grab your laptop from you and smash it to pieces as you stand there and watch helplessly.

Well, maybe  it’s not all that bade and who knows, google may eventually reactive the poor fella’s account and he’ll once again have access to all his stuff. However, what this story really calls attention to is the risks people are invited to take when they are encouraged to switch to cloud computing.  On the surface cloud computing looks like a very cool idea – software as a service, a new digital utility that allows you to rent digital space and applications, however at the end of the day what cloud computing boils down to is that you let someone else handle your (sensitive) data. Cloud is a very cool metaphor, but in actuality what it sort of conceals is that fact that your data that is in the ‘cloud’ is in actuality sitting on someone’s hard drive.

It may not really be that much of a problem from a purely technological viewpoint as in all probability those data will be backed-up and there will be some redundancy built into the system so that even if the actual server your data is stored on should go down, some other server will pick up the slack; in the worst case scenario loss of data will be minimal and 9 times out of 10 you probably won’t even notice anything. However, what do you do if your cloud computing provider decides you’ve violated some obscure terms of use (which most people hardly ever read anyway) and pulls the plug on your account. And what if it’s a major provider of cloud services like google with millions of users that can afford to ignore complaints from the likes of you for weeks on end or even to never get back to you at all? Yes, probably in most cases they will reactivate your account eventually but still what if it’s at a critical point that they shut down your account; suppose you’re finishing an important project and all of a sudden poof, you can’t access your data anymore and you write them an email and they tell you that you’ve violated their terms of use and that they’ll get back to you next week but your project is due tomorrow.

So what’s the lesson we can learn from this cautionary tale? – for the time being it would appear that the best policy is to store all your most important files locally and to only use the cloud for backups.

Categories: IT Tags: , , , ,

True Blood Season 4 – underwhelming so far

I don’t know whether it’s just me (well actually I do know it’s not just me, there’s at least one other person who thinks the same), but the first three episodes of True Blood Season 4 have been a disappointment. The show seems to have lost its way. They probably should have just based it more closely on the Southern Vampire Mysteries books. Instead they took bits and pieces from several of the books, threw them together and added a fair amount of plot twists of their own design, creating a mix that simply doesn’t make much sense. And it has to be noted here that the books do make sense and are much better written than the show.

Well, the thing is, though that in the first three seasons they kind of managed to get away with this approach, but towards the end of Season 3 they began losing steam and the characters started doing stupid things like killing TV presenters before live cameras or trying to bury each other in concrete and failing. And now as the fourth season started we first met Sookie’s grandfather who was killed instantly, then the witches were shown like a bunch of idiots that don’t really know what they’re doing and so on and so fourth so far the whole thing just isn’t making much sense.

Well, maybe they’ll pick up speed in future episodes but so far it’s not looking good at all.

Categories: TV shows

the demise of the global village

I will probably never understand why people seem to take so much pleasure in drawing borders where there were once none.

In technology today things are changing very fast. I’m not really all that old yet but I can still remember the time when the Internet was global in the sense that it didn’t matter where you were accessing a resource from, you’d still be getting the exact same information. Back in the ‘olden days’ I was so enamored of that ‘global village’ idea I didn’t even notice when things started changing.

I believe that the first time it was brought home for me loud and clear that the global village might be going down the drain was back in 03 (or was it 04) when I was visiting my relatives in West Ukraine and wanted to look up the roaming rates of my mobile operator on their website. I went to a local Internet cafe, since back then my Ukrainian relatives did not eve have a computer, but to my total dismay each time I tried to load my mobile operator’s website, it loaded the website of their Ukrainian branch instead. I remember that I eventually figure out a way around this region-based redirect and got through to my mobile operator’s website but still the whole experience seemed totally wrong to me. What’s the use of the Internet if I can’t access a website I want from anywhere in the world?

Unfortunately since then things have been going from bad to worse. This abandonment of global values has been especially awful in the corporate world. The websites of various commercial news outlets, TV companies and the like offer lots of content that can only be accessed from within the US or the UK or whatever regional market they happen to be targeting. It’s the f..cking DVD region codes all over again. As one sitcom character from the 1990’s would have said, ‘This sucks, this is total BS’

It would appear that the corporate types have totally missed the entire point of the Internet. The whole idea behind the technology was to make information globally accessible to facilitate cooperation and creativity and I believe that at its core this idea doesn’t really run counter to market economy. If anything the globalization capability offered by the Interent on the one hand makes the market place more competitive, which in theory should lead to better products, but on the other hand allows companies with niche market offerings to make a killing by targeting niche markets all over the world.

I was also wondering if there are any legal repercussions to refusing to sell stuff to people because of where they happen to be accessing your website from. It’s one thing if you simply can’t send things there but what if all the infrastructure is in place (and for most places it is in place, services like DHL can deliver things wherever) but you still say, sorry, you’re in eastern Europe so you can’t buy anything from us.

Well, whatever the case might be regarding all those legal issues, the fact remains that the global village as people envisaged it in the early naughties seems to have been divided up and segmented into tiny little localized sub-villages with all sorts of restrictions on what kind of information can be passed from one to another, and I personally think it’s a rather sad development – yet another dream of humanity has been crushed or is in the process of being crushed.