Sticking My Head in the Cloud

Cloud computing. It just seems like another case of computer hype. Isn’t this just like the old days where you had a dumb terminal and all your processing power and data was somewhere else (like a huge room in the basement with rows of tape drives and flashing lights)? Or even the not-quite-so-old days when we talked about client-server computing. Or the not-even-as-old-as-that days where we talking about thin-clients and web services.

Well, there is some truth that what goes around, comes around, even if we keep giving it new marketing terms. Cloud computing is a bit like that. The ease of use of cloud/service/web/whatever services keeps getting easier, though, as I can relate from personal experience.

I’ve recently been using two cloud services that I’ve been very impressed with:

The first is Dropbox. Dropbox is very easy to use and set up. You establish a “Dropbox” folder on every computer you have (and your smartphone and iPad as well). When you drop a file, be it document, spreadsheet, photo, or song into Dropbox, it automatically creates another copy in the Dropbox’s on your other devices. When you update a file, the update automatically syncs all the other copies. Another copy is maintained securely on the Dropbox web site.

The advantage of Dropbox over a service like Google Docs is that your files are available to you even when you’re not connected to the Internet. This is particularly useful if you’re working in a car or on a plane. You go ahead and make your changes, and the next time your computer gets connected to the ‘Net, presto, the other copies get updated.

The other cloud service I’ve come to love is the Amazon Cloud Drive. I don’t have an iPhone; I have a Motorola Droid. That meant that, unlike my iPhone-y neighbors, I couldn’t carry my music around with me unless I stuck my iPod in my pocket as well. Now, with the Amazon Cloud Drive, I just upload music files to the Cloud Drive (you get 5 GB for free, plus another 15 GB if you buy just one album on Amazon’s MP3 music store). Then, with the Amazon Cloud app running on my Droid, I can listen to all my music over Verizon Wireless’ 3G service. Presto, emptier pockets.

I like this Cloud thing. I’ll have to start thinking of it more positively…


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