Thursday, May 05, 2011

Cloud Computing

Seth asked about our sightings of and thoughts on cool, emerging technologies.

I continue to hold that the technology that promises one of the most significant impacts is cloud computing.  It's been coming for a long time but cloud computing has recently turned one of those corners and it's influence is rapidly accelerating.

Basically, cloud computing means that your data and your applications are out on the Internet, “in the cloud” as we say.

I've been moving my own work into the cloud and I'm probably following that acceleration curve pretty closely.  Here's my current score card.

I've been a user of web-based email since Rocketmail and Yahoo's re-branding and evolution of the same when they both took off around 1997.  For years I merely echoed email into the cloud, keeping my own personal copies on an email server at home.  Sometime around the introduction of Gmail, I stopped keeping my own copy and  switched wholesale to Gmail.

I've been using Google Documents in earnest since 2006.  Since then, probably 99% or more of every document or spreadsheet I've created, including home and work, have been in the cloud.  I added slide presentations to that in 2007, and drawings most recently.  (Note that I've still not found a replacement for Windows Paint, though).

In 2006 I moved my blogging off of my own server and back to Blogger and Blogspot.

For the past several years I've been putting more and more pictures in Picasa, though it's not my sole storage medium in that category.

In the fall of 2009 I became a user of GTD and moved my next action lists and projects to Gmail Tasks.

Over this past year, my move into the cloud has gone mad.

I've used Piknic solely for photo editing.

I've migrated all of my note-taking into Google Documents.  Many folks will remember the blue notebooks I used years ago, inspired by my old friend Leonard's use of them for journals when we were at Georgia Tech.  For a number of intervening years I moved most of my note-taking into on-line text documents edited with Emacs.  Over this past year I've migrated almost 100% of my note-taking on-line into Google  Documents.  I create several new documents every day.

Also this year I made the conscious decision to start migrating all of my media consumption into the cloud and at the same time, decided to get a Roku box instead of a Blueray player.  I use Netflix and Amazon, and occasionally Dish on Demand, for movies, Kindle for books, and Amazon, Pandora and Slacker for music.  My thought is to never again purchase physical media.

I've moved most of my own little command-line utilities into AppEngine equivalents.

I've also become a recent user of Dropbox for file sharing.

The personal Linux “main machine” that I use at work for programming has been a virtual machine for the recent few months.  The next (final?) frontier, for which I'm waiting with poised fascination, is a browser-based integrated development environment for writing, testing and running the computer programs I write daily.  A lot of work is underway and there are some initial results out there now.

I'm late to this ballgame, but I'm also getting ready to move my backups to Carbonite.  That will probably be another case of just putting a copy there, while maintaining other current schemes.

I'm already at the point that I can do almost any thing of significance I do on a computer from any computer that I truly trust.