Camen Design Forum

The Cloud

append delete theraje

These days, it seems "Cloud" computing is the biggest recent trend in technology. Pretty much everything can be stored online for access from anywhere with the use of the Internet.

What I want to know is: What do you think of this trend? Do you think it will help or hurt computing (or maybe both)? What do you believe will be the future ramifications of this scheme of things?

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append delete #1. Martijn

I think cloud computing is going to stay, really, it’s just the next logical step in data sharing.

However, I do like to “own” my stuff. Have it on my own hard drive and control what happens with it. I’m not a big fan of doing everything online.

I like Google Docs for instance, but I never used it a lot because I don’t want all my documents to be stored by Google. I want all my documents to be stored by me. I only use it for sharing documents and collaboration. (Two very good reasons for using the Cloud.)

I hope it will get easier to link your own machine “to the cloud” in the future. Essentially like running your own server. Once that happens people can simply add items to the cloud by having the files on a designated part of their hard drive.

Then we just need a way to index files and data shared in this new and flexible cloud. Probably the hardest part.

append delete #2. Kroc

First we should say that the "cloud" is just another buzzword in a long list of buzzwords.

On demand -> SOA -> SaaS -> web 2.0 -> Cloud computing. Same technology we've had for 15 years (and more before 'the web'), new buzzwords.

This will both help computing and hinder it. Above all the "zero-install" nature of web pages will help consumers who have had to battle with _far_ too much crap with traditional software installs. Installing software in the future will be no more complicated than bookmarking it.

The downside is that the push for this network-orientated application infrastructure threatens a great number of freedoms that we enjoy at this time because the infrastructure is being built on a centralised company-controlled basis.

Where is the decentralisation of this data-storage architecture? We, the people, stuck it to the centralised music industry with the creation of decentralised P2P software.

Why, to have remote access to my own data, must I entrust that data to a company? Why is my own computer at home not adequate enriched with the right software to make remote access to my data through web apps, under my own terms? Self-hosted web apps should be the norm.

I imagine that there needs to be a new software product and new types of hardware that bring cloud computing to the individual in an easy way. A software product that provides webmail, RSS, documents and all kinds of web apps hosted at home, and an optional router / HDD hardware product that integrates the software with an all-in-one router so that it's all zero-config. I call this concept "Sanctuary" and I plan to write about it in the future.

append delete #3. SpeedoJoe

Until internet connections are 100% stable, run at consistently decent speed, have no downtime and are virtually worldwide I'm only interested in the cloud as a curiosity.

append delete #4. Kroc

@SpeedoJoe Your own computer won’t be that reliable. The network is already plenty stable enough. I have about two days downtime on my broadband a year. My computers don’t even come close to that much reliability.

append delete #5. Martijn

I’m jealous Kroc, it’s not weird for me to miss a couple of hours each month. Now that winter is starting being without internet one day a month isn’t exceptional.

I had friends who still were stuck to phone-line speeds due to living 8km (if not a little less) from the city. They were very annoyed with many cloud services.

Many people developing those services are located in cities and countries with good connections. But they target “all people”. There’s a small conflict there.

append delete #6. theraje

@Martijn: Yeah, I'm still stuck on dial-up, so most cloud stuff is completely useless to me. I don't care so much about not having access to certain services, but when things get so bad that it takes several minutes just to navigate from one Web page to another on some sites, it becomes maddening. And the bloat doesn't really add a whole lot to the site in the first place!

For example, my favorite online shopping place is beginning to get stupid. They decided to make the search page dynamic, so the search bar doesn't reload, and the new items you search for show up magically underneath.

That's fine and all... but they set it up where if it can't retrieve the results in a ridiculously brief time frame, it will "recycle" the results. Thus, if I search for "canned beef", I get some results. But if I then search for "licorice", the page will load for like 3 seconds, and give up, giving me the results for "canned beef" again.

I spend a lot of money there, too. I wonder why they decided to alienate some customers, just so more-digitally-well-to-do customers have extra bells and whistles that add NOTHING to their shopping experience.

append delete #7. Kroc

@theraje try disabling JavaScript for that page and see if the search box reverts to RESTful. Also consider e-mailing the company to explain the problem.

If web apps were hosted inside your router for e-mail / documents / RSS &c. then access would be instant locally, whilst at the same time sharing the data seamlessly across computers and allowing for remote access to that same data.

append delete #8. SpeedoJoe

@Kroc

I've had the opposite experience. Broadband for me sometimes goes down or is annoyingly slow, whereas my main computer hasn't broken in quite a while.

If a provider can guarantee me 100% uptime then I'm interested.

append delete #9. theraje

@Kroc: Disabling Javascript won't work for me. The site won't work without it for certain things. Browsing/searching works (at least the last time I was there with JS disabled), but things like logging in and cart management are broken.

I'll e-mail them though and explain what's going on. Maybe they will have suggestions, or will at least try to improve the situation for people with low-speed connections.

append delete #10. JJ

The idea of not always being able to access my own files no matter what isn't appealing to me. If my files are on my hard drive, they're more tangible. I literally physically own them. I could take my hard drive out of my computer and hold my files in my hand if I wanted to.

Google Docs is a good example of the kind of "cloud" computing that I appreciate. It really convenient not having to worry about carrying a usb drive around with your work on it for school. Also, not having to worry about which computers have MS Word installed on them.

I see it being a lot more feasible in a decade or two as internet connections become even more common than they already are.

append delete #11. Grimmeh

The fact is, you can have your own cloud server; there has never been a reason you couldn't (first result I found on Google: lifehacker.com/… ). The fact is, however, that large companies can obviously offer more reliable service. If I wanted to download a large file from my personal cloud across the Internet, I would be at a loss: my ISP’s upload cap is terribly low at an avg. 480 kB/s. (I would love to see Google grace me with their 1 Gb/s service.)

With the advent of higher-bandwidth home Internet connects I can see personal clouds becoming a norm.

’Till then, you can still use a cloud locally without a problem, I’d assume. If I had more than one computer to worry about, I would impliment it (aside from my iPhone; I wonder if there are any third-party apps that would allow that).

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