Friday, January 13, 2012

Being in the cloud these days

Our friend got a new computer.  She found that she was not clear about what a USB connection was but when her friend wanted to share some pictures via a USB thumb drive, her old computer had not USB slot on it.  The friend said that the computer must be quite old.  So, she got a new one.

There was a time when PERSONAL computing meant something along the lines of writing (word-processing), math and accounting (spreadsheet) and filing (simple databases).  My wife bought me the package called "Appleworks" in 1984.  I wanted it very much because I had seen an article about those three activities and I wanted to be able to do them.  Notice that version of computing does not involve other people, email, connections between computers or anything called "the internet".  

These days, if a computer isn't connected to the internet, it feels more or less useless.  It can do the three activities of writing, math and accounts and filing in stand-alone mode with the right programs (often called "applications") on it but there is no Google, no blogging, no news or weather, no checking your own bank funds, no Facebook.  Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google are three companies with plenty of reputation, staff, ideas, energy and money.  One of the attractions these companies face is more interaction and more business flowing to, and through, them, by greater use of their own computers.  They can achieve that increase if they offer some of the capacity of their zillions of computers (and specialized computers called "servers") for storage of people's files.

A common term for "somewhere on the internet" or "somewhere in company X's computer capacity" these days is "in the cloud".  I am composing this post on a (word-processing) form supplied free by the Google company in its Google Docs section (  I advocate using Google Docs since it is free and ubiquitous.  I can get back to this composition from any computer that is hooked to the internet.  The web page form that makes what looks like a page is build to save my typing frequently.  I don't know where it saves the little electronic blips that make up my message and I don't care, so long as I can get it back when I want it.  That's cloud computing and it is rather nice.

Because so many capabiliites are available on the internet, it has been increasingly attractive to make a specialized computer that does nothing much but connected to the internet.  Some tablets are more or less that way.  An alternative to Google Docs and Microsoft Office "suite" of programs is OpenOffice.  For my money, it is still worth having Microsoft Word and Excel on my computer for when I want them and I want them every day.  Both are terrific tools but there are many free alternatives these days.  They might not be quite as good in some ways but they are very handy to try and to know about.

Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety

Popular Posts

Follow @olderkirby