Tag Archives: cloud computing

As Distance Learning Grows, Technology Follows

Online Education

Master Sergeant Eric Madden has been in the Air Force for 16 years. He’s currently stationed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey as a Health Service Manager in the Medical Group. With a job requiring frequent travel, Eric never thought it would be possible to perform his duties while also pursuing a college degree. But thanks to the technology of distance learning, he’s currently enrolled at Burlington County College.

“The only way I would be able to complete my degree is with distance learning,” Madden explained. “With how much military members move around it would almost be impossible to finish your degree without being able to take classes online. Distance learning makes it so you can stay in one school and meet all your requirements and not have to worry about transferring.”

Madden is hardly alone. According to the 2012 Survey of Online Learning conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group, the number of students taking at least one online course is now more than 6.7 million.

“The rate of growth in online enrollments remains extremely robust, even as overall higher education enrollments have shown a decline,” said study co-author Jeff Seaman, Co-Director of the Babson Survey Research Group.

As the demand for online learning increases, higher education publishing companies have been forced to keep up, creating new ideas and technology to make the distance learning process easier for both teachers and students.

Pearson Learning Solutions has created an Online Learning Exchange, which provides teachers shareable and editable course content and materials to use in distance education courses.

“Learning is no longer limited to four walls – learning can happen anywhere – and it already is happening everywhere, everyday,” said Todd Hitchcock, Senior Vice President of Online Solutions for Pearson Learning Solutions. ”The growth of online learning underscores this need for quality, flexible education programs that meet the demands of our 21st-century workforce.”

Now that he is able to get his degree, Madden feels as though it will help him become better prepared for his everyday duties. He also looks towards the future, and when he retires from the military the degree will make him much more marketable.

Madden encourages other members of the military–or anyone else in a situation where they cannot physically make it to a college campus–to consider distance learning. “This is a huge plus because it gives you education for your job and for your future,” he said. “It is also a big deal for the military. Distance Education helps individuals contribute at a higher level.”

 

Free MozyHome Online Backup With Mozy Stash

 

Life in the Cloud

Be sure to enter to win a 1-year free MozyHome account by leaving a comment on this post, telling us how you use the cloud!

These days data is always available to us, never no more than a click or a tap away. Cloud computing is quickly becoming a mainstream part of everyday life, and we find ourselves banking, updating Facebook from our phones, sending emails from taxis, and backing up our data — all because of “the cloud”.

We’ve talked about this all-knowing cloud before, reviewing how to make your important information available to you online, how you can use cloud backup to customize your Android phone, how the cloud is helping accountants, and even how the cloud is relaxing concerns about when employees are arriving or leaving the office.

So, what is cloud computing? Let’s take a look.

Life in the Cloud

(This image was grabbed from our “Life in the Cloud” infographic)

There are quite a few cloud computing companies that play a major role in our every day lives, including Google, Facebook, Pandora, Netflix, and Twitter. Each of these companies stores a variety of different information in the cloud, including some information about you.

Where do these companies store all of this information?

Cloud computing companies store users’ information in giant storage centers called “Data Centers“. Data centers contain row after row of servers filled with hard drives with your data on them.

Data Centers

(This image was grabbed from our “Where Oh Where is the World’s Data Being Stored?” infographic)

These data centers are secured with various types of security (both physical and technological), to ensure that your information can’t be access by someone coming into the data center, either in person or via the web.

Because your information is stored in the data center, you can access it using any device that has the ability to connect to it (your laptop, your iPad, or your Mom’s typewriter. Ok, just kidding on the last one.)

I want to get in the cloud!

So, have you decided it’s definitely time to upgrade and enter the cloud?

If you’re still holding out and you need more convincing, here’s a recent post on 5 more signs that it’s time to upgrade and enter the cloud (and yes mixtapes do make the list).

If you’re ready to join the digital age, want to help you on this exciting journey. Trusting your family pictures and your tax documents to a someone you don’t know well can be an unnerving experience. We’ve put together some guides to help you make sure you’re considering all the factors when choosing a cloud backup vendor.

After reviewing these posts, you’ll feel much more confident in evaluating and choosing someone to trust with your important data.

Mozy has made it very easy to access your files (whether backed up OR synced) via your computer, your mobile device, or a web browser on a friend’s computer. Currently backing up over 90 petabytes (What’s a petabyte?) of data for over 3,000,000 home users and 80,000 business, Mozy is the leader in cloud backup and storage. We’re big fans of the cloud and the amazing things it lets us do. We’ve put together this guide to help you learn more about cloud computing and what it can do for you. We promise that once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back. We hope you’ll consider the online backup leader for all your cloud storage needs.

Enter to win a 1-year free MozyHome account by leaving a comment on this post, telling us how you use the cloud! (Comments must be submitted by 9/28/12, winner will be emailed.)

Cloud Roundup and Links of Interest – May 14

The cloud helps during natural disastersHow Cloud Computing Helps Weather Dangerous Events

For emergency management, the biggest advantages of cloud computing come down to three words: virtual mission continuity. Cloud computing reduces concerns about whether the data center will survive a disaster, according to an article in the publication Emergency Management.

Businesses and agencies regularlycopy and back up data, but the real challenge is restoring the applications to keep essential services and critical functions online after a disaster. Entire servers, including systems, applications and data can be copied, backed up and be ready to activate in another data center in a matter of minutes.

“The cloud is going to change the whole mentality of emergency management,” said Pascal Shuback, a program coordinator for the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.

“Responders can be anyone with connectivity, the public included. We can regionalize our capabilities and create virtual operation support teams composed of the people able to support an event, and it doesn’t matter where they are.”

Robot Cars Pass Driving Test

Autonomous cars have been granted permission to use public roads in Nevada.

After officials from the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles rode in the vehicles, dubbed “Google cars,” along freeways, state highways and neighborhoods, as well as the busy Las Vegas Strip, they were given the state’s stamp of approval.

The cars are controlled by computers processing a combination of mapping data, radar, laser sensors and video feeds.

Google is one off several firms racing to develop cars able to drive themselves. It is competing with car manufacturers as well as military firms to develop the technology.

It’s an interesting concept, but let’s hope these Google cars won’t exhibit signs of Droid rage while stuck in heavy traffic.

Apple Looks to Claim iPhone 5 Domain

Apple has filed a claim with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) for the domain name iphone5.com.

So far, Apple’s smartphone line has counted up only to the iPhone 4S, but the company is widely believed to be getting ready to bring an iPhone 5 into the world.

While there are no device specifications to be gleaned here, the WIPO filing does at least suggest that Apple is considering the iPhone 5 name for the next iteration of its immensely successful product. Or perhaps it just wishes to take that domain out of play, regardless of what it calls the device.

 

 

Cloud Roundup and Links of Interest – April 30

Cloud Computing a Lifesaver?

Cloud Computing - a life saverIn spite of its current popularity, many people don’t realize the cloud’s potential extends far beyond trimming budgets and bolstering the next social networking start-up.

Cloud computing is proving it can be an important tool for extending or even saving human life, according to an article from Silicon Angle.

Case in point: Cycle Computing created 51,132-core supercomputer on the cloud to test 21 million synthetic compounds that could be useful in treating cancer. The cluster ran for 3 hours on March 30 and cost $4,828.85. A comparable build out using a traditional infrastructure approach would have cost over $20 million and taken months to deploy. The same research could have taken a year to complete if the simulation was run on the 1,500-core cluster Cycle Computing’s client, Schrödinger, typically used for biotechnology and pharmaceutical research.

Researchers no longer have to endure the longs waits to rent time from supercomputing centers or obtain billions in funding, which is substantially speeding innovation in the industry, according to Silicon Angle.

Snapguide Becomes First to Have Seamless Pinterest Integration

Snapguide, a newcomer in the Apple App Store looking to make its mark in the social media world, wants to increase Pinterest’s presence on third-party mobile apps.

The app lets users create how-to guides, allowing them to easily incorporate pictures and videos. The idea is to post the guides online and share knowledge with others in a social and viral way. It has had integration with other networks such as Facebook and Twitter from the outset, some three weeks ago. But now, recognizing the extreme growth and increasing importance of Pinterest, it has added that to the list.

Because Pinterest doesn’t have its own application programming interface (API), Snapguide had to work directly with the Pinterest team. The result is a product that works seamlessly for end users. As for whether there will be a Pinterest API any time soon, Snapguide founder Daniel Raffel told paidContent, “I am confident they are doing everything they can to give developers high-quality APIs to interact with. I’m sure some great news will be coming soon and that when they launch developers will be very happy.”

When Calls Truly Get Under Your Skin

Nokia recently filed a patent for a communication system consisting of a magnetic tattoo that would receive signals from a smartphone and vibrate to alert users of incoming calls, according to Smarter Technology.

The new system could enable you to be in constant contact with family and friends. The Finnish phone company is working to develop a tattoo that would vibrate to alert you of a call.

Nokia recently filed a patent for a haptic communication system that would be “capable of detecting a magnetic field and transferring a perceivable stimulus to the skin, wherein the perceivable stimulus relates to the magnetic field.” In such a notification system, a small iron tattoo would be painted on a user’s skin. The tattoo would then be able to receive a magnetic signal and vibrate when the phone is ringing.

 

 

How to Use Video Analytics to Improve Your Audience Response

As Web-based video becomes more prominent and more useful for businesses, the biggest issue is figuring out what resonates with your audience. You post a video and then what: how many people watch it all the way through? Should you have broken it up into shorter segments? Did you need additional details? Did people like the video and link back to it? Depending on the video site you use to share your content, you have a number of cloud-based analytic and tracking tools at your disposal.

Lots of companies are using video to spread the word on their products and engage their customers. Here are a couple of notable examples:

  • Wingsuits’s Vimeo channel shows more than 100 videos of those crazy folks that don a suit and jump off high cliffs and pretend to fly. I admit the visuals are stunning, but I sure wouldn’t want to be a customer!
  • MadMapper has more than 60 videos showcasing how their customers use their advanced projector mapping tools to create some stunning visual displays.
  • Infusionsoft has this YouTube channel with 500 subscribers and more than 120,000 views with quotes of dozens of employees about their experience using the company’s software. They also have this Vimeo channel which shows in-depth demos and longer tutorials about how to use their products.

YouTube, first and foremost

Certainly, when it comes to video, YouTube is first and foremost. More than 30 hours of video are uploaded every minute, or is it every second?

Whatever the number, YouTube still has the lion’s share of the traffic and is great for beginners. It is easy to upload a video, embed it or share it across your Web site, and collect some very basic traffic statistics too. But you get what you pay for. Here is an example of the kind of analysis that you can get from one of my more popular videos that I have on YouTube:

In addition to the overall viewership report shown above, you can review demographic information (age and gender of viewer), whether the video was played from the main YouTube Web page or a mobile device or embedded on another site, and whether your audience abandoned watching the video at some point before its end. This last point is very important in terms of feedback. The longer the video the more the audience drop-off will probably be, and this should be good ammunition to create shorter and to-the-point videos.

Wistia

There are other video hosting services besides YouTube, and one that I use frequently is from Wistia.com. They actually provide several things in one neat package:

First is its own flash embedded player that allows you to easily adjust the size of your video window to match the dimensions of your Web pages. You can easily choose the thumbnail that you want displayed when the Web page is first viewed. Wistia isn’t alone in this particular space: Kaltura for example has a popular WordPress plug-in. But adding a Wistia embed tag to a custom WordPress self-hosted site is easier and no plug-ins are required to play your videos.

It is also a video hosting and sharing site. You have up to 20 GB of storage included, with additional storage available at $2/GB/month. Included this 20 GB figure is just the size of the uploaded video files, and not any additional storage for encoding or processing.  Videos can be shared with your project team, where they can make comments (like Facebook) and downloaded, saving you the trouble of trying to send videos as email attachments. As video files can be larger than email attachment limits, this saves a lot of time and frustration.

Finally, Wistia has excellent analytics too.  Like YouTube, you can see gross viewership by day, some demographics, how they got to your video (via organic search or some other Web site). But unlike YouTube they go into lots more detail with these “heat maps” as you see below.

This is a nice service: you can see who your potential customers might be and what part of the world they live. (I’ve masked the IP addresses visible in the above screenshot.) You can also see here where each viewer stopped watching, or rewound it to see again (in red). Again, this provides valuable feedback on whether your subject is relevant to your viewers. It is also a good report to share with your management to convince them of the value of your efforts.

Wistia has three differently priced plans, starting at $79 a month. You can try it out for 15 days for free.

 

 

Why the Cloud Resonates With Consumers

Cloud ComputingMany services and technologies have come and gone over the last few decades. Some stick. Others have to pack it in for numerous reasons. Right now, it seems cloud computing is on an upward trajectory and shows no evidence of letting up. While the technology enabling the cloud is what drives its success, many factors have to go just right for a service to experience this type of buzz.So far, cloud computing has hit the right notes and is enjoying its moment in the spotlight. Here are just a few reasons why the cloud has consumer appeal.

The Name

What sounds more appealing? Software as a service (Saas), utility computing, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or the cloud? Referring to this technology simply as “the cloud” took it from the depths of some server rack in the back of an IT department and placed it front-and-center for both consumers and IT staff. “The cloud” is more accessible and more colorful than “utility computing.” Without the moniker, who knows if cloud computing would have been given the chance to reach its potential.

And who, you ask, coined the phrase “cloud computing?” That depends on where you direct the question. There are references to the cloud going back to 1997 when a trademark application for the term cropped up (the trademark attempt was later abandoned). It was a term mentioned in The New York Times in 2001, described as a “cloud of computers.”

In August 2006, Google’s Eric Schmidt described its approach to SaaS as cloud computing. It seems this was the first mainstream use of the term as its currently understood.

According to author John M. Willis, “I think this was the first high profile usage of the term, where not just ‘cloud’ but ‘cloud computing’ was used to refer to SaaS, and since it was in the context of Google, the term picked up the PaaS/IaaS connotations associated with the Google way of managing data centers and infrastructure.

“Much like ‘Web 2.0,’ cloud computing was a collection of related concepts that people recognized, but didn’t really have a good descriptor for, a definition in search of a term, you could say. When Schmidt used it in 2006 to describe their own stuff and then Amazon included the word ‘cloud’ in EC2 when it was launched a few weeks later, the term became mainstream.”

The Freedom

A big key to cloud computing adoption is that it has achieved an ease of use that anyone with an email address and credit card can start to see what the fuss is about. Free, limited accounts with simple sign-ups have gotten many people comfortable enough that they’re willing to try out paid, full-service accounts.

And there is a sense of freedom at being able to get stuff done without having to physically be at a work station or in the home office. This ability can be very liberating, especially when you’re on the road and need to access something important. The cloud allows you to go about your life and work in a streamlined manner, and if an emergency arises where you need specific information immediately, the cloud has you covered.

The References

The cloud already has worked its way into pop culture. On FX, a comedy called “The League” features a group of friends who participate in an NFL fantasy football league. “The League” is probably not a show that you’d want to watch with children or grandma because a.) it’s on FX, b.) double entendres galore and c.) common decency. But it’s well-written, topical and, in my opinion, super funny.

One of the characters named Taco, a slacker who’s not quite with it, waxes philosophic on the cloud during a conversation with characters Ruxin and Kevin.

Ruxin: “Are you baked all the time?”

Taco: “Oh, not this baked! I just wish I could walk around in a cloud of it all day long. ‘To the cloud!”

Kevin: “All right… you realize that that’s just a cloud of data pushing itself wirelessly through different devices?”

Taco: [snorts] “Now who sounds baked?”

 

 

Cloud Link Roundup – April 9

Google’s Online Art Project Now Includes the White House

Google announced a significant expansion of its Google Art Project, adding artwork from the White House and museums around the globe. Powering the Google Art project are Google’s Web services and cloud computing infrastructure.

Google’s Art Project now includes the White House galleries and notable international museums such as the National Gallery of Modern Art in Delhi, India and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

“Since we introduced the Art Project last year, curators, artists and viewers from all over the globe have offered exciting ideas about how to enhance the experience of collecting, sharing and discovering art. Institutions worldwide asked to join the project, urging us to increase the diversity of artworks displayed,” Google said in a blog post. “We listened.”

What Cloud Computing Really Means

Cloud computing is all the rage.

“It’s become the phrase du jour,” said Gartner senior analyst Ben Pring. The problem, according to InfoWorld, is that everyone seems to have a different definition of cloud computing.

Some analysts and vendors define cloud computing as an updated version of utility computing: virtual servers available over the Internet. Others go broad, arguing anything you consume outside the firewall is “in the cloud,” including conventional outsourcing, according to InfoWorld.

InfoWorld talked to dozens of vendors, analysts and IT customers on various components of cloud computing. Here is InfoWorld’s rough breakdown of what cloud computing is all about.

Can the Cloud Revive Manufacturing?

Cloud computing could help usher in the next wave of technological innovation and, with it, provide a new engine for economic growth, according to the authors of a study on the emerging cloud computing ecosystem.

“Cloud-enhanced services” promise to take up much of the economic slack caused by the steady shift over the last several decades from manufacturing to services. Despite the loss of those U.S. manufacturing jobs, “direct linkages” persist between high value-added services and manufacturing, said John Zysman, coauthor of the cloud study and co-director of the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy.

“We contend that cloud computing is historically unique by simultaneously being an innovation ecosystem, production platform and global marketplace,” the study said.

 

 

Cloud Computing Link Round Up – April 2

OMGPOP, the gaming startup, whose Draw Something iPhone app used cloud computing and a NoSQL database to scale from zero (relatively speaking) to more than 35 million downloads in three weeks, never missed a beat.

Gigaom’s Derrick Harris discusses the impressive feat in Gigaom’s Structure blog.

“I had a brief call with Couchbase CEO Bob Wiederhold, whose company worked with OMGPOP to scale its implementation of the Couchbase database as demand started growing,” writes Harris.

Although the companies aren’t ready to give exact details yet, here’s what Wiederhold revealed:

  • OMGPOP is hosted in the cloud, but “they’re not on Amazon.”
  • Draw Something has been downloaded more than 35 million times. Players have created more than 1 billion pictures and are creating around 3,000 pictures per second.
  • To handle the incredible traffic spike, OMGPOP had to reconfigure its Couchbase cluster, scale it into the many tens of nodes, and many terabytes of data and increased throughout into the tens of thousands of operations per second.
  • Throughout all this, Draw Something didn’t experience any downtime.

This type of load really stresses a system, Wiederhold said, and if it wasn’t for its decision to use cloud computing and NoSQL technologies, “their game would have fallen over.”

Scalability is one of the primary calling cards for both cloud computing and NoSQL providers. Way to go, cloud.

Cloud Computing Is Here to Stay

Todd Nielsen, of Wired’s Cloudline blog, serves up some strong reasons on why cloud computing is here to stay.

Nielsen writes, “In psychoanalysis, ‘being in denial’ is a defense mechanism used by a person faced with an unpleasant situation too uncomfortable to accept or too ghastly to contemplate. The person rejects reality and insists it is not true, despite overwhelming evidence. I am constantly confronted with people in denial about the cloud.”

So Nielsen offers some cloud statistics:

  • 70 percent of businesses are either using or investigating cloud computing solutions.
  • Worldwide IT spending on cloud computing has increased more than 25 percent from 2008 to 2012.
  • Cloud providers have increased personnel from nil in 2007 to over 550,000 in 2010.

Hard to argue against these figures.

IT Needs to Take Control of the Cloud Before Storm Ensues

IT departments need to step up now and change its approach to cloud services, according to a study, “Delivering on High Cloud Expectations,” commissioned by BMC Software and conducted by Forrester Research.

This includes building trust with the lines of business, beginning to manage public cloud services, and pursuing increased automation for service provisioning and operations, according to ZDNet.

“Cloud and software as a service (SaaS) are in enterprises in a big way,” says Brian Singer, lead solutions marketing manager for BMC. “And we wanted to see how IT was dealing with them.”

For the study, researchers polled 327 enterprise infrastructure executives and architects. Among the key findings:

Today, 58 percent run mission critical workloads in unmanaged public clouds, regardless of policy. The researchers use “unmanaged” to describe clouds that are managed by the cloud operators, but not by the company buying the service.

In the next two years, 79 percent plan to run mission-critical workloads on unmanaged cloud services.

Nearly three out of four responders, 71 percent, thought that IT should be responsible for public cloud services.

Seventy two percent of CIOs believe that the business sees cloud computing as a way to circumvent IT.

Cloud Computing Attempts to Police Its Own

Wanting to provide a measure of security, cloud services organizations and companies whose daily bread is earned through trusted relationships with their clients have decided to band together and create a set of guidelines for the rest, according to Technorati.

The New Zealand Computer Society has put together a basic code of conduct for companies providing Web-based computing services, calling it CloudCode.

According to Joy Cottle, CloudCode facilitator, “The CloudCode is proactive, not prescriptive, based on what the industry is asking for both from a consumer and supplier perspective and more importantly a code of practice that is easily adopted by the providers and easily understood by the consumer.”

“A lack of understanding of the accepted definitions of cloud computing and what it entails results in a situation where services are being offered that don’t meet what are generally considered acceptable standards of practice,” said the Society.

 

 

Top 5 Signs It’s Time to Upgrade and Enter the Cloud

Upgrade and enter the cloudHard as it is, it just may be time to let go of yesterday’s technology and get on with yourself. The signs have been getter more clear over the last few years. There was that incident with the cat photos at work. And that visit from the uptight suit with the IRS. So before things really get out of control, do yourself, your family and Huey Lewis a favor and trade up to the 21st century and the magic of all that is cloud computing.

Wait For the Beep…

You don’t have voicemail. You have an answering machine. A big, hulking Panasonic monstrosity that requires a team lift it when rearranging the home office.

Solution: Update to a smartphone; any VOIP setup.

Catastrophe

A pile of work documents has somehow co-mingled with dozens of 8×10 prints of your great-aunt’s feline companion “Buttons” dressed as characters from “The Wizard of Oz.” It doesn’t take a wizard to see this is headed nowhere good.

Solution: Explain to the senior vice president that yes, it is a cat, and yes, it is also a flying monkey, but no, it has no bearing on the Rooney account. Hook up Aunt Mable with a Facebook account, and buy yourself a document management solution and add some backup and storage options for your work files.

Tax Alot

You use your buddy who can crunch and store large numbers in his head as your accountant. Sure, he was featured on Stan Lee’s “Superhumans,” but this doesn’t seem to impress the guy from the IRS who’s looking at you in a funny way.

Solution: Utilize the benefits of cloud computing to compile and store important receipts and tax documents.

Mix Signals

Your cassette player is undoubtedly cool, and ’80s retro, and a conversation starter and ironic. But you’re spending $87 a week on AA batteries. Even Huey Lewis would surely understand that simple economics suggest it’s time to hang up those foam-covered headphones and pick up a cloud-based music service.

Solution: Pandora, iTunes, Rhapsody, watching episodes of VH1′s “I Love the ’80s.”

Fine Print

Print may not be dead, but the cost of printing out photos is nearly killin’ ya. The home office is beginning to resemble a second-rate law library, with dozens and dozens of brown, imitation-leather-bound photo albums lining shelves and cluttering tabletops. We know it was a pretty rainbow, but did you really need to print out 45 shots of it? Less is more. For real.

Solution: Store and share the majority of your photos in the cloud, and pick a handful of special ones to print out and display. Like that one of the cat dressed as the munchkin mayor.

 

 

Do We Need A Desktop OS Anymore?

Mozy cloud storageMicrosoft fought a long battle to achieve a near monopoly of the desktop Operating System market that may stand forever. But does it even matter? Do we even need a desktop OS anymore?

As we see what is happening with Windows 8 and Metro, I am coming to the conclusion that the answer to this question is “no.” We may be reaching the point where the desktop OS is no longer important, eclipsed by the developments of the browser and ironically a victim of better integration of the Web by Microsoft and others.

My prediction is that Windows 8 will become the OS/2 of the modern era: an OS that is elegant but instantly made obsolete by events, designed for the wrong chip (in the case of Windows 8, the mobile ARM CPUs) and based on a cellphone design ethos that no one could care less about. Yeah, but it has a great new set of APIs!

It wasn’t all that long ago that Internet Explorer became almost indistinguishable from Windows Explorer. And with the rise of Chromebooks and how much of our time is spent online, the days of the particular desktop OS is almost irrelevant now. Who really cares what OS we run?

Remember when the desktop OS did things like keep track of directories, protect us from viruses (and Windows still doesn’t really do that all that well), make copies of files to removable media, and handle printing? Yes, I know I still can’t print my Web pages out with any kind of fidelity, and if I have an iPad, printing is almost an afterthought. But is that the browser’s fault or my OS?

Now that you can get gigabytes of free file storage in the cloud (thanks Mozy!), do you really care what is on your hard drive? Well, some of us dinosaurs (and I count myself among them) still cling to our hard drives but soon they will be totems from another era, much the way many of you look upon 5 inch floppy disks, or even 8 inch ones if you can recall back that far. Wow, we could carry an entire 360 kB of something around with us! (Of course, we didn’t have mp3s or videos either, but still.) And all this cloud storage is happening as hard drives are getting so cheap that they will be giving them away in cereal boxes soon: a 2 TB drive can be had for less than $50.

Meanwhile, Adobe has big plans for Flash, where it will take over the kinds of OS-like services that I mentioned above (ditto on the protect us from malware issue too, at least so far). And Google is trying mightily to rejigger HTML with its Dart Web programming language. And VMware has a new version of its View too, which is probably the OS that I really will end up spending most of my time with going forward. Whatever comes of these efforts, it almost doesn’t matter whether we are running Windows or Mac or Linux. Because we don’t need them anymore for our online lives.

Now stop and reconsider that last paragraph. Whom have we trusted for the next OS? It isn’t Microsoft, and it isn’t Apple. It is a bunch of folks from the valley that have never built an OS before (well, give Google half credit). Think about that for a moment.

Back at the dawn of the computing era in the 1980s we all wrote dBase apps (and saved them on those darn floppies too). Then we moved up to use Lotus Notes, before the Web took root. Then we branched out in a dozen different directions, using all sorts of programming languages that used HTTP protocols. That was the beginning of the end for the desktop OS.

Now we’ll still have desktops of one sort or another. And yes, Windows isn’t going away, much as Microsoft is determined to pry every last copy of XP from our cold, shaking hands. But when Adobe, Google and VMware all get done with their stuff, it won’t matter what will be running on our desktops. If we even have them around much longer.