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The Cloud Ate My Homework 305

Posted by timothy
from the low-hanging-clouds-are-fog dept.
theodp writes "Over at CNET, James Urquhart sings the praises of cloud computing, encouraging folks to 'really listen to what is being said, understand how the cloud is being used, and seriously evaluate how this disruptive model will change your projects, your organization, and even your career.' Fair enough. Over at the Google Docs Help Forum, some perplexed cloud computing users spent the month of November unsuccessfully trying to figure out why they've been zinged for inappropriate content. Among the items deemed inappropriate and unshareable include notes on Henry David Thoreau ('the published version of this item cannot be shared until a Google review finds that the content is appropriate'), homework assignments, high school yearbook plans, wishlists, documents containing botanical names for plants, a list of websites for an ecommerce class, and a list of companies that rent motorcycles in Canada. When it comes to support in the cloud, it kind of looks like you might get what you pay for."
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The Cloud Ate My Homework

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  • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @10:46AM (#30283054) Journal

    This is exactly why I never want to move everything "in the cloud", or in to Internet services for that matter. Locally ran applications are there for a reason and things like this wouldn't happen for example with MS Office or Open Office. You're the one controlling your work, not some algorithms that suddenly decide to mark your work "inappropriate". And you don't have to wait for days for someone to answer to your support ticket with a copy-pasted "things to try" list.

    Even if you're going for "cloud" services, get a reliable one that states exactly their backup plans and other things. And for gods sake, put out a few dollars for it if you're excepting any level of support or reliability.

    • by ChienAndalu (1293930) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @10:57AM (#30283236)

      I totally agree.

      All it takes is to save your document, send it to everybody you want to share it with (or upload it onto RapidShare). Then all you have to do is wait for the ones that have the same version of MS Office to send their modified version of the document, which you open and figure out what changed and then edit your local file, while the ones with another version of MS Office simply use the PC of their dad and send you their edits which don't reflect the current state of the document so you send them the most recent version and explain that you do not have to use a premium account on rapidshare and please check your spam folder because I have definitely sent the mail but forgot the attachment let me send it again maybe the virus filter ate it then zip it with a password did and check if you send Tom the latest version and remember he is using OpenOffice .

      • by sopssa (1498795) *

        There are of course probably better solutions if you need to do a workgroup project, like lets say, Exchange Server just for one? The difference is that you maintain total control over your data and documents.

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        Or get your own copy of Sharepoint or something similar and put it there.

        • by Narpak (961733)
          Not certain if it is relatable (the Henry David Thoreau thing talks about sharing notes with students) but at NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) [wikipedia.org] we used (and they still use) It's learning [itslearning.com]. It wasn't perfect (though it's been a few years since I was a student so I am sure it has seen quite a few updates since then), but it was pretty good for sharing notes, upcoming plans, dates, comments, study group information, and generally information of use to students, teachers and professors. And s
      • by mea37 (1201159)
        Oh, what you want is a wiki. Still no point ceding control the the so-called cloud.
        • Which of course is a much easier alternative. The obvious thing to do when you want to share your homework is to learn what a webserver is, download and setup a webserver, then a wiki and configure the firewall so that your classmates can see and edit your homework!

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mea37 (1201159)

            I'm not sure why you think I care about a solution for "sharing" homework (which when I went to school went by the shorter name "cheating")... but are you kidding me?

            With the state of software today, if you can't get a wiki going then you sure as hell don't know enough to be relying on the cloud.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by element-o.p. (939033)

              if you can't get a wiki going then you sure as hell don't know enough to be relying on the cloud.

              That's a pretty arrogant point of view, don't you think? Yes, I can easily build a web server and a wiki because I spend 40+ hours a week building networks and servers. My wife, on the other hand, spends 40+ hours a week creating and editing the documents that keep her two businesses running. She has neither the time nor the training to build, configure and properly secure either a web server or the applications that run on it. However, she is an incredibly intelligent woman. If she doesn't know enoug

      • Right!

        That's why you store a LaTeX document in git.

        Oh, and get some nerdier friends ;-)

    • You can setup your own cloud and have all the advantages of a local PC with the flexibility of a cloud device. More importantly, a school or a corporation might consider this a welcome feature. The ability to flag content and control their data may be a valuable selling point. I understand your reluctance to move everything into the "cloud". My parents have boxes of old photographs, LP's (that's kind of like a physical copy of an uncompressed MP3), and bank statements. Heck they still write stuff on pa
      • by jgtg32a (1173373) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @11:06AM (#30283382)
        Back in my day we called that a server
        • by Mikkeles (698461)

          In my day, we called it the mainframe.

        • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @11:17AM (#30283506)

          Exactly. If the word "cloud" means anything at all, it means that the server is owned and maintained by someone else. Thus "private cloud" is an oxymoron.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by eln (21727)
            A "private cloud" is generally understood to mean a cloud maintained by an internal IT department which sells services on the cloud to other departments within an organization. So, it's just like any other cloud, except it's on the intranet, and the customers are departments within the same company, rather than the public at large.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by ceoyoyo (59147)

              Yes, and this is indistinguishable from the concept of "a server," which makes the "cloud" part of "private cloud" even more meaningless than usual. As I said.

          • ah you know the rest.

    • by JohnFen (1641097)

      This is exactly why I never want to move everything "in the cloud", or in to Internet services for that matter.

      I'm with you. I get nervous trusting any third party -- I even run my own mailservers, fileservers, wikis, web servers and so forth, primarily so I don't have to trust a third party for reliability or security -- but then, I'm a freak.

      There's something I don't understand, though -- "cloud computing" is just a sexy name for "centralized computing" or server-based computing, which is a throwback to the '50s-'70s. People sem to have forgotten why everyone was so excited to be able to get away from that model i

      • by slim (1652)

        "cloud computing" is just a sexy name for "centralized computing" or server-based computing, which is a throwback to the '50s-'70s. People seem to have forgotten why everyone was so excited to be able to get away from that model in the first place.

        People were mostly excited by instant response times, which couldn't be replicated over a 1200 baud modem, and by whizzy graphical user interfaces, which couldn't be delivered over the networks of the time.

        Neither of those are problems for a well written web app now.

        Another aspect was being superuser on your own machine, a big release in the days of the BOFH. But your target cloud user doesn't want to be a system administrator. They'll gladly let someone do that for them. But any company that gets BOFH on t

      • by Mikkeles (698461)

        People sem to have forgotten why everyone was so excited to be able to get away from that model in the first place.

        Well, the reason was big, big, BIG savings! Then everyone wanted to use the printer and share their information, so they needed a network and then a server to coordinate the network and then a server to store everything so it wouldn't get lost and ...

      • "cloud computing" is just a sexy name for "centralized computing" or server-based computing, which is a throwback to the '50s-'70s.

        uhm, no.

        cloud computing is about a bunch of smaller systems, tied together in a cluster (use whatever grouping word you like) and having distributed EVERYTHING (connectivity, storage, computes).

        nothing in the 50's thru 70's did this. single centralized server != 'cloud computing'

        • You're describing a particular implementation strategy, not the definition of "cloud computing".

        • by Tony Hoyle (11698)

          You just described a LAN (more like a workgroup). That is *not* cloud computing.

          Cloud computing is just client/server. It's where you store the documents 'in the cloud' (remote server) rather than locally. Hence google docs (the subject of this article), in fact a lot of the google stuff is 'cloud' based.

        • nothing in the 50's thru 70's did this

          Except VMS...

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Why are we nerds so bad at naming things? Instead of "the cloud" why don't we stop calling a spade a "iBigSpoon" call "the cloud" what it is -- OPS, or "other people's servers".

      GNU and TWAIN are at least amusing acronyms. But why can't we give things DESCRIPTIVE names? Could it be because it's not really we nerds naming most of this stuff (unlike GNU and TWAIN), but ignorant marketing bozos who draw a picture of a cloud on a chart because he doesn't understand the concept he's selling but relies on the fact

      • by slim (1652)

        Why are we nerds so bad at naming things? Instead of "the cloud" why don't we stop calling a spade a "iBigSpoon" call "the cloud" what it is -- OPS, or "other people's servers".

        I think cloud is a pretty decent name for what it is. If you want to get pernickety, it's a "cloud of servers".

        Just as a normal cloud is made of water droplets, or a cloud of gnats is made of, well, gnats. A server cloud is made of servers.

        They might be other people's servers. They might be your own. The technology does not specify that.

        Despite your bringing it up in every cloud related thread, your 'OPS' is not going to catch on.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bbtom (581232)

        I don't think we nerds are bad at naming things. From all I can tell, 'cloud computing' is the invention of consultants, VCs, vendors and other notorious buzzword merchants. Nerds come up with names like scrotwm [tommorris.org].

        As for cloud computing? It's a really dumb buzzword. People have had applications running on the Internet for a long time. Some of these are somehow 'cloud' and others aren't. Apparently, Gmail's IMAP servers are in the cloud, while my university's IMAP servers are just on the dull old Internet. If

    • by mweather (1089505)

      This is exactly why I never want to move everything "in the cloud", or in to Internet services for that matter. Locally ran applications are there for a reason and things like this

      Things like sharing the content with others? Personally I find my desktop is one of the worst places to store my docs if that is my goal.

    • Your response is very typical here on Slashdot. Every time someone talks about the cloud, folks pop up indicating that they don't want to give up control of their software and/or data.

      A few comments here...

      First of all, this is Google's freely hosted service. You do actually get what you pay for. In this case, some vaguely-flaky software that I wouldn't rely on. It may be a handy way to collaborate or distribute documents... But I really wouldn't trust it with my only copy of a document.

      Google does, ho

      • "And then there's the whole collaboration thing..."

        Yes, people in the same office modifying common "documents" with the goal of avoiding any physical contact.

        • by slim (1652)

          Yes, people in the same office modifying common "documents" with the goal of avoiding any physical contact.

          Or people in different continents, running a start-up together with almost no upfront costs.

    • I know very few people, even in IT, who have full-featured back-ups of their home systems. Even fewer have easy, convenient remote access to their data.

      Using online apps with online data services give you both of these things 99% of the time. They are a better option (assuming they have the features you need) than running things locally for the vast majority of people. Yes SaaS/cloud services might screw up, but the chances of them doing so are far lower than the chances of YOU screwing up.

      You are basing yo

    • by jitterman (987991)
      Sorry for another "me too" but seriously, I agree. I am in general a fan of Google's innovation, but I don't care who you are, I'm not trusting my important information to anyone else's hardware/domain/whim. Online collaboration and synchronized copies of documents are laudable goals, but not if I give away to (insert hosing company name of choice) the right to determine whether my compositions are "appropriate" as a term of service.

      Also, can we call "cloud" what it is: a return to client/server, just wi
    • by cbreaker (561297) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @12:00PM (#30284082) Journal
      This is the same reason I never ran Google Desktop. Google Desktop saves indexes on their servers. I want a level of privacy.

      There's no, none, nada guarantee that your data is safe or secure when using ANY online system. Just look at what happened with the Sidekicks recently. Who would have ever thought that could ever happen? They had backups, they had RAID, they had redundant servers. But, shit happens, and it did, and it CAN happen to Google.

      Plus, now you've got all this censorship bullshit. Well, it's not Censorship mostly, it's "protecting copyright." At all costs. It could easily disintegrate into real full-blown censorship, too.

      These services will be popular and I'll probably even use them eventually, but only for documents and files that I don't care if people get their hands on, and that I don't care if I lose. For everything else, it's backups as usual.

      There's services such as Carbonite and others that provide a way to back up your system in a mostly secure way. From what I understand, with Carbonite, everything is encrypted on their servers, and only your password will decrypt the files, even through the Web interface. This seems acceptable to me, and their servers aren't crawling through my documents making sure there's nothing copyright in there.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by slimjim8094 (941042)

        Google Desktop saves indexes on their servers.

        No it doesn't. Ever wondered what the gigabyte of index files on your drive is?

        The fact that Google Desktop runs a (local) webserver that you access from a web browser doesn't mean it's sending any data across the internet.

        There may be a feature to enable this, but it's not the default.

    • by vertinox (846076)

      This is exactly why I never want to move everything "in the cloud", or in to Internet services for that matter.

      Well... If the data is neither confidential nor important, I have no problems putting it on "the cloud".

      Especially if I want to share it with others.

      Secondly, what is the difference between a cloud hosting company and a web hosting company?

      Really not that much if you think about it.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @10:49AM (#30283104)
    Anyone who thinks they can rely on online stored data, with no offline physical backup or physical access, is living on Cloud 9.
  • Can't be trusted (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Xamusk (702162)
    That's exactly why I do any serious work by "offline" means. And I hope I can still keep doing this in the following years (aka: I hope Chrome OS's way of going "everything online" doesn't catch up)
  • by slim (1652) <john@ha[ ]up.net ['rtn' in gap]> on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @10:51AM (#30283132) Homepage

    This is a concern, but remember we're talking about the free service here. Google's free services are great while everything works, but if you need a human being's attention, you're likely to be waiting a long time. I've had bad experiences with YouTube publishing glitches.

    I'd hope that the paid Google Apps service has much better support. Can anyone confirm?

    Meanwhile, in these cases, all that these people were unable to do was make their docs public. They could continue to edit them. They could presumably share them with specific contacts.

    I think there needs to be a fix for this, but I don't think it's the end of the world for SaaS.

  • Rule #1 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Carewolf (581105) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @10:55AM (#30283194) Homepage

    Rule #1 of cloud computing: "Do not trust the cloud".

    Why is Google even able to review the content? Content should be encrypted.

    • by perlchild (582235)

      I suspect, at least in the yearbook plan case, because they were the ones providing the sharing algorithm, and if any, the encryption support.

      I think "the cloud" as a term, is being overused, or at least, used without discrimination, when you have the same term for 500 computer instances crunching data, with the result not meant to be public, and 25 people copying a single document, and not expecting it to be private, although they publish it later in another format...

      On the other hand, if all of that is me

      • Re:Rule #1 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jitterman (987991) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @11:44AM (#30283866)

        ... google isn't minding its own goddamn business, it doesn't have to review private data shared between individuals, as long as its legal.

        To the point, the question isn't "as long as it's legal" but rather, "as long as there is no legal warrant requiring overturn of documents to proper authorities." Google should NOT have any role in deciding whether something is legal in the first place, as that implies they have already reviewed your content and made an independent determination.

    • by dkf (304284)

      Rule #1 of cloud computing: "Do not trust the cloud".

      Rule #1 is "You get the level of service that you pay for."

      (OK, rule #1 is really "Don't get caught" but you know what I mean.)

      Why is Google even able to review the content? Content should be encrypted.

      Because they're a very cheap provider. Pay more and you'll get the sort of service that you're asking for. Do you want the money or do you want the privacy?

  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @10:57AM (#30283220) Homepage

    My Dad has a Cloud that my sister and I used to store our homework assignments.

    One night, I was writing a paper on it, when all of a sudden it went berserk. The screen started flashing and the whole paper just disappeared. All of it.

    And it was a good paper!

    I had to cram and rewrite it really quickly. Needless to say, my rushed paper wasn't nearly as good and I blame that Cloud for the grade I got.

    And I am totally not stoned right now. Really. Dude.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by maxume (22995)

      You should tell your dad to keep his cumulo out of your nimbus.

    • by thoth (7907)

      Modded Insightful?
      Doesn't anybody remember the "isn't she stoned" Apple ad this is making fun of??

  • Review!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vadim_t (324782) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @11:02AM (#30283312) Homepage

    Ok, I understand that unencrypted content is never guaranteed to be safe, so don't put anything of value in there. But the general assumption people make is that there's just so much stuff in there and most of it is so uninteresting that nobody will probably bother looking at it, unless it happens to show up in debug traces by chance, or something of the sort.

    But, "review" suggests somebody at Google *will* look at that content. Imagine that -- some drone at Google will be looking at your private work you want to share only with select people, or company data, and decide (when they get around it) that you can share it after all.

    IMO just the possibility of this happening at all makes the whole thing suspect, and could bite you in the ass right in the worst moment. "Sorry boss, I can't share that report because Google thinks there's porn in it. We'll have to wait until somebody at Google looks at it". I'm sure that would make for an interesting day.

    • Re:Review!? (Score:5, Informative)

      by slim (1652) <john@ha[ ]up.net ['rtn' in gap]> on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @11:17AM (#30283508) Homepage

      But, "review" suggests somebody at Google *will* look at that content. Imagine that -- some drone at Google will be looking at your private work

      This part is certainly a big, big concern. I can understand why Google feels the need to do it -- they want to avoid facilitating a paedophile ring or whatever -- but normal users should expect that their data is not ordinarily looked at.

      OTOH I'm sure there's something in the Google TOS about this. Ah here we go:
        - 8.3 Google reserves the right (but shall have no obligation) to pre-screen, review, flag, filter, modify, refuse or remove any or all Content from any Service.

      IMO just the possibility of this happening at all makes the whole thing suspect, and could bite you in the ass right in the worst moment. "Sorry boss, I can't share that report because Google thinks there's porn in it. We'll have to wait until somebody at Google looks at it". I'm sure that would make for an interesting day.

      To be fair, you can always save-as HTML/RTF/DOC/etc. and send your boss that.

      • >> IMO just the possibility of this happening at all makes the whole thing suspect, and could bite you in the ass right in the worst moment. "Sorry boss, I can't share that report because Google thinks there's porn in it. We'll have to wait until somebody at Google looks at it". I'm sure that would make for an interesting day.

        >> To be fair, you can always save-as HTML/RTF/DOC/etc. and send your boss that.

        Until Google realizes that one way to continue sharing documents is to have multiple people

      • Re:Review!? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by vadim_t (324782) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @11:40AM (#30283810) Homepage

        This part is certainly a big, big concern. I can understand why Google feels the need to do it -- they want to avoid facilitating a paedophile ring or whatever -- but normal users should expect that their data is not ordinarily looked at.

        Ah yes, you can justify absolutely anything in the name of fighting child porn. At this rate soon everybody will get a rectal exam at the airport, just in case they have a flash drive in there.

        But interestingly enough, the same filtering doesn't apply to email, AFAIK. So I don't get what's the point.

        To be fair, you can always save-as HTML/RTF/DOC/etc. and send your boss that.

        Yeah, that one is easy. The big deal is when you're really using the extra stuff google docs provides.

        For instance, I worked in a situation where several developers located in different countries used google docs to work on the same document. If Google suddenly decides the document can't be shared, that throws a wrench in the works. Not the end of the world for sure, but it could be very annoying and very inconvenient. It will definitely mess up the workflow. All of a sudden, instead of getting work done people have to talk to each other to explain what happened, figure out a new workflow, a way to decide who works on what part, who to mail the changes to and so on.

        And since Google can take whatever time it wants with the review, you don't even get an estimation of how long will this situation last. Very not cool.

    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      This calls for extensive testing.

      First, we create an account and fill it with harmless content containing "inappropriate" words. For example, a text about farm animals that uses the word "cock" a lot. If the documents are flagged, we can assume that Google uses pattern matching to find "bad" words.
      Another thing to try is to submit an article condemning hate speech that includes examples of the speech it condemns. Should set off a pattern matching filter.

      Second, we create an account and fill it with con
  • "seriously evaluate how this disruptive model will change your projects, your organization, and even your career"

    For the worse? Anyone who thinks that "disruptive" is a positive attribute is someone who is divorced from real-world concerns.

    • Re:"disruptive" (Score:4, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @11:26AM (#30283596) Journal
      "Disruptive" is both positive and negative, it just depends on who you are.

      By definition, a "disruptive" technology is a technology that is going to be laying down a little of the old Schumpeterian creative destruction on somebody's business model and/or existing capital base. For the incumbents, "disruptive"=bad.

      However, for everybody else, the incumbents are a bunch of sluggish, reactionary, rent-seeking parasites. Hurting them is an important aspect of progress.
      • Ultimately, the outcome will depend on the value of the "disruptive" technology. Remember, Microsoft Bob was once a disruptive technology too.

        • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @12:05PM (#30284148) Journal
          A technology that ends up dying a risible death, alone and unloved, can, at best, have been touted as a disruptive technology. Actually disruptive technologies have to do some disrupting.
        • by slim (1652)

          Remember, Microsoft Bob was once a disruptive technology too.

          In the literal sense that it disrupted the lives of those who installed it, I guess.

          But in the more specific sense of "disruptive technology", MS Bob failed to disrupt anything.

          The thing with disruptive technology is that it's very difficult to predict which ones are going to succeed. The rule of thumb is to invest in 10 potentially disruptive projects, with the expectation that one will succeed enough to fund the nine failures.

          The whole point of a disruptive technology is that people like it so much, that

    • the word 'disruptive' IS a current business word.

      as a techie, I cringe when I hear this. however, I used to work for a company who LOVED to use this word in a phrase ('disruptive computing'). I told them time and time again that it *sounds* bad to us techies but the business guys have a world of their own; and to them, this word *sounds* good to them!

      boggle!

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        Disruptive technologies are well defined. They are technologies that have a major impact on existing business models. The car was a disruptive technology; it put a lot of horse-related companies out of business and provided a lot of opportunities. So was the Internet, the aeroplane, and so on. Business people like disruptive technologies that they know about before the competition, because they upset the market. People who adapt to them faster than their competition can make a lot of money.
  • Wow! (Score:3, Funny)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @11:16AM (#30283504)
    With props to Homer Simpson:
    Google: The reason for and reason for not moving to cloud computing!
  • Censorship. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Poodleboy (226682) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @11:19AM (#30283528)

    "Censorship" is the proper word to describe this. The notion that I cannot express myself except in some "inoffensive" manner, for whatever values of "inoffensive" are acceptable to the owner of the cloud. I can see the "great wall cloud of China" already. Haven't big search companies already kowtowed to the Chinese government in order to access their markets? Is it inconceivable that Google would agree to Chinese government review of shared documents in order to serve the Chinese "cloud computing" market? I don't think it is.

    Even here, imagine trying to write almost any kind of literary critique of Henry Miller, Ferdinand Celine or Vladimir Nabakov...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)

      No it's not. If I own a building I don't have to let you "express yourself" all over the wall.

      Google owns it's servers and software. They let you use them, subject to certain conditions. If you don't like those conditions, don't use them (an approach which I take to a greater or lesser degree).

      Censorship is serious. Save the rant for when there's actually some censorship going on otherwise we'll be in a crying wolf situation.

  • It sounds like Google is using the "Beavis and Butt-head" filter. Heh Heh, he said ASSpirin

    I'm not so sure I want to trust anything important to that.

  • I run a really dope cloud computing system that never fails. It's called ssh into my server and use nano.
  • Yeah (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Peregr1n (904456) <ian.a.ferguson@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @11:52AM (#30283970) Homepage

    I repeatedly encouraged my girlfriend to store her PhD documents in Google Docs, rather than on her laptop (that she takes everywhere). Eventually she complied; then, after a week or so, all her Google Docs vanished without trace.

    No previous versions, nothing. I was at a loss to explain it, and have you tried contacting Google with a tech support request? Not a chance.

    She's reverted to her low-tech solution (keep on laptop, occasionally email self with document attachments as a backup). I can't blame her.

    I'm not saying this WILL happen to anyone else, but it completely destroyed my faith in 'cloud' storage. I'm quite happy storing documents remotely, when I know where they are, but cloud storage by definition could be anywhere - or nowhere.

  • Cloud computing is not advertising based broadcasting. What google does, for the most part, is sell advertising. It gains eyeballs for it's ads through search and content delivery. In this model, a single end user has a marginal of losing a single end user is essentially zero. The potential cost for hosting content that generates negative publicity or DCMA notices is relatively huge. Like all broadcasting, the end user is not the customer, and therefore the expectation for a high level of customer serv
  • It's about control (Score:3, Interesting)

    by quixote9 (999874) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @12:06PM (#30284166) Homepage
    Having the *right* to your own work is different from somebody letting you have it--for now. Google's TOS says loud and clear that they're in control, not you.

    It's funny that commenters with low membership numbers -- which I assume means folks who've been around the computer scene since the Stone Age -- make that point, while the ones with the What-Me-Worry attitude sound less experienced.

    Cloud computing is just thin clients all over again, thin clients with graphics. Now all that remains to be seen is what we're willing to hand over in exchange for those nice shiny beads.
  • Hardly a new story (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jc42 (318812) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @12:15PM (#30284286) Homepage Journal

    This sort of problem isn't at all new; it's much of why the "personal computer" approach took over computing back in the 1980s.

    Before that, and still today in some large organizations, the "mainframe" was the only computer. When the little desktop computers started appearing, the "computer center" people in most companies and other organizations argued against them, mostly on the grounds that the work could be done much cheaper on the mainframe. Buying a lot of single-user machines was illogical from a purely cost-oriented viewpoint. But people kept finding ways to use their funds to buy the new little computers for a very simple reason: The mainframe was in the hands of a bureaucracy that had completely controlled what you could do on it. If you wanted to do something new (like run one of those newfangled "spreadsheet" programs), you had to go begging the DP people for permission. You couldn't install software on the mainframe yourself; the DP people had to install it for you. If they didn't think you needed it, you didn't get it. They usually had no idea what a "spreadsheet" was, so you couldn't get it. You couldn't have a terminal that did real-time interaction with software on the mainframe anyway, so a spreadsheet was sorta unusable on a mainframe.

    So people bought the new little machines, not to save money, but so that they could do the things that the people in the computer department wouldn't allow them to do. Eventually the people at the top learned what was happening, and the sensible ones figured out that it was to their benefit to take the side of the workers and allow this to continue. The ones that forbid the use of desktop computers found that their company was slowly being made uncompetitive by the lack of ability to do the sorts of data processing (such as spreadsheets) that their competitors were doing.

    The "cloud computing" idea has its merits. But it will always have the same problems that mainframe computers had. It will be under the control of the giant organizations (mostly secretive corporations) that run the cloud. Those organizations will have unfettered access to any data stored on their part of the cloud, and will use your data for their own purposes whenever they see a profit in doing so. If they don't like something you're doing, they will be able to block it. If you want control of your own data for any reason, you will have to keep it and the associated software on hardware that you own and control. If you don't, you'll find your pictures of your kids being used commercially. If your photo collection contains a picture of your kids in the bathtub or otherwise naked, they'll be labelled as "child porn" and deleted or sent to your local police. (Gotta bring in "Think of the children" here. ;-)

    It's the way things have always worked, and always will. There are reasons people want privacy, some frivolous and some serious. And there are things that are best done in public settings. For those things, the "cloud" will be a big win for everyone.

  • Standards? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rgviza (1303161) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @12:25PM (#30284418)

    I'll use the cloud when the vendors decide on a open data access standard (along with standard data import and export capability) and actually adhere to it. Til then they can keep it. Submitting to vendor lock in is not a very intelligent IT strategy, which means using cloud computing isn't an intelligent IT strategy if it involves development.

    Sometimes cheap isn't very cheap at all.

  • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @02:46PM (#30286576) Homepage Journal

    ``When it comes to support in the cloud, it kind of looks like you might get what you pay for.''

    Oh, please. The connection of "you get what you pay for" with support is only used to discredit whatever technology the speaker doesn't happen to like.

    There are free products with great support just as there are expensive products with crappy or nonexistent support. The phrase "you get what you pay for" was widely used to discredit open-source software, but it turns out that such software is now actually preferred over commercial software in many instances. And you often get quite a lot of support that you didn't pay for if you browse the fora.

    "When it comes to support, you get what you pay for" is a cheap, meaningless slingshot.

    There are real disadvantages to cloud computing, but bad support isn't one of them. You get the support that the provider gives you, and that can be great or horrible, regardless of whether they charge for it and regardless of whether or not they provide cloud computing.

"Just think of a computer as hardware you can program." -- Nigel de la Tierre

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