Prepare To Abandon Your Soul & Data To Google's Government-Readable Cloud
How are things in Colombo? I guess it must be nice now that your country has finally recovered from the years of war with the Tamil Tigers! I really should come down and visit now that the threat of bombings is over in Sri Lanka.
The summer of 2011 here has been really hot but with the advent of the strongest El Nino ever recorded and the cumulative effects of global warming, I guess it was to be expected. I spent most of the summer indoors ringing up a huge electrical bill with my Lennox central air conditioning compressor chugging away outside the house and I was grateful for each and every chug!
I've spent even more time this summer indoors on my computer than usual just to get away from the blistering heat. Last winter I took the plunge and stopped resisting cloud computing. After all, I couldn't justify spending $200 for an operating system and $700 for an office suite when somewhat equivalent functionality was available through the Googlesphere. Google Docs has matured to the point where it effectively replaces Microsoft Office, and I don't have to put up with that horrible huge malodorous ribbon at the top of my monitor.
I also stopped resisting Google Chrome OS. My last justification for avoiding Google's cloud computing initiative was that the net giant's Linux based operating system did not allow for Windows applications to be run on my system. It doesn't really support anything that isn't in the cloud. So I couldn't use my Photoshop in the cloud and that was the one app I couldn't live without.
Google's takeover of Adobe last year and the issuance of Google Creative Suite as part of Google Docs finally convinced even me. The availability of a $1200 suite of image manipulation tools in the Google cloud for absolutely free sealed the deal.
Yes, I do get a bit annoyed at the constant Scientology ads that get served up on the top of the screen, but at least they aren't as big as the Microsoft Office ribbon, although just as noxious.
But... what the heck... between the operating system, the Office functionality, and the Creative Suite apps, that's dang near two grand worth of software that I'm getting absolutely free, so even the most dyed in the wool traditionalist, supporter and evangelist of "old fashioned keep it on your hard drive" computing had to finally capitulate... and I did.
I actually didn't expect the transition from running the apps off my own system two feet away from me to running the apps off a Google hard drive in some enormous server farm in India or Russia or somewhere to be as smooth as it was. It's a bit weird to think that your own hard drive now only contains boot instructions as I still don't know what I'm going to do with the terabyte that's left over, but I guess that's still me thinking in the "old fashioned way". It's 2011 and progress continues no matter what.
At first I was a bit apprehensive about shifting over 50 GB of my precious data to Google's servers. After all, my data includes archives back to the days when I was on a Mac IIfx all the way to today. All my email. All my correspondence. All my everything! And there were rumors that the U.S. Government had obtained access to every byte...
It was all a bit disconcerting, but I guess I got used to it. I didn't really believe that government access story anyway. Just more online scare tactics by forum frequenters who are passionate Microsoft supporters, I guess...
Something else which I guess must be completely unrelated but is just as disconcerting was the email I received from a friend last week. He told me that my old buddy Jeong got arrested and is facing twenty years in jail. Jeong was a great guy who did some stupid things years ago when he was young and greedy. He didn't hurt anyone but he did play some games financially that weren't really above board. I always adopted the "don't ask don't tell" policy with Jeong, and at one point told him to stop emailing me with information on his "activities." I wanted to know Jeong as a friend and not as a "financial manipulator" as it was none of my damn business.
Then this morning I got a frantic call from Balthazar, a former business partner. He was literally out of his mind and was screaming at me like a maniac. Apparently the IRS is auditing him and the agent asked him specific questions about transactions Balthazar conducted years ago that were never revealed outside the partnership. I told him I have never told a soul about any of that and I never would. We never even discussed it on the phone with each other, only in person, and the only documents that would prove those transactions were never even printed out for security. They were zipped up safely and securely in my Archive File and that's where they have stayed for years.
I'd been wondering if that could have had anything to do with my old buddy Wiktor getting notification that the RIAA was charging him with copyright violation on 37 illegal songs and demands $25,000 per count. Wiktor doesn't even know what the heck a torrent site is, let alone how to use it, but he's a vintage polka fanatic, couldn't find those old recordings anywhere in official music sites, and he had asked me to copy those 37 songs on a USB key for him. How could the RIAA find out that he had those songs since he didn't download them? Very strange.
I really started to get suspicious, however, when my ex wife called a few minutes ago. She was going on and on as to how her lawyer managed to get some information from the government to prove that I'd been understating my income to minimize the alimony payments. How could she ever have found out, given that my "secret" income source is overseas, only pays through my Paypal, I never withdraw any of the money and only use it to make purchases of gold coins which are shipped to my drop box address in Auckland? I arrange for everything online and make sure that I never have any "paper trail."
Heck, Kimaya, I remember a few emails from you when you were younger expressing support for the Tamils! I'm glad you changed your tone since then, but you could be in big trouble with your government if any of those old messages surfaced somehow!
I have to stop writing now. There's a ruckus outside. At least four police cars are pulling up into my driveway with lights and sirens blazing. I wonder what the heck they want?
OK, this is a fictional story. I don't know a Kimaya, Jeong, Balthazar, Wiktor, don't download pirated songs, or have a New Zealand address. It was written to prove that there are significant aspects of Google's dream of cloud computing that might not be in the best interests of personal computer users.
Right now all your data, all your information, all your archives, all your past correspondence, and all your "secrets" reside on a hard drive which is an arm's length away.
Can you truly trust some $400 billion corporation to have each and every byte of that data sitting on its own servers?
For Google to scan the info for marketing information and barrage you with "tailored" ads might be innocuous enough, but what about when the servers are accessed by government agencies? Is there really absolutely not one word anywhere on your hard drive that couldn't get you, or someone you know, into trouble? If so, you're one of the very few!
LATE BREAKING NEWS: Microsoft has just announced that they will put Office 2010 in the cloud as well. Their minds must be the ones that are cloud-ed as that opens up even more ways for your data to get into the hands of darn near anyone who wants it. Can you trust Google and Microsoft with your "secrets"? I know what my answer is!