To Cloud, or Not to Cloud – GDSE04

April 29, 2015

Hey everybody. This is Matt, the stay at home geek dad in Northern California. You’ve found the G33kdadShow! and this is episode 4, To Cloud or not To Cloud. Thanks for listening. Let’s get to it.

Intro

Well, I am so glad you all have decided to give me another chance by downloading this episode. I haven’t released anything since late last year and I offer no excuse. However, I do have a bit of explanation. I am a perfectionist in some ways. Mostly, as it pertains to this podcast, that means if I don’t think the episode is perfect, I won’t even attempt to release it. It also means, because I listen to many podcasters who have been at this a long time, I have a kinda warped sense of what "perfect" means. I am still getting used to this and I feel I may have bit off more than I can chew. To some people this would mean, cut back and lower your expectations of yourself… but not this guy. To me it means, give up. Not exactly the best idea. So, this is what I am forcing myself to do… I am changing my expectations of myself. GASP To anyone who knows me, this will come as a complete shock. But, I really want to get good at this and I really need the creative outlet, so, here’s the deal. I have decided to make content king. I will do my best to bring you excellent content in each episode. I will NOT, however, get bogged down with tons of editing, musical transitions, etc. Also, I will endeavor to keep the episode length consistent with the content. So, I don’t know if you want to call this a relaunch or a reboot, but for me, it is a commitment to get shows out, even if they are less than "perfect". My friend and fellow podcaster Knightwise recently released an episode for the community podcast network Hacker Public Radio. The topic was a list of excuses not to record a podcast for HPR. I heard, in his tongue-in-cheek excuses, many of my own excuses echoed. So, I am taking his advice to heart, writing an episode, and pushing the big red button! So, lets get into todays topic… The Cloud!

Clip from Sex Tape 2014

What is the cloud?

As the movie clip suggests, many people don’t really understand what the cloud is. In the simplest terms, the term cloud is synonymous with the word internet. Data only exists if it is written to some type of storage medium. So, if you have data stored in the cloud, that means it is written on the hard drive of a server somewhere. What makes it "cloud storage" is the fact you access it via the internet. The storage itself is not "cloud" but the access is. So, why in the world to we call it cloud, then? The answer dates back to the early days of the commercial internet. When I was in college in the mid 90’s, I worked for a now defunct dial-up internet service provider in Phoenix, AZ. It was early days for the commercial internet and many households were getting their first internet access. People had lots of questions and most of them were "How does XYZ work?". My favorite of these was about email. Trying to explain how email works to a novice computer user was always challenging and we often used diagrams. In these diagrams, the vast network we call the internet was symbolized by a cloud shape. I will include an example of this type of diagram in the shownotes for this episode at g33kdad.thestrangeland.net/4. Cloud example diagram Because of this, the first users of the internet came to understand the internet as a cloud and these early adopters became the tech entrepreneurs who have created the modern notion of Cloud computing.

Do you Cloud?

So, do you use the cloud? Chances are, you do! In fact, if you have downloaded and listened to this podcast, you are using the cloud. The sound files that make up this podcast are stored on a server owned and operated by the Internet Archive. I may do a full episode on the Internet Archive at some point. They are an awesome group dedicated to preserving internet content for posterity. If you would like to find out more about them, you can visit thier website at www.archive.org. Internet Archive hosts the audio files and image files for this and every episode of the G33kDadShow!. The website you view at g33kdad.thestrangeland.net is hosted on servers owned and operated by GoDaddy!. Neither one of these companies are located in my city or, most likely, in your city. However, by the power of a world wide network of computers, I can create these files at my house, upload them to these remote servers, and you can download and enjoy them at your lesiure! How cool is that? Other ways you may use the cloud in your daily life.. Do you use Evernote? That’s a cloud service. Do you use Dropbox or Google Drive? That’s a cloud service. Do you use outlook.com or gMail? Those are another type of cloud service. Even Google Docs or Office 365 are examples of services you don’t run on your local machine, but access through the internet. Is the cloud starting to make more sense, now?

Another way some people use the term cloud is by saying "cloud commputing". This is a slightly different animal than what we have been describing so far. This is more of an enterprise level usage, by which I mean, it is important to big corporations and governments. It isn’t as big a deal to the average home, family, or dad. Essentially, with cloud computing, the servers that are being accessed via the internet are providing a platform for remote desktops or running big data applications. The same definition of cloud works here. That is, cloud is about howyou access the data… cloud = internet.

ownCloud Tease

One of the big issues surrounding "the Cloud" these days is security and privacy. Any data you store on servers you don’t own is subject to snooping by the corporation who owns the server or by the Government of the United States. Unless you have been living under a rock for several years, you are probably at least peripherally aware of Edward Snowden and the NSA spying, evesdropping, and massive data collection efforts he exposed. Things which we once thought to be safe and private are not. In fact, the laws on the books are so outdated and out of touch, files that you leave on a cloud service providers servers for more than 6 months are considered fair game for warrantless snooping by local, state, and federal law enforcement. I have emails in my INBOX that are older than 6 months.

Companies like google, dropbox, onedrive, and the like offer free and/or inexpensive storage options and it seems like a good way to keep image and document files safe for years to come. But it comes at a price, privacy. Many people feel that they have nothing to hide, so privacy isn’t that important to them. I understand that. But what if you want an option that isn’t so easily spied on? I have a solution for that. It’s called ownCloud, and we are going to go indepth with it, in our next episode!

Conclusion

Well, I hope I have given you guys some good info, some good stuff to think about with this episode. I also hope I have peaked your curiosity about ownCloud and you will listen to the next episode. If you want to do some reading ahead, check out ownCloud at www.owncloud.org. I will be talking about what ownCloud is, how it works, and how I use it in my own life on the next episode of the G33kDadShow!

I want to thank the folks at Internet Archive for hosting our podcast. There are all kinds of good things going on over there. Check them out at archive.org. Also, thanks to Grant Bowtie who composed our theme song. The title is Insurgent and you can find more from Grant on his SoundCloud page. The link for that and other items I have mentioned in this show are available in the show notes at g33kdad.thestrangeland.net/4.

Thanks so much for listening to this episode. I welcome your feedback. You can send me an email, feedback@thestrangeland.net, or use the contact page on the website. Until next time, I am the stay at home Geek Dad. Bye, bye!

Links:

Grant’s Soundcloud Page: soundcloud.com/grantbowtie
Internet Archive: archive.org
Knightwise Podcast: knightwise.com
Hacker Public Radio: hackerpublicradio.org