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Hmm... - Diary of a Necromancer
Excuse me, I'm making perfect sense, you're just not keeping up
It occurs to me, apropos Scalzi's latest tech-noodlings, that we're actually circling back to an earlier phase in computing development with this whole "leave it to the Cloud" business: the notion of the end-user's interface being little more than a point of access to a central mainframe down in the basement. It's just that now we're tapping into many mainframes down in many basements. I'm not sure whether this constitutes Progress or not, but it does make me want to get all "get off my lawn" about the young'n's not remembering what a leap it was getting away from that model to self-contained boxes in the first place.

feeling: thinky

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ashnistrike From: ashnistrike Date: December 21st, 2010 03:38 am (UTC) (permalink this entry)
I'm not so much, "You kids get off my lawn," as, "I want to keep all my stuff on my lawn." Dragon with a data hoard, that's me. Off-site is for back-up.
morgynleri_fic From: morgynleri_fic Date: December 21st, 2010 05:39 am (UTC) (permalink this entry)
*hovers protectively over her computers* I like my computers, my nice little computers with all my computing power being mine and not shared, and... and... *arms self with pointy stick and sits down to keep kids off her lawn, and all her stuff on her lawn*
grahamwest From: grahamwest Date: December 21st, 2010 10:05 am (UTC) (permalink this entry)
Yep. Everything old is new again. Computing has waxed and waned through terminals, workstations, thin clients, peer to peer and now the cloud.

There's no one right place to put the divider between localised and centralised workloads. "Halting State" by Charlie Stross has some interesting perspectives on this - I'm not yet done with the book though.

It does make me sad when the local clients don't support programmability though. Xerox's workstations had it right with Smalltalk - the environment was its own programming language and everything was interpreted so you could just click on whatever element you didn't like and change its code, from moving items between menus to completely rewriting an app.

I wish the iPad supported that model.
robling_t From: robling_t Date: December 21st, 2010 10:50 am (UTC) (permalink this entry)
My instinct is that to place too much of the functionality on the other side of the "hose" leaves the overall system unacceptably vulnerable to anything that interferes with that connection; no matter how robust you think you've made things, to not have control over some idiot kicking out the metaphorical plug on the other end gives me the willies, whether it's a fire at the serverfarm or some Suit deciding that the app that your whole company runs on (coughdeliciouscough) isn't cost-effective enough to them to maintain all of a sudden. But then I am in general a skeptic about many things predicated upon uninterrupted access through a bottleneck-point, up to and including globalization (because after all aren't container ships and call-centers a metaphor for hollowing out an economy into a dumb terminal?)...
grahamwest From: grahamwest Date: December 21st, 2010 12:05 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
Yes, now that you mention it that is a pretty good metaphor for the trans-shipping free-trade model. In particular it captures the important point that skill, not just control, is being leeched away to other countries.
nojay From: nojay Date: December 21st, 2010 10:55 am (UTC) (permalink this entry)
It's cyclical -- users don't need massive amounts of computing power, they can use cheap locked-down thin clients which are easy to maintain while the serious metal is looked after by trained professionals at the other end of a serial line/thin Ethernet/Cat5e Ethernet/GigE/WiFi/3G link.

But we can give the thin client some local storage for cacheing purposes to reduce bandwidth on the connection, oh and enough RAM and CPU power to allow sandboxed executables and the display could do with juicing up for a better user experience and so we need to improve the hardware just a teeny little bit and the client's machine needs some new OS upgrades to handle this extra capability and the result is a machine that isn't actually a locked-down thin client any more.

Round and round and round it goes. I've seen at least three of these cycles since I started working on mainframes back in the 70s. The thin client concept rarely goes very far other than lots of flashy Powerpoint slides by big-iron companies (Oracle included) who reckon they can make a fortune by renting computation to folks and end up ditching the proposals after the sink without trace in the marketplace.

The only thing I'd use the Cloud for is backing up the data I really want to keep. The ability to access data "anywhere" via the Cloud is only really useful for a very small subset of anyone's data hoard; the classic Calendar apps and maybe last month's emails. The rest of it can usually wait. You certainly don't want to run heavy computational loads on the Cloud unless you're into High Performance computing and you'd do that from your desk.
green_knight From: green_knight Date: December 21st, 2010 01:12 pm (UTC) (permalink this entry)
I can haz an iPhone. If I wasn't convinced of the idea of the cloud before (and in its last incarnation many many moons agao) I am less convinced of it now.

Despite having both Wifi and 3G abilities, I am out of range of the cloud for about 15% of locations and 40% of the time (this is skewed by the fact that the back half of my house does not have access and it blips in and out at the front - it's never _consistent_ access.)

If I had to rely on the cloud for applications, rather than uploading/downloading data, my productivity would drop by around 80%.

Doesn't sound like progress to me. Until access to the cloud improves five fold - until I have two working alternatives *all the time and in every location*, I'm not interested.

And let's not talk about cable thieves which can seriously inhibit your access to anything remotely internet-like.
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