What can I do with the Cloud?
A light-hearted but practical look
Obviously there is no recorded historical account of the first purpose that the wheel was put to but it was probably some practical task. However, I like to imagine it was the centrepiece of at least the occasional practical joke, too.
In my mind’s eye, I see two cavemen laughing uncontrollably as they watch a third caveman sprinting down a hillside with a massive stone wheel barrelling down upon him (it’s a widely held belief that the invention of insurance closely followed that of the wheel).
Whether it was a practical joke or a practical task, the average caveman probably watched on and said, “Those round rolling things are an interesting concept, but I’ll wait for them to work the bugs out before I give it a try”.
However, the forward-thinking cavemen formulated clever and time-saving uses for the wheel. Before long, everyone was talking about these wise men of technology (it was very gender-stereotyped back then) and how creative and particularly cool they were. Naturally, they became quite popular among the cavewomen – it’s probably a safe bet that the majority of us are the descendants of early wheel entrepreneurs.
So, if history has taught us anything, it is to get in early on something that is showing real promise of being genuinely useful. With that lesson in mind, you will be interested to know that the “cloud” is still a relatively new concept… it’s definitely still early enough for you to become the clever one who leads the masses.
Sound interesting? Read on.
What is the cloud? Is it wet?
It has nothing to do with water vapour. It’s all about the internet.
Nearly everyone understands that you can download from the internet. Downloading means taking something from “up” on the internet and bringing it “down” on to your computer. You can download music, pictures, movies… even looking at a website is downloading data from the internet because the text and pictures from that website are copied to your computer so they can be viewed on your web browser.
But the cloud is actually the opposite of downloading. It is taking stuff from your computer and uploading it to be stored on the internet. You can copy music, pictures, documents and videos from your computer and store them on the internet. This is called “cloud storage”.
(There is another major use of the cloud which pertains to removing the need for software to be installed on your computer. However, I won’t be talking about that here.)
How can I use it at home? Will I need an aeroplane?
No need to fly, you just need an internet connection because there are several free cloud storage facilities available on the web. Microsoft, Amazon and Google all provide cloud services with small amounts of free and secure storage capacity for the general public.
Apple also has iCloud – while this is an example of cloud storage, it is not very practical for storing anything except data from iPads and iPhones.
Probably the most commonly known cloud storage facility is Dropbox (although this one is slightly more complicated to use than the others).
All of these facilities require you to sign up for a free account with the cloud storage provider. It is usually necessary to also download a small program to allow you to have easy access to the cloud storage directly from your computer.
How do I impress people with that?
“Okay”, I hear you say, “but that all sounds pretty boring, so how am I supposed to impress people with that?
Well, those wheel entrepreneurs weren’t gaining admirers just because they had round rolling things; it was what they were doing with them that made the difference.
With cloud storage, you can access whatever you’ve stored there via any internet-connected computer anywhere in the world. That is a massive comfort to you if you had the foresight to store copies of important documents in the cloud and your originals have gone missing or been destroyed.
Here are some examples of what you can do with that.
Problem: You’re going through customs after arriving at a foreign destination and suddenly realise you’ve left your passport and itinerary in the seat pocket on the plane. Oh no, the plane is already on its way to another country!
Solution: Not to worry*, before you left home, you scanned your passport and itinerary on your trusty all-in-one printer/scanner and uploaded it to your cloud storage facility. Now you just have to get access to a computer and log in to your cloud account to get copies to take to the local police and embassy.
Impressive because: You originally thought you were stuck in a foreign country with no way of identifying yourself, but managed to avoid wetting your pants when you suddenly remembered you were smart enough to prepare for just such a situation.
Problem: You were out shopping and you only put your handbag down for a second (you swear) but before you knew it, someone had stolen it. Oh no, you can’t remember all the drivers license/credit/library/discount/loyalty/gym/health insurance cards that you had in your purse. How will you be able to remember all the places that need to be called to get these cards cancelled and replaced?
Solution: No problem*, only a month or so ago, you took every card out of your purse, laid them on the glass of your scanner and saved an image to your cloud storage facility.
Impressive because: You were able to access your cloud storage via your smart phone (luckily it never leaves your hand) while you were still at the shopping mall, found your scanned document of all 13 credit cards and get them cancelled immediately. With so many credit cards, you never needed to carry cash, so those thieving bag snatchers just wasted their time!
Problem: You come home to find your house has burnt down to the ground. Luckily no-one was home at the time but all your important papers such as your insurance documents, deed to the house and birth certificate have gone up in smoke. Not only that, but your computer is destroyed along with all your digital photos, home movies and associated memories.
Solution: It’s not an issue*, because not only had you scanned all your important documents and uploaded them to the cloud, but you had also set up your computer to regularly back up your digital documents, photos and videos to your cloud storage facility.
Impressive because: One of the documents you had saved to the cloud was architectural plans for the dream home you knew you would only ever be able to afford if you got an insurance payout in the event of your house burning down.
* I’m sure you will actually worry a lot and there will be several other infuriating problems, but at least these solutions will go some way towards reducing your stress.
Too complicated but you still want to try the cloud?
If this all sounds great to you and you’d love to be able to show off this marvel of technological ingenuity but it sounds too difficult to you to set up automatic backups and cloud storage accounts or you simply have no idea how to get your scanner to talk to your computer, then give Geeks to the Rescue a call. We’re more than happy to help out.
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