LowComDom Performances Presents
The Crapolla According to Fek'Lar
You know you're screwed when...
You're stuck in a hospital and no one will bring you BBQ.
You've stumbled onto another issue of The Crapolla, a journal written for software professionals. No not the managers; I mean the people who do the work.
This Crapolla is sponsored by...
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In This Issue...
Retiring in the Cloud
I never thought I'd say this, but cloud computing is getting interesting. It's not new. I remember mounting a hard drive in Japan on a machine in Massachusetts back in the mid 90's. Yeah, that was a "cloud" thing. And the Twitter, FaceBook, MySpace, expose your life to the whole world stuff is cloud. But I'm talking about real productivity tools that are secure.
Over the past year I've been trying new uses of technology to make getting my work done with fewer hassles. I touch at least four computers a day, and have about seven projects running at the same time. I need my work to follow me around. No, that's not an argument for a hand-held device. I need a full keyboard to get my work done.
First, I tried carrying everything on an encrypted thumb drive. But disparate file systems kept getting in the way. Then there was the issue of ensuring the drive was getting backed up regularly, and finally, having a thumb drive go tits-up on me. I needed cross-platform tools that were fairly secure, and automatically backed up. I really want to stop thinking about technology and just exploit it for a while. I've found three products seem to fit the bill today.
To replace the thumb drive, I'm using Dropbox. This is a two-way replicated directory on your hard drive. Mount the same dropbox on multiple machines, or multiple accounts on the same machine, and all are sharing the files in the directory. This has two advantages. It causes my work to follow me to the usual computers I use, and it gives me automatic backups since at least one of the drives the dropbox exists on is being actively backed up.
I also have Apple's iDisk as part of Mobile Me. It also does this function, but it's really bad at reconciling deletions. Remove a file, or worse yet, move a file to a different directory, and iDisk either does nothing, or it gives you two copies on all your machines. Take another crack at it Dear Leader.
Dropbox can also have an affect on programs which aren't usually considered "cloud" services. I'm storing my password locker file in a secure Dropbox so that all my computers know all my passwords. This is becoming a must since I have a zillion passwords these days. The days of remembering all of them are over. (I am becoming a bit senile.)
I mentioned automatic backups. This is being accomplished two ways. I use Apple's Time Machine inside the house to back up everything. The trouble is, if the house is destroyed, my backups get wiped out too. For off-site backup I'm using Carbonite. There are many players in the space. They all tend to do the same thing. Data I've marked is backed up to secure servers. Each file is encrypted before backing up, and stays encrypted on the servers. Unless Carbonite has a backdoor to the encryption, my data is secure.
This is real important. I've got a ton of data that needs to never be lost. Least of which is my 35 years of photography. You know how after a trailerpark-seeking tornado goes through, the victims are always looking for their pictures? What do you think happens when everything is on the hard drive of that laptop at the bottom of the lake? Anyone who has digital pictures (or even financial records for that matter) should have off-site backup. There are many competitors in this space. Go find yourself a good deal.
So that's storage and backup. Admittedly, neither is actually productivity enhancing unless they fail, in which case they are the opposite. The productivity enhancer is Evernote.
I heard about this from CNET Editor Rafe Needleman who mentioned it as one of the tools he uses at CES. Evernote not only takes text notes, but voice, pictures, and web pages, and dumps them into notebooks. Each note can be tagged for future sorting. Now you're wondering why I need this. Remember that senile remark? I have a dozen good ideas a day that I think are worth remembering. But if those ideas are not committed to a database quickly, I tend to loose them.
Evernote is on my laptop, desktop, iPod, and phone. Whichever device I can get to first gets the note dumped into it, then two-way replication moves notes to all machines. I can take a picture with my phone and it's on my desktop lickity-split. My Chiropractor can tell me how much the next year of back cracking will cost, and I can speak that number into the phone. When I'm next doing my accounting, I can print up a check.
For more than a decade, I've been writing The Crapolla in a text editor designed for writing code. Since I get replication with Evernote, and a full set of writing tools, I've started writing non-code exclusively in Evernote.
How much would you pay for all of this? Dropbox has free service for 2 gigs of storage. If you go over, you can buy extra starting at 100 bucks a year. I'm using the free option. Carbonite has a free trial period and then it costs 55 bucks a year. If you buy multiple years at a time, you get a bargain. That's cheap insurance. Evernote is free with 40 megs of storage on the ad-based version. For 45 bucks, you can turn off ads, get 500 megs of storage, and can store any type of file. I've paid the subscription fee because I want this vendor to stay in business.
If you're over 25, right after you get off street drugs and onto prescription drugs, you probably have at least started to think about saving some money, and maybe retiring one day. The older you get, the more you think about it. A woman on my team has just turned 36, and she's got a unique idea that uses the system.
If retirement age is 65, she's got 29 years to go. She's got a mortgage, medical benefits, 401K, sounds like she's on track, right? She doesn't think so. She's figuring that much of the system will have collapsed in the next 29 years, and what she has saved might not be worth much. It's possible that real estate might not appreciate to the point of being filthy rich in 2039. She's doing research for a special type of retirement facility.
Turns out there's a very nice prison in Florida which houses no one but white collar criminals. Her research is studying every inmate of this prison, to figure out the most common factors of their conviction. What were the crimes? Where were they committed? Where were the inmates captured? And in which courts were the trials held? By studying each of these attributes, she figures when she's ready to retire, and can't afford health care, or even imitation crab meat (her favorite), she commits the right crime, in the right place, captured by the right cops, and tried in the right court, to be tossed into the prison of her dreams. There she spends the rest of her life with other white collar retirees, is served three squares a day, and gets better health care than the average geriatric. When she dies, no one claims her, so the taxpayer picks up the tab for body disposal.
I've got to say this is really deep thinking. I mean, by 2039 we won't just have crappy old TV, it'll be full sensory immersion feed through a socket on the back of your head. The white collar inmate may have access to a library of the finest virtual worlds to spend their sentences in. For all she knows, she could spend her golden years thinking she's 25 and frolicking with pool boys.
I've always wanted to see Tahiti. Hmm... what's the name of that prison again?
Scientists Trying to Determine Why It's Needed
Heard in the halls of various software companies.
"A few people could use a dirt-nap."
"I think I'll reboot and watch my computer crap itself."
"I told my wife what's in my will. She went out and bought a chemistry set."
"Self-Service just brings out the Dufus in people."
"Your dog has way more style than you do."
The nurse is bringing my Jell-O shot.
They pay me to think. These are my thoughts. Do you think they are getting their money's worth?
Remember: The Crapolla contains my personal opinions. That's right they're mine, so get your own! And you kids get off my lawn!
Although written with the software professional in mind, my mind tends to wander all over the place, and I sometimes write about politics, mass stoopidity, dumb things I saw, and whatever else comes to mind.
From time to time, I use salty language, thus The Crapolla is not intended for children, or certain people from the Christian Right.
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