Now I’m on the cloud (9)

Tarquin and the EEESome time ago I wrote about the Macbook Air in slightly disparaging terms, wondering about the usefulness of cloud computing what with the Intertubes getting all messed up in the future.

But then I found myself in need of a simple, small and affordable laptop so I could write and podcast easily wherever I happen to be. The price tag of the Air ensured that that would not be an option, so I looked around for an alternative.

That’s when I found the ASUS Eee PC. My wife, being amazing, kind, supportive, and realizing that she would be up for a lot of whining, got it for me for father’s day (a little early, yes, but we are busy next week!)

First off, this is an amazing little machine. I am not at all used to Linux, but I had it up and running and ready to go within minutes. The interface is easy to use, well laid out and the built in applications are fun. Even with no prior knowledge, I was able to install extra applications not supported by ASUS (Audacity) and have it up and running quickly and easily. The keyboard and screen are small, so that is an adjustment, but not impossible to use, and much better than my old Palm Zire!

The media support is excellent. My son was very curious about the machine, and wanted to watch an episode of Dora on it. I was able to get him up and running within minutes, and he happily watched the show on the tiny screen, without concern for the size, although he described the process as being “a little weird.”

All in all, this is a rugged little powerhouse of a machine that serves my needs perfectly. I am really looking forward to tinkering around a little more, playing with Linux, and having some fun.

Thinking about Clouds

Cloud Gate

Much has already been said about the new Macbook Air, that super slim computer from Apple, and how it lacks in features that are considered pretty important, notably a great deal of storage. People are looking at this machine as a new paradigm, Cloud Computing, wherein the role of the computer is not an all in one box, but a gateway to a series of computers that are used to store files and serve applications. There are several applications like this already, such as Google Documents, a web based service that provides similar functionality to Microsoft Office, but without the bells and whistles (or the bloat).

I use Google Documents, and I find it to be an acceptable service, if not wholly usable. The problem is this: I don’t always have a connection to the Internet. I live and work in suburbia, and there are not a large amount of wi-fi hotspots out here. This is not an uncommon problem. Another concern I have is with the backbone of the Internet itself. A recent study reports that because of the huge amount of data being moved around the ‘net, we could be facing brownout situations in just two years unless the Telco’s invest billions to provide a reinforced infrastructure. I don’t really see them jumping at the chance to do this.It appears as though people are providing the service without providing the resources, sort of like building a new community, but neglecting to install plumbing or electricity connections. Without the connectivity, cloud computing will not really take off as a viable alternative, and systems like the Mac Air will fair poorly as well. Unless there is something I am missing. Is there?

Photo Credit: ancawonka