Thu12182014

Books

Cloudy with a chance of headache

There is a new term floating around called the “cloud,” or the “iCloud.” I became aware of it when I upgraded to 5.0 on my Apple iPad and iPhone. I was not clear what it was. It was a foggy notion, a pie-in-the-sky idea, and I was only partly cloudy in my understanding of it.

I could go on forever like this, but mercifully, I will spare you the innuendo and cut to the chase. Here is my understanding of what cloud technology is and what it means to you: The “cloud” represents programs or applications that run over the Internet without hosting or ownership by the end-user. That is an oversimplification, but please bear with me.

What does this have to do with books, I hear you cry? Well, the cloud may help you decide among the many new choices now available for reading and storing books, such as the Kindle, iPad, iPhone and other computer hardware. Even the dedicated “book” devices are now providing additional content and capabilities.

There is so much to consider it gives me a headache just thinking about it (let alone reporting on it). For now, I am devoting this column to simply describing the technology as I understand it.

We all use the Internet for browsing websites, but typically we use downloaded programs for many other computing needs, like accounting, word processing, and multimedia, like reading books, etc.

For those of us inclined, we may buy a dedicated device, like an e-book reader for reading and storing books. Think of the Microsoft Office Suite software. We purchase these programs and they live on our computer hard drive. And if our hard drives become corrupted with a virus or crash for any number of reasons, we may lose our data and become clinically depressed.

The cloud is like a virtual hard drive. If your device gets run over by a truck, or you lose it at airport security or accidently leave it in a bar, you don’t lose your data, because your files live somewhere else. Somewhere “out there in the clouds” on a supercomputer backed up by a large number of other super computers. It’s a comfort, but it also scares the life out of me. Your files may be more physically secure, but what about your privacy? It seems there are private clouds, public clouds and, of course, for their green audience, hybrid clouds.

I encourage you to visit the Microsoft Cloud, Amazon Cloud and Apple iCloud websites to begin with and branch out from there. To learn more, visit www.apple.com/icloud/get-started, www.microsoft.com/Presspass/Features/2011/feb11/02-18CSMWC.mspx,

read.amazon.com or www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2011-06-22-cloud-consumer-apple-google_n.htm.

One other quick note about cloud technology: If you are like me and possess a number of computing instruments like an iPhone, iPad, iPod, Kindle or laptop, when you download a book, for instance, the content can be wirelessly delivered simultaneously to all of your devices. That’s pretty cool, as long as my cloud doesn’t accidently get merged in a cosmic accident with someone else’s cloud and I end up with some guy’s encyclopedia of homemade beer-making techniques and he ends up with my concise log of designer outlet sources.

I’m just saying … I’m so very grateful that God made air invisible.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to take some aspirin and go lie down.

Sharon Lennox-Infante, contributing editor for Book Buzz, is a Los Altos resident.

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