Monday, March 05, 2012

Sync A Song of Freedom

One of the most nagging problems is losing vital information and data should a computer hard disk crashed. I've spent much time thinking and planning how to avoid a disaster and like many PC users, tend to get paranoid in backing up these information and data all over - on CDs and later DVDs, in hard disks, email servers, thumb drives and flash cards, the latter to move around. Of course none of these methods satisfy as information and data often need updating and expired copies are strewn all over in records archived. If you hardly move out of your house, or you don't care about data management the hot topic on synchronization is not for you. But it is for me and if I can to only have single copies of the latest files of everything, including pictures, music and video, kept and stored in one place where I can retrieve anywhere from my home, my car, my office, on the road, traveling anywhere. I guess this is the absolute freedom from data clutter and space management. I'm sure such a dream had been dreamt of even 20 years ago but development had been slow, depending much on building a global data transmission network that can allow millions of users move their data library seamlessly from device to device, from place to place. Today this dream is being realized and it is called Cloud Computing.

So I am in the right generation that let me sync my song of freedom. I first realize I can store vital information on my Gmail server. Yea, lots of people will warn me never ever store important information in sites you have little or no control over. Ok, perhaps this means printing out hard copies and lock them safely in a security deposit box and deleting your digital file, but that is of course a joke. If I want convenience I must accept some measure of risk. If I can trust my savings to an investment manager I think trusting my information to a web server is no less risky. You may disagree of course.

I soon realize Gmail wasn't built to sync data but nonetheless provide a place to store and retrieve. Later I heard of cloud server. People were speaking of storing information in the cloud and that sound pretty silly but imaginative. Of course the 'cloud' is just a descriptive concept to explain a huge, mobile, out of the world place where 'things are happening'. I've always been fascinated by clouds. When I was younger, and I still do now and then, look up and gaze at the clouds dancing or morphing. It is therapeutic, believe me. So the concept of cloud computing seized my imagination and I thought how wonderful it will make our lives to be, living on cloud nine literally.

I am not crazy over putting everything on cloud, just the important stuffs. I use Evernote which sync my notes to its own cloud server. I can retrieve my notes anywhere. Evernote runs off iPad, Android and PC which fits me perfectly. I like to journalize on the go so I now use an app that 'cloud' my entries so I am not tied down to a particular computer, or need to take my thumb drive wherever I go. Problem is I've yet to discover a multi-platform program like Evernote.

Ever since becoming a member of the iPad community, I think we should all call ourselves iPaders, I have become amazed by Apple's concept of iTunes that make synchronization a breeze. But they should take it to the ultimate level, sync to the cloud too! The reason I believe this must be so is for the sake of mobile iPaders who want to sync their data and apps to a universal spot they can, and not worry about lugging a laptop along as well. I plan to get the latest iPad 3 which is expected to be revealed and launched on March 7, that is only 2 days away! In the absence of the option to sync the iTunes library to the cloud the best option for me is to carry that on my portable hard disk so I can restore all my apps to my new iPad. Cloud computing is fast becoming the favorite method of managing data online as more and more people are working on the move. THIS article may be old but provides a good read on what iCloud is and what it can do as well as its shortcomings. It is just one of many ways of storing your precious and important information off-site. Designed for Apple software users the big question arise is can it be made cross platform for Windows and Linux users as well?

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