I consider myself a foremost expert on computers, technology, and cyber security – even if both my technophile children might laugh hysterically at that assessment. Compared to my cats, I’m a veritable Einstein.
In fact, over the years, countless people have turned to me for advice on a variety of topics – however, if I’m being honest, rarely on issues involving computers, technology or cyber security. Mostly it’s about “Taste this milk. Does it taste sour to you?” and related expiration date questions.
Admittedly, I was not one of the early tech adaptors. I still have my complete collection of 8-track tapes. I can’t figure out why I don’t have any friends on my My Space page. And I still text using complete sentences and proper punctuation – but in my defense, I mainly do that just to annoy my kids.
I have no idea what my point was. Oh, right. I’m not always on the cutting edge of the latest technology trends. But there comes a point when I feel a need to issue a clarion call of caution. I’m talking about the trend towards storing all our computer files, photos, videos and other important documents “in the cloud.”
Google, Microsoft, and just about every cellular carrier tell us to store everything in the cloud. It’s so convenient. For example, if you lose your phone, don’t worry. All your photos, contacts, even your calendar will be safely backed up in the cloud.
If you ask me, storing your stuff in the cloud doesn’t always work. I have tons of stuff I’d love to store there because my garage is running out of space. Take my old clothes from my college days. My wife insists I give them away, complaining that all they do is take up closet space. But I just can’t part with my old outfits. Who knows when my old purple corduroy bell-bottom pants will come back in style – and I will lose the 35 pounds I gained since I last wore them in 1975?
I’ve learned that the cloud won’t accept any of my stuff. Not even my old Big Mouth Billy Bass singing fish I re-gifted to my wife for Christmas in 1999. (She would not speak to me for three days after that mistake.)
No, it turns out that the only stuff you can store in the cloud is digital stuff, like Word documents, excel spreadsheets, photos, and music, like my priceless collection of the Very Best of Engelbert Humperdinck. (It’s an acquired taste.) Everyday, millions of people upload important files to the cloud. But how can they be sure their files will be safe?
Think about it. Do you even know what’s in the cloud? I’ll tell you: Water vapor – specifically, tiny water droplets that form on tiny particles, like dust, that are floating in the air. Hell, your average cloud isn’t strong enough to hold a floppy disk, let alone 100 million terabyte files. They’ll all just fall right through – and eventually land back on planet earth, leaving a horrible environmental catastrophe. And who’s going to clean up all those corrupted files? Not me, fella.
Let’s just say, for argument’s sake, that the cloud can somehow support all these gazillion files. The security is virtually non-existent. There are no heavy-metal doors with ten-digit security codes or thumb print recognition features required to gain access to your vault. In fact, there are no vaults of any kind. I recently took a Delta flight to New York. (The chicken parmesan dinner tasted like cardboard, but that’s a topic for a future column.) Our 757 flew right through the clouds for almost an hour. I never saw a single layer of security in any of the cloud formations we passed by, not even the really puffy cumulus ones.
And clouds are often wet – especially when it rains. Think about the damage that could be inflicted on your priceless photos of your daughter’s middle school play (where she performed the starring role of the third pine tree from the right) if they got exposed to the cloud’s moisture. Even worse, what if the region where your files are stored in the cloud goes through a dry spell, with say, five days without rain – and no clouds? If the clouds evaporate, there go all your documents. Hope you won’t miss that hilarious video of your wife falling into the wedding cake that you posted to the cloud, now that the cloud is suddenly gone. Poof.
[Editor’s Note: Mr. Jones, I don’t think you understand how “the cloud” works. When they talk about the cloud, they are not talking literally about clouds in the sky. They’re referring to “cloud computing.” In this context, the cloud is simply the Internet—more specifically, all the things you can access remotely over the Internet. So, when something is “in the cloud.” It just means it’s stored on Internet servers instead of your computer’s hard drive.]
Um, oh, I see. Never mind. That was a lame topic anyway. What I really wanted to discuss is the Second Amendment. What is all the recent brouhaha about, anyway?
In a careful reading of the Second Amendment to the Constitution, I cannot think of any logical reason why the Founding Fathers felt it was important to enshrine the RIGHT TO ARM BEARS! I mean, seriously! Bears are dangerous enough as is, without granting them unfettered access to assault weapons. And without proper training on how to use a firearm, God only knows the havoc a crochety grizzly with a bad temper could wreak.
But when I bring this issue up, I usually get a deer in the headlights reaction. People look at me like I’m crazy. Let’s see who has the last laugh when they get mowed down in a hail of bullets from a pissed-off black bear toting an AR-15. Don’t say you weren’t warned, buddy.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2021