A number of iPhone 4S users recently reported outages in their Siri voice activated personal assistant functions. Cupertino has been officially mum on the situation, but it is obvious that since the data-crunching for Siri’s processing-intensive workings is performed at Apple data centers, the servers may be bottlenecking on too many requests or are allocating too many resources to sort out questions about buying a guitar no strings attached, or whether you can listen to AM radio after noon. The wholesale emigration of many everyday computing services to the cloud seems to have glossed over a critical factor: What happens when the cloud crashes? Computers & Mobile Devices Are Now Ultra-Thin Clients In the long ago era when hearty cavemen ate brontosaurus burgers while they typed out business letters on their state of the art 486SX-25s, there was never a question as to where all those keystrokes were being stored. They were ending up on a large floppy floppy disk, a smaller unfloppy floppy disk, or if their IT manager was especially fond of them, their very own internal hard drive. With the advent of the cloud seamlessly interacting with computers and mobile devices, which are now essentially ultra-thin clients, it is next to impossible to determine exactly where that data is. When you upload a photo of your dog with sunglasses over his tail, that file may end up residing exclusively in a data center halfway around the world. If that server dies for whatever reason, your doggy picture will vanish along with all the other data it contained. Unless you have a backup somewhere in your possession, it’s bye bye pup. Ask a T-Mobile Sidekick User about Cloud Reliability Amazon, Microsoft Office 365, Google Docs and many other cloud services have suffered outages that have infuriated their users. T-Mobile’s data loss permanently erased the vast majority of the storage of their entire Sidekick customer base in one fell swoop. Therefore, if you want to find out just how secure cloud data is, ask a loyal Sidekick owner. MobileMe Would Vanish Like a Mischievous Poltergeist Apple is no stranger to cloud outages, with its pioneering MobileMe service vanishing at will like a mischievous poltergeist. However, all the public hand wringing by frustrated Siri users was essentially incorrect in blaming Apple directly. With server failures, it’s not the singer, it’s the song. Even with the most sophisticated redundant ultra-modern multi-million dollar server technologies, there is always a chance that something will bring the entire system down like a house of cards. It does not seem to matter whether the data center belongs to Apple, Google, Facebook or anyone else. Batteries Draining, along with Patience An aspect of iPhone 4S performance that can be blamed squarely on Cupertino’s engineering corps is the enormous variance between the device’s announced battery life and what users are actually experiencing. At launch, Apple claimed up to 8 hours of active talking time or 6 hours of browsing on 3G networks, but in the real world those durations seemed unachievable. It seems that the 4S is excessively transmitting and receiving location information and thus draining the juice on functions that the user is not even aware of. Apple has released an iOS 5.0.1 beta to developers, which is supposed to eliminate this issue, but it begs the issue of how this situation wasn’t spotted before launch. Did anyone actually check 4S’ battery life before composing the marketing hype?
Any successful small business owner recognizes the value of the old saying “time is money.” With advances in technology allowing business to take place between several groups across a geographic patchwork, this saying couldn’t be more relevant today. Top Three Ways You Save Time and Money with Online File Storage #1 – File Sharing The fact of the matter is you need to meet with your customers and vendors, but physically meeting clients and vendors eats up your time and hard-earned dollars. For this very reason, savvy small business owners know to make the most of online tools that allow for file storage and sharing. Think of it as a real time meeting, allowing the passing of important documents and files without ever having to physically transfer them. It’s smart business. No more wasted meeting time and expense. # 2 – Free Up Your Hard Drive and Back Up Data Storing volumes of data in a secure online storage software allows you to free up your hard drive while also allowing you to back up your data. In the event that your computer crashes or suffers some other tragic fate, you can access your online storage system easily and pick up where you left off. Online storage services are also great for creating quick and cost-efficient digital archives, such as those readily available for both public use and purchase on Scribd. No more wasted time and money when you suffer technical difficulties. Continue working and earning and get to your computer problem when you have the free time. # 3 – Work Remotely By taking advantage of an online storage service, you’re allowing yourself to be free of having to be tied by the ankle to your PC or always toting around your laptop. Storing your files online lets you access them from any computer with an internet connection. That’s one less thing you have to think about during your busy day or carry around with you between locations. The less you’re tied down, the more efficient you become at your business. You’re able to provide your customers with better service and more immediate responses without depending on your computer or carrying around bulky files. Google Docs and Dropbox: Top Online Storage Systems for Small Business Owners A recent project of mine involved acting as project manager between a graphic design firm and a 28 person regional political committee 400 miles away. An online storage system allowed us to communicate efficiently, share over 75 detailed files including images and text and get the job done despite never being at the same place at the same time. Simply put, an online storage system is critical to a small business that wants to be able to adapt and cast a wider client net. If you don’t have a solution to bypass obstacles that come with working remotely, you simply won’t grow as a small business. Dropbox is one of the best-rated online storage systems that’s free to use for up to 2 GB of information. Beyond that rates are very affordable, starting at just under $10/month for up to 50 GB of stored files. Dropbox is adaptable, allowing you to work with Windows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. It even allows you to work offline in case of a lost internet connection. Unfortunately, one of the major drawbacks that comes with this service is that you cannot control who your shared users share files with. Share a file with Bob and you don’t know who else he’s going to share that file with. For this reason, Dropbox is not recommended for the transfer of sensitive information such as contracts and pricing sheets. Everyone knows Google, but not everyone knows of Google Docs, an online Google application that allows you to edit and store documents online. Google makes it simple by allowing you to access files off your Gmail account by clicking Google Docs in the upper left hand corner. Share word processor files, excel files and presentations with multiple users for free. Google recently expanded this service by introducing Google Cloud Connect, which makes file sharing easier by allowing Microsoft Word documents to also be shared on the online storage service.