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The Cloud Ate My Homework

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the low-hanging-clouds-are-fog dept.

Google 305

theodp writes "Over at CNET, James Urquhart sings the praises of cloud computing, encouraging folks to 'really listen to what is being said, understand how the cloud is being used, and seriously evaluate how this disruptive model will change your projects, your organization, and even your career.' Fair enough. Over at the Google Docs Help Forum, some perplexed cloud computing users spent the month of November unsuccessfully trying to figure out why they've been zinged for inappropriate content. Among the items deemed inappropriate and unshareable include notes on Henry David Thoreau ('the published version of this item cannot be shared until a Google review finds that the content is appropriate'), homework assignments, high school yearbook plans, wishlists, documents containing botanical names for plants, a list of websites for an ecommerce class, and a list of companies that rent motorcycles in Canada. When it comes to support in the cloud, it kind of looks like you might get what you pay for."

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305 comments

That cloud word again (5, Insightful)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283054)

This is exactly why I never want to move everything "in the cloud", or in to Internet services for that matter. Locally ran applications are there for a reason and things like this wouldn't happen for example with MS Office or Open Office. You're the one controlling your work, not some algorithms that suddenly decide to mark your work "inappropriate". And you don't have to wait for days for someone to answer to your support ticket with a copy-pasted "things to try" list.

Even if you're going for "cloud" services, get a reliable one that states exactly their backup plans and other things. And for gods sake, put out a few dollars for it if you're excepting any level of support or reliability.

Re:That cloud word again (5, Insightful)

ChienAndalu (1293930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283236)

I totally agree.

All it takes is to save your document, send it to everybody you want to share it with (or upload it onto RapidShare). Then all you have to do is wait for the ones that have the same version of MS Office to send their modified version of the document, which you open and figure out what changed and then edit your local file, while the ones with another version of MS Office simply use the PC of their dad and send you their edits which don't reflect the current state of the document so you send them the most recent version and explain that you do not have to use a premium account on rapidshare and please check your spam folder because I have definitely sent the mail but forgot the attachment let me send it again maybe the virus filter ate it then zip it with a password did and check if you send Tom the latest version and remember he is using OpenOffice .

Re:That cloud word again (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30283262)

Way to make a completely disingenuous representation of what it's actually like working with Microsoft Office, just to make a point against the horrible, horrible M$. Fucking hippie.

Re:That cloud word again (2, Insightful)

mweather (1089505) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283822)

Disingenuous? Why? It seems to be a pretty accurate description of working with multiple versions of Office. I'd have thrown in Word Perfect, too. I always have to deal with Word Perfect files from lawyers. Thank god Open Office opens them.

Re:That cloud word again (2, Interesting)

datapharmer (1099455) | more than 4 years ago | (#30284008)

There there actually are filters for ms office to open word perfect files, they just don't install with the "typical installation" option

Re:That cloud word again (2, Informative)

yoyhed (651244) | more than 4 years ago | (#30284182)

I'd normally agree with you on OSS zealots making ridiculously biased anti-Microsoft assertions. However, the GP did not appear to be doing that, I think he was just pointing out how annoying it is to have multiple people work on different versions of a file when you have to email it around, and it just so happens that different versions of Word is one of the many problems with that.

Google Docs, despite its weak formatting tools and apparently censorship issues (which I've never run into myself in my heavy usage) is fantastic for sharing and collaborating on one document, and making sure everyone can edit it and has the right version.

Re:That cloud word again (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283302)

There are of course probably better solutions if you need to do a workgroup project, like lets say, Exchange Server just for one? The difference is that you maintain total control over your data and documents.

Re:That cloud word again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30283340)

This is Slashdot, remember? You must suggest a Free and Open Source alternative.

Re:That cloud word again (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283734)

Free would be nice, at least. Unless you're a business that already uses exchange, setting up an exchange server is kind of an expensive solution.

Re:That cloud word again (4, Informative)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283860)

Wiki?

Isn't this sort of the whole point of the wiki platform?

I'm not really into the "collaboration" stuff (never ended up in a situation where it applied - always had someone who 'owned' a doc and handled changes).
I don't buy into the cloud for the same reason that I bought a microcomputer in the first place. I wanted my stuff to be my stuff. Not under the control of anyone but me. At work we have always used shared folders and such - but I can't be the only one where everyone has their own annotated version of their docs?

Re:That cloud word again (0)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30284190)

Eh. Exchange is pretty cheap, and you get a ton of nice features. It's also friendly to many different types of clients - POP, IMAP, etc. Compared to other groupware systems out there, it's very competitive and it's actually quite stable. Exchange has and continues to be Microsoft's best product. The Exchange Team is generally allowed to be it's own development organization and they deliver a good product.

My biggest gripe is that the OWA is still way better for Internet Explorer only. The OWA for any other browser has improved too, but OWA on IE is almost as good as using full Outlook. Microsoft could make OWA for any browser just as good if they stopped with the ActiveX bullshit and just did it with Javascript.

I've searched and hunted for something Open Source that can do even some of what Exchange can do (in terms of client connectivity and web interface functionality) and have really found nada. Nothing in the free open source zone, and only a couple of products in the "somewhat" open source zone.

Re:That cloud word again (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283342)

Or get your own copy of Sharepoint or something similar and put it there.

Re:That cloud word again (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283498)

Not certain if it is relatable (the Henry David Thoreau thing talks about sharing notes with students) but at NTNU (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) [wikipedia.org] we used (and they still use) It's learning [itslearning.com]. It wasn't perfect (though it's been a few years since I was a student so I am sure it has seen quite a few updates since then), but it was pretty good for sharing notes, upcoming plans, dates, comments, study group information, and generally information of use to students, teachers and professors. And since you have to log in to use, and have permissions/access set, only relevant people can see or post in the various sections of the site. Mostly all tasks were posted online, and all works could be delivered though the site.

I guess running something like it's learning [wikipedia.org] would cost money, but for educational purposes I reckon it is far superior to an alternative were google, or anyone else, can moderate and censor without warning, or in some cases cause.

Re:That cloud word again (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283668)

Oh, what you want is a wiki. Still no point ceding control the the so-called cloud.

Re:That cloud word again (1)

ChienAndalu (1293930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30284140)

Which of course is a much easier alternative. The obvious thing to do when you want to share your homework is to learn what a webserver is, download and setup a webserver, then a wiki and configure the firewall so that your classmates can see and edit your homework!

Re:That cloud word again (2, Insightful)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 4 years ago | (#30284196)

I'm not sure why you think I care about a solution for "sharing" homework (which when I went to school went by the shorter name "cheating")... but are you kidding me?

With the state of software today, if you can't get a wiki going then you sure as hell don't know enough to be relying on the cloud.

Re:That cloud word again (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30283816)

Well, if you're an idiot, you're going to have a problem with any system you try.

The solution to what you're trying to describe is to get a cheap hosting package and use a version control system. For $120 a year you can get hundreds of gigabytes of storage and terabytes of bandwidth every month and can control access any way you want.

Also, so you know, Microsoft Office has had change highlighting for just about forever.

On a side note, the idea of dumb people working 10x harder than they need to cracks me up.

Re:That cloud word again (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30283990)

Subversion for code and simple text. Dropbox for documents and anything else.

Re:That cloud word again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30284172)

Good god! I ran out of breath just reading that. Punctuation doesn't hurt anyone you know!

Re:That cloud word again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30283308)

How is TripMaster Monkey's comment "insightful"? What he wrote is just common sense for even the stupidest of admins and web developers.

The only people who are buying into "cloud computing" are cheap buzzword-loving managers, and a few bloggers who just need something to write about.

Nobody with even the slightest technical knowledge thinks that cloud computing is a good idea. The technical flaws are blatantly obvious. It's clearly not a usable technology, and never will be.

People are getting burned by it badly, even if they don't realize it. Take Reddit, for instance. They recently transitioned their hosting to "The Cloud" and now their site's response time is complete shit for many users. Some are even reporting that Digg is faster, and Digg has a notoriously slow site.

"Cloud Computing" will become the Microsoft Bob of the first decade of this century.

Re:That cloud word again (2, Interesting)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283484)

"Cloud computing" has two distinct meanings. Creating your own cloud, meaning creating a server farm on which you run multiple VMs that are able to seamlessly and automatically move from one physical server to another in response to capacity needs, fault tolerance, or physical maintenance, is a good idea. Properly designed, it gives you excellent redundancy at a relatively low cost.

Cloud computing as its being used in the tech rags, as in handing all of your data to an external provider who puts it on their "cloud", is basically the same as shared hosting, except people are using it to store much more sensitive data than they would ever dream of putting on a shared hosting service. That type of cloud computing is a foolish idea, and people need to get past the buzzword and see that, from the customer perspective, your data being in "the cloud" is meaningless...the important part is that you're handing total control over your data to a third party. What sort of technology infrastructure they actually use to host it is just a meaningless detail.

Re:That cloud word again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30283640)

Your first definition is not cloud computing at all. That's just the old-fashioned mainframe model that we've had since the 1950s, including the use of virtual machines that can be moved seamlessly among physical hardware.

Don't let some marketing fools rename it. Please don't refer to that model of computing as "cloud computing".

Re:That cloud word again (2, Interesting)

cetialphav (246516) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283658)

the important part is that you're handing total control over your data to a third party

There is nothing inherently wrong with trusting third parties. Trusting others is the basis for our modern society. We all trust others for critical things like water, food, and electricity. If I can trust others to provide this for me, surely I should be able to trust someone to store some bits for me.

The issue is finding a trustworthy third party. I won't argue whether Google is trustworthy or not, but in this case they sure seem to be stupid. It seems ridiculous for them to be scanning documents to see whether they are acceptable or not. A good "cloud provider" should simply focus on storing things reliably and leave the judgement of appropriateness to the users.

Re:That cloud word again (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283756)

Cloud computing as its being used in the tech rags, as in handing all of your data to an external provider who puts it on their "cloud", is basically the same as shared hosting

This sort of cloud seems like part of the cycle between PCs and mainframes, only this mainframe is outsourced.

clouds can be private (1)

xzvf (924443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283314)

You can setup your own cloud and have all the advantages of a local PC with the flexibility of a cloud device. More importantly, a school or a corporation might consider this a welcome feature. The ability to flag content and control their data may be a valuable selling point. I understand your reluctance to move everything into the "cloud". My parents have boxes of old photographs, LP's (that's kind of like a physical copy of an uncompressed MP3), and bank statements. Heck they still write stuff on paper and put it in that box on the front lawn with a little red flag.

Re:clouds can be private (5, Funny)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283382)

Back in my day we called that a server

Re:clouds can be private (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283476)

In my day, we called it the mainframe.

Re:clouds can be private (1)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283742)

In my day, we called it the mainframe.

That must've sucked!

So, you sat there, coded your papers on punched cards, having to limit a sentence to 80 characters, and then turned it into the operator who ran your cards through a word processor. Then the next morning you would correct any spelling issues and then send the stack of cards to the operator again, and on and on.

Or did you have to write your papers by plugging cables into a panel? THAT would REALLY suck!

Although, there was this one poor bastard, who used a word processor that ran on a Turing machine. Let me tell you, he's 90 and still writing his Freshman English paper.

Re:clouds can be private (4, Interesting)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283842)

In those days you didn't waste expensive computer time for writing documents. There was an army of secretaries with typewriters. Speaker-independent voice recognition and intelligent spelling that was far more effective than today's computers. Best of all, you didn't have to touch a keyboard.

Re:clouds can be private (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30284116)

And those secretaries were much sexier than any computer hardware.

Re:clouds can be private (4, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283506)

Exactly. If the word "cloud" means anything at all, it means that the server is owned and maintained by someone else. Thus "private cloud" is an oxymoron.

Re:clouds can be private (2, Interesting)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283812)

A "private cloud" is generally understood to mean a cloud maintained by an internal IT department which sells services on the cloud to other departments within an organization. So, it's just like any other cloud, except it's on the intranet, and the customers are departments within the same company, rather than the public at large.

Re:clouds can be private (2, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283982)

Yes, and this is indistinguishable from the concept of "a server," which makes the "cloud" part of "private cloud" even more meaningless than usual. As I said.

"Private" solution please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30283902)

Indeed, and what hosts that dinky little personal website for 10 bucks a month is also a server.

So, slashdot, help us all out then: what is an easy to install open source document manager that these people can use as an alternative. It needs medium to fine grained access controls, user logins, expiries, log and file activity logs, and be able to run unhindered with the amount of traffic permitted by the typical website hoster. Come on - find these good people an alternative. Easy non-techo install. Encryption would be a bonus. PHP based would be nice for ongoing popular support.

Re:"Private" solution please (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30284072)

Come on - find these good people an alternative. Easy non-techo install. Encryption would be a bonus. PHP based would be nice for ongoing popular support.

... absolutely must not run on a cluster of servers for fault tolerance. Because that would make it a cloud, and they hate that.

Re:clouds can be private (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30284048)

Back in my day we called that a post box.

There are no absolutes (1)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283324)

Like everything else, nothing can be referred to in absolute terms. Some apps make sense for the cloud - MS Exchange for example, and some don't - MS Office for example.

Some work needs to remain private no matter what "security" is in place, and some work is by nature collaborative and shareable.

People have predicted the fall of Windows for years but it is bigger and the clients are fatter than ever.

I will never have any respect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30283354)

...for anyone who uses the word "zing."

Re:That cloud word again (1)

JohnFen (1641097) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283366)

This is exactly why I never want to move everything "in the cloud", or in to Internet services for that matter.

I'm with you. I get nervous trusting any third party -- I even run my own mailservers, fileservers, wikis, web servers and so forth, primarily so I don't have to trust a third party for reliability or security -- but then, I'm a freak.

There's something I don't understand, though -- "cloud computing" is just a sexy name for "centralized computing" or server-based computing, which is a throwback to the '50s-'70s. People sem to have forgotten why everyone was so excited to be able to get away from that model in the first place.

Re:That cloud word again (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283594)

"cloud computing" is just a sexy name for "centralized computing" or server-based computing, which is a throwback to the '50s-'70s. People seem to have forgotten why everyone was so excited to be able to get away from that model in the first place.

People were mostly excited by instant response times, which couldn't be replicated over a 1200 baud modem, and by whizzy graphical user interfaces, which couldn't be delivered over the networks of the time.

Neither of those are problems for a well written web app now.

Another aspect was being superuser on your own machine, a big release in the days of the BOFH. But your target cloud user doesn't want to be a system administrator. They'll gladly let someone do that for them. But any company that gets BOFH on their customers, is going to see those customers go elsewhere.

Re:That cloud word again (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283642)

People sem to have forgotten why everyone was so excited to be able to get away from that model in the first place.

Well, the reason was big, big, BIG savings! Then everyone wanted to use the printer and share their information, so they needed a network and then a server to coordinate the network and then a server to store everything so it wouldn't get lost and ...

Re:That cloud word again (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283746)

"cloud computing" is just a sexy name for "centralized computing" or server-based computing, which is a throwback to the '50s-'70s.

uhm, no.

cloud computing is about a bunch of smaller systems, tied together in a cluster (use whatever grouping word you like) and having distributed EVERYTHING (connectivity, storage, computes).

nothing in the 50's thru 70's did this. single centralized server != 'cloud computing'

Re:That cloud word again (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283962)

You just described a LAN (more like a workgroup). That is *not* cloud computing.

Cloud computing is just client/server. It's where you store the documents 'in the cloud' (remote server) rather than locally. Hence google docs (the subject of this article), in fact a lot of the google stuff is 'cloud' based.

Re:That cloud word again (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283676)

Why are we nerds so bad at naming things? Instead of "the cloud" why don't we stop calling a spade a "iBigSpoon" call "the cloud" what it is -- OPS, or "other people's servers".

GNU and TWAIN are at least amusing acronyms. But why can't we give things DESCRIPTIVE names? Could it be because it's not really we nerds naming most of this stuff (unlike GNU and TWAIN), but ignorant marketing bozos who draw a picture of a cloud on a chart because he doesn't understand the concept he's selling but relies on the fact that his audience is as ignorant as he is?

I want to see the coiners of "wi fi" and "the cloud" put in stocks so I can throw rotten veggies at them. It grates on my nerves like nails on a blackboard.

Re:That cloud word again (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283904)

Why are we nerds so bad at naming things? Instead of "the cloud" why don't we stop calling a spade a "iBigSpoon" call "the cloud" what it is -- OPS, or "other people's servers".

I think cloud is a pretty decent name for what it is. If you want to get pernickety, it's a "cloud of servers".

Just as a normal cloud is made of water droplets, or a cloud of gnats is made of, well, gnats. A server cloud is made of servers.

They might be other people's servers. They might be your own. The technology does not specify that.

Despite your bringing it up in every cloud related thread, your 'OPS' is not going to catch on.

Re:That cloud word again (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283684)

This is exactly why I never want to move everything "in the cloud", or in to Internet services for that matter. Locally ran applications are there for a reason and things like this

Things like sharing the content with others? Personally I find my desktop is one of the worst places to store my docs if that is my goal.

Re:That cloud word again (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283730)

Your response is very typical here on Slashdot. Every time someone talks about the cloud, folks pop up indicating that they don't want to give up control of their software and/or data.

A few comments here...

First of all, this is Google's freely hosted service. You do actually get what you pay for. In this case, some vaguely-flaky software that I wouldn't rely on. It may be a handy way to collaborate or distribute documents... But I really wouldn't trust it with my only copy of a document.

Google does, however, have a paid service which is much more reliable and has clearly-written terms of service that tell you exactly what you're getting into.

You point out that things like this wouldn't happen with MS Office or OpenOffice... Well, that's partly true. You probably wouldn't have some cloud server telling you something is inappropriate. But you do run into other issues with locally run applications... Compatibility issues, updates, missing discs, corrupt files, etc. Not to say that locally run applications are a bad idea... I'm just reminding you that they aren't some kind of perfect solution either.

There's also some kind of assumption, more often than not, that moving things to the cloud would automatically put them beyond your control. This is not true. Google's freely hosted apps allow you to upload your own documents from local storage, and download documents from the cloud to your own local storage. So you can use the hosted apps much like you would MS Office or OpenOffice - albeit with a more cumbersome open/save process.

Additionally, the whole "cloud" thing is a pretty vague term. There is no good reason why all the clouds have to be owned and run by someone else. It may not make a whole lot of sense for a home user to set up their own cloud server with just three workstations to connect to it... But companies are already using web apps, terminal servers, thin clients, and whatever else to centralize their applications. Imagine a large company purchasing a Microsoft Office cloud server license instead of 1,000+ individual licenses of Microsoft Office. You install that cloud license on a single physical machine, or maybe a cluster, or whatever. And everyone in your company runs MS Office from the cloud server that your company owns. All the updates happen there, all the patches happen there... No need to install/manage/update/patch the MS Office installs on the local workstations.

And then there's the whole collaboration thing... Locally run installs of MS Office or OpenOffice are a pain in the ass when you're trying to collaborate with people. Write up your document, save it, distribute it... Oh, crap, it got caught by the spam filter. Talk to an admin, re-name a file, get it distributed... Damn, someone can't open that format... Re-save, re-distribute... Now you're getting email back from various people with their various changes, and you're having to integrate those changes... Re-save, re-distribute... Looks like someone's local app ate the formatting... Re-save, re-distribute... You get the idea.

Re:That cloud word again (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283956)

"And then there's the whole collaboration thing..."

Yes, people in the same office modifying common "documents" with the goal of avoiding any physical contact.

Re:That cloud word again (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283774)

I know very few people, even in IT, who have full-featured back-ups of their home systems. Even fewer have easy, convenient remote access to their data.

Using online apps with online data services give you both of these things 99% of the time. They are a better option (assuming they have the features you need) than running things locally for the vast majority of people. Yes SaaS/cloud services might screw up, but the chances of them doing so are far lower than the chances of YOU screwing up.

You are basing your decision based on anecdotes, not on statistics or evidence. Gmail's backup system is better than yours. Their remote access is better than yours. Use the brain your ancestors evolved for you. It can reason based on probabilities rather than bullshit if you let it.

Re:That cloud word again (1)

jitterman (987991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283776)

Sorry for another "me too" but seriously, I agree. I am in general a fan of Google's innovation, but I don't care who you are, I'm not trusting my important information to anyone else's hardware/domain/whim. Online collaboration and synchronized copies of documents are laudable goals, but not if I give away to (insert hosing company name of choice) the right to determine whether my compositions are "appropriate" as a term of service.

Also, can we call "cloud" what it is: a return to client/server, just with a broader definition of what a "server" is? Nothing really new conceptually, though we do get some sophisticated software capabilities to go with this (IMHO) unwarranted censorship.

Re:That cloud word again (3, Insightful)

cbreaker (561297) | more than 4 years ago | (#30284082)

This is the same reason I never ran Google Desktop. Google Desktop saves indexes on their servers. I want a level of privacy.

There's no, none, nada guarantee that your data is safe or secure when using ANY online system. Just look at what happened with the Sidekicks recently. Who would have ever thought that could ever happen? They had backups, they had RAID, they had redundant servers. But, shit happens, and it did, and it CAN happen to Google.

Plus, now you've got all this censorship bullshit. Well, it's not Censorship mostly, it's "protecting copyright." At all costs. It could easily disintegrate into real full-blown censorship, too.

These services will be popular and I'll probably even use them eventually, but only for documents and files that I don't care if people get their hands on, and that I don't care if I lose. For everything else, it's backups as usual.

There's services such as Carbonite and others that provide a way to back up your system in a mostly secure way. From what I understand, with Carbonite, everything is encrypted on their servers, and only your password will decrypt the files, even through the Web interface. This seems acceptable to me, and their servers aren't crawling through my documents making sure there's nothing copyright in there.

Lesson learned (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283104)

Anyone who thinks they can rely on online stored data, with no offline physical backup or physical access, is living on Cloud 9.

Re:Lesson learned (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283254)

... whereas those who can rely on online stored data, with no offline physical backup, BUT with no physical access are on Cloud 8.

Re:Lesson learned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30284192)

...Whereas everyone who thinks he can rely on online stored data, WITH offline physical backupas, AND physical access, is living on Bespin. (sorry, couldn't resist)

Can't be trusted (2, Insightful)

Xamusk (702162) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283130)

That's exactly why I do any serious work by "offline" means. And I hope I can still keep doing this in the following years (aka: I hope Chrome OS's way of going "everything online" doesn't catch up)

Worrying, but not terrible (3, Informative)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283132)

This is a concern, but remember we're talking about the free service here. Google's free services are great while everything works, but if you need a human being's attention, you're likely to be waiting a long time. I've had bad experiences with YouTube publishing glitches.

I'd hope that the paid Google Apps service has much better support. Can anyone confirm?

Meanwhile, in these cases, all that these people were unable to do was make their docs public. They could continue to edit them. They could presumably share them with specific contacts.

I think there needs to be a fix for this, but I don't think it's the end of the world for SaaS.

Re:Worrying, but not terrible (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283238)

This is a concern, but remember we're talking about the free service here. Google's free services are great while everything works, but if you need a human being's attention, you're likely to be waiting a long time. I've had bad experiences with YouTube publishing glitches.

Googles youtube isn't free though. For you it is, but advertising is what's paying for it. Google should be responding to a paying customer (I mean, you see the ads, right? So google got paid through your actions.), but they ignore you, even though its not really free. Which is why cloud won't take off.

Why is google worrying about whether your content is even appropriate or not? Are they going to stop a neo-nazi publishing their beliefs? They're awful, but free speech is more important.

Re:Worrying, but not terrible (2, Informative)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283362)

Why is google worrying about whether your content is even appropriate or not? Are they going to stop a neo-nazi publishing their beliefs? They're awful, but free speech is more important.

Tricky one. Link to their content policy: http://docs.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=148505 [google.com]
"Hate speech" is explicitly forbidden.

I think one angle is "We accept your right to free speech, but we won't be your vehicle for transmitting it."

But it's a bit of an ethical minefield, I accept.

Re:Worrying, but not terrible (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283662)

Right, I appreciate that side of the arguement, however in an era of huge corporations, I think it loses much of the battle. What good is free speech if, even though the government can't abridge it, someone (or in google's case, something) with more money or power can?

Its the same with landlords; they all can force you to surrender your right to bear arms, so now you have to be a homeowner to exercise what is supposed to be an inalienable right.

Re:Worrying, but not terrible (1)

gabebear (251933) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283846)

Why would you think that owning a gun is an inalienable right? I don't think you
  • Vizzini: HE DIDN'T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE.
  • Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Re:Worrying, but not terrible (2, Insightful)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283892)

Perspective, chief. Before the Internet nobody but those with lots of money could ever transmit their ideas broadly. Before, say, the 1900's, nobody could, period. Now, sometimes you can, but if you rely on a free service to do it then they might set some restrictions; that doesn't sound like erosion of rights to me so much as it sounds like progress.

Google may provide tools that can enhance the effectiveness you enjoy when you exercise your rights, but that doesn't mean they're "abridging" your rights if they don't provide you with those tools.

Have you committed every resource at your disposal to helping other be heard, even when you disagree with them? Does that mean you're "abridging" their rights? Sure, you have less money than Google so you'd be doing less good than Google can do, but we all do what we can, no? No. Of course not. It's one individual's job not to infringe another's rights, but it's not one individual's job to bolster another's rights.

As for the right to bear arms - where is that listed as inalienable? The only rights I'm aware of having been given that distinction are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I've never seen anything that suggests you should be able to carry a weapon anywhere you want at any time you want.

What makes the space you rent to sleep in any different from any other property you don't own? Do you believe the 2nd ammendment intends that you can bring a weapon into my home whether I want you to or not? (That's actually the kind of behavior that can lose you those inalienable rights.)

Rule #1 (5, Insightful)

Carewolf (581105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283194)

Rule #1 of cloud computing: "Do not trust the cloud".

Why is Google even able to review the content? Content should be encrypted.

Re:Rule #1 (1)

perlchild (582235) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283282)

I suspect, at least in the yearbook plan case, because they were the ones providing the sharing algorithm, and if any, the encryption support.

I think "the cloud" as a term, is being overused, or at least, used without discrimination, when you have the same term for 500 computer instances crunching data, with the result not meant to be public, and 25 people copying a single document, and not expecting it to be private, although they publish it later in another format...

On the other hand, if all of that is meant to be private, you're right, google isn't minding its own goddamn business, it doesn't have to review private data shared between individuals, as long as its legal.

Re:Rule #1 (5, Insightful)

jitterman (987991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283866)

... google isn't minding its own goddamn business, it doesn't have to review private data shared between individuals, as long as its legal.

To the point, the question isn't "as long as it's legal" but rather, "as long as there is no legal warrant requiring overturn of documents to proper authorities." Google should NOT have any role in deciding whether something is legal in the first place, as that implies they have already reviewed your content and made an independent determination.

Re:Rule #1 (1)

Spazed (1013981) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283378)

Because if they can't review it how can they give you targeted ads? I doubt that they have people sitting there reading through your TPS reports and geek poetry. I'm betting that they have a list of words they find 'suspect' or that they are using something to look for plagiarism. Still, it would certainly make me think twice about using a service if I know the solution to this is a person verifying my content as appropriate.

Re:Rule #1 (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 4 years ago | (#30284032)

Rule #1 of cloud computing: "Do not trust the cloud".

Rule #1 is "You get the level of service that you pay for."

(OK, rule #1 is really "Don't get caught" but you know what I mean.)

Why is Google even able to review the content? Content should be encrypted.

Because they're a very cheap provider. Pay more and you'll get the sort of service that you're asking for. Do you want the money or do you want the privacy?

A tragic little story (4, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283220)

My Dad has a Cloud that my sister and I used to store our homework assignments.

One night, I was writing a paper on it, when all of a sudden it went berserk. The screen started flashing and the whole paper just disappeared. All of it.

And it was a good paper!

I had to cram and rewrite it really quickly. Needless to say, my rushed paper wasn't nearly as good and I blame that Cloud for the grade I got.

And I am totally not stoned right now. Really. Dude.

Re:A tragic little story (2, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283384)

You should tell your dad to keep his cumulo out of your nimbus.

Re:A tragic little story (1)

thoth (7907) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283552)

Modded Insightful?
Doesn't anybody remember the "isn't she stoned" Apple ad this is making fun of??

Re:A tragic little story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30284022)

beep beep beep beep beep!

major wtf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30283310)

dont these idiots realize that they are handing control of their data over to a corporation? corporations that are fundamentally driven to make profit and please shareholders? then these idiots bitch when they are censored about what they write? is this really for real, i mean, am i actually reading this?

Re:major wtf (1)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283894)

dont these idiots realize that they are handing control of their data over to a corporation? corporations that are fundamentally driven to make profit and please shareholders? then these idiots bitch when they are censored about what they write? is this really for real, i mean, am i actually reading this?

No you're not. It's actually a Communist plot to get you to hate Capitalism.

Glad we got that cleared up (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283988)

"is this really for real, i mean, am i actually reading this?"

No, you're writing it, I'm reading it. Well, OK, now I'm writing.

Review!? (4, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283312)

Ok, I understand that unencrypted content is never guaranteed to be safe, so don't put anything of value in there. But the general assumption people make is that there's just so much stuff in there and most of it is so uninteresting that nobody will probably bother looking at it, unless it happens to show up in debug traces by chance, or something of the sort.

But, "review" suggests somebody at Google *will* look at that content. Imagine that -- some drone at Google will be looking at your private work you want to share only with select people, or company data, and decide (when they get around it) that you can share it after all.

IMO just the possibility of this happening at all makes the whole thing suspect, and could bite you in the ass right in the worst moment. "Sorry boss, I can't share that report because Google thinks there's porn in it. We'll have to wait until somebody at Google looks at it". I'm sure that would make for an interesting day.

Re:Review!? (4, Informative)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283508)

But, "review" suggests somebody at Google *will* look at that content. Imagine that -- some drone at Google will be looking at your private work

This part is certainly a big, big concern. I can understand why Google feels the need to do it -- they want to avoid facilitating a paedophile ring or whatever -- but normal users should expect that their data is not ordinarily looked at.

OTOH I'm sure there's something in the Google TOS about this. Ah here we go:
  - 8.3 Google reserves the right (but shall have no obligation) to pre-screen, review, flag, filter, modify, refuse or remove any or all Content from any Service.

IMO just the possibility of this happening at all makes the whole thing suspect, and could bite you in the ass right in the worst moment. "Sorry boss, I can't share that report because Google thinks there's porn in it. We'll have to wait until somebody at Google looks at it". I'm sure that would make for an interesting day.

To be fair, you can always save-as HTML/RTF/DOC/etc. and send your boss that.

Re:Review!? (1)

fulldecent (598482) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283680)

>> IMO just the possibility of this happening at all makes the whole thing suspect, and could bite you in the ass right in the worst moment. "Sorry boss, I can't share that report because Google thinks there's porn in it. We'll have to wait until somebody at Google looks at it". I'm sure that would make for an interesting day.

>> To be fair, you can always save-as HTML/RTF/DOC/etc. and send your boss that.

Until Google realizes that one way to continue sharing documents is to have multiple people log in to the same account, at which time they revoke the *creator's* access to their own document.

Re:Review!? (3, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283810)

This part is certainly a big, big concern. I can understand why Google feels the need to do it -- they want to avoid facilitating a paedophile ring or whatever -- but normal users should expect that their data is not ordinarily looked at.

Ah yes, you can justify absolutely anything in the name of fighting child porn. At this rate soon everybody will get a rectal exam at the airport, just in case they have a flash drive in there.

But interestingly enough, the same filtering doesn't apply to email, AFAIK. So I don't get what's the point.

To be fair, you can always save-as HTML/RTF/DOC/etc. and send your boss that.

Yeah, that one is easy. The big deal is when you're really using the extra stuff google docs provides.

For instance, I worked in a situation where several developers located in different countries used google docs to work on the same document. If Google suddenly decides the document can't be shared, that throws a wrench in the works. Not the end of the world for sure, but it could be very annoying and very inconvenient. It will definitely mess up the workflow. All of a sudden, instead of getting work done people have to talk to each other to explain what happened, figure out a new workflow, a way to decide who works on what part, who to mail the changes to and so on.

And since Google can take whatever time it wants with the review, you don't even get an estimation of how long will this situation last. Very not cool.

Re:Review!? (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283602)

This calls for extensive testing.

First, we create an account and fill it with harmless content containing "inappropriate" words. For example, a text about farm animals that uses the word "cock" a lot. If the documents are flagged, we can assume that Google uses pattern matching to find "bad" words.
Another thing to try is to submit an article condemning hate speech that includes examples of the speech it condemns. Should set off a pattern matching filter.

Second, we create an account and fill it with content inappropriate for human consumption. Weird erotica involving Steve Ballmer, Bob Ross, an elephant and a box of fireworks. Something like that. The important thing is that the whole text does not use any word or phrase that might conceivably set off an automated filter. We use lots of metaphors that are transparent to a human being and opaque to a computer. If the documents are flagged, we can assume that some poor soul at Google actually read them.


Science is fun!

Re:Review!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30284112)

But, "review" suggests somebody at Google *will* look at that content. Imagine that -- some drone at Google will be looking at your private work you want to share only with select people,...

How else are they going to insert ads into your documents?

Fuck the cloud. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30283416)

The cloud can kiss my shiny white ass. My data is mine, I own it, I control it, and they can pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

"disruptive" (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283480)

"seriously evaluate how this disruptive model will change your projects, your organization, and even your career"

For the worse? Anyone who thinks that "disruptive" is a positive attribute is someone who is divorced from real-world concerns.

Re:"disruptive" (3, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283596)

"Disruptive" is both positive and negative, it just depends on who you are.

By definition, a "disruptive" technology is a technology that is going to be laying down a little of the old Schumpeterian creative destruction on somebody's business model and/or existing capital base. For the incumbents, "disruptive"=bad.

However, for everybody else, the incumbents are a bunch of sluggish, reactionary, rent-seeking parasites. Hurting them is an important aspect of progress.

Disruptive !== Good (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30284060)

Ultimately, the outcome will depend on the value of the "disruptive" technology. Remember, Microsoft Bob was once a disruptive technology too.

Re:Disruptive !== Good (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30284148)

A technology that ends up dying a risible death, alone and unloved, can, at best, have been touted as a disruptive technology. Actually disruptive technologies have to do some disrupting.

Re:"disruptive" (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283652)

the word 'disruptive' IS a current business word.

as a techie, I cringe when I hear this. however, I used to work for a company who LOVED to use this word in a phrase ('disruptive computing'). I told them time and time again that it *sounds* bad to us techies but the business guys have a world of their own; and to them, this word *sounds* good to them!

boggle!

Wow! (2, Funny)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283504)

With props to Homer Simpson:
Google: The reason for and reason for not moving to cloud computing!

Censorship. (3, Interesting)

Poodleboy (226682) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283528)

"Censorship" is the proper word to describe this. The notion that I cannot express myself except in some "inoffensive" manner, for whatever values of "inoffensive" are acceptable to the owner of the cloud. I can see the "great wall cloud of China" already. Haven't big search companies already kowtowed to the Chinese government in order to access their markets? Is it inconceivable that Google would agree to Chinese government review of shared documents in order to serve the Chinese "cloud computing" market? I don't think it is.

Even here, imagine trying to write almost any kind of literary critique of Henry Miller, Ferdinand Celine or Vladimir Nabakov...

Re:Censorship. (2, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283946)

No it's not. If I own a building I don't have to let you "express yourself" all over the wall.

Google owns it's servers and software. They let you use them, subject to certain conditions. If you don't like those conditions, don't use them (an approach which I take to a greater or lesser degree).

Censorship is serious. Save the rant for when there's actually some censorship going on otherwise we'll be in a crying wolf situation.

Yet anothjer dirty minded filter (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283828)

It sounds like Google is using the "Beavis and Butt-head" filter. Heh Heh, he said ASSpirin

I'm not so sure I want to trust anything important to that.

Re:Yet anothjer dirty minded filter (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283964)

The fact that they are using any "filter" at all is a reason never to use the service.

My personal cloud (1)

AtomicDevice (926814) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283854)

I run a really dope cloud computing system that never fails. It's called ssh into my server and use nano.

Yeah (5, Interesting)

Peregr1n (904456) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283970)

I repeatedly encouraged my girlfriend to store her PhD documents in Google Docs, rather than on her laptop (that she takes everywhere). Eventually she complied; then, after a week or so, all her Google Docs vanished without trace.

No previous versions, nothing. I was at a loss to explain it, and have you tried contacting Google with a tech support request? Not a chance.

She's reverted to her low-tech solution (keep on laptop, occasionally email self with document attachments as a backup). I can't blame her.

I'm not saying this WILL happen to anyone else, but it completely destroyed my faith in 'cloud' storage. I'm quite happy storing documents remotely, when I know where they are, but cloud storage by definition could be anywhere - or nowhere.

mixing metaphors (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30283998)

Cloud computing is not advertising based broadcasting. What google does, for the most part, is sell advertising. It gains eyeballs for it's ads through search and content delivery. In this model, a single end user has a marginal of losing a single end user is essentially zero. The potential cost for hosting content that generates negative publicity or DCMA notices is relatively huge. Like all broadcasting, the end user is not the customer, and therefore the expectation for a high level of customer service is illogical. Even in the $50 paid models, because Google core business is advertising, not application support, the focus will not be on the end user, but on the advertising partner. In particular, since most of the data the public sees is not critical, Google probably does not have a culture of six nines reliability for customer data or access.

What I see cloud computing as is a return to the good old days of terminal access to applications. In this world the user is not continuously downloading updates, rebooting the machine, or fighting viruses. Instead the user is doing the tasks for which they actually bought the computing device. This requires the significant bits to be centralized, which requires the dreaded keepers of the sacred hardware. Techies rebel against this idea, and techies should have their own hardware, but the average person not really want the responsibility of maintaining all hardware, software and data if there is a competitive alternative. This is a culture shift from the currently prevailing individual standalone PC scenario, but as we become more networked it will move towards it, in the same way we moved away from mainframes as microcomputers became cheaper.

GMail (1)

Vamman (1156411) | more than 4 years ago | (#30284142)

Honestly, I don't even like using Gmail. Leaving all my email on my Gmail account makes me fringe a bit. I've always had local copies of everything. I can back to 95 and look at whatever crap I had then. Including emails! Now here we are using shared web services to store all of our work. Look at these idiots. Store your graduate thesis on Google? Come on! Talk about educated idiots. All this could disappear tomorrow. When it comes to retained knowledge I am afraid of what all of these "services" are really doing to humans.

It's about control (2, Interesting)

quixote9 (999874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30284166)

Having the *right* to your own work is different from somebody letting you have it--for now. Google's TOS says loud and clear that they're in control, not you.

It's funny that commenters with low membership numbers -- which I assume means folks who've been around the computer scene since the Stone Age -- make that point, while the ones with the What-Me-Worry attitude sound less experienced.

Cloud computing is just thin clients all over again, thin clients with graphics. Now all that remains to be seen is what we're willing to hand over in exchange for those nice shiny beads.
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