Big Tech tells us that we should all be saving all of our important documents to the cloud. It’s efficient, they say. It’s cheap, they say. Do not be fooled. Saving all your stuff to the cloud could lead to disaster. And I know a thing or two about making disastrous decisions. Heck, I went to law school. Now I’m a humor writer. See what I mean?
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.)
Despite hours and hours of trying, I can’t figure out a way to upload any of my old outfits to the cloud – not even my 1983 Members Only faux-leather jacket.
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.]
I also don’t get this fanatic Second Amendment demand to fight for the right to arm bears. For God’s sake, they don’t even have opposable thumbs. How will a bear fire an AK-47?
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
Every now and then I dip into the View from the Bleachers Reader Mail Bag to check out reader comments. I like to hear what my loyal following has to say about my recent posts. It may surprise you to know that my humor blog is (hardly ever) read by people all over the world – from Melbourne to Moscow to Mogadishu, and everywhere in between.
Whenever I wonder whether anybody is paying any attention to my posts, I need look no further than the blog’s comments section to discover that spammers from around the world are regularly checking out my web site. How flattering, I must say. And they always have something positive to say.
As a professional humorist and three-time Golden Globe nominee, I have found that coming up with original, entertaining topics to write about each week is a formidable challenge. But when I stop to read the highly personal reader feedback of spammers from places like Istanbul, I am reminded that this labor of love is well worth it. One week I had over 800 comments from an eclectic collection of web sites, most of which, I sheepishly admit, I had never heard of. At the risk of sounding immodest, the feedback from these spammers has been almost universally effusive. Many times, the comments are surprisingly coherent, if you can just decipher the mangled syntax.
Welcome back to the thrilling conclusion of my true, unedited story about my fleeting friendship with an Internet Scammer named Mr. Chris. If you missed the last week’s Part I, you can get caught up here. If you were with us last week, you know that it all started when I received the following unusual email in my SPAM mail folder.
From: kelvin chris
To: (this field was left blank)
Subject: Order Urgent
Hello. Am Mr. Kelvin Chris and will like to place an order regarding some bleachers from your company to Latvia. What is their price ranges, also your terms of payment as well. hope you answer to my request ASAP. Thank you very much and waiting for your prompt responds. God Bless You.
I would now like to let you in on a little secret – come in close…. closer… Psst: I don’t actually sell bleachers. It’s a humor blog. View from the Bleachers is a metaphor.
But Mr. Chris wanted to engage me in a bit of Internet commerce with terms most favorable to him. So I could not help but have a little fun by playing along. I never thought he would actually respond back to me after my ridiculously satirical reply. But he did. Oh yes.
Recently, I made a new friend across Cyberspace: a very nice man named Mr. Chris. Well, at least I thought he was a friend. For a week, it looked like we were going to become best buddies. But sadly this story of fleeting friendship has a heart-breaking ending.
You see, Mr. Chris is a documented Internet Scammer – listed on web sites for trying to con people out of their money by offering to overpay with a bad check or stolen credit card, and asking the victim to send back a check in return for the overpayment. Your classic Internet scam.
What made me suspicious, you might ask? Well, I think it was his first email which I stumbled onto in my SPAM mail folder which lacked any name in the “to” field. His email asked about pricing for BLEACHERS.
For ages friends have told me that I should start writing. Other than the occasional annual holiday letter or a surprise 50th birthday tribute, I admit I’ve not done nearly as much writing as I know I should. So after years and years of annoying, relentless, “you’ll regret not having ever done this when you look back on your life” pain-in-the-ass nagging (author’s note to self: Be sure to change the preceding to “supportive encouragement” before you publish – Do NOT forget!) from my wife, I decided to finally try my hand at blogging.
And all I have to say is what took me so long!! This blogging thing is a SNAP. You do not need to have five years of html programming experience or be an expert in RSS feeds, tagging, and php. And you don’t need to know about plug-ins, widgets or feed burners. You don’t need to understand the meaning of .css style sheets or header-footer dpi upload specifications. You don’t need to know ANY of that stuff -unless you want to have a blog site, that is. Then, yeah, it’s a pretty good idea to know what some of this stuff actually means.
And boy was it simple, too. Just for a chuckle, how quickly can you spot the obvious error in this html code sequence below?
<a href=”<?php echo get_option(‘home’); ?>”>
<?php bloginfo(‘name’); ?></a>
<?php bloginfo(‘description’); #>
Well if you guessed that the # symbol in the sequence <?php bloginfo(‘description’); #> should have been a “?” instead, you would have been absolutely right. It’s just that simple. Why was I so afraid? Beats me. It only took me 78 futile attempts on my own along with 15 phone calls to the web hosting support help desk (they were starting to know me by first name) to figure out how to upload my new home page header image in place of the lovely “Suzy Sunshine” sunflowers clip art that came with the page template. And here is the secret: beg, whine and plead to have the tech support person do it for you.
Well, before my baptism by html experience creating a blog site, I could not tell you the difference between a PHP code tag and an html tag, or the difference between a pingback and a trackback. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I still can’t tell the difference, but at least I now know how to spell them.
So, after just 17 hours of trying in vain to figure out what I was doing, I think I have a vague clue of how to set up a blog site and add new posts. And I did this all without bringing down a single computer network to its knees nor throwing any of our cats out the window in utter frustration.
I guess what I am saying is this: If you don’t have enough pound-your-fist-through-the-wall frustration in your life, and if your self-confidence about your computer literacy is higher than you feel it truly should be, I encourage you to create a blog site. Creating a blog site is as easy as counting to ten…. if you were a Labrador Retriever, that is.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2009