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The Cloud

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The Cloud
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Here in the Pacific Northwest, it appears as though we’ve officially entered into our six months of clouds (that’s right Californians, you don’t want to move here) which got me thinking about clouds even more than usual.

Many of you have been hearing about “The Cloud”, “SAAS” (Software As A Service) and “Cloud Computing” for a while, but for those who are uninitiated, it’s the idea that the software you use everyday is actually all online. GMail, GCalendar and Facebook instead of Outlook. Google Docs instead of Word and Excel. Sliderocket instead of PowerPoint. Picnik instead of PhotoShop. These are all prime examples.

Netbooks

A few years back, some braniac came up with the term UMPC – Ultra Mobile Personal Computer. A few of these have hit the market, but were plagued with being too slow and too small. Several manufacturers still make these and I know quite a few very happy owners, but they are definitely not as mainstream as traditional laptops.

Now, however, manufacturers are competing in the “netbook” arena, which are laptops that typically have 8-12 inch screens, have low power (low-ish performance) processors and smaller hard drives. The idea is that you use online software and storage services, so the smaller hard drive isn’t a problem. Since these pieces of software run in your web browser, it doesn’t matter if your computer uses Windows or some flavor of Linux. And the small screen increases battery life and portability.

I can personally attest that I went from a 15″ laptop to a 17″ to a 19″ now back down to a 12″ and wishing it were smaller. For 99% of what I do, I prefer portability and battery life to a huge screen and I can always plug in to an external monitor for PhotoShop and Lightroom.

Trust

I have recently run into a few people who don’t trust cloud computing. I use many of these services, but still use their desktop counterparts, but mostly to provide support to others who are still using them.

This is part one of a three part look into cloud computing. Next, I will delve into resources, advantages and concerns for individuals, especially independent business owners as many of you are. Finally, I will take the same critical look from the side of business owners and IT departments in relation to their employees and contractors.

If you have any specific concerns you would like to see addressed, please let me know in the comments.

Nick runs a new media marketing consulting company helping real estate professionals learn how to implement new media tools into their marketing arsenal. He frequently gives presentations on generational marketing, green marketing and advanced online promotion. Nick is active on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Missy Caulk

    October 3, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    I just started using GoogleDoc’s to follow the transactions. My assistant adds what she has done and both myself and the client can assess it. Love Google Calendar, both for a TEAM calender and personal one.

    Right now you would have to pry my hands off outlook, but I’m open.

  2. Nick Bostic

    October 3, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    I totally understand, my relationship with Outlook is definitely love/hate 🙂 I have been forced away from it due to my corporate IT policy and I’ve found some interesting workarounds, but it does require the correct hardware/software decisions across the board. I think it will get easier to live without Outlook as time goes on though. But the details are for the next article….

  3. Missy Caulk

    October 3, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    I look forward to it.

  4. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    October 3, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Nick, the resistance I’ve had in the past (but have been coming out of) is the transition to cloud computing… I’d love to hear more about transitioning (what do I do with my old data- do I store it or can it come with me in each instance? is it safe? how can i be sure? will Google take over all of the cloud computing world? how is each superior to what i’m already using?). I’ve spent a great deal of time researching and transitioning into online services, but with anything new, I have my reservations.

    I’m very excited to hear your take on all things cloudy! 🙂

  5. Mark Eckenrode

    October 3, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    this has been pretty attractive for me but the speed is what kills me. after a long day working… add up the time spent waiting for pageloads, transfers, etc and it can get ugly.

  6. Todd

    October 3, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    “…I have recently run into a few people who don’t trust cloud computing…”

    Using their logic they should have zero trust in, and never use mobile phones, since they are cloud computing.

    I have seen the exact same thing – I recommend to someone that they try Google Docs out for a week and see if it is a “80% solution” for them to abandon Microsoft Office. They stand either holding, or actually talking on their mobile phone, and say to me “Sounds risky, how do I know I won’t lose any data? Pass.”

    …Ummmm Dude, then use only landline phone from now on. Mkay?

  7. Rob La Gesse

    October 3, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    I work at building “the cloud” and I really see a different adoption path – one where you can work either on, or off of the cloud. One where your data is available wherever you need it to be – where the apps can be local, or online. Th data can be manipulated locally or online. Where everything is kept in sync through Really Smart Software – even if many people are manipulating that data at the same time. We are already seeing this in many forms – Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Mosso – we are all providing some level of solution to this problem. The problem? It shouldn’t matter what computer/device I am on, or where my data “lives” – I just need access to it – and to my apps.

    As the Internet gets faster and faster, and becomes available everywhere, it won’t matter what the device is anymore – a “new instance of your computing environment” can be rapidly downloaded and utilized no matter the device. The true potential of the cloud isn’t just “my data from anywhere”, but “my environment everywhere”.

    And we are moving very rapidly in that direction!

    Rob

  8. Bob

    October 3, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    Anyone ever been to DEFCON?

    I use GoogleDocs and other cloud apps, but storing the personal info of those you don’t want to have to answer to is not a good idea.

  9. John Kalinowski

    October 4, 2008 at 5:33 am

    Bob- Can you elaborate on what you meant by “storing the personal info of those you don’t want to have to answer to is not a good idea”? Thanks!

  10. Bob

    October 4, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    John,

    I do a ton of short sales. Those packages have a ton of personally identifiable info. Storing them in the cloud is a liability if my clients dont consent.

  11. Thomas Johnson

    October 8, 2008 at 9:07 am

    @ Bob: You got it! We are fiduciaries. Until there are bank level security systems for all our transactions without the cost of bank level security, I am more comfortable securing a file cabinet and locking my office. Ask Gov. Sarah Palin how she likes cloud computing after her Yahoo account got hacked and broadcast to the world by a kid.

    For a RE practitioner, what is the cost of secure enterprise cloud computing? I know that this will not be free. This is the kind of scalable solution that Realogy will be able to bring to the table. Independents will have to dig deeper into their pockets.

    The speed is excruciatingly slow when pictures are involved. Video will further bog down all the speed gains that we have seen in the past few years. I am willing to toss marketing stuff up in the cloud at negligible cost. I am not so sure that my vault needs to be hanging out there.

  12. Nick Bostic

    October 8, 2008 at 10:21 am

    Bob and Thomas, do you ever email documents? Or send them via courier? Or send them to a mortgage broker, title company or lawyer? The big problem is you can secure your data as much as possible, but when you have to work with other people, all of your precautions are typically thrown to the wind. We frequently receive documents that were supposed to go to a competitor because their courier service apparently can’t read. They protected that data as much as possible, but due to incompetence, that security was worthless.

    If you store data in your computer, it can be hacked. If you store your data in a file cabinet, your office can be broken into. If you talk about information over the phone, it can be tapped. Heck, if you store it only in your head, there are drugs to make you talk! I know, it’s extreme, but the odds of someone hacking your Google Docs account is probably about as likely as someone breaking into your office.

  13. Nick Bostic

    October 8, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Sorry, just remembered one other thing. If the health care industry is willing to trust Google to store and share our medical records (which I know from experience have even more strict regulations and fines), I think we can safely use these tools for this business.

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Social Media

Instagram now lets you create and share fundraisers

(SOCIAL MEDIA) If you’ve been wanting to start a fundraiser for something you care about, Instagram’s new feature lets you do just that. Go check it out!

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Instagram Fundraiser

Instagram announced last week that it has launched a test for a Personal Fundraiser tool on its platform. The feature will allow users to start their own fundraiser if it complies with guidelines or choose an existing cause to support. The launch began in some US, UK, and Ireland markets and is available on Android and iOS.

In its announcement, the company confirmed that since January, more than $100 million has been raised for COVID-19 across Facebook and Instagram (also owned by Facebook), citing that donations on Instagram have doubled in the US in the past 30 days. The announcement said, “from people raising money to buy medical equipment for Black Lives Matter protesters, rebuilding Black-owned small businesses affected by COVID-19 and funding educational resources related to racial justice, people are eager to mobilize around causes they care about.”

Personal Fundraisers are short-term and meant to serve time-sensitive causes, with the initial duration lasting 30 days with the option to extend for an additional 30 days. Users must be 18 to create a fundraiser and have a designated bank account in which funds can be deposited. Donations will be processed through Facebook Pay, which also powers Instagram’s new shopping features. The platform covers fees for non-profits, but not for Personal Fundraisers. Donors can choose to keep their information hidden from the public, but organizers will be able to see user names and donation amounts.

To start a Personal Fundraiser, users with access to the feature can tap “Edit Profile”, “Add Fundraiser”, followed by “Raise Money”. They can then choose a photo, select the fundraiser category, and write out a story to encourage donations. When approved, users will be able to raise funds.

Instagram says it will expand the number of users who have access to this feature in the months ahead, as well as give users access to share fundraisers both in their Feed and within Stories. Fundraising features already offered by the company include Donation Stickers for Stories and a Live Donations feature for live streams.

This feature is similar to the fundraising feature already available on Facebook, Instagram’s parent company.

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Social Media

Should you be Facebook friends with your boss?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Are there times when it makes sense to connect with your boss and team on Facebook? Or is LinkedIn enough?

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facebook friends

Just as we learn, grow, and change in life, so does our use of social media platforms and technology in general. It makes sense though – when hot new programs come out and “everybody’s doing it” (thinking of you MySpace and Plaxo), it’s easy to create a user profile to see what you think of the platform.

You may be a heavy user at first (looking at you Facebook) and then back off, only to use it for certain functions (Groups and Events for example). In the interim, you may have joined Instagram because for some reason it seemed simpler and light-hearted. And don’t let the new, shiny things coming out pass you by without at least seeing if you like them, or if they help entertain you and connect you to loved ones (looking at you Snapchat and TikTok).

Amongst some doubt of new or potential users in the mid-2000s after Facebook opened up to those outside of universities, we have to admit that Facebook has had a longevity that some of the other platforms have not. It allows you to keep your personal network in one place as well as your photos, significant dates, your career changes, events, and even see what your cousins are up to. It almost feels like once you’re invested, it’s hard to get out.

The thing is, there is definitely a grey area on who you accept as a “friend”. It really is up to each person’s comfort level on who they want to be connected to, and how much sharing they do on the platform. This article isn’t going to address Facebook privacy concerns and data sharing, but we do encourage you to look in to those if that is something that is important to you. It’s a similar idea with LinkedIn – some people are happy to connect with anyone and everyone, while others prefer to keep their connections to those they personally know and/or have worked with.

This story is addressing a question as it relates to an article in Inc. about whether or not is it’s ok for managers and employees to be “Facebook friends”, and some other tricky professional situations. We have to look at few things first, including the evolution of our use.

Since Facebook was made available to everyone, we have gone from a simple profile picture, relationship status (oof), and random updates about our breakfast/dentist appointments, to joining interest groups, sharing news articles, promoting brands and memes at a mind-boggling rate. Many people have considered deleting their Facebook profiles due to a high level of negativity, privacy concerns over their data and pictures, and how ultimately, scrolling your newsfeed can be a total time suck.

Many stay on because they are in groups (like super amazing, supportive, and popular ones such as Austin Digital Jobs) that they enjoy, and it’s a way to stay connected with others. This has felt true especially during COVID-19 where many people have lost their social outlets, networking opportunities, and have not been able to get together in person. Social media has also been a useful platform for small business owners and entrepreneurs to run a business page at minimal costs (free unless they run advertising), and reach out to customers. Facebook (owner of Instagram) also seems to have been making strides this year to better support small business owners.

So, should you be Facebook friends with your boss?

That is up to you (we are not here to tell you how to run your life) and while many have said, “Nope” in a super unofficial survey of 30 respondents, there were a couple of interesting perspectives:

“Since I’m my boss, twist on my answer… I don’t yes any professional that asks to be FB friends. That’s what my page is for. I even have a canned response that says this because I get so many asks. My personal FB is for actual friends of mine. I didn’t want to yes my MIL either. I have her on the restricted list.”

“I guess it depends. I’m friends with my boss and most of my coworkers. Creative shop within a corporation … about 45 strong. We are tight.”

“If you love your job and you love your boss then I think it is ok. I work 2 part-time jobs and both of my bosses are amazing! I am friends and Facebook friends with both of them.”

“I’m fine. I don’t post much on Facebook anymore. My bosses are all fairly chill. ”

“I have been Facebook friends with previous bosses while they were my boss. I am not with my current boss, but I’d be fine with it if we were. I don’t post anything too crazy, and I tend to over share in the office already. I like to be an open book. Tiktok would be different though… ”

For some who are part of a start-up or smaller team where collaboration and getting to know one another  are supported (thinking teams of 10 or less, hey AG Staff Writers), this may be more of the ‘norm’ and acceptable. However, the majority of people do not want to be “Facebook friends” with their boss to draw a line between work and personal sharing. Many people also mentioned that it varied if they chose to be Facebook friends with their colleagues, although they seem to be more open to colleagues vs. direct supervisors.

This seems to reflect back on how you use Facebook and if sharing your weekend or family photos is not something you want everyone to see. On the flip side, if you’re not sharing much, maybe you’d be OK with being connected there. A more professional way of connecting with your supervisor and others at work is through LinkedIn, and is in fact, highly encouraged.

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Could TikTok soon be banned in the U.S for privacy breaching?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) TikTok, a video content social media giant, has been deemed a potential national security risk by the U.S Federal government.

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TikTok is banned

U.S lawmakers are calling for a full investigation into TikTok, the fifteen second video app with almost 180 million downloads, after expressing concerns of a privacy breach by the Chinese government.

TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, purchased the platform originally known as musical.ly in November 2017. Since then the social media app worth an estimated $150 billion has almost 180 million downloads in the U.S, and 800 million downloads worldwide.

According to Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, the U.S has reason to believe the Beijing-based company, ByteDance, may have been coerced into handing over data to China’s communist leaders. The app’s Founder, Zhang Yiming, and TikTok’s spokesperson responded to the accusations with the following statement: “TikTok is led by an American CEO, with hundreds of employees and key leaders across safety, security, product, and public policy here in the U.S. We have no higher priority than promoting a safe and secure app experience for our users. We have never provided user data to the Chinese government, nor would we do so if asked.”

We don’t know if we believe you TikTok.

TikTok received over 500 legal demands, including emergency requests, in the first six months of 2020. TikTok has also previously confirmed that the app stores user data on “U.S-based servers” withdrawn from phone downloads. Information includes IP addresses, messages, location information, and according to Pompeo, “sensitive information”, exposed by data breaching that disregards American rights to privacy and potentially violates national security guidelines.

Company employees may live in the U.S, but with its head of operations stationed in Beijing, pressure from the Chinese Government to provide user information is a very serious concern for Americans using the app. 41 percent of its users are part of Generation Z, a highly influential, social media-friendly age group, ranging between 16 and 24.

A sense of invincibility within this age range encourages users to use the app without caution of personal information that may be provided or derived off your phone after installation. In the past two years, social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have also been criticized for not abiding to lawful privacy standards.

ByteDance has halted the use of its corporate office in Beijing and is looking to establish headquarters within the U.S or under new management.

The U.S. government is seriously considering banning the use of TikTok.

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