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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.

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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

*New* TikTok Insights launch: Content creators finally get audience analytics

(SOCIAL MEDIA) The popular short-form app, TikTok, finally launches the anticipated Insights feature, where content creators can view target audience data.

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Two girls filming on TikTok.

Marketers searching for the zeitgeist which means TikTok scrollers pause to watch their content and then click through to buy a product have a new tool to help make that happen.

  • TikTok Insights offers marketers bite-size bits of user demographic information that will help build content that leads to sales.
  • With TikTok Insights you can learn more about your audience’s behavior, their interests, and their general sentiment toward brands.
  • TikTok Insights is free to use. Marketers can find TikTok user demographics by using filters to determine what they’re looking for.

The demographic info can be age-focused, focused on specific types of marketing, or even as specific as holiday or event marketing.

This is a step in the direction marketers have been asking for as they create content for the TikTok platform; however, creators looking for detailed analytics like they get from meta need to wait. Insights doesn’t offer that for now.

Like TikTok says in its own analytic information,

“While analytics are helpful in understanding the performance of your videos, you don’t need to create future videos based primarily around them. It’s best to consider the bigger picture, lean lightly on analytics, and use them as a source for insight rather than strategy.”

Marketers trying to key into reaching TikTok’s billion users worldwide are left, right now, searching for the magic that leads to consumers making the jump from the platform to using their purchasing power.

For marketers that means keeping things creative and collaborative, two key factors in TikTok’s success. And that success is huge. Users spend an average of 52 minutes on the platform when they log in and a staggering 90% of users say they log on every day.

TikTok Insights will help marketers find ways to connect, but the content TikTok is looking for is authentic.

And while entrepreneurs can bid for advertising like other social media platforms, they need to remember when planning that spend, that most TikTok marketing success stories are more accidental than planned. Have fun with that knowledge. Instead of pressure to create the perfect plan, TikTok Insights allows marketers to keep it creative and to find a way to tie it into what they enjoy about the platform.

Like all other social media marketing, focus on creating content that stops the consumer from their continual scroll. Make it a challenge and keep it real.

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Social Media

Grindr got busted for selling users’ data locations to advertisers

(SOCIAL MEDIA) User data has been a hot topic in the tech world. It’s often shared haphazardly or not protected, and the app Grindr, follows suit.

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Grindr on phone in man's hands

If you’re like me, you probably get spam calls a lot. Information is no longer private in this day and age; companies will buy and sell whatever information they can get their hands on for a quick buck. Which is annoying, but not necessarily outright dangerous, right?

Wrong.

Grindr has admitted to selling their user’s data, however, they are specifically selling the location of their users without regard for liability concerns. Grindr, a gay hook-up app, is an app where a marginalized community is revealing their location to find a person to connect to. Sure, Grindr claims they have been doing this less and less since 2020, but the issue still remains: they have been selling the location of people who are in a marginalized community – a community that has faced a huge amount of oppression in the past and is still facing it to this day.

Who in their right mind thought this was okay? Grindr initially did so to create “real-time ad exchanges” for their users, to find places super close to their location. Which makes sense, sort of. The root of the issue is that the LGBTQAI+ community is a community at risk. How does Grindr know if all of their users are out? Do they know exactly who they’re selling this information to? How do they know that those who bought the information are going to use it properly?

They don’t have any way of knowing this and they put all of their users at risk by selling their location data. And the data is still commercially available! Historical data could still be obtained and the information was able to be purchased in 2017. Even if somebody stopped using Grindr in, say, 2019, the fact they used Grindr is still out there. And yeah, the data that’s been released has anonymized, Grindr claims, but it’s really easy to reverse that and pin a specific person to a specific location and time.

This is such a huge violation of privacy and it puts people in real, actual danger. It would be so easy for bigots to get that information and use it for something other than ads. It would be so easy for people to out others who aren’t ready to come out. It’s ridiculous and, yeah, Grindr claims they’re doing it less, but the knowledge of what they have done is still out there. There’s still that question of “what if they do it again” and, with how the world is right now, it’s really messed up and problematic.

If somebody is attacked because of the data that Grindr sold, is Grindr complicit in that hate crime, legally or otherwise?

So, moral of the story?

Yeah, selling data can get you a quick buck, but don’t do it.

You have no idea who you’re putting at risk by selling that data and, if people find out you’ve done it, chances are your customers (and employees) will lose trust in you and could potentially leave you to find something else. Don’t risk it!

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Social Media

BeReal: Youngsters are flocking in droves to this Instagram competitor app

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As Instagram loses steam due to its standards of “perfection posting,” users are drawn to a similar app with a different approach, BeReal.

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social media - bereal app

BeReal is one of several “Real” apps exploding in growth with young users who crave real connections with people they know in real life.

According to data.ai, BeReal ranks 4th by downloads in the US, the UK, and France for Q1 2022 to date, behind only Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.

BeReal flies in the face of what social media has become. Instead of curated looks that focus on the beautiful parts of life, BeReal users showcase what they’re doing at the moment and share those real photos with their friends. Their real friends.

It’s real. And real is different for a generation of social media users who have been raised on influencers and filters.

As the app says when you go to its page:

Be Real.

Your Friends

for Real.

Every day at a different time, BeReal users are notified simultaneously to capture and share a Photo in 2 Minutes.

A new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life.

BeReal app

The app has seen monthly users increase by more than 315% according to Apptopia, which tracks and analyzes app performance.

“Push notifications are sent around the world simultaneously at different times each day,” the company said in a statement. “It’s a secret on how the time is chosen every day, it’s not random.”

The app allows no edits and no filters. They want users to show a “slice of their lives.”

Today’s social media users have seen their lives online inundated with ultra-curated social media. The pandemic led to more time spent online than ever. Social media became a way to escape. Reality was ugly. Social media was funny, pretty, and exciting.

And fake.

Enter BeReal where users are asked to share two moments of real life on a surprise schedule. New apps are fun often because they’re new. However, the huge growth in the use of BeReal by college-aged users points to something more than the new factor.

For the past several years, experts have warned that social media was dangerous to our mental health. The dopamine hits of likes and shares are based on photos and videos filled with second and third takes, lens changes, lighting improvements, and filters. Constant comparisons are the norm. And even though we know the world we present on our social pages isn’t exactly an honest portrayal of life, we can’t help but experience FOMO when we see our friends and followers and those we follow having the times of their lives, buying their new it thing, trying the new perfect product, playing in their Pinterest-worthy decorated spaces we wish we could have.

None of what we see is actually real on our apps. We delete our media that isn’t what we want to portray and try again from a different angle and shoot second and third and forth takes that make us look just a little better.

We spend hours flipping through videos on our For You walls and Instagram stories picked by algorithms that know us better than we know ourselves.

BeReal is the opposite of that. It’s simple, fast, and real. It’s community and fun, but it’s a moment instead of turning into the time-sink of our usual social media that, while fun, is also meant to ultimately sell stuff, including all our data.

It will be interesting to watch BeReal and see if it continues down its promised path and whether the growth continues. People are looking for something. Maybe reality is that answer.

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