Monday, 23 February 2009

The Cloud's Silver Lining

Without going into detail, I recently had to replace my laptop and decided that this was about the time to make the jump to a Netbook (specifically an Acer Aspire One 8GB SSD with Linux - yep, just before the new 10" model comes out).

Now I've lost laptops to various catastrophes in the past and every time has been an extremely stressful experience. This outing, however, was different - for about a year I've been regularly backing up (using rsync) all my files to a home server and storing my photos, music, etc on that.

So, I was confident that most of my data was safe but what really surprised me was how simple it was to return back to a full working setup because of the way I've gradually shifted to the cloud. In the past getting Outlook (with it's Calendar, Email and Contacts) working has been a significant part of the hassle. Using Gmail and other services meant that once I'd set up the web and opened Firefox I was 90% of the way back to normality.

Switching away from Windows was straight forward as well (I already dual-booted Ubuntu and XP but used Windows more often than not) but with Firefox installed, once I'd got Skype and Pidgin on board there was little left to do.

This whole episode has illustrated to me just how different a working environment the cloud is and underlines how the PC is becoming a host for the browser (and therefore the web). By far the most annoying aspect of having to move to a new machine was the loss of all the Chrome saved passwords (and, of course, Chrome itself which hasn't yet made it to Linux properly).

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