Saturday, January 7, 2012

Life in the Cloud

I know I talked about my iPhone yesterday, and I don't like to be repetitive in this blog, unless of course I'm bragging repeatedly--and shamelessly--about my gorgeous granddaughters, my dear daughter-in-law, my spectacular sons, or my handsome husband (how's that for alliteration?); but there is one other aspect of my new Space Age gadget that I find utterly amazing. And it has to do with something called "the cloud."

Have you heard of this phenomenon?

I became aware of it the other day when I got a reminder on my iPhone about a flight physical. Now, I'm not a pilot, I don't get flight physicals, and I never told Siri to give me such a reminder. But My husband had put a reminder about his flight physical on his iPhone, and magically, I got it on mine, too. When I asked my husband why our phones appeared to be communicating, he said it was because of this mysterious thing called the cloud. That same day, I had a reminder from Siri on my iPhone about getting my allergy shots, and my reminder made its way to my husband's phone, too, without any prompting from me. So we were both reminding each other of our appointments and our phones were reminding us as well; and I thought, "Now that we have this cloud, neither one of us will ever forget an appointment again!" In the old days, my husband might have said--right as we were going to bed and my brain was all tuckered out--"Don't forget to remind me about my flight physical tomorrow." And there was a better than 50/50 chance that if he didn't remember that appointment himself, he was in trouble--because I wasn't going to remember to remind him. Remember George Bailey's forgetful Uncle Billy in It's a Wonderful Life, the guy with the strings tied around all of his fingers? That's me. But not anymore, I guess; because between Siri and the cloud, I'm going to have all kinds of help keeping my life in order.

I'm sure all of the techies out there get this cloud thing, but I really don't. So I did what I always do when I'm trying to understand something, and I looked it up on-line. Here is a simple explanation of what is known as "cloud computing," and I'm quoting from an article called "What is the Cloud?" (

The easiest way to understand the cloud is to think of it as a utility, like electricity. When you plug a device into a wall outlet, electricity flows. You don't generate the electricity yourself. In fact, you probably have no idea where the electricity was generated. It's just there when you want it. All you care about is that your device works. [And by the way, isn't electricity amazing? I am still awed by that--never mind the cloud.]

Cloud computing works on the same principle. Through an internet connection (the equivalent of an electrical outlet), you can access whatever applications, files, or data you have opted to store in the cloud--anytime, anywhere, from any device. How it gets to you and where it's stored are not your concern...

Okay, I have to be honest: after reading this article, I'm not really any more enlightened than I was before. All I know is that my husband's iPhone is connected to mine, both of our iPhones are connected to our computers, and all of these connections are made possible by some sort of invisible cloud of information...and apparently, I just need to know that this is the way it is, and how it happens is not my concern. The whole thing seems a little creepy--a little Big Brotherish--to me, but I guess I can live with it. Especially if it means I'm going to remember to keep my appointments from now on.

(By the way, just as I finished this post, my phone made a little blip sound, and there was a message on it: "Take out the air conditioners that are still up." The fact that we live in New England, it's January, and we still have some air conditioning units in our windows is not the point; the point is that this was an iPhone reminder my husband had programmed for himself, but because of the cloud I got it, too. Thanks, cloud! There's no way now that my husband will be able to forget this latest item on his "honey do" list!)

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