July 14, 2009

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While I'm Thinking About It

Life Without Google, continued.

My problem with "Cloud Computing" is multi-faceted. First, it's a light-and-fluffy marketing term that really tells you nothing. Second, if you're running applications "in the cloud" then you have less choice over the software you run--their software on their servers means it's their decision what version to run regardless what features you need. Third, with a single exception, storing your documents and data in the cloud means that you lose access to your work should the network go down--or worse, that the free service you've been using might decide to start charging money and lock your information away until you fork over the cash. The one exception is one of those online backup services that you pay to use, as one part of a more comprehensive backup system. They lock your stuff away, and you can nail them on breach of contract (assuming you've actually read the thing and are certain they're not supposed to do that).

Maybe it sounds paranoid, but it's actually less about nefariousness and more to do with how it often seems like Murphy was an optimist.

Okay, more Google alternatives!

Sketchup. This is a great program for modeling 3D buildings in little time. The free version is crippled trialware, however, and the full version is five hundred dollars. Sweet Home 3D looks interesting, is open source, and cross-platform, but I haven't tried it. Anim8or, on the other hand, I have used, but not recently. It's not nearly as user-friendly as Sketchup, but I did build this with it. If you're on Windows, and interested, give it a shot.

Picasa. You know what? Just use whatever software came with your camera. Or Windows Explorer with icons set to Preview. Personally, I like DigiKam, but it's designed for KDE and the Windows port isn't necessarily stable yet. For casual online galleries, Flickr. If you have a Yahoo mail account, you're already signed up and just have to choose a screenname.

Google Checkout. Uh, right. Amazon has their own payment system. Ebay prefers PayPal (mostly because they own them). Sites with brick and mortar stores probably already have their own merchant accounts. Does anyone really use this one? Or even want it?



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