Sunday, September 25, 2011

Moving away from Google

Recent and not-so-recent posts by a number of bloggers (e.g. 1, 2; just 2 of the 6 or 8 I've read in the past few days) regarding getting locked out of their Google accounts have reminded me why personal computers boomed in the workplace so quickly.

In the early days, PCs (well, except for Macs) were hard to use, had horrible interfaces, minimal software choices (WordStar, VisiCalc, dBase II, and AutoCAD were the exceptions), and were in huge demand everywhere. Why? I think it was largely because they allowed us to control our work. We had word processing, databases, and CAD systems before PCs. They were controlled by others--we could be locked out, inconvenienced, our work confiscated and our access revoked by those in control, without appeal and without warning.

Sound familiar?
With a PC on my desk, I didn't have to rely on the IT department, or my boss's secretary (which is what we called them back then), or anyone else in the department to get my work published and delivered. I typed it myself, proofed it myself, printed copies for review and circulation, and at the end of the day, I wrote the file onto a 360k (or 1.2M) floppy disk and stuck it in the file. If something bad happened to the network, or the mainframe, or (once) my job, I could walk out the door with all my history intact.

I love the idea of being able to work anywhere, with all my stuff in the cloud, backed up by professionals and delivered via the network whenever and wherever I want it. It's clear to me, though, that if I don't own the server and the network connection, the Powers That Be can quickly and easily and without explanation revoke my right to my work.

So guess what? I keep my dev environment on a 16G thumb drive. I keep all the documents I'm working on on that drive too. When I'm done, I commit them to the cloud, and I file them off to a portable drive that sits on my desk at home, to make room on said thumb drive for the Next Big Thing. I use the cloud, and I use my machine's hard drive, and I use the file servers at work, but I don't keep the master copy of anything I've personally created there.

Because you never know who, for want of a good process or out of stupidity or malice, will decide my account should be deactivated and my work tossed out.

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