iCloud is Not for Everyone

Apple's iCloud - Documents in the Cloud

Apple’s iCloud – Documents in the Cloud promises “all your documents, with all your edits, on every device.” Image: Apple

In the most recent update of the Mac OS, Mountain Lion, the Apple branded cloud computing service iCloud was expanded to more fully embrace the Mac from it’s previous focus on iOS devices, the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.  After taking a look at in in reviews and a one friend’s somewhat exasperated experience with iCloud, I realize that the utility of iCloud will very much depend on what sort of user you are.

One of the enjoyable things I do, rather off to the side of the “day job” is serve as president of my local Mac User Group. Like many things in the tech world, Mac User Groups are not what they once were. Before the era of the internet, Applecare, the Apple Store, and the Genius Bar, Mac (and PC) User groups were often the only casual source of experienced to expert help and guidance for most users, especially non-professionals without their companies to provide IT support. And of course, mac’s were a markedly different species from PCs in those days, and were a lot more … well.. computer-y.

Apple’s arc in the last decade has been to cater to a vast underserved consumer computing market and to that end, has relentlessly pushed simplicity, elegance, design excellence and the appliance nature of their devices. Note that they almost never use the word “computer” any more, it’s even gone from the company name. It’s simply iMac, MacBook, iPhone, iPad… An iPhone is a more powerful and capable micro-sized computer that most of the Power PC line of Macintoshes, just one that happens to have a phone. And they’ve done away with most of the computer-y stuff that most folk associate with desktop computers, while still having it do all those THINGS, and typically very well. (Except Maps at the moment… opps) Using an iPhone, the focus is almost entirely on the apps, and what you’re doing, and not particularly on the device much at all.

Currently Apple is making an effort in it’s desktop computing operating system to bring that ideal to to their desktops and notebooks. And part of that effort is iCloud. But iCloud is not cloud storage as most of you who are power users already use and experience it, such as in Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon CloudDrive, Microsoft Skydrive. There are also cloud computing services as well like YouSendIt, Amazon Web Services, Google Apps and the like which actually provide computing services and apps remotely, and most of the cloud storage services also have some of this functionality. iCloud also provides some dedicated services for various iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac users, such as Music Syncing, iTunes matching, Mail and Calendar services, etc.

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Video Odyssey

Image size, Standard NTSC vs Broadcast 1080i High Definition - Image from RDP Video Productions

Image size, Standard NTSC vs Broadcast 1080i High Definition Image source: RDP Video Productions

I know I haven’t posted in a while, but I’ve been busy. Being booked solid is a good thing for a freelancer. Being booked solid while having a number of real life issues… not as comfortable, but comes with the territory of home and family. Being booked solid and being paid somewhat indifferently. That is certainly… less good, but seems a function of the current uncertain economy. But that’s neither here nor there. I also promised a piece on data protection and backups and the like, but this is still fresh in the Studio. So hitting it while I can rant with good store of fierce.

A couple of months ago, one of my best and favorite clients approached me about a PowerPoint project that they were having some problems with. So I agreed to take a look at it. Some of the problems hinged on the destination of the presentation— a giant 40-inch plasma screen going into their freshly redesigned lobby. I did the specs on the actual LCD, and discovered that it’s native resolution was 1080i… yes, 1900 x 1080 pixels. Not huge by 300 dpi print standards. But HUMONGOUS at screen sizes. So I agreed to build the big graphics for the slides.

So far this is still straightforward. But was not destined to stay that way. The president of the company wanted some fairly upscale animation effects. And an animated title. So the project slipped into the Flash animation level. Recent versions of PowerPoint have the capability to display video on the slides, so I could export the Flash work to Quicktime or Flash Video files and embed them in the Flash Slides.

As things progressed. The client passed on another request. They want a scrolling type effect to run continuously at the bottom of the presentation, and have a picture-in-picture effect of CNN or something running in the bottom left corner of the screen.

This just became a Video Project.

Since it is going to an 1080i device, it has become a HIGH-DEFINITION Video Project. Continue reading

Getting at Your Web Stuff

HTML code in Text Wrangler. Want a piece of this action?

HTML code in Text Wrangler. Want a piece of this action?

Hello everyone who may or not be paying attention.

I know it’s been a while but I was a bit distracted by some very consuming system issues with my workstation. But that cautionary tale is a subject for another post. Seriously. Cautionary. Tale. But not now.

One of the requests that I often get from clients is that they want to know how to do simple revisions and update their web site content for themselves. Of course they are concerned in this difficult economy about paying my fair, but non-trivial designer’s rate for what might be a trivial update or minor correction. I do have a minimum quarter hour charge. Which is seriously, just about how long it takes to read the email, take the call, jot a note or two, fire up Dreamweaver or a text editor, an FTP client, log into the hosting provider’s Control Panel, upload the fix, revision or update and then log it on the timesheet. So I do see their point. Or you might just want more control of your own content. Continue reading