A convoluted plethora of barely connected cloud silos

Recently on Facebook JP was lamenting the confused state of managing our data in the cloud when multiple identities and platforms are involved.


JP Rangaswami
New Windsor, United Kingdom ·
iCloud is terrible. Going back to Microsoft is unthinkable. Having lived through trying to use personal and corporate gmail accounts in parallel, Google is ruled out as well. Actually contemplating living a life without Apple or Google now, not just Microsoft. All three now excel at making simple things hard.

 

And it’s true. Trying to make sense out of the various cloud services is a convoluted mess.

I liked his post and in comments he asked me

JP Rangaswami David I’d be interested in knowing whether your experience of these services has deteriorated similarly. For me, as soon as you have multiple family accounts, multiple devices and want access to any sort of “content”, the user experience is Kafkaesque. Codified bureaucratic incompetence at Olympic levels.

 

There’s not an easy response to that. So as to not clog up Facebook comments I outline here what I’ve found the best solution – and by best I mean the one I currently use – none of this stuff is best… it’s all a kludge.

Devices
I need to use the following devices
A iMac and a Windows 7 PC at my desk at home
A Windows 7 laptop at my bed
A Windows 7 PC at my desk at work
An iPhone – on my desk when home; hanging around my neck on a lanyard when not.
All controlled by a stick held in my mouth – the iPhone, a stylus.

Home
The biggest thing I use is email. Because I have to use 4 different computers at different times a stand alone email app is out and the browser email from google is in. For that I use Gmail – in the web browser on the computers and via the builtin app on iPhone.

I can’t use my iPhone very well when away from desk so most of what I do is at a keyboard and screen at a desk.

All my email accounts are fed into gmail and aliases setup so when replying to any email it appears as coming from the account to which it was sent. Mind you, this is only personal email.

Contacts are a pita and keeping the correct information synced and available across all devices is no fun. Google contacts I make the centre as I can always get to them from a browser. They are synced to my iMac via the contacts app but the app on Mac doesn’t sync to iCloud. Nor does the app on my iPhone. I make google contacts the centre repository and turn off iCloud syncing contacts. I know I can login to iCloud in my browser to get contacts but I’m forever on gmail so that makes more sense.

Calendars are the next big hurdle. Forgetting work for a while, just keeping my calendars in sync is done via my iMac. I turn on iCloud syncing on my iPhone for calendars to sync with my mac and then sync my Mac calendar also with google calendars.

Work

For work, as I work for Government I can’t bridge the Govt. divide and so work email is via Outlook when at work or Outlook Web Access via a browser anywhere else (unless on the work vpn).

Same with calendars. I’m forever having to check clashes between my work and home calendar manually. I often send myself meeting requests between my work/home so I’ll know what I’m meant to be doing. I’m sure there’s Managers who can have a better experience being mobile… but not us plebs.

Contacts. Never the twain shall meet. Work contacts are duplicated on my personal contacts manually.

Apps

Google drive acts as an online repository for documents needed between devices. I’d love to use Microsoft’s cloud but again work seems to not want me to share.The one area of apps that does work for me is Adobe Creative Cloud which work have purchased as a service and I can run on any of my devices anywhere. Being a non-firewalled SAAS cloud controlled offering gives me great flexibility. As Govt. is so Microsoft Office based, a full move to Office in the cloud would be a game changer for me. Currently I’m on a trial at work for Office but it’s restricted to only within the Govt. network.. so only works if vpn connected.
Notes is one area I’ve never been able to settle on for a decade or more. If work didn’t restrict my syncing Onenote I’d be on that but that one aspect means I struggle along with transient notes strewn across everything. I used to love google notebook.. but alas they canned that. I try and focus on using google apps but thats not much use on my phone. The Notes app on my iMac is good now I can have it on my mac and sync it to iCloud to my phone. But that still leaves me to have to login to iCloud if on a PC to leave a note.

So I seem to have Google as the centre of much of what I do but only on account of being restricted by where I work. If work removed that, now that the majority of Microsft apps are available on the Mac, I’d be on Microsoft cloud like a shot for docs and apps, notes, calendars and contacts. It’d be hard to ditch google for email… but even that might become a funnel to Microsoft’s offerings.

The cloud services seem to be great if you’re one person with one identity and can find everything you need from one economy and that economy’s preferred devices.

That’s a lot of “ones” in one sentence. Which makes me think that silos haven’t gone away with the cloud … they’ve merely migrated there.

Sorry to confuse you more JP.
Dave

* Photo : Industrial Other by Sydney Architects & Building Designers Alexander Michael & Assoc

Listener’s Poker

Over on his blog, my mate Kent has started a game of listeners poker. He explains it like this:

[It’s like]  Liar’s Poker, but with sound.  Somebody pick something good, and others try to top it.  We’re talking playing, and musicianship.  Not just some studio-created and network-marketed nonsense.  Music.  Reeeeeel music.

Well, I’m game. And seeing as he started with an instrumental I’ll continue that theme, and raise him a Bruce Cockburn

Got some music you think is good?

Prove it!

Firechat Enables the Crowd to Become the Internet –Bypassing Central Powers | Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang | Digital Business

Keep an eye on this. Mesh networking should be more of a player as proliferation of mobile devices increases. Especially in high density populations.

Firechat Enables the Crowd to Become the Internet –Bypassing Central Powers | Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang | Digital Business.

The unconsciously built connected consciousness | Cluetrain at Fifteen

Quote

[The Net is] the connected consciousness of the market itself. It makes markets smart by giving customers unprecedented powers, the most fundamental of which is each other

via Cluetrain at Fifteen | Linux Journal.

What I have always loved about Doc is how human he is.

For me this quote encompasses everything the article has to say…

It also points to what I consider as to the how the Net itself came into being… as an unconsciously built connectivity tool… because as humans we create and form what we crave.

The Parent’s Guide to a Minecraft Server for your kids

A friend of mine posted on facebook wondering if anyone knew about running a Minecraft server, predominantly for her son.

Me and my son have been through the experience and we’ve come up against a few hurdles we had to overcome. I thought it might be useful to share what we’ve done.

So here it is, the Parent’s Guide to setting up a Minecraft server… a list version.

A Computer – I had an old computer laying around so put that on the LAN with idea of running it headless (no monitor). Mine’s a Mac but it doesn’t make any difference, just use what you have. It’s all Java based so will run on nearly anything.

Minecraft Server software – You need to download the mc server software. I wanted to lock down the server and add features, so looked for some version of a server that supported plugins. We settled for CraftBukkit : Download and installation instructions here: http://wiki.bukkit.org/Setting_up_a_server

Server Config : Memory – The wiki instructions are good, but here’s a little further explanation of that starting command line that looks lilke :
java -Xmx1024M -jar craftbukkit.jar -o true
The Xmx1024M specifies the maximum memory (RAM) the mc server will take. In this instance that’s 1024Megabytes, or 1Gigabyte. So you’ll need to take that into account with how much RAM your computer running the server has.

Server Config : Offline Mode -The other thing to note is the bit that says “-o true” That tells the server to start in “Online mode” That means all logions to the server will be validated to see if they have a registered Minecraft account – through Mojang. This is an important thing to understand. It means that all of your child’s friends who want to take part in ypur server would need to buy a Registered copy of Minecraft from Mojang. That’s not always possible or desirable just to connect to your little closed server. The alternative is to run it in “Offline mode”, setting “-o false”. This is what we will need. This will allow your childs friends to use MinecraftSP (SP=Single Player) which you can get for free. BUT don’t just do that without following steps below as it’s insecure. But for now just note it.. as later we will need to turn it to “false”. When you do.. it’ll warn you it’s iknsecure when you start up. If you follow all the bits I outline below you can ignore the m essage – I do :)

Server Config : White-list -You’ll also want to run your server in “white-list” mode. This means if the login name’s not on the white-list then you’re not getting on. To do this edit the “server.properties” file (which will be in the folder you installed the server) and set the line so it looks like this “white-list=true“. To allow someone to connect to your server they’ll need to have their chosen username in the white-list. Simply edit the file called “white-list.txt” (again, in the folder you installed the server) and add one username per line.

Plugins - Plugins are the real fun of Minecraft. There’s plugins for all sorts of things. Some are decorative, some functional, some utilitarian. I’m only going to deal with the basic ones you’ll ned to get your server up and running and safe. Plugins are java files “.jar” and are installed by simply copying the plugin.jar file into your servers “plugins” floder, then restart the server to load it. Once you have your Minecraft server running, you’ll need some plugins to secure it. With offline mode enabled you’ll allow anyone to connect including those using MinecraftSP. If they’re username is in the white-list they’ll get on. But so will anyone guessing a name on the list. Here’s where the first plugin I recommend comes in.

Plugins : RoyalAuth - This plugin adds the need to type in a password on the server. This prevents people that share a computer from using each other’s account.(http://dev.bukkit.org/bukkit-plugins/royalauth/)

Plugins : Permissions - Once you get things running you’ll need to sort out permissions. Thisis one area that can be very complicated and took me months of trial and error. There’s a myriad of permissions systems with their own unique spin on it. I suggest in this situation we are aiming for it’s best to keep it simple. I ended up settling on the “PermissionsBukkit” plugin (http://dev.bukkit.org/bukkit-plugins/permbukkit/). But you could easily just edit the “permissions.yml” file in the root folder of your server. Only watch the syntax closely. (oh and you may need Vaulkt plugin  too.. so whack it in http://dev.bukkit.org/bukkit-plugins/vault/)

External Access - The above should get yoiu started. Of course you’ll need to open a port on your router to allow your friends to get to the server computer on your network. You’ll need to port forward and open the TCP port (default is 25565) on the firewall. Find some info. on this at the bukkit wiki http://wiki.bukkit.org/Port_forwarding or the minecraft wiki http://www.minecraftwiki.net/wiki/Tutorials/Setting_up_a_server

Notes –

  • To stop your server from the consol, type “save-all” then “stop”.
  • Your client version must match your server version. A lower version client cannot connect to a higher/later v ersion server. So before you upgrade server or clien t, take a backup copy.
  • You can setup an economy.. that’s just as hard as permissions. I’d suggest leave it for a bit while you learn.
  • Keep an eye on the server messageds as it starts as it’ll help you diagnose issues.

Some handy plugins we use are:

Essentials – over 100 commands and features useful on just about every server.(http://dev.bukkit.org/bukkit-plugins/essentials/)
WorldEdit – easy-to-use in-game world editor for Minecraft. (http://dev.bukkit.org/bukkit-plugins/worldedit/)
WorldGuard - a powerful plugin that protects your server from unwanted destruction or protecting certyain areas. (http://dev.bukkit.org/bukkit-plugins/worldguard/)

By only giving out the address of your server to those you wsant to join, using a white-list and the Authority plugn you should be pretty ok to have a Minecraft Server your child’s friends can meet on. Remember it’s your computer so you can always turn it off.

Hope that helps and I haven’t left somnething out. Let me know if you’d like anything added in the comments.

Dave

Day 31 – Gender

Day 31 - Gender by dnwallace
Day 31 – Gender, a photo by dnwallace on Flickr.

gender
noun
1.
Grammar .
a.
(in many languages) a set of
classes that together include all
nouns
, membership in a particular class being shown by the form of the
noun
itself or by the form or choice of words that modify,replace, or otherwise
refer to the noun, as, in English, the choice of he to replace the man,
of she to replace the woman, of it to replace the table, of it or she
to replace the ship. The number of genders in different languages varies
from 2 to more than 20; often the classificationcorrelates in part with sex
or animateness. The most familiar sets of genders are of three classes (as
masculine, feminine, and neuter in Latin and German) or of two (as common
and neuter in Dutch, or masculine and feminine in French and Spanish).
b.
one class of such a set.
c.
such classes or sets collectively or in general.
d.
membership of a word or
grammatical form, or an inflectional form showing membership, insuch a
class.
2.
sex: the feminine gender.

image by Jeffrey Beall

Day 29 – Interest

Day 29 - Interest by dnwallace
Day 29 – Interest, a photo by dnwallace on Flickr.

interest
noun
1.
the feeling of a person whose attention, concern, or curiosity is
particularly engaged by something: She has a great interest in the poetry of
Donne.
2.
something that concerns, involves, draws the attention of, or arouses the
curiosity of a person: His interests are philosophy andchess.
14. Finance.
a.
a sum paid or charged for the use of money or for borrowing money.
b.
such a sum expressed as a percentage of money borrowed to be paid over a
given period, usually one year.

image by Riski Gayuh N