Cloudy

It’s been quite cloudy lately, and I don’t mean the weather. Rather, I’m pointing at that giant virtual cloud that is slowly engulfing all of us. Has anyone imagined things to be the way they are lately, in terms of online sharing, storage, and information processing?

Have you ever read the short story of Isaac Asimov entitled “The Last Question”? It was written in 1956, and I was first able to read it when I was still in high school, in the late 90’s. Interesting enough, Asimov in the 50’s seemed to have a foreshadowing of the future, part of which we are in right now. The “computer” that Asimov repeatedly described in his short story across time seem to describe the actual development of our computing and intelligence systems, from the initial massive independent computer comprised of vacuum tubes, to what has become the Internet right now – a massive, interconnected cloud of data and information gathered from the different parts of the world. Try reading through the story and you can see the parallelisms with the development of technology.

I am of the generation that has experienced the beginning of personal computing – big personal computers that featured black screens with green characters. The operating system was MSDOS that ran from a 5 1/4″ floppy disk. You needed two floppy disk drives so that the second one can run your software. Files were saved and shared via diskettes. Eventually, storage improved, and things such as hard drives, compact disks, external hard drives, USB thumb drives, and compact memory cards emerged. Parallel with these was the emergence of the Internet. I can still remember how I used it then, connecting via dial-up, going online to use my email, instant messenger (ICQ), and chat rooms (MIRC). There weren’t too much information online yet, no blogs or social networks. As Internet connection started improving and the access became easier, a wealth of information started collecting online almost at lightning speed. Now, almost everything can be found and done online – music, movies, booking of airline and hotels, shopping, and even online courses. It really changed the way we live our lives. Then, there was the advent of mobile computing, and now almost anyone can access the Internet wherever they are.

I have realized how much of my daily life now involves cloud computing and cloud storage:

  • I am writing the draft of this blog on my Evernote. It’s a virtual notebook, with everything stored in the cloud. Of course, it’s secure and private, and only I can access what I write. My Evernote notebook is also accessible across my different devices (iPad, iPhone, laptop, desktop), and can be accessed using a browser on any computer (as long as I login with my username and password). I use it for almost anything – notes, blog drafts, shopping lists, task lists, etc.
  • There are four online storages that my laptop and mobile devices are all connected to – Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, and SkyDrive. Almost all of my files are safely stored online. The reason why I did this is because I have already encountered several occurrences when my external hard drive or laptop or desktop crashed, and there was no way to recover the data anymore. At least in the cloud, I am sure that my data is safe from instant unintended annihilation.
  • I am pretty happy with Google’s online services – Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, among others. They are so amazingly efficient in the things that need getting done every day. Google Drive even allows you to create, edit, and upload documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, albeit still with limited features. Nonetheless, it’s a perfect way to collaboratively work on documents with other people, online, and in real time.
  • There are still a number of other cloud-based applications I periodically use, most of which I can’t remember or enumerate at the moment.

Interesting to note how cloudy my life has been, in terms of my activities connected to the cloud. I am somehow an advocate to exploring the possible uses for it for our personal and professional lives, to be able to seize the opportunities that they present to us.

We could only imagine how much more our technologies will change our lives in the near and far future in terms of the way we do things, we access and share information, we store and transcribe history.

Digital Security

It’s really nice to know and realise that most established digital and online companies and services are seriously considering and putting good security measures in place.

Lately I’ve heard a lot of stories about several separate instances when iPhones or iPads were recovered because of their “Find my iPhone” feature. I have the same installed on my iPhone and iPad, and I’ve explored its capabilities, but luckily I have not personally needed to use it. But stories I’ve heard of stolen iPhones recovered because of this were really great to hear. There was even one story that the gadget was recovered a month after, and it was found with someone who already purchased the stolen phone.

Seeing a lot of online security in place is really great too. I know of a lot of yahoo mail accounts hacked all the time, and I’ve noticed how poorly they have their security and spam filters in place. Several friends and colleagues have had problems with their yahoo accounts, sometimes even to the point of not being able to access their account again.

I am very happy with my gmail, which I’ve been using perhaps for almost a decade. They really have good spam filters and security in place. Just today, it asked me to verify my mobile account, supposedly so that it can prompt me just in case there are suspicious activities on my account. Also, did you know that you can check the details of all your login activity for the account? They are able to track and report which gadgets and browsers you have used, which area (country) the access was done, and when.

Facebook security is good too. They have security measures in place that send alerts to your email when your account is accessed through a new device, or if your password has been entered incorrectly several times. Alerts are a good way of providing security. I’ve seen this on several online services I’ve tried, and it is really useful because you are made aware immediately if there is a possible security breach in your account, and it may be possible to do something about it at once.

Have you noticed that a lot of online services are now requiring stronger passwords with a combination of numbers, and letters in both uppercase and lowercase? This is important because this proposed combination makes it more difficult for (ro)bots to try and decode your passwords, because this increases the number of possible combinations perhaps a hundred thousand times (not sure about the actual number right now, so don’t quote me on this). It’s challenging though to have several different passwords for our so many different accounts online. It’s also a little bit insecure to have a list of these passwords somewhere (because of the risk that someone might find it). My personal solution to this challenge is to have a “family” or “families” of passwords, which are interrelated. They are usually sentences or phrases, sometimes revolving around some themes. This is helpful because even if you forget your actual password, you only have a small personal collection of possible combinations based on these. Don’t make your themes too obvious though for people who know you.

One more thing on passwords. Make sure that your computer password/s are far different from all your other passwords online. This is just my personal take, and the reason behind this is because there may be instances when you will need to have someone else (a friend, family member, or relative) access your device and you have to give the password. At least you will have the confidence to give your password without revealing all other passwords in your digital life. Actually for me, my sister knows my personal laptop and desktop login passwords, I trust her and she can access it anytime. My password for my work laptop is different, and I am ready to share this to colleagues if needed (e.g. if I am on leave and they need to get important files from my device).

It is good to know, be aware of, and be familiar with these different online and digital security measures so that we can protect our valuable accounts, information, and property.

Bubble

Create a membrane around you. Deliberately decide on what you will let in that membrane, and what you will leave outside to observe remotely from the inside. Be conscious and aware on the specific moments that you will need to open this membrane, and beyond this moments, stay within the safety of that membrane.

It’s not about isolation. The message is to be conscious of what really matters, and what are simply extraneous. There are things in this world that we should just learn to accept, and yet with the acceptance, we should not force ourselves to believe it or to settle with it. There is an emotional management needed here. It’s simply not managable to remain frustrated and hate the world just because so many things around are personally unsettling. That’s simply self-torture. I realise that now.

Imagine a scene in the MRT. If one does not consciously create and stay in one’s membrane, all the frustrating Joes and Janes on the train or at the platform will just piss you off. There’s the person who does not want to spare some space, another who skips the queue, and yet another who stinks like hell. If you let yourself be affected by all these, it will drain all the physical and emotional energy from you. Stay in your bubble and just laugh everything off. They’re not supposed to be your problem.

Sometimes this also applies to more “personal” situations other than in public places. This can apply at work, in organisations, in social circles, or maybe even online and in social media. That’s what the “unfollow” and “hide” buttons are for, or the “unfriend” and “block” button for more extreme cases. We don’t have to react, comment, or be affected by all and anything that other people are saying or doing, even if it’s about you or about things related to you. Most importantly, if it’s something that you can’t change or if it’s realistically beyond your power or influence, better to just leave it alone or accept it as is, and just work around it.

Writing from the heart

I must admit. I’ve been getting a little bit too obsessed about being able to produce and post an article on this blog three times a week. There has been good feedback and a good number of visits for my posts these last few weeks, and I was so pressured to come up with equally good topics and have them out in time.

But many thanks to my sister who pointed out that I should stop getting fixated at it. Yes indeed, its good to finally be able to build a good audience for my blog, but I shouldn’t sacrifice the quality and heart of my posts just because I’m running after numbers and stats. I am reminded once again why I write and why I blog.

To write is to express myself and my thoughts about so many different things around. I write because in expressing myself, I am able to understand myself more. To be understood by others, and further, to be appreciated, is just a good by-product of being able to write what I write.

So now I will not promise to post three times a week. I will write when thoughts and ideas come around, but will try to post at least once a week, unless otherwise announced.

Thank you to everyone for the inspiration. It becomes more worthwhile to know that someone out there reads what I write. 🙂

Saying goodbye to Multiply

They have already announced it. Starting December 1, 2012, Multiply.com will be reformatting their entire site to focus on servicing online stores, and will be discontinuing the old media blog format they were originally known for. I hear certain alarms going off now.

I have practically 5 years worth of photos and personal blogs there. After Xanga and Frienster, I’ve very well established my online base in Multiply, before I went on-board Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. That’s a lot of my stuff there, a lot of which I’ve almost forgotten about.

I decided to backup my stuff as early as possible. They didn’t have any good backup or migration support, except for an option to download all media (photos and videos) in bulk, and completely unorganized. I also had to copy and paste each and every blogpost to my file (on Evernote, actually). It was a little bit messy. But better to have saved the information already than lose it to the digital blackhole that Multiply will be creating, once they finally delete all the users stuff to make space for their current and future endeavors.

Last time something like this happened was when Friendster announced a reformat, as they shifted from being a social community to an online gaming platform. At the very least they were able to provide a good way to back up our info. Also, our Friendster accounts did not contain as much photos and blogs as its successors, Multiply and Facebook, so there were less data to backup.

On hindsight, it was pretty interesting to go back to the posts and photos from way back 2006. It captured a certain period of my life by the last part of my college life up to the first part of my working life. It was a certain stage of growing up and discovering more about the world and about one’s self. I have already changed a lot from who I was then, and I will continue evolving and changing. The old blog posts are a nice way of looking back and appreciating how much I’ve grown.

As for all the old photos, I might go about posting some of them on my Facebook account, and the rest just storing them in my local drive. But I’ll probably upload all my files and photos eventually on my online drive once I am able to weed and sort them.

Well, goodbye Multiply. Thanks for the time you’ve been there as an online refuge. We all move forward now.

http://pulanglangit.multiply.com/

Beautiful Insanity

Now Linked

I have finally put my list of links on my sidebar. How do I choose who I link to? So far I have four categories:

Blogroll – a list of blogs I follow on WordPress. I don’t follow a lot, and not all the ones that I follow are here. I just included those that I read often.
A girl called emily
Antonio Marques Photoblog
Chris Neighbors
Professional Heckler

Favorites – a list of different significant websites for me
Click the City
Rappler (an online news page)
The Mind Museum (the website of the museum where I work)
Travel Factor (interesting travel adventures)

Fun – just entertaining stuff
9GAG
Beerkada Comics
Dilbert
Hello Giggles

Geek Fun – entertaining nosebleed geeky stuff… and yes, I enjoy reading these (because I’m a geek that way)
10 Most Beautiful
PHD Comics
Science Dump
XKCD

I did not include anymore the websites that I always have open : Google Apps (Gmail, Calendar, Docs, etc.), Facebook, and Twitter.

Do you have any other website you’d like to recommend?

The blog that went the other way

I started this blog over a year ago, initially intended for something else. I wanted to setup a website for a specific purpose, a certain online portal for inspiration and coaching, and I was hoping that the blog would be able to jumpstart it all. However, the blog became something quite far from what it originally intended to be. Not that it became something bad or worse. Rather, it just went an entirely different way.

Now I have some people who have chosen to follow me, though not the ones I first thought of while starting this blog. I never realized that there are a lot of different people who would appreciate the things I write and the things I write about. It is wonderful to be able to realize the power of the internet, how it has allowed me to reach out to a lot of different people from across the globe.

Blogging used to be just a passing hobby, which somehow became a duty. Now it has evolved into a certain fondness. There is now a desire to at least try to write about things that make me ponder on a normal day. While driving or running, or sometimes even in the middle of work, certain things or topics strike me and I bookmark them with a title on my digital notebook. And then I try to find the time to expound about it. There are some times that ideas and words just flow out of me full of sense, and I can write one article after another. There are also times I find myself dry, and I put off writing for another day. But I try as much as possible to write something at least weekly

Maintaining this blog has allowed me to grow in many ways. I am able to practice writing, as well as to exercise and become more aware of my thought process. At times, it is also a catalyst to help me understand ideas and situations better.

I find such joy even in the few people who follow, read, and appreciate my posts. I always try to reach outwards, as much as I do inwards, in every article I write.