#NativeNerd column: That virtual sharing online mystery - What is ‘The Cloud?’

Vincent Schilling

My friend Matt @WatersForLife on Twitter inspired this article: “Must be that "cloud" based software ...” he tweeted.

Ok, if you were here last week, you might have noticed I had to post my weekly #NativeNerd column on Saturday as opposed to my regular Friday post. The story, as many of you may already know is that my local electrical supplying source, aka a power line or transformer, was struck by lightning and I lost power for several hours.

I posted online that ‘Thank Goodness!’ my work had just been saved on my Adobe Premiere Pro video editing software, and that I would be running late.

I mentioned the Thunder Beings had other plans.

My friend Matt @WatersForLife on Twitter had the best response in a tweet:

“Must be that "cloud" based software . . .” he said.

It has dawned on me that inasmuch as the cloud is a part of a ton of people’s lives that are proficient at using a virtual and ‘cloud-based’ world, many people out there probably don't have any idea what the cloud even is.

Allow me to attempt to explain.

What is “The Cloud?”

“The Cloud” is a place where photos, word files, documents, videos, or anything that may line the walls of your computer hard drive might reside... that is, outside of your computer.

Except these cloud files aren’t necessarily on your computer, they are on an accessible drive somewhere in the universe that you can access 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Since they are not on your computer, they are considered to be “in the cloud” or properly said, “on the cloud.”

When something is “on the cloud” it does not mean the rest of the world suddenly has access to it. There are protections in place such as software passwords, log-in credentials and more. If you like, you can share one file, one folder, or an entire hard drive with friends or family.

You are all sharing files on the cloud.

So think about it - you have 500 photos of Aunt Petunia's wedding. instead of emailing three or four files at a time via email ... just share the folder on the cloud. After a while (that it takes to upload and synchronize between folders) everyone can look at all 500 photos at the same time if they wish.

So let’s use Google as an example

If you have a Gmail account, you already have access to a series of free offered products on Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Photos. (This is not a commercial, but truthfully I am addicted to these Google products and I use them regularly as the Associate Editor at Indian Country Today.)

Let’s explain with Google Drive

When you are logged into a gmail account, you have automatic access to a plethora of Google items. Yes — I said a plethora.

Go ahead and get Drive - it's free and so is Gmail.

You can install Google Drive on your desktop / also known as “Backup and Sync” software.

Google says: “Back up files from your computer, camera, or SD cards to the cloud. Find your files on any device or computer using Google Drive, and see your photos in Google Photos.”

When you install Google Drive - you now have a ‘plethora’ of options. (See above video featuring Guapo from the Three Amigos.)

You can select which drives, folders or items synchronize with Google’s servers or “The Cloud.” So say you decide to synchronize your entire hard drive - if you suddenly had to go to a trip in the Bahamas (lucky you) you could simply log into your Gmail account, navigate to your Google Drive folder and see that all of your files have uploaded to that ever beautiful cloud.

The same thing happens with your phone if you have a gmail account. This is why I am a fan of Goggle-friendly Android mobile devices, everything on your phone can synchronize to the Google Cloud.

But again, none to worry, those embarrassing selfies with your Teddy Bear will only upload if you designate them as part of Google’s shared photos.

There is a cool story where some guy had his phone stolen, but the police were able to catch the thieves because they took selfies of themselves which uploaded to the man’s Google photo account. The photos also had GPS info on them so the police were able to find them.

Again,the Big Brother is watching, but you do have some amount of control in what is shared.

So for the most part all files on the cloud are shared in this way. The chances of losing your information if you drop your phone into a swimming pool are much more protected these days.

Sharing Files on the Cloud

This is where my associate editor hat comes into play. At Indian Country Today we share Google Docs like wildfire because we can all work on the same document and make edits in real time. As you make a change, it is updated immediately. So no more sending multiple updated word docs to people. Just go into the shared document and make the change.

Here is a great video on sharing docs, sheets (spreadsheets) and files

I hope this answers some of your questions on what the cloud is … enjoy.

See you in the virtual sky soon!

Follow fellow Native Nerd, Vincent Schilling associate editor for Indian Country Today at @VinceSchilling

Email - vschilling@indiancountrytoday.com

Make sure to use the Hashtag #NativeNerd

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Comments (3)
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Excellent column this week #NativeNerd. I am going to share with my coworkers, family and friends and will tune in regularly.. looking for you on Twitter gf