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Doug's Mailbag: Wikileaks, Disk-Free Laptop Thoughts

Here's one reader's take on the whole Wikileaks fiasco:

The worst part about the Wikileaks debacle is that our ability to keep private conversations held in confidence has been compromised. 

Conversations between diplomats or heads-of-states must remain confidential if our allies are to have any confidence in our being able to keep sensitive conversations secret.  Whenever more than two countries are party to a political situation in the world (which is almost always the case), each party must be able to protect the interests of the others. 

You are probably too young to remember the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 but had the private conversations between President Kennedy and Premiere Kruschev of the -- then -- Soviet Union been made public, we might have found ourselves in the middle of a nuclear exchange between the two most powerful nations in the world! 

Only after Kruschev's death (long after Kennedy's assassination) were the details of those discussions ever revealed. 

Each side had only about 50 strategic nuclear warheads pointed at each other but that was enough to rain mutually assured destruction on both nations.  Today, there are literally thousands of warheads targeting each nation by the other. 

So far, Assange has only compromised the United States -- which is somewhat embarrassed but not likely to overreact. I doubt Mossad, the Russians, or the Chinese would be nearly as tolerant of his reckless behavior were their state secrets compromised.

With the announcement of Google's cloud-based Laptop, Doug asked readers if they would switch to a diskless laptop:

Nope... I would not use a diskless laptop, and here's why:

1.  What happens if I am in a place where there is no Internet access?
2.  What happens if the Internet has a failure along the way to my information stored in the cloud?

Cloud computing has many great features, but it you have data you need and there is a could look awful foolish OR even worse, be in trouble needing critical data.

Sorry...the Internet may be a great tool, but it still has issues.  Hackers?  Viruses?  Attacks?


  1. I teach, and I have to keep information on my computer that has a lot of privacy issues connected to it.
  2. I research, and some of my research material has even more privacy issues that the above.
  3. My work uses a lot of maps and discipline-specific software. ArcGIS doesn't even work all that well over Citrix... I can't imagine the pain that would come with trying to use it "in the cloud" (not to mention how one would deal with ESRI's arcane licensing system), and over a slow network (even 4G probably wouldn't cut it, and "dropping the call" in the middle of something would be beyond aggravating).  Digital image processing would be even worse.

Having my apps on the computer, at hand, without being dependent on a reliable high-speed connection still takes the prize.  I'd like to see cheap high-capacity SSDs (300-500 Gb, for a tabletPC) though. 

We use thin clients mainly now but our data is here. I don't foresee us moving to that setup anytime soon. We have about 65 users and six locations.

The Internet PC may be a good idea for those that have highly reliable and high bandwidth Internet connectivity, but are we anywhere near having that luxury widespread enough to create a market?  Also, is it really a good idea to tie ourselves so completely to the cloud so that we are at the mercy of anyone that can manage to disrupt connectivity?  As for me, I'll hang onto my fat PCs as long as they still sell them and keep my Big Chief tablet and number two pencil word processing system nearby as well.

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Posted by Doug Barney on 12/16/2010 at 1:18 PM


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