Roger Marolt: Roger This
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
The personal computer is dead. Sell Dell. Buy IBM. Gigantic mainframes are where it’s at.
Now, it’s time for the disclaimer: I am not a computer expert. In fact, I’m not even a computer novice. I would be the happiest person in the office if somebody each day would turn on my computer and give it a test drive, booting (I think that’s what it’s called when you conjure something familiar-looking on your screen. It is a screen you look at, right? Maybe a monitor?) all the programs and typing a few test sentences with mittens on to mimic what is to come and make sure spellcheck is working before turning it over to me. I know which buttons to push. I seem to have a knack for that. But if something goes haywire, I’m left searching the top drawer for duct tape or epoxy.
I like to blame computing problems on fat fingers. I once typed a column and hit what I thought was the concluding period on my keyboard with an exaggerated tap of satisfaction – like they do in the movies after finishing the great American novel – after three mocha lattes at Starbucks and turned the entire page into an outline with numerals, letters and dots suddenly appearing before each sentence, all of which were indented to differing depths of the page. I found it impossible to undo the inadvertent formatting and sent the piece in as it was, and haven’t received a raise in longer than four years.
At any rate, the point is that I have no idea what I’m talking about. Tech geeks will have to grind their teeth and bear with me, understanding that we are all geeks at something, but computing is not what causes me to sit around in my underwear all day trying to figure out a way to start my car with my cellphone. That said, if a dope like I am can see a revolution in the world of technology coming, it’s coming in parade formation in broad daylight with a corps of bugle blowers red in the cheeks out front.
And that is a terrible metaphor because this revolution is coming from the sky – the clouds to be more specific. You might already know that Microsoft and Apple have clouds where you can sink … er, sync your i-products and desktop calendar. Big whoop, right? Well, there are bigger clouds in the sky.
Somebody at our office met somebody at a company called Independence IT. Shortly afterward, a 7 gazillion-gigawhatever hard drive showed up in the mail, and we loaded all the crap from our personal computers onto it and shipped it back to where it came from. Two days later, we were on the cloud, and it seemed like nothing had happened. When I turned on my computer, everything looked and worked the same as ever.
But, things were very different. All our programs, from the Microsoft office group to tax and accounting software to research libraries plus all our data files and iTunes, were running in Pennsylvania and we were accessing all of it through the Internet. The advantages to this are that Independence IT techs now load, update, de-virate, and troubleshoot all our software, they back up our data daily, we basically have unlimited storage capacity, and their gigantic mainframe computers are lightening fast (It is the cloud, after all.).
To be sure, I didn’t really give a hoot about all this. It just seemed like the same old, same old when I was at my desk on my PC. Then something remarkable happened. I got an iPad.
At that point it became obvious that a $500 pad three-quarters the size of a magazine was the most powerful computer I have ever owned. With it and the cloud I can conjure up my desk-top in about seven seconds, with all it’s programs and data files, from anywhere the Internet is accessible, and that’s just about everywhere. To put that in layman’s terms, I can write and submit this column from aisle eight in Wal-Mart. And, if I should happen to drop my iPad and an overloaded shopping cart runs over it, all I’ve lost is the iPad. All my data and programs, including my version of the great American novel, are safely stored back in Pennsylvania.
So, why would I ever buy another personal computer? Yeah. Like I said, the PC is dead.