Friday, 11 October 2013 16:28

Now it is all in the clouds

Written by 

STORM CLOUDS rolled across Canterbury at record speeds earlier this month, causing huge damage and highlighting the need for fast communications to obtain new parts, locally and overseas, for damaged irrigators. 

 

Cloud computing has also been receiving a lot of press, but what exactly is it and how can it help, especially in times of storm damage?

Put simply, cloud computing means using the internet to access computer programs, and store or share files and information with others. So, for example, if you back-up your laptop to the cloud, you will be in a lot less difficulty if you drop the laptop in a puddle. 

Cloud computing also allows you to access free or paid programs via the internet without the hassle of having to run them at home. Facebook and Xero are great examples of cloud based programs.

One often-asked question about cloud computing is, where is my data stored?  In simple terms, most of the time it is far more secure than on your laptop in the back of the ute.

There are plenty of cloud backup options, some listed on our website (www.rippedorange.co.nz/ruralnews).

Cloud computing gets a lot more interesting and useful when you start using it for sharing information and collaborating. It enables farmers with upturned pivots to take photos in the paddock, have these uploaded to the web automatically and share them immediately with an insurance and/or irrigation company. They could work together on the parts needed then share the information and measurement with overseas suppliers before you get home.

For more information on file sharing and collaborating go to www.rippedorange.co.nz/ruralnews

Onae barrier to internet and cloud is rural broadband speed, but file sharing does work at slower speeds – it chugs away in the background. To check your speed, go to www.speedtest.net

In the city you should get about 8-12 MB download and 0.7 MB upload; anything slower starts to impact video conferencing and document sharing. This will get better with the rural broadband initiatives, but it will take time.

Your mobile might be quicker in some places, and smartphones have as much computing power as most PCs. Another benefit of cloud computing is allowing you to access information on-the-go. There are some great mobile apps including OneNote, SkyDrive and mapping and weather applications.  Next month we will explore these in more detail.

For more information on the above, including helpful tips and videos, visit www.ruralnews.co.nz

• David Jackson, of Canterbury, studied at Lincoln University and has had several years agribusiness experience. He now helps people make the most of technology. Ripped Orange is a technology training company. 

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