Ask the IT Consultant

Dec 21 2009   2:00AM GMT

The Rebirth of the Dumb Terminal

Beth Cohen Beth Cohen Profile: Beth Cohen

Question:  How can I access my files without having to worry about synching the data between my computers and many PDA’s?

Tell me that this has never happened to you… You are stranded in yet another dreary airport and the company’s most important client calls requesting some revisions to the new proposal you have been hoping to land before the New Year.  After several frantic phone calls and e-mails, you realize that there is no way you can access the latest version of the proposal file sitting on your desktop system in your office, so you unhappily peck away at the older version you have stored in your email on your Droid.  Anyone who is at the least bit computer savvy realizes that syncing files and data among all of the many electronic devices we all carry can be fraught with the potential to misplace data.  There has to be a better way.

There is.  A quiet revolution is going on right under our very noses and nobody seems to be paying much attention.  With the increasing power and reach of cloud-based applications such as Google apps, SharePoint and the like, as long as you have an Internet connection, there is no need to download or sync any files to a PDA or a computer.  All your files can be accessible directly through a browser application, just like reading webmail.  It doesn’t really matter if the device is a PDA, a laptop or a dumb terminal.  You read that correctly, a fancy and colorful dumb terminal.

While I see the future in ubiquitous cloud based software applications, as more people move their data to the cloud so that it is accessible from anywhere and at any time, it is easy to forget that cloud computing assumes good and reliable Internet connectivity and high availability data centers to meet the demand for universal access.  Without it, people quickly revert to squirreling away copies of their data in multiple places and fall back into the syncing nightmare.  The good news is that in the big cities around the globe that instant connectivity is already a reality.  Outside major metropolitan centers and densely populated areas, there are still large portions of the world that have limited access to the cloud computing promise.  I foresee that changing in the near future as companies scramble to meet the growing demand for turning our PDA’s and workstations into cloud terminals.

About the Author

Beth Cohen, Luth Computer Specialists, Inc.

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