I am in the process of signing up for Google Voice (my number ends with CALLJT, now how cool is that??) and had this minor freak-out moment realizing how much I depend on Google. So I got to thinking about all the places where I really do rely on tech for my day-to-day living. I was wondering on my risk/exposure in the event that the given tech or service provider were to instantly stop working in a very permanent way.
Here’s my “audit”:
|Technology/Provider||How I Use It||How Easily I’d Replace It||Risk Factor (10=high)|
|Web site hosting: GoDaddy||This blog, Stage Two’s website, my Dad’s website.||Moving to another provider is easy, but I haven’t backed up the blog in a long time. Weekend project.||7 (with likely data loss)|
|Email serving: Gmail||Gmail hosted apps holds email for all my domains (including Legacy Locker and Triv140)||Switching is easy, but since I use IMAP I would have to “freeze” my existing email folders.||3 (but goes to 9 in case not all my emails are actually locally stored)|
|Contacts backup: Plaxo||Been using Plaxo for years to backup and synch contacts (and calendaring).||No equivalent service that I am aware of.||4 (it would only be problematic if I abandoned OS X, which is unlikely. but see below…)|
|Data backup: Time Machine/OS X||Dual backups (1 at home, 1 at office)||Would need to start doing manual backups, might consider Mozy or other paid service.||2|
|Photo backup: Flickr (paid for)||Copies of all my photos are on Flickr (minus some of the early years)||Would definitely seek an alternate online backup provider (4 backups of my photo library is still not enough)||1 (no vested value other than the new initial backup would be very tedious)|
|Communications: Cell phone||Uhm, it’s a cell phone||Buy a new phone.||1 (yet another example of why not spending a lot on a cell phone lowers my dependencies in this arena – even my contacts are automatically backed up by Verizon)|
|TV: DVR||What is this thing you call “live” TV?||Cut the cord. Seriously, if there were no DVR in my world I’d get a Mac Mini and hook up boxee.||9 (would’ve scored it about a 4, but there’s no hockey streaming on boxee yet)|
|Operating System: OS X||Reliable computing (note that I’m implying all OS X computers simply disappear)||Not entirely sure on this, but my hunch is I’d go with the lightest PC laptop I could find that still ships with Windows XP. Might even try Ubuntu if that wasn’t possible.||4 (I might be miserable about it, but in all reality I use so many web services that my true OS X dependency is fairly low and I’d have virtually no data loss)|
|Whole home music: Sonos||Whole home music (including my deck!)||All I can say is “yuck”. The good thing is when I wired the home I did both centralized AND decentralized speaker wiring. But I’d have to buy a lot of way-too expensive gear to power my 8 zones, and it would have a significantly worse UI than Sonos.||8 (pretty much it’s my wife’s house with the minor exceptions of my Sonos, grill, deck, and manroom. losing any one of these components would be devastating)|
|Discussing the most important issues the world has ever faced. Or something to that effect.||I guess I’d lose the ability to inform random people as to my thoughts and actions. Oh, well, other than by using my blog that is.||Either a 1 or a 10 depending on your perspective. It’s either irreplaceable or you can argue I can accomplish the same thing through my blog (reach random people) and Facebook (reach people I know)|
|Poke my friends and occasionally throw sheep at them.||I have no idea, maybe pick up the phone from time to time? Or send an email?||2.5 (we all had plenty of relationships work plenty well long before Facebook, and I’m sure humanity will figure out how to stay in touch without it. though throwing sheep will become more challenging)|
|Digital Cameras (yeah, all of them become permanently gone and we all move back to film)||Take way too many pix of my kids.||This is such an unrealistic scenario, but it did get me thinking about how I’d cope without digital cameras (yes, this includes my Flip). It would’ve been an annoyance pre-daddyness, but now it’d be a catastrophe.||9.5 (with thousands of photos of my kids in 2 years, I am clearly “one of those dads”. and i like it)|
Thanks to this site’s HTML table generator!
I’m pretty sure that’s the sum of the list of high tech products and services I feel fairly dependent on. Sure I could include stuff like a microwave or my car stereo, but I feel these are too commonplace to really be considered “high” tech. I also didn’t include anything that was only about a specific company (for example if Verizon or Comcast ceased to exist, since their competition offers near-identical replacement services. ditto for things like GCal, my email client or even office software, as they are so interchangeable).
Potential soon-to-be-added services:
- Jajah (we are considering dropping our US+Canada cell phone package and using Jajah for our calls to the Great White North)
- Google Voice (might use my new number as my primary number from now on, with forwarding rules to cell/office as needed)
- GPS (after my last Nuvi was stolen we went ~6 months before picking up a new one)
Anything you feel dependent on that you’d like to share with the group?
re plaxo contacts, since you are on OSx, why not just use mobileme, (30-70$ a year depending) and you can backup all contacts and calendars daily, hourly whatever.
This can also be done easily now with google and ical, addressbook etc.
The time machine is great, as would be a monthly full image backup like superduper or carboncopycloner. But, my process is the following:
TM backs up about every three days. I DO use mobileme, and I have my “folder” on the mbp and imac sync to mm hourly with any updates. That folder has work data, receipts, travel pdfs, etc in it. I can access it on mobileme or on the other computers I have it sync’d to.
Mail on the server is deleted when deleted, or kept for 14 days (so it would be available if the weekly TM backup doesn’t run or fails.)
Or, you could use a free service like MSFT Mesh, which works across all platforms now, including mobile and do the same thing as the mobileme idisk backup.
If OSx computers go, you can fairly easily run OSX on a pc, I have it installed on one of my thinkpads (yeah, I still believe in TPs’ regardless of the final solution after 2 years you got for your VIAO SMAIO)
“how cool is that?” Not as cool as (571) GIZMODO. 😉
I wouldn’t count on your blog(s) host to backup your db(s). I overpay for MediaTemple ($40+/mo) and know mine isn’t safe. There’s a WP database plugin to simplify the process which you might look into. Never know when a busted WP install or rogue pluging will get you. (An earlier version of Disqus duplicated every single ZNF comment and I had to restore that table. And swore off Disqus.)
Regarding contact backup, if you have OS X and an iPhone you can do a three way sync with Google or Yahoo. My Yahoo contacts are mirrored on Mac, iPhone, and web address book with no intervention on my part and no MobileMe subscription.
Pretty interesting audit, but IMO I’m not sure you went far enough with the hypotheticals.
There’s no doubt that anyone’s world would be a very different place if a number of the technologies you mentioned above were shut down, but I think a mere switch from one service provider to another doesn’t give a really clear idea of how much of an impact a loss of that particular technology would make.
The best analogy that comes to mind for me is when my company’s e-mail servers crash. Work would grind to a halt. Sure, we could try to kick things back up by using memos and calls, but all the trackable documentation and instant gratification of concurring ideas were all gone.
Facebook, DVRs, and cell phones may seem to be unnecessary conveniences that can be easily cut, but think about how much EASIER they’ve all made our lives. How many things you have to worry less about, spend less time tracking, or just get an instant connection with. To me, technology is all about making things easier, better, and faster. Sure I can get by without the ease of OS X gestures and knowing what Ashton Kutcher is up to at this very minute, but having these luxuries around gives me more time to… be me!
That’s the thing I love about Google – and what I think was the most interesting part about this dependency audit. Some companies just get how people live their lives. They get “it” and they want to make “it” better. They understand that it’s not all about the fancy bells and whistles that invoke ADD glee in every one of us; it’s about the things that integrate so easily into our lives that we wonder, “Why in the world didn’t *I* think of this before?”
Those little realizations are what make me glad that I was born now and not back in the 1900s. Those things and Penicillin. And less leeches. Oh, and wires? That’s so 1990’s…