Tech Tuesday: The Cloud 

Hi Net Neighbors! Welcome back to another Tech Tuesday, where we take dives into topics across a host of domains all linked by a common thread and that’s Technology. 

Today we are going to look at something we mentioned last week, The Cloud. Now I’ve spoken to many people over the years and this is a topic where many of us get confused. So, let’s take a step out into the Neighborhood and look at The Cloud. 

What is The Cloud? 

To understand The Cloud let’s look at something a little more mundane, a safety deposit box. Even if you have never used one, you have probably seen them on TV and in movies. All a safety deposit box is, is a place at a location, usually a bank, were you and only you can store your important items. Other people have boxes next to yours, some larger some smaller, but only you can get into your box because you have proof of identity and you have your key. The problem with real safety deposit boxes is that they are only at one bank, you can’t have a box in Jacksonville and go to a bank in San Francisco and ask to open your box. Not very convenient eh?  

Well using the safety deposit box metaphor, let’s look at your email. Your email is a secure place where you can store messages. You access it by going to a ‘bank’, in this case your email provider;,,, Once at your ‘bank’ you need to state your identity with your username and have a key with your password. Only after typing your username and password does the ‘box’ open and you can see the contents. And because all of this is being done on the internet you really can make your email in Jacksonville and access it in San Francisco. 

So, what is The Cloud? It is a collection of internet-based services accessible from anywhere on the planet with the use of a username and password. 

Does that mean The Cloud is just for email? 

Heavens no! The Cloud is so, so much more than just email. Email is just getting your foot in the door.  Once the door is open, there are so many options I would not blame you if you were a little scared. But let’s stick with email for the moment. There are many Cloud-based options available thanks to your email.  

Let’s look at the domains of and  

If you look at the top of either site you will find a square of nine smaller squares, what many call the waffle. You may think it looks like the numbers on a landline phone. When you click on the waffle you are given a wide array of options depending on the domain. And that is key, this is domain specific. Remember last time, we mentioned that the part of your email address after the ‘@’ is your domain. Each domain is owned by a different company so there will be different options attached. 

In you have a YouTube account, a place for your contacts, a calendar, a storage box in the form of Drive, along with Docs, Sheets, and Slides, the Google versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Did I mention that you get all of those for free? Because they are. Not a single cent spent.  

Meanwhile, in land, you get OneDrive, Microsoft’s version of a storage box, contacts, a calendar, and honest-to-goodness Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. All also for free. 

Contacts and Calendars? I just save those to my phone. 

Many people do and if you are one of them that is okay. But I recommend another way. Save your contacts and calendars to the cloud. More than once I have had people come to me with a new phone wondering where all their contacts are. Either they got an upgraded phone or their prior one was damaged. Whatever the cause, the phone store didn’t/couldn’t transfer the information and now they are at square one. 

Even if they could have transferred the information, I have seen people sit in a store for hours waiting for their data to move. Not waiting for someone to do it. Waiting for the computer to move their numbers and calendar. 

The thing is, this wasn’t necessary. All this hassle didn’t have to happen. If you know one or two username/password combinations you can have access to all that information if you have saved it to a cloud. I personally store my information in Google, mainly because my first smartphone was an Android, but I could have stored it in my iCloud, my or really any other cloud service. Whenever I get a new phone or device where I need all my personal information, all I do is sign into an account or two and everything is there. It may take a few minutes most and then I’m ready to go. 

And, because they are being saved to the cloud, when I make a change on one device, it is changing the information on all the devices. This saves a ton of time and ensures that I always have the most up to date information. 

Okay, I’m interested. What else can I do with The Cloud? 

Good question. Like art or photography? Then you have Adobe’s Creative Cloud which, at 53 dollars a month, gives you Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and the rest of Adobe’s products along with 100 GB of storage. Although, if you have an email ending in .edu you might be eligible for a student account bringing Adobe down to 20 dollars a month.  

If paying that much seems insane to you, then you can still do photo editing thanks to, one of many free alternatives. Meanwhile is one of several free vector graphic illustration options. 

Want to try your hand at 3D design and modeling? Great! You have many options, though I am going to focus on two; and both of which are free. With you have a place where you can make complicated replacement parts, toys, and gifts using an easy, intuitive environment. Your work is automatically saved online, so you never have to worry about losing anything. And if you like either Legos or Minecraft then has tools which will allow you to plan out your designs before you lay the first brick. Meanwhile, in, your artistic side can run wild thanks to a robust sculpting system tailor made to make your imagination a reality. Though don’t forget to hit that save button. 

With the new year many people want to get into coding but they don’t know what to download. Thankfully has you covered there. has over twenty different coding languages you can work in and the system will run your code directly in your computer’s browser. And it is completely free. 

What about iCloud? 

Sigh, okay you got me. I’ve left out iCloud from the discussion on purpose, mainly because its name is really confusing. Brought to you by Apple, is just their version of If you don’t have an Apple Product, meaning an iPhone, iPad, or a Mac, then you don’t have to worry about If you do, then you have free access to contacts, calendar, photo and everything else storage, along with Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, the Apple spin on Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Calling it iCloud was just a fancy marketing gimmick. 

How safe is the cloud? I hear it’s not very secure. 

Not to answer a question with a question, but how safe is your bank? Has a bank ever been robbed? It doesn’t hit the news as much anymore, but it happens, yet we still put our money into them. The Cloud is the same way. People have had their information stolen, though it often happens to people who are higher profile such as movie stars and internet personalities. The good news is that, since your information is not stored on just one computer but a vast network, if one copy is lost others in the chain can replace it. 

My advice is to be smart about things, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Don’t have the same password for every service. Where possible, have your accounts secured to your phone, so bad guys must know your username, password, and phone number. Though remember to keep your phone number if you change phones, otherwise you might lose access to your accounts. And remember, if someone asks you for your username, password, and phone number don’t give it to them. You wouldn’t give a stranger your safety deposit box key, why would you give one the internet equivalent? 

So now what? 

Go out and explore. You have a huge variety of tools out there just waiting for you, try them out. If you don’t like something, or don’t want to use a service, then don’t. Just remember to be safe, be smart, and keep an eye out. If you do that your browser will treat you well. 

What? Your browser? Don’t worry, we’ll get to that soon enough.  

Until then, have fun, find adventure, and stay safe. 



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