I love the computer industry, and with thirty too many years of being involved in it, I may not have seen it all, but you certainly get an eye for trends. Those trends are very cyclic. In the 60’s the trend was for centralization, this was driven by the very nature of the computers available, the 70’s brought us decentralization in the form of mini computers. The 80’s saw the advent of the Personal Computer, a move that was heralded by the user, but maybe not so welcomed by the IT world who saw this as a real loss of control over a huge company asset, information.

The 90’s saw the advent of a mixed world, the client/server technology. The power was in the box on your desk, but the data was back between locked doors. The client/server created an interesting offspring, the Thin Client, this was essentially nothing more than a screen and keyboard, there was no local storage, and computing power came from the server. Oh my, that sounds like the 60’s and 70’s all over again!

Here we are in the new millennium, and guess what? What is old is new again. Virtual machines are the in thing. This is hardly new, IBM had VM (Virtual Machine) back in the 70’s!

The latest ‘in thing’ is something called ‘Cloud Computing’. The Internet has become part of everyday life, if you look at the average billboard, or city bus, the chances are that the ad’s have a web address rather than a phone number. Cloud Computing is all about using this resource to the max. The big proponents of Cloud Computing Amazon and Google have created an environment that is almost irresistible.

Google may not be nirvana, but it certainly offers some great ideas for the average user. Gmail offers almost 7 gig of space for your email storage, I am a heavy email user, on an average day I get at least 100 emails, many of which are press releases that contain embedded or attached graphics, my Gmail storage is still only 13% used.

Everyone needs a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation tool, Google Docs handles all of that for me. I write a lot, I live on the keyboard, without a word processor I am dead.

Blogger News has a very active group of reviewers, we communicate, and officiate what is going on by using a private Google Group, in simple terms it is a message board.

I am not an active user of calender and appointment software, but if I was I would use Google Calender, it is every bit as capable as MS Outlook, and a whole lot easier to use.

I sometimes have stuff to vent about that has no place on Blogger News, so I have a Blog on Blogger, another Google product, I need somewhere to store my photo’s, for that there is Picasa. Oh, I also have a couple of web pages, for that I use Google Pages.

The common thread throughout this is that nothing is stored on my computer, all my data is in ‘The Cloud’, all of my applications are in ‘The Cloud’. I like ‘The Cloud’, it means that almost everything I need is available from any computer that is connected to the Internet.

The question is, how to leverage The Cloud? Well one company has an idea. If you negate the need for a lot of local power and storage you can create a box about the size of a paperback book, and that is what upstart Cherrypal have done. The specs of the CherryPal box may not appeal to the average gamer, it has a 400mhz processor, 256 meg of ram, and 4 gig of solid state storage. Yup, the CherryPal is pretty stripped down! But so what? If all you want to do is regular web type stuff, email, browsing, word processing, this is an ideal solution. What I like is the price, $249, now you can’t go far wrong with that price tab.

I hear you computer nerds shriek at the idea of anyone buying a 400mhz computer. You certainly would not be running Windows (Bloat Ware) Vista. I have an aging 300mhz Toshiba laptop, and I use on a regular basis, I run some flavor of Linux, and the critter runs just fine.

So back to the CherryPal, the press release indicates that it has an easy to use version of Linux installed, and it is already configured for The Cloud. Just plug in your favorite USB keyboard and mouse, plug in your monitor, add an ethernet connection (or use Wi-Fi) and away you go. Using ‘solid state’ it is claimed that the boot up time is in the region of 20 seconds. As a big plus CherryPal is also offering a whopping 50 gig of online storage at no cost. 50 gig may not seem huge to the average computer nerd, but it is more than enough for us mere mortals.

If you don’t have an internet connection, no problem, Open Office has been preloaded, you can still do your word processing and spreadsheets.

At the conceptual level I like this box a lot. Now I have not had a chance to take one out for a test drive yet, but CherryPal should have one here in the near future.

With a power draw of two watts, this box consumes less juice than my Alarm Clock Radio. I can’t wait to take this for a trip around the block.

Simon Barrett


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