Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Of Cartoons, USBs and the Cloud

 by Janis Susan May/Janis Patterson

I have a secret passion. I love USB thumb drives. They are so handy and so much easier to use or carry than the old 3.5 floppies. We aren't even going to mention the ancient 5.0 floppies.

I know it’s peculiar, but the main reason I love USBs is not primarily for their practical use, but because they are so much fun. You see, my passion for USB drives isn't really for the humdrum if not downright boring oblong ones that come in a variety of distressing colors, though I have several. They are great in their own rather pedestrian way, but I have fallen in love with the 'specialty' USB drives that come in shapes! There is such a variety of images out there now! They are available as jewelry (one of my faves is a sparkly rose pendant that is really a USB) and coins and cars and guns and just about anything else that you can think of.

My favorite ones, though, are the cartoons. There are both the famous ones and the generic images. Pull off their head and there is a USB! I have a Sylvester the Cat – or it might be the baby cat whose name I can't remember from the Animaniacs – and a snake and a couple of monkeys (both brown and pink) and a Tom (am still looking for a Jerry) and a Tasmanian Devil and a Marvin the Martian and... well, just take my word for it that I have a lot of them. I've also seen others that I want but just couldn't afford at the time (and of course have never seen them again!) and an impressive assortment of superheroes, who don't do anything for me (I'm married to the only superhero who interests me) and some things that are vaguely anthropomorphic, but I can't even hazard a guess as to what they are.

Believe it or not, there's also a practical side to this variety. I switch a lot from one machine to another, some mine, some not, and having the different characters makes it easy to remember where what project is. 'Oh,  such-and-such is on Sylvester' or 'Thus-and-so is in the snake.'

But, you say, what about the cloud? Put something in cloud storage and it's there whenever you want it.

Humph. Admittedly I am a Luddite slow to embrace new technologies, but I really hate the idea of the cloud. I truly dislike control of my work being in anyone's hands but mine. Then there's the whole idea of piracy in all its ugly manifestations – I don't care how safe they say it is, it was made by someone which means it can be cracked by someone. Not that I am so big or so famous that anyone might want to pirate my works in process, but I might be someday so why tempt Fate?

Not that we will have much choice. My new tablet (an Asus) was chosen not only for the fact it had a keyboard with it and a deliciously affordable price, but primarily because it had a USB port. It was the only affordable one I could find that did. I can foresee a day when the cloud (or whatever they call it) will be the only storage available to us, and that will mean that our work will be held at the whim of others. Already you can’t simply buy an Office suite – no, you have to buy a one year’s license. Every year. To me that smacks of extortion. Just imagine what it will be like when the only storage is in the cloud, and you can access your work only when and if the cloud’s controllers permit. That’s when I will dig out my antique typewriter and buy a supply of typing paper. Worked like that once, and I can do it again.

In the meantime, though, I have a wonderful word processing program for which I don’t have to pay a yearly fee (Open Office) and a tidy little zoo of cartoon thumb drives. What does it say about me, though, that I love to go to work each morning, even if it means yanking the head off of Sylvester the Cat?


  1. I am so not a techno person. My knowledge of tech is "off" and "on" and the occasional blood-curdling scream when I delete something I need.

    While I am grateful I don't use a typewriter any longer because of all the typos I need to correct, I don't dive much into the cloud and abstract ideas like that.

    I just cannot image what is in store for us in the future.

  2. Susan, I love the idea of your collection of USB drives. I've been backing up to a boring old rectangular one for years but now I see what I've been missing. I feel another collection coming on!

  3. Are these the same as flash drives?? Sorry for the question but I'm tech challenged.

  4. I think so, Jacqueline - you see, I'm like Kathye above - a total techno-naif. I've heard them called USB drives and thumb drives. They're little - about the size of a thumb or smaller, and plug into a USB port, then show up on your menu as another drive. I get them at either Staples or Office Depot or places like that.

    Cheryl, I use mine mainly for transport from one machine to another. For backup I use Carbonite - $60 a year and my entire computer is backed up five or six times a day. It's the best insurance I've ever had, and when I had to change computers putting all (and I mean ALL) my files onto the new one was easy-peasy. Also great customer service. And they're not in the cloud - they have their own servers.

    Kathye, I don't look forward to using a typewriter again and probably won't beyond the occasional label or such, but it's nice to know it's there if necessary!

    Susan, aka Janis

  5. What a fun post. Love your little zoo of drives to carry your work from place to place. Also share your distrust of the cloud.

  6. Hi Susan--
    I also love the new variety of flash drives. My favorites are purple flowery ones. But you bring up a very serious point about us all being steered in the direction of cloud storage. I, too, am skeptical.

  7. I don't like the idea of cloud storage. It's not being held in some outer space place, it's on another big computer someplace! Computers can be hacked! They warn us not to access our bank info in public places that use WIFI but people do it all the time on their phones.

    I prefer to sit at my big desktop computer. And I, too, love USB drives. BTW, they do have a finite number of times they can be used but no one seems to know what that number is! So back them up!