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The new sneaker net has no shoes.

Posted: 01.18.11

Let's face it, it's been more than 30 years since ethernet claimed the vast mainstream of the networking business, and still there are network nightmares.
Vista set our office back for weeks as we tried to get all the computers calmed down and willing to talk to one another again. The Mac is still pretty standoffish, there are only a couple of computers in the office it will deign to talk to.
Granted, most offices probably have more competant IT services than we do here at JPR HQ but then again there are lots of families who are more mystified than we are about getting things to work together. Ironically, we're finding it easier to get the entertainment systems set up and working with at least one computer than it is to get the office networks running smoothly. It's our own fault, because we're always bringing in new computers to try out for a while.
Lately, life has gotten a lot easier thanks to the cloud. It started with Google Docs and the idea has been further refined by services like Dropbox, SugarSync, and Apple's iDisk to name three.
Yes, it's easy enough to walk the iPad over to the Mac and connect them so they can exchange the news of the day with each other, but it's a bother. Likewise, I can move an external drive from machine to machine after first getting a little help from MediaFour's MacDrive to convince the external disc to talk to both a Mac and a PC. All of that requires more than a few seconds, and that's a few seconds more than I really want to spend on such a mundane task. And, it doesn't solve the problem of keeping that information in sync with the other machines I'm liable to be using in the office or out in the world. Admittedly, keeping active projects in the cloud, might not be the most secure way to manage projects but it's a great way to maintain the integrity of a document even if I'm working with someone else on a project. Anyway, the devoted hacker is generally going to be mighty disappointed with the results of hacking my iDisk or Dropbox.
Apple has done a pretty good job of offering sync services for documents, calendars, pictures, music, and emails, but it all works a lot easier if you work within the Mac universe and compared to free or nearly free services, you're getting relatively little for your $99 a year to pay for the service. Just before Steve Jobs took off for a medical break he told people to expect a considerably improved MobileMe and iDisk. As sadly nerdly as it is, I find myself very excited about what might be coming from Apple on this front.
After all these years, sneaker net still exists, we're still forced to work around cranky networks, or cranky IT managers in some cases, but now the it's all in the air and it's a lot more elegant than a pair of sneakers.