Life in the Cloud and what it Means.


So the great move into the cloud is on.. we are being ushered into a new age whether or is that ‘weather’ we like it or not!

We are being sold on the idea of convenience, we are being asked to entrust all our important personal data and it’s wellbeing over to corporations for safekeeping. Whether it’s photo collections of your memories or data used by critical software for your work, the future is that the resources you require, store, save, cherish? Will be stashed away in the cloud for your retrieval when you need them.. Saving desktop real estate, memory resources in your ever smaller devices, soon you’ll just need the Google Glass, the Touch Devices and passwords… Maybe not the passwords… Iris or voice recognition.. Fingerprint? DNA?

However…. what happens when something goes wrong?

This question has of course been asked ever since the inception of the idea, the naysayers will always look for a reason something new is a bad idea, the people on the cutting edge will defend the new frontier from an excited pioneer standpoint whilst the corporate money machines will roll out the new platforms regardless as long as it’s deemed financially worthwhile…

This last week something went wrong.

It might seem marginal, it was specific to a relatively small niche sector, it was nothing that wiped billions off of an index or collapsed a bank… but nevertheless..

PACE ant piracy protection, iLok as it’s commonly known, launched it’s new revised system, website and app for protecting audio software against piracy, It is nothing new but for those that don’t know it involves the companies that use this system selling you a license to use their products. This license is then downloaded from the iLok website and placed onto your USB ‘dongle’ which must be plugged into your machine to operate the software you have paid for.

The license database is held in the cloud on the iLok/PACE servers, millions of users own and operate software protected by iLok in studio setups worldwide, from bedroom users all the way through semi pro setups to the huge industry standard facilities..

This last week saw the iLok servers have problems, their new License Manager App has been plagued with performance issues, their server update reportedly had a major problem..

The result was, like myself, a vast number of people people had major problems too, we had no access to the software we’d paid for, people couldn’t work, facilities cancelled clients, suddenly the dependency fostered upon us all became apparent.

If they screw up… We all get screwed up… I watched the discussion and rage unfold on the forums, the customer relations were non existent, to be fair i guess the PACE folks were losing the plot trying to fix this stuff.. but communication was near zero.. and the disdain people were feeling was through the roof..

Support tickets were replied to with the same generic responses, kinda like the recorded message that reassures you that ‘your call is important to us’ yet they take forever to answer… if there’s a real person there at all.

Following a long convoluted solution someone (not from iLok) posted online and with much patience as the License Manager app repeatedly timed out and froze, with many restarts and after six or more hours waiting for it to complete ‘operation in progress’ at a snails ‘pace’ (sic) I was nearly back to normal, I do still have problems opening 64bit plugins without a crazy wait time on loading though..

Many people do however still have massive issues days later.. lost revenue.. lost time.. lost inspiration..

But no one is answerable.. the cloud is above all… it’s not just PACE… if this was another database of critical importance.. like if the bank suddenly decided you have no money? Or your credit report goes south… someone should be answerable right?

‘Computer says no’ is fast becoming a scary reality and there is a distinct possibility our whole lives will become automated by algorithms with people only present to make you feel more comfortable with the a flesh and bone interface front end.. the cold steel of the cpu behind issuing the automated response.. the company policy.

The corporations are the masters…  The people are the subjects..

The response from people online over the iLok debacle has been interesting, three camps.

The first defend the system citing that nothing has gone wrong for them before or that they have been unaffected by this therefore everyone else is over reacting..

The second are the crew who always objected to the intrusive nature of the PACE system, the fact it writes weird files to your system it needn’t and collects data etc, the lack of customer care..

The third are like myself who use the iLok, are happy to pay for software and understand the need to prevent piracy yet having gone through this experience will no longer be so willing to support or purchase products that use this kind of system anymore.. There are other means to protect against piracy.

These events have shown me..

I don’t want to depend on the cloud, unseen hands that i need to believe have my best interests at heart are a common re-accurence in modern life.. I don’t mind having my ‘stuff’ on multiple hardrives, i want the choice to manage my own data..

I don’t want to wake up one morning or half way through a project and find all my stuff or tools have been stolen, deleted, frozen or disabled through no fault of my own..

This last few days has been a warning.. a brief glimpse into what we are setting ourselves up to become if we blindly accept and adopt every new idea thrown at us without the thought of consequence..

Our children know no different.. The internet is no revolution to them, just an everyday facet of life…

The cloud dependancy however marks a shift in power.. when someone or something you can never hold accountable has the ability to wipe you out of the virtual world it will be a different ballgame..

Access denied, Credit refused, Files missing, Software not authorised, Data no longer available.. ….to you that is!

Your data in the cloud can be intercepted, stolen, misused, sold, copied, analysed, altered and deleted and you’d know nothing about it before it’s too late..

They used to say it didn’t exist if you didn’t have three backups!

Soon you won’t even have one.


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