Richard Bucker

Second and third thoughts about the cloud

Posted at — Aug 8, 2012

I’ve been running iStatMenus and Little Snitch for quite a while. When I first started using these tools I wanted to know what my computer and the installed software was doing.  That included everything from Apple as well as the commercial and open source software I had installed. In a way Little Snitch was a dual authentication for outbound connections and iStat gave me useful indication of the resources currently in play.Now that I have installed Mountain Lion and Little Snitch 3 (beta) I’m starting to watch my system more closely again. The first thing that caught my attention is that Google Chrome, Google Drive and DropBox are chatty. Yes, I have a few extensions installed on my browser like Google Voice,, Mail Notify, GTalk, Google Calendar, Google Task. What the hell are they doing?If silence were golden then network silence should be platinum.When I quit Chrome, Drive and DropBox there are still examples of apps that are talking to the network. But Why?  I just wrote an article this morning where I talk about installing non-commercial applications in userspace or adminspace and the possible side effects. So what are the lessons learned here?(a) if you’re using a cloud application then you are going to consume bandwidth and probably more than you want. So while that MacBook Air would ideal in the cloud the battery will not likely last, network costs because the apps do not know when you are on battery or using mobile tethering minutes.(b) we, as consumers, have no idea what is actually being passed back and forth. It is not unreasonable to consider that Google could be using some sort of bittorrent-like system to seed future chome downloads and that’s why I see such high usage.(c) while my wifi bandwidth is still much higher than the ISP bandwidth it still seems that I’m saturated someplace. Even copying files from one system to the next on the same subnet seems constrained.(d) What does not make any sense at all is the number of servers that Chrome connects to. It’s not like it’s one or two but is seems that there might be several dozen. What the heck are they doing? Some of it might be the different apps, but why? (that was rhetorical).Sun’s vision that the network is the computer is coming into vogue and it’s starting to cost us in privacy and our wallets.