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Wozniak Predicts Horrible Problems With the Cloud 331

Hugh Pickens writes "'I think it's going to be horrendous,' said Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak when asked about the shift away from hard disks towards uploading data into the cloud. The comment came in a post-performance dialogue with audience members after a performance in Washington of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, monologist Mike Daisey's controversial two-hour expose of Apple's labor conditions in China. 'I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years.' The engineering wizard behind the progenitor of today's personal computer, the Apple II, expanded on what really worried him about the cloud. 'With the cloud, you don't own anything. You already signed it away through the legalistic terms of service with a cloud provider that computer users must agree to. I want to feel that I own things,' Wozniak said. 'A lot of people feel, "Oh, everything is really on my computer," but I say the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we're going to have control over it.'"
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Wozniak Predicts Horrible Problems With the Cloud

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  • by crazyjj ( 2598719 ) * on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:08PM (#40897083)

    ....but, sadly, doesn't.

    • by swanzilla ( 1458281 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:15PM (#40897207) Homepage

      ....but, sadly, doesn't.

      (The other one isn't saying much)

    • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:22PM (#40897305)
      He's not at Apple and has not been for a long while.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yea. Three days after Apple gives an attacker access to an iCloud account that then wipes several of the owner's devices (and deletes his Google account among other damage), the Woz "predicts" that horrible problems may happen. I've been avoiding "the cloud" and telling my friends to do the same. He's smart, I'm paranoid.
    • by sycodon ( 149926 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @04:46PM (#40898947)

      "the shift away from hard disks towards other people's hard drives"


      I hate the term "the cloud". It's fucking remote servers is all. I can just see some guy with 20 years experience managing network server applies for a job and HR screens him because he doesn't have "Cloud" in his resume. It's a stupid marketing term that people are taking for a technology.

  • Creator vs. Consumer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:11PM (#40897151)

    Woz is a creator. So was Jobs. But they both needed Consumers - Jobs was more aware of that than Woz obviously.

    Woz wants to build something, own it, and carry it around in his pocket. Most modern IT stuff is designed to give you a means to consume content.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:22PM (#40897313) Homepage Journal

      User generated content has been a revolution. People get news and information from each other instead of central news agencies and big content providers. The whole attraction of things like Twitter and Facebook, and of course Slashdot, is the user generated content.

      People are no longer consumers of content, they are creators. The shift now is that instead of creating on your PC and uploading you can create online directly. I have documents that I made entire in Google Docs, web pages and blog posts written entirely in a CMS, G+ posts that never touch my HDD. I back what I can up locally but a lot of people use them as their only storage medium, trusting that they will never go away or steal their work or otherwise abuse it. And as Woz says, no-one reads the T&Cs.

      • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:28PM (#40897397)

        And what happens when the cloud provider decides to start "messing" with your online creations? Just last week Amazon announced they were converting people's stored-on-the-cloud songs to higher quality 256kbps versions.

        In theory that sounds okay, but what if Amazon makes a mistake and replaces a personal song (perhaps you singing David guetta's "Titanium") with the official song release. Ooops. You just lost your creation.

        You can't trust other people with your data, anymore than you can trust a random stranger to borrow your CD or car and return it unscratched/clean.

        • Just goes to show you that there isn't one pure solution to all problems.

          That's a central tenet to detecting bullshit. There is no man made system that can solve all problems. When someone comes at you with the phrase like "the cloud is the perfect solution" then you should detect bullshit.

          Nothing is ever going to replace your own local backup copy. Your own local backup copy supplements your online backup copy and vice versa.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          That was exactly my point. I keep backups of all of it because I don't trust the cloud providers. Google Docs could randomly change the UI to make it unusable, Picasa could device to ditch the original resolution versions of my photos, Twitter could device my weather station isn't a real person with tweeting rights.

          It's damn convenient, but you can never trust them with anything valuable.

      • There is a difference of "content" between then and now. The average user is easily creating or distributing textual or photographic content only. They are not creating anything of new complexity or functionality, which used to be the "content" of computing of yesteryear.

        There are many things from graphic design to webserver programming and mobile apps that the average user is only a Consumer of, not a producer, because the barrier is not technology but skills. These devices are not intended for creation

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by osu-neko ( 2604 )

      Woz is a creator. So was Jobs. But they both needed Consumers - Jobs was more aware of that than Woz obviously.

      Woz was his own consumer. He probably would have lived a perfectly happy life with none beyond that and maybe a few fellow enthusiasts.

  • He's right (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jailbrekr ( 73837 ) <> on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:13PM (#40897181) Homepage

    you *should* be concerned. It started with hotmail when they disabled the ability to download email to your home computer, and its only going to get worse. I literally cannot archive my email to an offline store and it is, in effect, owned by Microsoft. They can do with it as they wish, and I can't stop them.

    • Screen scrape 'em 'til it hurts. I'll bet there's a script floating around somewhere that makes it easy.
    • pop (Score:5, Informative)

      by slashmojo ( 818930 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:32PM (#40897453)

      Hotmail provides pop3 access so you can certainly download your mail.

    • This is why I still run my own mail server.
    • Don't rely on freebies then. It's only a couple bucks per month to use rackspace's email services and a couple bucks per year for a domain and you can use it how you want. It's acessible to most people. For those with more ability run your own server. But if you're using a free service don't be surprised if they want you going to the site and looking at ads.
    • Then why use Hotmail? YOU are the reason they're doing this - because you do nothing!

  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:14PM (#40897191)
    Only people who are really in favor of the cloud are in management.
    • by Jailbrekr ( 73837 ) <> on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:24PM (#40897341) Homepage

      I disagree. there are some valid applications for the cloud, such as outsourcing low volume or low priority services such as FTP or fax. But once you cross the line into storing office documents then the business risk grows exponentially. It is all about finding a balance.

    • by mlts ( 1038732 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:29PM (#40897407)

      There are a number of people who gain from moving stuff to the cloud:

      Cloud providers for one. They can charge rates near the cost of a full fledged data center [1], and they really have no responsibilities for security or backups. Security breaches can be hushed with the finger pointed at the client. Legal action? If someone finds something sue-able, good luck getting past the binding arbitration clause which essentially sue-proofs the cloud provider. Of course, don't forget that if/when that cloud provider goes under, the next owner has full and unrestricted access to the server data (the data from Borders being bought out by B&N comes to mind). Far less scrupulous organizations can buy the servers too. PII? Here is the magnet link, hope someone cares enough to keep the seed going.

      PHBs without any ITIL or other basic IT experience love the cloud. It means that someone else shoulders things and keeps staff small. Plus, it isn't their responsibility should data get lost or a security breach happen. By the time blame actually gets assigned, the breach would be forgotten about.

      Blackhats love the cloud. Imagine having access to the backend hard drives of hundreds of businesses, all at once. Just sit back and copy anything relevant, or if bored with a business, start altering some figures on stored documents so that company faces big penalties from the IRS or the EU. If an intruder really hates the cloud provider, it doesn't take much to drop all backend LUNs, stored snapshots, and replications.

      ISPs love the cloud. They can also watch the bits fly past, not to mention the bandwidth costs for businesses relying on the cloud.

      Of course, the cloud has its uses. However, once someone gets an encryption key management framework in place, an ability to have known good backups, yadda, yadda, with the bandwidth charges and charges for fatter pipes to and from the cloud service, it might be far cheaper to just have a data center.

      [1]: Regardless of where the servers are located, a company has to buy them to host locally, or is going to pay someone else's cost to have them in their facility. The cost of the server will be paid for, somehow.

    • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:45PM (#40897615) Homepage Journal

      I wish I could attribute the quote, but someone said that, as far as us old IT farts are concerned, "the cloud" is just a synonym for "someone else's server."

      There are people that know stuff in IT and there are bullshit marketing artists. The latter category are the ones that think "the cloud" is something new. People will put too much data to "the cloud" and get burned and the pendulum will swing back the other way again to local storage.

  • by oakgrove ( 845019 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:16PM (#40897213)
    My Cloud recipe for success: encrypt all data you upload and use local apps to open/consume/create it all. Don't forget to use your own meatspace backup system of choice from time to time. All the taste none of the fat.
    • Still the issues of access. Ask WikiLeaks about that. All the encryption in the world doesn't matter if you can't access your files. And, if your files are backed up locally, aren't you just mirroring on a remote server?

  • by neokushan ( 932374 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:16PM (#40897217)

    We've already seen what can happen when a cloud service goes down. Amazon and Microsoft's Azure have both went down recently, causing havoc for many businesses. When Megaupload went down, it caused a huge loss for many legitimate customers as well. If your Steam account gets suspended, or you disagree with the new TOS - you're shit out of luck, all that you "own" is gone for good and you can't do shit about it. Dropbox lost a shitload of emails due to a security breach, Sony lost the details for 70million+ customers for a similar reason. Every single example of a cloud operation that I can think of, be it a service or a product, has had issues and it's not going to change.

    The cloud is a wonderful idea in principal, but we need a completely different outlook on it. And possibly a hell of a lot of new laws governing ownership of the content.

    • Hey, I got a free The Daily WTF mug out of Microsoft Azure, so I consider it a net gain.

    • If your Steam account gets suspended, or you disagree with the new TOS - you're shit out of luck, all that you "own" is gone for good and you can't do shit about it.

      It every time sends me cold shivers through my spine when someone talks about his Steam library of hundreds of games, which they cherish in a same way like some bookshelf collection.

      • I actually have quite an extensive Steam collection myself, despite the above rant. I mean, the cloud certainly has its uses and I love that I can install a new PC, download steam and have all my games ready to download whenever. If something happens to my account, I will be pretty pissed off but it'll give me complete legitimacy in pirating every game I own - once again, the cloud to the rescue.

        Suffice it to say, I like steam, but their recent TOS change and the ever looming threat of account bannage do pi

      • It's funny, too. After railing about steam and their horrible TOS for so long and being shouted down by world + dog, I actually started thinking that maybe, just maybe, I was wrong and I was being a little unreasonable. So I bit the bullet and bought my first Steam game.

        It was Borderlands GOTY, on sale, on July 29. 2 days later, they came out with that new "We're above the courts" TOS and I had to try[0] to cancel my account. I'm only out 8 bucks, but that was seriously a facepalm moment. I hate being right

    • by oakgrove ( 845019 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:52PM (#40897719)
      All of your points are correct but the risks are certainly manageable with due diligence and planning.

      Amazon and Microsoft's Azure have both went down recently, causing havoc for many businesses.

      We don't use either of these services since we don't really need the scale but I would imagine that provided they didn't go down too long, money is still saved in the aggregate. You have to look at the numbers and strike the right balance. What is the likely downtime of $CLOUD_IAAS_PROVIDER? Will that much downtime cost us more in money, goodwill, and customers than just building and maintaining our own gear? What hurts is just jumping on the bandwagon with both eyes closed. We use Google Apps here but we also keep copies of all of our documents and emails on the premises. The value adds like collaborative editing, etc. are nice but we could go a few hours without them. And we might not be able to get new emails during an outage but we can definitely read the old ones and send what we need to with different accounts temporarily. Running our own mail server isn't really something we're interested in getting into but so far Google's been pretty reliable and they'd be damn fools to misuse the little amount of strategic info they could glean from our communications as the goodwill fallout if something like that came to light would destroy them.

      When Megaupload went down, it caused a huge loss for many legitimate customers as well.

      A stack of blank DVDs is like 10 bucks at the walgreens down the street. There is no way I would make the mistake of thinking that something like or is some kind of legitimate back up service. That's pretty much laughable. Hopefully the word got out to people that don't realize this and they won't be making the same mistake again.

      If your Steam account gets suspended, or you disagree with the new TOS - you're shit out of luck, all that you "own" is gone for good and you can't do shit about it.

      I've never bought anything through Steam but as far as I can tell, the only thing you actually have to pay for is the games and DLC for the games you have. The social features are just added stickiness keeping people there but you aren't directly paying for them. I have a Steam account but only as a test of installing the client on Linux. It works, I can browse stuff and participate but I've never spent a dime. I say that to say this, if I lost access to my games, I'm pretty sure I could find some backups [] somewhere. I paid so I wouldn't feel bad at all doing that.

      Dropbox lost a shitload of emails due to a security breach

      That didn't have anything to do with their cloud stuff though as that was chalked up to an employee's stupidity of having a weak password on a laptop or something. It could have happened to anybody that happened to have some personal info about users. I think the UK lost a bunch of data a while back by some goof being careless.

      Sony lost the details for 70million+ customers for a similar reason

      Heh. Sony. No sympathy. Their customers didn't deserve that though. My suggestion is use a different email for all of your online stuff. Maybe use some pattern like or whatever floats your boat. Same thing for passwords. Of course nobody does that but it is a solution.

      Every single example of a cloud operation that I can think of, be it a service or a product, has had issues and it's not going to change.

      Yeah, if it's a server hooked up to the 'net, it has the potential to be hacked. Act accordingly and encrypt your data if you're uploading files, make backups, don't use the same credentials across different sites as you are trusting the security of the person you gave those credentials to and always assume that the provider will go under at some point or be bought out. Personally I use "cloud" services like its going out of style but I keep my wits about me and have had no problems yet.

    • The cloud is a wonderful idea in principal, but we need a completely different outlook on it. And possibly a hell of a lot of new laws governing ownership of the content.

      That is what will happen.

      Do you keep your money in a bank, or do you feel safer with cash (or gold nuggets) under your bed? People happily transfer their life's work into the cloud every day when they deposit their paychecks. There is trust, both in the banks and the government defining and enforcing rules. As people increasingly rel

  • by Moheeheeko ( 1682914 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:16PM (#40897221)
    Use iCloud! no need for external harddrives! []


  • That Mike Daisey? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:16PM (#40897223) Journal

    Why would Woz legitimize the work of that liar []?

  • Everyone runs a cloud storage service (CSS) on their own computer(s). This service functions as a repository of all things yours, but has peer functionality, so my laptops can replicate what is on my SAN. So the same laptop does not always need to be on. Services (applications) can be assigned read/write permissions.
    Every cloud application provider (facebook etc) functions as a proxy. I tell the CSS to peer to facebook, and they use a mechanism similar to DHCP to negotiate the current location of the CSS. F

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:19PM (#40897263)

    An expose would reveal, well, reality.

    Mike Daisey was found to have fabricated all of the issues he raises against Apple.

    • by Xawen ( 514418 )

      Key clarification here. Mike Daisey was not found to have fabricated any issues. The issues he brought up have mostly been revealed to be real.

      What he misrepresented was his actual experiences on his trip to the Foxconn and other manufacturing facilities. He included embellishments and some fabricated facts in the original version of his monologue. After the media issues following the NPR broadcast, he modified his monologue to remove the problematic content and discuss his original mistake.

      Having been

  • This is a no-brainer. Because they offer you pre-built solutions, for a monthly recurring fee that's cheaper than what you would have to pay (amortized over 5 years) to go it alone, they get to dictate the terms of the contract. They also get to fail and provide no "real" restitution for their failure. Your Virtualized Data Center is gone because we had a power outage in Bangladesh. Oh, you didn't buy the "Value Add Package", that means we don't have to provide any discounts or recompense for lost business

  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:20PM (#40897269)

    for years car dealers pushed monthly payments to clueless buyers to scam them into higher prices. same with the cloud.

    dropbox, only $100 a year
    cloud storage of music? $25 a year via itunes or amazon
    remote backup? $50 a year
    virtual server? $xxxx a month. oh you don't like the service, OK just buy your own for $15000 plus hosting

    dollar here and dollar there and soon its real money

    when you think about it a machine at your location is a consumer class CPU/hard drive. cloud provider will have multiple machines with enterprise class CPU's, overpriced enterprise hard drives, precious metal support contracts, etc. I bet the hardware vendors love it and are pushing the cloud hype through the tech media

    • by Junta ( 36770 )

      I bet the hardware vendors love it and are pushing the cloud hype through the tech media

      Actually, long term it isn't such a good prognosis for hardware vendors. The big winners (EC2 for example) do not bother investing in low-level resiliancy, meaning machines can fail at will without breaking Amazon promises. The guidance is that you, as service architect, should architect your solution for failure anyway, so why should amazon bother paying more to cover a risk that is best handled at app level? The bullet proof hardware configurations have very high profit margin.

      The other high profit mar

  • by John3 ( 85454 ) <(moc.sllenroc) (ta) (3nhoj)> on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:20PM (#40897277) Homepage Journal

    Moving to the cloud, whether Apple or Microsoft or any of the other players, has two main purposes:

    - Guarantee ongoing profits through subscriptions and micro-payments to the providers for storage, use of cloud-based applications, or viewing or listening to cloud-based media.

    - Control of digital media, making DRM easy to enforce since your audio and video files will all be on their servers to be scanned, audited, and confiscated.

    Even with the fluctuating prices for hard drives the cost to store media locally is lower than ever, and there are plenty of options for sharing your media over the web yourself due to the low cost of high speed Internet access.

  • that without something else that allows everyone to easily store, sync and backup their data "owning" your data is a mostly meaningless feature.

    What we need is some kind of peer-to-peer cloud and syncing *protocol*, with distributed storage. Back in the good old days email and Usenet offered something like that.

    But just requiring people to run their own servers will never work. Because 99% of people just lack the knowledge, motivation and time to implement and use anything like that. Not seeing this problem

  • This story has buried the lead. All anyone's going to talk about is Woz this and Cloud that, when the real news should be that somehow people are continuing to pay money to go see Mike Daisey put on his one-man show that, despite coming across as if he's telling a true story about what he did, has in fact been proven to be largely false []. It became quite the embarrassment for the radio show This American Life when they aired portions of it as being true after he lied to them about specifics of the story.
  • Oblig XKCD (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:45PM (#40897621)

  • We don't own squat (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SlashDev ( 627697 )
    I think Steve has been asleep for the past decade or so, here a few services that we spend 99% of our time on and don't own: Ebay Paypal Webmail Webdisk / Webstorage Photobucket et al YouTube Facebook, myspace et al Netflix We don't own squat...
  • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @02:59PM (#40897827)

    So long as it's trivial to sync to your own privately held computer infrastructure.

    For storage, I love the concept of a provider keeping bits (that I have pre-gpged) for my reference. The problem is the trend seems to be more and more limited and convoluted storage capability in favor of more exploitive pricing and schemes (e.g. Amazon changing from a modest capacity to a pathetic song count on their cloud).

    For compute, so long as you own the DNS name and all the data needed to reconstruct your presence elsewhere, it gives smaller businesses a chance to have a presence without a lot of up-frot cost. Too bad the trend is overwhelmingly fewer and fewer businesses making this benefit moot.

  • The issues one will see with the cloud are the very same, if not worse, as those experienced with main-frames. What got people off main-frames was the low cost of mini and micro computers and the fact that organizations need control over mission-critical equipment and processes. Those who operated main-frames had become uncontrollable entities unto themselves. They had no accountability for corporate success but had every control over the means of success. That situation had to end and the new, smaller, and
  • Predictions come before the event in question. At this point, Woz is just stating a fact.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 06, 2012 @04:40PM (#40898889)

    Hasn't RMS already warned us all about this?

  • by xs650 ( 741277 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @04:55PM (#40899067)
    There is nothing wrong with using the cloud as long as you don't care about privacy and have everything on the cloud backed up where you can easily retrieve it if the cloud blows away.
  • by Hazelfield ( 1557317 ) on Monday August 06, 2012 @07:13PM (#40900201)
    Today's word: The cloud.
    Explanation: Someone else's computer.
  • by Just Brew It! ( 636086 ) on Tuesday August 07, 2012 @01:03AM (#40902265)

    For a few years now I've been telling people "letting other people store your data for you means you don't control your data any more". I'm willing to use "the cloud" for some things, but any data I really care about is stored on hard drives and/or optical media that I own.

    You would think the loss of legitimate users' files in the Megaupload takedown, and the near-weekly reports of user databases of various online services getting broken into would drive this point home, but most people still seem to be blissfully ignorant of the issues.

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein