The stolen machine was a plain-vanilla Dell I'd been using as my primary work PC for the past few years. I had never bothered to upgrade to Vista, and beyond MS Office the only "off-deck" apps I used with any freqency were Firefox 3 (my default browser) and MS Visio (for my hacky wireframe efforts). All my personal media (music, photos, etc.) are stored on a home machine, so the only local files I lost in the theft were some recent Office and Visio docs that I hadn't yet shared by email.
Despite some low-grade anxiety about identity theft and annoyance at the violation of our workspace, I've had a hard time getting very worked up over the loss. Here's why:
- Because I rely heavily on Gmail for both personal and business communications, I have a near-perfect cloud-based backup for every file (e.g., documents, presentations, images, etc.) I've ever taken the trouble to share by email.
- My most current contact list is in Gmail as well (although I'm still frustrated that they haven't released contact sync for BlackBerry), and I keep my calendar in GCal, so there's no data or security exposure on those fronts.
- I haven't switched over completely, but I do a good amount of sharing and collaboration via Google Docs, so many of my most important working files also live in the cloud.
Because I needed a new machine, I've decided to put this conclusion to the test by abandoning the dominant paradigm and switching to a cloud-centric approach to personal computing. My new machine is the Asus Eee PC 901, a notebook-sized machine running Linux and OpenOffice instead of the usual MS Windows / Office combination. The 20G solid-state hard drive is too small for heavy media use, but I don't expect to use this machine for that so space shouldn't be an issue. And the 9-inch screen is on the small side, but most of the time I'm plugged in to an external monitor, keyboard and mouse, with the PC functioning mostly as a processor and thin-client host.
I love the idea of living 100% cloud-based and open-source, but I'm sure the reality will come with some interesting bumps along the way. Once I get the new machine up and running I'll post again to let you all know how it's coming.