Setting up my new MacBook Air in the age of the “cloud”

Everything today is in the Cloud – our photos, documents, sites, etc.

What I hadn’t realized was how much my own laptop’s initial setup was tied to the cloud.

I just got a new MacBook Air 13″ — which I must say is a big improvement over the 2010 model, and here were my steps to getting things setup:

  1. Install Dropbox (love LAN sync)
  2. Install 1password (which for me requires Dropbox)
  3. Install Evernote (via Apple App Store — runs locally, but cloud’ish)
  4. Install Skype (non-cloud)
  5. Install Adium (non-cloud)
  6. Install Spotify (all my music is in the cloud)
  7. Install mailplane (all my email is in the cloud / google apps)
  8. Download Chrome and watch in real-time as extensions appear (they sync) – pretty cool.
  9. Install sophos anti-virus (shows how popular Macs have become)
  10. Install office for mac (Downloaded trial version & put in my purchase code. I also use google docs a bunch, but for contracts Word is still the best w/ tracking)
  11. Turn off OS X auto correct !

So these 11 steps took all of about 25 minutes and then another hour or so for Dropbox to fully sync. And obviously nothing was installed from a DVD or USB.

I’m guessing that in 2 years when I setup the next new laptop, everything will either be in the cloud or get installed via an App store.

There are downsides in terms of control and what this means to some independent software publishers — but overall from a user experience, it’s pretty amazing to me how quickly things have shifted, and how just a few years ago you would spend a bunch of hours installing software, and do so largely from DVDs.

OnLive at GDC 2009

VentureBeat has a pretty interesting write-up on OnLive, a company that has been in stealth for 7 years and is founded by Steve Perlman of WebTV fame:

“This is video gaming on demand, where we deliver the games as a service, not something on a disk or in hardware,” Perlman said. “Hardware is no longer the defining factor of the game experience.”
Last week, Perlman showed me a demo of the technology. He was playing Crysis, one of the most demanding 3-D shooting games ever made, running on a simple Mac laptop and also on a rudimentary game console, known as a micro-console, which does almost no computing but merely displays the images on a TV in either standard or 720p high-definition. The graphics ran smoothly.

I instantly thought back to a post about OTOY which made some similar claims nearly a year ago:

“Imagine you could play video games – and immerse yourself in virtual worlds – with 3D graphics comparable to those found in blockbuster films like Transformers or WALL•E. And then imagine you could experience and control those graphics in real-time from any internet-enabled device, whether it be a desktop computer, set-top box or even iPhone.”

I think the idea of moving the computational processing into the cloud and delivering the experience to dumb PCs/TVs is a huge friggin deal ! I’m just a bit skeptical that this can be done with our current broadband world where latency and performance are so problematic.

Hoping I’m wrong on this one and that this is for real.

Update: Some in-person feedback from CNET: “CNET News did see a real-time presentation of OnLive on at least two different computers and on a HD TV. Game play was as smooth and lag-free as advertised”