Friday, July 17, 2009

Lost in the Cloud

I’m beginning to think the more gizmos and applications Apple develops to boost the power of Mac computers, the less I am able to keep up with them. Yesterday was a case in point. I went for my weekly One-to-One training session at the Apple store, spent a dizzying hour exploring the world of MobileMe, and left feeling less than brilliant.

When I bought my new Mac laptop, I paid an additional $99 for 52 private training sessions with a Mac genius. I can ask any question or focus on anything Mac-related and get the undivided attention of a walking, talking, human Mac manual. It’s a great concept, but before I knew it, my year was over. Unfortunately, I was still in Apple la-la land in terms of understanding the secrets hidden in my computer. So, I re-upped for another year.

If I didn’t have a little notebook to keep track of the steps in each process, I would remember nothing. MobileMe is amazing, if you know how to use it. It stores data, photos, movies, and applications. It synchronizes calendars, e-mails, and files on my Mac computers. It makes huge files and photos available to anyone. It has a simple website design application. And it has a purely apple invention: “the cloud.” Somewhere, in Apple's obscure website, it even has a help menu. I keep meaning to bookmark that page.

The cloud—otherwise known as iDisk—is a brilliant invention. It is where everything is stored, like an external hard drive in the sky. I can picture all my little files flying up to the cloud to be safely tucked away or synced with my other files so that I will never lose anything. I was a little disappointed to learn that the cloud is merely Apple’s cyberspace server, where I am essentially renting space, like a storage unit. But I choose not to dwell on that.

I could spend weeks learning about MobileMe, and I probably should. It’s a great tool and probably not half as complicated as I’m making it sound. I think the problem is that I ask how to do some little task and end up going through 17 steps to do it without ever figuring out where it fits in the MobileMe puzzle. I think that’s called inductive thinking, but I am a deductive thinker. I have to start with the big picture —what does MobileMe do? How is it organized? What are its parts? How does each part work?—as opposed to using a magnifying glass on one isolated function.

I think that was what you call an “aha moment.” I have been going at the whole thing backwards, starting with a single element instead of the whole program. I can’t wait to tell my Mac genius what I’ve known forever but just remembered—how I learn new information.