The Catch to Using “Cloud” Services

This story from the Verge on the demise of Google Reader prompted this post.  Google has abandoned many of is services over the years as its business matures.

The Verge, Ellis Hamburger on March 19, 2013 01:30 pm wrote;

Google Reader is a lot more than an RSS client. It syncs news feeds between different apps, and makes sure you can always pick up right where you left off. It’s also simple and free, which means it drove most competitors out of the market long ago. Once Reader dies July 1st, we’ll be left with apps that don’t rely on its backend to sync your feeds — which isn’t very many apps. Various denizens of the internet and companies like Digg have volunteered to create new backends of their own, but for now, picking an RSS client you can trust means you’ll need one that doesn’t rely on Google Reader.

Why use the cloud to store your data? All the tech pundits are agog over cloud storage, getting your data on any device, stream your music, videos, etc., etc., etc.!

First catch; is the “cloud” available and ready for use with your connected device?  How many times have you heard that Google, Amazon and the other “cloud” services are down for some reason or another.

Second catch;  some businesses will only give customers the password to their free wi-fi.  Other businesses have free and open wi-fi with no restrictions. Free connections can be crowded, slow, unreliable and have security issues.  Doing business, use a VPN if you are going to sign into your corporate, banking or accounts that are not https enabled.

Third catch; choose your cloud company the same way you choose your bank.  Find a profitable, stable, trustworthy company that will be around for a long time.  There is no insurance when it comes to cloud storage and cloud based applications.  Many companies will abandon cloud services that are no longer profitable or no longer fit their business plan.

Fourth catch; If the service you use is free, it will eventually go away or become less functional to force free users to the paid version.  The companies providing the service have to make money to stay in business.

Choose wisely.  My personal preference is applications on my computing device with my files stored locally.  The backup is on the cloud.

Quicken Essentials Review – Bad, Stay Away

This Christmas I stopped using Quicken Essentials and switched to iBank from IGG Software, Inc. Why did I switch? Quicken Essentials is a program that is lacking in features, has confusing registers and to make things worse, difficult and complicated way to reconcile your accounts.

If you use Quicken Essentials to download transactions and do not use it to enter transactions to track your spending, the registers do not become a complicated mess when you reconcile to your statements. To me this is not the preferred method of using a program like Quicken, iBank or any of the others.

Quicken Essentials’ difficulty starts when you use it to enter transactions to record your activity and then download transactions from your bank accounts and credit card accounts prior to doing a reconciliation. After the download, all hell breaks loose. You have no idea what was added or what was matched without inspecting each transaction with a blue dot. Also, if you do not know what the balance on the account was before the download, you have no idea if it changed, which is the only way to determine if new transactions were added. This is a major headache.

If you have more than one account or an account with many transactions, it turns the download and checking into a lot of unnecessary work. Eventually you will put off using Quicken Essentials or delay keeping your records up to date because of the difficulty to get things done quickly and efficiently. Why give yourself an unnecessary headache. Life already has too many of these without adding one that can be avoided.

If you are using Quicken 2007 and do not plan an changing your Mac or upgrading to Lion or later, leave well enough alone. If you are getting a new Mac with Lion or plan to upgrade, choose iBank. It does what quicken 2007 does and adds some additional functionality.

Stay away from Quicken Essentials unless you enjoy complexity. I am not even going into the missing features that were part of Quicken 2007 and dropped in Quicken Essentials, such as tracking your loans or brokerage accounts.

Intuit has really abandoned Mac users with this junk. It is so bad, they announced that they were updating Quicken 2007 to run on Lion. My question is, if Quicken Essentials is worth anything, why update such an aging program?