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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Computing ingenuity led to the creation of 'XCoffee'

April 4, 2011
by Mark Ollig

In 1991, regularly updated images began broadcasting on computer screens over the University of Cambridge’s internal data network in England.

This story begins with a group of academic researchers in the university’s computer science study lab called the Trojan Room.

These researchers spent most nights working on computer and network programming, and of course, they usually consumed large amounts of coffee.

The coffee machine just happened to be conveniently located in the corridor directly outside the Trojan Room.

This particular coffee machine was also shared with fellow researchers working throughout the university building.

Needless to say, having a freshly-brewed pot of coffee available at all times was of the utmost importance.

However, a problem soon developed.

Academic researchers in other parts of the building, who needed to climb several flights of stairs in anticipation of pouring themselves a freshly-brewed cup of coffee, were becoming somewhat frustrated whenever discovering an empty coffeepot.

Of course, one option would have been to install another coffee machine, but remember these were academic researchers living on a shoestring budget; spending money was not a realistic option in this case.

So began the creation of what became known as XCoffee.

The researchers working in the Trojan Room noticed a number of shelving racks containing computer servers used for maintenance testing of the university’s data networks.

They discovered one unused Acorn Archimedes computer server installed with the ‘X Window System’ protocols. This computer server also contained a gray-scale “video-frame grabber” circuit card.

A “frame grabber” is a device which takes a picture, or “captures” still-frame images and saves them digitally (in this case, it would be used to capture images coming from an analog video camera).

The first frame grabbers could only “grab” and save one still-frame digital image at a time.

Utilizing what is known as a “retort stand” (used for holding scientific equipment) the researchers from the Trojan Room mounted a camera onto it and pointed the lens towards the coffee machine, specifically, in the direction of the coffeepot itself.

They then ran all the cabling under the floor to the Acorn Archimedes computer server equipped with the frame-grabber in the Trojan Room.

One of the researchers, Paul Jardetzky, was responsible for writing a “server” software computer program which would run on the Acorn Archimedes computer equipped with the video-grabber capturing the images of the coffeepot.

The video-frame grabber would capture live still-frame images of the coffeepot about every three seconds.

Another researcher in the Trojan Room, Quentin Stafford-Fraser, who was working on Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) communication switching networks, wrote the “client” software computing program.

The client software operated on the computers in the building connected to the university’s data network.

This client software would communicate with the Acorn Archimedes computer’s newly written server software and display the most current image taken of the coffeepot onto a corner of the display screen of the computers running the client software program.

It took about a day for these programmers in the Trojan Room to get what became known as “XCoffee” up and running over the university’s network.

This software application operated over a MSNL (Multi-Service Network Layer) which is a network layer protocol designed for ATM networks.

The most current coffeepot image was only updated onto the university’s network a few times a minute, which was acceptable by everyone, because, according to Stafford-Fraser, “ . . the pot filled rather slowly, and it was only greyscale, which was also fine, because so was the coffee.”

The researchers working upstairs and in other parts of the building, would now be able to visually see the current status of the amount of coffee remaining in the coffeepot on their computer screens.

Using a new frame grabber, frequently updated coffeepot images taken by the camera eventually made their way onto the Internet in 1993 – where they became as popular as when a YouTube video goes “viral.”

This Internet “coffee-cam” also provided a message to the viewer stating “The lights in the Trojan Room aren’t always switched on, but we try to leave a small lamp pointing at the coffeepot so you can see it at night.”

The idea of remotely monitoring a coffeepot in near real-time became so talked about that in 1994, the researchers at the university who set up XCoffee were visited by a reporter from a local BBC radio station to discuss it.

The computer server responsible for providing the visual images of this famous coffeepot was turned off Aug. 22, 2001.

However, your investigative columnist did manage to find an actual image of the coffeepot taken from one of the computer screens:

To end this story, I was privileged to correspond with Quentin Stafford-Fraser (via Twitter) and expressed my thoughts to him about his adventure with XCoffee.

He replied, “Thanks Mark . . . And best wishes from this side of the pond!”

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Minnesota Historical Society website rich in historical photo's

March 28, 2011
by Mark Ollig

Proclaiming to be the “chief caretaker of Minnesota’s story” is a rather bold statement.

The Minnesota Historical Society has been the state’s historical depository for the past 162 years, so it appears they have the qualifications.

Its website contains about 209,748 historical photographs, posters, art paintings, postcards, drawings, and other images – all stored in their visual resources database.

I was pleased to find a rich assortment of historical photographs taken of notable Minnesotans, local town street scenes, buildings, landmarks, and much more from the cities and towns all across the state.

This columnist searched the database for “Winsted” and found many historical photographs taken of my old hometown.

Some of these photographs include:

• A 1900 photograph of the Paris Millinery building located in Winsted.

I was fortunate to obtain more information about the Paris Millinery building when I sent the photograph to long-time Winsted resident and former Winsted mayor Don Guggemos.

“This is the Smolka Building, built around the 1880s. Joseph A. Smolka arrived in Winsted about 1875. He established a harness business in this building. He was also a member of the city council and very active in the local community. Smolka died suddenly in 1895 at age 58. The Winsted City Council issued a proclamation at his death. Two years after his death in 1897, his daughter, Augusta, age 18, opened a millinery shop in this building,” Don explained.

The Paris Millinery building would have been next to the old Millerbernd’s building (present-day Winsted Flagship Bank) to the north.

I created a link to the photograph of the Paris Millinery building at

Other Winsted-related photographs include:

• An 1865 photograph of Stephen and Anna Garske, German immigrants who settled in Winsted.

• The Winsted Catholic church photographed on a postcard from 1907.

• A photograph taken in 1909 at the intersection of second Avenue, looking east along West Main Street toward Winsted Lake.

• The Winsted Catholic school (former Holy Trinity grade school building) as it stood in 1915.

• An aerial view of Winsted taken in 1969 by Vincent H. Mart.

• Another aerial view over the Winsted creamery (Pure Milk Products) from 1969.

Lester Prairie historical photographs found include:

• A 1910 photograph of the Lester Prairie City Hall.

• The “Roller Mills” building at Lester Prairie taken in 1915.

• A picture taken in 1920 of the Farmer’s Co-op Elevator.

• An aerial view of Lester Prairie taken in 1969.

• An 1895 photograph of Herman J. Henneman, who served as a Minnesota State Legislator. I was able to cross-reference him on Google books and learned Henneman was a merchant who was born in Germany in 1862, came to the US in 1871 with his parents, and resided in Lester Prairie. He was a Minnesota state senator in 1895.

Howard Lake has interesting historical pictures online as well, including:

• A 1950 photograph of “Minnesota’s largest birdhouse” taken at Timber’s Resort.

• A photograph taken in 1908 called “business block” showing downtown business buildings along today’s Highway 12.

• A photograph of The Howard Lake Creamery, taken in 1910.

• A 1915 photograph titled “Motorcycle Club run to Howard Lake” showing a group of folks on their motorcycles in front of what appears to be a corner building on County Road 6 and Highway 12.

• A photograph of St. James Lutheran Church as it stood in 1940.

• An aerial view of Howard Lake taken in 1969

• Howard Lake City Hall, photographed as it was in 1973.

Historical photographs from Cokato and Dassel include:

• A photograph of the C.A. Davis residence in Cokato taken in 1900.

• A beautifully detailed 1900 photograph of a Great Northern passenger train taken in Cokato by Dwight Barnes.

• A 1909 photograph of a bird’s-eye view of downtown Cokato (includes a nice view of the water tower).

• An 1880 photograph of a group of school children in front of the post office/drug store in Dassel.

• A slightly colorized 1908 photograph of buildings along Dassel’s main street.

• A 1910 photograph from Dassel which reads, “New town hall and Main Street looking east.” The photographer was G.W. Swanstrom.

Delano also has many historical photographs online at the Minnesota Historical Society:

• A 1900 photograph of Delano’s main street taken by John Warner.

• A beautifully colorized 1900 photograph of River Street.

• An excellently detailed photograph of the “Wagon Bridge” crossing the Crow River in Delano, taken in 1915.

• An aerial view of the Delano area photographed in 1972.

More photographs of these and other surrounding towns are stored in this visual resources database.

A person could spend hours looking at them.

Preserving our town’s photographs and history – on paper and digitally – for future generations to see – is vital.

To use the visual resources database, go to

The Minnesota Historical Society website is located at

After spending time viewing these historical photographs and their other collections, I have come to realize the Minnesota Historical Society is indeed, one of the chief caretaker’s of Minnesota’s story.

Friday, March 18, 2011

First Twitter message was typed five years ago

March 21, 2011
by Mark Ollig

The first tweet read “just setting up my twttr.”

This message was sent by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey March 21, 2006, while working at a podcasting company called Odeo, Inc., in South Park, CA.

The reason he wrote “twttr” with no vowels was because Twitter’s originally intended use was to be on mobile devices. The “twttr” five-character Short Message Service (SMS) short code is: 89887.

The name Twitter was chosen by Noah Glass, who, along with Evan Williams, had founded Odeo.

Twitter messages were set at a maximum of 140 characters in length so they could fit inside the limits of a cell phone text message.

Unfortunately, they later learned a group called “Teen People” had already obtained the 89887 SMS short code.

According to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, the word ‘twitter’ is described as “to utter successive chirping noises – to utter in chirps or twitters – to talk in a chattering fashion.”

Jack Dorsey (@Jack) sent this tweet out March 14, “At 5:33 p.m. 5 years ago today, we had design, login, & update. There were only two people on twttr, me & @florian.”

Florian, also employed at Odeo, was a programmer working with Dorsey.

Dorsey also sent this tweet, “I’m not sure if one counts the day of original programming or the first tweet (the 21st) as Twitter’s birthday. Probably the latter.”

The birth of Twitter came about one day while sitting on a children’s slide at a park, eating Mexican food. Jack Dorsey, an engineer, suggested to his Odeo colleagues an effortless way to send status updates by using text messages.

Within two weeks, Dorsey and Twitter’s other co-founder, Isaac “Biz” Stone, had built the prototype which became Twitter.

Dorsey and Stone believed this new company could make it on its own.

It was decided in 2007, to make Twitter a separate company from Odeo, Inc.

Jack Dorsey served as Twitter’s first chief executive, Isaac Stone was its creative director, and Evan Williams became Twitter’s chairman.

Here are the latest statistics and particulars about Twitter I found via Twitter’s blog:

• Twitter was incorporated in April 2007; it was co-founded by Isaac “Biz” Stone, Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey, who use Twitter names: @biz, @ev and @jack.

• The initial Twitter logo was created by Biz, who was a former graphic designer.

• Twitter has more than 200 million registered users sending more than 140 million tweets a day.

• Total tweets sent March 11, 2011, were 177 million.

• Actor Charlie Sheen (@charliesheen) was the quickest to accumulate one million Twitter followers – taking him only 24 hours to reach this milestone.

• The time it took from the first tweet to the billionth tweet: three years, two months and one day.

• In 2010, Twitter users sent 25 billion tweet messages, while Twitter itself added more than 100 million new registered user accounts.

• The time it now takes for users to send a billion tweets: one week.

• The hashtag (#) feature on Twitter (which groups tweets by subject), made its first appearance in August 2007. The hashtag idea was thought of by a Twitter user.

• The average number of new Twitter accounts per day over the last month has been 460,000.

• The current tweets-per-second record (6,939) was established four seconds after midnight in Japan, on New Year’s Day.

• When Michael Jackson died, June 25, 2009, 456 tweets-per-second were being sent.

• Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) has the most Twitter followers with 8.78 million, followed by Justin Bieber (@justinbieber) with 8.13 million. Britney Spears (@britneyspears) has 7.12 million followers, and Barack Obama (@barackobama) has 6.97 million. Kim Kardashian (@kimkardashian) comes in with 6.73 million followers, and your Bits & Bytes columnist (@bitsandbytes) reports in with a respectable 343 Twitter followers.

• In October 2009, Google and Microsoft began incorporating tweets into their search products.

• Twitter currently employs over 350 people.

• Twitter is based in San Francisco, with employees working in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Washington.

Twitter uses what is called a “Ruby on Rails” application framework, which operates on Twitter’s web server.

Ruby on Rails is sometimes called RoR, or just Rails. RoR is an open-source web programming language code originally created in 2003, by David Heinemeier Hansson.

On March 13, Jack Dorsey tweeted “I drew out the original idea on this notepad around 2001, named Just needed the right time [and] team.” To view go to:

Forty minutes latter, @jack tweeted “A week earlier, @Biz & I worked on the design to show Odeo before programming. Here’s the first twttr [dot] com”

Twitter’s updated blog is located at:

You can view the original Twitter logo created on March 2, 2006, by going to:

Start twittering your own messages, follow and obtain followers of your own Twitter by visiting their web page at:

Become a part of this entertaining, informative, and powerful mainstream online social network.

Happy fifth birthday, Twitter.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Remembering the BBS ‘Culture’ [memories from the archives!]

December 3, 2007
by Mark Ollig

Last weeks column found me nostalgically recalling the time I started a “hobbyist” dial-up computer Bulletin Board Service or “BBS.”

Before web browsers redefined the Internet, computer hobbyists using their own money spent many hours connecting their home computers to software, modems and phone lines.

At that time, installing and programming the BBS hardware and software was not a “plug and play” process.

In 1993, Howard Rheingold published his book “The Virtual Community.” He is credited with inventing the term “virtual community.” He wrote about the potential of the BBS culture and the new “electronic villages” being created.

I was both fascinated and motivated by Rheingold’s enthusiasm and passion of the independent dial-up BBS culture.

To access my BBS from your computer you needed a 19.2 kbps modem and a regular telephone line.

A dial-up communications program made by DataStorm called “ProComm” was commonly used to access a BBS.

I called my BBS “WBBS OnLine!”

The “W” stood for “Winsted.” It had the call letters of a radio or TV station…plus “WBBS” sounded cool.

I created paper flyers to advertise WBBS, and posted them all over town and in the local newspaper.

I was so excited about starting a local BBS in Winsted that I even changed the license plates on my car to WBBS... which caused a few second glances as I drove down the street.

Many folks caught the BBS “bug” and were buying a modem and going online.

People plugged a telephone line into their computer modem, “dialed-up” the local phone number of WBBS and “logged on” to the BBS software program I ran. It was called “The Major BBS” made by a company called Galacticom.

Computer users would create their own online user names, leave e-mail messages, chat in virtual conference rooms, play simple online games and send and receive software files.

Being a BBS System Operator or “SysOp” and running a BBS was like operating your own AOL, Prodigy or CompuServe (what’s that Grandpa?).

A BBS is like a small island community. Only a few people could be connected at one time, depending on the number of modems the BBS had. I had five telephone lines connected to five modems, so five users (including your humble SysOp) could be online at the same time.

WBBS had discussion forums, simple text-chat rooms, a few games, and the ability to send e-mail messages to other registered BBS members. Users were mostly from the local area where the BBS telephone number was a free call.

I was able to update WBBS and install a Graphical User Interface or “GUI.” This required the user calling into the BBS to download a “client” software program. The next time they dialed in using the BBS client GUI software, they could point and click on the new BBS graphical menu. They could play some of the new games using a colorful graphical interface! It was just like what AOL had.

As I learned about new computer hardware, software and the information and resources the Internet was starting to offer, I looked for a venue where I could share this information with others. So began the column “Bits & Bytes.”

In 1994, I gave a presentation of my BBS at the local Civic and Commerce lunch-in below the American Legion Club in Winsted.

Your humble columnist and former SysOp brought his trustworthy 1993 Omni-Book laptop, BBS “tower” computer, bulky monitor and many cords.

I set up the BBS and connected the whole thing to two phone lines.

In front of the local business folks, I demonstrated how a person at home could use their computer to dial-up into another computer and use that computers BBS software.

I explained that the business could set up their own BBS with a menu tree and use it as a means to communicate and provide information to their customers.

The BBS brought people together online and provided a venue for discussions about current and popular issues in real-time. Sometimes users logged on just to play online games, check for messages from other users and share “free-ware” software, which included many DOS utilities and games.

Many BBS users were not only learning about the potential use of this new online technology, but were also finding mutual camaraderie in the world of the BBS community.

The BBS’s potential to change how we communicated and obtained information was one of the driving forces which inspired me to start and maintain WBBS.

By the late 1990’s, BBS users wanted Internet access. Some BBS’s obtained direct access to the “Internet-backbone” (usually via a telephone companies dedicated T-1) and then allowed BBS users access to it, using the BBS computer as the gateway.

These BBS’s were becoming Internet Service Providers and needed to charge its users a fee in order to pay for the expensive direct Internet connections.

Many of the smaller local hobbyist BBS’s including sadly, WBBS OnLine! that were not supported by paid subscribers – shut down and went offline.

I found an informative new website which provides an in-depth documentary about the entire BBS culture.

This website includes video trailers of Vinton Cerf and Ward Christensen (who is credited with the first practical working BBS) talking about their experiences surrounding the BBS culture.

Check out

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Early history of electronic video gaming still fascinates

Feb. 14, 2011
by Mark Ollig

Some of us may recall the fun of playing the video table tennis game called Pong on our television sets back in the mid-to-late 1970s.

Pong was designed in 1972 by 24-year-old Allan Alcorn, who worked for Atari Inc. as an engineer.

The first cabinet version of Alcorn’s video arcade game of Pong was installed in September 1972, at a bar called Andy Capp’s Tavern, located in Sunnyvale, CA.

Playing Pong was an instant success among the local bar patrons.

Two weeks later, the Pong video arcade machine began having problems.

A phone call from the tavern manager was made to Atari, saying the Pong game was broken.

When Alcorn came out to investigate, he found the video arcade machine was malfunctioning because too many quarters had been jammed inside the cabinet machine’s mechanism.

This story took me back to the days of when yours truly was out repairing public payphones.

I would sometimes find numerous coins lodged inside the coin chute assembly, which had caused the payphone to be “out of order.”

The home version of Pong (using a game console) was called Home Pong. It connected to television sets, was distributed through Sears stores in 1975 and sold for $98.95.

A video interview with Allan Alcorn can be seen at

Ralph Baer is known as “The Father of Video Games.” In 1967, he invented the video game, Chase which was played by connecting a controller box to a television set.

Baer designed what came to be known as the Magnavox Odyssey video game console.

Magnavox began home distribution of the Odyssey, which connected to a television set, in 1972.

Since the Odyssey game console was made by the television maker Magnavox, some folks reasoned the Odyssey console would only work on a Magnavox television, when in fact it worked on any television. Atari picked up on this and began printing on its Pong game boxes the advertising, “Works on any television set, black and white, or color.”

A video game played on a minicomputer was developed in 1961 by four Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students.

They called the video game Spacewar!

Spacewar! operated over MIT’s DEC PDP-1 (Digital Equipment Company Programmed Data Processor) computer.

In February 1962, Steve Russell completed the code programming for Spacewar!, while Dan Edwards, Peter Samson, and Martin Graetz are credited with adding additional features.

Today, anyone can still play Spacewar! using the original programming code operating over the popular cross-platform programming language called JAVA. The PDP-1 emulator is at

There is one working PDP-1 computer located at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, and Spacewar! is playable on it.

Tennis for Two was a form of video game created in 1958 by William Higinbotham on an analog computer. It was played using an oscilloscope.

Higinbotham worked as the Instrumentation Division Head at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, NY. He came up with this idea as a way to entertain visitors to the laboratory.

In 1952, the first computerized digital graphical game was called OXO. A person would play against a computer in a tic-tac-toe game.

I would like playing this game, because the human player used a rotary phone dial as the controller.

The human player would dial a digit from 1 to 9 to represent the location of where to place an X or O on the tic-tac-toe board displayed on the computer’s screen, which was a 35x16 pixel cathode ray tube (CRT).

The programming code for OXO was written by Alexander S. Douglas at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

The OXO game was played on a British-made Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC) computer, originally constructed in 1948.

A photo gallery of the EDSAC computer is at

To view a detailed screenshot of an EDSAC simulator running the OXO game, go to

Going back to 1947, we discover what may be the inspiration for the world’s first CRT based game – World War II radar display images.

Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann are named as inventors of US Patent 2,455,992 filed on Jan. 25, 1947.

The patent is titled Cathode Ray Tube Amusement Device.

Text from this historical patent includes, “In carrying out the invention a cathode-ray tube is used upon the face of which the trace of the ray or electron beam can be seen. One or more targets, such as pictures of airplanes, for example, are placed upon the face of the tube and controls are available to the player so that he can manipulate the trace or position of the beam which is automatically caused to move across the face of the tube.”

The player’s controlling of “the trace of the ray or electron beam” on the CRT has been likened to how an Etch A Sketch is used in making solid lines on its gray screen.

US Patent 2,455,992 was issued Dec. 14, 1948, and can be seen at

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

There is room for all our data inside the cloud

March 7, 2011
by Mark Ollig

As a youngster, I would occasionally look skyward, gazing at the clouds and sometimes seeing the shapes of trees, animals or even favorite cartoon characters.

You are probably wondering why I have my head in the clouds again.

Little did I comprehend back then, a cloud would someday be called a place to work on web-based software programs in real-time.

No, not in those fluffy white clouds floating across the sky, but in the numerous “data farms” networked across the Internet landscape.

Google describes its own data center farms as large, specialized buildings containing many computers, which keep their services and products up and running.

“Because Google’s machines store these applications and the data associated with them, you can use these tools from anywhere, as long as you have an Internet connection,” said Google.

On our personal computers and business servers, we store our software programs, videos, Word documents, spreadsheets, presentations, photos and more.

We do our normal computer housekeeping chores, such as performing regular backups.

We run our anti-virus software.

We purchase additional hard drives when we need more storage.

And, we continue to learn to be more computer literate.

Apparently, we are also placing more trust in cloud computing.

Look at how many of us are using web-based services from Google, for instance.

Cloud applications, such as Google’s G-mail has become a popular e-mail service.

To upload, save, and share photos, we can use Google’s cloud-based Picasa Web Albums, (which includes 1GB of free storage).

We are also using Google’s portion of the cloud when we upload and save videos on Google’s YouTube website.

Many of us make use of cloud computing when exploring the world using Google Maps.

We create and save Word documents using the online Google Docs program via cloud computing.

Google’s (in the cloud) data center farm facilities, are actually located across the US and around the world.

Its new data center farm, located in Mayes County, OK, will become operational at the end of this year, at a cost of $600 million. It will employ 100 people.

Google is one example of a company providing cloud computing services; there are others doing this, too.

Advantages of using cloud computing for individuals include:

• being able to access and work with your programs from any Internet connection.

• not having to purchase additional computer hardware and software.

• no need to upgrade software or run software virus protection programs on cloud-based applications.

• knowing your file data content is safely protected, continually backed-up and available from any computer you are using.

• no CDs are needed for anything.

One could also draw an analogy of the use of cloud computing services as comparable to how we use electricity today.

In a column yours truly wrote last year, I talked about Henry Burden, who, by 1851, had designed and constructed a water wheel to power the machines at his iron works factory in Troy, NY.

Many factories in the mid to late-1800s were also in the power creation business.

Maintaining this independent power utility operation required large capital expenditures, dedicated human resources, maintenance, and repair.

This type of self-generated power used by the factory would be similar to today’s business-owned and operated in-house computer system employing an IT (information technology) department.

By the early 20th century, it became more cost-effective to power factory machines using electricity delivered over wires from the new commercial power grids, versus constructing and maintaining water wheels or other independent power generation systems.

The move to cloud computing is analogous to the move to commercial electricity by factories in the early 1900s.

The term “cloud computing” is said to have originated during the initial days of computing network design.

Being there is so much interconnection on the Internet, network design engineer’s used a fluffy white cloud as the symbol to represent the Internet in their engineering network design diagrams.

The public Internet is considered the “networks of networks.”

If you have seen diagrams of the Internet, you might think it looks like some massive interstellar galaxy.

This particular galaxy, however, is meshed with countless routers, switches, hubs, data servers, and other devices. They are all interconnected and communicate with each other via special language protocols over fiber optics, copper wires, and wireless networks.

Some networks are privately- owned connections between companies or government entities.

The US Department of Defense has its own private Internet called SIPRNet, or Secret Internet Protocol Router Network.

Classified information is securely sent via data packets over SIPRNet. This network is not accessible from the public Internet.

Businesses are switching from owning and maintaining their own internal networked computer hardware servers and software systems, to using Internet providers selling cloud computing services.

Microsoft’s latest business cloud computing package is called Office 365.

In the years to come, many computing processes we now perform on our personal computers will be accomplished via the power of the Internet cloud.

This week’s column was created, stored, and e-mailed from inside the cloud, using Google Docs and G-mail.