Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

January 2013

The cloud! Remember the famous line in The Graduate? “One word: Plastics!” That was then. Now the advice offered, the code word — words, actually — is more likely to be “The cloud.”

So here’s what I know about the cloud. I truly hope you will find it useful in this new year and far into the future.

I first saw a clouded leopard at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. As you may know, the clouded leopard has big teeth and fat feet. The big teeth, arranged in an overbite, allow this relatively small wildcat to prey on relatively big animals — wild boar, perhaps. The fat feet at the end of surprisingly short legs suggest a corgi body type.

In the wild, not all that much is known about clouded leopards. They have been most successful in the lower Himalayas. Somehow they got to Formosa — maybe pretty good swimmers? — but have long since been extinct there.

The one I saw in the zoo was far from any  natural habitat. It was housed in a caged room with fluorescent lighting, one bare tree limb, a tile floor, and a plain, ordinary door. I think it was nearing feeding time as there was some suggestion of movement by the light changes along the narrow opening at the bottom of the door. The door had a small window, which I assumed allowed a zoo attendant to look into the caged room.

Well, the animal also wanted to use the little window to look out.

From its perch on the bare tree limb, a quick bound to the floor and then a leap at the door allowed the adaptive acrobat to balance briefly on the doorknob and peek out the glass.

I wondered then if the door was unlocked. Had to be locked, but if not, what were the chances that the leopard’s fat paw would twist the knob and have the door swing in. Oh my gosh! Then what? If a fellow on the other side of the door had a bucket of dead rabbits or something, would the leopard go for the pail or the guy?

Those are the kinds of thoughts clouded leopards elicit from me. 

And I know less about the cloud than I do about clouded leopards, but I continue to be an interested investor in companies like EMC, its near-subsidiary VMware, and my new favorite, Teradata Corp. All big cloud companies, I hear. Probably, like many of you, I think I back up my computers on the cloud.

I hope this year I don’t have to try and restore from the cloud. I mean if the stupid computer crashes, how do I get to the cloud then? Jump on a door knob?