What Exactly Does the Cloud Look Like?

Most Internet users know the cloud as a place where files are stored digitally instead of on a physical device, like a computer’s hard drive, but what exactly does it look like? Despite the nickname, the cloud is not a mass in the sky. Cloud computing providers have large server rooms (or “farms”), like the one above, which hold your data so you don’t have to.

From the outside, the farms are not that exciting architecturally, but the interiors are mazes of incredible amounts of data. Like massive libraries that stock electronics instead of books, these farms contain row after row of blinking server racks with cables connecting them, as seen in the video above from CNN Money. Those racks are flanked by cooling systems because servers run hot, especially when there are thousands of them in an enclosed space.

The data centers used by some of the biggest companies—Facebook, Google, and Apple—are scattered across the world. One of Facebook's farms sits atop a hill in the small town of Prineville, Oregon and spans 147,000 square feet. Apple has a 200-acre data center located in North Carolina, where the company also built the nation's largest privately owned solar farm to run it (data centers use an estimated two percent of the country's electricity).

Curious about where Google Cloud lives? Check out the company's website, which shows exactly where its data centers are located—including St. Ghislain, Belgium; Changhua County, Taiwan; and Council Bluffs, Iowa—and how they are used.

According to CNN Money, 320 million people use iCloud—the cloud computing service launched by Apple in 2011—and over 400 billion Facebook photos are housed in cloud storage, with an additional 350 million added every day. To keep up with the growing demand, more companies are investing heavily in the cloud and server farms are getting larger. In fact, some predict that by 2020, the cloud will be a $191 billion market (up from the $100 billion the industry is currently worth, according to CNN Money.)

While there is nothing fluffy about the hardware that makes the cloud possible, it does owe its name to the sun-blockers above. The term “the cloud” is believed to stem from a patent filed in 1994 for a “network having secure fast packet switching and guaranteed quality of service,” in which the authors included a diagram of the system with a bubble around the “network.” As the patents evolved, the crude bubble shape became more like cloud-like, and according to Technology Review, “cloud computing” was first used in a 1996 business plan for the Compaq computer company. Check out the video from CNN Money for more about what the cloud looks like.

[h/t: CNN Money]

Header image via iStock.

Roadside Bear Statue in Wales is So Lifelike That Safety Officials Want It Removed

Wooden bear statue.

There are no real bears in the British Isles for residents to worry about, but a statue of one in the small Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells has become a cause of concern. As The Telegraph reports, the statue is so convincing that it's scaring drivers, causing at least one motorist to crash her car. Now road safety officials are demanding it be removed.

The 10-foot wooden statue has been a fixture on the roadside for at least 15 years. It made headlines in May of 2018 when a woman driving her car saw the landmark and took it to be the real thing. She was so startled that she veered off the road and into a street sign.

After the incident, she complained about the bear to highways officials who agreed that it poses a safety threat and should be removed. But the small town isn't giving in to the Welsh government's demands so quickly.

The bear statue was originally erected on the site of a now-defunct wool mill. Even though the mill has since closed, locals still see the statue as an important landmark. Llanwrtyd Wells councilor Peter James called it an "iconic gateway of the town," according to The Telegraph.

Another town resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Telegraph that the woman who crashed her car had been a tourist from Canada where bears are common. Bear were hunted to extinction in Britain about 1000 years ago, so local drivers have no reason to look out for the real animals on the side of the road.

The statue remains in its old spot, but Welsh government officials plan to remove it themselves if the town doesn't cooperate. For now, temporary traffic lights have been set up around the site of the accident to prevent any similar incidents.

[h/t The Telegraph]

The Most Popular Infomercial Product in Each State

You don't have to pay $19.95 plus shipping and handling to discover the most popular infomercial product in each state: AT&T retailer All Home Connections is giving that information away for free via a handy map.

The map was compiled by cross-referencing the top-grossing infomercial products of all time with Google Trends search interest from the past calendar year. So, which crazy products do people order most from their TVs?

Folks in Arizona know that it's too hot there to wear layers; that's why they invest in the Cami Secret—a clip-on, mock top that gives them the look of a camisole without all the added fabric. No-nonsense New Yorkers are protecting themselves from identity theft with the RFID-blocking Aluma wallet. Delaware's priorities are all sorted out, because tons of its residents are still riding the Snuggie wave. Meanwhile, Vermont has figured out that Pajama Jeans are the way to go—because who needs real pants?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular product in many states has to do with fitness and weight loss, because when you're watching TV late enough to start seeing infomercials, you're probably also thinking to yourself: "I need to get my life together. I should get in shape." Seven states—Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Utah, and Wisconsin—have invested in the P90X home fitness system, while West Virginia and Arkansas prefer the gentler workout provided by the Shake Weight. The ThighMaster is still a thing in Illinois and Washington, while Total Gym and Bowflex were favored by South Dakota and Wyoming, respectively. 

Kitchen items are clearly another category ripe for impulse-buying: Alabama and North Dakota are all over the George Forman Grill; Alaska and Rhode Island are mixing things up with the Magic Bullet; and Floridians must be using their Slice-o-matics to chop up limes for their poolside margaritas.

Cleaning products like OxiClean (D.C. and Hawaii), Sani Sticks (North Carolina), and the infamous ShamWow (which claims the loyalty of Mainers) are also popular, but it's Proactiv that turned out to be the big winner. The beloved skin care system claimed the top spot in eight states—California, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and Texas—making it the most popular item on the map.

Peep the full map above, or check out the full study from All Home Connections here.


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