I don't farm, that's your job. My job is to scope out tech and tools you can put to work on your operation. One area that continues to evolve is the concept of "the cloud." It's an idea that your information is stored somewhere else, not on your computer, but is easily accessible as long as you're connected to the Web.
Earlier this year, to take a load off, I bought a Microsoft Surface 3 to use when I travel. Challenge is that sometimes I need files in my office that aren’t on the smaller computer. One solution I'm working with is Microsoft One Drive it's a cloud-based system that when you're connected to the Web looks as if you're working from the same folder as your Documents file. It's that simple.
For farmers gathering data and moving it from cab to computer the cloud is a super tool. Whether you're talking Connected Farm as Trimble calls it, or Wireless Data Transfer as John Deere calls it, you'll find having data stored, and moved, through the cloud pretty handy.
I'm not going to dig into the facts of "ownership" or "control." Right now I'm talking convenience. For example, I installed Microsoft Word on my iPad. I need to be be on the Web when using it, but my files are then stored in that One Drive. That data is mine, and you can't get to it unless I email you file, I maintain control.
The key for me is that I can start something on my Surface, then tweak it on my iPad and email it somewhere else if needed. That kind of flexibility is just what computers should be offering and I'll enjoy it when it comes.
Apple is getting competitive with its new iCloud drive, which changings how iCloud works and provides services similar to One Drive. It's not fully functional on my main computer yet, but it's something I'm looking at as well. Of course, that'll mean two clouds and never the twain shall meet.
That's probably the biggest cloud issue farmers will face this winter - so your main yield information is over on Cloud A, and you need some information Cloud B where your agronomist works? That's what the Open Ag Data Alliance is working on, creating a system where those files move simply, and transparently, based on your needs and where you need them.
Going forward a sky filled with clouds that never touch won't work, data needs to be shared for it to be valuable to your operation. Your agronomist needs those yield maps in his/her high end SST system. You need application maps for both kinds of planters you own, so those shape files need to flow in smoothly.
The industry is getting there, and it may make sense to collect all your info into a single place for sharing back out to others. That remains to be seen. For now, you have a few clouds you may be dealing with - but be aware eventually it'll all settle out.
As for the Microsoft Surface 3? If you're looking for a Windows machine that's a little heavier than a tablet but offers full functionality, consider this computer. I've found that it stands up to the tasks I demand of it, and the fact that it weighs less than a third of what my laptop did helps too. And Windows 8.1 is quite useful once you get used to it.