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Chelsea baked large, round sugar cookies in the early afternoon, and when they had cooled a bit, she outlined them with blue sugar frosting and dabbed colorful purple and lavender dots in the shape of abstract flowers. She was baking to take her mind off of her scheduled meeting with the Cloud Computing people.

Cloud Computing as it was termed, would mean data storage and processing on a group of computers ‘somewhere cloud-like’ or in a different locale for Chelsea over the Internet. Chelsea would be paying 20 cents per gigabyte of data stored, per month at their cloud facility, and 15 cents per gigabyte of data transferred during all the software testing she was going to be doing.

Chelsea programmed computer applications, so one could say that she was a software engineer, although she went by being called a computer programmer most of the time.

Chelsea was handling traffic to a greeting card site, it was an eCommerce project full blown, the biggest milestone in her programming history and she took it as a very important next step, in job responsibility. She hadn’t stepped into a corporate office in a while, but her reputation at computational programming for software applications was still a positive one.

To begin with, a customer would type in his name at the greeting card website, in the comfort of his home and/or office, with the rest of his billing and payment information. Testing Chelsea’s software, one that would handle these inputs is where the Cloud Computing people came in. Chelsea doesn’t have an array of computers to run tests on. Her style of computing, is that she will pick one memory address and use it as a staging area for the customer’s name to begin with. The memory address the Cloud Computing representative gave her to use was 0x20f79, an actual temporary, or cache memory space for her all-important memory staging area. When the customer first types in John Smith, that name value goes into memory space 0x20f79, which is memory that has been allocated just for that purpose.

This initial process is directed to, or points to, that memory address constantly, or in laymen’s terms, permanently. It is a permanent pointer to a constant memory slot, but holds variable data. That data is temporary, because it’s got to be ‘moved on,’ or be ‘filed away,’ until the next customer name comes along. When that next customer, Sally Hines types in her name, the value ‘John Smith’ will have been moved to a more permanent spot in memory, leaving the cache and address 0x20f79 for ‘Sally Hines’ to take over, as its new value.

All of the values, after they leave the staging area, will have been filed away, to be accessed by a database, for analysis later on, in order to provide corporate reports to the top brass. It was all a cycle of things, that Chelsea missed out on now, that she was no longer with a big company. However, her programming style, that must-have-a-staging-area-in-the-cache for the initial data ‘style,’ was discreetly known to a few elite software gurus. In that way, she was able to act as a consultant to various companies, and in this case, take the helm of a small greeting card website.

She had to test out the beginnings of, which is what she was calling the information gathering software she was developing for the fledgling Internet greeting card site. had the storage capacity and the processing power, to do just that for her.

There, the last lavender center now completed the purple petals of the flower on that last sugar cookie. Would it be too unprofessional to offer the repguy, one of these confections? Probably! What was she thinking? She was an individual user signing up for Cloud Computing services, she didn’t have 50 people to back her up on this, she was representing herself only, a professional demeanor on her part, was called for . . . . but, just one cookie to offer? Never mind.

Then the doorbell rang. . .

“Hello Chelsea, my name is Timothy London, I’ll be your Sales Rep with,” he said, leaning in as he said this, to make eye contact.

“Hi Tim, thanks for taking my call and meeting me, so late in the afternoon. I’ve been baking of all things, (maybe, she shouldn’t have said this) it’s a stress-reliever. Have a seat,” Chelsea said, as she showed him to her home office.

“Well, Ms. Dale, we can set up a root account for you on our servers and have you log in and try your new password. Take my word for it, it’s very intuitive. We run Linux,” Tim said.

“Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve been on a Unix system, that I may need a refresher in accessing files,” she said, somewhat unsure of herself.

“Don’t you worry, there are brief tutorials, that you can use as refreshers. I’ve brought them on DVDs, you can watch them on your T.V.,” Tim reassured her.

“Thanks, would you like anything to drink, while you’re here? Lemonade, perhaps . . .” Chelsea wasn’t sure how professional this offer was, but it was sweltering outside.

“Sure, I’ll get set up on your computer, I’ll just hook up all the cables from my laptop to your PC,” he said, busying himself.

In the kitchen, Chelsea no longer felt the awkwardness she initially felt at the onset of their meeting. Tim really was personable. She added a few of the sugar cookies to the pitcher of lemonade, before completing the tray with a colorful tumbler.

As she walked back into the office, Tim started telling her about their password policy.

“Your root password, as opposed to a regular one, has to be different from each other. This is to differentiate you as the user, versus you as the systems administrator. We can handle the administrative details on our end for you  too, if you’d prefer,” Tim said.

“I’m mostly a programmer, and haven’t dabbled much on systems administration, so I might take you up on that offer,” she said.

“You’ve got it, our helpline is available 24 hours a day, so should you need administrative help, just give us a call!” Tim’s enthusiasm was contagious.

In contrast, Chelsea’s self-consciousness was rearing its ‘fraidy-cat self.’

“A few more questions Tim, how does the payment schedule work?” she asked, with a confused look.

“It’s a pay as you go plan, and we can extend our automatic payment service to you. You would just get a statement at the end of every month, giving you a list of services rendered, and how much was taken out of your savings account,” Tim assured her.

She noticed that he hadn’t touched the cookies.

“Did you want another glass of lemonade?” she politely asked.

“Oh, I can get it myself, those cookies look good too. . . .” Tim said, sensing that Chelsea had her doubts in handling all the information he was giving her.

“Those were the cookies I baked earlier, help yourself,” she said, with a warm smile.

“Chelsea, I know that you’re new to cloud computing, but I’ll be your liaison with I’ll leave you all my contact information, and when you sign the contract, you will be able to log onto the servers, immediately,” Tim said.

“I am anxious to do the software testing. I just wasn’t sure with all of the details. So don’t be surprised, if I have a ton of questions headed your way,” she said.

“That’s what I’m here for,” Tim said, as he drew out the papers to be signed.

Chelsea read what she could of the fine print, going over the finer points with Tim, asking him to please explain the parts that she wasn’t too sure of. At that moment, she realized what a monumental step she was taking in her career. The greater storage capacity and transference rate she would now have, as a result of Cloud Computing, would eventually mean more consulting jobs for her.

She used to rely solely on her positive reputation as the software engineer with a specific ‘style’ to her coding algorithms, but now she was going to have the bandwidth to test out all her software applications . . . this moment truly was a life-changing move.

She took a deep breath, looked at the remainder of the cookies, and asked herself how many more cookies and cupcakes she would have to bake to alleviate the stressful times that were sure to come her way with all this newly added responsibility. Then, she quickly regained focus and composure, and signed the contract.

Down the road, many nights and many baked goods later, Chelsea had separate, initial, staging memory addresses for the different fields of the greeting card website. The second step came after, when all the data were filed in a relational database. She gave her clients timely reports on the demographics of who were buying the majority of the cards, and how often to restock the inventory choices in order to offer new designs and variations from the existing ones.

There was now a Cloud overlooking her right shoulder, but it was a clear-weather cloud, crunching away at all the numbers, and giving her the means to use the positive programming reputation she had earned, to produce and contribute to the world of computing.




Bio:  Cynthia J. Cordell is a wonderful short story writer. She always roots for the underdog in every situation and has fun developing her characters to their full potential.  Cynthia is a Filipino-American writer who has a passion for uplifting the mood of the general population through her short stories.  Whether it be in the science fiction genre or the mainstream genre, Cynthia finds a way of appealing to a wide audience. Her gift for writing effective and entertaining short stories comes from the vast amount of reading that she does.


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