Check out Noah, our ultimate super-user and how he uses his StormFly (Beta version!)
What is StormFly?
In a nutshell: it’s like having a PC on your wrist.
In less than a nutshell: StormFly is a super-fast storage device with an Open Source Operating System (bootable in most modern PC's and Macs and powered by our smart-boot technology) embedded in a cool wristband. Inserted into any computer and rebooted, the computer runs directly from the Operating System that is on StormFly, allowing you to take your Operating System and critical data with you wherever you go and use it in whatever PC or Mac is available.
StormFly lets you take application programs and files anywhere you go without the need of carrying a bulky and heavy laptop....and it is encrypted to protect all the critical data you put on it.
StormFly also comes with an automatic Backup Service so that if you lose it or it gets stolen, we can send you a new one with all the files and applications that were saved on the home folder within 24 hours.
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We are super excited about the coverage that we've been receiving from the media, if you want to read the articles, please scroll down!
REWARDS UPDATE: If a reward does not specifically state that StormFly is 32GB then it is the 16GB version (unfortunately after a reward is 'live' we cannot update the text on Kickstarter!)
StormFly: Like a PC on your wrist.
Who are we and what are we about?
Now Computing started as an alternative to cloud computing. Despite all the hype on cloud, there are over 300 million PC’s shipping every year, which means there is still a heck of a lot of local computing happening in the world. Cloud can be cumbersome, slow, sometimes ugly, and not always available. We started out designing business devices for companies to move Operating Systems from PC to PC locally and securely.
When our kids saw those business devices, they wanted to use them. Even kids don’t see cloud as the answer to everything; and the idea of having their own OS (programs, games, information, etc.) on a device, for use on whatever computer they can find (and nowadays they have access to a lot of computers) was something they found cool; so we changed our entire company focus to developing StormFly.
We are looking for Kickstarter to help get us off the ground. We need to raise $100,000 to fund our first manufacturing run. This money will help us get to market, improve our product, tell people our story and get us ready to expand our business.
How does StormFly work?
Pretty simple: plug it into your PC or Mac, reboot the computer (directing it to StormFly with some simple commands) and then the OS on StormFly runs the computer you are using. The OS of the computer itself (whether Mac or PC) does not even turn on (and hence it's pretty hard to mess things up!).
We make this happen with a bunch of code, scripts and drivers that enable StormFly to work on many different hardware platforms. Although some DIY technology experts might be able to create a linux bootable USB device themselves, StormFly offers a lot more due to its speed, boot options, updatability and ability to store user data and applications as if it were a PC, making it a solution for any consumer, regardless of their technical capability. You'll find a lot more techie stuff on StormFly on the FAQ section below.
StormFly works on most modern, 64bit, computers. Whether they are PC or Mac is not really important, given whatever Operating System is on the PC or Mac you are using will not engage when you are running from StormFly.
Live demo of StormFly in action
Who can use StormFly?
• Younger users and parents: Unfortunately, kids have a tendency to download some dodgy things; despite the best efforts of security & firewall software, this can slow or even damage computers. StormFly takes this risk away because it works independently to the operating system of whatever computer it is plugged into. StormFly is also an affordable way for everyone in a household to effectively have their own personal computer environment.
• Schools: We’ve heard for years about ‘one laptop per child’ but in reality the affordability of that for every child remains elusive. One StormFly per child however, makes things affordable (and even more manageable in a school environment). Imagine a school with 50 computers, and 500 kids. The amount of messed up settings, bad downloads, and generally ill-maintained systems that get generated is huge. If every child has a StormFly then suddenly all 500 have their own computing environment. Whenever they plug in, reboot and launch their OS from one of the schools 50 PC’s, they cannot mess anything up. Also it operates independent of wifi or internet, so for schools with low coverage StormFly is ideal. Children can also take StormFly home and use it on their parents’ computer.
• Students: At school or college, most subjects at some point require the students to do some written work on a computer. Students without a laptop generally work on school computers and home computers, using standard USB drives to shift data and files between the two, unfortunately normal USB drives are not backed up and are easily lost. With StormFly you are getting the same experience at home and at school, with all of your personal information such as wallpaper, programs, files always at hand; and it is all backed up securely.
• Business folks: If you travel you can leave your laptop at home, bring your tablet for books and emergencies, but additionally have the comfort of knowing that by having StormFly with you, you´ll have all your critical data and can plug into full strength PC’s and work effectively if you need to.
• Security conscious folks: StormFly lets you access your private data or online banking anywhere without fear of viruses or traps that might be lurking in foreign computers. You can also work securely on the web without leaving any forensic trace of your activity on the computer you are using StormFly on. Once you unplug it and walk away, everything you did is on your wrist alone.
The list keeps growing… for teachers, for marketers, for people that repair computers.... We believe that many people can benefit from the format, security and cost that StormFly offers to take care of their computing needs in a unique and simple way.
Other StormFly technical features:
StormFly is really fast. Using the best USB 3.0 chipset not only allows us to run an Operating System from it flawlessly (including 3D gaming, music, movies and everything else you might want to do with a normal PC); it also means that even as a straightforward USB drive StormFly is a killer device. We are working with leading chipset and USB manufacturers in Asia to deliver a device that can withstand the endless read/write actions required to run an operating system, and to ensure we have one of the fastest USB’s on the planet.
StormFly can also be used as a ‘normal’ (but yeah, real fast) USB device. Inserted into a PC or Mac that is already running a native Operating System, StormFly appears as a ‘shared’ folder. When running from the Operating System on StormFly the same folder can be seen. This allows for data to be easily transferred from StormFly to other machines, as well as simply offering a great storage device.
StormFly has 128bit encryption, an industry standard that is very hard to crack. We have made it a requirement that all users need to use a password during the booting up process, because it is vital to the interests of their security.
Backup and Replacement Service
StormFly comes with its own backup service, so in case you lose it or it gets stolen, all your information is safely backed up on an encrypted server (everything but the information on the shared folder) which allows us to ship you an exact copy of your StormFly within 24 hours.
We intend to charge $19.99 for one year of backup service. If your StormFly is lost or stolen a replacement StormFly will be made from your last backup (password etc will remain the same) and we will charge $49 for that StormFly.
You do not NEED to have the backup service to use your StormFly, it is totally optional.
We want to bring the cost of StormFly down over time, so if the base price goes down, the replacement StormFly price will go down as well.
We love open source. All of our products have been developed on Linux and we have contributed as much as we can to the community. We believe software should be free. We also believe that devices, hardware, and the services that hang everything together, if provided professionally and with great customer focus, should be commercially viable.
While we might only start with a limited few Operating Systems in the beginning, in the end we would love to see our devices used to run every Linux Operating System distribution on the planet, and we would like to be one of the biggest providers of software drivers and compatibility solutions for Linux so that everyone can use what we build.
Something about our CEO
My name is Feargal Mac Conuladh, I'm Irish and have worked in technology companies for about 20 years. I've worked in a few big well known companies - Lenovo, Epson and Apple. I had some great jobs all over the world, but I always longed to be involved in start-ups. Now Computing has been my startup 'baby' where I get to use the network and experience I got in big companies, but apply it to something new that we are creating from scratch. Growing Now Computing is a lot of fun, we have a great team, and are lucky to be surrounded by some really good industry experts on our board.
Next to that I have four kids: and their constant questions and excitement inspired us to come up with StormFly and change the entire direction of the company!
"Aside from storing your entire computer, StormFly can be used as a regular USB and ensures your files' security. Users need to enter a password while booting up to access any stored information."
“Now Computing out of Barcelona, Spain, has taken the next logical step by throwing a full operating system on a wrist-worn flash drive. StormFly bypasses the resident PC or Mac operating system completely, so it doesn't leave a trace of user activity, and includes enough space for personal files and user settings.”
"After a little bit of setup, those little ones whip the USB bracelet off their wrists, plug it into a PC or a Mac, and do whatever it is that kids do on computers these days without having to worry. Thankfully, since the StormFly’s user never has access to the OS that’s actually installed on the host computer, there’s no way for them to royally screw things up by mucking with other people’s settings or downloading things they really shouldn’t be."
"In the future, StormFly could potentially be used by younger children or parents who share the whole family’s computer, schools that can’t afford to provide one computer per student, broke college students, and everyone else concerned about security – including those who want to be able to safely access sensitive data, like bank accounts, anywhere they want."
Check out StormFly's new design ;)
Risks and challenges
We face two primary challenges for the initial introduction of StormFly (Hardware and Software):
1. Hardware: reliable supply of high quality USB 3.0 chipsets
Although USB 3.0 technology is beginning to be widely adopted it is still relatively new and getting high quality chipsets can be challenging; all the more so given the consistent high speed and robustness StormFly needs to run an Operating System effectively.
We have already traveled to China to meet suppliers directly, and will continue to do so until the final production run. Ensuring quality and supply from an Asian supply base is highly dependent on the business relationship and we have invested considerable time in developing this. We are also working with a leading Asian based engineering firm that has specific experience with technology placed on or in wristbands, and they have successfully delivered some of the highest profile products in this area in the past year. All of this helps ensure we get the required supply to deliver StormFly successfully. We will also be on site during production.
We are choosing suppliers who can ramp to much higher volumes than our target, and we have alternative options already investigated in case a supplier fails us.
Part of our funding will be specifically used to fund the required travel to manage the upfront sourcing, and the final production, very closely. We are confident we can therefore achieve the quantities we need to ship to fulfill our Kickstarter funding goal, and that we can further ramp production in case we overshoot our goal.
2. Software: compatibility of the Operating Systems we will ship (primarily Linux distributions) with as many PC's and Mac's as possible
We want to distribute StormFly using popular Linux Operating Systems. Although we love linux unfortunately not all hardware suppliers are quite so in love with it. Because StormFly effectively 'takes over' PC or Mac hardware during the boot process we don't care (technically) what Windows or Mac OS is on the machine, all we are interested in is the hardware. Because of this we need to be sure whatever we ship can communicate with a broad range of graphics, memory, wifi, LAN and other hardware. This is a challenge for a small company!
To overcome this challenge we have a hired an awesome team of developers who leverage (and contribute) to the Open Source community. We have been testing across lots of hardware, talking with hardware suppliers, and our goal is to be usable on more than 90% of PC's and Macs sold in the past 3 years. We also make sure to use the latest versions of the most supported & stable Linux distributions (such as those built on Debian that are in use on millions of machines and have years of testing behind them). We will however have an ongoing challenge to keep ourselves up to date with hardware and software changes and updates, and funding will go towards ensuring we keep and build on the awesome development team we already have.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Can’t I just make my own Linux bootable USB with Linux LiveCD? That technology is around for years right?
When people install Linux on a USB drive they are normally creating what is called a ´LiveCD´, which is a functional version of Linux from which you can boot from a PC or a Mac, and you normally use it to try out Linux and decide if you want to install it on your computer's hard disk or not. There are several differences between StormFly and a LiveCD/USB:
StormFly is not like the usual Linux drive people create themselves, which does not have application persistence (where you can lose apps & files on each reboot), those with persistence are usually FAT formatted (not fast and several other drawbacks).
StormFly is fast, has full app & file persistence, boots across 100's of Mac's and PC's out of the box (based on a ton of development on our side), has a fast and robust chip to support operating system read/write demands, and comes with backup and encryption.
We also tailored a very smart booting process with device driver management to enable you to use it on basically any computer; it doesn't matter if it is a Mac or a PC. StomFly just works. A typical Linux distribution on the other hand is generally less compatible and requires a lot of tweaking.
StormFly can be used in most modern PC or Mac (meaning 64bit computers, because we plan on shipping 64bit Operating Systems exclusively and they can only work on 64bit hardware). With so many different PC brands shipping we cannot test every machine, however machines that run Linux should run StormFly. Linux is now massively adopted and used in one way or another by all major hardware manufacturers. We plan on shipping a version that can be operated on most 64bit PC and Mac platforms of the past 5 years. Exceptions where there may be a problem include some very specific graphics and Wifi cards, where hardware providers have chosen not to support Linux. We will be adding and extending compatibility all the time.
We are shipping StormFly now in two versions: 16GB and 32GB.
On the 16GB version 8GB are reserved for the OS itself, system files and for installed programs, 4GB are for the user’s home/username and 4GB are left for the shared folder.
On the 32GB version 12GB are reserved for the OS itself, system files and for installed programs, 10GB are for the user’s home/username and 10GB are left for the shared folder.
How is this different from creating a USB stick with Linux on it myself that has file persistence unlike LiveCD?
StormFly is aimed at the mass market, people who do not have technical knowledge, or the time or desire to create this for themselves. More importantly however is that we have done a lot of work to create a robust product that works 'out of the box' and we added a lot of developments that most people cannot do 'on their own'.
The hardware we are using is USB3.0 and will use MLC technology to guarantee a long life cycle and the many read/write operations required to run an OS. Most USB devices are not robust enough or fast enough for that purpose. We do not believe we can provide a decent product for a $20 USB that people see on Amazon an if the product fails we have the obligation to replace it. Next to that we have added a backup services (effectively free or heavily discounted for Kickstarter backers), made changes at the kernel level to prevent people from damaging the host PC or Mac StormFly is used on, created boot software that allows StormFly to boot in multiple PC or Mac (including those with the new UEFI secure boot) adjusted the file system we use specifically to fine tune performance of the hardware, and we will provide full service and support to users. All in all we believe strongly we are offering a solid total solution that has a lot more added in that the usual DIY USB boot device, and that caters to a huge market of people that want a total solution.
Yes we do. The international shipping price is found at the bottom of each reward.
StormFly uses the normal RAM of the machine, just like the normal Operating System of the machine would if you did not boot from StormFly.
It means that everything that's not on the SHARED folder cannot be seen by anyone that does not have access to your personal password. That way, all your personal information can be stored on your StormFly without the risk of somebody accessing your information if your StormFly happens to get lost or stolen.
Currently you can only format the SHARED folder partition, which should be the only one you can access when plugged into an already running Windows or Mac OSX. If you reformat your StormFly completely you will lose the OS installed on it and all the magic of StormFly.
Try to always avoid that. Like with any device unplugging it while the computer is on may damage the device, the operating system or lead to loss of data.
Unfortunately after a reward is 'live' on Kickstarter we cannot edit the text :-( so the first rewards we put up were all for our 16GB version of StormFly. When we launched 32GB we clearly mention 32GB. So no mention of size = 16GB, if 32GB is mentioned it is 32GB!!
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