Functional Entropy

Chaos breeds order, sort of.

Category: Privacy

It’s Getting To The Point Where I’m Going To Need A 3 Month Rotation On Phone Upgrades

Ack. Damn it. I really didn't need to find out about the Robin phone and I really shouldn't be even thinking about it now when my Nexus 6 isn't quite paid off yet. I've been exclusive with the Nexus line since the Galaxy Nexus and, for the most part, I've been much happier than I was with the iPhone (used it from the initial release until the 4 until I wanted to do things with my phone that Apple didn't want me to and had a phone too recent to jailbreak) and the reason for this is that I'm willing to take responsibility for my own stupidity. There are the sort of safety guards around the vanilla version of Android that keep the totally inept from wreaking havoc unless they do some research and take the same express lane to what they want as I did. That said, I doubt that the vast majority of all thumbs Android users are rolling on any of the Nexus devices.

All of that (over)said, the Robin definitely has a lot of appeal for me. I appreciate the 100G of storage (go to CNet and read the comment section full of hilarious freakouts over mobile data plans and security of any cloud platform released or not while OneDrive, released and maintained by Microsoft )the security software giant is good enough for them ), the option to move old, untouched data to the cloud automagically, and the covered by warranty no matter what you do (software anyway). The only real hesitation that I really have is whether or not they're going to be able to keep up with updates. I imagine this would be simplified by only having a single model and having a small initial group of users, but it also puts a little bit of fear into me. I like being as close to current as I can (albeit with my provider as the roadblock in between) without reading two layers of excuses why updates are being deployed quicker.

Then again, there's a Nexus event in SF coming up and I'm sure I'll be just as susceptible to the buy now, think later bug as I have been in the past. Oh, yeah, and here's the Robin Kickstarter campaign which is already fully funded. Good stuff.

The Most Important Piece Of Progress In Our New Product Is Making Sure Your Own Inattention Is To Blame For Its Defects

Yesterday I mentioned that I’m hoping to drag my feet on deploying Windows 10 at work and I doubt anyone else in even the most vaguely technical role will argue with me. Ultimately, it’s going to be some executive who sees it running on a display laptop at Best Buy or something and I’ll be forced to tip the first of many dominoes in a succession of many bad decisions and then white knuckle it through the days leading up to the first fix patches. Since it’s technically out in the wild over the next few days and I’ve generally found that the least technically adept with the majority of their crucial files saved to the desktop are the quickest to hit the shiny, candy-like ‘upgrade’ button.

I hadn’t really studied up on the WiFi Sense feature in Windows 10 and now that I have I can see a whole bunch of potential problems with it. My workplace has the most basic wireless setup I’ve ever seen and, because it’s ultimately so useless, it really doesn’t have much traffic. It’s internet only and is protected by a fucking WEP key that is crackable in about 15 minutes. That said, you’d get a slow unreliable internet connection and nothing else. You’d need a VPN client and it’s difficult enough to get our VPN appliance to poop out a compatible client much less valid credentials. So, in our workplace, WiFi Sense would almost make sense since an outdoor only experience that randomly disconnects would not provide much of value to an intruder and isn’t stable enough to commit any heinous acts while connected to it. It’s useless, but a safe (from the business perspective) useless.

At home, I’m a bit twitchier about wireless security. There it’s WPA or nothing and I don’t hand out my password to anyone; I go over to their device and type it in for them which I think is more polite than shouting an amalgam of symbols, case shifted letters, and numbers across the room. I think of myself as fairly sane and the reason that I like to keep connections from the outside world to a minimum is that I don’t like to have police my internal network if I can avoid it. I do password protect all of my own devices with a PIN at minimum and I’ve gone through periods of only allowing a double handful of MAC addresses to join the faster AP that actually hands out 802.11ac connections. Those, in a perfect world, can grab 450 MB/s and I’d like to keep fucked up machines off a pipe that wide since I’m ultimately responsible for what they do while I’m hosting. One thing I’m not doing is appending _optout to the end of my SSID because bearing the onus for poor design at my own expense (and god it makes my network look stupid) isn’t something I want to do. I’ve yet to have to deal with this because none of my friends did more than toe dipping into the Windows phone and 10 isn’t really out there yet. I’m going to be right back to typing in passwords again and making sure that the ‘Share with my contacts with compromised machines so my SSID and password can make its way around the world’ button is never checked. Ugh.

You Were Okay Until You Kept Being So Terrible That Everyone Went Away

Firefox has seemed adrift for at least a couple of years now. I stopped using it a while ago (back in the really bad memory leak days) because Opera was actually working a lot better for me. This likely dates how long it's been since I last regularly used FF. I like it when it was Phoenix and for the first half dozen releases until they started focusing completely on the Windows user. The crazy memory leaks which had more to do with Flash than anything else made me flee pretty quickly after watching idle tabs blaze through multiple gigabytes of RAM in only a couple of hours. They raised a lot of money from enthusiastic users and developers and mostly blew it in terms of making a browser that worked well for anyone other than web developers. I'm sure there's much more to that story, but I'm actually not that interested any more.

What is interesting to me is the integration of Pocket directly into the browser instead of as an offered add on. I only became aware of this after jvoisin posted an angry screed about what a fucked up decision this is and started digging a little further into it. I'm not a fan of proprietary software being baked into free software and so are a bunch of Firefox users who are also (understandably) upset about Mozilla violating their own manifesto. The response from Mozilla feels dismissive and, while it attempts to address some of the licensing dilution:

All the code related to this integration within Firefox is open source and Pocket has licensed all the Firefox integration code under the MPLv2 license. On top of that, Pocket asked Mozilla for input on how to improve their policy, based on early comments from Mozillians. After that discussion, Pocket updated their privacy policy in early May to explain more precisely how they handle data. You can read Pocket’s privacy policy here.

it doesn't address bundling non-essential and commercial software into the core of the project which makes it impossible to completely remove. Hilariously, you could always install an extension to disable all the crap, but I feel like Firefox has permanently removed itself from consideration as a trustworthy browser. Given FF's decline in usage (3% across all of my domains) I'm not sure anything will change.

Any Port In The Storm?

Some of my friends no longer have any excuses about being left out of group conversations because they don’t/won’t have Facebook accounts or have deleted them in response to the various privacy/whatever concerns over the years. Facebook Messenger (at least in a handful of countries) doesn’t require a FB account anymore which is awesome. It does, however, use your phone number to sort you from the myriad grandparents looking for pictures of their grandchildren. I’m just happy to have a ready alternative to SMS which is rapidly becoming a status-laden shit show of unreliability as messages get wrapped in proprietary fluff instead of just being, you know, a text.

My Left Hand Doesn’t Know What My Right Hand Is Doing But I Am Infinitely Familiar With The Details Of Your Dinner Conversation

Certain divisions or business units or frat houses or whatever they're calling the various product departments at Google these days are an utter shitshow. While I understand the handiness of being able to activate voice search on your phone (I do this pretty consistently on my Nexus 6 because I hate the interface for typed search on my phone), I do not understand why this would be so invisibly integrated into the desktop version of Chrome.

People are freaking the fuck out about this and it's not just pundits who are annoyed either. It's one thing to smell blood in the water from the Debian/Chromium debacle and try to jump on a hot story or whatever, but it's another entirely to have users of your software (which drives your revenue to some degree, no?) distrust a non-user configurable option in your software which should be aimed at mobile users anyway. Why hasn't this been addressed even as a reply to the question posed on the user forums or a public statement? Better yet, since my preferences are shared between a couple of phones and browsers on a bunch of different platforms, why not make a per-device preference for even enabling this feature if it isn't a phone? Grrrr.

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