60 Following

Michelle's corner

Michelle Knight. Writer, photographer, programmer, truck driver and general, all round nut case. Life is a journey and that's what this blog will probably end up being. Let's see where we go, eh? ;-)

Currently reading

Science and Philosophy in the Indian Buddhist Classics
Dalai Lama XIV, Ian Coghlan
Progress: 23/433 pages

So what’s the deal with technology?

This is going to be a bit of a long one. We rely on our tech for everything… book reading among those things. A post by Grimlock recently, is the driver for this post now … http://allhailgrimlock.booklikes.com/post/1821010/brief-news


It’s also not going to tell you anything you don’t already know.


Basically, Grimlock was saying that Apple wouldn’t repair the computer, which was actually fixed by Dad tightening a screw.


Me? I work in technology. It’s been my career for decades. Keeping abreast of the technology market place is part of my job and also, my life. That’s part of the problem these days; our lives are so busy that we rarely have time to learn skills outside our careers… and electronics repair is one of those things that even I’m trying to learn.


So lets get down to the bottom of this. Companies exist to make money. Their shareholders are their number one concern… but as many of us invest in the stock market, or put money into pensions that also use the stock market to grow our retirement funds, you can quickly see that we can end up in a vicious cycle.


Customer lock-in has been a feature of the technology world for decades; even going back to the days of mainframes. Suppliers and manufacturers do their best to make sure that when you need parts, you have to go back to them… by locking out the competition.


In the book world, lock in appears in a variety of guises; the most obvious is that when you buy an e-book from Amazon, you can’t suddenly decide to read it on a Kobo, because the file is encrypted and locked to the Amazon platform. You break your Kindle… you’ve got to buy another one if you want to continue to read all those books you purchased.


So you know all this already. What’s new?


Well, in Grimlock’s case, she was bitten by Apple’s gouging. Third party repair shops are having their replacement parts seized at the border by Apple complaining to border force that they are counterfeit. Actually, they’re not. There’s a difference between counterfeit and refurbished … a point that Apple lost in Norway recently - https://www.macrumors.com/2018/04/13/apple-lawsuit-repair-shop-norway/


Basically, refurbished are legitimate parts which have been repaired; many reports I’ve read, state that the refurbishment has been taken out by the same factory that made the parts brand new. But Apple don’t want them to be available to third market repair shops. They want all repairs to go through them… and that’s when they’ve got you over the barrel.


To this end, they’ve done many, many things including the T2 chip which makes it impossible to get your data off your device if it fails. It also makes it impossible to replace some components… even with original parts… unless you’ve got special software which will, “OK,” the new part to the machine - https://www.theverge.com/2018/11/12/18077166/apple-macbook-air-mac-mini-t2-chip-security-repair-replacement-tool


There are other ways that customers get a nasty end of the stick… like using slower memory on cheaper phone models - https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/10/20/cheapest_apple_iphone_7_memory_waaaaay_slower_than_pricier_model/


The problem here is that people are paying a premium price for what they believe is a premium product. Yes, there are people who use these phones as a status symbol for their wealth… but let’s put that one side for the minute.


The customer is paying the premium for a phone/laptop and service. Many still believe that Apple are virus proof. Back in the day, even Apple themselves advised on their web site, that people should run anti-virus software… and I saw that with my own eyes… but that advice vanished and the myth that Apple’s software is invulnerable, persisted. Heck, who is Apple to deny people’s beliefs? As long as it doesn’t perpetuate an untruth itself, then the situation isn’t Apple’s fault… right? Here’s an article on that - https://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/12/02/apple_mac_av_advice/


There’s been a number of bugs and other issues in their software that can cause all sorts of problems even in iPhones - https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/15/17015654/apple-iphone-crash-ios-11-bug-imessage


To top the cake off, just watch Louis Rossmann’s channel and you quickly understand that the premium product that you paid good money for… isn’t actually all that premium. Repairing Apple kit has been a solid source of Rossmann’s income and social media fame for some time - https://www.youtube.com/user/rossmanngroup


Now … you can say that Apple is right to restrict repairs… third party repair shops can be low quality and dangerous. Well, Rossmann tackles that in this video, where he shows just how bad Apple’s own repairs have been; (at about 2:30 in) and I’ve watched his other videos where supposedly new boards were actually re-worked; and re-worked badly so further failure was inevitable... which is how come they end up in Rossmann's hands. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K669-vhKshU


For me, I’ve seen people put money into Apple products because it’s convenient. I understand this. The technology world moves so fast that I can’t keep up with it… and it’s my career!!! It’s easy to have a phone, desktop, laptop, that all talk to each other and just work. The plug and play nature of many things, including Time Machine’s peace of mind.


Another argument that can be put to one side, is the issue that Apple haven't been the actual inventors of many of these progressive technologies; they've succeeded because they've packaged them in a way that seamlessly worked. At least... to a degree, as you've now seen.


It’s been easy to highlight Apple in all this because they’re hitting the press all the time, but these business practices were actually around even before the days of I.T. and perhaps Microsoft are even worse, with their Surface systems getting consistently low scores by iFixit. https://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/microsoft-surface-pro-ifixit-tear-down/


I’ve encountered Surface units which have been stored in chilled server rooms, that refuse to turn on until they’ve come up to room temperature. Yeah… Microsoft and their Surface battery problems… big sigh … https://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-quietly-fixes-second-surface-pro-3-battery-problem/


So… what now?


Well, that decision is down to you. The key thing is that you’re aware of what you’re walking in to, when you’re buying these devices. If the trade off for the money is worth it for you, then sure. Continue to buy Apple.


But if it isn’t, then you can be stood there, wondering what else you’re going to do. That’s going to take research, and also making some rough choices. And yes, even waste some money on some bad choices… or even throw some money on new technology that hasn’t even made it to market yet.


And that takes research and digging.


Back in May 2013 I bought a mobile phone from a company called Jolla. It was running an operating system called Sailfish. Yeah. Who?! … to cut a long story short…. Nokia (you’ve heard of them, right) were working on their next operating system (Meego) when they were bought by Microsoft. Meego and the team were ditched, and the team started up a company (Jolla) and Meego became Sailfish.


So, that unknown company actually had pedigree, and some of the features of the first phone didn’t come to reality… but Sailfish is going strong and I now have three phones with that operating system on them. (My original Jolla One, which I had to repair at one point… a OnePlus X on which I loaded Sailfish, and my current daily driver, a Sony Xperia X, which I bought second hand and replaced the battery… and Sailfish is running on that.) … and it hasn’t all been plain sailing either. If you get involved in tech early, then expect some pain.


Sure, I had to learn how to obtain and side-load Android applications on it… and it can’t do a chunk of the things that an official Android phone can do… but I’m confident that the phone isn’t tracking me, or sending my personal data off to a greedy corporate… or tracking my location… and for me, that is the trade off. One of the side benefits is that the phone… is a phone. I’m not glued to it like some people are.


My next mobile? Probably a FairPhone 2, again running Sailfish. They’re at the point where you can buy phones pre-loaded with Sailfish now. The operating system has been commercially active for more than five years already. (In fact, by the time I need a new phone, they might be on the FairPhone 3.)


And many of my choices, for some years now, over what technology I use and where I shop… have been made with this trade off in mind. It all comes down to personal values.


When I buy e-books, I buy in an open format. My own e-books direct from my publisher, are unlocked and in multiple formats. That’s our ethics. Fortunately, I have a day job where I can afford those ethics. My data is in my control and I can move it wherever I please.


That’s a position that many people won’t ever appreciate until they are in the position of suddenly losing everything and having it locked away from themselves… let alone any thieves. Or even being unable to change their e-book reader without having to re-buy everything again.


I have bought a series of blu-rays and, while watching the specials, the “disk menu” and “chapter skip” buttons are actually locked out. I have to either stop the disk completely (and then endure all the forced trailer adverts again) or else speed up the presentation 6x until I get taken back to the menu again. And there’s the rub. The pirates don’t have to put up with this force-fed junk, or the removal of the ability to even do basic operations on media I’ve bought with my own money. Heck, me, the paying customer, is treated worse than the pirates. I really feel sorry for parents that buy their kids a DVD, and the first thing that happens, is that the kids are force-fed three adverts for other films, before the main menu pops up. That’s going to cost the parent a small fortune thanks to nagging power. More to buy.


When you tire of having your bank account, property and intelligence abused by corporates, then you’ll start to wonder about the alternatives. But that’s a choice that everyone will make in their own time. Life running too fast? Then slow it down. You’re actually in charge of that. I even make a conscious choice to leave my mobile phone in the home office, when I go to bed. You’re in charge of what book formats you buy; or whether you value paid books more than freebies.


You want to know why I’m on BookLikes? It’s because GoodReads was bought by Amazon. That was the primary reason. Ethics. But I know that there are times when I can’t afford my own ethics… and that bites.