Control of Computers/information systems is going to become one of the only real ways to exercise control over people in the future, because it will encompass everything else.
Its sad to see people welcome locked down shit like apple products, here with open arms.
How long will it be until RIAA tells Congress that "Microsoft is not doing enough to stop piracy (even though they have the capability)", just like they are doing now with Google, and then gets them to remove "unlicensed" songs from your PC?
I think stores are fine. They are a pretty good way to show you the best apps for the platform, and they also help a bit with safety, but they should still allow you to download and install whatever you want from the Internet if you choose to.
Android has a pretty good model here. They have the Market, and then if you really want to, you can get apps from other sources, too. Although, I don't think they should even ask you if you want to "enable 3rd party sources" in Settings. It should be enabled by default, and maybe just give you a warning whenever you want to download a 3rd party app, just like they do in Chrome.
The point is I don't want to lose any of the freedoms of what I can do with my computer, just for the sake of having a store that streamlines app discovery and makes me safer when I use it. I should have both.
I want to point out a couple things here, since there seem to be a lot of misconceptions. 1) UEFI is not the problem -- it's one specific feature called 'secure boot'; UEFI is a very good thing overall, so we should point out the bad part and not the awesome whole, 2) MS isn't requiring that secure boot be required, or even that they have a signing key for it -- they're purely requiring that it be on by default, 3) the reference implementation and all known shipping versions of secure boot have a switch to disable it if the user so chooses, so it's not much of a lock-in facility -- it could be in the future, but it's not now, and MS isn't making it into one.
That said, despite being a huge Windows fanboy, Windows 8 is seriously making me consider switching back to Linux. This sort of lock-down is terrible for everyone, most people just don't realize how bad it is.
Matthew Garrett reported a while back that some vendors will not provide an option to disable secure boot.
But now we see bills like SOPA and ProtectIP, and now we already have computers that you can't run any program you want on it, and all these other stories hinting that there are companies out there as sinister as RMS suggested. I find RMS less and less eccentric with each of these things that comes to light.
That said, RMS has been able to get attention. Whether we would be in a better place with an "normal" RMS is impossible to say. Maybe having both Doctorow and RMS is critical to the fight.
What if another nation, say China, decides that it doesn't need to lock down general purpose computing, and instead promotes the availability of unfettered general purpose computing within their borders as a competitive advantage? (Though, sadly this might be due to the sufficiency of political/network dampers on freedom.)
This would make for an interesting world: one divided between a totalitarian regime with free computing and democratic countries with locked down computing.
Its a long process of acclimatization, don't believe me? Take a look at android, which in most respects is far more locked down than any desktop operating system, yet is hailed as "open".
As long as I also have a proper computer, I welcome the simplicity of the tablet. If it looks like I will no longer have the option of buying or owning a proper computer, I'll join you with the pitchforks.
It's a great argument for the anti-technology side because it seems to make sense to those that aren't technical, but let's not start spouting that fallacy on hacker news like it's actually true.
Ease-of-use in the real world is only partially a user-interface design issue, even though that is what software devs spend all day talking about. Turning on a device and being sure that no viruses are going to infect your computer, no malicious people are going to steal your email, and your device will probably just work is a giant ease-of-use feature. It makes your device easier-to-use when you don't have to worry about what your software will do, and that only comes when every single piece of software on your device comes from an authorized source that has been vetted by fairly reliable people who have the power to remotely fix problems on your device (for example, removing apps that turn out to be malicious). Don't kid yourself, even though you might disagree philosophically, removing developer flexibility is very much an ease-of-use feature for consumers.
I would welcome more freedom on the iPad. If a switch showed up in the advanced settings that allowed side-loading of unsigned apps, that would be great. But it's not a deal breaker for what is a completely auxiliary device compared to a proper computer.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Do you complain that your microwave oven firmware isn't hackable? Do you think that it's no fun that you can't reprogram your car's fuel system? Do you bitch that your TV isn't user serviceable? How's that "locked down shit" HP calculator?
A computer is no longer a general purpose tool but a special purpose appliance for most people.
So long as there's a market for open systems, they will be made, but don't expect grandma to want one.
Why is this so hard for some people to accept? For most people "open" means they'll have to assume responsibility for protecting themselves against threats and managing things they don't want to.
These are people trying to catch the specific perpetrators of yesterday, as if they had a time machine and could go back and stop that individual, not people who are trying to get to the root of the problem and deal with it. When governments impose taxes on optical media, because they "help" people pirate music, they might as well tax shoes and underwear while they are at it. When external hard drives came into vogue, NAS's in particular, Western Digital blacklisted media extensions like .mp3, because that would facilitate piracy; whether the government, lobby groups or they themselves came up with this I don't know. In this digital web age, people have moved their attention from physical media to digital media online, and now "the internet" is the complicit perpetrator.
The good and bad news is that this is a general error in people's line of thought, and it is a good thing that this is a problem that you don't have to be a geek to understand nor care about, because it will affect you whenever you travel, have a darker skin than most people, or use the internet. You can bury your head in the sand, but this will and does affect every person in the Western world you can imagine. Blame the media groups, blame the TSA, but most of all, recognize that we can't just focus our attention at the proverbial shoes and underwear, but have to grasp the scope of the root problem at the core of this, and how people soon enough will find something other to try to regulate and police to no effect and benefit for us all. Today it's the TSA and MPAA; tomorrow we will have to suffer a new organization of fools and another slew of politicians.
Follow the money. When a proposal has an abstract/amorphous benefit to everybody, and a direct benefit to a small group, realize that the intentions are to benefit the latter & not the former, no matter what bullshit they try to feed you.
The control of and access to technology is one of the main fulcrums of human history. That's because control and access to technology inherently determines control and access to military, economic and political power and often those in power are always looking to consolidate and guard their privilege.
Ultimately it is
1. the nerds who educate (or fail to educate) the consumer market about what is possible using a general purpose PC and
2. the consumers who buy electronics, including general purpose PC's,
who are in control of the future production and general availability of them.
Common sense says that factories will only produce what can be sold. They respond to demand.
Touchscreen, keyboardless tablets and "smartphones" that cannot be connected and controlled with a more flexible general purpose computer are limiting not enabling.
This is however not the message being sent to consumers.
I think this is the key point.
In some sense, the market for them has been disappearing. The rise of web and mobile apps has shown beyond any doubt that a lot of traditional software is far too big and complicated for a typical home user's needs, and that Joe Public can in fact be quite happy sharing his life story on a cloud-hosted blog, keeping up with his friends via Twitter, playing simple puzzle games on Facebook, and watching streaming movies on his iPad. Notice that all of these are just variations on consumption/communication using on-line services. Heavyweight tools like e-mail and word processors just aren't necessary for what most people care about in their daily lives at home. In fact, I suspect that for the average home consumer, open access to data (both their own personal information and multimedia content they have paid for) and the whole walled garden debate are going to be far bigger issues than open access to general purpose hardware and software.
On the flip side, there will always be enthusiasts who do want more flexible hardware and software for their own enjoyment. All of those activities I mentioned above use software written by geeks, running on infrastructure built by geeks and funded in large part by businesses. And businesses themselves have widely diverse requirements and build many software tools both in-house and to sell to the public and/or other businesses. In short, the entire global IT economy is built around geeks and business, and geeks and businesses need general purpose computing. No amount of lobbying by special interest groups is going to beat the combined might of a global economy that now depends fundamentally on progress in IT for its recovery and future success. If a few sites on the scale of Google and Facebook do go dark for a day in protest against SOPA, I think a few politicians, a lot of Big Media executives, and the entire Web-surfing population of the world are going to learn that lesson very quickly.
Agreed! That's what I thought the keynote would be about before I began watching. Users cared about general purpose computers before, because the only way you could accomplish a task was to run it on your own computer. Now, the thin clients are essentially here, and the ability to run an arbitrary program is not very important to many people.
Or so they think, anyway. I'm worried about the point where devices at home are not Turing-complete, and they just connect to authorized services. Only certain companies would really have the ability to program anything at all (because they'd be the only ones with real computers), and it would be easy for the government to step in and control them.
I like to call it the secret keynote of 28C3.
How are those restrictions implemented? I don't mean in a technical sense, I understand the dot pattern recognition. But how is it that the vendors build it in? Are there legal requirements? (and if so, how do Open Source implementations manage) Are they purely concerned about liability? Are they paid to by the proprietors of the technology? (so that the can sell it to mints).
The power a forced app store gives the platform provider is too much. Microsoft could delay a competitors approval while they add new features to their own product. Beyond that, the notion that only the platform provider should have a "relationship" with the customer is bogus.
In the real world, no two devices are going to be compatible because every manufacturer is shipping an embedded OS with a locked bootloader that doesn't run the program you need to read your data. So you have to plug your smartphone in because you have no idea what OS is running on the monitor.
Anecdotally, I'm sure we all know people who just use their "phone" as an email/SMS platform, and I could easily imagine a near future where palmtop devices primarily do various forms of text messaging, and then additional addons (perhaps a headset and a voice plan) are required to make voice calls over the legacy PSTN.
"Dowrkin revealed that Metro apps will only be available through the new store" http://www.winrumors.com/microsoft-details-and-demos-the-win...
Uninstall that program citizen before armed men break down your door and take your device. Drop the device citizen, don't make me taze you. We need to invest hevily on infrastructure and devices that make the war against general purpose computation very difficult to block everything from a central location.
The original intention of patents was that, rather than keeping your trade secrets secret, you can file them with the government. The government will grant you an exclusive monopoly to it for a limited period of time, which is a stronger but more temporary protection than is given to trade secrets, but more importantly it will publish your patent so that once it expires it becomes part of common knowledge. It was essentially intended as a means of open-sourcing technology.