The New Wilderness (Idle Words)


In the eyes of regulators, privacy still means what it did in the eighteenth century—protecting specific categories of personal data, or communications between individuals, from unauthorized disclosure. Third parties that are given access to our personal data have a duty to protect it, and to the extent that they discharge this duty, they are respecting our privacy.

Seen in this light, the giant tech companies can make a credible claim to be the defenders of privacy, just like a dragon can truthfully boast that it is good at protecting its hoard of gold. Nobody spends more money securing user data, or does it more effectively, than Facebook and Google.

Who knows what evil lies in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows …

Have I Been S0ld? Troy Hunt's security website is up for acquisition


Troy Hunt, inventor and operator of the popular security website Have I Been Pwned (HIBP), is putting the service up for sale.

Hopefully Troy receives his due for this excellent service. Maybe then he can enjoy a bit of downtime and relax a bit.

Chinese government blocks Guardian website


The Guardian’s website has been blocked in China, amid a crackdown by the country’s authorities on international news websites to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

Given how often and how blatantly The Guardian lies1, I can’t say I blame the Chinese censors for blocking the opinion site.

  1. The me at the beginning of the year would not believe the me today is saying this, but such is life.

PinePhone $149 Linux smartphone could support Ubuntu, Sailfish, Maemo, LuneOS and more


The PinePhone is a cheap, Linux-ready smartphone that's expected to ship in limited quantities later this year. It's not exactly a high-power device by modern smartphone standards, but with an expected starting price of $149, it will be a lot more affordable than some of the other Linux phones on the horizon.

I know a lot more people who are excited for this than the Librem 5 …

PragerU — Fireside Chat Ep. 84 - Get yourself a hobby!


Technology has killed hobbies.

An interesting chat on the importance of having an outlet that we are passionate about. While I could argue that technology has most certainly not killed hobbies, modern tools have certainly removed a lot of incentives for people to acquire specialized skills.

News aggregator app Flipboard breached: All passwords reset after hackers pinch user data


News aggregation app Flipboard has publicly confessed that hackers accessed personal data about its members. […] The databases that got away, according to a Flipboard statement, included account credentials, names, hashed and salted passwords, and email addresses. Some of these were SHA-1 hashed, while those created after March 2012 were hashed and salted with the more modern and tougher-to-crack bcrypt function.

Well isn't this just lovely? Fortunately, just about everyone I know who uses Flipboard also uses a password manager. This should limit the damage, but I'm willing to bet that most people using the service do not have unique passwords in place …

Sony's Flagship Xperia 1 21:9 Smartphone Gets a Launch Date: July 12th for $950


Sony has finally given its flagship Xperia 1 smartphone an official launch date and price. The handset, which features a large 21:9 OLED display that supports wide color gamuts, will arrive on July 12th for $949.99.

This looks like a really solid device with a really impressive screen. There are just two things that make this an unfortunate device:

  • the price
  • the OS

Maybe one day the “open” crowd will make something this nice … but I won’t hold my breath.

New 'Linux App Store' Website Lets You Find Apps, Wherever


The new Linux App Store website makes it easier to find Linux apps, regardless of whether they are Snap apps, Flatpak, or AppImage.

It’s great that someone built this resource, but it’s terrible that this resource was required at all.

A real head-scratcher: Tech support called in because emails 'aren't showing timestamps'


Tech support called in because emails 'aren't showing timestamps'.

What’s interesting is that this sort of thing is even seen in 2019 …

Le Desktop est Mort, Vive le Desktop!


In a way, it feels like iOS devices are rented, not owned. This is not a criticism: I’m totally fine with that. It’s appropriate for something so very mass-market and so very much built for a networked world.

But what about Macs?

Macs carry the flame for the revolution. They’re the computers we own, right? They’re the astounding, powerful machines that we get to master.

Except that lately, it feels more and more like we’re just renting Macs too, and they’re really Apple’s machines, not ours.

Brent Simmons, a long time Apple fan, is saying what a lot of people have felt since Steve Jobs passed away. Apple isn't a computer company anymore1, and the products we pay top dollar for are neither ours nor what we've asked for. Sure, they look nice and some of the software that runs on macOS is admittedly very powerful and often tastefully designed, but the machines are very much appliances in the shape of our notion of a traditional computer.

Over the last couple of years, I've managed to migrate off Apple's hardware aside from a SIM-less phone that I use like an iPod Touch, and a 5 year old iPad from work that acts as a single point of communication for all things related to the day job. Apple isn't interested in building the sorts of tools that I need to do my job anymore, and this is fine. There are plenty of alternative products out there that a person not tied to Apple's ecosystem can use and enjoy ….

Except a lot of non-Apple notebooks are also being turned into appliances. Windows 10 is also not something that people feel they own, but instead rent. Given Microsoft's moves to making just about everything they offer into a subscription service, it won't be too long before Windows is something that people pay for on a monthly or yearly basis.

People who want to relive the heady days of "computing freedom" do have options, of course. There's always Linux, FreeBSD, or another operating system that can be used in place of Windows or macOS, but this isn't an option that a lot of people would enjoy as it's simply not practical. The learning curves are steep, the amount of commercial software is limited, and the 20 years of early Linux horror stories is what many people remember when they think about trying a non-commercial operating system. Sure, Linux has gotten a lot better in the last few years, but it's not enough for anyone who doesn't need to eke out every last iota of processing power in a CPU cycle.

But this is to be expected when the desktop market is beginning to atrophe.

Fewer people are buying traditional computers for the home. Instead we see a lot of people using just a cell phone, or a cell phone and a tablet. Desktop sales are mostly limited to corporations and gamers. Notebook sales are shrinking despite the lower costs and better battery lives. Just from the people I've spoken to about this, it's clear that the era of having a desktop or notebook at home for "real work" is almost over. Smaller appliances are taking over, and they're doing a better job of giving people the tools and confidence they need to solve problems in new and interesting ways.

With customers showing a clear preference to appliance-like computing, it's really no wonder that manufacturers are making their machines into appliances while Microsoft, Apple, and Google continue to provide more restrictive updates to their operating systems. You go where the money is at and, unfortunately, this means leaving "power users" who occasionally update their hardware for the "general users" who vastly outnumber the people who expect more from technology.

Desktop computing is dead. Long live desktop computing.

  1. Which explains why they dropped "Computer" from their name many, many years ago.