The new corporate overreach normal

Today I have four stories that are the start of a trend that is quite worrisome.

First we have the story of a composer who says Apple Music destroyed his music collection. This is a case of a company messing around with your livelihood.

Then we have the story of Amazon disabling internet access for Kindle devices. This is a case of a company messing with your entertainment.

Next up is Google Nest disabling the Revolv smart hub because the company doesn’t consider it worth updating anymore. This is a case of a company messing with your convenience for its own profit.

At the last we have this new story of Microsoft disallowing Administrators from disabling the Windows Store in Windows systems. This is a case of a company messing with your ability to do work.

If it had been only one company, that specific product might have been shunned and the company could have corrected its course. But now here we have four of the biggest companies around deciding unilaterally what they think is best for you. Doesn’t matter if you don’t use the specific product talked about. This applies to the entirety of the company.

This is quite on purpose. They want to set the social precedent that it is okay to do this. A legal precedent might not be set since their EULAs usually include arbitration agreements; contracted and paid for by these same companies to make sure customers always lose and prevent the justice system from being able to intervene.

The government is quite unconcerned itself since most of these companies proclaim to support encryption, yet all of them are jumping on the Internet of Things bandwagon. The power of IoT is on its ability to eavesdrop and surveil your life ostensibly for your benefit as an user. The data gets sent to the companies… but must travel through connections that have always been monitored. So the government doesn’t care as long as they can do surveillance.

I’ll only mention Facebook in that their way of functioning precludes them from disabling access to products. Otherwise how can they obtain more information on what you do and who you are?

As it is, Open Source can provide a viable alternative only if we find a way to make sure that the developers of the software we depend on are rewarded for their efforts (remember OpenSSL having no money?) otherwise things like Heartbleed will happen again and again. Companies will provide funds only for things that will directly benefit them and/or their bottom line; never for useful software that competes with theirs.

For myself I know I won’t really use Apple products at this point. I do use Windows but I know I’ll switch back to Linux eventually. I use Google Apps but will brush up on keeping my own mailservers. I like Amazon Prime but I won’t buy a Kindle or an Echo device.

These are conscious decisions about how I interact with the business giants of our age. We all need to do that, lest we risk being stepped on.

Apple Stole My Music. No, Seriously. | vellumatlanta

What Amber explained was exactly what I’d feared: through the Apple Music subscription, which I had, Apple now deletes files from its users’ computers. When I signed up for Apple Music, iTunes evaluated my massive collection of Mp3s and WAV files, scanned Apple’s database for what it considered matches, then removed the original files from my internal hard drive. REMOVED them. Deleted. If Apple Music saw a file it didn’t recognize—which came up often, since I’m a freelance composer and have many music files

Source: Apple Stole My Music. No, Seriously. | vellumatlanta

Back to the torrents.

This is how it all starts

I’m personally affected by the shutdown of Reader and will keep an eye out for a replacement. Perhaps someone should tell the RSSOwl developers to work with Dropbox on a solution?

I feel Google is trying to build a wall around its garden, much like Apple has done since its very beginning. Google stormed ahead by using open protocols, open source software and generally clamoring they’re “open” in their enterprises. I feel they’re now turning their back on these things and saying they can do better. They might… for a while.

The fact is Apple built its wall first, then planted its garden. Google planted the garden, invited everyone to play, and now they’re trying to wall it up. Google is trying to play Apple’s game. They will lose and when they do they will lose it all.

Laughing all the way to the bank again.

First, a few links:

I tweeted this earlier:

se acuerdan que le hacian burla al iPad por ser un iPhone mas grandote? Pues los de Apple se estan riendo de ustedes todo el camino al banco.

The iPad didn’t turn out to be a big iPhone, nor did they come out with the iBoard or the iMat. They have very clear use-cases between devices. Other manufacturers are coming out with humongous phones, or outright — *snort* — phablets. LTE chipset sizes may be to blame, but… other phones without LTE are damn big when they don’t have to.

Apple single-handedly created a valid market for tablets worldwide, not just in the US. Other hardware makers wanted in, but – except for Google and Asus, with the Nexus devices – no one can match what Apple is doing.

Now Apple has the iPad Mini. While people were initially underwhelmed by it, it looks like Apple is set to dominate the “small tablet” market; sooner or later this will be the tablet market. In the words of John Gruber, it’s the iPod story all over again. Within one or two versions they’ll have a retina version of the Mini and everybody else will be basically screwed. Again.

C’mon, now

I’ve been trying to get the damn Debian Wheezy installer to work via USB on a Thinkpad T60 for the past three days without any success. Sure, it works like a charm when put on a CD or a DVD and booting from there, but that is beside the point.

I’ve tried various methods I’ve found on the web and on the Debian wiki without avail. To use any of them, you need to fuck around with the terminal, or installing things (as in the case of unetbootin). As it is right now, most Linux installers still can’t easily be put on USB drives without fucking around on the command line and getting things wrong a few times.

I realize I’m just venting, but… really, it is now past mid-2012. Apple is selling its OS X via digital delivery. Microsoft is about to do the same with Windows 8, and did sell Windows 7 installers on USB drives.

Linux should have gotten there years ago, to make it easy for people to try it out and keep their files around with them. Instead, we have lots and lots of guides for “the perfect $LINUXDISTRO USB install”, all of which are outdated within a few months. This would have led to Linux spreading virally among the common user, instead of just staying in the nerd ghetto.

Combine this with motherboards implementing UEFI and Linux installers not supporting it, and the future is getting ever dimmer for “Linux on the desktop.” Next time someone says “This is the year of Linux on the desktop” I will laugh at them on their face.

Sonido en Linux, o la falta de

Tons esta este articulo en el sitio del New York Times acerca del enfoque de Ubuntu en lo Mainstream. Es un buen articulo. Pero nunca va a pasar.

Preguntas por que? Por el sonido. Ya sabes, la cosa que tu cerebro procesa como entrada auditiva.

No voy a decir mucho al respecto, ya que otros lo han dicho mejor de lo que yo lo podría decir:

Yo solamente he tratado de hacer funcionar una diadema con Skype en mi computadora. Tuve que molerle a las cosas durante una hora antes de que Skype funcionara como se supone debe hacerlo. Esto con una diadema barata de 50 pesos sin control alguno; nada de esas chidas diademas USB para mi por que ya se que no funcionan con el sistema operativo de mi elección.

Todos esos APIs, servidores de sonido, sistemas y demonios…. son ganado Augeo cagándose en el establo; necesitan ser llevados al rastro y el establo ser limpiado. Quiza el Sr. Shuttleworth lo pueda hacer.

Sonido en Linux? Esta completamente roto; cada vez que veas artículos anunciando “Este es el año de Linux en el escritorio” por favor procede a abusar del autor hasta que te canses.

Digo esto como un usuario de Linux — tanto en casa como en el trabajo — y como alguien que empuja software libre encima de todo mundo. Supongo tendré que dejar de empujar la gente hacia Apple ahora.

Linux Sound, or lack thereof

So there’s this article on the NYTimes about Ubuntu’s focus on reaching the Mainstream. It’s a pretty good read. But it won’t happen.

Why, you ask? Because of sound. You know, the thing that your brain processes as auditory input.

I won’t say much about it, since others have already said it far better than I could:

I’ve only tried to get a headset to work on my computer with Skype. Had to fiddle with settings for an hour before Skype worked the way it was supposed to. Mind you, this is a cheap-ass run-of-the-mill headphones-and-microphone headset without any controls; none of those nifty USB headsets for me because I know they do not work with my choice of operating system.

All of those APIs, sound servers, systems and daemons… they’re Augean cattle mucking up the stable, and they need to be slaughtered and the stable cleaned out. Perhaps Mr. Shuttleworth is up to the job.

Sound on Linux? It is completely broken; whenever you see articles announcing “This is the year of Linux on the desktop”, please proceed to abuse the author to no end.

I say this all as a Linux user — both at home and at work — and as someone who pushes open source software on everyone. Guess I’ll have to stop doing that and push people towards Apple instead.

Of snobbish shops

Even though I wrote this a few days ago, I got pissed off again when I was translating this.

Two weeks ago I decided to get a new battery for my third-get iPod since the battery gave out a long time ago. This would be the second time I change it and judging by this situation, the last before I buy a more recent model of iPod.

The first time I changed it was after I found this place called D’Newton. This store prides itself in being the only authorized distributor of Apple products in the whole northwest of the country. This was as long as you could actually get to it, given they moved from Zona Río to Plaza Mundo Divertido and didn’t update the store’s website. The only way you could find out about their new location was by a simple sheet of paper taped to the door of their old location. When I went to their new location they had the right battery in existence so I bought it there and then. Changed the battery without too much problem and that was that for a long while.

This time around I went to the store and they didn’t have the battery in existence… but it could be ordered. I paid the required amount and was told they would have the battery next week. That next week I was told they still didn’t have it… but they would have it next week.

On Friday I called them up and was told all their providers had the wrong type of battery in stock and would have to wait at least another week. I was also told they had gotten a third-gen iPod for repairs and could sell me that iPod’s battery at a reduced cost and reimburse me the difference in cash.

So I went to the store… and was unpleasantly surprised when told they did have the new battery in stock but I would have to leave my iPod in for the night. I explained to the guy in charge I was told an iPod had been turned in for repairs and I was offered its battery at a reduced price.

This guy once again told me I would have to leave my iPod for the night because the technician had ‘lots of work” and it wouldn’t be ready right then. This is where I got annoyed… changing an iPod’s battery doesn’t take longer than 10 minutes and doesn’t require any parts to be soldered. And I’m not taking into account that they would have charged me for having the technician change the battery.

By now I’m showing my annoyance. I asked if they had the battery available so I could take it home with me. The clerk went to the technician and came back with the battery. He gave it to me along with my reimbursement and went home.

I get home, take my iPod apart… and turns out the damn battery isn’t the correct one. It’s too wide and won’t fit in the designated space inside the iPod.

The old battery is narrower and even leaves some empty space.

Here you can see how both batteries compare to each other, with the ‘new’ battery on top of the current battery.

The old battery on top of the new battery

Truth be told, I’m extremely disappointed with the level of service this store has given me. I’ll go later in the week to see what can be done about this; hopefully this mistake will be corrected without too many issues.

If anyone from Apple reads this, please take care who gets the privilege of being an “Authorized Distributor.” People who try to screw you at every turn, stores that close on Sundays — the only free day for many — and companies who believe themselves a government agency (or AT&T, Verizon) by giving you the runaround don’t really deserve the title.

I’ve gotten better service out in a street stall. Those guys will even tell you where they are on a determined day to keep you as a customer. You don’t want to walk the streets following the guy? At the nearest tianguis surely there is a stall that can help you get what you want.

De tiendas creídas

Escribo esto bastante molesto.

Hace quince días decidí comprar una batería nueva para mi iPod de tercera generación, dado que la batería ya había caducado hace mucho tiempo. Esta seria la segunda ocasión que se la cambio y a juzgar de esta situación, la ultima antes de que compre un iPod de manufactura mas reciente.

La primera vez que la cambie fue después de dar con la tienda D’Newton. Este lugar se jacta de ser el único distribuidor autorizado Apple en todo el noroeste del país, siempre y cuando hayas dado con el lugar, dado que en aquel entonces se habían mudado de Zona Río a Plaza Mundo Divertido y no habían actualizado su pagina web. Solo te enterabas por una misera hoja de papel pegada en la puerta del local en Zona Río. Al ir a su nuevo local tenían la batería adecuada en existencia y aproveche para comprarla. La cambie sin mayor problema y así duro durante un buen rato.

En esta ocasión fui a la tienda y resulta que no tienen la batería en existencia… pero la podían ordenar. Pague la cantidad requerida por adelantado y me dijeron que la tendrían para la siguiente semana. A la siguiente semana me dijeron que no había llegado el pedido… y que la tendrían a la siguiente semana.

Hoy viernes marque por teléfono y me dijeron que todos los proveedores tenían la batería equivocada y que tendría que esperar mínimo otra semana mas. También me dijeron que les había llegado un iPod tercera generación para reparación… y podían darme la batería usada de ese iPod a un costo reducido y reembolsarme la diferencia en efectivo.

Fui a la tienda… y menuda sorpresa me llevo cuando me dicen que tienen la batería nueva pero que tengo que dejar mi iPod para que se la cambien. Le explique a esa persona que tenían un iPod para reparación y me habían ofrecido la batería de ese iPod a un costo reducido.

La persona me dijo que tendría que dejar mi iPod hasta el dia siguiente por que el técnico tenia “mucho trabajo” y no estaría listo en ese momento. Es aquí donde comenzó mi molestia … reemplazar la batería de un iPod no toma mas de 10 minutos y no requiere soldar partes ni nada por el estilo. Eso sin tomar en cuenta que el cambio de batería realizado por el técnico tiene un costo adicional.

Ya molesto pregunte si tenían la batería para que me la llevara. La persona fue con el técnico y salio con la batería. Me la dio junto con mi reembolso y salí a casa.

Llego a casa, desarmo mi iPod… y resulta que la maldita batería que me dieron no es la correcta. Es muy ancha y no cabe en el espacio designado para la batería.

La batería anterior es mas angosta y hasta sobra un poco de espacio.

Aqui se pueden comparar ambas baterías, con la pila actual encima de la pila ‘nueva’

The old battery on top of the new battery

Francamente estoy muy decepcionado con el nivel de servicio que esta empresa me ha dado. Mañana iré a ver que se puede hacer al respecto; ojala y corrijan su error sin demasiados contratiempos.

Si alguien de Apple lee esto, por favor fíjense a quienes le otorgan el privilegio de ser ‘Distribuidores Autorizados’. Gente que te trata de fregar cada que puede, tiendas que cierran en domingo — el único día libre de muchos — y empresas que se creen agencia gubernamental realmente no se merecen ese titulo.

Me han dado mejor servicio en los puestos de un sobreruedas. Hasta te dicen en donde se ponen en determinado dia, con tal de conservarte como cliente. No quieres andar siguiendo al vendedor? En el tianguis mas cercano seguro hay un puesto que te puede ayudar.