New Post: The Future of Computers: The Neighborhood and The Nursing Home

Is your computer your property?

Throughout much of the history of the personal computer, owning a computer was like owning a house. The cost of ownership might be high at first, but afterwards you joined a neighborhood of other owners running similar software. Maintaining a computer, like a house, requires some effort and sometimes expertise. The do-it-yourself folks in the neighborhood would tackle projects themselves and might help a neighbor with their projects, while others would hire those jobs out to professionals. Generally speaking, people in this neighborhood had autonomy and freedom in how they lived in their homes. Your home was your castle.

While many people continue to live in traditional neighborhoods, some of the wealthier owners, in the name of security and aesthetics, moved into gated communities. These communities might have guards at the gates, and guests have to be registered ahead of time. While you do own your home, there are also strict rules on what you can add to your property and what you can do in the community. Common areas in the community are well-maintained with nice landscaping.

These rules are enforced by a Home Owner’s Association (HOA) who are paid by community members and are empowered to punish people who break the rules. Residents in these neighborhoods sacrificed some freedom (and some money) for a bit more security and privacy, better maintenance of common areas, and a hope that their property would retain its value.

A New Home

Over time many moved from a gated community on their desktop, to a new home that fit in their pocket with even stricter rules. Today many people believe they are living in an elite gated community, when in fact they moved into a nursing home. While these residents are well taken care of by a full-time staff, they have very little autonomy. Residents are monitored all the time, and everything from their entertainment to their meals to their daily schedules is decided by the owner of the home, with residents just given a handful of acceptable choices. All doors are locked with keys the owner controls, including locks on individual rooms.

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There goes the neighborhood…


Speaking of nursing home reminds me of a movie on Netflix, “I Care a Lot”.

Whenever anyone bragged about their new iPhone, Ipad, Google Chrome, Microsoft Surface, smart home devices, IOT, etc, I felt those devices are for people who don’t have much experiences or educations in computer world. They tend to be elderly, people with special needs, rural residents without a reach in technology world, students of elementary schools, apathy, or merely dazed attention seekers. Big tech love to target those kinds of people because they are easy and vulnerable. That ain’t funny.

What happened in Surfside by Miami, Florida with collapse of a condo building is interesting, even it’s still an ongoing investigation by several agencies that we yet have a final answer. Often purchasers of condo units aren’t aware enough of consequences that if their buildings may require expensive maintenance which they would have to fork over their shares for repairs. Either they would need to have plenty of money, including retirement funds, upfront and ready in case for any kinds of future repairs or good credits to get big loans to cover it or to have collateral on their properties. Makes me wonder about previous condo residents who lived there before from few weeks, months and years while knowingly of building’s problems had sold to unwitting new residents and moved out before the building collapsed. It’s like they took the money and run without disclosure of building’s issues. Then that wasn’t funny.

Like chain electronic stores selling computers or devices with OS under big tech such as Microsoft, Google, Apple, etc. Do the stores’ salespersons ever disclose how often customers would have to purchase big tech’s newer computers or devices because of their limited lifespan and strict rules on repair or replace before the sales? Even disclose to customers how big tech collect their data? When was the last time you have seen a blank and neutral computer or device at their stores that you can have choices of which OS or distros to install at store or later at home? Have you ever seen a computer with any on listing of GNULinux from distrowatch on display at Best Buy? Do they even sell GNU Linux installation discs or USB? Would they ever accept to be dealerships for PureOS devices someday? Likely not because big tech and chain stores like to keep populations under same bubble such as walled garden no matter how their services and technologies may turn to be unlivable, unfeasible, failing, or falling behind. Anything new that enters their bubble is just an illusion. Indeed not funny.

Speaking of not funny, there’s a horror movie called Funny Games released in 2007, even there’s foreign version a decade before. It’s about a couple of sadistic young men, Paul and Peter, terrorizing families in the same community, assuming they all were wealthy. When Paul and Peter moved on their targets to next family, Paul killed their dog, I guess it was their way of letting the family know their game really meant business. So then they did their boy, I guess it was their way of letting the parents know their future generation is all gone. After finished watching the movie, of course I didn’t find anything funny then I stopped and thinking with wait a minute. What if those victims, excluding pets and children, were terrible people that weren’t innocent people as they did something terrible? Now that’s funny. As Paul pointed out their needs to be entertained by playing their games on those people is from being jaded and disgusted at the emptiness of existence. Often Paul and Peter types tend to be raised by wealthy parents with self-importance who exploit other people to their advantages. So for big tech’s bubble, there’s indeed jaded and disgusted to it.

I work for a large technology company that is going all-in with everything that Microsoft sells, including all of the cloud stuff. In my personal life, I don’t trust going that route. I will do with my employer’s intellectual property, what they tell me to do with it. But I am loyal and worry for them. I don’t think it should be on any cloud, no matter how secure. It looks to me like just a few companies (Google, Microsoft, Apple), have or will have all knowledge of mankind, including all secret and proprietary information from all technology companies, in their possession sometime soon. No one should possess that kind of power.


The Prisoner perhaps? The episode called Many Happy Returns seems particularly apt here.

Be Seeing You! :ok_hand: :wink:

Well no shit.

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The expression I have used when discussing the cloud is that the cloud is renting and the history of renters isn’t a good one overall.

Individual variance from vendor to vendor, landlord to landlord, may include a number of good stories but when we expand our view out over the entire globe and for the full plenum of history - my assessment is that it is not a good history. And that should inform our decision making process.

Kind of accurate but kind of :cry:

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Imagine the competitive intelligence they will be able to acquire. Not industrial espionage but CI in its ultimate form. No one thinks these upstream providers are competitors until they decide to make a move and “disrupt” the industry the buyer is operating in.

For example - what if Microsoft decided to “disrupt” the insurance industry by developing an insurance equivalent of Expedia and using the network intelligence captured, they are able to glean from access logs and other forms of metadata how they would be able to put together a market development plan that displaces a number of insurance companies. There is little in the way of redress to stop this from happening. And Microsoft is a well-known monopolist.

The corollary of “software is eating the world” (à la Marc Andreesen) is that big tech is the stomach being fed by that mouth. The power of big tech, in particular cloud providers, is somewhat alarming.

Year after year, this is not such a big deal. But measured by decade upon decade, this is concerning. I do not think that most have the capacity to think in such timeframes and fewer are able to build coalitions to change the course of the marketplace. So one assumes that the smart decision is not get caught up in the wave of fashion by applying second order thinking.

As a business person - I do not wish to buy cloud because I do not want to double my total costs by moving a CapEx cost to an OpEx.

As a business person - I already know the kind of data capture that surveillance capitalism firms like ZoomInfo have. And I do not want my competitors to have access to strategic moves we make in the marketplace by being able to purchase that information from data exchanges like ZI. So we have to take as many reasonable precautions to control our data exhaust on the Web.

As a parent - I do not want them to get caught up in some Corporate Orwellian Nightmare (CON ha!) from the get.

As a simple critical thinker - the return on displacing control to a third party does not appear to yield any reasonable return on investment. ANY.

Where I work, we’re not supposed to disclose outside of the company, the threshold past which OpEx becomes Capex. It’s not the same for every company and I don’t know what goes in to that decision. But I can say that the threshold in any event is likely to be relatively low for most successful corporations. Just set up a PC with several Tera-bytes of drive space and lots of redundancy and a revision control program and you could host far more space than you need. By the time it’s operational, it’ll be a capital expense. I have even seen people bundle several similar types of operational expenses together, so they will qualify as Capex.

An IT guy at work explained to me how his RAID system works. All data is spanned accross three hard drives such that all of the data on any one drive can be lost without any real loss of data. So if one drive goes down completely, say over a weekend, the system will automatically order a replacement drive without any human involvement, immediately upon the failure of any in-service drive. When he shows up to work on Monday morning, the new drive will have been delivered and will be waiting for him. He plugs it in and the other two drives then automatically rebuild on to the new drive, exactly what was lost on the drive that went bad. But keeping it off of the internet won’t be easy. And then anyone with a thumb drive can copy files too.

I wonder if there is a version of Linux that automatically logs any and all copying activities. So when an employee copies anything, someone working Security gets an automatic message from the system, reporting what was copied and who copied it. And it should go in to a permanent log too. Also, you want to prevent file re-naming or at least give every file and directory a secret hidden name (when created), that can never be changed. So when an employee copies an intellectual property file to be re-named as “personal files”, and then copies them on to his thumb drive, there is a clear and lasting record of exactly what he did.

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From the post:

Google just announced a new proprietary packaging format to replace APKs called App Bundle. Starting in August, new projects must use this new packaging format, which requires developers go through the Google Play store and share signing keys with Google.

Even assuming I’ll have my Librem 5 by the time this gets bad ( :thinking: hmm?), what is the community’s take on how this will affect the careful Android user? If you already use only FOSS apps from F-droid on a de-Googled phone, will this have any effect at all? Or is it just an attempt by Google to force a wedge between FOSS app developers and commercial developers? Somebody break this down, please.

Also, please keep in mind the update that might not have been there when Kyle first posted this (below)

UPDATE : Google reached out to us with some clarifications on the relationship between APKs and AABs. In a nutshell, the Android App Bundle is a new publishing format that Google Play will use to generate APKs specific to your device and has support for those new, dynamic experiences such as Play Asset Delivery and Play Feature Delivery. Google says that it also provides developers ways to download a secure APK version to be distributed on other app stores or sideloaded directly by users.

In other words, AABs won’t mean such apps can no longer be distributed in other app stores or as APKs, which is definitely great news for third-party app repositories. That said, there are still features like asset delivery and feature delivery that are tied to Google Play, so don’t expect to find those when downloading apps from other stores.