My good friend and fellow OFB writer Dennis E. Powell and I met years ago on a group that championed Free/Open Source software, much for the same sorts of reasons he advocates for his new phone configuration over Apple’s offerings. OFB itself was founded, in fact, to promote such open software, especially Linux, so why would I defend locked down systems from Apple? That’s a story that started 19 years ago, before the iPhone even existed.
The IOS update that killed my original iPhone SE was the last straw. I was done with Apple. They’d already skated far out onto the thin ice when they killed the excellent Dark Sky weather application and replaced it with their more-is-less Weather application, which took what was once quick, convenient, easy, and comprehensive — Dark Sky — and replaced it with a jumble of information, often not the information being sought, on a too-busy screen. It would have been forgivable if they had provided a setting that restored the look, feel, and functionality of Dark Sky. They didn’t. They never do. Apple knows best.
As a friend battled viruses on his brand-new Windows computer this week, I thought again about just how spoiled Apple users are by better security and better privacy than Android and Windows folks live with. Long adept at bringing such advantages to the masses that will never try (much less secure) Linux, Apple has one vulnerability is tech prowess cannot overcome: China.
It was an unexpected and chilling moment. As is my wont, as I made supper Monday night I had on in the background the Japanese international television station, NHK. The program was about learning the Japanese language by reading the news.
By now most of us know the unpleasant drill. The credit card company calls or texts you and says there appears to be an unauthorized purchase. Somehow, that happened (near as I can tell, merely coincidentally) on three different accounts for me within a week in July. One has turned into a continuing pain months later: Apple Card. Some of this is a fault of the card, but the greater fault lies in a weak bit of design in Apple’s platforms I otherwise love.
Just now, as is the case each morning, I opened a terminal window on my computer’s desktop and typed a command: “apt update”. The window filled with characters as each of several online “repositories” was checked. Soon I was given a list of the software packages, including the operating system itself, that had security updates and bug fixes available. There being some, I then typed “apt upgrade” and a minute or two later those fixes had been downloaded and installed.
Stuart A. Thompson and Charlie Warzel write for the New York Times:
If you own a mobile phone, its every move is logged and tracked by dozens of companies. No one is beyond the reach of this constant digital surveillance. Not even the president of the United States.
The interactive graphic at the top of the article is enough to show just how alarmingly accurate tracking data on cell phones can be. If the president can be tracked this easily, it should be a sober reminder to all of us to care more about electronic privacy.