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Posts tagged as “iphone”

Poll: Don’t Help Government Unencrypt Devices

The FOSS Force Poll

The results of our “Apple vs. the FBI” encryption poll are in. Most of our readers agree with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s decision to stand up to the FBI.

Often when we run a poll on FOSS Force, the results only go to confirm what we already know. Our latest completed poll is an example. What we got was exactly what we expected. You don’t think the makers of encrypted devices, or encryption software, should help the G-Men get inside — not even with a warrant.

Verizon Case Illustrates Why We Need a Linux Phone

There are plenty of reasons to be anticipating the arrival of GNU/Linux phones and tablets. Verizon Wireless has given us another.

On March 7, the FCC slapped a $1.35 million fine on Verizon in a privacy case, a move that’s being hailed as a victory by some privacy advocates. If so, it would seem to be a hollow victory. For starters, the fine is too low to be much of a deterrent against a company which last year had annual gross income of over $63 billion. But there is much more wrong with the agreement the carrier reached with the FCC than merely the price tag.

Verizon logoThe case revolves around Verizon’s use of a supercookie — a cookie that uses a variety of techniques to make it nearly impossible to remove or disable — which the carrier began placing on its customers’ phones in 2012. The cookie gathered information that combined a person’s Internet history — whether through browsers or apps — with their unique customer information. The company ran afoul of the law because of the way it shared the information it gleaned with third parties.

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Year of Linux Depends on How You Define Linux

The Heart of Linux

It didn’t happen slowly. On the contrary, it was a thunderbolt…a deep, thrumming, resounding sense of being right, of being at the right place at the right time. A sense of finding something that you knew without doubt would be important in your life. There wasn’t any need to “think it through” or “evaluate the situation.” The moment I realized the power under my fingertips, even my self-identity changed. With that moment growing like a supernova inside of me, I fully took on that new identity. As that blazing power exploded from within me, I knew who I was. I was now a firebrand. It was six years ago this month that I knew who I was.

I was a Linux Advocate. I just opted out of the cape.

It didn’t take me long to realize the uphill trudge I had ahead of me. The battle between GNU Linux and just Linux was enough to confuse any convert-to-be in front of me. When it takes more than a few sentences to explain something to almost anyone, their interest wanes quickly. It doesn’t help that I was trying to sell subscriptions to a divided camp either.

Android mascotA helpful tip for those coming of age as a Linux Advocate: Temper your rhetoric when explaining just how much Microsoft sucks. It’s easy to come off as a wild-eyed zealot. These are lessons in advocacy learned rather quickly. And yeah…, that whole wide-eyed zealot thing? It didn’t work out so well for me. Nor will it for you.

As I did then, I still do.

Ken Starks is the founder of the Helios Project and Reglue, which for 20 years provided refurbished older computers running Linux to disadvantaged school kids, as well as providing digital help for senior citizens, in the Austin, Texas area. He was a columnist for FOSS Force from 2013-2016, and remains part of our family. Follow him on Twitter: @Reglue

The Time to Recommend Linux & FOSS Is Now

When I first started using Linux twelve years ago, no one I knew, other than folks on the local LUG, were interested in giving Linux or FOSS a try whatsoever. Don’t get me wrong; my friends were nice. They supported my enthusiasm for this Linux thing I’d discovered, but were politely uninterested when I suggested they might want to give Linux a try too. That didn’t surprise me at all. Hell, I’d been trying to get people to give Star Office a try since the turn of the millennium and they wouldn’t go for that either, even though they were paying through the nose for MS Office.

In those days it seemed that everyone was très afraid of wandering away from their familiar Windows landscape, lest their magic-box-hooked-to-a-telescreen cease computing and thereby end the wonders of Yahoo, online airplane tickets and email. Mac users didn’t wander either, not because they were afraid but out of a false sense of smugness.

When Vista came along things changed, but only ever so slightly.

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

When the Police Can Brick Your Phone

“Tyranny. Pure and simple. If it is software, somebody will find a way to hack it. If it is hardware, ‘old’ smartphones will be worth their weight in platinum.”

My friend Ross from Toronto made this comment with a link he posted on Facebook to The Free Thought Project’s article on a new about-to-be law in California. The law mandates a kill switch on all new smartphones, allowing the owner of a stolen phone to disable it until it’s recovered. The bill, CA SB 962, now only needs the expected signature of governor Jerry Brown to become law. In July, a similar law went into effect in Minnesota.

Organized using smartphones.
Photo by Jonas Naimark – Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0
On the surface, a law with the purpose of protecting expensive smartphones from theft might seem to be a no-brainer good thing. Just render the device inoperable, while activating a homing program to locate it. Presto! In no time at all the phone is back in the hands of its rightful owner and made operable again. Supporters also hope the kill switch becomes a deterrent that greatly reduces the number of phone thefts.

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

Poll: You Mainly Use Desktops & Laptops

Desktop wins pollIt’s hard to remember that it wasn’t that long ago that we only had a couple of choices to meet our computing needs. As recently as 2007, the year before Obama was elected, someone looking for a new computer basically could choose between a desktop or a laptop. In mobile, Research In Motion offered the Blackberry, which candidate Obama was famous for using — and still uses.

2007 was the year things began to change. In June of that year, Apple introduced the iPhone and in October Asus released the Eee PC, the first netbook of the modern era. When in October of the following year HTC released the Dream, the first handset running Android, it became obvious that consumer computing space had been forever changed. Less than two years later Apple released the iPad which was quickly followed by tablets running Android.

The introduction of the modern generation of tablets, which were highly capable and easy to use, had an immediate effect on sales of traditional desktops and laptops, leading some tech writers to proclaim that the age of the desktop was over and that desktop computers were on their way out. This wasn’t true, of course. We were just experiencing what the Wall Street types call a “market correction.”

Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux

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