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  1. Quasars; power and metrics beyond all comprehension. Staggeringly beautiful information... and very well written.
  2. "I'm sorry. I can't come in today. Religious holiday. The feast of...Maximum Occupancy."
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  4. Be sure to take care of your own infrastructure(s); purge dumps, tunnel and lock-down egress transit, encrypt and permission CORRECTLY!
  5. It really doesn't matter what else gets released; Sikth's 'The Future in Whose Eyes?' is THE album of 2017. #albumoftheyear

In Defense of Our Good Name?

Updated : 01:47:03am, 14th Feb 2017

Frankly, it is of little surprise (and to a point a bearable burden) that much of what you do, say, look for and desire is captured, monitored and scrutinised with the aim of, essentially, marketing the world around you and the content that you're served (although the real reasons are generally far more totalitarian).

Your existence and your interests are nothing more than a row in a database; you are a numerical metric who's behavior and reliance on technology feeds the beast that serves you. Even the most vigilant and staunchly defiant resistors who aim to exist below the radar through Tor or various 'anonymising proxies' would be hard pushed to guarantee they'd never (at least willfully) submitted or contributed some sort of seed to the stockpile.

Our reliance on technology, and ultimately the internet, means phones are no longer just a medium for simply contacting others but are our gateway to society; they are a lifeline of integration into the every day world. They have become the critical object to check for before you leave the house and with our behavior of using them to pay for goods, compare products, to function as a literal guide and to instantly retrieve answers or directions, they facilitate every component of every-day life. We currently exist alongside generations who simply will not use paper maps, instinctive navigation or to some degree, even real textbooks (even less so siphon through arguably superfluous information, by proxy learning more, in the search for what they are seeking).

In itself, all this is negligible considering how much those who desire this information about us, the people, already know and how much power they yield in order to preserve the ingestion of this knowledge. Of course, in this age of escalating fear and hatred, there are undeniable benefits for there to be some coverage and vetting of what goes on. It's been the way for all of 'modern' human existence; be it an 'inside-man' or simply a rogue member of society. Despite my deep objections to such a way of life, I am comfortable in my acceptance that it is of little consequence just how much you do to avoid any sort of undesired scrutiny. Consider that your phone, and the phones of others, are almost permanently in close proximity to you. There is no reason that a system, just like that in 'The Dark Knight', is not already used for such tasks...

It irks me that installing an app on my Android phone often (and more regularly?) requires my green-light for it to access far more personal information that it should need (especially access to SMS / Contacts), but I understand that the kernel itself might well be shipping off information about my usage and my activities to whomever has their finger in such pies. I care, but I don't care enough (or have that much to hide) that going off the grid and using smoke-signals to converse with kindred spirits is going to be a priority of mine anytime soon...

All that said, however, I do feel very strongly that those yielding such powers and information have the most fundamental obligation (even beyond morals and law) to make sure that the knowledge accumulated and the manners for acquiring it are done properly and without compromise. The least a 'organisation' can do with my personal and financial details is to make a strong reasonable effort to encrypt and safeguard it. Keeping it to themselves would be ideal, but it's a 'rinse-and-repeat' cycle, so giving with one hand will almost always lend itself to taking with the other.

Anyway, where am I going with all this? I guess it just comes down to the fact that I can't help but feel that more recently it's become worse and there are no such thing as safeguards anymore, merely hurdles. Some hurdles are greater than others, but if all they do is stem the indelible and unrelenting tide, they're ultimately as useless as the next.

Despite suffering some professional hindrances as a result of (almost comical) lapses recently with BitDefender (to name but one), it has been the significant shift in direction of the two big players in the field that's really got my back up.

I've held my own thoughts on the behavior and principles of Apple and Microsoft over the years. I started off on IBM PC-DOS 5.0 around 1994 followed by Windows 3.1 through to XP before shifting to OS/X in about 2003. From 2005, I've been solely Linux except when at work (where I use absolutely everything, though less so those I'd like to such as BSD and IBM i). Each vendor has had their moments.

Because the majority of the people I know, and indeed the majority of people in general, have only had exposure to Apple and Microsoft products, it's difficult to avoid having to be saturated with news and first-hand experiences of practices deployed by them.

Like tens of millions of others, I had the U2 album forced upon my iPhone. As it's my work phone, used only for calls and emails, it didn't cause me a direct issue but it did of course give me numerous headaches knowing it was there in the first place, a decision from Apple clearly and willfully going against ALL honour, fairness and reason.

In addition, the recent versions of iTunes have been absolute abominations, devoid of any genuine effort or consideration for the end-user. Of course, I say that as conjectured personal opinion (who's to say the metrics they have acquired aren't to say it's actually JUST what the mode end-user wants?), but I think it's been summed up fairly well elsewhere . It isn't so much the actual change, as that is ultimately a right they freely reserve, but the way they go about it considering how many people are affected and how critical applications (OK, perhaps not so much iTunes here) can be radically transformed for questionable reasoning.

I deal with the fallout from a radically adjusted and commonly undocumented process shift almost weekly from some vendor or another. One of the most notable and consuming examples was Fortinet's decision to remove the functionality to capture logged IM messages via their v5.x version of the FortiOS on their firewalls despite leaving the options to configure and enable it intact. Not a shred of documentation existed to notify of this.

As I discovered the other month whilst watching this incredible info-dump from Andrew S. Tanenbaum, it was Intel's decision to omit the presence of a CPU thermal sensor from the manual that could have given us a world without Linux (and imagine what that would have done for Apple and Microsoft, much as I'd love to think BSD would have found further success). I emphatically imagine there are thousands instances more just like that.

In recent years, Microsoft have been doing a good job of humbling admitting their wrongs, holding their hands up for conceding crushing defeats in the mobile and tablet market and finally confessing they woefully mis-judged Google. Most recently, they've made impressive ground by offering Windows 10 for free to millions and even by (genuinely) offering two free games a month to Xbox Live Gold members.

Yet, despite the generosity, underneath lurks a more worrying matter. Reports all over have surfaced about subtle but significant changes in the EULA and the introduction of some unbelievable features such as an out-of-the-box WiFi hotspot feature where to opt out you need to change your own SSID (this alone encourages a great rage inside me) and a crazy pseudo-siphon-relay that will utilise your bandwidth as they decide to push out Updates, among other bits. Are the bills REALLY getting that high?

Incredible as it may seem, that's but the tip of the iceberg. Turns out, they're just going to take a few handfuls more in their quest to gain back glories of former monopolies, too. © 2006-2017

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