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Comment Re:Failure on our part. (Score 1) 439

I don't think I can take your argument seriously if you're going to use emotion-based criticism like "control freak assholes that want to tell people how to use their device." Your attitude is exactly what I posted about elsewhere in this discussion, a self-absorbed sort of anti-authority tantrum that lashes out at any reduction in configurability even though the majority of consumers don't want the kind of configurability you seek. For some reason, you take it personally, as if someone at Apple is literally twirling their mustache, laughing evilly, and deciding that hedwards on Slashdot shouldn't be able to install whatever functionality he wants on his device.

The software approval process is the same kind that has been used for decades on game consoles, to great effect. Game consoles are now the dominant medium for gaming, with PC gaming becoming a marginal niche.

Comment Re:Failure on our part. (Score 1) 439

I think you don't realize that you're arguing my point. :) You refer to processing of the information as a different solution to the problem than reducing the amount of information, and I'm saying that the processing you're referring to is actually a filtering of the information in order to reduce the amount of it.

You nailed it in the second paragraph--the existence of 10,000,000 sites doesn't cause us anxiety because we will never bother with the other sites. For all practical purposes, to the majority of Google users, the only sites that exist are the ones on the front page, and so the 10,000,000 choices have been effectively reduced.

Note that this same process of quality vetting is also what goes on in an approval-based app store.

Comment Pwdhash (Score 4, Informative) 339

I use a free implementation of the Stanfard PwdHash algorithm for the Mac called Locksmith (here on the app store). There are also websites that implement PwdHash, and even a Firefox add-on. By changing one master password, all the passwords I generate will automatically be changed when I regenerate them.

Comment Re:Failure on our part. (Score 2) 439

Apple doesn't want unnecessary duplication of system functionality because that creates redundancy and confusion in the experience of using the device; for instance, it prevents developers from mimicking the operating system and potentially tricking the user. It should be noted that such prohibitions are very rare, and there are a number of apps that compete with built-in applications, such as third-party web browsers.

Comment Re:Failure on our part. (Score 4, Interesting) 439

I'm not sure if the best answer to the paradox of choice is to remove choice and configurability. For example, newegg offers a ton of deals for buying certain combinations of hardware, and when there are 231 possible deals for your CPU, it's not feasible to try and sort through that. The answer wouldn't be to stop those deals, but rather, to make it easier to process all that information.

People don't want to process the information for 231 possible CPU deals. The easiest way to deal with that kind of information is to not process it all, removing configurability and therefore the psychological fear of a missed opportunity. It's been shown in several studies that too many choices hinders the decision-making process and leads to decreased happiness, which was the subject of the book I linked by psychologist Barry Schwartz.

One might have argued at one point that there are too many websites on the internet, but the solution to that wasn't to reduce the number of websites, but to create good search engines that let us make sense of it all.

It goes without saying that the sites on the first page of the search results get the vast majority of hits. Nobody wants to sift through the 10,000,000+ hits a Google search gives you. It's an impressive number but ultimately meaningless in terms of how most people use a search engine.

Comment Re:Failure on our part. (Score 1, Insightful) 439

I think that too often, people confuse freedom with configurability when it comes to software. You can have freedom without driving away users with making them suffer the paradox of choice, and at the same time, much of lack of configurability in popular devices today isn't really a lack of a freedom, at least it's not seen that way to mainstream users. Techies often just label it a lack of freedom because they can't do absolutely everything they want.

Comment Alarmism (Score 4, Insightful) 439

I read the transcript, and by the time he started saying things like this:

So today we have marketing departments who say things like "we don't need computers, we need... appliances. Make me a computer that doesn't run every program, just a program that does this specialized task, like streaming audio, or routing packets, or playing Xbox games, and make sure it doesn't run programs that I haven't authorized that might undermine our profits". And on the surface, this seems like a reasonable idea -- just a program that does one specialized task -- after all, we can put an electric motor in a blender, and we can install a motor in a dishwasher, and we don't worry if it's still possible to run a dishwashing program in a blender. But that's not what we do when we turn a computer into an appliance. We're not making a computer that runs only the "appliance" app; we're making a computer that can run every program, but which uses some combination of rootkits, spyware, and code-signing to prevent the user from knowing which processes are running, from installing her own software, and from terminating processes that she doesn't want. In other words, an appliance is not a stripped-down computer -- it is a fully functional computer with spyware on it out of the box.

I'm immediately reminded of countless Slashdot posts decrying the rise of appliance computing and lamenting the industry's move away from "general-purpose computing." That phrase is actually a euphemism for "nerd playground made by nerds for nerds," because that is what is actually being missed. Nerds feel power when they invest time and master a system, but non-nerds have neither the time nor desire to make computing a hobby. To them, computers are simply a means to get a job done, and that's the extent of their interest.

Doctorow argues that an appliance computer isn't a specialized computing device but a general-purpose computer running "spyware." This is a highly politicized perspective to take. But more importantly, it signifies a perspective that's out of touch with mainstream people; i.e., non-techies. Non-techies aren't interested in installing custom software or knowing what processes are running or uncovering their technological secrets. Those are things only techies care about.

Doctorow conflates this lament for nerd power with a lot of talk about copyright, DRM, and that all-important buzzword, "freedom." Not only does it make techies feel powerful to have mastery over the system, but it makes them feel important if they believe that their hobby is not just a lone expenditure of free time but the actions of a freedom fighter. However, I believe this is a confusion of issues. Appliance computing and DRM are necessarily not intertwined (look at the DRM-free iTunes Music Store), and appliance computing is just a derogatory (among nerds, anyway) term for an accessible product that most people can use. That such accessibility often necessitates the removal of configurability is simply unfortunate and incidental.

Stick-shift automobiles are generally more efficient gas-wise because you are able to directly control the gears used to move the vehicle, but most people today drive automatics. They don't want to mess with things, or tweak things, or dissect things. The car is a tool, and that is also true of computers.

Doctorow ends the talk with this:

We have been fighting the mini-boss, and that means that great challenges are yet to come, but like all good level designers, fate has sent us a soft target to train ourselves on -- we have a chance, a real chance, and if we support open and free systems, and the organizations that fight for them -- EFF, Bits of Freedom [?], Edrie [?], [?], Nets Politique [?], La Quadrature du Net, and all the others, who are thankfully, too numerous to name here -- we may yet win the battle, and secure the ammunition we'll need for the war.

Disregarding the pandering videogame terminology for a moment, this is a perfect example of the freedom-fighting perspective that appeals to techies and convinces them that they are soldiers in a "war". RMS has made a career out of this, and while his insistence on open technologies does contribute to progress in the long term, it's that step over the line into delusion that makes me cringe. There's no war. We're not soldiers. We're not fighting a "mini-boss" in a video game, and we're not "level designers." We're just nerds who like to tinker, and that is a niche demographic in this business. The free market has discovered that the best way to make a seamless experience is to close parts of it down so the user doesn't screw it up (and any of you who have done tech support already understand how painfully easy it is for non-techies to do just that).

Probably, posting this will get me modded down, but I just wanted to comment on the bitterness toward appliance computing that has sprung up in online tech communities since the popularization of mobile devices like the iPad. There's this self-absorbed attitude that I just can't wrap my head around, a petulant voice that screams "Don't tell me what to do!" like a child throwing a tantrum. It's so out of touch with where the industry has headed in the last 10 years that it risks marginalizing its believers, turning them into crotchety, narrow-minded, unpleasant people.

PC gaming went from desktops to consoles, and now everything else is moving from desktops to mobile devices. It's where the industry is now, because seamless experiences win out in the long term. It's what users want. Now, as for DRM and the other points that Doctorow brought up, he frets over the computing restrictions of his future hearing aid, and I just can't take that as a serious argument. The whole talk reeks of alarmism, as the very restrictions he rants about have all been circumvented already, and several major players have abandoned such restrictions entirely, such as the aforementioned iTunes Music Store, which dropped its DRM (something Apple doesn't get enough credit for, honestly--I can't imagine what Steve Jobs said to the labels to get them to play along).

Comment Re:Go cry to your mother (Score 1) 262

Silent? Uhm, they sent an email explaining that THEY removed it and way.

AFTER they removed it, without any prior warning.

Are you seriously trying to use twitter as an example for your side of the argument? Seriously?

Uh, why wouldn't I? Twitter is the second most popular social network beneath Facebook and a major competitor to Google+. Do you have a legitimate response here or are you just going to repeat "seriously" a bunch of times, thinking that it's a valid argument?

Comment Re:Go cry to your mother (Score 1) 262

Google always makes a big deal about how it tries not to remove links and how it refuses to comply with requests from the Chinese government. Google+ has already given you the tools to filter reality to fit your moral values, through the use of the block feature. They don't need to silently go into your account and delete your middle finger. Which, by the way, Twitter allows in its avatars.

Nobody said it was a law or that it wasn't the right of a private business to make that decision. Nobody said it was legally wrong. People often resort to your counterargument ("They have the right!") when they can't respond to the moral criticism being made.

Your talk of puppeting the law is, frankly, bizarre and completely out of nowhere.

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