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Comment Re:A pattern emerges (Score 1) 156

8.) Openness is formally removed.

Android is *not* removing openness.

Yet. Give it time. Android isn't at that step yet, but I have seen absolutely no indications that Android will not end up at step 8 in due course. At the very least, Google isn't defending openness very well, either. Google has done little (if anything) to discourage locking bootloader. Google not only failed to discourage Samsung's Knox e-Fuse, they integrated that feature, along with several others, into recent releases of Android. These are not steps to preserve the modding community.

I'm a member of the Android security team, and worked around the edges of this feature. We (I'll use that pronoun for simplicity, but please note that I'm not claiming credit) put a great deal of additional effort into making sure that it supported modders who unlock their bootloaders and install custom software. We even made sure that they can use the verified boot feature to ensure that their self-signed images are not modified without their knowledge.

I appreciate the consideration put into this. Sincerely, honestly, and genuinely - it is nice to hear that these cases are still a part of the development process. At the same time, Microsoft required that Windows 8 motherboards both had secure boot, as well as a user-facing option to disable it in the BIOS. Windows 10 certification kept the former, but not the latter. Do I blame Google for the tresspasses of Microsoft? Of course not...but given that the outcry over this was basically limited to a few strongly worded Slashdot comments, I do not see Google as a company so principled as to actively avoid step 8 when there was clearly no blowback.

The goal is not to prevent modding, the goal is to improve security by ensuring that malicious images can't be installed.

The goal isn't to prevent modding *now*. Android At Work's core features were a solved problem by Nitrodesk with Touchdown, which could be configured to require its own passcode and disable screenshots and respect Exchange wipes and determine if the device was rooted...and these were solved in the Froyo days. Google chose to deal with this in firmware. The switch has not been flipped, but the infrastructure went from "not being there" to "being there", changing the trust requirement from being "they can't" to "they won't"...and I'm very hard pressed to find a "they wouldn't" that didn't eventually become a "they did".

I understand where you're coming from, and I do appreciate your response. I hope you can understand my hesitance and concern.

Comment Re:A pattern emerges (Score 1) 156


It's almost like Google wants everyone to stop using Android.

I don't think that's it. I think it is simply 'the pattern'...

1.) A company releases software or a device. It adheres to standards very well, and although it's a bit rough around the edges, it's open enough that an enthusiast community develops that picks up the slack for those willing to tinker with it. Thus, it requires a bit of understanding to become useful, and it may lack some polish, but the community picks up steam.
2.) The modding community recommends the item to others. The technologically illiterate will stick with 'what works' for now, but other enthusiasts come on board. A few forward thinking companies develop software/addons for the item, which help legitimize the platform.
3.) The item gets an iteration or two, implementing popular features from mods, squashing bugs, and improving its utility. The item is headed toward critical mass, and more companies leverage the item.
4.) Between a few malicious actors and a few technologically illiterate folks who have loud mouths and no patience, things get a bit more messy. Overall though, the item is still on the rise as step 3 continues to grow the item.
5.) As the item gains more legitimacy and experiences some mainstream success, more of step 4 happens, to the point where the manufacturer needs to do something about it. In many cases, the openness of the item has a number of avenues of attack for malice to be successful, so a few of the mods stop working in the name of security.
6.) As mainstream acceptance becomes the norm, the modding community becomes more of a liability than an asset. With mainstream acceptance comes lots of money, in contrast to the modding community's inherent DIY mentality.
7.) Protection of the revenue stream well exceeds the value of the modding community. Thus, protecting the item is a much bigger deal. Openness becomes more and more difficult to leverage; after a few iterations of progressively removing openness without revolt, the dev team is given less of a voice than the accountants. Frequently prices are increased, and sometimes the ability to export data is removed.
8.) Openness is formally removed. A few principled holdouts of the original modding community leave, but since the product has integrated into mainstream usage so effectively, many mainstream users require functions to be performed that only the item can perform, in either a primary or secondary capacity. In many cases, the item holds mission critical data, ensuring its continued usage for some time.
9.) Litigation of those who force openness begins.
10.) A company introduces an item....

Comment Re:PS4 XBone (Score 1) 99

I only see one idiot here. I'm guessing you're either too young to remember the early days of PC gaming, or you simply forgot because of the past decade of Apple lauding their monoculture as a panacea.

In the late 80's and early 90's, fragmentation was a bit more of a problem. Going from the internal PC speaker to actual audio cards was a mess, with games needing code written for several popular cards, until we ended up with "Sound Blaster Compatible" becoming the de facto standard before Windows 95 gave us a universal abstraction layer that works well enough that offboard/external audio cards are either for enthusiasts (there's still a few sound blaster cards floating around Newegg) or audio professionals (Tascam/Presonus/M-Audio/Rane).

In the early days of graphics cards, games once again frequently needed code for individual GPUs. Grab a copy of "Forsaken" off eBay and you'll have to specify whether you have a TNT2 card, 3dfx card, and one or two others. Again, this was commonplace until DirectX and OpenGL provided an intermediate solution that allowed game designers to target the abstraction layer, rather than the hardware.

Now, things have gotten even simpler on the PC side, because developers don't even necessarily have to write code to DirectX, but because they can code to the engines - Unity, Unreal, Source, Crytek, or in-house ones like Frostbite. Code to the engine, and the engine worries about ensuring DirectX compatibility, which in turn worries about hardware.

Finally, cross-platform development has brought its own cancers to the PC side. I could have a bad encounter with a table saw and still be able to count on one hand how many AAA games released in the past two years allow for dedicated servers. Console folk can't be bothers to configure port forwarding on their routers, and to be fair, it's not like consoles work all that great with that paradigm, which is why XBL and PSN exist. I don't begrudge those services in the least, but dedicated servers were a standard component for multiplayer PC games for over a decade, but are now an endangered species. Games used to frequently ship with level editors and modding kits, that allowed for new characters and maps to be community created (DLC used to be DIY, and free). Again, this is a highly exceptional state of affairs now, and I'm patently unconvinced it's a positive direction for PC gaming.

So yeah, there are near-infinite hardware variations. There are also time-tested methods of addressing them.

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