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Submission + - The Mobile Market: An open letter to the EFF

An anonymous reader writes: This is a letter I sent to the Electronic Frontier Foundation regarding what I perceive as the very real dangers that the current mobile market presents to the industry. Below are the contents:

Hello, I would like to bring a serious matter to your attention.
Specifically, the user freedom and rights damage, along with
the degradation in choice, power, and usefulness, that the
mobile and cloud movement is slowly eroding. Please take the time
to read this message. It is a plea that you start an aggressive campaign
showing users and the world at large the significant dangers of
this new trend.

Here are the major concerns.

1. Tablets and smartphones prevent user modification and even repair
in many cases, and the arena is heading towards disposable electronics,
which besides the immense waste this could create, it forces users to
spend far more money than they may be able to afford to stay up-to-date
in the modern world.

2. Tablets and smartphones are eroding usability and functionality
with minimalist interfaces, poor input methods, and poor processing power,
which has it's place, but a vast number of journalists are stating that
"The PC is dead", which is becoming a self fulfilling prophecy.
Functionality that was once standard in every OS is now being removed
from desktop operating systems to provide integration with mobile devices,
for example, window management. See Windows 8.

3. Linked to reason #2, if PCs die, many independent app developers and small
software companies will vanish, because the only powerful computers able to compile
code at a tolerable speed and run large applications will be sold at a premium by a
select few companies, at price ranges far outside the average consumer's ability.
App selections will decrease and the world will rely on a few multinational corporations'
software, which may or may not be of acceptable quality. Interpretive languages such
as javascript are also causing performance penalties in app development in the mobile
world. Even if compilers and development tools, full docking stations and mice are
made for these computing devices, they still will provide a fraction of the power that a
desktop will provide for a price not far greater than that of a tablet or smartphone.

4. Operating system choice and upgradability is currently in a state of horrible disrepair
due to the use of non-standardized, often locked firmwares. This forces a user to use whatever
operating system is shipped with their device, even if no upgrades are provided. In some cases,
modifying the software on your device, or swapping it out, could even be illegal.

5. These tablets and other devices are often of poor build quality, and I frequently see
people using devices with badly cracked screens and overused batteries. Manufacturers
are moving towards a "you can't open the case" model, which I find highly disturbing.
This prevents a simple practice as small as replacing the battery yourself.

The point of this article is to show the world the inherent dangers of investing heavily
in tablets and smartphones, and to encourage the world to not count out the still very real
relevance of the PC, even if not a desktop, which will likely remain notably
relevant for a long time to come. Thank you for your time. I sincerely hope you will consider
taking action.


Comment Re:So don't use Java (Score 1) 510

Java is actually an idiotic choice for mobile devices. Running on an interpreter means it uses many times the battery power to get things done compared to native apps.

I'd contend that view is outdated, partly because hardware's moved on just enough to allow for a software layer with extra fat, but mostly because the market's shown that android has been hugely successful - with good reason. We can argue over what the reason might be, but is it idiotic to find a solution that sells so well in spite of increased power consumption? I can't agree with that.

Comment It's not so great yet. (Score 1) 25

It's mostly a collection of links to local government websites. There are a few things I'd rather see done differently:

- data held centrally by data.gov.uk so it can be directly accessed...
- ...and held in common, open formats rather than the current MS only formats
- queryable data, not just massive spreadsheets

It seems to have potential. It's not much use right now though.

Comment Re:It's called a team (Score 1) 426

For me it isn't just that I want him in the shit with me there and then, more than likely he will just be in the way unless he's just ordering pizza.

Instead, I want to make sure that when he's making the decision to drop me in the shit again every day for the next three weeks that he's not doing it refreshed and knowing he can go home to where his wife's got a meal waiting, but miserably tired and desperate not to stay under the fluorescents for another shift.

Comment Re:Democracy (Score 3, Insightful) 216

It's been known for a long time that quite often the only way to get the government to actually listen to its citizens is to stage some form of peaceful mass protest. That's why that right is protected in the US Bill of Rights.

And why the UK has been slowly eroding any rights of protest near Parliament, at certain events, etc.

Comment Re:Democracy (Score 5, Insightful) 216

So whats the point in going to vote in the first place if theres no guarantee that the will of the people will be mirrored in the actions of the elected goverment until mass protests fill up the streets (or tubes)?

So far as I can see, democracies have never had anything to do with the will of the public, just the will of their elected (from a pitifully small selection of) representatives.

There needs to be a better way of actually getting the will of the general public involved somehow, democracy as it stands is a pretty poor implementation of that. Politicians are a very dirty abstraction layer.

Comment Re:Have fun with management (Score 5, Funny) 468

Maybe its just the corporate environment that I'm in and please I would love to be wrong. But from what I can tell a good number of open sourced products just don't scale up to the enterprise level.

There aren't any tools that manage them centrally and allow for compliance and auditing.

Crap. Has anyone told Google yet? Best get them to switch to Windows quickly!

Comment Re:Just do a little freelance work. (Score 1) 262

Though I've never messed with any of them, there are plenty of freelance, contractor type sites out there.

I've used them. Even going in at 1/4 of my hourly 9-5 rate I won't get a single successful bid. I suspect there's a lot of unhappy customers from those sites and not many competent developers using them.

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