Confronting my technological prejudices

I have always been superficially prejudiced against all things Apple. When a seasoned technologist friend announced switching from Android to iPhone, I was curious. I asked him why. It was illuminating for me to hear his reasoning, which I present to you below.

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When I saw that my friend Bill Dollins — a long-time Android and Linux guy — is now an iPhone user, I was somewhat surprised. I wondered why he switched. I swiftly jumped to my own conclusions about his reasoning. Then, realizing that my conclusions were probably colored by my own biases (they were), I decided to just ask him. Bill agreed to entertain a few questions.

AT: Bill, why did you switch from Android to iPhone? I thought tech people use Android as a badge of honor. I thought Apple products were for artists, celebrities, and the VP of Marketing.

Bill: Working in an Apple shop allowed me to learn more about their products than I would have on my own. My primary reason has become privacy and security. The contrast on these issues between Google and Apple is stark. Apple takes these issues much more seriously for individuals than does Google and it is evident in technical and business choices they have made. 

For example, Apple’s smart home technology, HomeKit, doesn’t specifically require internet access, though some individual devices may. They do things like video processing via a HomePod, which can be disconnected from the internet. These are functions that Google or Amazon offload to the cloud, so connectivity is required. This design choice means that HomeKit doesn’t yet have a video doorbell option, so it can “slow down” feature development when compared to Google or Amazon. I’m okay with that.

The iPhone takes a similar approach. Like Android, it has a location history feature. Unlike Android, the history and all related processing remains on the device. There’s no centralized Apple cloud where it’s being stored along with everyone else’s to train some machine-learning algorithm.

I should note that I haven’t done anything yet with HomeKit myself, but I am considering it. My information comes from my Apple consultant, James Fee.

Having said all of this, I know that no technology is perfect. Zealots of Googlism or Amazonism will certainly nitpick anything that I have said here. That’s what block buttons are for.

AT: Where do you stand on the Windows / Linux / Mac divide for desktops and laptops?

Bill: My primary desktop machine, which I use daily, is still a System76 Ubuntu machine. My MacBook is company-issued and mainly used for specific work tasks and for when I travel. Windows has been the big loser for me.

AT: I used a MacBook once, years ago. I remember apps performing an elaborate dance on open and close. It made me dizzy, and I thought it was childish. I haven’t touched one since. Do Macs still do that?

Bill: I haven’t noticed that since I have been using a Mac. One thing I did notice is that some Mac idioms, such as two-fingered touchpad scroll, exist on more modern Windows machines alongside the older Windows idioms. I have an older Windows laptop that doesn’t support it, but I haven’t looked closely to see if that’s because of the generation of the hardware or of Windows. I’m not really concerned about it enough to investigate.

AT: Don’t tell anyone, but I have been thinking about an iPhone for a while, mainly as a means to distance myself from Google. I haven’t done it yet because I am concerned that my reputation will take a hit. What say you to that?

Bill: I will defer to the expert on this topic: Joan Jett. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nO6YL09T8Fw

I was phished

[UPDATE April 9, 2017] No response from Google, so I will provide a general description of what happened and close this incident in my book.

Someone was able to post a fake job opening for my company on two of the major job sites. Unclear to what end. I realized what was happening when I began receiving hundreds of job applications. I saw the posting — it was very well, professionally written. I reached out to both job sites. One responded immediately, took the posting down, and helped mitigate the impact. The other gave me a canned response two days later, saying they are investigating.

For this posting to have happened someone must have gained control of my company’s general email account. I suspect that this may have happened via a feature in Gmail, which is why I reached out to Google.

Case closed as unresolved.

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I was phished, successfully, even though I thought I was impervious to such things. In my defense I will say that I didn’t do anything wrong (I think), and I followed all the rules (I think). It appears that my attackers’ deed was facilitated (unintentionally and unknowingly, I’m sure) by Google.

I have alerted Google to the incident. I will post further details if and when Google assures me that it is safe to do so.