Changing The Flow

This is a heads up that I’m going to be changing the way I approach Twitter for the foreseeable future. Here is the new plan:

  • I will be treating my stream more like a microblog. I will be posting updates mainly through Reeder, Quotebook, Birdhouse, etc. This is an attempt to improve the quality and the value of the stuff I’m sharing. I want to share things that I think will add value to your precious and limited time. My hope is that you will find it worth the interruption and I will evaluate what I post based on that criteria alone.
  • I will only be dipping into my “stream” of folks I follow occasionally and will not be “catching up” by reading all the things I’ve missed. Therefore, I will likely miss some things. Which is OK. I need to reduce my fear of missing out by missing out. That said, if you feel that something requires my attention (i.e. Is it worth the interruption for me?) then I welcome your @reply, cc, or mention. I’ll be checking those for sure (see below).
  • As I do with my email, I will be responding to @replies and Direct Messages in batches and only for a certain time period every day. Unlike my stream, I will be “catching up” and reading all of these. That said, only @replies and Direct Messages that I feel require a response will receive one.

My intention is not to be aloof, condescending, or out of touch. My intention is to try this on for a while and see if it improves the value and quality for all involved. Most of all, it allows me to turn my focus to what I feel is my mission here on this rock, writing and curating.

iCloud – Conjecture, Magic, and A Fools Hope

Those who follow me on Twitter saw me drop this idea last night in my stream so this may not be new to you.

I was just thinking aloud after reading the umpteenth rumor/speculation/claim-chowder post about the alleged Apple iCloud service and the possibly to stream music from some giant locker in the sky. In almost every one of these I have read, it is speculated that one would be able to upload or store purchased music in some sort of cloud based digital locker – similar to the way Google and Amazon are doing it.

Here are some thoughts on that:

  • Why would Apple want to get into the upload game? Let those that don’t get it (see above) fail at that. All the reports I have read from those who have used the above similar services is that it sucks. Broadband speeds in America are slow, at best, on the upload stream. When was the last time Apple released anything that was slow, hard work, or difficult for, say, your Mom to understand.

  • Why would Apple have to do that? Apple likely knows what is in your iTunes library already. How? Genius. To generate those nifty Genius results in iTunes, your entire library is scanned and that data is sent to Apple where they can compare it against those of others and their purchase history.

  • Therefore, if they know what is in your library, and that info is connected to your AppleID, and that item is already on a server for sale on the iTunes store, why not just allow people to stream it? In other words, no upload needed.

This, I’m sure is bringing up a lot of questions. That’s OK. I’m here to help (which is especially easy with things I make up):

  • “But what about that live concert rip I downloaded off of Pirate Bay?”. Sorry. Can’t stream it. Has to be something for sale in the iTunes Music Store.

  • “But what about the stuff I bought from Amazon? Ripped from CD?” Buy it from Amazon? Rip it from CD? No matter. If iTunes sells it you can stream it.

  • “But most of what I listen to is not on the iTunes store!” Then, this service is not for you.

Apple does not care about the outliers here. Why should they? What’s the business case for doing so? The sales numbers tell the tale. Most regular people, the vast majority, buy their music from the iTunes Store and have for years. Such a service will be built and tailored for them.

The reason is obvious – Apple wants to make it even easier to listen to that music anywhere you have an Apple device so you buy more music. From Apple. To play on Apple products. Have an Apple product? Great! Any music you can buy in iTunes will be available to stream over WiFi or 3G to any Apple device.

Here, buy some music!

If you ever want to figure out what Apple is going to do in any case, look for these things…

1) What is the easiest to explain to anyone and everyone (Hi, Mom!)?

2) What is the simplest way to achieve the goal with the resources they already have?

3) What directly feeds the bottom line which is to sell more Apple stuff?

If your answer to any of these sounds like anything less than magic, pixie dust, and unicorn tears you are likely wrong.

Feel free to mark this as yet another piece of claim chowder and call me on it when the facts come out.

The Data Security Myth

Dropbox Lied to Users About Data Security, Complaint to FTC Alleges | Threat Level | Wired.com

Yes, it seems the whole Internet is talking about this story. That said, here is the general rule of thumb we all should be aware of as a blanket statement of security about everything:

If you want your data to be 100% secure, here’s the solution:

Don’t have data.

Anything on or attached to the Internet could be accessed no matter what. This is especially true of anything you willingly give to someone else, no matter what they promise. The only way to be safe is to locally encrypt all of your data and never, ever, attach it to the Internet. Though, that is only as safe as someone taking your machine and breaking the encryption which, well, the government could surely do if they wanted to.

The bottom line is that the moment you even have data it is at some level of risk. So the real question is how much risk are you comfortable with?

For instance, I’m reasonably sure my hosting provider could read my IMAP based email anytime they want to. I’m also reasonably sure that, someone with the right skills could hack into my local machine from afar and read whatever they wanted. Therefore, I’m not at all surprised that a company that syncs data to the cloud that I allow it to and then to other machines has the ability to read that data and hand it over to authorities if pressed to do so under threat or law.

By connecting with the Internet in the first place I’m assuming some level of risk. Having my email hosted by a 3rd party I’m assuming another. Put any of my data in the hands of anyone else (Dropbox in this instance), well, that is yet another. 

Osama Bin Laden spent years not connected to the internet and encrypting his data. This still has not stopped our government from taking his machine and finding his porn stash.

I’m trading security for personal convenience in all of these cases and it’s a risk I have, thus far, been comfortable with in the instances I have done so. A big part of that comfort comes from knowing that most of our ideas about security are stories we like to tell ourselves and each other to help us sleep comfortably at night. The Internet knows much more about us then most of our friends do from the moment the cable guy flips the switch.

So, yes, back to the Dropbox thing…

Just be reasonably careful so you can be reasonably comfortable and know that there is no such thing as secure data.

Have a nice day!

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