Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 2nd Apr 2013 21:06 UTC
In the News "Kay says that some gadgets with superficial Dynabook-like qualities, such as the iPad, have not only failed to realize the Dynabook dream, but have in some senses betrayed it. That's one of the points he makes in this interview, conducted by computer historian David Greelish, proprietor of the Classic Computing Blog and organizer of this month's Vintage Computer Festival Southeast in Atlanta (the Festival will feature a pop-up Apple museum featuring Xerox's groundbreaking Alto workstation, which Kay worked on, as well as devices which deeply reflected his influence, including the Lisa, the original Macintosh and the Newton). Kay and Greelish also discuss Kay's experiences at some of the big outfits where he's worked, including Xerox's fabled PARC labs, Apple, Disney and HP. Today, Kay continues his research about children and technology at his own organization, the Viewpoints Research Institute." A great interview with this legendary man.
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RE[5]: History
by hhas on Wed 3rd Apr 2013 22:57 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: History"
hhas
Member since:
2006-11-28

"And PC technology is rife with contrived complexity and utterly unsafe by design."

That sounds like an overgeneralization, the linux + repository model has been used successfully on desktops long before the model was used in mobile. But, linux, unlike say an ipad, gives the user the option to install from sources outside of the repository. It's a great hybrid model incorporating the best of both worlds.


And what is the consumer-friendly security model that Linux provides out of the box to ensure even the least technical user is safe from malware, online fraudsters, etc?

(I won't even comment about Linux+complexity as it applies to ordinary end-users as I cannot keep a straight face doing so.)


"But I think the ugly truth is that too many geeks like having the old status-quo, a preening elite sitting atop a vast contrived mountain of techno-crap smugly looking down on all the hapless lusers below them with their malware-riddled PCs and neverending struggles with baroque, arcane desktop applications, casual data loss, and all the other long-established brain-dead faults of that half-baked platform."

I assume your talking about windows.


No, it's a cross-platform problem. Non-technical users will struggle on any desktop OS. Regarding security (malware, scammers, etc), the biggest risk comes from social engineering: what does any OS do to tackle that? e.g. Modern web browsers can just about tell you if a web URL looks legit, though offers no guarantees as to the safety of its content. And email doesn't even do that: you've no idea if a given message is actually from the party it claims to be from. Trust and privacy are the two most priceless commodities to modern computer users; what are the platforms actually doing to deliver that? Precious little from what I can see. Heck, even a basic necessity like ensuring every desktop process is properly sandboxed is only arriving now, 20 years late, and is still greeted overwhelmingly with "how do we get rid of this" rather than "how do we ensure it works right". The desktop of every internet-connected PC is an untrusted environment and must be treated accordingly; geeks still sticking their heads in the sand saying "it can never happen to me" are part of the problem.

(And again, I won't even get onto the other usability disasters like poor HCI and rotten data safety or we'll be here all night.)


"To be blunt, I cannot help wondering just how much of the concern is over users trading some abstract 'freedom' for concrete safety and productivity, and how much is just butt-hurt spite that common users are no longer willing to play the game by the geeks' own rigged rules?"

It is genuinely a concern for freedom, both ours and normal users. My opinion may not be worth much to you, but it's not a lie.


"Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one." Or, results matter, opinions don't.

Users who are unable to control their own machines because those machines are far too complicated and unsafe for them to handle are not free. They are just as much victims as users who have vast corporate entities crawling into every aspect of their personal lives. You honestly care about the latter problem? Fix the former.

So what are you doing to create a true consumer computing platform that both meets the needs of non-technical users and preserves their personal freedom? My guess is: not a lot when you don't even comprehend why your beloved PC is such a tyrannical horror to those users in the first place. Older users are afraid to explore and experiment for fear of breaking or losing things; younger users probably will. You think you're giving them freedom, but all you're really doing is feeding them rope to hang themselves with.


"Personally I hope for a future where the vast majority of ordinary users have their day-to-day computing activities met by a safe, curated platform optimized to their particular needs, and the only folk left using PCs are those that genuinely need them."

This tells me that you don't have experience with linux, because that's exactly how the linux app repo's work on the desktop. You choose what you want installed from the repo's, and the system installs everything automatically and safely.


You mean the Linux (Ubuntu Desktop) I run on my netbook? Or the Linux (Ubuntu Server) I run on my server? Or the Linux (CentOS) VMs I used in my last job? Or the Linux I installed last week on an old laptop for a mate so he could use it for light web browsing and letter writing? (I also run Mac and Windows desktops, currently use a Win8 phone and have had an iPad in the past.) I may not live and breathe Linux to the extent that the hardcore geeks here do; OTOH, I probably bring more experience in other fields (art and design, desktop automation, book writing and editing, end-user programming, various sorts of application development, etc) and have a couple decades' experience of life as end-user, developer and even ersatz educator, so while I may not beat you on depth of experience I can likely outdo you on breadth. And alternative perspectives are something the Linux/FOSS world is painfully short on.

The notion that Linux repos or their contents are in any way inherently trustworthy is exactly the sort of dangerous naivety and ignorance of the real world that I'm talking about. The only 'safety' you get from using Linux repos is the same security-by-obscurity safety that Macs used to provide: not enough users to make them a worthwhile target to malware vendors. (Though expect that to change pretty damn quickly if the current plans to make desktop Linux the standard in China takes off.) And it still doesn't touch on the broader 'trust' concerns that, frankly, all the desktop and mobile platforms have yet to resolve.


Look, I appreciate Linux for what it is, but I also appreciate what it's not, which includes things like being non-nerd friendly. (Again, do not measure it against Mac or Windows, as those are relatively poor too.) Even the supposedly user-friendly distros like Ubuntu don't require much surface scratching before they drop you right in the soup. And even when the Linux OS itself is ticking along smoothly, the state of its desktop applications (i.e. the only reason to run a desktop OS) is really very sorry when compared to Windows, Mac, iOS or Android. And as for Linux in the mobile userland? Please don't make me laugh. I wish the likes of Canonical well on that front, but I'm not holding my breath when 90% of modern personal computing is all about delivering the larger ecosystem, not the 10% that's the OS (the only bit that Linux-heads invariably fixate on).

Linux/FOSS fans like yourself desperately need to step down from your self-congratulatory ivory tower and spend some quality time interacting with ordinary people and understanding how they live and work, and what their desires and motivations are. And then, if you successfully fuse all that practical experience with your traditional technical strengths and really work long and hard putting all that newfound wisdom to focused use, you might someday produce something that is actually directly useful to them. Otherwise you're just blowing a lot of empty smoke.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[6]: History
by Alfman on Thu 4th Apr 2013 00:17 in reply to "RE[5]: History"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

hhas,

"And what is the consumer-friendly security model that Linux provides out of the box to ensure even the least technical user is safe from malware, online fraudsters, etc?"

It offers users a software repo, which is the exact same software distribution model your talking about. Dispite your attempts to do so, you cannot criticize linux software repositories without criticizing the ipad store repositories since they are the same technical distribution model.


"'Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one.' Or, results matter, opinions don't."


I'm going to restrain myself from responding in kind, but please be more mature, ok?

You were asking if my concern over closed computing was genuinely about our freedoms, and it was.



"So what are you doing to create a true consumer computing platform that both meets the needs of non-technical users and preserves their personal freedom?"

Stop overlooking the platforms that already do this. Users who don't want to side load don't have to turn it on, those who do can do so. It's win-win. It's all so obvious I have to question your motives for painting it as an impossibility today and in the future.


"You mean the Linux (Ubuntu Desktop) I run on my netbook?"

Sure. It was illogical to claim what you said in the face of the counter examples, including Ubuntu.



"The notion that Linux repos or their contents are in any way inherently trustworthy is exactly the sort of dangerous naivety and ignorance of the real world that I'm talking about. The only 'safety' you get from using Linux repos is the same security-by-obscurity safety that Macs used to provide: not enough users to make them a worthwhile target to malware vendors."

It's the same distribution model used by IOS. You can criticize the maintainers if you want to, but the model isn't a security problem. Also, apple deserves it's own share of criticism for failing to adequately screen apps with security vulnerabilities.

http://www.osnews.com/thread?557286

If anything, linux distros like redhat probably take their repository security even more seriously than apple does since they are used for running enterprise grade systems. And because it's open source, other distributions will benefit from the fixes as well.



"And even when the Linux OS itself is ticking along smoothly, the state of its desktop applications (i.e. the only reason to run a desktop OS) is really very sorry when compared to Windows, Mac, iOS or Android."


This is a biproduct of the microsoft monopoly. Unfortunately the problem is greater than Microsoft's own software, it's all of the niche proprietary commercial software that gets built for windows and is missing for linux. For example, the tax software for all tax services in my state are built for windows. Most games are only built for windows. Services like netflix are for windows and not linux. We really do need more commercial developers to produce applications on linux and stop making commercial software windows-centric.



"Linux/FOSS fans like yourself desperately need to step down from your self-congratulatory ivory tower and spend some quality time interacting with ordinary people and understanding how they live and work, and what their desires and motivations are."

You clearly don't know me very well, I'm taking a pro-linux stance here to counteract your bias. You may perceive this as bias but I'm certainly not among those in the self-congratulatory ivory towers and I've criticized linux many times here and elsewhere. I've installed linux for non-tech people and while they didn't have much trouble doing common activities like browsing the web, checking email, or word processing, they did have problems they need to take work home, or install commercial software or games, etc. This IS a problem, and it's difficult to fix. However it's important to recognize that this problem is fundamentally caused by being a very small unsupported OS rather than technical shortcomings with the OS itself. It's why monopolies are so dangerous, they tend to self-perpetuate because they are monopolies.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[7]: History
by hhas on Thu 4th Apr 2013 13:28 in reply to "RE[6]: History"
hhas Member since:
2006-11-28

"And what is the consumer-friendly security model that Linux provides out of the box to ensure even the least technical user is safe from malware, online fraudsters, etc?"

It offers users a software repo, which is the exact same software distribution model your talking about. Dispite your attempts to do so, you cannot criticize linux software repositories without criticizing the ipad store repositories since they are the same technical distribution model.


No they're not. There is one iPad software repo, and it can be trusted roughly to the extent that Apple can be trusted. There are a myriad Linux repos, both core and third-party, and it's entirely for the user to determine the trustworthiness of each. The only reason you can point apt or yum at a Linux repo with a reasonable assumption that you won't pick up any nasties is that the Linux world isn't a sufficiently tasty target for malware authors to currently bother with. (But, as I say, if it does take off in China then that will change.)

"'Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one.' Or, results matter, opinions don't."

I'm going to restrain myself from responding in kind, but please be more mature, ok?


Oh please refrain with the delicate flower act. Once again, your opinions do not matter, only what you are actually doing to promote the freedoms you care about. (Hint: talking about it on the internet does not count.) e.g. Making Linux a genuinely palatable alternative for all those poor gullible iPad-loving sheeples that you claim to be concerned about might be a good start. And if you don't care about the iPad sheeples, then why are you posting in this thread? As I've pointed out elsewhere, if you don't like the closed Apple/Google/MS platforms yourself, don't buy into them. If you genuinely want unencumbered mobile/tablet hardware, stop sitting on your asses waiting for the big guys to produce something you can then glom onto for free, and build your own instead.

"So what are you doing to create a true consumer computing platform that both meets the needs of non-technical users and preserves their personal freedom?"

Stop overlooking the platforms that already do this. Users who don't want to side load don't have to turn it on, those who do can do so. It's win-win. It's all so obvious I have to question your motives for painting it as an impossibility today and in the future.


See: the Golden Rule, i.e. He who owns the Gold makes the Rules. IOW, Apple could not give a stinky crap for your sense of self-entitlement. They owe you nothing. OTOH, you owe them nothing either. If you dislike certain aspects of their business model, create your own competing model that provides all of the same benefits without those disadvantages. Stop telling them how to run their own business though: they do not take orders from you, so all you're really doing is puffing your ego to feel like you're doing something useful when all you're really doing is wasting your own (and others') time.

"And even when the Linux OS itself is ticking along smoothly, the state of its desktop applications (i.e. the only reason to run a desktop OS) is really very sorry when compared to Windows, Mac, iOS or Android."

This is a biproduct of the microsoft monopoly.


Utter crap, and as long as Linuxites like yourself continue to make such excuses it is never, ever going to get any better.

Unfortunately the problem is greater than Microsoft's own software, it's all of the niche proprietary commercial software that gets built for windows and is missing for linux.


Once again, your sense of entitlement is showing through. Application vendors have absolutely zero obligation to make their products run on your platform. It is a simple cost-vs-benefit decision for them: will the expense of porting be sufficiently offset by total increased sales?

And let's not forget the first greeting that commercial vendors receive when they do release closed source products on Linux: endless tantrums and whining from the FOSS True Religionites who aren't even the target audience for those products because closed-source is the work of the Great Satan wharrgarble and they should open it up and all essentially work for free. As if saying 'make it open source' will magically result in a viable business model for every possible type of product. (For stuff like development or hosting tools where long-term support contracts are a major part of income, sure; for shrink-wrapped consumer apps, much less likely.) The FOSS business model works well for products created by and for FOSSers themselves, because the people who make the investment are the ones who use the resulting products.

For example, the tax software for all tax services in my state are built for windows. Most games are only built for windows. Services like netflix are for windows and not linux. We really do need more commercial developers to produce applications on linux and stop making commercial software windows-centric.


Once again, what is in it for these vendors? What are you going to do to make it worth their time and expense? e.g. Pay a premium price; make Linux accessible to a far larger - i.e. non-geek - market; what? Or are you just going to keep blowing smoke at me?

"Linux/FOSS fans like yourself desperately need to step down from your self-congratulatory ivory tower and spend some quality time interacting with ordinary people and understanding how they live and work, and what their desires and motivations are."

You clearly don't know me very well, I'm taking a pro-linux stance here to counteract your bias.


Yeah, and you don't understand me at all. I have this bias: it's called "seeing harsh reality as it is (and trying to figure smart or sneaky-ass ways around it)".

For instance, I've ranted in the past about the fundamentally brain-damaged design model followed by so many desktop environment and application projects, slavishly recycling the clapped out metaphors of Xerox Star and vast inflexible monolithic architectures of MS Office. You sit on your asses waiting for someone else to figure out a solution that works for them, then you try to copy it. The result? Third-rate copies of the original, crippled by incredibly expensive development and maintenance processes.

It's like nobody in Linuxland has heard of Unix Philosophy, never mind understand what it is or find ways of putting it into effect. Apple/Google/MS can afford to play billion-dollar stakes games where they can burn a million just to light their cigars; FOSS/Linux cannot, so why do you keep trying to pretend you can?

Stop copying their designs, stop copying their construction processes. Develop relationships with creative and logical thinkers in other disciplines - artists, writers, HCI gurus, functional programmers, etc. - and brainstorm some really good original ideas. Stop building vast insanely manpower-expensive monolithic apps, and start building lots of small, simple, pluggable component systems. Stop forking endless me-too projects, steal or merge the best ideas to create fewer, stronger distros, and cull the rest to improve the health of the herd as a whole.

There's a lot FOSS/Linux could do, if only it has the brains and balls to break out of its arrogant, indolent, self-serving state.

However it's important to recognize that this problem is fundamentally caused by being a very small unsupported OS rather than technical shortcomings with the OS itself. It's why monopolies are so dangerous, they tend to self-perpetuate because they are monopolies.


Sure; and if it was Linux that was the Monopoly, you wouldn't be sitting here saying that. Once again, you are making excuses instead of asking yourself: "What can the Linux community do to make itself stronger?" and coming up with useful answers to that.

Reply Parent Score: 2