When something ‘just works’ 99.9% of the time, that .1% of downtime is particularly frustrating. This is what I recently experienced with my Time Capsule networking fiasco, and was paralleled by another problem stemming from an Apple firmware update.
The new MacBook Pros were shipped with their SATA II data speeds crippled; they were limited to 1.5Gps rather than the SATA II 3.0Gbps standardized speed. While this had no real effect for HDD users, it did affect SSD users – SSD is capable of taking advantage of the SATA II spec, and so SSD users rightly complained.
Apple heard these complaints, and released a firmware update for the MacBook Pro line; they warned that the update might not work with non-stock drives (!) but that it would restore SATA II speeds. I decided to update the firmware, just because having an up-to-date system is a good idea. This is right-minded thinking, right?
Today I want to just briefly talk about the competition between Apple’s iPhone and Research in Motion’s Blackberry. I’m not going to bother with things like the aesthetics or the ease of using one over the other. Instead what I want to talk about is how these devices are, and will (in the iPhone’s case) be used. I’ll, as usual, provide a bit of background and then get to what is the real issue with these devices: unless secured, these devices, and other like them, can reveal a substantial amount about yourself and others, enough that it would be a relatively simple task to assume your identity and potentially negatively affect others’ identities/reputations.
Packing Some Confidential Property
I’ll admit it: whenever I go anywhere, my Blackberry comes with me. I use it to track all facets of my life: my contacts (i.e. who I know, what I know about them, notes that I see as important about them), my calendar (i.e. what I do at almost all points of my day, who I’m meeting with, why I’m meeting with them), my email (i.e the communication that I have and think should be recorded for a later date), and my instant messaging (i.e my personal discussions that let me be me with friends). This is super-convenient for me. It also means that I’m carrying a device that would give someone who found/stole it a significant insight into my life and some insight into the lives of people that I know.
Last week Google, Microsoft, and Apple revealed updates to their online data storage platforms – Google now lets users purchase additional space for their various Google applications, Microsoft provides a Live Skydrive (essentially an online network drive), and Apple completely revamped their .Mac solution.
The idea behind these services is that people that are already using, or are considering using, the aforementioned companies’ online services and will be enticed by the idea that they could store hordes of information in ‘safe’ repositories; we can trust that neither Google, Microsoft, or Apple would lose our data, right? This isn’t entirely true – at least Google and Microsoft have previously lost client data and could not always restore it. Individuals cannot count on any of these services, though they are likely to be more reliable than personal backups. What’s more, these online solutions just make life easier by letting users stop worrying about performing personal data backups – this is their real selling feature.
There are issues that emerges with all of these services – first clients cannot know what country their data is being stored in, potentially leaving their data subject to foreign surveillance laws, and second clients cannot verify what any of these corporations are actually doing with their data.