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Semiformalishmaybe

Desirability of Hardware

One significant aspect of the desirability of hardware is flexibility.

  • Device is black box that is connected to other systems through managed services or special applications. All content on the device is approved and usually produced by the content owner. Example: Most gaming consoles. This sucks.
  • Device is a black box with managed services or special applications, but content is partly open. Example: Kindle, iPod. This sucks slightly less.
  • Device is a black box with managed software choice (application signing), but there is direct, unencrypted access to the device's content storage. This can be almost ok.
  • Device is an open-but-weird platform, with open access to hardware and the operating system and content storage. The OS might not itself be open source (e.g. QNX) but users have full access to its facilities if they want it. There is no application signing. This is pretty good.
  • Device is a (possibly customised) standard open and opensource platform, with open access to everything. Typically this means it runs Linux or BSD. This is ideal.
The profit motive pushes companies towards the second level of openness detailed above. The IBM of old guaranteed itself wide popularity by being significantly more open with the PC. The move to post-PC hardware creates the risk that we'll backslide - cellphones are becoming a major platform, and they are significantly less open as a platform than computers. In this field, Google is less harmful than Apple, but it's still providing a bridge (by having application signing) towards a less open future. Getting developer versions of hardware meant for Android, when available, give one a more free device.

In an ideal world, I would not have any hardware that I could not program as well as any third-party developer, and I would be able to distribute my programs freely to people I know. We should demand this from hardware manufacturers, and keep hacking their devices in the meantime.

I've been thinking about the Archos5 Android, but don't see a developer version for sale. It would be nice to have a fully open version of the thing.

I better like the way Neuros does their stuff (practically all their products are as open as they could be), but they haven't made a portable media player for a few years and I'm not sure if they have a future.

I am apparently a minor hero of Tazza d'Oreo, given that a number of people came up to me to express their appreciation for chewing out the huckster. I've never been comfortable with that kind of thing. I think after coming to this conclusion, I was obliged (actually thanks to late-night bus scarcity) to walk home from there, which was in fact a very pleasant (albeit tiring) walk. Tazza is also very near Highland Park, which is a pretty decent place.

The next few days at work are going to be a pain in the butt - machine room moves are never smooth.

I think finally some long-term crushes are dying, which may greatly worsen or better my issues with depression. It doesn't really answer the question of "what next?". I suspect if and when I manage to pull myself together and leave this town for new frontiers, it'd still be more of a quiet slinking away from a defeat than anything else. I think a big part of it is that the difficulties of my youth are playing out in my adult life - my family moved when I was very young every time I was starting to get used to a place, and that combined with the later abuse led to mistrust of interpersonal ties. I can read other people as they interact with each other pretty well, but I am always waiting for people to expose the worst sides of themselves to me, inflating any slight lack of care (not calling, being distant or busy, not inviting me to things) into a sign that I don't mean anything to someone, and causing me to hide and bear the pain of things that are probably not real.

It doesn't hurt as much when I don't need to deal with not being able to trust myself not to read the worst in others feelings towards me - on the rare circumstance that it's explicit, I can stop caring about people except on the "basic human" level. Leah, for example, has gone well over the line to be as hurtful as possible to me, and so I'm more able to write him off as a spiteful, nasty person, even as I wonder what horrors there are in his head that create the pain needed to be like that.

Also, I scooped up Death Cab for Cutie's 「Open Door」 EP - it is quite good.

I often wish that some of the music I rather like were more popular, as I would love to hear other interpretations of it.

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