People make the same mistake regarding smart watches that people made when digital watches were introduced - you think they will render mechanical watches obsolete.
But they didn't. And neither will the smartwatch.
I love watches and I especially value the artistry, intricacy and complexity of a mechanical timepiece. You could claim I fetishise such watches if you wish, but I would prefer to say that I appreciate them. A Swiss Watch with a mechanical movement is often a quite beautiful thing and you can trace it's lineage back through generations of craftsmen. That has value. It's worth preserving and keeping alive.
Luckily, mechanical watches are still useful, purposeful and relevant. A mechanical watch is a better timepiece in the same way that a single-purpose device such as a Kindle is a better e-reader than a tablet; the focus on doing one thing well dials down the mental noise and allows us to concentrate. Even in the details, a conventional chronograph wins. Power reserve is important. My company car has a small fuel tank and I have to refill it once every two days. It just takes a few minutes, but it's an inconvenience and I've come to dislike the car. And so it is with watches - my litle mechanical Seiko winds itself through the motion of my body. It won't run out of battery and it will likely still be useful and functional after a generation of Apple Watches have been and gone. As a timepiece, it's simply better than a smartwatch, because it does less and it does it better. It has convenience on it's side. Less really is more.
Now, I've nothing against the Apple Watch and its Android contemporaries. I've got a few sports and trekking watches and various other wrist-worn tools. They're pretty cool and I like them, but they don't render traditional mechanical watches redundant. They just complement them.
I'm sure you all appreciate fine things. You may own a number of Apple products and they're often about more than just function. They're about form, too. Can't you see how a conventional wristwatch can still be functional, beautiful and contemporary?
One day when I'm feeling more monied than I am now, I intend to purchase an Omega Speedmaster Professional. I connected with the Omega brand in the 1970s as my father wore a Seamaster. Sometimes I would lift it off his bedside cabinet and wear it to school. I've got a vintage Seamaster now, just like he wore and despite being more than 30 years' old, it looks great and still performs that one crucially important task - telling the time - really well. The Speedmaster is a different proposition. It doesn't just look great, it has an amazing past - the first watch worn on the Moon. It was chosen by Nasa after exhasutive tests. It's the historicity and provenance that makes me want it - not the price. When you wrote "quite a few of those who proclaim a love of expensive mechanical watches will soon find out that they just have a love of expensive things on their wrists", it occurred to me that this was a pretty shallow evaluation. Those who really love the Speedmaster Professional, for instance, lust not after some jewel-encrusted precious metal version of that watch, but the original flight-qualified Nasa model with a plastic 'hesalite' crystal instead of sapphire.
It's cheaper, but it's more desirable, because watches are about much more than just "expensive things on your wrist". Peter M.
I doctored the above comment by Peter a little because it was a response and I thought it would make for a good standalone article. It's rare for me to agree with almost every word someone writes, but I am a watch wearing likeminded sole in this instance.
Some of you have complained about the amount of watch coverage on Lost In Mobile recently, but I will counter with the fact that the vast majority of that coverage has been about the smart variety. Whether I believe that smart watches will be successful or not, they won't be, they will be worth writing about for the next few months until someone blows us away with a remarkable new phone.
Ok, I've been looking around about the S6... so... more Apple-like device, metal body, this is great. Apple products have great design, material being metal I always said it was a way to go. So, improvements in this area. They copied Apple?... it's just enough for a product to have round corners these days to be Apple-copied :-)
Now... the part I don't like: no battery replaceable (that's a feature people liked over Apple) and no SD Card! That's another feature people liked over Apple. Now we must pay for the whole GB and dispose the device when battery is faulty. More money for Samsung I guess...
Bottom line: Samsung is going after the winner's formula - Apple. Oh well... Rui.
I don't believe Samsung has copied Apple because of the non-removable battery and lack of expansion cards, no one surely does, but I think it is sad to see these hardware features disappear. For many people they are vital and in my view they offer a compelling differentiator over the iPhones which is now lost.
Samsung does have a habit of following Apple, but in this case I think the company is throwing out the advantages of the Galaxy range and for what? If it is to improve build quality and challenge Apple at the hardware game, that is not a fight it will win.
I think there is a lot to like in the Galaxy S6. The better build quality, smarter charging, better screen etc etc and the Galaxy S6 Edge brings something new to the Galaxy range. What I don't get, however, is that the S6 needs to be two different devices. If the edged screen is a winner, then why the need for the standard S6? It appears that Samsung is not totally convinced of the idea to let it run on its own.
The HTC One M9 is even more refined in terms of hardware than before and it appears that the company has finally decided to put a proper camera in its flagship phone. Lots of nice touches come together well to make this a true contender.
The Huawei Watch looks sweet in terms of the design, but otherwise it appears to be just another Android Wear offering.
The watch's battery life will last the whole day, Cook says, in another revelation that will please potential users, and it won't take as long to charge as an iPhone. He praises Ive again when it comes to watch's "incredible" charger, which will use a special magnet technology which the British designer has created for efficiency as well as beauty... More at The Telegraph.
I read the above article yesterday and the statement about battery life stood out to me. Cook's 'revelation' that the Apple Watch will only need charging once a day will apparently 'please potential users'. Obviously I disagree with the positive spin on that and presumably so will many others.
On 9th March Apple will offer more details about the Apple Watch and supposedly we will be able to buy it in April, but I remain wholeheartedly confused by this entire smart watch business. It makes no sense, it never has and it needs to change in a dramatic way to come close to the success of the phone that it currently relies on to do anything useful.
My experience with watches is considerable and I have been reluctantly dragged into the world of smart watches as well on a professional level. I feel that I am at a point where I can judge what is out there pre-Apple Watch and make a guess as to what the blessed wrist ornament from Cupertino will offer that can change the industry.
I wear the above Seiko dive watch every day and feel attached to it for many different reasons. It is quite beautiful, to me, it is highly accurate and it never needs charging. When I go diving up to 200 metres (I never go diving) it can cope and it also displays the date. That's it.
It does nothing else and does not need to because I only look at it occasionally during the day and if I wake in the middle the night, the loom still shows me the time. It only tells the time, but knowing the time is kind of important and not even knowing it is there the majority of the time means that it has succeeded.
Admittedly I am more of an enthusiast of watches than the average person, but when I read so many words about how Apple is about to change the watch industry for the better, I get just a little annoyed. Those who believe that Jonny Ive is a genius who has created something magical with the Apple Watch do not understand the design magic that is already there. The man who supposedly said that the "Swiss watch industry is fucked" has created a small computer that fits on your wrist, not a design inspiration when compared to what we have now.
Take a look at the IWC Portuguese Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition above. Whether you understand watches or not, it is obvious to me that the Apple Watch does not hold a candle to it in terms of emotion, design or sheer miniaturised complexity. Admittedly this watch retails for $66,800, but there are only 25 of them being made in platinum and you can buy very, very good mechanical watches for less than $10,000, which is apparently what the Edition Apple Watch may retail for.
Ultimately, it makes no sense to compare traditional watches to smart watches because they are completely different things. They each tell the time, but ironically that is such a small part of the equation it really does not matter. In terms of affluence, demographics, fashion and almost everything else, smart watches are not going to replace traditional watches in the foreseeable future purely on the basis that they do not replace what so many people love about mechanical watches already. In fact, they do not replace normal quartz watches either because of the battery baggage that is currently present.
Before I move on to specific types of smart watch, we should consider the times when they will be used. The move towards bigger phones (iPhone 6 Plus, Galaxy Note, LG G3 etc) means that we tend to carry them around in our pockets less and are more likely to have them in our hands. This naturally limits the occasions where it makes sense to look at a notification on your wrist, if that is ever a worthwhile activity anyway, when the phone is already in your hand. The bigger the phone, the less convenient a smart watch becomes- it's bizarre, but true.
The fact that smart watches do not necessarily replace traditional watches is not the biggest problem facing them at this time. Well, I guess that technically it is because for millions and millions of people a watch is something they can rely on which never gets in the way. They don't think about it and they likely see no use case for a device that requires work and which brings interruptions even closer than they were before.
This of course brings me conveniently to Android Wear which I have had extensive experience of recently by way of the LG G Watch R and the Moto 360. I much preferred the LG to the Moto for the build quality and general design, and the fact that the 360 feels very cheaply built and is haphazard at best when it comes to recognising taps and swipes. They both look like watches and are what some would consider fashionable, but ultimately they are using a platform which feels experimental at best.
At this time, Android Wear feels like an early iteration of Android back in the day. It looks nice and is polished visually, but it is awfully cumbersome to use. Notifications and the like pop up which is good and they do make sense, but when you then have to interact with them the experience becomes immediately frustrating and you soon wonder why you didn't bother getting your phone out of your pocket anyway, or in the case of a big phone, why you didn't move your eyes to the right rather than the left.
Add to this the shallow interpretation of what a watch should look like which is followed by the preference to make a round watch. It makes no sense because Android Wear is square and the adjustments that have been made to allow for this have generally been negative. The black bar at the bottom of the 360 and the huge bezel surrounding the LG are perfect evidence of why an Android Wear smart watch should be square and it seems as though that realisation is starting to come through with the Asus Zenwatch and others that are appearing.
Throw in a charge a day and you have the perfect storm of reasons why Android Wear is not fit for purpose at this time, and particularly at the prices the watches are selling for. Android Wear, to me, feels like a rushed project based on a rumour that Apple was making a watch and the complete lack of imagination involved is baffling. It is in effect a watch OS that any of us could have come up with and one which highlights the need to get it to market as quacky as possible rather than in a quality manner.
The darling of the tech watch industry and with good reason has just announced the Pebble Time. It follows the Pebble / Pebble Steel and is an iteration on what came before, but that is not a bad thing because up until this point the software and hardware have worked well together.
Pebble understands the need to measure battery life in days rather than hours, and also realises the limitations of the smart watch form. Notifications, time and limited apps work well on a smart watch and that is really all you need. If you can bundle step tracking and decent battery performance in a good looking form, you are getting close to cracking the conundrum that is the smart watch.
I have been wearing a Pebble Steel for a few days as part of a project and must admit that I have grown fond of it. Unlike the plastic Pebble, which is a bit of a monstrosity in terms of aesthetics, it feels well made and is different enough to not stand out as a smart watch. That sounds backwards, but it kind of makes sense because at no point would most people see what is on my wrist as a smart watch. It looks like a throwback from the 1970's which is rarely a bad thing when it comes to watches. For all of the horrible clothes, beige furniture and ridiculous hairstyles, the 1970's threw up some incredibly great watch designs which still survive to this day.
In my experience, the Pebble watches are very usable, offer some benefits and get out of the way when you need them to, but there remains the problem that for most people, the need for one is not there. I admit that there have been occasions when simply being able to look down at my wrist to check an incoming notification has been useful, but it has never been something that was necessary. It still feels more like novelty than necessity to me.
The Apple Watch
It is possible that Apple has created a watch that makes the daily charing worthwhile. It is possible that the experience will be as mind blowing as the first iPhone was compared to other smartphones of the period. And it is likely that it will sell in the millions.
If the experience is truly great and it lifts the smart watch industry to a whole new level I am more than prepared to eat my words and enjoy the experience. It would be fantastic if Apple has created something that makes me look at my normal watches, 31 of them at the last count, and think that they are not useful enough in comparison.
I want the Apple Watch to change my mind and to help me through a busy day, but the battery issue remains at the forefront of my mind. My experience with iPhones has been that they never get me through one day, apart from the 6 Plus which just manages. Apple's battery predictions have not come close to reality for me in the past and I am concerned that I could be wearing a device that by 2pm is out of power and that all of the hassle comes straight back to haunt me.
The Apple Watch looks way better than any Android Wear device to me and will likely offer a more positively emotional experience than the Pebbles, and Apple has been careful to limit what it can do which is a good thing. The company always takes time to understand what works well within a specific form and I trust the designers to only give me what will work, but as someone who wears a watch 24 hours a day, I will likely be swapping the Apple Watch over at night for it to charge.
The need to remove a watch from my wrist to give it enough power has to be justified by the benefits it offers. I can easily do that with my iPhone because the benefits are huge and I do not have it attached to me all of the time, but the perceived hassle increases exponentially with a watch. For those of us who have worn watches for many years, the idea of removing it to give it some power feels completely alien and it is of course one of the biggest hurdles for Apple and anyone else entering this industry.
In time we will see smart watches that work perfectly using solar power or some kind of kinetic movement, but that will not happen in the near future. Watches have only required enough power to keep the hands moving or the time synchronised atomically and there has not been a requirement for more. This has led to stagnation within the watch industry in terms of power, which is understandable, and so Apple and the like have to take on the challenge of offering more functionality in a small space and keeping it powered over long periods.
The smart watch market is perfectly poised for Apple. The current crop feel like computers and are, on the whole, poorly designed in terms of hardware and software. It is the smartphone industry in 2007 all over again and you and I know that only Apple can lift it to new heights. That is not being fanboy-ish, that is merely looking at what has come before and expecting history to repeat itself. The others will scurry around to 'coincidentally' change the way their smart watch software works and masses will gradually start to become aware of these new wrist-based tools.
Whether you like Apple or not, the smart watch industry is not going to move forward outside of niche circles until something special comes along, and that could happen on 9th March. There are people like me, however, who remain to be convinced by the entire concept, but I am more than willing to give it a damn good try.
Let's get the battery life question out of the way. How long does the battery last? About two years. That's right, the MMT movement is designed to be like traditional quartz battery-operated watches that require a new battery each few years. Frédérique Constant and MotionX determined that their target demographic doesn't want to charge things on a regular basis, and from the start, having a "reasonable amount of battery life" was a priority.
The data from the combined fitness tracking features of the watch are displayed graphically, and with customizable goals, in an attractive app that uses the now popular graphical styles many people are becoming used to. It isn't clear what people are doing with all this activity data, but people sure seem to be interested in it. I do however believe in the power of "suggestive alerts" that help people know they have been too sedentary or that they haven't completed their daily goals. The managements at Frédérique Constant and Alpina both expressed a lot of surprise at just how much this type of information has impacted their lives... More at A Blog To Watch.
Ever since its launch of the Mondaine/SBB Swiss Railways watch in 1986, Mondaine has been synonymous with Switzerland and, by extension, Swiss watchmaking. Its use of such iconic emblems, such as its SBB Swiss railway clock and the Helvetica® font, has meant it is inextricably linked to this Alpine country and that most Swiss of pursuits.
Now Mondaine has launched a watch that proudly references its past, while simultaneously taking a bold step into its future. The Mondaine Helvetica No 1 Smart will be its first-ever smartwatch... More at Mondaine.
These watches may not offer all of the tech Android Wear devices and the Apple Watch do, but please don't tell me that the latter is a brilliant watch design. These two are stunning.
Last Friday, as I often do first thing in the morning, I caught up on the various blogs I follow. One of my online acquaintances, who often writes about controversial topics that brings them not just a lot of criticism, but many a death threat, was one of the updates I looked at. I read the article, which was, in my opinion, humorous, but harsh.
So I tweeted them, saying hey, that was a bit harsh. They came back with a funny response. I wrote back saying, yeah but I think it was harsh, and while what they do is great, such articles might scare the people who write to them about their expertise.
What followed was, if I have to put it mildly, really rather annoying.
There was retaliation. There was shouts of ‘are you telling me to how to do my job’, shouts of ‘provide proof of your claims’, and of course constant retweeting of things I had said, out of context. There is following, and there was a lot of support for them. There were shouts of me being an idiot. They came back to me saying that what I said was nothing but ‘BS’, and I had no grounds to stand on.
It was getting late. I had to go to work, and frankly I had no time for such games. I told them as such, took my leave, and headed to work. The thing didn’t continue from there, apart from me getting occasional notifications of people favouriting or retweeting parts of that encounter, none of them making me look good mind. It was annoying, it was sad, it was a bit depressing.
Thing is, I have known this person, their fight, and their cause for a while. I have supported them at every issue they have got into, and over the many years I had thought we were ‘online friends’. The kind of people you tend to trust on the likes of Twitter.
Now, I am not writing this to moan about them. I am not writing to say that I had the moral high ground, they were wrong, or any of that.
What I want to ask is, is online aggression making normal or good people also aggressive online? Has this person, who has been through a lot of online abuse, just resorted to looking at any criticism, even if light hearted, as an act of aggression, and formed an automatic line of defensive attack?
Is it better to give them the benefit of the doubt, keeping in mind what they have already gone through, or is it better to let them know that they are forming what is an unending chain, that they are becoming part of the problem, and not the solution?
It troubles me, and confuses me, their reaction to what I thought was a light hearted friendly comment. However, does the fact that they have had a lot of time to practise retaliation against online abuse mean they should practice it willy nilly? Sami (OxGadgets)
Earlier this week my iMac crashed (first time in 3 years) and rebooted itself, and I have had no sound since. Neil (as usual) helped by suggesting some fixes, but alas none have worked and I still have no internal speakers listed as output options. This is what I have tried so far-
Reset the PRAM
Reset the System Management Controller (SMC)
Tried headphones (no sound from them either)
Checked all other areas such as muting, sound preferences, audio midi setup etc and I have also killed "coreaudiod" and "coreserviced" and refreshed Finder, but to no avail.
I sold a laptop a couple of months ago and the buyer put in a claim saying that it was not fit for purpose. After exchanging a few messages, he realised that he had made a mistake and that my laptop was working perfectly. As it happens, he had bought 2 laptops and the other one was broken.
He contacted eBay and they reversed his claim and all was sorted, or so I thought. On a recent report the auction was still showing as the only negative on my account so I contacted eBay and asked them to rectify the situation. Here follows the bizarre replay which in places makes no sense, which in others is quite patronising and which ultimately does not fix the problem at all. The strange bits are in bold and the contradictory bits are italicised-
Thank you for contacting eBay Customer Service. My name is Marisol and it's my pleasure to assist you about defect rate for the item xxxxxx you have sold. I understand that you want us to remove the defect rates given to you for the return request initiated by your buyer. I want you to know that I really appreciate you for making sure that you were able to resolve the issues with your buyers. I would also like to extend my deepest apologies if the defect rate counts, though I commend you for getting a positive feedback from it. d. I'd be pleased to provide you with more details on how we reached our decision.
You are important to me and I do not want you to have problem with this transaction for I know that you are a genuine seller and I believe that you wanted to give a world class customer service to all of your trading partners. I want you to know that I can give the satisfactory resolution that you truly deserve.
For your returned case, I know for a fact that the return request was closed by the buyer. In this instance the defect was under the opened cases which we cannot remove those defect rates because buyers filed a claim as they did not meet the buyer expectations.
I've acknowledged your eagerness to resolve all of your issue. As I can see from your profile, these will have least effect on your current selling performance as you are still above standard seller. What you can do on your succeeding listings is to continue providing excellent service to your buyers. I've also included the link below so you could have more tips regarding item description and using photos:
For more tips for defect removal policy:
We appreciate that you are part of eBay and I trust that I was able to clarify this matter for you. I wish you all the best in your future transactions on eBay.
eBay Customer Service
I’m a lawyer, and that’s a pretty sedentary job. Day in, day out, I sit at my desk, and read, and think, and write. I can go hours without moving from my chair, hardly moving at all. And, having done that for the last 10 or so years, it has not done me any favours physically. I have the luxury of time now to exercise far more often, and I have always enjoyed swimming, so I wanted to do more of that.
Whilst I sometimes like to be left alone with just my thoughts, swimming for length after length after length can get a little dull, so I thought I would try to find a way to listen to music, perhaps podcasts, as I swim. And that led me to trying to waterproof an iPod. (Perhaps I should just get used to focusing, free from distractions, rather than trying to find a way to keep myself entertained, but that’s not the way I have gone, for now.)
What made me try it? The cheap (<£15) units I bought from eBay lasted a couple of weeks at most, and the dedicated units are all more than I wanted to spend. And, I like a project… I had read online that some people had had luck waterproofing an iPod Shuffle by packing it full of silicone grease, so that was what I decided to try.
What did I buy?
I bought a 2GB iPod Shuffle on eBay for £20, a set of waterproof headphones for £8, and a tube of silicone grease for £2. If it worked, I had an underwater music player for £30; if it failed, I was not going to be too much out of pocket. But I hoped it would work!
The iPod arrived, a little bit battered, and with the previous owner’s music still on it, but it powered up immediately, and sounded fine. A quick reformat and a battery charge, and I left it playing to test the battery — as long as it had a couple of hours, sufficient for two swims, I would be happy, but after four or so hours, I switched it off, as the battery seemed fine.
When the silicone grease arrived, the nozzle on the tube was quite large. Too large for squeezing the grease into the iPod’s headphone socket, so I bought a 10ml oral syringe from a pharmacy. Another £0.60 committed…
Finally, with all the pieces assembled, I got to work.
I squeezed 2ml of grease into the syringe, pushed the plunger to eliminate most of the air, and squeezed it gently into the iPod’s headphone socket.
The 2ml went in without a problem, and I squeezed another 1ml into the syringe. About half went in easily and, conscious that I wanted to make sure the inside was absolutely packed with grease, I pushed the plunger harder, forcing the rest into the iPod.
That turned out to be a bad move, as the force of the grease pushed the iPod’s click wheel out of place.
I tried trying to press it back down, without success. For a moment, I wondered whether my projected ended there and then…
Deciding that there must be a way to fix it, I poked carefully at the part of the wheel still in place, and realised that it was just held in place the sliding the outer rim of the wheel under the blue metal casing. Working with a toothpick and my fingers, I pushed the exposed rim back under the casing, hoping that it would work.
It clicked back into place gradually, until the whole thing was re-seated. I put in some headphones and turned the iPod on nervously. Music played, and I tried the buttons. For a disappointing moment, I was unable to turn up the volume — the button under the segment of the wheel which had popped out — but I tried pushing harder, and it worked. Phew.
The next step was to seal the back with superglue, which passed relatively uneventfully. I wanted the clip to work, so I applied the superglue in stages, using a cotton bud to make sure the glue went into the cracks, mopping the runaway drips quickly, to prevent them going into the click wheel. After leaving it a couple of minutes to dry, and — gently — trying to push more grease into the headphone socket, it was the moment of truth.
I put the earphones back in, and turned it on. Everything worked.
I tentatively lowered the iPod into a glass of water…
… and the music continued to play.
After leaving it for a couple of minutes, I tried changing tracks, and that worked too.
I left it in the water for a couple of hours, and the music kept on playing. Redunking it some hours later, and it still did exactly what was required of it.
Time will tell how it stands up to being immersed in chlorinated water for an hour or so at a time. I am prepared to inject more silicone grease into the iPod every so often, to ensure it is fully loaded to maximise its chances of repelling water from the undoubtedly delicate electronics within it.
Fingers crossed but so far, so good. £30.60 and an underwater iPod. Neil Brown.
At its heart, Pebble Time is an awesome watch. The new color e-paper display is easy to read and always-on, perfect for displaying incoming notifications and your favorite watchface. Compared with display technology like LCD or OLED, power consumption is minimized, enabling Pebble Time to achieve an industry-leading battery life of up to 7 days... More at kickstarter.
The Pebble Time feels like a Palm OS phone in a world of Windows Mobile phones (Android Wear) and high-end classy mobiles (Apple Watch).
You know my thoughts on Android Wear, which are not particularly positive, and I am skeptical about the Apple Watch (may change that view when I see it though), but Pebble Time looks functional, practical and fun; three traits that are always useful in watches.
Five months on from the release of iOS 8, and following six rounds of bugfixes, Apple's flagship mobile platform that powers almost three out of four iPhone and iPads is still riddled with bugs.
I'm just going to come out and say it - this is a mess. If we were talking about cosmetic stuff like a badly laid out user interface or poor selection of wallpapers then I could overlook the issues, but they aren't. These are bugs relating to core systems such as Wi-Fi, cellular connectivity, Bluetooth, and stability and performance... More at ZDNet.
The article above is somewhat hyperbolic, but one of the commenters raised an issue that I suffer with multiple times a day- "For me, the biggest problem is that web pages crash and have to reload so frequently. This is happening on all my iPads and my iPhone 6."
US and British intelligence agencies hacked into a major manufacturer of Sim cards in order to steal codes that facilitate eavesdropping on mobiles, a US news website says.
The Intercept says the revelations came from US intelligence contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The Dutch company allegedly targeted - Gemalto - says it is taking the allegations "very seriously".
It operates in 85 countries and has more than 40 manufacturing facilities... More at the BBC.
We all take great care with personal information relating to bank accounts, logins and the like, and we all feel that we do a good job of that.
Those of us who are tech-savvy likely use online cloud services for many tasks and we have no choice, but to trust the companies running these services. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Dropbox etc. etc. No matter what you store, the pieces could be put together to do some damage such as stealing an identity or taking money. We have to rely on these companies to look after our own interests and in many ways we have already given up on the idea of complete control over our own information.
We actually gave up years ago. Any of you who pay your gas or water bill online give over a lot of information about your identity. Amazon, Gmail, Twitter etc. etc. Thousands of people within the companies you deal with know about you and can access your information. Go back further to the pre-internet days and it was the same. From your bank to your electricity provider, your information has always been there for people to sift through if they so wish. The fact that it is now online is not a significant difference. Well, at least it wasn't.
The story above brought home to me just how invasive those with the right tools and the wrong motivations can be if they so wish. When I considered that my SIM card has been hacked before I even put it in my phone, the realisation hit me that there is no privacy any more.
I can relax in the knowledge that I have never broken the law, apart from riding my first moped without road tax when I was 17, that I pay my taxes as I should and that I am not a terrorist or a peopdaphile. However, I still feel uneasy knowing that access to my conversations (vocal and digital) can easily be tracked at the flick of a switch somewhere.
If I am honest, I don't know what to think about all of this. Long ago, I gave up on the notion of true privacy for all of the reasons above and realise that if I am to use online services, that is the price I must pay. There is always a risk of my personal data being compromised and my focus, like many others, has been on banking and other stuff that can financially harm me or my family. It is only recently, however, that I have considered that even the most mundane of phone conversations is out there as well for someone to listen to.
It is sad to say, but as a normal person who just goes about his day to day life in a boringly normal way, I guess I should just give up on the notion of true privacy.
Nice follow up from Bob-
I think a big part of the issue is who, government, company or individual, has your information, how much do they have, and what is their intent with it.
When we give information to a utility company or a company like Amazon, we trust that the information will be kept securely. The "contract" is that the information is made available in order to do business. You want the services or goods that are provided and in return, you are willing to share some of your otherwise private information.
I venture to say that we trust governments less than we do most private companies. We share with the government only what we have to by law. In fact, many of us only share what we absolutely have to with private companies as well. For example, how often do you provide your credit card information when you can use PayPal. Is PayPal more reliable and secure? Not necessarily, but it is to their advantage to be so. That is the service they are selling.
What the NSA did and does, along with most, if not all, equivalent agencies in other countries, is to retrieve your information, private or otherwise, without your permission, and in many cases, without your knowledge. That is invasion of privacy. Yes they do it in the name of protection or fighting terrorism, but for that to work, we have to trust that they will not misuse the information. Would we willingly provide this information if asked?
Over and above that concern, there remains the fact that it is people who are behind this. It's not the NSA as an organization that decided to do these things. Rather it is people within that organization who decided to do them and who use the information obtained. I am not as concerned about them having the information as I am about potential misuse.
Could the NSA be hacked? Could someone with access to potentially damaging information be coerced or bribed into giving it up?
Actually my biggest concern is that people with no ill intent are caught saying something that is misconstrued. We're not allowed to yell "fire" in a theatre. We're not allowed to talk about bombs or terrorism in airport security lines, although what real terrorist would. What happens if we're discussing terrorism with a friend and the discussion is picked up and interpreted to be plotting or conspiratorial. If that happens enough, we will be very careful about what we say. Then we lose not only our privacy, but our freedom to say what we think.
On a recent bleak, winter afternoon in the Flatiron District Paul Schweitzer was once again hard at work, trying to breathe life into a black, jazz-age Underwood typewriter. Behind his spectacles was a furrowed brow and behind that was a tangle of keys, steel, carrying cases and filing cabinets of rollers, spools, levers and keys, a morgue of mechanical guts.
To Schweitzer’s right, his son, Justin, performed a surgery of sorts on an IBM Wheelwriter, its beige frame cast aside and green electric boards splayed open. The smell of ink and WD-40 hung in the air, and only the occasional phone call or test clank of a machine’s keys interrupted their focus. The elder Schweitzer had spent the morning schlepping around the city with a black leather bag doing “house calls.” More at Medium.
Well worth saving for reading later.
Right now, you’re probably listening to music on your computer. The source of that music — whether you’re listening to an mp3 file or streaming — is a compressed version of a file that was much more detailed, but way larger. It’s worth interrupting your music for a moment and asking: What sounds are you missing?
To get a sense, watch the video above, created by Ryan Maguire, a Ph.D. student in Composition and Computer Technologies at the University of Virginia Center for Computer Music, for a project called The Ghost In The Mp3. It’s a song made with only the sounds that were left out when compressing Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” to mp3... More at deathandtaxes.
An interesting experiment which 'possibly' highlights what we are missing.
First of all, I wear a traditional watch at the moment. Yesterday I played with a student's S. Gear and because he didn't have his phone near (they're not allowed phones turned on and with them at school) it was fairly reduced in its use. But not as ugly as I thought it would be and kinda fun. Still, it soon became obvious that really, you needed to go back to your phone to do anything. Which again brings me back to having the traditional style watch with an overlay to give basic information or functionality about what's going on with your phone. That for me is the future of a traditional watch. It all looks like it always has, and when something of your choosing needs your attention it appears on top, subtle and classy. Vincent.
AMERICAN AND BRITISH spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The hack was perpetrated by a joint unit consisting of operatives from the NSA and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ. The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQ document, gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data... More at The Intercept.
If normal people did this, they would be locked up (forever).
Motorola's president has defended its "build-your-phone" programme after harsh words from Apple's lead designer.
Jony Ive appeared to attack the Moto Maker scheme in an interview in which he criticised the idea of giving consumers huge choice over how their handsets were made to appear.
Rick Osterloh, president of Motorola, told the BBC his company had a "different philosophy".
And he criticised Apple in turn, calling its prices "outrageous".
Sir Jonathan specifically asked the New Yorker magazine not to name the company he had been "scathing about", but a campaign launched by Motorola in late 2013 matches the description he gave.
"Their value proposition was, 'Make it whatever you want. You can choose whatever colour you want,'" Sir Jonathan is quoted as saying.
"And I believe that's abdicating your responsibility as a designer." More at the BBC.
Nice response from Rick Osterloh. I don't believe for one moment that the iPhones are overpriced for what they are, but I appreciate what Motorola has done recently. The company has shown what can be done at a low price point and is moving ahead nicely. I would have thought that Motorola should be the least likely to be criticised by Apple, but maybe that's a sign that it is a threat.