Friday, September 2, 2016

Hang 'em High!

Anyone who has seen an old Clint Eastwood sphagetti western knows this popular and often pungent movie title and theme. Old Clint rides into town, looking like some forlorn homeless man smoking a stogy riding a moth-eaten horse wearing a huge 6-gun on his hip! When challenged by the bad guys it turns out he is a dead eye shot inspiring fear in those same bad guys! Death for the "stranger" is not an option, it is a given! Maybe we need ole Clint on the Internet. There certainly are enough bad guys (and to be PC, probably girls too)!

I am sitting here at 3 a.m., unable to sleep and was planning on catching up a bit on my blog writing when I stupidly agreed to update my iMac with yet another security update. First it was the iPhone and iPad a few days ago and then this morning an insistent bouncing icon on my computer bar finally convinced me that I should do the update. It was relentless. If I said later it wanted to know when. I don't know ... next year? However, that option wasn't available so I finally clicked to start it. It was huge; 414 MB but after 8 minutes seemed fast enough. At 3 a.m. all the geeks are finally in bed. All seemed to go well enough until after a restart 8 or so minutes later all that I got, or saw, was a grey screen, an Apple logo and a solid bar that just sat there. After 15 minutes, I turned the iMac off, and picked up a book. The MacBook Pro I decided to update had the same problem, a grey screen. After a page of a real book with pages and images that could be seen, those grey screens got to me and I came back, restarted both computers and was greeted yet again with grey. Using my iPad I Tweeted a thank you to Apple for finally crippling both computers when finally, finally after another 15 minutes the icons came up to prompt me to sign in.

The fun wasn't over yet though. I was told on the iMac that the computer had been restarted because of a problem! You think? Going past that it continued with a blurry image of El Capitan for yet another 5 minutes or so with the dashes going round and around. It isn't hard to tell your wait times; Apple thoughtfully puts a clock in the top bar of the screen. Which is worse, those dashes or the spinning beach ball of death? Apple has learned its lesson well from Microsoft substituting the "blue screen of death" for a beach ball. Finally, FINALLY after starting nearly an hour before, I got my home screen back. Still though, it is very sluggish as if it isn't sure it wants to work.

The laptop wasn't any better. Its screens prompted me to basically act like I just got a new operating system. No, I didn't. Obviously the update thought otherwise.

Do we blame Apple? Well, no, at least not totally. Because this was a security update, much if not all of the problem is the result of geeks from around the world that seem to have nothing better to do than hack other peoples computers. It is relentless. Any geek with a $200 computer, lots of time and some computer skills it seems, can hack into just about anyones computer ... yours, mine, the Federal Government, our banks even the electrical grid. You would think, just like the endless and even more time consuming updates of Microsoft Office, that they would finally get it right. Hackers are exploiting flaws in the operating systems of all the products we use. After a year or two, wouldn't you think it would be repaired? The gaps fixed? Apparently not.

It was revealed this week that a small and largely unknown software firm in Israel has been selling on the QT software that allows governments to hack into our phones, computers, anything that government wants so that it can keep an eye on terrorists. Now, we all know that there are terrorists that want to either kill us or convert us, we read about them daily. However, since information is power, who defines who is a terrorist? What if you just want to keep an eye on a political enemy? It is well known that Russia and China do that routinely. No government really wants to get replaced and the best way to do that is to keep an eye on your enemies, or the competition. Remember Watergate? Ask Snowden or read the Panama Papers and Wikileaks. There isn't a fictional political thriller that can top some of those revelations. If you or I were to bring a manuscript with some of these real life stories to a publisher, we would be kicked out of the office! Not only the hackers are not our friends, our own governments, elected or not, aren't either.

Just like my issue with car airbags, maybe companies need to stop the incessant updating and instead finally and seriously work on correcting the flaws of the products we already have. That companies like Microsoft continue to sell products that are a hackers paradise using code patched from software written 20 years ago is unforgivable. That car manufacturers can continue to sell millions of new cars when something upwards of 85 million cars on the road continue to have potentially defective and lethal airbags is unexcuseable. The mantra should be, just get it fixed for once and for all!

I guess, after this rant, we should applaud Apple for trying to keep our systems immune from hackers. However, I wish that before we have to do it,  and I am not saying that we don't,  we need to be made aware of what will happen so we can plan for when we will do it!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please, take the time to explore earlier blogs where the emphasis here and always is to explore the ways design affects our lives ... and always has. 

1 comment:

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