Technology, Philosophy, & Sometimes Both

Thoughts on the World by Jack Umano

Archive for May 2011

Android vs. iPhone – Quick Decision

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Some have asked me, “Should I get an Android phone or a iPhone”? Here is a quick infographic showing what I would recommend. Read on below the graphic for more thoughts.

Determining if you should get an Android phone or an iPhone

Determining if you should get an Android phone or an iPhone

My opinion is that a main distinction between Android and iPhone is that Android gives you many choices. You can pick your email software. You pick how often apps sync. You pick which store you can use to buy apps. You can install apps to change the way your home screen works or to automatically go silent between 9am and 5pm on weekdays. The list goes on. But, with iPhone, all these choices are made and the whole interface is kept as simple as possible. If you don’t want to play with settings… If you want someone else to make the choices so you don’t have to think about it, then go with iPhone.

As an aside, here are some things I love about Android that I never got on my iPhone. Customizable home screen widgets allow you to put whatever info you want on you home screen. With my iPhone, I was locked into only having a grid of app icons. Also, since there is app store competition, Amazon has now created an Android App Store that gives you a different paid app for free every day. This healthy market competition will propel Android.

Written by Jack Umano

May 18, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Posted in Technology

A Proud Geek Moment

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I recently went on vacation with family and friends and we pooled our money to rent a nice place to stay.  The rental company company was unreachable and no one could connect to the wi-fi.  So, we were all left with useless iPads, slow phone data connections, and a playstation in the room that connected to nothing.

Here was my chance to put all my geek knowledge to use to save the day. I sprang into action!

I used my phone’s signal strength indicator and studied the useless wi-fi signal that was being broadcast.  Everyone in the house was looking for the router but, I with my bloodhound of a phone, tracked it down.

With my vast experience (of setting up my router at home), I knew that these things occasionally need to be restarted.  And I knew just how to do it.  Heroically, I unplugged the router and plugged it back in.  E voilà!  We were all up and running again.  The others looked at me sideways as I threw up my arms in triumph and called out, “Yeeeeahhh!”

Since they weren’t suitably impressed, I decided to really wow them. I bragged, “I could play our custom radio stations over the TV, you know?” I don’t have a PlayStation but there’s nothing I can’t figure out. I fired it up and found that it wasn’t connected to the internet. Checking the back of the system, I found an Ethernet port. At that moment, I knew I could rescue us all from unconnected oblivion.

Hmm. If only I had an Ethernet cable… Thinking quickly, I guessed that there might be a spare one in the box that the router came in (which someone had found when searching for the router). Sure enough, a spare Ethernet cable was there just waiting to use.

I connected the wiring and started up the PS3 again. I was ready to celebrate but, no! It still didn’t work. With some more digging, I found that it had the wrong SSID. I found settings to restart the internet connection with autodetect. Aaaand, bam! The Playstation was connected to the world. Wooooo!

All that was needed now was to get a web browser going, sign up for services using few bogus anonymous account names and we were grooving the Pandora tunes in no time.

The others were all unpacked and ready to hit the beach. I let them listen to my rockin stations while I caught up. I’m sure they loved it. Even if they looked annoyed at me not being ready to go.

Written by Jack Umano

May 16, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Posted in Technology

Why Privacy Matters

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Many seem confused about why privacy matters.  People say, “I don’t care if some company knows about me and gives me more targeted ads. I have nothing to hide.”  Here’s some reasons why you should care.

There are bad people.  Keeping private data from bad individuals is the main concern and this is the main thing people forget.  Yes, Big companies truly do want to use your info simply to make money.  They have no plans to misuse the data.  But, there are many dis-honest people in the world.  There are dis-honest people in that big company that has your data.  With thousands of employees, there are definitely some bad people.  Bad individuals can and will abuse the extra power they have over people. 

Companies are consolidating too much power over you.  By collecting your name, address, billing info, location data, and preferences, these big companies are collecting information that bad people could abuse.  Identity theft becomes much more devastating when a criminal has so much info about you.  They have much more than just a credit card number.

Someday you may care about location data.  There are probably many scenarios that you never imagined for people taking advantage of your lack of privacy.  Maybe someday…

  • Your daughter breaks up with a guy.  He starts stalking her.  He works for Facebook.  He always knows where she is.
  • You get in a car accident.  It was that guy’s fault and you prove it to the courts.  But he swears it was your fault and is irate.  He works for AT&T.  Your phone reports where you are at all times.  That guy plots his revenge.
  • You apply for a job.  You’re amazingly qualified think you’re gonna get it.  The potential employer has a brother who works for Google.  He can tell by your location data that you belong to a church he doesn’t like.  No job offer comes.
  • You think your neighbor is being abused by her husband.  You suggest she check out the woman’s shelter across town.  The husband finds the location data on her phone and sees that she went there, and gives her a look that says, “oh you’re in for it now.”

Don’t wait until some scenario comes up where you need privacy.  Help all those who do.  Secrecy doesn’t always mean you’re doing something wrong as is illustrated in the examples above.

Data gets leaked.  If your private info is collected, it will be compromised.  Sooner or later databases get hacked.  If hackers can get into the Pentagon computer systems, they can get into Facebook’s if they really want to.  And when big companies start really consolidating large amounts of info about a lot of people, that database honeypot starts to look sweeter and sweeter.

Here’s an analogy: You probably wouldn’t give all your neighbors a copy of your bank account passwords.  They’re all good people but, you don’t really know them all that well.   And … they would store it safely, wouldn’t they?  Well, maybe it’s better to just keep it to yourself.

Written by Jack Umano

May 6, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Posted in Philosophy, Technology