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    What is Jessica’s sin in this story? Was it not educating herself on the benefits of Open Source philosophy and running Linux - which is free?

    She didn’t do anything wrong, but the more I kept reading this story, the more I kept thinking “she should get a Chromebook”.

    Perhaps it’s the very design of General Purpose Computing.

    And there it is. Giving most people a “general purpose computer” these days is giving them enough rope to hang themselves. That’s why people that have never learned computers (or did and hate them) like iPads so much. It’s extremely difficult to mess anything up, and you don’t have to worry about antivirus and updating java and flash and all this other crap. Apps are sandboxed, privacy is taken seriously, background apps (spyware) can’t track you, etc.

    As someone concerned with security, I’ll gladly tell people to switch from a virus-laden Windows laptop to an iPad or Chromebook.

    As someone concerned with privacy, I’m conflicted in offering those suggestions because the security comes from proprietary app stores and review teams, trusting all your data to be stored by the GOOG, not having the ability to run your own code, etc.

    Maybe it’s just as simple as: there is not one solution for everyone. Let the majority of people that have no interest in running their own code use iPads and Chromebooks. For developers and people that know enough to take precautions, keep using Macbooks and Thinkpads and whatever.

    To use a familiar analogy, it’s like cars. Those that don’t care about the performance or fun in driving a car and just use it to get from point A to point B in the safest way possible can buy a Volvo with an automatic transmission. Those that want to mess around under the hood and are comfortable being able to fry a clutch or grenade a motor from a misshift can buy a manual transmission sports car.

    As long as there are still going to be manual transmission cars and laptops that let me run my own code, I’ll be happy.

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      +1 for car analogy.

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        The people commenting seemed to think it was more about victim blaming than this. If you look deep into the reposts/notes (god, I can’t stand tumblr’s commenting system) people basically claims this. I thought it was mostly on general-purpose computing though, with that last paragraph…

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          How would an iPad have helped Jennifer Lawrence from not having her photos leaked online? I’m pretty sure she used one, so what was her sin? Trusting Apple?

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            It probably wouldn’t, but was anyone blaming her for the photos being leaked? From what I recall from that kerfuffle, most people were pressuring Apple to step up their security game because their account security was lax.

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              Well, I think that’s part of the point here. Either we all build a safe place for Jennifer and Jessica (or Billy, ugh, why is the story written with the assumption that the tech-unsavvy must be women?), or they invest a lot of effort into learning how to make themselves safe. But while we’re trying to build something safe for them, a lot of other equally capable people are trying to make this place unsafe.

              I understand the evils of victim-blaming, so I don’t want to suggest that Jennifer and Billy need to understand everything. But I also don’t see how simply telling them, “here, trust this product from benign corporate giant, and don’t worry your pretty little head about the details” will help either. I know I am not offering a constructive solution. I simply don’t know how to solve this problem.

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                I don’t know how to solve it either, but I don’t think anyone is recommending people blindly trust products from big corporations. Certainly Apple is in a better position than its users to improve the security of their infrastructure and products for millions of people. Celebrities have had nude photos and sex tapes leaked that were never on computers to begin with, and there will always be evil people trying to go after famous people, but maybe Apple having some 2FA on iCloud would have made it much harder to compromise her account. Certainly Google enabling 2FA for Gmail will save a lot of users from being victims of scams, password dumps, etc.

                Banks take a lot of security precautions to make their buildings secure and ensure that nobody can steal your money. But they still have to tell customers to pick hard-to-guess ATM PINs, not to use your credit card on shady looking websites, not to use the same password for web access as other websites, etc. And yet lots of people experience credit card fraud and banks get robbed.

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          Computing is not the only thing that will screw you over if you are poor. I could write exactly the same story about Jessica not knowing the law, not being able to afford a lawyer, getting arrested for something stupid and then violated in jail. Or not being able to understand a loan contract, not being able to afford to take a bus to the bank branch in the nice part of town where they can take the time to explain things nicely, and ending up $1000s in debt. Or about not being able to maintain her car, not being able to afford to pay a mechanic, and dying in a preventable accident. Or about not recognising symptoms of a health problem, not being able to afford to see a doctor, and dying of a treatable illness.

          If she buys a car because she needs it to get to her job, and can’t afford to insure it, what is her sin? If she rents a flat and can’t afford a sturdy lock for the door, what is her sin? If she eats badly because it’s what she can afford, and gets health problems in later life because of that, what is her sin? We’d blame her for her problems in all those cases - and yet all these things would be harder to fix than switching to linux, which at least only costs time, and plenty of organizations do everything they can to make that easier (e.g. mailing CDs if you ask them to).

          It would be nice to never blame people for anything. But if you’re going to take on the problem of people blaming poor people for making the best choices they could under the circumstances, this is a… curious case to focus on. And dare I suggest that it might be because the “nerd underclass” is a softer target than other groups (politicians, maybe?) who say far more hurtful things about people like Jessica than the nerds do, every day?

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            I think your comparisons are a little off. When I’m driving my car, I’m not constantly interrupted by popups telling me I need insurance. My car will occasionally tell me that it wants service, but those notifications don’t show up in the middle of the windshield, nor do they direct me to the local chop shop.

            Computers are rather different in that in the course of its regular operation, the user is constantly interrupted and bombarded with alerts and messages. Does my deadbolt work or not? I don’t really know, but I do know I can go about my day without Larry the Locksmith getting in my face every ten minutes.

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              Computers are rather different in that in the course of its regular operation, the user is constantly interrupted and bombarded with alerts and messages.

              Are you sure that’s regular operation? I never have that experience, Windows OSes included (but I’m also not the depicted demographic).

              In contrast, if I never change the oil in my car and it turns to tar or runs dry, I will certainly have unavoidable lights or behaviors flashing in my face.

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                I have a few Windows PCs. Some combination of Adobe Air, Reader, or Flash is always demanding to be updated. Despite my best efforts to set them to auto-update, the best I have managed is auto-annoy. Windows Update isn’t much better, and seems unable to take care of business when the computer is idle for three days, but instead waits until I use it to harass me about rebooting. These alerts and messages confound my parents.

                A big part of the difference is that while there are plenty of shady auto shops around, they are not empowered to display advertisements in my car. To the extent that the browser is now the computer, any rando with a little cash can put advertising in your computer. Service messages from the computer are displayed in-band with garbage from outside the computer.

                My parents are basically Jessica. When some web site tells them their codecs are out of date, what are they to make of that message? Do they click update or not?

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                  I get bombarded with pop-ups in my car. They’re alongside the highway and we call the billboards. I can see ads for State Farm, Progressive, and a couple local companies from my apartment window. They’ve even got annoying animated Flash ads on the highway now with those flashing, lit up, blind-you-at-night LCD billboards. You get the same thing talking about locksmiths when you’re sitting at home. I get ads in my mail talking about deadbolts, or locksmith ads popping up on the TV.

                  And the worst part there is, if I update Java, my computer stops nagging me for a while. If I update the auto insurance I have, I still get half a dozen companies still competing for my attention.

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                    Do the billboards impose themselves between you and the steering wheel such that you are unable to operate the vehicle until you have dismissed them?

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                There are people working very hard to fix this :) Stay tuned.

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                  What about a sneak peek?