The importance of local backups.

MySpace lost all your pictures, audio and video files from 2003 to 2015.

A “cloud” is just another person’s computer. No matter whether your store data in iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive or AWS. Remember to keep your own local copies of everything important to you.

Get in touch if you’d like help understanding this, copying your data from FaceBook, securing it, and storing it safely.

Text or call 415-843-1622

Thank you for reading.

Where’s the Mystique?

Apple’s event invitations have mostly had an awesome sense of Mystique around them.

From the most subtle and very best “The first 30 years were just the beginning. Welcome to 2007” to unveil the incredible iPhone, to “It’s not a Mac” for the original iPod, to the awesomely clever “We’ve got a little more to show you” for the iPad Mini in 2012, to the completely confounding “Hey Siri, Give us a hint.” for the iPhone 6s, Apple’s marketing team is top of the worldwide heap for giving clever, cryptic and hilarious in hindsight clues to it’s new product/service introduction events.

What then, explains when the marketing team “phones it in”, and gives away the mystery and surprise? “It’s almost here” for iPhone 5 in 2012, “Let’s talk iPhone” for the iPhone 4s in 2011, or the picture of the actual phone for the iPhone 3gs event in 2008?

Far be it for me to advise Apple on how to play it’s game, it’s obviously the biggest and most succesful company the earth has ever known, but investigating why and how it plays us game makes us all better players.

This March 25th, Apple is once again showing it’s cards: “It’s Show time” for an event that is highly rumored to be about a TV show/channel subscription service.

Personally, I like the mystery for than the obvious teaser, but what do you think? Prefer to know, or to wait?

Text or call your thoughts to 415-843-1622

21 Lessons

Yuval Noah Harari’s third book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, is a fantastic follow up to his first two, “Sapiens” & “Homo Deus”.

Head over to your favorite library (mine is San Francisco), or your favorite book store (mine is Apple Books), and pickup all three of his books, read in order if you can.

Here’s an excerpt from one of my favorite parts:

Lesson 4

EQUALITY

Those who own the data own the future

If we want to prevent the concentration of all wealth and power in the hands of a small elite, the key is to regulate the ownership of data. In ancient times land was the most important asset in the world, politics was a struggle to control land, and if too much land became concentrated in too few hands – society split into aristocrats and commoners. In the modern era machines and factories became more important than land, and political struggles focused on controlling these vital means of production. If too many of the machines became concentrated in too few hands – society split into capitalists and proletarians. In the twenty-first century, however, data will eclipse both land and machinery as the most important asset, and politics will be a struggle to control the flow of data. If data becomes concentrated in too few hands – humankind will split into different species.

The race to obtain the data is already on, headed by data-giants such as Google, Facebook, Baidu and Tencent. So far, many of these giants seem to have adopted the business model of ‘attention merchants’.2 They capture our attention by providing us with free information, services and entertainment, “and they then resell our attention to advertisers. Yet the data-giants probably aim far higher than any previous attention merchant. Their true business isn’t to sell advertisements at all. Rather, by capturing our attention they manage to accumulate immense amounts of data about us, which is worth more than any advertising revenue. We aren’t their customers – we are their product.

Another great part:

“First, if you want reliable information – pay good money for it. If you get your news for free, you might well be the product. Suppose a shady billionaire offered you the following deal: ‘I will pay you $30 a month, and in exchange, you will allow me to brainwash you for an hour every day, installing in your mind whichever political and commercial biases I want.’ Would you take the deal? Few sane people would. So the shady billionaire offers a slightly different deal: ‘You will allow me to brainwash you for one hour every day, and in exchange, I will not charge you anything for this service.’ Now the deal suddenly sounds tempting to hundreds of millions of people. Don’t follow their example.”

Differential Privacy in a google product.

Hell froze over.

Kudos to whomever at Google is responsible for google’s decision, revealed today, to enable differential privacy for its tensor flow machine learning service.

Most of us first heard of differential privacy when Apple, almost three years ago, introduced it as the technology that would enable Apple to intelligently learn about and help you organize your data with them (think: “Siri show me pictures of trees”), without being able to personally identify that you take a lot of pictures of trees. (Googles smart reply feature in gmail, in stark contrast, reads and personally associates every word YOU have written in email to provide its suggestions).

With Google’s Tensor Flow service now offering Differential Privacy, developers could build a service to reply to emails, sort photos, or drive you, without the need to personally identify you with the data required to accomplish this task.

The outstanding questions then, are, will differential privacy spread throughout Google and make Google into a new different company that actually values and protects users privacy like DuckDuckGo? Will it destabilize google core business? Will it highlight googles opposing data collecting behavior to users? or will it enable a new company to rise and display Google by using Google’s own technology?

No matter the results, the news that Google has followed Apple into Differential Privacy is a victory for regular computer users all over the world. Privacy is a fundamental human right.