Schmidt: 'Android mobes are a great Christmas present to an iPhone user!'
Plus: 'Being banned from Xbox Live for saying cr*p and plonker is just stupid'
QuoTW This was the week when Eric Schmidt had a lot to say for himself, first posting an informative guide for all the many friends he has who've been trying to migrate from iPhones over to Android.
Mr Google informed the world via Google+:
Many of my iPhone friends are converting to Android. The latest high-end phones from Samsung (Galaxy S4), Motorola (Verizon Droid Ultra) and the Nexus 5 (for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile) have better screens, are faster, and have a much more intuitive interface. They are a great Christmas present to an iPhone user!
Is that so, Eric? Do tell us more about this wonderful thing you call Android and how it can save fruity fanbois from their slow, small screen, counter-intuitive worlds:
Like the people who moved from PCs to Macs and never switched back, you will switch from iPhone to Android and never switch back as everything will be in the cloud, backed up, and there are so many choices for you. 80% of the world, in the latest surveys, agrees on Android.
Schmidt kindly goes on to give a step by step instructional guide on migrating off your iPhone so you can yoke your wagon to the Chocolate Factory for ever and ever and ever.
But that's not all he had to say this week. Schmidt also reckons that we're a mere decade away from ending all global internet censorship. The fact that the NSA is trying to spy on everyone and their aged aunt online is actually sort of a good thing, according to the Google chairman, because it means progress:
First they try to block you; second, they try to infiltrate you; and third, you win. I really think that's how it works. Because the power is shifted.
It's pretty clear to me that government surveillance and the way in which governments are doing this will be here to stay in some form, because it's how the citizens will express themselves, and the governments will want to know what they're doing.
In that race, I think the censors will lose, and I think that people would be empowered.
Well, if it's that easy to get rid of censorship, Google and Schmidt should do something about it right now, according to GreatFire.org co-founder Charlie Smith. Smith called on Schmidt and his firm to throw down the gauntlet to China by going to HTTPS by default, leaving Beijing no choice but to block it completely or not at all. He said:
[China has] sometimes made Google services like Gmail excruciatingly difficult to use. But given how essential Google’s services are to so many individuals and businesses, blocking the company entirely would have immediate and disastrous economic consequences.
It would be easy for Google to make a change to its search engine, so that when a person clicks on a link that Google knows is blocked, they would redirect that user to an unblocked version of the page, hosted on an unblockable proxy. They could also add a small indication in their search results which would basically say: “This page is blocked in your country, but we have taken the liberty to protect your liberty by redirecting you to a mirror of this page”.
Google is already half way there. Google caches most internet pages and provides them to users. The cache is hosted on a separate domain, which is blocked in China. Google can simply host the cache on a subpath, say https://www.google.com/webcache (and in country specific domains) to bypass the block. The great firewall will no longer be able to prevent visitors from China accessing this cache without blocking Google entirely.
Speaking of censorship and surveillance, German security officials have revealed that Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone was being tapped by no less than five different foreign intellligence agencies. Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist and senior policy analyst at the ACLU, said on his Twitter account that with that many spies on the line, it should have been obvious that Merkel's phone wasn't secure enough. He also said that any sexting politicians out there should watch out:
Even if the US stops tapping Merkel's phone, other countries will continue. The solution is encrypted phones for all.
If Russia & China are tapping Merkel's calls in Germany, they've gotta be doing the same to politicians in the US. The smartphones that members of Congress use to to call, tweet (and in some cases, sext)? They are no more secure than Merkel's.
Over at Microsoft, there've been a couple of glitches with marketing and image around the new Xbox One launch. First, Redmond decided it was going to start banning foul-mouthed players of video games from its Xbox Live service. The company said that people could say what they liked in private chats, but letting fly with a few expletives while playing with strangers or in an uploaded video wasn't on.
Players, who do tend to get a bit worked up at times, were unimpressed with this decree. One warned folks on Reddit about the new rules:
I made a video and said a bad word. It wasn't really a swear in my opinion, just the nickname used for people called Richard.
Now I am not able to put Kinect videos on my uploads or upload gameplay at all. I have no idea how long this will last. I do understand I shouldn't have said it and know where Xbox is coming from, but I wish there was a disclaimer about it since I had no idea I would be banned for that. Like I said, ignorance isn't an excuse, but I'm just warning you guys in case you didn't know.
Other gamers pointed out on the Xbox forum that it was a bit much for Microsoft to be stopping them from swearing when cursing often appeared in gameplay and trailers. One said:
I think it's so over the top considering there are videos on my activity feed of Dead Rising 3 with people being chopped up and Battlefield 3 with the characters of the game saying all the swear words. Just ridiculous and needs to be sorted.
Being banned for saying cr*p and plonker on the video stuff is just stupid.
Not content with ticking off the gamers who like some good expletive-laden stress alleviation, Microsoft also managed to annoy a bunch of gamers with an apparently accidental misogynistic web promotion. In what was no doubt meant to be a bit of fun, the company had a letter up on its Xbox web page that would generate a bunch of different combinations to convince non-gaming loved ones to come play on the console. Unfortunately, the default settings read like this:
Not sure if you've heard, but Xbox One is now available. That means we can start playing games like Dead Rising 3. I know, I know, you'd rather knit than watch me slay zombies, but hear me out on this...
...P.S. Did I mention how beautiful you are?
No specific genders were mentioned, but lots and lots of both flavours of gamers still thought it was a fairly obvious bit of sexist guff. One lady gamer tweeted:
Rather knit than watch you slay zombies? I'D rather slay zombies than watch you do it. Ugh Microsoft fail. #gamer
While a gentleman fan tweeted:
Macho humour at the expense of women is no longer cool Microsoft. And neither is Internet Explorer.
Microsoft has since changed the letter, removing the knitting option altogether and pulling all the default options to leave the choice boxes blank.
And finally, for any sysadmins that want to leave their current soul-destroying, practically 24/7 jobs for another one that's even more bleak, boy does games and comics site Penny Arcade have an opportunity for you! In a job ad for a IT dogsbody "Web / Software Developer & Sys Admin", Penny Arcade describes the living hell of a lone IT worker dealing with everything all by themselves while answering the phone and asking folks if they've tried turning it off and on again a lot. It reads:
If you have boundless energy and desire to work on both creative AND sometimes tedious work but in an environment that just might change your life, perhaps this is the opportunity for you.
We are quite literally looking for a person that can do four jobs: Web Development, Software Development, Sys Admin, and the (dreaded) GENERAL IT for us here that need help configuring a firewall for a dev kit, etc. Sorry, I know that’s the WORST, but it’s absolutely part of the gig.
So yeah, we know that’s a lot to ask of a person, but all of us here work tremendously hard to do a lot of things, and if you’d like to be at the technical epicenter of it all and don’t mind having a really bad sense of work-life balance, this is the job for you.