So you might have missed this piece of news, but this past week, if you owned a phone branded as a T-Mobile Sidekick, which itself was based on original work of the Danger Hiptop, then your phone’s data was all lost and if you power-cycle your phone, you will lose all your contacts, photos and other important data. Permanently.
That’s pretty awful.
So let me modify my previous sentiment:
FUCK THE CLOUD, BEFORE THE CLOUD FUCKS YOU.
Being the guy who gut-punched current presentation and marketing crap of “The Cloud” earlier this year, I’ve been a lightning rod for a spectrum of frustrations. Some are annoyed at this weird marketing term taking on such strength. Others are people who have glommed onto this marketing term and are hella pissed that some upstart fuck like myself is indicating in some way that they are charlatans or misinformed dupes. And some others are end-users who are worried about some of the concerns I have been raising and want more information. It is nominally less interesting than other mail I get, but it’s pretty important stuff, so I don’t mind being at the center of it.
Therefore, when things started really going to ass-town earlier this month for Danger/T-Mobile, I got communications from a lot of people. I’m still getting links and I am grateful to all the people who wanted me to know about this nightmare and what it was all about. I was also given vaguely privy information to what is “really” going on, and how some perfectly talented folks are not getting any sleep for quite a long time while the problem is being addressed.
The story, as I understand it from various sources who may or may not be as insider as they claim, is that this is a classic case of “no separate hot hardware backup during major upgrade”, resulting in a worst-case scenario when what was supposed to be a relatively smooth transition fell apart, cascading and knocking over all current data. Backups exist, I’ve been told, but obviously they are slightly out of date and probably don’t keep around every piece of data important to the end-users. And they will take quite a while to come back. Meanwhile, we are treated to people, regular and normal folks, who have been absolutely fucked over. This is the human side we probably tend to forget:
You should have a bunch of feelings when using computers. Excitement. Pride. Delight. Amazement. Curiousity. Yes, even frustration and anger. But you generally should not feel despair. You should not be feeling desperation. You really shouldn’t. An architecture and environment that could lead you into this situation, where you are helpless and wronged and did nothing but what you were told was right, and then punished quite severely, is very wrong. It is the opposite of what a computer and technology should do. And worst of all, by any of the information I’ve been given, it was avoidable – just more expensive to assure such avoidance. And expensive gets lost as an option, when you’re dealing with a cloud.
What we call The Cloud is about obfuscation, about blurring. It’s in the name of ease and convenience and about incredible savings on a number of columns in your galactic spreadsheet. Unfortunately, this marketing bullshit easily comes at the cost of service level agreements, error tracking, and accountability.
Oh sure, the worms have come out of the wood to make fun of people who owned T-Mobile Sidekicks, saying they shouldn’t have been with a “kid’s” phone instead of a grown-up phone or some other platform-related calling of the dozens. These people are beneath contempt – all centrally located items, like, oh, telephones that rely on checking centralized servers, are prone to potential failures in the future. Failures that could affect everybody, even people who own some other brand of phone who are the type to point and laugh at others’ misery. Here’s hoping the hot guy/gal you gave your digits to was using a T-mobile, Mr. Jerkin’-it-on-Saturday-Night. They ain’t calling you back anytime soon.
And sure, I’ll be sure to get mails and comments from people who have hung their shingles on The Cloud to tell me that this wasn’t the fault of the Cloud and that the Cloud was actually down at the local pub sharing a pint with 39 buddies who The Cloud bought drinks for and so The Cloud is innocent. That’s what’s so great about something like The Cloud – a few tweaks of the words, a clever turn of phrase, and the bad part doesn’t apply to you and what you’re selling. That was something else, somebody else. Not your fault. No mea culpa required. Come buy our new Cloud service.
Remember lives could be very negatively affected by this outage and loss. People whose sales contacts or organization information or any of a number of critical phone lists were on these phones is gone. That can be devastating to a businessperson who relies on this list to get work done, or who stored photos, memories, messages on this platform. Sure, you can point here from the Magic Fucking Future and act like they were committing a sin by not syncing their data up every single night, but how’s your sink looking, motherfucker? Got any dishes in it?
Like Roger Boisjoly, I don’t take much pride in being “right”. What I want is for us to stop making these mistakes, to stop several terrible trends from continuing. It’s partially an engineering issue – syncing up data quickly and easily to several locations isn’t a terrible task and it certainly isn’t something to be ashamed of and hidden way up the food chain at the central servers. It’s also a social issue – data owned by users should be sacred, considered the highest calling in computer services, with people’s lives understood to be affected by every choice. It is often, instead, thought of as a business case – if we lose everyone’s data, what will it cost us? Right now it’s costing T-mobile plenty (they’ve halted sales of the Sidekicks), but how often has anyone within the paradigm of Microsoft/Danger/T-Mobile used the terms like “trust” and “caretaking” with relation to this data? Will they ever? Will anybody else? In a world full of fucksticks like Larry Halff who should have a restraining order from ever being in charge of user data again, you don’t know what the ethics/value system of the people in charge of your data are, and in this situation, the idea of something like the approach of what we call The Cloud is a step, no, a marathon run backwards. We’re better than this. We really are.
This is not a time, over here, for pointing and laughing. It never was. It’s a time for mourning. It’s a time to realize that tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people woke up and had part of their lives ripped from them and had done nothing, nothing to deserve it. And to realize, with horror, how many people are walking around as we speak with pieces of their own lives hanging in a fragile balance with only one bad upgrade, one poor business choice, one missed phone call between them and losing it forever.
Categorised as: computer history
Comments are disabled on this post