Monday, August 27, 2007

Hackers Are Your Friends

Over-the-top consumerism is pretty crazy, but the way companies exploit that consumerism can be downright disgusting.

Let's take a look at Apple's iPhone.

It looks pretty cool, but it's really expensive, and Apple's exclusive deal with AT&T means that in order to buy and use the $500+ phone you also have to subscribe to AT&T's $50+ per month iPhone plan.

It's a sweet deal, with 2 companies keeping technology to themselves in order to retain a monopoly at the expense of you and I.

But a New Jersey teenager spent a whole lot of time working with other hackers and crackers to modify the iPhone so that people who use other cell phone companies can use an iPhone. His efforts have earned him news time and a new Nissan roadster.

Now, other people who were working on ways to hack the iPhone, with the goal of selling the information to the public, are catching heat from AT&T.

Regardless of the legal mumbo-jumbo these giant companies spit out, if you go buy an iPhone, or any other gadget, does anyone have the right to tell you what you can and cannot do with the item?

Can you imagine buying a car and then not being "allowed" to put in your own car stereo, because the you could have bought one from the car company? Or the Gap telling you that you're not allowed to make shorts out of your jeans because they already sell shorts?

To me, once I buy something, it's mine to do with as I please.

Today, when companies routinely say "to Hell with the consumer," the hacking community is an asset to the rest of us: When flaws were discovered in Verizon's Razr phone software, the hackers on the Net had it fixed in 2 days, while Verizon's response to complaining customers was basically "Oh well."

When early Apple iPods had file transfer problems, the hackers fixed that, too, long before Apple thought it important.

So, embrace hackers -- Sure, once in a while a hacker might do something bad, like break into secure information with the intention of misusing that info, but that's no reason to generalize against all hackers.

One last thing that I find interesting in all this ... Apple, a company hailed by many people as the alternative to the evil empire Microsoft, isn't all that concerned with the regular folks after all if it means less profit.


Ed said...

Very soon now, we all will be able to buy a sim chip that will unlock the iPhone thus allowing the phone to be used with any wireless carrier.
Read more here

Al said...

I doubt it - at least not from these guys or any other 3rd party. The problem is with the "buy" part of it, I think. AT&T isn't going to let anyone make any money off the iPhone that they can keep for themselves, so they're threatening legal action against the hacker group.

Ed said...

The hackers may wish to sell their products from a country that has little (if any) restrictions on such things. Russia or China come to mind.

Jay said...

cut off jean shorts? keep your perversions to yourself.

Al said...

Ha! You gotta realize, Jay, I grew up in the '70s, so most of our shorts used to be jeans before they got too beat up in the knees!