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Software Abuse – At the Hands of Tech Giants

in The Tech Slant by

Children that grow up in abusive households assume that everyone gets slapped around when they make a mistake or spill their milk. When it’s all you know, you believe it’s normal. It never occurs to them that their parents are being mean – just loving them in a way that hurts. Like software companies treat us.

Software abuse is rampant and pervasive. It is being perpetrated by every software company – the bigger the company, the more severe the abuse. If you are thinking, “I use software, and I don’t feel abused”; exactly. You are that kid being slapped around, and you think it’s normal.

Windows 10 includes many ‘apps’ that are redundant or toys or attempts to unseat established ‘common usage’ applications, including Groove Music and Photos. There’s also the lovely Cortana, meant to lure you away from Siri like a siren on a rocky shore. The problem isn’t so much that they’re there, but that you cannot get rid of them – not without editing the Registry, and who wants to do that?

Paying for Software

We can’t blame Microsoft for trying to get us to switch to their versions and buy their toys, but the way they are going about it feels like a large, unpleasant-looking gentleman is handing you a shirt from his new fashion line, informing you that you will wear it every day. Apple is just as bad, if not worse; iPhone includes many unremovable apps, most require giving Apple more money in order to use them.

The point is that we pay good money for these operating systems, but they aren’t really ours. We are not free to use them as we please, and are constrained to being subjected to these internal, downright sneaky ‘product placement’ and marketing tactics. We are being programmed, by our computers. Whoop!

  • The switch from buying software to renting software was forced upon us.
    This is crapola of the highest order. It is easy to understand from the software company’s point of view – they need recurring revenue to stay in business. Honestly, that is not our problem. The period when software upgrades were based on actual improvements and/or the addition of truly new groovy features ended around the turn of the century.While a few users utilize a small portion of the advanced features in MS Office for example, the vast majority of people writing letters and creating docs in Word 2013 could do it just as well in Office 2003 or even Office 2000.Is the new version of Office better? Not really, although it is packed with ‘features’. Are the icons cuter? Sure. Should we be able to pay one fair price to purchase MS Office and install it on our computer and use it as long as we like, until it no longer meets our needs? Damn right.If the software companies need recurring revenue, let them give us upgrades worth buying, instead of coercing and trapping us into giving them money every stinking month for the rest of our lives. Adobe is the worst in this category.
  • The software industry is replete with monopolies now.
    Applications and companies that once competed with Microsoft and Apple like Corel, Astound, Netscape, Macromedia, and Netware, to name a very few, have been scooped up, knocked out, or sidelined. It may look like a free marketplace, but it is Standard Oil and AT&T. Not having a real choice kinda feels like a kick in the pants.
  • The ‘terms of use’ agreements are ridiculous.
    They are 100% in favor of the software companies, which absolve themselves of any wrong-doing or responsibility from anything having to do with their product, and place all the risk and responsibility on us, without giving us any options or choices. They are a huge ‘Our way or the highway, SUCKA!’. Feel that slap across the face?

And then there is the data mining. Microsoft is calling Edge a browser, and trying to steer you to use it instead of IE. As a browser, Edge is clunky and slow and not very effective. However, as a data mining tool it is just wonderful! Many of the ‘news’ offerings are ads, and the others usually lead you to pages filled with ads.

Every click is tracked to ‘customize your experience’. Many search engines also track your clicks. Google (Alphabet) is especially adroit in this area, utilizing another 1984 tactic called ‘digital viewscreening’, by which they constantly monitor and track your online activity, if not directly from Google.com, then from companies and websites you don’t realize they own, like youtube and Avast, and from applications you do know they own, like Chrome.

Apple wants to track not only what you click to and what music you like, but also where you are 24/7. And Apple is the worst at dealing with updates, hounding you like an ex that kinda scares you now, until you install them. And chances are good that when you do install them, Apple will harvest your payment info from iTunes and insert into ApplePay on your phone, even when you have repeatedly removed it and sent emails to Apple support asking them to stop this invasion. Feels like a kick to the shins.

Have you wondered if the companies offering 5 GB of ‘free’ online storage space are doing so to be nice? Do you believe they are spending millions on server computers, routers, firewalls, gobs of bandwidth, and salaries for thousands of administrators without ever taking a peek? Really?

So many men and women struggled and fought, and were wounded or died, to protect our rights, one of which is a right to privacy. How have we so freely abdicated that hard-earned right to privacy in order to order a pizza using a toy? How can we smilingly let giant companies abuse us until we become convinced that privacy is a thing of the past? Privacy is only a thing of the past if we let it be; if we continue to enable MS and Google and Apple and Adobe and blindly obey prompts to ‘stay logged in’, and ‘sign in to get definitions’, and ‘enter you cell phone number’.

It isn’t realistic to think we can make a difference by not buying software, as many of our livelihoods now depend on software to a greater or lesser degree! Change can only happen when laws are written that protect software consumers, and so our hope lies with our elected officials.

Almost all of our elected officials have websites through which you can voice concerns. The Senators and Congresspeople don’t read them, but someone or some computer application tracks them. If enough messages come in with “Please legislate in favor of software consumers”, in the subject line, they will listen. It is quick and easy and at least you didn’t do nothing.

The longer we let the abuse continue, the worse it will get. Software companies will keep probing and abusing until they are either forced to employ reasonable business practices, or they convince you to install real viewscreens, like Google Home, Echo and HomePod, in your home and office. Big Brother is alive and well and he has Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Google keeping an eye on you for him.

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Reeno

–  REENO  –

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A graduate of Portland State University, Steve Kloser is the author of “Beginning Band - A Guide to Success” and “Let's Make Music - Classroom Recorder Course”. He is also an accomplished teacher, conductor and composer, having penned numerous pieces including: La Vida and Fly With Me. Teacher, web developer, Packers fan and proud American, Reeno's usually slanted outlook often presents an unlikely perspective on issues old and new. Reeno currently lives in Portland, OR. Read more at www.reeno317.me or follow Reeno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/portlandreeno.

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