March 4th, 2015

Apple iOS support lifetime vs. Android support lifetime: here's what open source really means

http://arstechnica.com/security/2015/01/google-wont-fix-bug-hitting-60-percent-of-android-phones/

The bug is in WebView, so it affects Android 4.3 and earlier. As near as I can tell, 4.3 dates to July 2013, so not yet two years old.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Android_Jelly_Bean

which cites

http://www.engadget.com/2013/07/24/android-4-3-jelly-bean-official/

for the July 2013 date. And it wasn't early July.

So the next time you're sitting around and whining about how Apple discontinues support for its products that you are still using, just keep this in mind: if it's a two year old Android bug, and the person who reports the bug does not ALSO include a fix for it, Android won't do anything beyond reporting it out to the OEMs.

If the OEM lets you upgrade to 4.4 or later, you're okay, obvs, because those are supported.

Open Source doesn't just mean you _can_ change it yourself. It generally means you are expected to do so, if it's gonna get fixed at all. That's not a new definition, but the idea may be new to some people encountering it as an ideal.

ETA: I don't really follow Android, because we don't have any in the house. At moments like these, I think, once again, that I really _should_ have one in the house and pay more attention, because there is clearly a really big, slow trend going on. Back in the Bad Old Days of PCs, the comparative success of Wintel vs. Apple seemed to indicate that walled gardens/proprietary = bad and systems that other people could modify = good. Of course, the security and reliability of Wintel was legendarily bad until they started to back away from the (comparative) openness and started to move in a direction of greater control. I could slide down the rabbit hole of why _that_ became possible with greater/cheaper computing power, memory, etc., but really. Who even gives a fuck, amirite?

It would be crazy easy to oversell the PC = Android and Apple = well, Apple, and I don't want to do that. But it is sort of entertaining watching the same pattern develop. The openness and adaptability that makes Android cheap and popular to a wide range of people also makes quality control inherently much more difficult, and in many cases, it is just too tempting to say, upgrade! Oh, you can't? Well, buy a new one! To be sure, that is true whether it's pure proprietary or totes open -- stuff eventually stops being worth upgrading, by any definition, at some point.

In any event, the commenters on the Ars Technica piece seem to think that Android is solving the problem by gradually converting Android into, well, what fuzzyfuzzyfungus wrote:

"Well... Once the webkit component is deprecated and 'blink' is added to "Google Play Services", all this will be automagically fixed...

Honestly, watching Android is just kind of depressing. If Google wants to make purely tactical use of OSS, that's their right, and AOSP is better than no AOSP; but that doesn't make watching the slow bleeding and gradual transition into a bootloader and set of device drivers for Google Play Services any less depressing."

Really, if Google is involved, they are always going to trumpet the developer obsession of the InsertTimeUnitHere, and then they are going to define whatever is affected most by that obsession out of existence and produce something useful on a higher level layer that they can completely control.

Ah. Abstraction. We love you so. But the Anabaptist/JW of my personal history really wants to focus on the hypocrisy, even while my pragmatic current self just feels like you should have Gone There in the first place.

Today's Activities Include: Did Not Cancel Something!

That's not entirely true. I'm still sick enough that _yesterday_ I canceled _today's_ reschedule Dutch lesson, because I don't wanna be the person that gets the adorable baby sick. But I did not cancel T.'s gymnastics lesson today (I did last week). He needed cough drops and a water bottle and coughed a lot, but made it through like the trooper he is.

Got a robocall from the town saying there had been a couple breakins and jewelry thefts in the neighborhood lately. That's a little disturbing. On the other hand, maybe I get to use my martial arts again. (<-- Little joke there. NOT serious.)

Krugman has started reading personal finance blogs

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/03/how-negative-can-rates-go/

He observes that (a) interest rates can and do go negative, (b) storing physical currency turns out to be startlingly expensive and therefore (c) people are gonna just let the cash stack up in their checking or whatever account. My words, but that's what I understand him to be saying.

"Once interest rates on safe assets are zero or lower, however, liquidity has no opportunity cost ... [which means] ... that the marginal dollar of money holdings is being held solely as a store of value — the medium of exchange utility is irrelevant."

Back in the Bad Old Days of inflation and being able to put your money into a money market fund and earn interest (or a CD or whatever), people would limit the amount of money sitting in non-interest bearing accounts, and transfer it over to an interest bearing account so as to make some money off their money. From a policy perspective, this is a good thing, because the money sitting in checking and most savings accounts has severe limitations on how it can be invested by the bank, so it sits idle. Once it is in a CD or a money fund or stocks or bonds or whatever, there are a lot fewer limits -- that money can go out in the world and circulate, hopefully usefully. Now, there's just little point in taking the money out of the checking or whatever account, because what you have to do to make money off of it is so risky for most people that it is intolerable.

"And I am pinching myself at the realization that this seemingly whimsical and arcane discussion is turning out to have real policy significance."

I don't quite understand why he thought this was whimsical or arcane, but hey, I bought gold in 1997-8 time frame out of some concerns about the possible future, so I really get storage costs and medium of exchange and wtfery. Clearly, by being a Normal Person (for these purposes, that just means less crazy than me), he had not yet worked through the implications.

ETA:

http://www.businessinsider.com/credit-suisse-on-contango-oil-prices-2015-3

Article about super-contango, and the current theory that oil prices will do something Really Interesting when we run out of places to store the oil (that is, one of the things supporting oil prices at the moment is people going, hey, oil is cheap now but futures are more expensive so if I buy it and store it, I'll make money -- but of course, _buying_ it to store it supports the price. Hrm.).

I put this on the Krugman liquidity trip post, because, you know, currency is liquid in a metaphorical sense, but oil is liquid in a not so metaphorical sense and being in contango with storage filling up suggests that there is a really good joke here about liquidity traps and oil, I'm just not actually clever enough to make it. Or at least, not clever enough to make it without then having to explain the thing after, crushing every last bit of humor present in it.

So, you know me: just start with the explanation.