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Slowpoke cartoon

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I do one of these "Mr. and Mrs. Perkins go gift shopping" strips every year around this time. This year's installment was partly influenced by a recent trip I made to an upscale kitchenware store. Even though I'm not a 1% chef, I do enjoy ogling things like 15-pound cast-iron skillets and knives bearing vaguely-Teutonic insignias.

For those unfamiliar with the Carrier IQ controversy, a guy discovered an unremovable program on his smartphone that was sending his text messages and other data to a third party, the mysterious Carrier IQ. Al Franken has launched an inquiry; Carrier IQ claims the information was sent due to a bug. Of course, I'm following this story closely since I just got an Android phone so I can finally read those $@#! QR codes.

Get a signed print of this cartoon from the artist.

Originally posted to Comics on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 06:50 AM PST.

Also republished by DKOMA and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I would think that the (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drmah, Philpm, Tommy Allen, Larsstephens

    "Annual Minimalist Vacation" should be a camping trip to the front yard of any local home under foreclosure.

    By the way, QR codes are brilliant ... the uses almost endless.

    Great Cartoon :)

    I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
    but I fear we will remain Democrats.

    by twigg on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 07:06:58 AM PST

  •  I'm sorry that you settled… (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    …for an Android phone, because that's where you find Carrier IQ installed.

    Teh stoopidTM, it hurts. Buy smart, union-printed, USA-made, signs, stickers, swag for everyone: Get your We are the 99% Yard Sign.

    by DemSign on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 07:17:43 AM PST

    •  That is not a good enough reason (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quill, mightymouse, Larsstephens

      to avoid Android phones.

      Apple too have used Carrier IQ, the difference being that on an Android phone you can remove it.

      Apple has said they will discontinue it's use, but only after they were caught. Who knows what they may use instead?

      Carrier IQ is more scary for it's potential rather than the current use that Networks are putting it to.

      Potentially it can read and transmit everything a User does on the phone, including calls, texts, photos etc.

      Doing this would be a direct breach of the Wiretapping Act.

      Carriers have implemented Carrier IQ to help with engineering applications, but consumer fears are justified if only because Congress deemed "Data-mining" illegal, yet that apparently didn't stop the security agencies from spying at will on Americans at home and abroad.

      I very much agree that we should keep on top of pernicious applications like Carrier IQ but it isn't so straightforward as simply avoiding Android phones, which out-perform Apple in almost every respect, and are cheaper.

      I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
      but I fear we will remain Democrats.

      by twigg on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 07:26:30 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There is an excellent article (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        about Carrier IQ Here

        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

        by twigg on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 07:39:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Apple does not use Carrier IQ (0+ / 0-)

        in iOS 5. And the version Apple used in iOS 1-4 never logged keystrokes.

        Teh stoopidTM, it hurts. Buy smart, union-printed, USA-made, signs, stickers, swag for everyone: Get your We are the 99% Yard Sign.

        by DemSign on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 08:41:59 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Windows Phone and Blackberry are good alternatives (0+ / 0-)

        to Android and iOS that are known not to support Carrier IQ, for what it's worth.  Having worked on usability engineering in the past, I've found Android phones and Blackberries to have frustrating user experience and design, so I gravitate towards iOS and now Windows Phone, which I consider to do a better job of being design-centric rather than feature-centric.  Though it is gradually getting better and I think ICS will be a step forward, current generation Android phones have a lot of the same usability drawbacks I associate with GNOME and KDE and XP on the desktop, and I don't think you can just outright dismiss design when talking about phone quality.  Then again, phone choice is a matter of personal preference of course, and you can learn to love less-than-perfect UI decisions if you use the phone enough.

        •  You have to be kidding right? (0+ / 0-)

          "Android Useability Issues"?

          There may be things that Android can be criticised for, some stemming from it's Open Architecture, which means that any Ton, Dick or Programmer can mess it up, but I can't think of any that can be solved with a Windows Mobile Phone.

          Apple have long been considered the GUI masters, and with good reason but Android is very, very close, and comes with distinct advantages.

          Windows Mobile? Not so much.

          I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
          but I fear we will remain Democrats.

          by twigg on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 01:07:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think you're thinking of Windows Mobile 6.5 (0+ / 0-)

            Windows Phone 7 is a completely different UX and is actually quite elegant.  It follows design and usability principles strikingly well. I have some minor gripes (I think it could use a higher information density among other things), but it doesn't have the usability issues I associate with Windows Mobile 6.5 and earlier.

            Android on the other hand falls into a lot of the same trappings as the earlier Windows Mobile phones, only not as badly, such as being overly hierarchical, using engineering language rather than user language, presenting users with too many choices they won't use, using unclear visual cues, and forcing users to read long text descriptions/instructions because the headings are ambiguous.  For just one example, try to turn off your data connection on your phone. On an iPhone, settings->general->network->tap "data" to go from "on" to "off".  On a Windows Phone, it's settings->cellular->slide "data connection" to off.  I hate the "general" submenu on the iPhone, but in either case there is no ambiguity, no need for instruction text, and there is little chance of misunderstanding.  For Android, it's menu->settings->wireless and network->mobile networks->tap "Use Packet Data" to switch from a green checkmark to a grey checkmark. Notice the grouping of all connectivity into the overly-inclusive "wireless and network" submenu, which contains wifi, Bluetooth, cellular connections, mobile hotspot, VPN, profile synch, etc.  (It used to be even worse and use only "wireless" for the heading, which is difficult to distinguish from WiFi, but thankfully Google has done away with that, which is encouraging.  Still slightly ambiguous, but a major improvement).  "Mobile networks" is good word choice, but "Use Packet Data" is ridiculous, this should obviously just be "Use Data" and whoever chose the actual wording should be forced out of making string choices forever.  The use of a gray checkmark to signify "unchecked" is extremely ambiguous, so it's a terrible design choice.  There are other ways to turn off data, but they vary between different phones and they always require non-obvious shortcuts.  And this isn't some sort of isolated design flaw; Android is littered with ambiguous headings, long instructional text, lots of hierarchical submenus, and an overwhelming number of options that almost nobody will ever use mixed in with the ones that are actually important use cases without any distinction between the two.  There is more "stuff" that you can do with the phone, but unless choosing a specific cell tower is really something you want to do with your time, it just inconveniences most people who are using it by forcing them to learn where the useful functions are hidden.  It doesn't make Android a bad phone choice and I certainly respect anyone who prefers Android over other phone operating systems, but you have to learn to use it, whereas with the better designed phone operating systems you can just pick them up and do what you are trying to do without having to read the instructional text and search through submenus.  It takes work to use and familiarize yourself with an Android.  Based on your previous comments, putting work into a phone sounds like something you want to do, so I expect you won't mind these issues, or you will not consider them issues at all.  But they definitely are a drag on usability.

    •  I'm glad that Jen chose an Android device... (0+ / 0-)

      Besides what Twig said, one of the great features of most Android devices is that you can gain root access and install a modded OS that is faster/cleaner, exposes features unavailable to idevices, and puts the latest version of Android on your gadget long after the carrier has stopped support.

      But, there's another advantage to modding: modded OSes, like Cyanogenmod, will not have Carrier IQ or any other spyware on them, since they're based on Google's vanilla version of Android, before the carrier gets its grubby hands on it.

      •  You can't be serious (0+ / 0-)

        I want a phone that just works, with great battery life. I don't want to compile my own OS. That's as crazy as the GOP's balanced budget amendment.

        Teh stoopidTM, it hurts. Buy smart, union-printed, USA-made, signs, stickers, swag for everyone: Get your We are the 99% Yard Sign.

        by DemSign on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 08:40:23 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  So far so good (0+ / 0-)

          I have no interest in tinkering with my OS, but I find the Android interface user-friendly enough for my needs. It's better than my old low-tech phone, which I swear involved a wild goose chase anytime I wanted to do anything out of the ordinary, like set an alarm. I considered an iPhone, but I prefer no-contract.

  •  Handmade By Simple Indigenous People Of Wherever (0+ / 0-)
    Your call is important to us...

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 07:18:50 AM PST

  •  FBI - No comment (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    twigg, deben, mightymouse
    Want to know if Carrier IQ, the dialer- and location-sniffing software installed in millions of phones, is being used by the FBI for law enforcement investigations? The FBI won’t reveal much about the controversial application. And why not? Because, the Bureau says, doing so might interfere with law enforcement investigations.

    FBI Says Carrier IQ May Be Used In 'Law Enforcement Proceedings'

    •  In other words (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wilderness voice

      Revealing whether the FBI spies on us without warrant would reveal whether the FBI spies on us without warrant.

      Or, revealing whether the FBI is doing something wrong would reveal whether the FBI is doing something wrong.

      We're all suspects. Since that's how those currently in power see me, I'll embrace it with a big eff you back.

      Sunday mornings are more beautiful without Meet the Press.

      by deben on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 07:58:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I didn't know the 1% cooked. (nt) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse, Philpm, DSPS owl
  •  Great cartoon, Jen! Thanks for the smile (4+ / 0-)

    I've thought for years that the FBI has been following me.  They want to know which products I like, so they can remove them from the market.  Those delicious little crunchy faintly cinnamon-flavored biscotti?  Off!  Haagen-Dazs frozen strawberry yogurt?  Check!  Lyons Gold Afternoon Tea? Check!

    I'm afraid to look favorably on anything now for fear it will be removed from sale!

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 07:34:11 AM PST

    •  When life closes a door, it opens a window... (0+ / 0-)

      I'm afraid to look favorably on anything now for fear it will be removed from sale!

      Maybe that's your mutant super-power?

      Why not try some experiments -
      "You know, I think ALL the Republican candidates are really, really good!"

      "I used to be against homophobia, but I've since come to look favorably on it."

      Just remember, with great power comes great responsibility.

      (insert clever remark here)

      by Brother Love on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 10:38:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You mean Carrier IQ has nothing to do with crew (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    intelligence levels on board the USS Ronald Reagan?

    "There's nothing in the dark that's not there when the lights are on" ~ Rod Serling

    by jwinIL14 on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 07:35:18 AM PST

  •  Just want to mention Nordic Ware... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bluehen96, Philpm, varro

    I work for Nordic Ware, which makes all sorts of cookware and microwave accessories, and is based in the Twin Cities. They do import a few things from China and Taiwan, but a vast majority of their products are made right here in St Louis Park, MN. You can find their stuff at all of the big retail stores as well as various smaller mom and pop shops around the country.

  •  Made me laugh out loud (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Philpm, Tommy Allen

    Especially the 1% Chef boutique.

    "Das Egg" and the $500 egg separator...

    Sunday mornings are more beautiful without Meet the Press.

    by deben on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 08:02:45 AM PST

  •  Android phones (0+ / 0-)

    have to be 'rooted' in order to monitor the CIQ activity. Rooting is the act of becoming the super-user or administrator of your phone. Once done, your phone's warranty is voided; making the deed not for most folk. Those who have rooted the android devices all say the same thing, the CIQ software is intrusive, sends sensitive data over open airwaves unencrypted, and cannot be removed because it 'bricks' the phone. A 'bricked' phone is completely unusable and cannot be used for anything other than a paperweight or literally a brick.

    -9.75, -7.49 "He that will not reason is a bigot - He that cannot reason is a fool - He that dares not reason is a slave." Sir William Drummond 1585-1649

    by zamrzla on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 10:16:32 AM PST

  •  Checked my phone this morning... (0+ / 0-)

    at work. I used the Carrier IQ Detector and the Voodoo Carrier IQ detector apps available in the Market.

    Found out that my stock LG GX2 on T-Mo does not have Carrier IQ installed. This could be because it is running stock Gingerbread, but since I don't have any other T-Mo phones to compare it against I can't be sure.

    tl;dr - check your phone.

    "Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest" - Diderot

    by Reverend Floyd on Wed Dec 14, 2011 at 12:06:18 PM PST

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