Big Tech Roadblocks

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Avatar for green_claymore
2 years ago

Ever feel like the big tech companies don't really care about your user experience, or even try to make themselves useful to you anymore?

The irony is that every one of the big tech companies exactly became big tech companies by being extremely useful to everyone. Seriously. Your old aunt probably has Facebook. She probably has a Google account, and uses it daily for e-mails and cloud storage, probably without knowing much about how it works or what it is exactly. She probably has a Microsoft account and uses it daily on her Windows PC. But that's the beauty of these companies: they take something useful but otherwise complicated, and make it accessible to millions of people. This is what made them so big. It's also really what drives anybody to become a billionaire: can I scale this service up to service millions of customers, instead of doing it one by one? Think Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Apple.

Now, sadly, these companies seem to have reached a point where, instead of focusing on being useful and helpful to their customers, they have started throwing up roadblocks whenever you want to download an app, navigate a website or share something with your friends.

You try to navigate a site, and they throw up ads or pop-ups about how you need to accept their new terms of service. Okay? Leave it at the bottom, instead of blocking my whole view with something that nobody reads anyway. Other sites do it the right way, when they say "by continuing to use, you agree to X". Simple, fine, now get out of the way.

Google even does this when you're not logged in, such as if you dare do a Google search in an incognito window. Who are they asking to accept terms, if there's not even anyone logged in?

Microsoft are the worst. You can barely get to use your old Skype username to log in, without converting it to a full-on Microsoft account, with all the horrors that that involves. And forget about making a local login account for your laptop. You can actually risk being locked out of your PC if you don't have Wi-Fi while trying to unlock your laptop using your Microsoft account. What the hell is that about? Let me into my freaking PC. Having a local user password for logging in used to be the norm, but now we all need to be part of the awful Microsoft tangled web of services and logins.

I think the truth of the matter is that the big tech companies have to make money off of us now. We are not customers to be serviced. We are products. Always remember: "If it's free, you are the product." You've probably never spent money on Google or Facebook, so their business model is really to serve you up to advertisers and to collect and sell data on you and your habits. I'm sure Microsoft is in exactly the same boat, but at least most of us have probably paid for a Windows license key when we got a new PC. A purchase which doesn't seem to give any pause to the data collection and targeted advertisement: Candy Crush is literally part of the fresh start menu on Windows 10, until you remove it. And remember all the things you have to opt out of during the first setup? Location services, personalized ads, privacy settings, Microsoft account.

As a last frustrating example, I recently wanted to help my mom try the Sleep Cycle app to track how well she sleeps. I remembered it's free and relatively to use the basic features, at least on Android. Oh, how wrong I was. My mom uses an iPhone, and not only did we need to relog into her Apple ID to even get the download started, we also had to start a free trial and make a user to even try using it. This included adding her credit card as a payment option, and then immediately cancelling the free trial to avoid being charged after the first week. Sheesh. Okay. How do they even expect older people will be able to figure this out? There are things like this that I can't even figure out, and have had to give up on.

A recent one of these was a friend who wanted an activation crack program for his wife's Windows 10 PC, whose activation had run out. I had the zip file, and wanted to send it by creating a Dropbox link my freind could download it from. Nope, not happening. Immediately, Dropbox let me know I had "reached my daily limit of creating share links" - what? Why lie and give me a reason that has nothing to do with it? Even after trying to reset the warning to be able to create more, it just gave me another excuse. Same thing when I tried sending the file using Gmail, it was blocked as being virus and would not send. Even when I encrypted the zip file with a password, the transfer was not allowed. How does that work exactly...?

I ended up finding the link for the download from a torrent site, but that is also impossible to send over an app like Facebook's Messenger. I was literally down to the idea of him physically having to visit me, and get the file on a USB pin. Like we lived in the stone age, you know?

I ended up being able to send him the torrent link in an email, but this was after about an hour of frustration over how to get a maybe 8 MB zip file sent to a friend. You would think that shoud be easy nowadays. I think I will need to get into using things like Nextcloud, and just make my own cloud hosting server instead of relying on services like Dropbox. DuckDuckGo instead of Google. Linux instead of Windows. Android instead of iPhone. Open source instead of just "free". Freedom over all!

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Avatar for green_claymore
2 years ago