Tue, 07 Sep 2021 12:57:04 -0500Modern Computers Can't Be Trusted

mr's Preposter.us Blog

Over the course of last week I watched the last few things I depend on my phone to remember rot away.

First it was my Calendar, which disappeared silently.  I didn't know it was gone until I missed an appointment and when I went to see if I had set an alarm, the entire contents of the calendar were gone.

Next it was my Reminders.  These were where I expected them in the morning and came-and-went throughout the day.  By the following morning, they were gone.

Finally it was my Notes.  Those literally vaporized before my eyes.

I'm waiting for the Contacts to go away next.  I've had this happen before in the past, but this time I had the forethought to back them up.  Of course the iPhone provides no facility for backing this up, so I had to download a third party application and grant it access to my entire Contact list.

Some will rationalize this or make excuses, but the fact is that there was data I recorded on my phone, and then there wasn't.  This wasn't caused by me telling the phone to delete it, nor was it due to some bug or error.  My data was deleted from my phone in a way that was somehow by design.

This data was on my phone, and it was also in "the cloud".  The phone is backed-up as well.  None of this prevented me from loosing this data, and I have no reason to believe that it won't happen again.  One of the first principles of good software design is to respect the user's data.  Failing to do this is tantamount to a doctor breaking their Hippocratic Oath.  For a company with the resources of Apple to do this is completely unacceptable, but it has become the norm of the industry and isn't likely to change anytime soon.

Old computers didn't do this.  They may have lost data due to limitations of the technology they were built from, or from bugs or other errors that were unintentional, but my VIC-20 never deleted files off of a cassette tape without me explicitly telling it to, and the contact list that I started on my Newton was safely carried through several old computers (another Newton, a Palm Zire, even Windows devices) before being destroyed by an iPhone.