Owning Devices

Own (adjective) – Belonging to oneself or itself – usually used
following a possessive case or possessive adjective “cooked my own

The definition of “own” above is the crux of my rant here. I own
very few electronics; a laptop, a wristwatch, a coffeepot. I am
owned by many many electronics; a cellphone, a car, a tv, a
thermostat, a dishwasher, a washing machine, a clothes dryer – the
list goes on.

I feel that meager list of three items not because I purchased
them, but solely because I have the knowledge and ability to
change any aspect of those devices that I desire.

I didn’t like the operating system that came with my laptop, so I
installed my own (linux). I didn’t like kernel that came with the
linux distro that I chose, so I built and installed my own. I
didn’t like the default theme for my window manager, so I made my
own. My laptop is completely customized to be exactly how I want
it. Let me say that another way – my laptop is completely under my
absolute control. I don’t have to have a corporation tell me that
I am allowed to install a particular program (ie the Mac App
store), I am not limited to only programs that use a particular
graphics library (Cocoa, QT, whatever Windows uses), etc. This
complete control and customization makes me more productive than
any other singular thing.

With my cellphone, I can change the ROM and change which app
responds to a particular intent. I can also change the system
kernel and boot image, but I cannot change the bootloader, the
radio firmware (also called the baseband) or swap out hardware
components that would allow me these *freedoms*.

Don’t let yourself be owned by your devices. You must work at
owning them – be it by studying the devices and the related
internals or by “voting with your dollars” and purchasing freedom
respecting hardware.

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