Owning Devices

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

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.