Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: iPhone (page 1 of 2)

A Challenging Balance: Safety & Security

The debate between privacy, safety, and security has been ongoing for longer than I can guess. I wouldn’t be surprised if cave dwellers used secret passwords to enter adjoining caves or offer assistance in hunts. What were those codes worth to other tribes?

While we may have evolved in language skills and developed mind-boggling technology, the basic premise is unchanged. There is a perception that your privacy in some way compromises the security of the masses. If law enforcement cannot read your mail, then how will they stop the next terrorist attack? Obviously, the discussion merits far more than a short CUBit on this humble blogger’s site. I won’t argue that point. There is a place to strike balances between the privacy rights of individuals with the security responsibilities of your government. But this balance should never tip excessively in favor of the latter. I’d argue it must always lean towards the individual. Even if that person has committed heinous crimes?

There’s the rub. To collect evidence against this one person would put the security of a billion others (most of which not citizens of this country, and therefore not beholden to its laws) at risk. Is the balance needle moved?

This precise situation came to a head yesterday. Remember that time a person shot a bunch of innocent people in San Bernardino? Yeah, no love for them and deepest sympathies to the victims and their families. Well, the shooter owned an iPhone 5C and the FBI wants to collect information from it. Unfortunately for their investigation, the suspect used a passcode. As you may know from your own devices, you can only get it wrong 10 times and the device will erase itself. This feature is so good that the FBI cannot bypass it. So, they did what you’d expect…ask for a key. Since iOS 8 (we’re on iOS 9.2, or 9.3 on beta), Apple stopped keeping encryption keys. This means only the person with the passcode can access the phone’s data, not Apple. The FBI went to court against Apple on the matter. Early this week, a Federal judge ruled that Apple must provide a way for the FBI to access the phone.

They refused.

“So Apple sides with terrorists?” you may say. No, they side with their customers. You see, to modify one device would mean opening all of them up to this same intrusion. “But it can prevent another shooting or even a terrorist attack!” This is circular reasoning, as it presumes the result at the outset. I could just as easily say that it causes a terrorist attack since malicious actors used this “backdoor” to access a government official’s phone. In that case, the argument would be that we should encrypt and secure our devices better. Not to mention all the cases where a suspect’s information could now be accessed by authorities with impunity. All that encryption and security would then mean nothing. It would be akin to having a state of the art deadbolt on your door, but not adding hinges.

Is there a solution? Yes, but it’s not great, and it’s a bug. Companies regularly offer “bug bounties”, or cash rewards, to hackers finding security issues in their software. If the FBI wants this information so bad, offer an enormous bug bounty, say, $5 million, to crack the iPhone’s encryption. However, stipulate that payment only occurs if the flaw is not publicly disclosed and is submitted to the FBI and Apple simultaneously. That way, the FBI gets what they want (access to the suspect’s phone), Apple doesn’t compromise their values or the software (and gains an opportunity to fix a flaw, making it more secure for all), and none of us lose security for the sake of one investigation. Perfect? No. It’s possible no one will figure out how to bypass the passcode lock. Then what?

What’s your take? Can you think of a better way to satisfy all parties? Is there a way to truly balance privacy and security? The comments are open.

PS – This affects your credit union and members, too. Just swap “key to phone” with “key to member data”.

(N)Ever Admit You’re Wrong?

Originally published in November issue of American International Karate Institute’s monthly newsletter.

Here at the Credit Union Geek, I never make mistakes.

Yeah, right.

We live in a society which looks down upon those who make mistakes, as if it is something to be shamed. Why? Every great discovery was done after many attempts, all failing in some fashion. Medical treatments, sports achievements, technical breakthroughs, and any other “first” was done following, well, can you guess? A mistake, that’s what. And probably many of them. Let’s talk Thomas Edison. He’s the guy who discovered a workable method of producing electric light.  In other words: flip a light switch and thank Edison. That brilliant fellow came up with the right idea one day and, bam, light! Well, that’s only partially true. He came up with 3,000 ideas. Two of them proved noteworthy, meaning, he was wrong 2,998 times.

When was the last time you got something wrong 2,998 times? Did you keep trying? Famously, Edison claimed, “You only fail when you quit.”

If being wrong is so shameful, would you risk it? What would people say?

Over the years, great films have highlighted the journey from amateur to champion. Call it the Rocky montage. Or the Karate Kid segment (the 80s excelled at this piece of film history). In the movie, we spend 5 minutes documenting the grueling training and challenges our protagonist encounters. Then, just as they collapse in exhaustion, we see a spark of understanding. Their kick lands. Their punches flow. The light bulb works. Now, it’s off to defeat the Huns!

As a cinematic element, they’re awesome. Tell me your run doesn’t get a boost from hearing Rocky Balboa get ready for his fight against Apollo. But they create an unrealistic perception of progress. It’s hard to grasp the sheer time and effort compressed into those scenes. Olympic athletes train for hours a day, every day, for decades, to even be in the running for competition. As a long-term martial artist, I can say that Daniel-san did not stand a chance at the tournament. He didn’t fail enough to succeed.

It’s not only in competition or inventing where this applies. Apple released iOS 8 in September. It wasn’t perfect. So they released iOS 8.0.1 a few days later. It was even less perfect. The next day, they released 8.0.2. Much better. For some reason, with iOS 8, they also removed the beloved Camera Roll feature, replacing it with a Recently Added folder. It was a nightmare trying to explain how that worked to my parents…”Yes, those are still your phone’s pictures. No, just because they disappeared doesn’t mean they are deleted or gone. It just doesn’t show them there anymore. Yes, you can find them in the big list on the Photos tab.” So, with iOS 8.1, they admitted their mistake and restored Camera Roll. Thank you!

Acknowledging your imperfections and addressing them is a great way to move forward. Never being wrong means you 1) don’t take risks of any kind and 2) won’t achieve anything of significance. My favorite TED talk (On Being Wrong, Kathryn Schulz) delves into this very issue. How sure are you of being right? What about once you’re shown you are wrong? That’s the craziness of being wrong. When we are wrong, we think we are right until shown otherwise. Go watch the TED talk.

In your personal and professional life, aim for getting it wrong. Then accept it, address the issues, and try to get it wrong again. You may just invent the phonograph or telephone, discover penicillin, or grow your member engagement!

Waiting, Done Different

There’s a value to waiting. Going in unprepared is a recipe for disaster, no matter the field. As explained in a previous post, planning ahead of time can reap great rewards, even if your task is not to guide a spacecraft into orbit around another planet.

Of course, you can wait too long. When your competition passes you by, internal goals are foregone for “perfecting”, and the stagnation of perpetual planning sets in for the long haul.

Like everything else we discuss, where is your happy medium? Great question.

Let’s take a look at one of my favorite examples: Apple.

As before, it doesn’t matter your opinion on their services, devices, or practices. We can all agree they are masters at generating buzz, interest, and profits.

And boy do they wait…and wait.

Nearly half a decade ago, phones running Android began appearing with growing screens. I don’t mean they grew as you used them (though that would be awesome…screen size based on usage patterns…patent it!), rather, they were larger than the standard 3.5” of the iPhone. Manufacturers tried it as an experiment, and customers responded. In a continual back-and-forth, screen size increased, customers adopted it, then the sizes were raised once again. Fast-forward to today, and the largest phones are, for argument’s sake, small tablets. Until the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the iPhone gained only a small vertical increase to 4”. Why?

Well, one reason is that Apple does a revamp of the phone body every 2 years, but also they wanted to be certain the transition was real, and not just a short-term trend. Now they have two options, one in the new “mid-size” range at 4.7” and another in the “gargantuan” slate of 5.5”. Android manufacturers should be worried.

“Yeah, but that was a given, and they were just stubborn before!” You might be right, but they followed public adoption preferences quite closely, and only transitioned when a majority of users would be satisfied.

Let’s look at something less apparent. Consider it your internal planning analogue.

Ever try to read your phone’s screen in the sun while wearing polarized glasses? It’s a pain. The screen dims, loses color, goes all weird…do you make the, “look over your glasses nose scrunch”? I do.

Apple engineers noticed this as well, and set to improve it. They put the time into redesigning a panel in the screen (called a polarizer) to minimize that issue. This improvement alone tells me the device was not rushed through development.

We are in the midst of your annual planning sessions. What are you aiming to achieve for the next year? Do you have checks on progress every few weeks? Even better, do you have small victories you can check off on a regular basis? Are your goals achievable, and do all aspects of your CU have buy-in?

What’s your “polarized glasses make the screen crappy” weakness that you are correcting this year?

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