A day or so ago I got an e-mail from a co-worker asking that I upvote an item he'd posted on Ycombinator's Hacker News Message Board.
Now this was surprising for me. I work with a couple people who frequent Hacker News and we've all pretty much decided never to upvote each other simply because there's a bias involved. So for him to request an upvote was a big deal.
The message he posted was in regards to this whole T-Mobile Sidekick situation in which Microsoft (who acquired Sidekick maker Danger) lost a lot of user data. Apparently Sidekick data is not permanently stored on the device. So there was some technical glitch on the server and any Sidekick users who turned off their device during that time lost all their data.
Anyway, back to my co-worker, this is the message he posted...
This probably (definitely?) makes me a jerk but I have to say it: They deserved it.
I'm sorry but in this day and age anyone trusting their data to a device that stores it exclusively on the server deserves what they get.
Some will say "the type of person who uses these devices isn't the type of person to understand where their data is located" but I say that's BS. We're in a data centric world now and I don't think it's asking that much for people to be aware of where their data is kept and to make sure they have some kind of "backup" guarantee.
To Anyone Downvoting This: Let me ask you one question. If someone without a seatbelt gets hit by a drunk driver does the fact that the accident's the drunk driver's fault mean it was ok for them not to wear a seatbelt? Or can someone be responsible for their own irresponsibility even though the damage was caused by a party that was more to blame?
When I first read it I thought his post was maybe a little too blunt. But I essentially agreed with the sentiment and didn't think he deserved to get taken to the cleaners for it (when I saw the thread it was at a -5 rating).
Still, I thought he was a tad harsh until I saw this news item from CNet's Ina Fried. She quotes several sob stories from users who lost their data during this Sidekick debacle.
The one that really set me off was this one from "Rachel" (last name held by request)...
Unfortunately I was unaware that my phone was at risk during this whole "data service disruption." There were a couple of text messages sent out last week from Tmobile apologizing for any inconvenience during this time period, but not once did it plainly state in a text to NOT POWER DOWN YOUR DEVICE, DO NOT ALLOW THE BATTERY TO RUN OUT and/or DO NOT REMOVE YOUR BATTERY. Instead it advised users to checkout their webpage for more information. At the time I was having no problems with my data and therefore disregarded the "sorry for the inconvenience" text and carried on using my phone as normal, and not bothering to check out the tmobile webpage.
Well, the next day my battery somehow died while I was at work (still unsure how that happened as it was charged the night before as it always has been) and after charging the phone at home my phone powered on easily enough, but without any of my personal information on it any longer. So I turned it off again, pulled out the battery for a few minutes, and then reassembled it all and tried again. Still no luck.....photos, address book (250+ contacts!), events, notes, etc.....all gone. It wasn't until this happened that I started to investigate the problem and found this in huge letters across the top of the main sidekick page (t-mobile.com/sidekick): "Sidekick customers, during this service disruption, please DO NOT remove your battery, reset your Sidekick, or allow it to lose power." Along with a note explaining they were trying to recover the data, etc.
Now it seems that all my information may be lost for good. It's infuriating.
So...This woman got a warning from T-Mobile , she chose to completely disregard that warning, and now she's mad because there were negative consequences?
Now don't get me wrong. I'll be the first to admit I've ignored similar messages in the past. I'm just as guilty of that. But the difference between me and "Rachel" is that I would take responsibility for my actions if ignoring those messages led to a negative result. Because in the end I did choose to ignore an explicit warning.
(Again, the group at Microsoft/Danger that let this happen are world class idiots who deserve a ton of blame, just not all the blame)
Which brings me back to my co-worker's experience on Hacker News. What amazed me about the replies he got was that there were a lot of people defending those Sidekick users who lost their data. Saying they shouldn't be responsible for backing up their data and that they deserved no blame for any of this. That bothers me a great deal.
Have people just completely divorced themselves from results? The actions of these people who lost their data have already ended in disaster. Regardless of how bad or stupid Microsoft is that doesn't change the fact that all these people would still have their data if they'd just backed it up somewhere. Instead of entrusting the sole copy of it to a company who gave them no guarantees whatsoever in regards to data integrity.
Bottom Line: Children expect someone else to take care of their problems for them. Adults are supposed to know enough to safeguard those things which they value.
2nd Bottom Line: The cloud does not solve everything. You can not just trust the cloud to protect, backup, and safeguard your data. It's your job as the owner of that data to make sure you have it somewhere else in case there is a disaster. Because if something like this happens it may very well be the cloud's fault but it's you who will have lost your data.