Gingerbread: Google Getting Greedier

(Or why Google starts sucking.)

At the beginning of times, when Earth was created, Google was Good. They had the “do no harm” philosophy; you were totally free to use their services or not, and when using them, you weren’t forced to anything else, nor you had to pay with your data or your privacy. But with popularity came The Temptation, the evil snake whispering into the Google Guys’ ears: “hey folks, you’re now popular: you can have a lot of power and money. Wouldn’t you like it?” And the Google Guys thought: “yeah, we DO like it!”
And Google created Android.
A lot of people complain about Facebook (Facebook F, Google G, two contiguous letters in the alphabet; just a funny coincidende). People complain about the evil use that Facebook makes of our data. “They sell it!”, people say. And indeed they sell it, of course. Where else would the money to keep Facebook working come from? Our data. But still, it’s a well known fact; therefore there’s no fooling ourselves.
But what about Google? Why nobody seems to complain about Google? Or, better said: why nobody talks about, or thinks that Google is selling our data same as Facebook does? (And, as far as I can think, Google has probably more of our data than Facebook has.) Why do we still think that Google is Good? I’m asking this because, I’m afraid, the “do no harm” philosophy has been left Far (with F like in Facebook), Far behind.
Google -as I was saying- created Android; but they didn’t create it for the fun of it, nor because they’re Good like God. They created it out of greediness. With Android Froyo (with F, like in Facebook), haven’t you ever noticed how hard it is to do anything if you don’t “sync”with your Gmail account? In effect, a non-synced Android phone is pretty useless. But, once you “sync”, what makes you think you’re not sending, in the background, every piece of information you have in your handset?: your phonebook, your address book, your other accounts passwords… Yes: Google created Android for you to “sync” it, and pass to them your data, so they can sell it!
Sync! What an innocent, harmless-looking word they use! “Oh, you’re just syncing your data to your Gmail account, so you don’t lose it and you can always recover it”. Hah! What a trap! Maybe you don’t lose it, but certainly Google won’t lose it! They’ll make sure they keep it well, to build the largest phonebook database in the world. Do you think they’re not going to sell it? Do you think they’re not already selling it? Of course they are. So, be aware that, whenever you press “Sync”, you’re pressing “Sell”.
And, yet, Android Froyo had a “bug”: you still could use your SIM card for storing your phonebook, keeping your “freedom”, disregarding the “sync to Gmail” option and depriving Google of your precious data. Yes, perhaps you were one of those aware people who thought: “I’d rather keep my numbers private, and not ‘sync’ them to Google”. Now, that was a problem. So, what did the Good Google Guys do? Easy: they released Gingerbread, Getting Greedier and Greedier.
And, now, Gingerbread is the end of all Good: now you can’t use your SIM card for storing contacts at all, except (of course) for importing your contacts from it to your phone, so that you have to “sync” it to Google. With Gingerbread, if you want to store a new contact, you can’t do it to your SIM: you have to store it in the phone and sync it to Google servers if you don’t want to lose it. It’s a perfect trap: once you get into Gingerbread, you’re bound to Google forever: your contacts are in Google servers, you can only retrieve them with another Android (i.e., Google) phone, but you can’t store them in your SIM; so, the next phone you buy will be another Android. No escape! Since Gingerbread on, you’re doomed to keep collecting phone numbers for feeding Greedy Google’s databases, so they can sell more and more while you have less and less privacy.
Of course, there are applications in the market for transfering your contacts to your SIM; but it’s not quite the same; not at all: it’s time consuming, it’s annoying, it’s not efficient, and many (most) people won’t think of it, won’t do it.
Sure: Android is a “free” mobile phone operating system and, same as with Facebook, we have to pay for it somehow. We pay with our data and our privacy. Which perhaps is fair enough, but hey!: at least, let’s stop thinking that Google is Good.
Quite the other way around: Google starts sucking.
(Not to talk about the message: “you may not able to log in to your Gmail account again if you don’t provide us with your mobile phone number” that we get every now and then when checking our mail. What the hell is this supposed to be? Big Brother?)

No icons in QT apps on Xfce

If you ever experience this problem: QT apps showing no icons in their menus when running in Xfce desktop, you can fix it issuing these commands on a console:
gconftool-2 –type boolean –set /desktop/gnome/interface/buttons_have_icons true
gconftool-2 –type boolean –set /desktop/gnome/interface/menus_have_icons true

How to login as root in Xfce

Log in as root in the Xfce environment is disabled by default. When I tried to google how to change this behaviour, I got lots of results, but useless, because though dozens of people had posted that same question in dozens of forums, they all got the same kind of reply: “Log in as root in graphics mode is dangerous. You shouldn’t do it, and certainly I won’t tell you how to.” Bullshit. That’s a hypocritical reply, as coming from someone who refuse to help others under the weak grounds that “it’s dangerous”. I can’t help thinking that those “gurus” are simply enjoying their power at knowing something they don’t want to share.
Fortunately, I was lucky to find out the answer by myself. Here’s how you can do it (I’m talking about the Linux Mint Xfce and the gdm3 session manager):
Open a terminal and, as root, edit the file /etc/pam.d/gdm3. Comment out the line that says: “auth required user != root quiet success”.
There you are! That simple. Now you can log in as root in an Xfce session.