Bravo, Apple, but I’m still a little conflicted…

This morning, all the talk on the news is around Tim Cook’s letter to customers posted on the Apple main page, stating they will not comply with a Federal judge’s order to provide the FBI with a “back-door” into iPhones (specifically, the iPhone 5c used by the San Bernadino shooters). If you haven’t read it, take a few minutes and read what he has to say, it’s really important. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. Seriously, go read it.

Now, I can see both sides of this argument, and I’m feeling genuinely conflicted at the moment. On one hand, bravo Mr. Cook, for standing up for us and our rights to privacy. Having followed the EFF for a while, I understand the importance of security in the digital playground we all inhabit these days. Apple has long stated it’s support of personal privacy, and essentially made the software, starting with iOS 8 I believe, with encryption that they themselves didn’t have the key to. They have agreed that what you have on your phone is your own business, and I think that’s a good stance for a company like Apple to have. How Tim describes how privacy and encryption on our phones can protect our own personal safety makes a lot of sense. They can’t just unlock or decrypt the phone on their own, they purposely put that firewall up between them and the data on the phone to safeguard that personal data. In this case, they would have to write specifically a new version of iOS without that encryption, and somehow force the phone to update to that software so it can be brute-force hacked into by the FBI to attempt to gather the data. Problem is, once that software is written? It exists and someone else will find a way to get it. It will leak, whether by hacker or someone inside who can be bought. Even if it gets out in an incomplete fashion, it gives hackers the tools to do what they’ve been trying to do for years. This is an important precedent to set, and I’m with Tim Cook and Apple on that.

Now the other side, where I’m personally conflicted at the moment. We’re talking about terrorism here. The shooter’s phone could have some incredibly valuable data on it, contacts, access to various account he used, access and information that would be the FBI and Homeland Security’s wet dream. They should have already been able to subpoena phone records, though, as there’s already precedence of getting that information from phone carriers in criminal investigates. They can get a lot more data into the shooter’s activities though, GPS and location data, maybe logins to Twitter or website accounts used to plan the attack, etc. Of course, they could get into the phone and find he wiped it before they did their act of terror. As well as he flew under the radar, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that they wiped the phone prior and there was no data left to retrieve. Where it would be wonderful for the FBI to get that additional information on the shooter, I don’t have confidence that they would really find anything of use. And again, this line still goes along with “if you crack one phone, you now have the blueprints to crack them all”, which is still scary as hell, so I’m not THAT conflicted on this one.

However, we come to the whole disobeying a Federal judge order, which I think is an interesting moral discussion. Where do we draw the line in society that it’s ok to disobey a Federal judge order? When Kim Davis disobeyed the order to issue same sex marriage, I personally felt that was wrong and she needed to do what was being asked of her. Many didn’t, and felt her disobedience was justified. Cliven Bundy disregards Federal Judge orders to pay grazing fees, among other things. Personally, I’m glad he’s locked up at the moment as I feel his brand of “patriotism” was leading to a violent conclusion that had nothing to do with respect for his country. Again, others felt differently and he’s been propped up by some as an example of government overreach. So why does Tim Cook get a pass to disobey a Federal judge’s order?

My answer is this. Kim Davis, while thinking she’s protecting her own rights to religious freedom, was infringing on others by not allowing them the same legal benefits and protections. Allowing them benefits of legal marriage (not the same as Christian marriage) does nothing to hurt or infringe on Kim Davis. Doesn’t impact her at all, but not allowing it impacts the same-sex couples attempting to get those rights. Cliven Bundy, while saying the land belongs to the people and he should be allowed to let his cattle graze for nothing because the land doesn’t belong to the government but the people, is also acting selfishly. If the land belongs to the people, then I own some of that and I don’t want him grazing and destroying the land either. I would want it to be controlled, so the land isn’t desiccated by cattle eating all the vegetation. He may think he’s protecting people from government overreach, but he’s only acting in his own self-interest and making a mockery of “patriotism” in the process.

Tim Cook, however, by refusing the Federal order is taking a bullet for all estimated 800 million users on iOS software (based on device sales over time) across the world. Because creating a back door into one device would put ALL of those users at risk if it were to be released into the wild, either accidentally or with malice. It would set a precedent for other countries with less regulations on privacy (think China and Russia first off) to force Apple into giving them information on people they think are dissidents. His refusal is seen by some as a noble protection of people, not just in America but around the world, and their innate rights to privacy. He’s actively protecting existing rights, and not attempting to restrict rights or say it only applies to him. Maybe that’s why we view his refusal as acceptable while the others not.

Of course, you see the Republican candidates already criticizing him for this move, sensing a way to put themselves in the spotlight on an issue gathering a lot of attention. At the time of writing this, I haven’t seen any comments from Clinton or Sanders, but the Republican candidates were quick to hop on with their soundbites. The criticisms are directly conflicting with their campaigns about personal liberty in a way, but I’m sure they haven’t thought the position all the way through in the rush to get political exposure. They are against a national database for gun ownership, but for the ability of the government to unlock any phone they want to and read all personal data? I am interested to hear what the Democratic candidates have to say, but it will likely be the polar opposite since we’re in campaign grind mode with everyone taking their shots.

Maybe I’m not so conflicted after all…


Bravo, Apple, but I’m still a little conflicted…

Insights to my little girl

I’ll start off saying this is going to be a difficult one to make it through. This was hard to write, so I’m sure it will be hard to read. But I need to get it off my chest tonight.


wolf_profile_by_frosttheshapeshifter-d971u61.png.jpgAmanda spends a lot of her time online at a site called Deviant Art, where she’s made friends with other kids her age, posting art (some of my favorites of hers I’ve included in this posting) and doing various role-play stories. We’ve discreetly monitored her on there for a while, making sure she was being safe and also watching as she tried on different aspects of her personality in the ongoing stories they would craft, getting some insights into how she perceives the world around her. Sometimes, her language gets a little stronger than I’d like (we don’t curse around the kids, but ho-boy, do they ever figure it out…), but she’s speaking appropriately to her friends in their language so it’s ok. She’s been working through her “demons” with her friends, mainly her tendency to meltdown and lash out at people without thinking about the consequences. Thankfully her friends seem to understand and, while difficult to deal with, they don’t seem to hold her episodes against her, which is nice. She understands her problems, and seems to be trying to get better with her friends’ help.

Tonight, however, I read a journal entry that spoke more specifically about what she’s gone through in the last 7 years than anything I’ve ever been able to get from her. It was enlightening, and heartbreaking.


I was checking her profile page like we do every week or so, looking at the art she puts up, reading some of the public comments and stories between her and her friends. Tonight, there was a journal entry called, “Story Time”, which is something I’ve seen some of her friends post when they describe a situation going on in their life in a 3rd person way and get help from others. Her story starts with a young girl with an optimistic but strange personality, ready to live life and rise to the challenges faced. Then, when she was 9, her mom had cancer and was “shipped off to the nearest hospital” (side note, Amanda was actually 7 when Teri was first diagnosed, so her timeline is a little skewed…but that’s ok, it’s honestly hard to remember sometimes this has been going on as long as it has been). She talks about her friends at school trying to help, but how hard it was for her to come home and mom wasn’t there. Mom got better, and life started to get back to normal, but then she moved and had to go to a new school where she was bullied and teased. Then mom’s cancer came back, and the girl was traumatized and angry knowing the doctors didn’t get rid of all of it. This goes on a bit, more troubles at school with friends, the cancer going dormant again but coming back 3 years later. She talks about finally discovering friends online, and how they changed her life and helped.


She goes on about a boy she met online who helped her soothe her fears, but then cheated on her, and then other troubles when that boy started dating her “sister”, a girl she was very close to (I use the term “dating” loosely, as they are all in different states so never have physical contact). She talks more about how she lashes out, unleashing her inner demons, and ends with a question, asking if she will ever be soothed or continue “her demonic rampages and reaping of souls” (she can be rather dramatic with her imagery).

We’ve dealt with Amanda’s demons for years. 2 years ago she would lash out violently at Teri and me with little provocation. There were a lot of scary times then, but we have been able to work through things and she seems to be on a better track now. She does slip from time to time, and still has self-harm tendencies where she’ll come home from school stressed out and literally looking like she was in a fight with a jaguar – arms, legs, and face scratched and bleeding from her behavior.

But this is the first time I’ve read anything about how she’s perceived and dealt with our ongoing battle with cancer. She won’t talk about it with me, though she’s talked with Teri a little about it over the years. And it breaks my heart to see her describe how much this fight has hurt her as well.

Cancer effects us all. Teri the most, as she’s the one fighting like hell and going through the physical sickness. It effects me as it’s hard to watch it progress, but stay strong for her and the rest of the family. I know it’s been hard on the kids, the prospect of losing their mom but not knowing when that day will come, if ever, but reading that gave me a window to Amanda that I hadn’t seen before. And I just want to hold her like I did when she was an infant so nothing in this world can ever hurt her.

Insights to my little girl

A new year, and hopefully some progress

It’s been a long time since I update you all on what’s going on here. There have been all sorts of issues with Amanda at school, behavioral problems and acting out violently with some self harm. There are a lot of reasons, stress at home with Teri, stress at school, stress with her friends online, and she doesn’t deal with it in the most productive ways. We’re working on getting her some additional help, but the problem with that is that she doesn’t think she needs help with anything. Getting her to work with someone will be the big challenge there.

Drew has had some behavior issues lately as well, he acts out in some weird ways to get attention. The day before going back to school after winter break, he was stressed about going back to school and got in trouble for doing a few things we specifically asked him not to do. He took a bath in our bathroom that night, and used my beard trimmer to shave his head. Yep, he full on pulled a Brittany. It’s growing back ok, and he headed off any teasing by taking Teri’s advice and saying he was doing it to support cancer patients. Helping drew deal with stress in more productive ways is another goal this year.

Alex is doing pretty well overall, still a lot of challenges around communication but it’s improved a lot. He does much better at school than he does at home, I think some of it is that he just want to relax when he’s home and not have to work so hard at it. 

So, now onto Teri. My last blog post talked about the clinical trial she was starting up. Well, the drugs didn’t seem to do anything positive, the tumor marker numbers continued to go up and she still has the sternum pain, so they took her out of the study back in October. The doctor gave us a few options, but was pushing getting Teri onto another aggressive chemo. Losing hair and being sick as hell was not something that Teri had the energy to do, not after fighting for 7 years, so he pulled out another chemo that she would be able to handle better. She’s been on that, one week on and one week for a couple of months now, and we’ve seen some mixed results. Before Christmas, we had some positive test results that showed two of the markers dropped and one had its rate of increase slowed significantly. However, the test this last month didn’t continue that overall trend. One still went down, but the other two went up. They increased the dose of the drug, which is really starting to take a toll on Teri. Fatigue, headaches, and some nausea, not nearly as bad as that first year of chemo we went through but still can make it tough to function. A couple more weeks and we’ll have the next test to see if increasing the dose helps, so for now it’s still the waiting game.

Teri did get to finally take that vacation away from the kids that I’ve been trying to get her to do for years. She’s let me go off for weekends her and there, a couple of trips to NAMM and Vegas to see Billy Sheehan and The Winery Dogs, but she never felt like she could leave. Her close friend came to stay with us for a while after New year’s,  and the two of us convinced her to take a trip up to Sedona, a girl’s weekend, and I would handle the kids. It went very well, they had a great time up in nature (Sedona is really by beautiful) and all three kids were alive when she got back. Now I need a vacation again…

So, I’ll try to update this more this year. It’s tough, and by the time I have the time to sit down and write I’m too exhausted from the day to think and put a coherent thought down. Writing is good for me, though, getting these thoughts out of my head, so whether anyone actually reads this or not it’s helpful to my sanity.

A new year, and hopefully some progress

Update from the broiler

So there’s been a lot going on out here, to put it mildly. Hell, I don’t even know where to start. Work? Home? Kids? Teri? Oooooh, let’s start with puppy 🙂

So, about 3 months ago, a friend of ours had puppies. Well, not her specifically, her dog. Mom is a Shih Tzu, dad was a Yorkie, so she had a litter of 5 little Shorkies (I guess that’s better than calling them Yorkzus or something). Teri and I had talked about getting a dog again, we had an Australian Cattle Dog (we think) many years ago named Corky, who was the best dog ever, but the kids started showing signs of allergies when they were babies so my sister, Beth, adopted her from us so she stayed in the family. Corky lived a long happy life, she passed a few years ago sadly. As the kids have grown up, their dog allergies seem to have gotten better, so we’d tossed around the idea of getting a dog. Drew has been asking for a puppy for the last couple of years, so we thought we’d see if a puppy would fit. Our friend let us take one of the puppies for a “test drive” if you will, keep her for a week or so to see how it went.

Well, initially, we took a girl and a boy puppy since they were really close and they were afraid the girl would cry terribly and being separated. That was a colossal mistake, two puppies were WAY too much for us to handle, and they were just at the age where they were starting to try and establish dominance. So, playful fighting started getting more serious, and we didn’t think we could police the two of them for long. That, and dealing with 8-week old puppies peeing an pooping all over…well, that drove me nuts in the morning when also trying to deal with the normal routine of taking care of the kids. So, the next day, the boy went back and we kept the girl for the weekend. Drew was over the moon, so happy. Seeing him that happy melted me, and it became evident that she was going to be part of the family. It was a tough decision, a lot of responsibility, but the joy she was bringing to us (when she wasn’t peeing or pooping in the house) was welcome in our current situation. We told our friend we wanted to keep her, and came up with a name after much haggling. I’m proud to introduce, Ripley – all prettied up from her first haircut 🙂

Ripley first haircut3

We all really needed this. Drew has had a tough time with Teri’s health lately, he took the news of the cancer coming back pretty hard initially. He’s been a brave kid, but you can tell he gets worried when Teri starts feeling bad either from the chemo or from other illnesses (more on that in a bit). Ripley has already helped him a lot, she’s going to help us all get through this really. Even Amanda, who for the last two years we’ve seen maybe for a cumulative week or so when she’s out of her cave/room, has come down to play with her. Ripley greets her in the morning when she comes downstairs and tries to steal her socks, and is waiting at the door when she and Alex come home. She has certainly brought a different dynamic to the family, and the potty training is coming along 🙂

Next post, I’ll fill you in a bit on Teri. I wrote up a whole bunch and my browser locked up before I saved it, and I’m too tired to try and type it all back again…


Update from the broiler

Welcome to my new spot on the web!

Hey there, everyone!

Rather than going through and writing updates on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter, I thought I would try to create a blog that I could use for journaling. This will at least cross-post so I don’t have to remember to update each place (which I never can). There’s a lot going on right now, and I feel getting it out through a journal would be helpful to me. Teri has her CaringBridge site, but it didn’t feel right to set one up for me too. So, this will also help to keep everyone up to date on all the events going on right now in our life here in the Martin house.

It’s been a long time since I shuttered my “Geek Talks Tech” blog and stopped writing for “GeekBeat”. After Teri’s initial cancer diagnosis, a lot changed in the way I view the world and interact with it. This is kind of a work in progress, and I’m going to commit to putting up a post each day. Could be news from Teri and my battle with cancer, could be news about my kids struggles with Autism, could be talking about work, music, sharing a recording I’m working on, or the latest funny thing that happened. I’ll also be using this to consolidate some of my thoughts and ideas about things over the last 6 years for a possible future project.

Anyway, I sincerely hope you stick around! I’ll try to keep it fun 🙂


Welcome to my new spot on the web!