© 2002 Jamie Zawinski <jwz@jwz.org>

I got to mess with a Danger Hiptop recently, and from the little I played with it, it's pretty sweet: the form factor is good, the keyboard is easy to use, etc. I think it's a little too big, but I expect they'll fix that eventually.

But, unlike all those PalmOS telephones that are available, this thing is basically a cache for the upstream server: everything you save on the phone (address book, notes, any email you forward to the phone's mail reader, etc.) goes upstream to the mothership (and presumably you can sync with your computer via the company's web page or something.) In other words, it's pretty much a terminal, with the central-point-of-failure security concerns that come along with that model. Plus, you can't load your own software onto it: you get what the manufacturer sold you, and that's it. You may have heard about the recent incident where they released some games for the device, and then remotely deleted them all from everyone's phone when they changed their mind.

Anyway, one of my first reactions was how cool this will be once some bad guy finally cracks the server! Assuming these devices get popular, imagine being able to click on a map, zoom down to street level, see dots marking where people with Hiptops are (since, being cell phones, they're all automatically lojacked) and then click on one of those dots to look through the phone's camera in realtime! Ok, mostly you'd be seeing the inside of someone's pocket, but still. I'll bet you'd at least be able to turn on the microphone and speaker remotely.

"Imagine the distributed denial-of-service attack you could build with a cluster of these..."

I want a device in the same physical case (because the ergonomics of it is really excellent), but that runs an open platform like PalmOS, so that I'm not beholden to The Phone Company's political and serve-the-least-common-denominator motivations over what software they should allow people to run.

[ up ]