A lot is happing behind the UBports scenes. And it's not all hardcore coding. A group of members, has established the first ever UBports foundation to provide structure, transparency and meritocracy. In this first episode of the 'board intro series' we have @Flohack who takes the stage and persuades you in his UBports calling.
Hi there, my name is Florian, probably better known to you already as Flohack or Flow (don´t know where this came from). In this blog post I want to introduce myself a little bit, what brought me here and why I think it is important that we do what we… well are doing: Trying to put a vision to life. And by the way, my heading was taken from a t-shirt imprint I saw recently. How true it is, that we are all dreamers.
I was built in 1974, born in the wonderful town of Salzburg, Austria, so probably I am one of the oldest in the team, and you could argue that I am full with stereotypes about why the current mobile ecosystem is bad. Some of these arguments may be true, some not. But actually I really don´t know myself why I was avoiding mobile tech until recently.
Let me tell you a few lines about the golden age, as you might be much younger, and you probably did not experience the development of all this in the way I did. So first, there was no mobile phone at all. Kind of a mobile darkness. Plus there was no private telephone company in Austria until I think around 1992 or so. We had a state-owned, expensive, totally overregulated telco that gave us landline at a very high price (and did not make any net profit still). And by the way, Internet was done with analogue modems, with funny sounds and abismal speeds you probably would think it´s impossible to work with. But that´s maybe another story for another blog post.
So when I was a child, we even had a full landline access. It was so expensive my parents decided to go for the infamous quarter-access, that means 1 wire was shared between 2, 3 or max 4 households. It´s true. You had complicated relay boxes in the apartments to decide who´s next on the phone. Sometimes you were unreachable for hours and you couldn´t call either.
Things got better when the private telcos arrived, finally prices were going down, and people could afford full access lines. But then, in the same moment, mobile phones appeared everywhere.
Before, a mobile phone was not a device for private people. Companies used these horrible sized expensive boxes of 4kg net weight to call whatever road warriors and sales agents for whatever reason. 1984 there were only around 2.000 devices registered, for a country of 7 million people!
Also, most countries had incompatible standards, so roaming was impossible with those pre-GSM-age boxes. They were analogue, of bad quality and you could tap them easily, so there was 0 privacy possible.
Things finally exploded when GSM was there: Suddenly a mobile phone became affordable for many more people. Starting from 1996 onwards private people had suddenly a mobile phone. But for what reason? Calls were expensive, phones still huge compared to today, and anyway nobody called you most of the time.
And here is one thing, that probably made me feel anxious about mobile phones at that time, and it lasts until today: The status symbol thingie. Many of my friends had a mobile phone just to look big, hook up with girls or other strange reasons. I was never one of them. To me it was clear, a mobile phone is a tool like any other tool: use it when you need it. And until some job where I was working outside of the company, I never needed this tool. A good technician has only tools he needs!
So let me fast-forward: It´s now smartphone age. And again the same happened, people appeared with their smartphones, to impress, to fool around, to whatever. I disliked them for buying the most expensive smartphone just because it was shiny and bling-bling. And I decided, I still don´t need it. So until 2015, I never owned a smartphone. It´s true!
But I must admit, by then the smartphone has lost the impress-hookup-macho aura and was incorporated into the daily life of so many people that I looked really old. I was using still my Nokia C-something which the company gave as default phone for free. I was grumbling when I could not access certain information on the go. I had no naviagtion, which would have helped sometimes. No games, no newspaper that other people used daily. I started to look around what options I got.
Apple? not a minute! Impossible to buy such a money for such small set of possibilities. I am a small hacker sometimes, and need full control of my IT. Android? Better, but still too much marketing, tracking and google apps stuff. So what else?
And for some reason I got hold of the "Canonical sells Linux phones" story. There it was clear: my first smartphone must be a Unix thingie. It solved all my requirements, and still would behave as I wanted. Ok this was first thinking, without knowinig details.
So I ordered it, got a bit disappointed at the beginning, and saw that it is still a looong way to got for it. But I was hoping that time and resources would help to get this mission accomplished.
Again we skip forward, you know the details, and what happened. As Canonical lost their pace, I was already playing with porting to a very old HTC One X (still trying but still failing with that one). I got in contact with the UBports guys, I got interested, and I wanted to contribute. And then all of a sudden, I was in the middle of effectively holding the future strings in my hands, together with a few other people.
As of last month, these people and me were asked and formed the very first Board of Directors of the UBports Foundation. Ok, to be honest the foundation itself still needs a bit of work before we can effectively are one. But still, as of that day we are 'acting as such'.
For the moment, we are trying to recruit developers, marketeers, sponsors that want to commit themselves to the UBports cause and subscribe into the foundation. I for one, am happy that this means adding another exciting chapter to the future of telecommunications. Keep a keen eye on our part of the website.
So should this dream stop here? Can I go back to my old Nokia? Or can I try to get this project moving forward, even if it would be terribly slow? I decided and you know now, that´s why I am here. I want to belive, to quote Mulder.
And I hope we are not the only believers, that pursue this dream of an alternative, even if all odds are against us some times. Even if the road is rocky, and the wind is blowing into all our faces, you should see that ideas can only be stopped by not beliveing into them. Let´s get this done! For us, for our friends and families, and in the end, for all people out there.