Many, many moons ago, before the World Wide Web, before Facebook (no, there weren’t dinosaurs roaming the earth) there was already such a thing as the internet. Email has been around for a long, long time, but there was also a need for transferring large amounts of data and so came to be FTP: File Transfer Protocol. It’s been around since 1971 or so, believe it or not, and is today as ubiquitous and useful as ever. The beauty of it is, that it’s incredibly universally supported; instead of HTTP, using FTP://www.ricobelled.com will connect to my server and ask for login credentials, directly in Windows Explorer, and any web browser out there, allowing the user to upload and download files without the need to use third party services like DropBox. There’s support for this on any machine out there. I can do this on my Nexus 5X, right in Chrome, or download an app. Even a DOS machine from 1988 can get and send files this way, any LINUX machine….
Unfortunately, it’s also a great example of how Apple is taking us backwards, without many people even realizing, and how dangerous it is to lived in a “walled garden” ecosystem like the Big Fruit’s. Let me tell you a story.
On our last tour of Eastern Europe with Keiko Matsui, we did the first 7 shows with the amazing Lords Of The Sound orchestra from Ukraine. In fact they were so good that it we recorded the show in Odessa to send as an guide to the conductor for the orchestra that was going to do our last show in Tbilisi, Georgia. We ended up with a stereo board mix from the monitor system minus brass/perc, a mono track of just brass and percussion and a stereo track from a camera out in the audience. It came to me to mix those together and make mp3s to send out. Now we had to get them there but it was imperative that they were transferred securely and accessible anywhere. These are NOT to get out in public, so I set up FTP access on my server and send out the login info. Guess what? The iPhone users could not get to the files, Safari just displayed a search result for ftp://ricobelled.com! OK, I figured just use Chrome, since that works perfectly on my Android: no luck, same result! Wait, what? I looked into it and sure enough, browsers on iOS can not do FTP access! That means on an iPad too by the way! That’s right, your $1000 Pro has a neutered browser, all the while Apple is trying to tell you it’s a capable computer.
Of course there are FTP clients for iOS, but at this point, the iPhoners had given up, “this is too difficult!”. I explained to the boss I cannot in good conscience use those services that others blindly surrender all their data to, gave the MP3s to the tour manager who took it from there. It’s frightening to me how easily so many are giving up their autonomy, choosing perceived ease of use over true control. Trust me, FTP is not hard to use; as a matter of fact, I would say it’s easier than those services, not in the least because it allows you to access data in a multitude of ways. For instance, try the FireFTP plugin for Firefox, or logging in straight from Windows Explorer and Dragging&Dropping straight to your local drives. Plus, it doesn’t change unless you want it to, where with Dropbox you’re dependent on ever changing interface options.