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* Posts by charles platt

12 posts • joined 27 Sep 2007

Apple unveils 17in MacBook, iLife tweaks, Tony Bennett

charles platt

replacable/swappable batteries

I've seen Apple arguments suggesting that an easily "replacable" battery is unnecessary because the one built in should last 5 years, etc.

"Replacable" isn't the issue. When I am on a long trip (e.g. New York - Tokyo) what I need is a "swappable" battery. Isn't this incredibly obvious? When you can't recharge your current battery, a pre-charged spare is essential.

I use a Sharp MP-30 (which isn't made anymore, because it didn't look cool enough I suppose) with batteries that click out and click in in 10 seconds. Apple's legendary industrial design couldn't facilitate this?

So glad I am no longer a victim of Steve Jobs's design fascism, and not subsidizing his health care anymore.

As for iMovie, first they dumbed it down, and now they market a new version which corrects their error.

What a farce.

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Apple revamps MacBook as 13in MacBook Pro

charles platt

same old game

I've been watching this for more than a decade now. Jobs creates two versions of a new model, charging a huge premium for fractionally higher processor clock speed on one of the versions. He creates some totally unnecessary new plug-and-socket format for an everyday i/o function. He leaves out an important feature (e.g. Firewire) or provides an inadequate feature set (e.g. USB ports) without a hint of shame. He offers a performance-to-price ratio that is far worse than any competitor. He hypes the item with pre-release leaks that are clearly orchestrated. In short he treats his customers as if they are so stupid, or so infatuated with sleek industrial design, they will put up with being endlessly exploited and abused. Oh, and in between hardware upgrades, he releases OS upgrades without backward compatibility.

In my days as an Apple user, I started to feel like an enabler--enabling old Steve to exploit and abuse me.

So, I stopped. I don't have the pleasure of using equipment that appeals to design fetishists anymore, but, I can tell you, the pleasure of not being a Steve Jobs enabler is intense.

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Radiation warning for low-energy lightbulbs

charles platt

ultraviolet damage to the eyes

While only a very small number of people may have sufficient skin sensitivity to be affected by energy-efficient lightbulbs, prolonged exposure of the eyes to ultraviolet light is bad news for anyone who hopes to retain decent vision in (relatively) old age. According to my opthalmologist, ultraviolet light "causes yellowing of the lens in the eye in the same way that a block of Lucite would turn yellow if you left it out in the sun." This is one reason I wear glasses with real glass in them, since it attenuates ultraviolet.

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Phreakers seize government phone system

charles platt

value of calls?

400 calls cost $12,000? Did I get that right? $30 average per call?

Sounds like basic AT&T service back in the day. DHS has never heard of Skype I guess.

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Cuil feasts on Salmon of Nonsense

charles platt

Google is behind this

Clearly no startup capitalized with millions from shrewd venture capitalists could really be as clueless as Cuil. Clearly the whole thing was covertly financed by Google as a way of a) redirecting negative industry press and b) making simple Google searches seem stunningly intelligent by comparison.

And, to judge from Reg coverage, the plot has worked!

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Spammers, Cuil, and the rescue from planet Google

charles platt

More Reg Reflexive Anti-Google Nonsense

Microsoft achieved dominance by buying out or copying others, much as the old Soviet Union achieved dominance by invading and acquiring neighboring nations--till they had that spot of bother in Afghanistan, much as Microsoft ran aground on Yahoo.

Google achieved dominance simply by doing a better job than its competitors. First, its search wiped out competitors in an honest contest based on utility. And then--

One look at Google Maps, and you knew that MapQuest was in deep shit. One look at Google Docs, and the writing was on the wall for Microsoft. One look at Google Knol, and you see that Wikipedia has a problem.

Anyone who wants to "protect" me from this kind of monopoly has to explain how they plan to force consumers to use alternatives that are inferior. And Register has to explain just why it is so Googlephobic. As a former British person, I know there is something about a big American success that the British find indigestible. Is that really what's going on here?

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Google gives GMail always-on encryption

charles platt

Doesn't work when referred from Google Search

I am in the habit of using the basic Google Search page as my default browser page. To check my mail I click the Gmail menu option at the top of that page, to transfer to Gmail. Initially I see that it's an HTTPS connection but as soon as my password is verified, it defaults back to plain old HTTP. At least, it did when I tried it just now.

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Google unfurls less laughable Wikipedia

charles platt

Google got it right

So now instead of thousands of people competing to rewrite the history of Hitler (which is apparently one of the three most edited topics in Wikipedia) there can be thousands of separately authored Knols about Hitler. Which would be--almost like a bookstore, right? Multiple authors, multiple viewpoints, and you synthesize your own assessment from them.

Wikipedia had the lunatic idea that it would have just ONE all-purpose collaborative entry on any topic, coauthored in a monumental battle in which those who had the greatest ability to waste their time would overwhelm the rest. It always was a stupid concept, and like most attempts at a "communitarian" model it quickly degenerated into authoritarianism, since the community was incapable of policing itself.

Google has now dispersed the authority to the individual writers, which is where it should reside, and each Knol will have a user-assigned rating, just like books on amazon.com. Sure some of the users will be clueless, but generally speaking, ratings are better than no ratings, I think. And you are always free to search for the lowest rated Knols if you so wish.

Identities are checked on Knol either by verifying a credit-card number or by verifying a home phone listing.

Wikipedia is doomed, and Google now begins to look a little like Microsoft, profiting by copying the product of a competitor and improving on it after the competitor has done the hard work of making the initial blunders.

One little thing gives me pause: Looks like you have to have a gmail account to write a Knol. At this rate Google will OWN email. All email. Yikes.

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US court waves through border laptop searches

charles platt

destruction of evidence

All those who imagine neat ways to wipe the drive before anyone can look at it should remember that destruction of evidence is a serious matter; and the excuse that "Oh I didn't realize it might be used as evidence" will not protect you.

Refusal to divulge a password used to be legitimized under the Fifth Amendment in the US (according to an interview I did long ago with Scott Charney of the Justice Department) but I have seen recent challenges to that too.

TrueCrypt allows the user to establish a hidden file containing encrypted materials, but anyone who does this, and then claims that no such file exists, is counting on the software to protect him from being caught in an outright lie. The lie of course could quickly result in charges such as obstruction of justice.

Really I would imagine that immigration authorities are interested in only two verboten items: Pictures of children having sex, and anything that makes you look like a terrorist. I don't think it should be too difficult for most of us to avoid having such materials on our laptops. Of course the irritation and delays caused by intrusion into our personal electronic documents is still an issue, but no amount of posturing and table-thumping is going to make that go away.

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Why is the iPlayer a multi million pound disaster?

charles platt

Selling BBC programming

Seems to me I have about ten old long-playing records of the BBC Goon Show. Seems to me I bought these from a store. The sleeves have "BBC" printed on them.

Now, if that didn't violate the BBC Charter, why would selling downloads of old video from the vasy BBC archives violate the BBC Charter? Was the Charter rewritten for television?

As for DRM, there was nothing to stop me from making audiotape copies of those old Goon Show albums.

As for independent producers who won't allow their sacred works to be distributed without DRM, I'm sure the BBC must have decades of video that is not so encumbered. We could start with that and wait for the holdouts to soften their stance in the future.

Behind all this I can just sense an ingrained Fear of Digital. But fear won't make it go away.

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Animal rights activist hit with RIPA key decrypt demand

charles platt

wouldn't work in the USA

According to Scott Charney at Department of Justice, US citizens can plead Fifth Amendment as justification for not revealing encryption keys. For those in the UK, the Fifth Amendment protects Americans from being forced to incriminate themselves. The state is supposed to find evidence to build a case, not force people to dig themselves a legal hole.

Too bad Britain doesn't have a written constitution, eh?

Of course the US may now have some anti-terrorism executive order which somehow does an end-run around the Fifth Amendment, for all I know.

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Apple iPhone

charles platt

Bad audio quality

Why have I seen no mention of the (to me) embarrassingly obvious fact that the iPhone degrades the voice quality of its users? I know three people, now, who have succumbed to iPhone, and in each case I received calls in which the audio was bad enough to prompt me to ask if there was a problem at their end. Did Apple skimp on the microphone in this sexy but vastly oversold bauble? If it doesn't perform the most basic task of a phone very well, what's the point of it?

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