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* Posts by Raymond Cranfill

36 posts • joined 10 Apr 2009

Apple 'cans restocking fees'

Raymond Cranfill

good news ... for apple

i have lately done most of my purchasing of apple products at best buy for this very reason, and because best buy generally has more liberally construed warranty coverage than apple. now i will consider making purchases from apple again.

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Intel: Just 3,000 employees run Windows 7

Raymond Cranfill

simply amazing

it's simply amazing how many intelligent people can read an article like this and still not get the point. we are talking about businesses engaging in cost/benefit analysis of supporting aging kit versus buying new kit. Given the fact that Intel's employees use laptops for client PCs, their approach appears even more defensible. First, support costs do skyrocket after 3-4 years. Volume purchasing always gets a better replacement cost than simply replacing individual computers willy nilly. Business computers are most often on 24/7 and are used much more heavily than home machines. Laptops by their mobile nature suffer damage more quickly than a static desktop. Finally laptop pricing has been dropping like a rock, especially over the last ten years. Machines that cost in the $2,000 to $3,000 price range ten years ago, can be had for $400-$800 in volume today, especially if we're talking about purchasing kit in the middle range. Add this all up and it makes sense. All the arguments about what crappy bloatware windows is, how linux can make an under powered 10 year old computer fly, how "my ten year old computer" works just fine are simply irrelevant. These are carefully calculated business decisions designed to save the company as much money in IT costs as possible. Full stop.

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Apple uncovers child workers in its plants

Raymond Cranfill
Jobs Horns

just a slap on the wrist

apple should have a zero tolerance policy with regard to gross violations of its company "code of conduct." it should have simply terminated its contracts with any manufacturer employing child labor, it's margins could certainly take the transitory hit. this way it sends a message that it so called code means nothing, so long as you say "sorry guv, won't happen again."

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Experts rubbish iPhone for health use

Raymond Cranfill

exactly

and he wants santa claus to be his manufacturer and the stork his delivery service, when it's not busy in the maternity ward, that is.

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Raymond Cranfill

living under a rock (iraq?)

there are at least six manufacturers that produce external battery packs for the iPhone. as long as the phone battery isn't utterly drained, the external battery can be swapped out without shutting down the phone. try reading the comments sometime, this has been mentioned several times already. oh i forgot, you were using your blackberry.

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Jobs: I'll decide what to do with Apple's $40bn cash pile

Raymond Cranfill
Jobs Horns

perhaps he needs a kidney, fast?

h e wants it in case he has to bribe his way to the top of another organ transplant list. after all, it only took him three months the last time when the average waiting time for liver transplants can number in years.

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Windows 7 'genuine' nagware winging its way to OS

Raymond Cranfill

I know that's you, Ballmer

If you're going to spew Vole propaganda, Steve, please do so using your real name.

I am a (reluctant) kegit user of Windows XP, Vista and now 7. I can assure you that the biggest "block" of users having problems with WGA are the legitimate users. I got so annoyed with the thing wrtongly deactivating my legir copies, I now use only OEM copies from the net 'cause these never get tagged and allow me to change my hardware configuration as much as I want. It's truly sad when you pay for a product you can't use thereby forcing you to procure so called dodgy copies in order to get work done. As for legit users who supposed "compromise" their installations, what kind of crack are you using? Oh yeah, the same kind of crack that led you to say the iPod and iPhone would never take off, or that the TCO bfor Linux is 10X more than Windows or perhaps that Windows Vista was the easiest use most secure Windows ever. Give it up Uncle Fester, no one believes anything you sayu anymore.

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US will complain to China about Google hacking

Raymond Cranfill

Quite simple Response

Tell the f--king Chinese the next rime they pull this s--t, we'll freeze every last cent owned by them in the United States and use the proceeds to compensate the companies that the chinese have wronged. It is amusing how well these faux communist have learned to be balls-t-the-wall nineteenth century capitalists in a scant 30 years.

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Steve Wozniak, your time is up

Raymond Cranfill
FAIL

I'm confused...

If indeed the Woz is no longer newsworthy (clogging the infosphere I think you said), why have you devoted a further two pages of drivel to the fact? The most delicious and appropriate approbation of a celebrity seeker is simply to ignore them.

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Opera hopes to push fast engine envelope with 10.5 preview

Raymond Cranfill
Happy

You're not alone

No, you're not the only one!

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Apple angling to transform TV?

Raymond Cranfill
Paris Hilton

Tut...Tut

Pining for the bygone days of the Empire are we? Well, at least you have the Commonwealth.

As regards to the "U.S." expecting the rest of the world to subsidize its products by charging more overseas, you need a lesson in capitalism. It was Jolly Old Blighty who pioneered the whole process you so bitterly complain about today. When the Royal Red bled over a quarter of the globe, the English routinely pillaged local economies for dirt cheap commodities so they could then produce hideously expensive manufactures and sell them back to the same besotted colonies at a fat margin. And this doesn't even include the horrendous taxation exacted by the British Government to pay for colonial "administration."

It may not work out for you now that Britain no longer calls the shots, but it did for almost 300 years. Besides, you should compliment us yanks. After, we learned from the best colonial pillagers of all -- you folks!

Paris, because she's always expects her friends to pick up the tab.

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A decade to forget - how Microsoft lost its mojo

Raymond Cranfill

What? No Apple effect?

In an article devoted to the missteps of M$, I am surprised to see no mention of one of their fiercest threats - the growing popularity of Apple products on the desktop, laptop, game console, mp3 player and smart phone. OS X is clawing its way back to relevance, with perhaps as much as 10 per cent of the domestic market, and still growing by multiples of 10 per cent year on year. The iPod and iPhone have practically made WinMobile irrelevant. And even the lowly iPod touch is exploding as a game machine, much to the chagrin of both MS and Sony.Apple may not be a MS killer (yet), but they have given the Vole a great big black eye. My how times change.

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Raymond Cranfill

Actually,

2009 IS the end of the decade, which began in 2000. If you count each year using one finger on each hand, you'll see there are ten years. (:

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Raymond Cranfill

I completely agree

Here, here! I completely agree. MS has screwed itself. It sewed the wind so now it gets to reap the whirlwind. It has a great operating system with NT 3.51. It totally f**ked it up when it bolted on all the win95 crap. The only hope that I can see is for MS to take a public domain version of Linux or Unix and then build a proprietary user interface around it, with everything designed from the bottom up with net connectivity and safety as paramount concerns. It could then run XP or 7 or Server 2008 in a hidden virtual machine, much as Apple did with OS 9 on OS X, or PPC code under Intel using Rosetta. MS could then give its developers 5 years to make the transition and then jettison all that Spaghetti Code that makes it so hard for them now. I say they could do this. The question is whether they are nimble enough and far sighted enough to actually do it. Only time will tell. If Apple can come back from the brink in such a big way in only ten years, surely MS can.

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Harvard smarties name Steve Jobs 'world's best CEO'

Raymond Cranfill
Paris Hilton

Eric Schmidt is a Nimrod

While Schmidt may have positioned Google well over the last decade, I don't think he should be counting up his bling just yet. Particularly if he keeps making comments as he did recently regarding net privacy and Google's use of data collected from private individuals. If Schmidt really believes that terrorists, criminals and other miscreants are the only ones concerned with privacy on line, he is sadly mistaken. And if he continues to take a Dieu et Mon Droit attitude to Google's use of data collected from private punters, he may just manage to replicate Steve Balmar's CEO performance over the last decade. Personally, I switched to Scroogle earlier this year and so have most of my friends. I now know exactly what Google's "Do No Evil" motto means. It's not a corporate inunction but rather a commandment to the masses of little people that use Google every day. I can do without it, and I bet a lot of others can too.

Paris, because she knows personally just how evil a Google search can be.

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Unused phone lines to be taxed for rural broadband

Raymond Cranfill
Paris Hilton

Free Lunch Anyone...

My God. What a bunch of whiners! I've read more comments than I can remember about how bad broad band is in Britain, particularly outside metro areas. Now that there is a plan in place to roll out to rural customers, nobody wants to pay for it. Brilliant! Its 50P a month for crissakes. You all are a bunch of greedy, grasping, scraping old sinners. Bah humbug to the lot of you.

Paris, because she never worries about 50P.

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Video surfaces of alleged Apple tablet

Raymond Cranfill
Paris Hilton

Fake, really?

To all who cry fake! I seem to remember all the same arguments regarding pixels, shadows, etc when pictures and video of the new Mac Mini surfaced. Oh look at all those USB ports, Impossible! Mon Dieu, there won't be Firewire 800 in a million years, everyone knows Apple is ditching Firewire! Ha, ha, the joke was on all of you "experts." If indeed, production is to ramp up in January/February of 2010, as suggested by numerous sources, then it really wouldn't be much of a stretch for there to be a prototype or two. Perhaps this one was floating around Apple Europe head quarters. Who knows? Et pour moi, Je le veux immediatement!

Pourquoi Paris? Pourquoi non!

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Windows 7 versus Snow Leopard — The poison taste test

Raymond Cranfill

Bravo - Fair and Balanced

Finally, someone who just gets it and refuses to drink the cool aid. It is incredibly refreshing to read cogent analysis that compares apples with apples - ;) - inb an attempt to provide real information and not some fanboi wet dream rant.

I use both OS's even though I don't require or use an enterprise-bound computing environment. I do not need Exchange support, nor am I am dependent of Microsoft's Java-wannabe .Net environment. That said, there are compelling reasons to maintain a Windows VM or partition if you enjoy more than casual gaming or if you have a particularly compelling piece of Windows-only software. I prefer to run my instances of Windows in a nice big sandbox (in my case Parallels Desktop for Mac) with no network connectivity, that way I don't have to worry nearly as much about viruses, worms or malware. I use Mac OS for all my everyday computing because OS X + iLife + iWork (and MS Office 2008), gives me not only everything I need, but with tight integration. It's as close as one can get to promise of polymorphic computing predicted years ago where one opens a single application that magically mutates with preferences and options as one changes tasks. If ever a company successfully pulls this off, it's more likely to come from Apple.

Although I love my cats, I will readily admit that windows se7en is an attractive and responsive operating system. It is essentially what Windows Vista should have been. Also, I have to admit that Snow Leopard isn't necessarily as polished and refined as the Jobs propaganda leads one to believe. Although it is a rock solid, smooth-as-glass, speed demon on my MacBook Unibody early 2009 model, SL still has some rough edges when running on older Intel hardware (sporadically dodgy display adapter issues along with the tendency for the OS to lock up briefly for no apparent reason that can be gleaned from either the activity monitor, or the Console. I hope this is cleared up with the release of 10.6.1. Until then I had to roll back to Leopard on my 24" iMac.

Finally, there is one distinct advantage that Apple has over Microsoft. Both operating systems can be run legally and simultaneously on the same Intel-based Apple hardware. This is not the case with PCs, unless one disregards the Mac EULA, and works hard at modifying the OS and even then one is likely to encounter PC hardware that won't function properly or at all with SL installed. Interestingly enough, Apple hardware is often the platform that shows of Windows at its best. Many of the latest MacBook Pros, iMacs and MacPros run Windows faster and more efficiently than the bog-standard OEM PCs. This is no doubt due to (1) the absence of OEM "customization" (i.e., malware and bloatware) combined with (2) Apple customized hardware along with custom built Windows hardware drivers designed to squeeze the last bit of performance. In fact, one can simply wipe the Mac OS from the hard drive and install Windows se7en directly. In this case, the advantage must go to Apple.

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Google Book Search - Is it The Last Library?

Raymond Cranfill

Digital Reading No Good?

@FreeTard:

I am curious exactly why reading a book on a computer, smartphone, or ebook reader is so much more inferior to the real thing? In many ways, particularly when doing research, the fully digital version (OCR copies as opposed to mere TIFF or JPG page copies) are vastly superior in terms of searching, synthesizing and organizing information. Of course, in the "olden days" of CRT screens and low quality display adapters, flicker from low refresh rates could rapidly make reading uncomfortable. This simply isn't the case anymore with hires, flicker-free screens, especially the new OLED displays on smartphones and ebook readers.

In addition, many of us simply don't have the square footage necessary to accommodate large libraries. I have over 10,000 books, several thousand journal volumes, and thousands of reprints and pamphlets in my personal library. Of these, I have less than a thousand in hard copy form which already tightly pack the walls of my smallish study. The rendering of most modern publications in pdf format has been a godsend for me.

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'Non-compulsory' ID cards poised for a makeover?

Raymond Cranfill

Magma Carta Digitalis

My God, but don't you poms need to put down your collective feet and utter a resounding shout "NO MORE"!

As a Merkin, I had always assumed that we were heavilly surveilled in the States, that was until my honeymoon in London in 1992. CCD Cameras were everywhere, patrons were practically cavity searched when attending the theatre or the opera, and one abandonned package or backpack was sufficient to shut down major train and subway lines.

Since 9/11, things have gotten almost as bad over here, but there comes a point whee enough is enough. As a law abiding, adult citizen I neither want nor need to have the government collecting every scrap of info about my supposedly private life. Add to this the institution of Carnivore (total information awareness), and we'll soon be in a situation where the government knows when my wife will ovulate, the exact number and location of my haemeroids, who'll inherit my counterfeit Tiffany Lamp (including the verification that it is a counterfeit), along with scads of other facts and surmises that it neither needs nor can protect from concerted hacking (by both criminals and corporations alike).

It has become very difficult to live these days without leaving an incredibally detailed digital trail of our doings and longings. The vastajority of this data is purely private, and should not be readily available without a judge-ordered warrant. In these days of sneak and peak surveillance, warrantless wiretaps, and the fawning, pro-government cooperation provided by major corporations that have access to our personal data, we all must stand up and box the ears of our senators, representatives, assemblymenn and members of parliament to enact CONSTITUTIONAL protections against the current governmental and corporate onslaught on our privacy. With the scope of data collection, databasing, and aggressive data-mining comes the clear and present danger of governmental and corporate control. It's all well and good for Labour (or the Democrats)to profess benign interest in and use of our personal data, but what happens when governments change and purposes become more sinister?

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Windows 7: MS plays a Jedi mind trick on netbook owners

Raymond Cranfill

Windows for White Trash

Finally, this is getting some attention. I'm a little surprised that it's taken El Reg almost a week to pick up on it. In the end, al;l it will do is further damage MS reputation and sully what could be a relative come back after the Vista fiasco.

Will they never learn?

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NASA gets cold feet on Moon base plan

Raymond Cranfill

We should be there already

I've been lucky enough to have front row seats to U.S. space missions since the original Mercury 7 (yes, I am that old). I was certain, along with many others, that space travel would be routine by now, replete with moon bases. People don't seem to understand that if we want to survive as a species, and open up resources that will become increasingly difficult and environmentally damaging to extract from the earth, we must have an active and expanding presence in space. The chinese are well on their way to acheiving thse goals by the 2050s. How sad the americans, europeans and russians will be left behind.

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Windows 7 gets built in XP mode

Raymond Cranfill

Not So Fast

Evidently, the XP compatibility layer will not be included in the boxed Windows 7 product. Rather, it will only be available as a download and only to those who have purchased the ultimate version, which no doubt will be upwards of $400. It is hard to believe that such an approach will produce a tightly integrated, seemless experience. Plus, it stands to be glacial in terms of performance if you try and run it on a machine that lacks virtualization support in the CPU. And how much RAM, exactly, will such a machine need?

Windows 7 is what Vista should have been. If the betas are any indication, it appears to be a stable, nimble OS, but MS is about to ruin it. We already hear indications that there will be a netbook version (Windows for White Trash) designed to run on sub $300 machines which will be limited to running three applications at the same time. I can see MS counting TSRs as programs, thus nixing multitasking entirely. Now we hear about an XP compatibility layer. Ughh. MS had a chance to resurrect its business with Windows NT, truly a top to bottom creation that did away with DOS and promised a new approach. MS couldn't leave it alone, however, and insisted on porting and grafting a bunch of crap from the Win95 code base. Now see what we have.

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GE talks up 500GB-per-disc optical storage tech

Raymond Cranfill

Bring It on!

Contrary to popular belief, it's not just enterprises that would enjoy the benefits of such storage. I am old enough to remember when a cd stored 10 times as much data as the reasonably affordable hard drive of the time. Now the average hard disk stores over 100 dvds worth of data, with the largest storing 4 times that. I have 10 TBs of movies, music, photos, ebooks and audiobooks, in addition to email and documents. It's simply impractical to store that amount of data even on dual-layer dvds. Tape is expensive and, in my experience, unreliable over long time periods. So, I use 1 TB internal hard drives which are bulky to store and troublesome to mount. I'd be happy with a durable disk that stores as much as 100 GBs and which costs no more than $5 a disk. How many more years will I have to wait for this to appear?

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Darling supports broadband by raiding Granny's digital fund

Raymond Cranfill

Not so "New" Labour

For a country that gave the world the Industrial Revolution, the steam engine, the transAtlantic cable, Adam Smith and the like, it's truly sad to see the state of broadband in Merry Olde England. There is a very simple, straightforward solution. Abolish state-owned telecoms in favor of market competition combined with a healthy dose of anti-monopoly law. As long as BT, Offcom, or whatever it calls itself, continues to control the game, Britain can look forward to a nineteenth century communications net extending well into the twenty-first century.

Here, in San Francisco, I can choose from cable TV (20 Mbit), POTS (8Mbit), optical fiber (off the charts but pricy), 3G, 4G, and WiFi for my internet needs. Right now I have both a DSL and Cable connections for an aggregate of $75 per month with 20Mbit download and 8Mbit upload. Even folks living in the boonies can still use 3G at rates up to 7Mbs with 4G to be rolled out in most areas by the end of next years with rates well exceeding my current set up. When that comes along, I'll switch since I'll be able to take my broadband with me.

Mr Gordon Brown, deregulate and encourage competition!

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US outlines secretive international piracy deal

Raymond Cranfill

What, no China or Taiwan?

Without the cooperation of east and southeast Asian countries such as China, Taiwan, Indonesia, etc., these anti-copyright infringement measures will serve only to punish the casual P2P users and do little to stop industrial-level infringement. Every time I visit the PRC, I am amazed at the openness of copyright infringement. I saw the new U2 album for sale weeks before its release, along with very goof CAM and R5 copies of movies still in western cinemas. Also, try stopping at any of the bazaars and street fairs in the U.S. and Europe, and you'll find much the same. You can find the most amazing black market and gray market goods at our own Ashby Flea Market (in Berkeley, CA), or sold on folding tables or out of the backs of vans on Twin Peaks or at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. This stuff doesn't come from any of the aformentioned treaty signatories. And since it is already illegal to import and sell thse goods in the U.S., this treaty will likely have little impact, except to make the life of the average consumer even more difficult. I can't hardly wait to see the lines at the airport where every computer and mp3 player is checked for "contraband" before boarding an international flight! No wait, I can.

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Seagate's Barracuda goes low-power

Raymond Cranfill

Fix your hard existing disks!

There has probably not been quite as big a fiasco as Seagate's infamous Barracuda 7200.11's. These drives have a 20-30% failure rate. Seagate claimed to fix the "malfunction" with a firmware update that, when applied, promptly bricked many drives that had previously functioned. The situation has gotten so bad that Seagate is offering free data recovery on the bricked drives. I am unfortunately out of luck because my drive was enclosed in an external housing produced by Maxtor. Maxtor tells me its Seagate's problem. Seagate says its Maxtor's problem, when in fact it is now my problem. The drive has all my personal music, nearly 800 GBs, some of which I can rerip, some not. And please don't pester me about backups as this drive was mirrored to another 1 TB Seagate 7200.11 which decided to fail at the same time.

I don't see how Seagate is supposed to recover from this. I certainly won't be purchasing anymore Seagate technology, green or otherwise, until I hear categorical proof that its manufacturing woes are well solved.

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Facebook vote a 'massive con trick' says privacy advocate

Raymond Cranfill

Death of Privacy

I don't have a "spcial networking" page, nor do I see the need. Perhaps if I were 16, I could have been pressured into creating one, but not now. What truly concerns me is the effect that sites like Facebook and Friendster are having on the concept of privacy rights, especially among the young. Kids think nothing of posting the most private and sensitive matter these days. Some of the more enthusiastic participants practically clone their day to day existence onto their website. Most kids don't stop to think that once this information goes into the aether, it's there forever, and their control over how the information is used is gone forever.

Here in the United States, privacy rights are only implicitly protected under our Bill of Rights. They have been inferred as the natural extension of various explicitly enumerated rights. As such, the "right of privacy" is something of a moving target. The concept of privacy is always being reevaluated in view of changing social customs and norms. As the younger segments of american society commit more and more aspects of their private like to internet, it's only natural that the legal concept of privacy is further eroded. This is great news for state and federal governments that want to surveil and control us. It's also good news for corporations and businesses that want to sell us products and services. It's bad news for the dwindling number of us who enjoy our privacy, although honestly the battle was probably lost with the introduction of computerized record keeping of health and financial transactions beginning in the 60's.

I do wonder, though, how some of these kids will feel in 50 years when Big Brother is no longer a threat, but a reality, and they come to realize that they played a big part in bringing it on.

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Mac and Linux Bastilles assaulted by new attacks

Raymond Cranfill

There are risks and then there are RISKS

Life is risk. Otherwise there would be no evolution and no us.

The point can be seen more clearly in a simple comparison. Whenever I cross a road, I should look both ways. However, if I'm crossing a rural highway in the south on a Sunday morning, the likelihood of seeing a car coming my way, and thus the risk of being hit, is quite low. On the other hand, if I chose to cross the FDR Drive in lower Manhattan on a Monday morning, I take my life in my hands, no matter how cautious I might be. The same with my choice of OS. When I use a browser running under Linux, Unix, Solaris, BSD, or Mac OS X, I am much less likely to encounter "evil doers" because there's not much return in targeting an operating system the installed base of which hovers in the single digits of a per cent. Secondly, I am much safer, notwithstanding the existence of exploits, if there are no software in the wild capable of utilizing such exploits.

Is there risk involved in going on line? Of course. Are the risks equal across operating systems? Of course not. While reports of this kind are academically interesting, and remind us that we should all practice safer computing, it is scarcely adds up to the sky falling. Do please let us know, won't you, when something like Cornflicker makes its appearance on Linux or OS X?

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Public rejects Time Warner metered-bandwidth tests

Raymond Cranfill

Monopolist Greed

It's important to remember that in many areas, cable carriers are essentially monopolists not only for television, but also internet connections. I recently tried to switch my in laws away from Cox Cable in North Las Vegas. Surprise, surprise! Even though they live only 100 yards from the largest switching station in that area of the county, Embarq (the local land line carrier) hasn't installed the necessary equipment for DSL (basically because North Las Vegas is poor and largely black and Mexican - of course Summerlin, Lake Las Vegas and the Strip don't suffer these limitations, but I digress). So, if Cox decides to pull this s**t, we're s**t-out-of-luck. Happily, Verizon is rolling out its 4G network this summer and will offer a 15 Mbs service for $75 a month, including hardware. We'll be switching.

As regards Time Warner's reasoning, it's patently obviously greed. With major Networks, both broadcast and cable, offering streamed content for FREE on the internet, it's clear that TW is worried about cannibalizing its cable offerings. After all, if they are so concerned with their precious bandwidth, why aren't they rationing cable tv? I only watch about an hour a day while the retired couple that lives next door watches seven to eight hours a day. Why aren't they charged more? Simple. There is no bandwidth problems, only sagging cable subscription sales problem. Shame on Time Warner and all other cable companies. My fervent hope is that wireless internet makes them all irrelevant!

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Farmers furious at EU's sheep-chip scheme

Raymond Cranfill

Sheeple are the Happiest Sheeple I Know...

@Bassey.

I know you thought you were joking when you suggested that politicians be chipped first before the sheep, but i guarantee that it's just a matter of time before both the U.S. and the E.U. demand that citizens be tagged for reasons of national security. (Please, no "Mark of the Beast" or "666" comments - there is no god, get over it). There was a recent gathering of retailers in the United States discussing the potential advertising uses of RFID chips in people. Software embedded in store displays would consult the company database of a customer's recent purchases and then use that information to target the hapless customer from store displays that the customer approached while shopping. And this is the most benign application that I can think of.

Shudder...

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Conspiracy theories aplenty as Amazon delists gay books

Raymond Cranfill

Business As Usual

It all boils down to dollars. Because gay and lesbian "themed" (whatever the hell that's supposed to mean) literature appears to appeal only to a miniority of the population, it's relatively easy for a corporation like Amazon to behave this way (if in fact the action was intentional).

Thank "God" history is not with the bigots and panderers on this issue. Support for gay rights in employment and marriage has been steadily increasing year on year since the 1970's, notwithstanding the considerable political and financial efforts of american evangelical hate-mongerers. Thankfully, most are old, and their numbers are dwindling. We just have to wait a little longer for them to receive their last reward so that we can finally receive ours.

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Attention Symantec: There's a bug crawling on your website

Raymond Cranfill

Who's Surprised?

It was clear from last month's SNAFU that Symantec is trying to do things on the cheap. That's obvious when a company out sources it customer forums to junior employees to maintain "in their frre time." Perhaps they decided to farm out the expensive business of coding their web site to summer sales interns, but only when they're not involved in making cold calls to flog their pathetic security solutions.

There was once a time when I relied on Peter Norton's products to protect and optimize my computersi. But that hasn't been the case for nearly twenty years.

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Microsoft downsizes Seadragon and Photosynth brains

Raymond Cranfill
Gates Horns

Why Innovate When You Can Steal?

MS has never been about innovation. They started business by stealing CPM, rebadging it as MS DOS and then reselling it to IBM. Windows NT (the code base for XP, Vista and 7), was largely based on work done by IBM when MS and IBM were supposedly collaborating on OS/2. MS made off with code that it had little to do with development, then used heavy handed monopolistic behavior to kill off OS/2 (in cooperation with mamby-pamby IBM who didn't know a good thing when they had it). Internet Explorer was a cut and paste job derived from the so called open source software that MS loves to despise, then bolted into the Windows OS in another successful monopolistic blitzkrieg that illegally destroyed Netscape and very nearly brought the internet under MS domination. I could go on and on, but we all get the picture. Despite voluminous its propaganda (aka advertising), Microsoft has never been about innovation. It's simply not in the company DNA. MS was in the right place at the right time and were by far the shrewdest, and perhaps the crookedest, business in the software business and they succeeded in establishing a monopoly. Monopolists don't innovate because they don't have too. Rather, they manipulate their offerings in order to reinforce their monopolistic position, through mandatory file format changes that force feed upgrades otherwise unwanted and unneeded, they intentionally interconnect separate software in order to avoid legal prohibitions against tying arrangements (honest, your honor, Windows simply won't work without Internet Explorer, they're one and the same). Why be responsive to customers desires when you've got no real competitors? And this was indeed the case from the late 1980's until fairly recently. The resurgence of Apple, the increasing importance of mobile devices as computing platforms and the rise of the Netbook spell doom for MS's monopolistic, business-as-usual practices. Why do you think they're attacking Apple, who still have less than a 10% market share, or why they try and force the Dells, HPs and IBMs of the world to drop Linux support or refuse to bulk license Windows to manufacturers that try and sell PCs with no OS pre-installed? They are afraid. . .they are very afraid.

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Microsoft conjures imaginary 'Apple Tax'

Raymond Cranfill

Oh My God. . .

Is it really worth spewing so much bile, hate and contempt in support of or opposition to one's choice of computer operating system? Never underestimate the motivation inherent in Homo sapiens' "fear of the other." Seeing it spill over in something as trivial as this is just so sad.

Bottom line: Windows works just fine, as does OS X, various flavors of Linux, Solaris and the rest. If they didn't, they wouldn't stay in business for very long. Different companies evince different commercial strategies for bringing their products to market. That's what capitalism is all about. If the company's strategy, products and/or "message" is poorly implemented, the company will fail. This is why Microsoft continues to loose money in all market segments except for OS and Office software, in which it has the monopolist's advantage. Interestingly, Apple's business continues its double digit growth in all three segments of its business, computers, media players and phones. The only other tech company who has come close is IBM, which has a much different business model. I think any unbiased assessment of Apple's growth will have to concede that its success is based on more than just fad or cool factor. Apple sells very good kit, integrates it tightly with a suite of software that covers 90% of what the average PC user needs for his day to day computing activities, and provides customer support that often shames its competitors. Nothing succeeds like success.

Apple does not offer products for every market segment, nor do they claim to. You can say the same for BMW, Bang and Olafson, Barney's, Rolex, Versace, Vera Wang, Fabergee, Godiva Chocolate, and on and on. In some cases, you're paying for the label, in some cases you're paying for the quality, in many cases (as with Apple), you're paying for a bit of both. So what?

I have never really understood why people get so bent out of shape about these things. I have computers running OS X, Windows Vista, Ubuntu and Solaris. Some, I've purchased from Apple and Sun, some I've built myself. They are each purposed differently. They are all useful. They all work. There are things I like about each and hate about each and until the day comes when operating systems can be fully customized to user demand the way hardware can be (sorry penguin fanatics, but Linux still has too many missing puzzle pieces, especially with drivers and games), this will continue to be the case. The ONLY reason to diss another person's choice of computer is to feel smug and superior yourself. Not too flattering.

As regards Macs, they are not for everyone, particularly if you have a constrained budget. The consumer on the cheap will be able to get a functional machine that will meet one's basic needs. That said, the purchase will represent a compromise, the limitations of which may or may not start to irk the purchaser after a while. For me, that sort of compromise is fine in a virtual throw away type computer, like a netbook, but unacceptable for the machine that I spend hours in front of on a daily basis. A Jumbo Jack with onion rings and a Coke is cheap filling, and tasty, but I don't expect it to fill my dining needs day in and day out. Similarly, dinner at the French Laundry in Napa is a life affirming, eye-opening experience, but who has $500 to drop on a dinner tab several times a month. Certainly not me.

I tend to prefer macs for my heavy lifting because they run all of the scientific software that I use in my research (half of which have NO windows equivalent notwithstanding the assertions of many windows fanbois that there are "hundreds" of apps available for any purpose under Windows); Mac OS X is more stable, is easier and more intuitive to use, and is more attractively rendered (aesthetics are important); my iMac and Mac Mini are based on laptop components and draw significantly less power than my Windows desktops; my macs take up less space, require fewer cables and are less environmentally obtrusive than my HP and Sony desktops.

As regards the Apple Tax, all I can say is what my grandmother used to say when confronted with nonsense: pshaw! Yes, you can get a cheaper computer that is functionally similar. Yes, the legion of Windows PC makers offering a dazzling array of configuration for purchase, Apple offers less than 20 (not counting build to order configs from the Apple Store. Yes, most people will be content with their Windows machine purchase. Apple designs and markets to narrow segments of the overall computer market place. That makes them neither good nor bad, simply selective in the way that other upscale companies are selective in the market segments they choose to enter. If one compares products within relevant markets (the way the Feds do in anti-trust cases), then Apple's products are priced similarly. I see a lot of people making "functional" substitutions in supporting their Apple tax arguments, but these are bogus if one's intent is to compare products that compete in the same market segment. For example, you can't say my Core i7 is significantly cheeper than Apple's choice of a Xeon processor and then cry Apple tax. You have to use the same componants in the same configurations. When this is done, it's clear there is no Apple tax. This article is merely one of several that I've seen recently, and they all come to the same conclusion, Apple machines are similarly, and often more cheaply, priced than other computers in the same market segment.

I'll finish by pointing out two additional factors that militate in favor of macs. Support and resale value. With regard to support, Apple is the sina qua non. Two years ago, I had to return my iMac for service because the power supply had blown out. I was doing research as a visitor away from home, and the computer went down about a week before my return. They repaired the machine in plenty of time, but scratched the front panel rather badly in the process. Problem was, those panels were on back order and not expected back before I was due to leave. So instead, Apple replaced the entire machine with a next generation model having a faster processor and larger herd drive (this on a three year old machine). Three weeks ago, I careless knocked my wireless keyboard to the floor, resulting the pop off of the F5 key. It didn't really affect the operation of the keyboard, it was just unsightly. I took the keyboard in the my local Apple Store to see if they could replace the lost key. They couldn't because the tongs used to seat the key were too bent. So, without any prompting from me, they pulled a new keyboard off the shelf, extracted the keyboard and handed it to me as an exchange. I sincerely doubt there are many Dell, Lenovo, HP, or Sony fans out there who've had these sorts of experiences with their respective customer service reps.

Another point routinely missed in the Apple Tax debate is the hidden Apple rebate that comes with every machine. Macs retain their street value much longer than other PCs. I just sold a 2001 PowerBook (1.25 Ghz G4, 100 GB hard drive and 2 GB of RAM for $1000. That's roughly 40% of the original cost. I sold a year old MacBook for $800, representing 70% of my original investment. Thus, I am able to trade up every three or four years with the knowledge that I'll be able to cut the cost of my new computer by 40-70% through the resale of the computer being replaced. My Windows PCs go to relatives or even the landfill because no one wants to buy a three or four year old Dell or HP. Granted, your initial investment may be higher than you might pay for that cheap, on sale laptop at Best Buy or Office Depot, but once the purchase is made, you can relax in the knowledge that your initial investment can be recovered over and over again as you sell the old to pay for the new.

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How the government uses dirty data to legislate morality

Raymond Cranfill

... Condemned to Repeat It ...

How many times in history must a democratic society loose its rights before vigilance becomes the rule and not the exception. Augustus turned the Roman Republic into an Empire by preserving the FORMS of republicanism whilst aggregating the real power to himself. Hitler and the Nazis got themselves legitimately elected under the Weimar Republic and then dismantled, with full societal support, the underpinnings of german democracy within two years of taking office. One wonders even whether George W. Bush would have voluntarily given up power in 2008 if he had had a sufficient number of born again generals willing to keep him in office.

This is what disturbs me so much about the increasing levels of governmental surveillance in both the U.S, and the U.K. The supposed benignity of schemes like Carnivore, Total Information Awareness, and the british governments wish to "break moral laws" in the name of public safety depends entirely on the trust worthiness of the government and the power groups that support it. What would happen to all of this data on the "innocent" if some government came to power with more sinister agendas? My God, can one imagine how the Watergate affair might have been resolved if the Nixon White House had access to Total Information Awareness? In fact, how would a legitimate resistance group ever expect to be able to overturn a corrupt government equipped with such omniscience?

Another aspect of the loss privacy that concerns me is the relatively lazy and unthinking attitude towards the value or importance of preserving privacy exhibited by today's teen-, twenty-, and thirty-somethings. Kids use social networking sites to post virtually every aspect of their life on line, names, addresses, birthdates, social security numbers routinely appear on personal web pages. Individuals routinely consent to web sites that collect any and all manner of one's on line activities, web site visits, purchases, etc. in order to more narrowly (and supposedly successfully) target advertising. Even sexually explicit texting, including MMS naughty pics, are routinely circulated by teens with little expression of the concept of personal modesty. All of this plays right into the hands of governmental bureaucrats, intelligence and military officers and local police who are salivating at the prospect of being able to stockpile every thought, secret, or action taken by its citizens, whether innocent or not. Tell me, what will prevent a modern day Augustus from hoodwinking once again, but this time with consequences so far reaching that we have essentially no chance of resisting? If you think this is all far fetched, I invite you to to talk with any living German who was at least a teenager in the 1930's to discover just how easily democracy can be rapidly and effectively perverted.

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