This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Posts here are rare these days. For current stuff, follow me on Mastodon



September 2007

History of Africa News

An interesting article, actually an excerpt from No Easy Victories, the book coedited by my father which will be out in October, was recently published on as well. evolved out of what was the Africa News Service, which both of my parents were heavily involved in during my early childhood. I have a few memories of being in and around the Africa News offices from around ages 5 to 9. And perhaps a few after that, as didn’t leave the area for good until around age 12. But mainly those earlier years. The article gives a brief history of the organization from its roots in 1969 up to the AllAfrica of today. Interesting stuff.

Africa: Durham, Durban, and AllAfrica
(Reed Kramer,

Around 1976, we started producing for broadcast through direct telephone feeds rather than printed news scripts. We immediately heard from our nonmedia subscribers – church agencies, libraries,government offices, anti-apartheid groups – who said, ” Wait, we still want this news.” That’s when we started a print publication, which became a biweekly newspaper. We continued to produce, edit, and consult for radio and television. We still report occasionally for public radio or appear on CNN and other networks.

The newspaper continued until 1993, when issues of sustainability forced us to move more aggressively to become an online service. We had begun electronic publishing in late 1983 on the NewsNet bulletin board, almost a decade before the emergence of the World Wide Web, and in 1991 on LexisNexis. Around 1993 we were approached by the newly formed America Online (AOL) and had extensive discussions. They wanted us to create a closed channel for them, but in the end we thought it better to be on the open Internet. So we launched a Web site instead.

The complete book is available from and

Gadget Lust Quenched

An iPhone this year was not going to happen. But in my head, I was thinking onve the first major revision came out, probably next year I imagine, I’d be all over it as long as they upgraded the email client a bit (the main thing that seemed to weak for my needs based on all the reviews I’ve read).

Now, if I’d gotten one already, there is no way I would have done the “unlocking” thing to move it off of AT&T. I wouldn’t have been interested in that option. But I have no doubts whatsoever that I would have done the jailbreak to get the third party apps. Because they were cool, and added quite a lot to the functionality of the phone.

And if I’d done that, and then done the update this week, they would all be gone, and the phone would be back to its original state. It wouldn’t be bricked as it would be if I’d done an unlock. But it would still be back to factory state, with no abilitty to run the thrid party apps.

Apple is making a huge mistake by not just officially opening the phone to third party apps. Let alone by stopping these “unofficial” efforts. They can do whatever they want of course. The hackers knew they were doing something Apple could shut down if they wanted to. But Apple is making a huge mistake by doing so. They are making their product far less attractive… especially to the type of users who would be major evangelists.

Gizmodo’s revised iPhone review sums it up nicely. It is worth reading the whole thing.

iPhone Revisted (Verdict: Don’t Buy)
(Brian Lam, Gizmodo)

Screw the unlock for a second. Let’s talk about the those third-party apps. While my 4GB iPhone is a brick, and the 8GB phone, which I kept on a totally legit AT&T contract, is now stripped down. Programs like the faux-GPS, IM clients, Flickr Upload, and NES emulator—what did they ever do but make the iPhone far better than the stock original? They made it far more competitive with open-platform superphones like the Nokia N95, to which I will now be switching. I flew back from NY to SF today. While there, I would have liked to have pushed my photos from the trip to flickr; I would have liked to have played NES games on the subway. I would have liked to have used the Navizon GPS thing to figure out where the hell I was at any given moment, and when I used one of those web 2.0 IM clients, my battery took a huge hit, and I missed a lot of messages because Safari couldn’t tell me I was getting IMs while out of the browser. Very annoying.

I look at my iPhone with version 1.1.1 software on it compared to the old hacked one. I’m happy for the iTunes Store, which we’ve been waiting for. But it’s not more important than fixing things, and adding capabilities such as copy/paste and email search. And it’s certainly not better than all those programs I can’t use anymore. Here’s the comparo chart, from Rob Beschizza at Wired based on a chart from 9to5:

That chart is just sad. Bad Apple. Bad.