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



July 2024

Lots of Seconds

Installing Yosemite.


Of course, despite what it says, it isn’t really done.

Today’s Apple Stuff and Lack of Timely Obsolescence

I told myself recently that if I found myself starting to send out a series of tweets expressing my thoughts on some subject, I should just do a blog post instead, cause that is what it is for after all. And I recently compared my blog from today to my blog from several years ago, and I noticed that I used to actually make real blog posts all the time, and it is very rare today, and I miss that old blog. And I have time today. So here goes.

Yosemite: I’m going to be installing this later today probably. I sometimes wait a little while on updates, but I’m home, I have time, why not. I am a bit sad that my iMac (a Late 2009 27-inch) is too old for Continuity, which is one of the big new things. That feature DOES seem nice. But I’ll see how it goes without that.

New iPads: Looks nice. And I do want touch-ID. But I have a just under two year old iPad at the moment (uh, modulo replacements for breaking the screen), and I have yet to hit something that I want to do with it that it can’t do. It is working fine for me. I’m not yet at the point where I feel really anxious to upgrade.

New iMacs: My 2009 iMac definitely shows the fact that it is almost five years old. In the past I have operated on a four year replacement cycle. My iMac was “due” in 2013. It wasn’t in the cards for budget reasons. (I got a car at the end of 2012 instead.) I was really anxious and performance was bad. Since then the upgrade to Mavericks, plus moving a bunch of stuff off the primary drive to external drives has given the old thing a new lease on life. It is still quirky and sometimes frustratingly slow. There are some games Alex would like to play (I’m looking at you Trainz Simulator 2!) that just perform really badly on this old hardware. But, but, it basically does the things I actually use it for regularly. I do my podcast, I work with my photos, I work on my website stuff, I watch some streaming video, I do email, I look at twitter. Those things comprise 95%+ of what I actually use my desktop for these days. And those things still work. (Much of my “just reading stuff on the web” use has moved to the iPad.) Given this, as much as it would be awesome to upgrade, it will be hard to justify.

OK, and even though it was last month, not today, the new iPhones: Same here basically. The new iPhones are cool. We’ve updated every other generation for years. I still don’t have touch ID and I want it. But again, my current phone is basically working, and aside from being jealous on the Touch ID, there isn’t much on the new ones that makes me feel like I *must* upgrade.

There is clearly a theme here. Last time I updated my iMac and last time I updated my iPhone, similar lengths of time had passed, but I was distinctly feeling limited and frustrated by the old devices. I felt I *needed* to upgrade. At this point I don’t feel that yet. It would be *nice* to upgrade, of course. But I don’t have that feeling where I feel like I will be suffering if I don’t.

It seems like, at least for me, things are moving from an “upgrade every X years because by then your old equipment will be barely hanging on and you need to” to more like an “upgrade when it breaks” mode, with maybe a caveat in there for “or when you have some extra money and want to treat yourself”.

Is this just me and my own family’s situation and use case? Or is this widespread? Is the hardware getting to the point where it is good enough that for most people these things can last much longer than they used to? Will the phone replacement cycle start moving from two years to three? Or even more? A computer more than four years old used to feel crippled and unable to keep up with what was wanted of it. Is that less so now? Will it be reasonable to keep these old things running 5 or 6 years or more?

Of course, some of this depends on how you push your computers and what you do with them. If you were just doing simple word processing, you could still conceivably use a 1970’s or 1980’s era computer to do it. If you were satisfied to keep doing the things the way they were done back then that is. If you only ever do with a device exactly the things you did with it on the day you bought it, then you can use it that way as long as it physically doesn’t stop working. It is the new things that tax the old equipment.

Maybe I’m just not seeing the “killer app” yet that forces the upgrade from any of the older equipment. Or maybe I am seeing it, and I’m just an old curmudgeon that just doesn’t think any of it is as compelling as other folks do.

When I install Yosemite in a bit, and it turns out I’m constantly wanting the features it can’t run because my computer is too old, maybe I’ll start thinking about that. When there is a major OS release that the old device can’t support, maybe that is when the issue gets forced. Yosemite supports back to the Mid-2007 iMacs. iOS 8 supports back to the iPhone 4s and the iPad 2.

I admit, if a major new software release came out, and I just couldn’t upgrade at all, I think I’d feel like the time had come. I have some old devices lying around that aren’t up to date on the software, but none of them are primary use devices.

Anyway, budgets are tight these days. If I had tons of extra, maybe I’d upgrade regardless. But at the moment, the question is, “do I *need* to”. And as of today, for hardware anyway, the answer appears to be “No”.

So very very sad…

Screen Shot 2013-03-14 at 15.33.14

Twitter Jail :-(

Live Tweeting Fail. Two thirds of the way through the debate.

AT&T Sucks – Throttled!

Bastards. I think what put it over the edge was that today I did some video streaming over 3G in a location I am normally on WiFi. But still. Whatever. They suck.

(And yes, I am still grandfathered on an unlimited data plan at the moment.)

They Pulled It Off!

I watched the whole Curiosity landing live on a couple different video feeds, with and without commentary. I turned down the commentary for most of the “7 minutes of terror”… just wanted to hear the control room raw.

Given the complexity of this landing, and all the many many places where something could have gone wrong, I was fully expecting for something to fail. But so far it looks like the landing was pretty much perfect*. That is just incredible. Amazing job by everybody involved, who have worked for many years to make this happen.

* Although we won’t know for sure until everything gets woken up and tested over the next few days.

Kindle Ratio as of 2012 May 30

Sigh, once again I let things go way too long. I’ve been busy with other things. But since I’m stuck at hotel after a cancelled plane flight, I’ll maybe catch up on some old stuff.

So, months after I should have… the chart of how many of the last 20 books I have reviewed that are available on Kindle… now up to 80%:

I actually got my Kindle after that ratio hit 50%. So here also is the ratio of how many of the last 20 books I’ve read (not necessarily reviewed yet) that I’ve actually read on Kindle. This is up to 75% now.

I’ve said I’ll continue doing these posts until each of the charts hits 90%.

This American Life Retraction

Since I posted about the original story when it aired, it is only fair that I post the retraction in the same way. This American Life had done a story in January which I called at the time “particularly captivating and a little disturbing”. Well, it turns out it was mostly lies. Well, the details were lies. The narrative from Mike Daisey was mostly fabricated. Many of the underlying concerns about working conditions, etc had roots in the truth, but a lot of the details and specific incidents were just plain made up. The retraction is almost as powerful as the original episode. It is also well worth listening to.

This American Life #460:
Originally Aired 03.16.2012

Regrettably, we have discovered that one of our most popular episodes was partially fabricated. This week, we devote the entire hour to detailing the errors in “Mr. Daisey Goes to the Apple Factory,” Mike Daisey’s story about visiting Foxconn, an Apple supplier factory in China. Rob Schmitz, a reporter for Marketplace, raises doubts on much of Daisey’s story.

Looks like they aren’t allowing embedding for this episode, at least not yet, so you’ll need to click through above to listen.

I find this kind of thing absolutely infuriating. When someone has something very real and a story that deserves to be told, an issue that needs to get out there. Something important that people should know about. But then they decide to make it really compelling they need to do more. So they embellish or make things up to fill out the picture. Or they take ethical shortcuts like the Peter Gleick Heartland Scandal earlier this year. Or for that matter the Dan Rather George Bush Memos. This kind of stuff is all frustrating. Their might be an underlying truth worth knowing, but when people lie and fabricate and misrepresent, it completely overwhelms any of that underlying truth and puts everything in doubt.

Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

Yesterday This American Life came up in my random shuffle of music and podcasts. TAL is often very good, but this week’s episode was particularly captivating and a little disturbing. It is based on the stage show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs“. Anyway, worth a listen:

This American Life #454:
Originally aired 01.06.2012

Mike Daisey was a self-described “worshipper in the cult of Mac.” Then he saw some photos from a new iPhone, taken by workers at the factory where it was made. Mike wondered: Who makes all my crap? He traveled to China to find out.

And since TAM gives a nice easy way to embed, you can play directly from here too:

Must Read: The Coming War on General Computation

Here is another “you really should read this” article. Well, strictly speaking, it is a transcript of a video. I saw links to the video soon after it was new, but I didn’t have time to watch the video (almost an hour) and it took me awhile to even have time to read the transcript… :-)

The Coming War on General Computation
(Presented at 28C3 by Cory Doctorow, Transcribed by Joshua Wise)

It’s not that regulators don’t understand information technology, because it should be possible to be a non-expert and still make a good law! M.P.s and Congressmen and so on are elected to represent districts and people, not disciplines and issues. We don’t have a Member of Parliament for biochemistry, and we don’t have a Senator from the great state of urban planning, and we don’t have an M.E.P. from child welfare. (But perhaps we should.) And yet those people who are experts in policy and politics, not technical disciplines, nevertheless, often do manage to pass good rules that make sense, and that’s because government relies on heuristics – rules of thumbs about how to balance expert input from different sides of an issue.

But information technology confounds these heuristics – it kicks the crap out of them – in one important way, and this is it. One important test of whether or not a regulation is fit for a purpose is first, of course, whether it will work, but second of all, whether or not in the course of doing its work, it will have lots of effects on everything else. If I wanted Congress to write, or Parliament to write, or the E.U. to regulate a wheel, it’s unlikely I’d succeed. If I turned up and said “well, everyone knows that wheels are good and right, but have you noticed that every single bank robber has four wheels on his car when he drives away from the bank robbery? Can’t we do something about this?”, the answer would of course be “no”. Because we don’t know how to make a wheel that is still generally useful for legitimate wheel applications but useless to bad guys. And we can all see that the general benefits of wheels are so profound that we’d be foolish to risk them in a foolish errand to stop bank robberies by changing wheels. Even if there were an /epidemic/ of bank robberies, even if society were on the verge of collapse thanks to bank robberies, no-one would think that wheels were the right place to start solving our problems.

Or, for those that prefer, the original video is below.