Tag Archives: Apple

Programmed obsolescence for iPhone? Apple has an app for that! iOS update.

Forget planned obsolescence, the digital age means manufacturers can trigger killer apps like a remote switch for the hangman’s trap door. Just poke a hole in your customer’s canteen if you want to bring them back to your watering hole.

Was Apple’s throttling of late model iPhones mentioned in the fine print which users approve every time they authorize a software update? I doubt it. First the suspicious timing of the dumbing of smart phones was dismissed as urban myth. Next sleuths learned that googles of “iPhone slow” spiked before launches of new models. Then someone benchmarked the IQ drops of the transformed dumb phones. Now Apple has been forced to admit it programed the slowdowns.

Apple says they had to hobble your phone to go easy on its aging battery. Imagine a car dealership progressively disabling cylinders in your car engine, to secretly save you on gas.

Essentially Apple is retiring your phone on a fixed income of energy while you consider its functionality still under contract to you, under your employ. Whose iPhone is it?

This American Life caves to Apple Corp, swaps Mike Daisey Chinese factory horror story for Marketplace puff spin

PlaybillThis American Life host Ira Glass tried to pull an Oprah on playwright Mike Daisey, to dress him down on creative license Daisey took with an excerpt of a monolog aired on TAL titled Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory. The debunking came courtesy of American Public Media’s laughable “Marketplace” Wall Street PR engine, which Glass pretended were reliable experts on the subject of China’s apparently resolved labor abuses. That’s not even funny. This “retraction” reeks even upwind, and Apple’s having become the most highly valued corporation probably explains Glass’s uncharacteristically virulent condemnation. Shameful is what it was, and I hold it unforgivable, for the pretend-affable Glass, so-called folk archivist, to scuttle someone else’s too successful artistic quest for fundamental truth.

Let’s be clear. Mike Daisey was “debunked” based on his Chinese translator contradicting his version of events, and Marketplace finding Hong Kong based activists ready to give Chinese labor problems the all-clear signal. Both sources no longer protected by anonymity are under duress in China, and it’s not mentioned under whose employ they are now.

The Apple Factory story was the first best thing TAL had aired since pioneering post-sardonic navel gazing, but this week Glass issued a full retraction, removed the episode from the archive, and aired a blistering character assassination complete with manipulatively edited confrontations with Daisey, loaded with the expectation he’d buckle like fictional-confession memoir author James Frey. Except Frey’s lies unraveled because they contrived to propagate untruth. Daisey’s truths were undisputed, but the liberties he took to weave a personal narrative were “debunked” to cast doubt on his every word. It was a shameful moment for This American Life, and I’m hoping this time Glass has overestimated the vapidity of his listeners.

For example, when Mike Daisey explained his rationale for not wanting to “unpack the complexity” of his narrative, Ira Glass responded that he didn’t know what that meant. To what kind of reporter, editor, producer, or storyteller would that concept be foreign?

APM’s Marketplace
This was not the first collaboration between Marketplace and TAL. As the Occupy Wall Street protests grew, Ira Glass commissioned folksy research pieces from a Marketplace team to explain world banking and derivatives trading in terms sufficiently lazy to not disturb the usual NPR stupor. It was bunk coiffed in TAL’s typical carefree je ne care pas.

So this time, Marketplace’s man in China was consulted to fact-check Mike Daisey’s account. ACTUALLY, Glass reveals that he was approached by Marketplace AFTER they’d looked into Daisey’s sources. Glass thanked Marketplace for offering the story to TAL, instead of exploiting the exposé themselves. That’s Glass pretending he doesn’t know PR is about getting someone else to say it for you. Absolving Apple required more than one media property criticizing another. Somebody probably wanted a full retraction.

To foul Mike Daisey’s story required one phone call to the translator and guide he’d used in China, whose contact information he tried hide from Glass and co. No mention that this might have been to protect her from angry Chinese authorities, or from Apple and its supplier Foxconn and the inevitable underworld that rides herd on its victim laborers.

Marketplace’s feat consisted of tracking down his translator, breaking her cover, and putting her on the spot for the harsh criticisms which Daisey laid on Apple, Foxconn and their Chinese hosts. Especially as the popularity of Mike Daisey’s performance piece grew, and after its airing on TAL and his many media interviews, the anonymity of his Chinese translator would remain of paramount concern, but once exposed by Marketplace, what choice might she have had but to denounce Daisey’s heresies?

Could Apple’s being the world’s most high valued company have had anything to do with this kill-the-messenger hit piece? Apple has scheduled a press conference Monday morning to announce what it plans to do with its now famous $100 Billion cash holdings.

Storytelling
Isn’t it rich that TAL suddenly wants to hold its stories to journalistic standards? Imagine if someone had called them on the Christmas elven adventures of David Sedaris. Was that fact-checked? Or what of the elementary Christmas play Sedaris so gloriously skewered? IF YOU Criticize TAL for its too-often neglect of difficult subjects and you’re scolded that the show is about culture and storytelling.

Mike Daisey’s TAL recording is now offline, although the transcript remains. In it you’ll find an indictment that Ira Glass perhaps lacks the temerity to redact as well. It’s his introduction to the segment, and I’ll reprint it here, because Glass praises exactly Daisey’s storytelling technique, separate from the facts he recounts.

A couple weeks ago I saw this one-man show where this guy did something on stage I thought was really kind of amazing. He took this fact that we all already know, right, this fact that our stuff is made overseas in maybe not the greatest working conditions, and he made the audience actually feel something about that fact. Which is really quite a trick. You really have to know how to tell a story to be able to pull something like that off.

In his own words, Glass concedes what his show’s retraction is all about. He’s not retracting the facts, these “we all already know”. Glass and Apple are trying to retract Mike Daisey’s effect, that “he made the audience actually feel something about that fact.”

TO BE CONTINUED

Not a tribute to Steve Jobs, just a sad note. Nicola Tesla or Thomas Edison?

I’m more than a reluctant adherent to Apple technology, and am personally saddened at the death of Steve Jobs. Was he only 56? I assumed by his accomplishment that he was decades older. But my sadness is probably selfishly motivated, as a suspect of Apple acolytes, believing that Apple’s fruitfulness was owed chiefly to its larger-than-life leader, so a return to Jobless Apple means no more candy. But Jobs wasn’t larger than life really, he seems to have led less than a life. The fact that Steve Jobs was unable to discuss his cancer for fear of rocking the markets and hurting his company’s stock value, betrays the preoccupation he had with the bottom line. One of the richest persons in the world, who’d influenced so many lives in an incredibly personal way, went to his death a mystery. And while convention may hold that’s it’s too early for heresies before the wake, accelerated Twitter lag means a post mortem enforced deference for Steve Jobs has probably already expired.

Was Steve Jobs a visionary? Only for business models. He appears to have been a workaholic dedicated to the singular goal of building a better mousetrap. I suppose to give him his due, he built some swell ones, even as we catch on very slowly that the promise of computers enhancing our productivity has resulted in compounded labors, not savings, the mouse in question was us.

The sum of Apple’s product line was basically a self-enforced electronic ankle bracelet.

Steven Spielberg probably meant to honor Steve Jobs by comparing him to Thomas Alva Edison. Interesting, because those of us more familiar with history know that’s probably accurate for reasons Spielberg did not intend. Edison was not an inventor, instead he jumped on the scientific discovery of electromagnetism and maintained a sweatshop of scientists to innovate applications. It’s well known that Steve Wozniak invented the first personal computer, his friend Jobs simply marketed it. The Woz went on to invent the universal remote, so we have to credit Jobs for having a vision beyond the barcalounger. No disrespect of Wozniak intended.

If the Woz had an Edison contemporary, it was Nicola Tesla, renowned mad scientist, robbed of the credit and profit for inventing Alternating Current. He was Edison’s nemesis actually, and Edison lobbied against AC for a national power grid in favor of his patents for Direct Current. Probably by now everyone has heard that Edison would rush to circuses when they had to publicly execute an elephant for insubordination. Edison would electrocute the animals to demonstrate the lethal properties of AC.

So how does all this relate to Steve Jobs, the secrets of whose proprietary technologies we have yet to explore? Whose industry record high profit margins were dependent on cheap Chinese labor, factories which suffered high rates of suicide? Even the most ardent Mac addicts had a hard time championing Apple’s iTunes direct attack on peer to peer file sharing.

Let’s be honest. Steve Jobs was a Hamiltonian elitist when it came to Open Source. The Mac was never intended for everybody, it was trickle down technology and where software designers gave you what they knew was good for you. Hard to argue with much of it, including Jobs’ personal crusade to free his users from porn. But the business model also resembled a table top jukebox, where users paid, through the nose if you figure the charges compounded, for every ounce of content. The Apple became a virtual parking meter bluenosed into your bank account. Following the Java model meant Jobs got you to pay for the apps themselves.

Imagine if Steve Jobs had applied his visionary acumen to the $99 Laptop Project to fight poverty and lift the third world into the information age. Yeah, hard to imagine. Maybe after his death secrets will leak out about a philanthropic visionary Steve Jobs. Too bad we never knew him.

As innovative as Jobs appeared, compared to PT Barnum innovation-retrograde Bill Gates, Apple technology may likely prove to be the DC that has holding the internet back from open source radical transcendence.

What happens to Outsourced (Steve) Jobs workers…

a Taiwan manufacturer of touch-screens ordered a switch from wood alcohol as a cleaning solvent to n-hexane. Hexane is a petrochemical that’s more volatile than gasoline (octane) but won’t dissolve plastic and rubber like the in-between number heptane.
Think mono, di, tri, tetra, penta, hexa, hepta, octa as one through eight.
The reason for using the carcinogenic chemical, brain-cell eating chemical? It dries faster than alcohol. Not much, but some, and made a measurable difference in production.
Profit is everything, workers, well, they’re a dime a dozen.
The iPad markets $459 retail.
The 137 workers who had the “side effects” severely enough to require medical intervention, produced thousands of these every day. What percentage of the profit margin did they receive just for their work?
Those are the wage and safety issues the Bush-appointed-but-never-revamped Department of Labor Exploitative Practices say are “over regulated” and job killers.
As opposed to Worker Killers like toxic chemicals.
The Hexane evaporates faster than alcohol and tweaked production by about 20%. Just, you know, at the cost of Human Lives. Which, had the practice continued, it would have been deadly.
Apple, in their annual report, did say that they (text below) had ordered WinTek, the company which subcontracted the production, to switch back to alcohol, provide more ventilation and to provide better safety and health education and care, and compensation. Steve Jobs has somewhat of a reputation of being honest and actually giving a damn about environmental, worker safety and wage issues. Will it be enough? 137 workers signed a letter petitioning the Board of Directors at Apple to further enforce the directives given to their subsidiaries.
From Apple’s annual report

Apple acknowledged the incident.

“In 2010 we learned that 137 workers at the Suzhou facility of Wintek, one of Apple’s suppliers, had suffered adverse health effects following exposure to n-hexane, a chemical in cleaning agents used in some manufacturing processes,” the report read.

“We required Wintek to stop using n-hexane and to provide evidence that they had removed the chemical from their production lines,” it said.

Apple said it also asked the firm to provide adequate ventilation in the factory. It will monitor the plant and will reaudit the facility later this year.

Wintek also supplies components to a number of other companies, including Nokia and HTC.

These are the working conditions that the Tea Party Extremists hope to foist off on the Rest of Americans, those of us who aren’t lucky enough to be born rich. Those of us who FEED the rich. This is what we’re fighting for.
The “conservatives” Who Conserve Absolutely NOTHING tell us, DEMAND our obedience, that we are too stupid and ignorant to collectively bargain for our rights. Our DUE.
Some of their leaders, such as George Bush and Sarah Palin, pretend Christian Piety when they make these Imperious Demands that we, the workers, surrender our future and that of our children and grandchildren, to Them so they can rob us even more.

In the Jewish, Christian and Muslim scriptures, in the Law of Moses they’re so quick to cite when it means they Get To Kill Babies either in foreign countries or here in America, there are commandments equal to “Thou Shalt Not Kill” (you have to keep the whole law, in order to judge by the law… No eating lobster, y’all, or monkey spanking either…) concerning workers rights. Don’t delay paying the people who work for you, on payday you pay them. Not after sundown (Jewish measures of a day, sundown starts the new day, like Friday at sundown is the start of Sabbath) Killing a poor man is every bit as much murder as killing a rich man. In cases of accidental death, the poor mans life is worth the exact same as the Kings life. Stealing from a poor man (failing or refusing to compensate his injuries or underpaying him deliberately for instance) is every bit the same as stealing from the Rich…

Of course, the Bible is anathema to Capitalism, which is why the Church of Palin, among (many many many) others, don’t discuss those issues.
They get their Tea Party “conservative” Morons to go out in the streets and chant and scream that simple justice, recompense for the labor which we’re required to sell to their Masters at less than our cost to produce it, is somehow “theft”. That “over-regulation” of poisons being dumped on the workers in the jobsites and subsequently dumped into the general environment, into the same drinking water they use, into the same air They breathe, into the foods They eat… is “theft”.

Never minding that they sell their OWN children and grandchildren into the Corporate Slavery HELL they’re so quick to sell us, and ours, into.
Again, a challenge to the TeaPotty and the Republitards, and yeah I’m being insulting, what you jackasses gonna do about it? Your leaders more quietly but even more surely call you much worse and you turn and lick their boots in gratitude. You bastards must really BE every bit as stupid as your Bosses tell you you are.

But if taxation to the Public Treasury is wrong, what about using Public Funds and Government Power to break the Unions, to harass and imprison workers for demanding OUR rights, to force US to pay the Corporations a tax by a different name,
to pay OUR labor at less than it costs US to produce, to sacrifice our future, our rights, and those of our children to pay YOUR Corporate Whore-lords the “profit margin” tax which they say is Their due…

Isn’t THAT Taxation without Representation?

Eat the Rich. We might as well, we paid to fatten them up.

As Wikileaks threatens establishment, Apple wields sledgehammer FOR 1984

Remember when Apple pretended to be the defiant sledgehammer to 1984? Today as Julian Assange swings the hammer, Apple joins its big brothers on the giant screen as it removes the Wikileaks app for iPones and iPads. Did you think there were any heroes in the corporate firmament? Amazon, Paypal, Visa, Mastercard, now Apple, nobody wants YOU to get un-manipulated news. But here Steve Jobs has missed an innovation bigger than he has ever rolled out. For man’s innate curiosity about himself, Wikileaks has become the reason to get up in the morning. Every new day is a chance to learn or confirm something you intuited about the facade erected around you. Odd, but isn’t that what the NEWS used to do?

And it’s a curious news model, it’s all old news, serialized because 250,000 revelations is too much transformitive revisionist history for anyone to handle.

Wikileaks is providing what the corporate news media will not. Into the vacuum, leaks. How can anyone dispute that Wikileaks has not single-handedly changed the accepted narrative of recent history? Although the Cablegate diplomatic cables represent the opinions of US personnel, they are unspun by the media propagandists, as it were, straight from the horsemen’s mouths.

Which lend themselves to government’s traditional role for “leaks,” disseminating lies which the media can get more excited about than their humdrum press releases. Cablegate has probably launched a new office within the state department to poison future databases with false cables.

Michael Moore had to defend his anti-US-healthcare documentary Sicko from the Wikileaked untruth that it had been banned in Cuba. The cable in question was a US diplomat’s idea of creating spin for the US insurance industry’s smear campaign against Moore.

(Did you see him trying to untangle that mess, and explain his support for Wikileaks’ Julian Assange to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow last night? They were broadcasting from New York’s 92Y to an audience strangely cool to Michael Moore. When Moore proclaimed his Christian values, asking if it was safe to use the word in present company, Maddow missed the gist of his “YMCA” joke, because the 92nd Street “Y” is actually a Jewish center, a Young Men’s Hebrew Association facility, and the NY audience last night were neither Wikileaks supporters nor fans of Moore’s criticism of America’s six ongoing wars.)

The Wikileaks v. Cuba scenario reminds me of the famous Alec Guinness spy farce Our Man in Havana where a clueless vacuum cleaner salesman is recruited by western intelligence services to be their eyes and ears in Cuba. Failing to chance upon serviceable info, he makes sketches of the latest futuristic vacuum, enlarged to industrial scale to suggest it’s a secret missile facility. In fact another recent cable which purported to document a Fidel Castro “crush on Obama” was based on nothing more than reading Castro’s regular “Reflections” as printed in the Cuban press. It used to be our government had a lock on what Americans could observe about Cuba, but today Fidel’s Reflections are available to all online.

Another unique aspect of Wikileaks as a news organization, is that it is beholden to no corporations, and no benevolent noblesse oblige, but to a 24 year-old military hero now held in solitary confinement.

$35 iNDIApad running Linux reveals iPad users pay for intellectual property

While MIT has been racing to design the world’s first $100 computer, India has performed an end-run at a third the price, and it’s a tablet no less. Running with open-source software, as genuine volks-werks will, the iNDIAPAD will reach third world schoolchildren for $35, developers at the India Institute of Science hope even as low as $10. Absent keypad and hand crank, but with camera, touchscreen and wireless. Which begs the question of course, what indispensable features drive Apple prices? Bill Gates earned his fortune on them. Patents.

Who is making a list, checking it twice

Sony PS3 Playstation network TV spotI know, right? Why won’t her boyfriend take his new Playstation online, where obviously all the fun is? “What’s wrong with him?!” The Sony PS3 spokesman commiserates, but he’s an interested party. So what’s up? Well, we have a clue this week with the Xbox.

By the way, I find Sony’s choice of spokesperson discordantly subversive. I’m guessing marketers of the PS3 have found their target audience watches the Mac vs. PC commercials and identifies with PC.

In a sudden move that has exasperated Xbox users, Microsoft decided that all its game consoles which have been modified to play software obtained through alternative delivery systems (piracy) will now automatically be blocked from their online system.

It make sense, but is it appropriate? If you’ve modded your car, for example to run on another fuel in addition to gasoline, would gas stations have the grounds to shut you out? And it’s not like you put a sticker on it advertising the modification. How would they know?

I think Microsoft’s violation lies more in a Terms of Use contract which permits them to query your machine for your personalizations. What right have they to tell you what you can or cannot do with your equipment, regardless whether you bought it from them? You didn’t rent it. Next are they going to dictate with which peripherals you are allowed to connect it, or atop which pedestal you must behold it?

You may not feel the video gamer’s pain, but look who’s doing the smack-down. What would happen if Microsoft decided to apply the same policy to copies of its operating systems, or office software?

Could it be coming? Google is criticized for knowing too much about internet users as they search the web. The companies who make browsers, including Microsoft, of course know where you go online. Imagine what Microsoft knows about what you do offline. And they are now asserting jurisdiction over your hardware. What if you wanted to turn off your computer, instead of putting it to sleep where it might still be answering queries about you? Maybe Microsoft will decide its Terms of Use won’t let you.

Microsoft hasn’t been above integrating spyware into its applications, creating stealth logs whose existence its programmers deny, even as users wonder why the files regenerate themselves after they’re deleted. Microsoft Windows’ unceasing security vulnerabilities are due entirely to the software exploits it leaves so that its programs are inter-compatible.

If that’s not enough, Microsoft counterinsurgent teams load malware into community open source projects, to give Windows company looking crummy.

Apple too is guilty of overreaching its intellectual rights authority. It recently stopped Psystar from adapting the OS X to work on PCs. And it disabled an element of its Snow Leopard 10.6 release to thwart a Hackintosh adaptation of Mac’s OS for netbook users.