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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?

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

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

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

The consumer goods Killer App -KILLED

Finally a real KILLER APP. A free iPhone application called the Good Guide lets you scan the barcodes of (eventually) every consumer good to learn immediately its goodness rating on a scale of 0-10. No more Consumer Report printouts, mental notes or improvisational evaluation. The Good Guide score is the synthesis of three criteria, the ratings for which are also shown: health, environment and social. How healthy is this item? How environmentally friendly? And how socially-responsible is the producer? Notably missing is a ranking for price, sidestepping the inescapable real world cost vs. benefit compromise.   UPDATE: FALSE HOPE ALARM. So far the products itemized by the GoodGuide are the General Mills variety, all of them rank highly. There's a sugared cinnamon cereal that gets a 10 for health. Hoho. According to an article in Grist, GoodGuide emerged from a project called TAO IT, created by Dara O'Rourke, associate professor at UC Berkeley's Department of Environmental Science, Management and Policy. Goodguide's aim sounds like a watchdog function better administrated by a regulatory agency. I can already see industry lobbyists setting up offices to influence the GoodGuide analysts. A lot will depend on the transparency of the GoodGuide benchmarks and the objective distance they can keep from market interests. For example, the PR budget of one conglomerate alone could create a faux ratings mechanism to usurp GoogGuide as consumers-aid du jour. A recent processed food industry Smart Choices badge comes to mind. The GoodGuide evaluation policies do give a good impression. GoodGuide aggregates and analyzes data on both product and company performance. We employ a range of scientific methods – health hazard assessment, environmental impact assessment, and social impact assessment – to identify major impacts to human health, the environment, and society. Each of these categories is then further analyzed within specific issue areas, such as climate change policies, labor concerns, and product toxicity. Currently, GoodGuide's database has over 600 base criteria by which we evaluate products and companies. Health Performance As an example, for health performance, GoodGuide's system takes into account both the impacts of a company's operations on its workers and local communities, and the impacts of using a specific product on your health. Our team has gathered data on important health hazards such as: • Cancer risks • Reproductive health hazards • Mutagenicity • Endocrine disruption • Respiratory hazards • Skin and eye irritation Our research currently uses a simplified health hazard assessment process that allows us to rate thousands of products along standard criteria. It should be noted that while these ratings are not risk assessments of products or chemicals, they do highlight potential hazards associated with the use of these products. Environmental Performance For environmental performance, GoodGuide is aggregating data on the life-cycle impacts of products, from manufacturing to transportation to use to final disposal. For companies, impact categories include: • Environmental emissions and their impacts on air, water, land, and climate • Natural resource impacts • Environmental management programs GoodGuide uses these categories to generate overall environmental performance ratings for companies. Social Performance For social issues, GoodGuide aggregates data on the social impacts companies have on their employees: • Compensation • Labor and human rights practices • Diversity policies • Working conditions In addition

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