Tag Archives: iPhone

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 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.

The consumer goods Killer App -KILLED

A consumer goods bar code scannerFinally 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 to impacts on employees, Social Performance ratings consider impact on consumers and communities. The social scoring system also brings together information on corporate governance, disclosure policies, and overall practices.

OUR RATINGS

Types of Information
Different types of information flow into GoodGuide’s system: absolute measures, relative measures, and binary measures. Absolute measures describe measurable activities of a company or product. For example, the pounds of toxic air emissions released per year, the CEO’s salary, or the amount of money a company donated to charity. Relative measures are scores, such as a numerical grade of “6.5 out of 10” or a textual grade of “bad” to “excellent.” Binary (or Yes/No) measures indicate whether a product or company does or does not have specific characteristics. For example, a product may or may not have earned an environmental certification, or a company may or may not test its products on animals.

The GoodGuide Rating
These measures are then used to create GoodGuide’s ratings. To calculate a single rating for a product or company, we convert all of the existing measures into a 0 to 10 score. In GoodGuide’s system, a score of 10 is the best and a score of 0 is the worst. Products and companies are rated relative to the performance of similar products or companies in the same industry.

The initial ratings are based on a set of selected criteria from a broad pool of data available within the GoodGuide database. We think these criteria are some of the most representative and understandable. As this is the first time all of this data has ever been aggregated in the same place, we are currently working to assess the consistency and comparability of measures across our many data sources. We would love to hear your suggestions on the relative importance of these various measures of product and company performance.

GoodGuide recognizes that even the most quantitative assessment of environmental, health, or social issues requires value judgments about the relative importance of various issues. For example, rational people can disagree over the relative importance of animal testing in evaluating a product or company. We have used our best scientific judgment in building our current ratings, and in future versions we will flag issues where personal values and preferences are particularly relevant. We will then enable people to create personalized ratings based on their own concerns.

In order to facilitate your ability to assess the data, we will also be providing an assessment of data uncertainty, completeness, and quality. These assessments can be used to weight the existing data within the GoodGuide database.

Incomplete Data
In some cases data is unavailable for a company or a product. This may be because we have not yet identified a credible data source for a given issue or topic. It may also be that the data is not publicly available because companies have not disclosed critical information. One goal of this project is to work collaboratively with key stakeholders around the world, including government agencies, non-profit organizations, private research firms, and companies to promote the quantity and quality of disclosure of important data to the public.

Learn more about GoodGuide’s methodology.