Drewloid's Blog

Victims are victims because they have been victimized. And it is still the choice of the victim whether to adopt the mantle of victimhood or whether to move on. In other words, nobody can make a person a victim without that personʻs consent.

In the wake of the Charlie Hedbo Massacre, as it is being called in the media, once again we see where people stand on the moral aspects of violence. I am rather inspired by the article I came across in the National Review Online http://www.nationalreview.com/article/395912/rush-blame-victims-charlie-hebdo-massacre-ian-tuttle.

This is quite a good article, and is basically decrying the tendency to blame victims, which is becoming increasingly prevalent in our society. People who abhor violence sometimes like to prefer safety and security over standing for what is right and good and moral. Sometimes it is easier to hide in the dark than to stand in the light. When you stand in the light, other people can see what you stand for and they can see who and what you are. Other people get to know what you are made of.

I am a big believer in the notion of being in charge of what I experience. Just earlier this week I was explaining to a friend how simply sharing the teaching that “there are occurrences, and we get to choose how to learn from them” is a very powerful platform from which to build a thriving practice. And only a couple days later a major occurrence happens in the world and people are jumping in and making meaning out of it. And naturally the notion of who is the victim and who is to blame comes up. It is so much easier to attempt to understand the world from the dark. We donʻt have to consider who we are and what we ourselves stand for.

People cross the boundaries of others all the time. I do it, you do it, and we often do it unintentionally and unknowingly. It is a part of the learning process. Events occur and we have the opportunity to learn from them. When the transgression becomes sufficiently severe we label it “violence” and then the real fun begins. After all, if someone eats one of my cookies out of my big package of cookies, then it is not nearly as big a deal as a rape or murder. In reality these are the same sort of boundary violation, but the consequences for all parties involved have quite a wide range of significance. And often society likes to tell the victim how they are to respond, which is another attack unto itself. Some elements of society like to tell the victim that the event is horrific and the attacker should be appropriately punished, and some elements of society are going to tell the victim not to make a big deal about the event. And some elements of society will even prefer to tell the victim that they brought the event upon themselves.

I do not buy into the idea that anyone ever brings an unpleasant event upon themselves. Thatʻs just completely silly. I might do things that increase the probability of an unpleasant event, but that does not mean I want it to occur. Life is a risk.
So while the Charlie Hedbo people may have increased the risk of the attack that occurred, that does not mean they are to blame for creating it. That is the same kind of logic that suggests that a woman jogging through Central Park in Manhattan in the early morning hours is to blame for being raped. It is totally nutty. That is like saying my cookie is to blame for you stealing it. It is not your cookie, and I did not offer it to you. If you took it without my permission, you stole it.

There have been societies where any transgression, no matter how small, was punishable by death. This is probably a pretty good way to get people to take boundaries seriously. It is also probably rather extreme. It is equally extreme to suggest that victims are to blame for transgressions committed by others.

From the perspective of the observer, there is a transgressor, and a person who is the victim of the transgressor. To stand in the dark is to blame the victim and to pile on making them a victim. That keeps everyone in the dark.

Standing in the light we demand the transgressor acknowledge their actions and take responsibility for the consequences. And equally, we support the victim in moving beyond the event that occurred. A person who has been violently attacked and then is supported in the notion of living their life in fear has lost their life. Blaming a victim only makes this worse, and the blamers are attackers and transgressors at least as bad as the transgressor in the initial event.

Stand in the light.

Some years ago I undertook the effort to educate myself about financial trading. Eventually I decided to try my hand at commodities trading, and I opened an account. When I was opening the account I had an interesting conversation with the broker representative, the person who would be handling my trades. Itʻs important to have these “getting to know each other” conversations with people who are going to be doing things with your money. You get to know a bit about them and they get to know a bit more about you.

One useful topic to cover is about trading strategies and expectations. The broker rep told me a story of another client who was upset with the rep. Apparently the rep put the client into a corn trade that produced a 30% profit. Unfortunately, the move continued and the client felt shortchanged because he did not get the total profit potential of the trade.

My response was “Wow. Iʻd dance naked in the street for a 30% profit.” The other client was suffering from an overabundance of greed. I have some context to add which I believe will support my point. First, commodities are traded as contracts for relatively short terms. 1 month or 3 months are common. While it is possible to roll a contract for a longer holding period, letʻs just assume that this contract was held for no longer than 6 months. Worst case, you wouldnʻt hold such a contract for more than a year. So the other client was complaining about a 30% return over a period of a few months. Thatʻs an awesome return.

Second, itʻs a well established rule of trading that a disciplined trader gets out of a trade when heʻs made all the money he thinks he can make. Sitting on the trade any longer is just incredibly risky. A disciplined trader who trades a system that works can make a lot of money. A greedy trader will get wiped out.

Being greedy in the area of financial trading is a really really bad idea. The vast majority of the general public who trades their own account suffers from greed and eventually learn to put their money with someone else who is less greedy.

Today I ran across an interesting story in one of the blogs I read on a regular basis. Apparently there is some group called “The National Center For Public Policy Research”. I have no idea what this group does. I only know of what I read about today. They are engaged in an effort the call the “Free Enterprise Project”. I always love the way that people who want to create influence for their way of thinking use completely innocuous generalities when then label their stuff. Who in the United States would argue against something called the “Free Enterprise Project”?

Anyway, the short version of the story is that some dude who represents these guys went to the Apple Inc. shareholder meeting to support a proposal for shareholder vote. It didnʻt pass. The guy did ask a couple of questions, the second of which was (paraphrased in a news report in “The Mac Observer”) “the NCPPR representative asked Mr. Cook (the CEO of Apple Inc.) to commit right then and there to doing only those things that were profitable.” Mr. Cook essentially told the guy to suck eggs.

Actually, the report states that Mr. Cookʻs response included “that there are many things Apple does that are right and just, and that a return on investment (ROI) was not the primary concern on such issues.” Additionally, it is reported that Mr. Cook said “When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind I donʻt consider the bloody ROI.” Finally, “He didnʻt stop there, however, as he looked directly at the NCPPR representative and said ʻIf you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.ʻ”

So here is a guy who is criticizing Apple for potentially leaving some profit money on the table. Apple is the most profitable company in the world right now (2/28/14). They make just an awesome amount of money and there is not really any comparison I can draw to the amount of money that they are making except maybe to compare them to the “robber barons” of the late 19th century. They are pulling in a  massive shit load of money.

And some dude has the temerity to come in and complain that Apple is not protecting “shareholder value” properly because they might be doing something that isnʻt justified on a pure numbers basis. Damn, that is some serious greed. This is a company that in the prior quarter produced just over $13B in operating income (thatʻs net cash profit). For the quarter they also paid $4.6B in income taxes. Whatever these items are the NCPPR is concerned about, the cost must be inconsequential pocket change.

So right there on the surface, the only reason to have this sort of concern is flat out greed. But there is more. There is ego. I donʻt know why this happens, but you know whenever someone is successful there are no shortage of Monday morning quarterbacks hanging about. And there sure are a lot of people who want to tell Apple how to run their business. It appears to me that Apple knows how to run their business just fine, thank you very much.

Iʻm also the sort of person that doesnʻt believe in delegating a task to someone whom I have to micromanage. Thatʻs just nutty. If I buy stock in a company, Iʻm hiring them to do something useful with the money invested in the company. Iʻm delegating that task to them. If I donʻt trust them to accomplish the task to my liking, then I donʻt delegate it to them in the first place. Apple has attracted some exceedingly rich investors who want to micromanage Appleʻs operations. “Start your own company” is what I say to them if they really believe they know how to do it better.

Being the curious sort of person that I am, I decided to dig a little deeper into what is up with these NCPPR people. I actually clicked through the links and read the proposal they submitted for shareholder vote. By the way, to submit such a proposal, you really do have to own only one share of stock, which at todayʻs close was $526.24. A bit pricey for a share of stock, but still, not a giant amount of money.

The proposal has a supporting statement. “Some trade associations and business organizations have expanded beyond the promotion of traditional business goals and are lobbying business executives to pursue objectives with primarily social benefits. This may affect Company profitability and shareholder value.” Holy crap, Scrooge has returned to life. I supposed these NCPPR people never read “A Christmas Carol”.

So these folks are acknowledging that they are so greedy that simply the fear of the possibility that Apple is a member of a group that might consider social goals worth pursuing is a bad thing. That they are afraid some of the profit money is supporting an organization that cares about people over profits. Thatʻs damn greedy.

I mean I got to be honest here. Iʻm one greedy mother fucker. I like my money. I like my money a lot. But I canʻt hang with that shit. A company that doesnʻt stay focused on making a profit wonʻt be around for long. Iʻm a very strong supporter of businesses making money and being profitable. But letʻs not forget that the community of customers supports the company in making those profits, so it is inherently necessary when running a business to balance the needs of people with the need to make a profit. Too much emphasis one way or the other will lead to an ailing and then dead enterprise.

So these NCPPR people are nutty and greedy. No big news about that I suppose, there are plenty of those people in the world.

But letʻs not stop there. Here is the real truth behind this whole tempest in a teapot.

The truth is these people donʻt give a rip about shareholder value. What they care about is getting big companies to stop investing in preventing global warming. They yammer on about return on investment and shareholder value, but what they are really fighting is anybody making an insurance bet on the risks of global warming.

They are pretty damn proud that they extracted an concession from General Electric on that point. Now thereʻs a huge change in the world. General Electric, the giant international conglomerate, has kowtowed to some whiners about how they should run their incredibly large, profitable, and successful business. And Apple, the company started by smelly hippies in a garage in California in the 70ʻs, has the Giant Fucking Man Balls to say “Fuck off”.

You see, the NCPPR is claiming that the free market should deal with environmental and social initiatives. That is an idea that has been long proven to not work. But then I guess they never read “The Tragedy of the Commons”. But Iʻm not going to pull that out just now, there is not need to get into long philosophical debates about economics. Letʻs just use a well accepted example. Insurance.

Thatʻs what I said, insurance. There is no way to demonstrate a certain return on investment for insurance. Itʻs based on a guess. You have a risk, and you get someone to insure you against that risk for a premium which is less than the anticipated cost of suffering the risky event. Simple. Thatʻs why you buy car insurance. Thatʻs why your mortgage company requires you to buy homeownerʻs insurance. On and on.

Spending a little money to help with the issue of global warming is an insurance bet. Of course we donʻt know with 100% certainty if climate change is real. I also donʻt know with 100% certainty that my house wonʻt get burned down or that my car wonʻt get stolen. So we buy insurance. Itʻs way the heck cheaper.

And by the way, allowing smart managers of enterprises to make those bets is what we pay them for. Itʻs called free enterprise. You make an investment, spend money to make money with an uncertain return. No amount of MBA numbers mashing will ever change the fact that business decisions are always based on trying to position yourself as well as you can for an uncertain future.

Trying to reduce every business decision to some kind of numerical analysis and then believing that you have the data to prove you will make money is really nutty and silly. Itʻs just attempting to help make a best guess about doing the right thing. Which is what Apple is doing. And what every other enterprise is doing when they spend money in alignment with an environmental cause or a social cause. They are making free enterprise business decisions to position themselves as best they can in an uncertain future.

Any company that makes itʻs business decisions based *solely* on an ROI analysis is the one to *not* invest in. That one is going to fail eventually. They are deluding themselves into believing they can predict the future. Stay away.

Oh, and by the way, Appleʻs investments (if they have any) in environmental and social good do produce a return on investment. For the people who buy Apple products, these investments build brand value. People pay a premium to own Apple products. Apple is more profitable because of that. It would certainly be possible to produce an analysis that shows a positive ROI for this sort of investment. It would also be the same kind of smoke and mirrors that any forward-looking analysis is; an attempt to predict the future which has a possibility of being wrong.

I am totally in favor of numerical analysis to guide thinking and decision making. Itʻs great stuff. But it is no substitute at all for smart people making gut decisions about what is right according to solid values that take people, communities, and the planet into account. I vastly prefer to do business with the smart people.

I”ll start by saying I love my macbook air. I love Apple products. I recently chose to commit to using apple products and the Apple ecosystem as the foundation of my digital life. This is no small commitment on my part, as I have never particularly liked the way Apple software works. I have also never cared for the pretentious air of smug superiority that has long pervaded the attitudes of the faithful, otherwise known as Apple fanboys.  This all started when Apple bigots felt the desperate need to malign the Amiga and Atari computers which were much much cheaper than Apple offerings of the day.  “My way is the best way and should be the only way!” is the kind of thinking that has time and again led to genocide, so I tend to disagree with it.

My beef with Apple is this. Apple makes their software work with their hardware for you to use a certain way, and if you donʻt want to use it that way, too bad.  As it happens, this is their strength. For the most part, it works, and the user does not have to think about it. I finally reached the point where the combination of crappy hardware and poor software integration in the Windows ecosystem was unbearable for me and I made the switch to Apple. It might not work exactly the way I want it to work, but at least it works in some way with a very low level of frustration. I cannot say this about products in the Windows ecosystem.

Ok, that is a lot of background, but it is important. Because now it is apparently a common complaint that Mac Mail does not work well with Gmail.



People have to have something to whine about I suppose.

I must say I find this whining to be absolutely hilarious.  The Apple faithful always had a response to my assertion that the advantage of Windows was that I could make my system work the way I wanted.  “But you can do that with Apple as well!”  Yes, if you want to code up some applescript and fart around with it.  The problem with these sorts of solutions are that they are fragile. If you try to use something to do something for which it was not designed, you have a fragile solution that will inevitably break.  I can use a reciprocating saw to make a woodworking cut in some wood, but itʻs not designed for that and you wonʻt get a consistently great result.

So in a nutshell, here is the complaint: “Apple is trying to fix Mac Mail to work better with Gmail and itʻs broken all my hacks to make it work the way I want!”  Too bad, thatʻs what happens when you hack things together.  There is a standard protocol for email that makes it possible to synchronize multiple email clients against the email store, and it is called IMAP.  It works well enough for what it is supposed to do.  And what it is supposed to do is present a consistent abstraction of email messages stored in a hierarchical folder view.  Gmail doesnʻt work that way.  Gmail stores messages in a database and applies labels to tag the messages in order to present different views of the messages in the database.  Gmail is inherently not compatible with IMAP.

At this point, I want to say to these people, “Get over it.”  But there is no reason to write this little blog entry if that is my attitude, Iʻm writing this to get my thoughts down about how I see underlying patterns at work in the world.

Let me digress.  I wrote dial up networking in Windows 95.  The great strength of my implementation was that it was an excellent example of the Internet Engineering credo of “Be conservative in what you send and liberal in what you accept.”  The underlying protocol for dial up network offered an amazing variety of options that 99.99999% of Windows users could never benefit from. So I implemented NONE of them. If something was not specifically required by the base protocol spec, I used the standard mechanism to not support it.  Windows 95 dial up network worked with EVERYTHING.  Except implementations that were so broken that I would have had to break it relative to correct implementations.  This actually happened with the dial up routers at a certain Ivy League college.

My point is that the abstractions were consistent and everything worked according to the consistent design principles.

There is no way to have an IMAP email client work consistently with Gmail.  There never will be.  The business priorities that drive gmail are quite different from the business priorities that drive an IMAP email client.

Googleʻs business priority is get as much data about you as they can so they can maximize the price they charge for showing you an advertisement.  What they care about is a technical architecture that supports their database searching needs and they need to control your view to the data so they can present an ad – i.e., they need you to use their webmail client.

The business model for your IMAP client (of which Mac Mail is an example) is that you pay for the software, and so naturally, you are paying for something that works with IMAP.

So if you want to use something that you get for free in a manner which doesnʻt fit the business model of the person who is providing the free something, Iʻd say you are pretty silly if you think you wonʻt have issues.  Likewise, itʻs pretty silly to complain that something that works the way it is supposed to work (the IMAP mail client) doesnʻt work well with something that it canʻt work well with (the gmail system).

I had gmail connected to my mac mail.  I wanted a better way to organize all my old gmail messages. I finally gave up. Google doesnʻt want me deleting any of my old data.  Google doesnʻt want me using anything other than their client.  Google tolerates any of these transgressions only as much as is necessary for them to extract some value out of me.

I find it incredibly silly that these folks are complaining that Apple “broke” their gmail support. No they didnʻt.  They made it better. The way they saw fit with a “one size fits all” approach.  That is what has been incredibly successful for them. They will keep doing it.

Free is not free.  That is all there is to it.  Gmail doesnʻt cost you any money, but it is not free. These folks are discovering that the time they have spent getting gmail to work with mac mail is actually an ongoing maintenance cost. I find it much easier and cheaper to simply pay $36/year for email that works than to try to use “free” gmail in a way that it is not designed to work.

I am really curious why someone would pay up the premium price to use an Apple product and then go cheap for email. That seems really really silly.

I was at the farmerʻs market this afternoon and my friend asked me a question. “Why is the farmerʻs market important?” (http://duvallfarmersmarket.org) This is a question of such depth that it cannot be answered in a short blog post, so I will only be skimming the surface. As we say in Hawaii, “When you look into the pond, you have no idea how deep the pond goes.” Because the farmerʻs market is an opportunity to express your identity, your values, and your integrity, it is a very deep pond.

The farmerʻs market is important because this is the place where each of us has an opportunity to take action to express our values about family and community. This is where the rubber meets the road and you give your values traction to make a real difference in the world. You get to do this in a forum that is a community event where you can bring your children and teach them the values you want them to learn and demonstrate your integrity about what you say is important.  And you get to do this in front of your kids, family, neighbors, community, and everyone.

Perhaps you are one of those people who has a spiritual practice of asking for a blessing for the food you eat when you sit down to eat it. I do this, because I ask that the food I eat nourish my body in a healthy way and contribute to my heath, energy, and ability to accomplish everything I want to achieve in my life. You donʻt achieve success by putting junk into your body.  The farmerʻs market is the place where you can buy food from the person who grew it and cares enough about what they are doing that they are willing to stand right there in front of you backing their product. You barely need to ask for a blessing for this food, the person who grew it is right there and you can find out anything you want to know about how they grew and how they think about it. The farmerʻs market is a blessing unto itself.

Everyone needs to have an income to support themselves and their families in the world. We do this by doing things that serve others in a way that we get paid money for our service. Nothing can take the place of people in serving other people. Do you deserve to get paid for the work you do? How about the people who make the effort to offer you a high quality and unique product and bring it directly into your community to purchase? Do you want to send out the message that you support the people in your community who serve you face to face, or do you prefer to keep your dealings anonymous and go through an unknown chain of intermediaries who donʻt add any actual value? How do you want to express your values about work and service to others? At the farmerʻs market you can show the world how you think about the value of work and service through direct action.

The farmerʻs market not only is the opportunity for direct action, you also get to have some pretty special benefits from participating. Tonight I get to have some fresh burgers from the Squaw Creek Cattle Company (http://squawcreekcattleco.yolasite.com). This farm produces a unique beef product. While their cattle are pasture-raised and grass-fed, these folks go above and beyond. I will digress by pointing out that grass-fed beef tastes much better than corn-fed, and is also much healthier food. This beef is already superior to most. And beyond that, Squaw Creek Cattle Company cows get an extra special treat. They do get some extra feed, the spent mash from the Boundary Bay Brewery. So not only do I get a superior product, I get to support two local businesses from my area. My money is doing extra duty working for my community.

Spending your money in your community is so important. Do you want a nice place to live? Do you want to feel safe, have good schools, have good emergency services? The way you get these things is from having a strong community. Family and community is the foundation of civilization. Do you want to make yours strong? The more you can spend your money in a way that it stays close to home, the stronger you make your community. There is a small farming community in South Dakota which had a common problem to small farming communities, which is that the community was dying because there were no jobs to enable children to stay close to home even if they wanted to.  I donʻt have the reference handy so Iʻm asking you to trust me on what happened. The high school students took on a project to discover a way to increase employment opportunities in the community.  Their suggestion was that if the people of the county would increase their spending in the county by 16% rather than driving to the next county with a larger town, there would be enough jobs for the entire population. The people of the county took this to heart and actually doubled the increase in local spending, and their community became a place where people starting moving to because there were more jobs than people.  Spending your money in your community is the single most powerful thing you can do to strengthen your community and improve your own quality of life.

The whole concept of spending money within your community is something you can do in more contexts than you might think and I encourage you to actively look for opportunities to do this. One of my hobbies is motorcycle road racing and Iʻm a member of a club in my state. Race weekends are special weekends and they happen only on the days we have scheduled. At the race weekends we have vendors who come to the track to support the racers. The club is a family and the track is a community and the more we think this way the stronger our club becomes. The vendors who show up to support me are part of the family and community. If I donʻt support them, then they wonʻt be able to come to the track to support me. Which means if I need tires or some part or whatever on a race weekend, and they are not there, then I donʻt race. Racing doesnʻt have a makeup day. So if I canʻt race on race day, then all my time and money that I spend preparing for racing goes to waste. If I donʻt support the people who come to support me in my racing community, I put my entire investment in that community at risk. Supporting your local farmerʻs market strengthens your investment in your community.

The farmerʻs market is also important because it enables you to be a total badass. Yes, I said “total badass”. Recently I came across a blog post from a fellow named Chris McCombs on “37 Ways To Be A Total Badass”. (http://chrismccombs.net/37-ways-to-be-a-badass/) Now who doesnʻt want to be a total badass? #36 is “Eat Good Healthy Stuff”. So right there, very simply, going to the farmerʻs market supports your ability to be a total badass. And donʻt stop there. How many ways can the farmerʻs market put you on the path to being a total badass? Count them yourself. I count at least 14 of them. Maybe the best reason the farmerʻs market is important is that it is one of the very easiest ways to be a total badass, a person who takes a stand with integrity for what they value.

I donʻt know what the problem with ATT is, but they really want me to switch carriers.  In December I wanted to exit my grandfathered unlimited data plan and go on the Mobile Share plan so I could add a second phone line to my plan for a friend.  But for some reason unknown to all, I  could not make this change on ATTʻs web site and had to call customer support.  This took a nearly half hour phone call.  Nice.

Now Iʻm getting around to ordering the phone so my friend can pick it up at an Apple store.  I want to order it online as my friend lives in another state.  Guess what?  ATT no longer allows me to add a phone to my account from the Apple online store.  This is beyond ridiculous.  This appeared to work before.  Although, I will admit that was before I got the plan changed via a long phone call with ATT.

ATT, on their website, will allow me to add the phone.  But I cannot select store pickup.  Besides, I want Apple store pickup.  I do not want to subject my friend to the likely horrors of the ATT store.  The lines are long.  I want my friend to be able to go to the Apple store where she will get good service and set up correctly.  I trust Apple to make this work.  ATT?  Not even a little.

So I suppose tomorrow I will call ATT and find out what the deal is, and presumably have to tell my friend to go to the Apple store, and she will call me, and we will get her the phone that way.  What a pain in the ass.

I mentioned to my brother that perhaps it is time for me to switch to Verizon, and his response was “you know they will be no better.”  And I know he is correct!

I read articles from time to time how the carriers donʻt like having to deal with Appleʻs terms, and how Apple continues to change the balance of power in the smartphone business.  Good for them.  The carriers are morons and have no appreciation whatsoever for the extent which Apple has increased their business.  If not for Apple we would probably still be using phones little better than the Motorola Q.  Iʻm serious about that.  It didnʻt take Microsoft such a long time to make Windows Phone 7 because it was hard to make.  It took so long because they didnʻt think they needed to do any more with the Windows Phone OS after 6.5.

Every time my contract is about to run out I think pretty hard about living without a cell phone because quite honestly, it costs way more than it is truly worth.

Seriously everyone, the only advocate you have with the mobile carriers is Apple.  Everyone else just wants to use you and take your money and give you as little as they can possibly give you.  Google just wants to show you ads.  Samsung wants to sell products that keep their upstream factories in operation.  The carriers want to suck money out of your pocket with the lowest quality service they can get away with.  Only Apple is actually out there advocating for a quality product and experience for you, the customer.

So stick it to the man.  For your phone, buy an Apple iPhone, and buy it directly from Apple. That way Apple makes the most of the money you pay for the “service” of having a mobile phone, and Apple, unlike every other player in the mobile ecosystem, cares about your experience being good, as opposed to being merely tolerable.  Buy an iPhone, and buy it from Apple.

I read on daring fireball and a couple of other places that the google maps app for ios6 is finally out.  Whoop de frakkin do. I donʻt much care.

I donʻt care about all the complaints folks have that appleʻs map data is wrong.  Or that googleʻs is better.  Whatever.  The the extent that googleʻs is better it is because they have been gathering the data that users have been providing them for years.  So that google can sell data about us to advertisers.  Apple makes stuff that I buy directly, and they are not selling my data.  So I prefer to support Apple.  Not that I like Apple all that much, but at least they are focused on making products I want to buy and serving me, not some third party.  Pay as you go means Iʻm the customer.

Remember Google 411?  You know, where you could call a google number, talk to your phone, and it would connect you?  It was great.  It was beyond great for the year and a half it was around.  Then it was gone.  Google had collected their data and they were done.  Keep that in mind the next time you whine about how Siri doesnʻt have as good a voice recognition engine as Google search.  You and I gave them the data.

If either of these companies want to make a map application I give a rip about perhaps they will make one that caches a boatload of maps on the phone so that the mapping app is still useful when Iʻm in the wilds of the great Pacific Northwest, or Idaho, or Montana, or any of the many places where I donʻt have data service and a map application is dependent on its data connection.  Until then I need to carry a separate GPS, and since I need to carry a separate GPS, the only time the map app is actually useful on the phone is when Iʻm out walking around, and then I can use my eyes and ask people for directions.

There is no way that Iʻm going to buy into the idea that I have now been locked in to using someoneʻs product because they have better technology because of the data we have collectively given them.  Apple did the right thing kicking google out and they did it at the right time.

I havenʻt shared any of my random thoughts in quite a while I see, and this latest is too good not to note.

There is periodically random speculation that Apple will go to Intel to fab its chips.  (FYI: I work for Intel and have absolutely no knowledge about such business dealings, and if I did I would not be writing about it.)  With Appleʻs latest quarterly, I noticed that Apple could buy Intel.  For cash.  And still have money left over.

That is nothing less than amazing.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple (1997 – 15 years ago) Steve asked Bill Gates for a little money and a promise that Microsoft Office would continue to support the Mac, and Bill gave both ($150M as I recall).  This show of faith was one of the things that kept Apple out of bankruptcy.

Some years later Apple switched over to Intel processors for the Mac and Intel supplied a bunch of engineers to help out, eager for the business and the trophy.  Paul Otellini even shared the stage with Steve Jobs when they announced the achievement 6 months ahead of schedule.  I was told by my then boss, who was present (and I worked at MSFT at the time), that when Bill and Paul next met Paul said “It was only 1000 of them.”  This was 2006 – not quite 7 years ago.

Fast forward to today, and Apple has, well, a huge stack of cash.  The market leading products in all the categories of physical computer goods anyone seems to care about.  Lots and lots of momentum.  Increasing control of its destiny.

My how things change.  From beggar to master in 15 years.

I love following some of the blogs, even the apple bloggers.  I’ve discovered a few who are semi-conscious.  Marco Arment has definitely impressed me positively more than once, and he’s popped out a gem.


For someone to basically admit that he is a recovering fanboy is pretty amazing if you ask me.  When I was in my early 20’s I suffered no such delusions that my way was the only way, at least when using computers!  But then, I was studying programming and I had the crazy idea that a personal computer should work the way the it’s person wanted it to work.  The fanboys who wanted every other option to disappear were, and still are, endlessly irritating to me.  Although now it is simply an annoyance that I have to accept that that is the way some people are.  Some people are so immature and so low on self-esteem that they cannot accept the fact that our world of amazing diversity that allows people to make highly individualized choices is in no way belittling their fanboy choices.

So how far have we come from the invention of the personal computer to now, and how personal are they?  Pretty far, but we really have a very very long way to go.  And I’ll suggest that how you measure our progress might be very much colored by whether your idea of the first “personal” computer is an Altair or an Apple ][.

Consider the hammer.  An elegant and simple tool, it has quite a few uses and anyone who makes things pretty much can’t live without at least one.  It mashes things.  That’s what it does.  It is the source of the adage “if all you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.”  Of course, a hammer is useful for oh so much more than pounding nails.  I just watched the movie “Thor” a couple nights ago and apparently Thor’s hammer is useful for kicking up ice shards and shooting them at Frost Giants or flying through the air into a monster’s mouth and out the back of it’s head to kill it.  That is pretty darn versatile for a hunk of metal with a handle.  The hammer is an extension of the hand, which is simply the most versatile physical too there is.

The computer, as has been said before, is an extension of the brain.  So it has to be able to do a lot of stuff.  And it does.  And new applications are being discovered all the time to amaze and delight us, even a cynic such as myself.  I mean, really, what’s up with this internet thing?  Once I have email, netnews, and ftp, what more could I need?  Apparently quite a lot.

I love Apple, and I love Microsoft.  I used to hate Apple, because I could not stand how constraining the Mac was and also that I could not afford one.  But even when I could afford one I wasn’t too excited about it.  Partly because I did not want to associate with the fanboys, and partly because I had no interest in buying a computer that was going to tell me how I could use it.  It’s a computer, and I’ll use it any damn way I like!  And I am sure as hell not going to buy a computer where I have to *ask* to get my floppy disc back!

By comparison, Microsoft was freedom, Microsoft was flexibility.  DOS and Windows enabled the world that anybody could build any computer any way they like.  This is an absolutely monumental engineering challenge by the way, and the robustness and flexibility of Windows is absolutely one of the greatest engineering successes ever.  The vast ecosystem of capabilities that are enabled by Windows is a testament to diversity that Apple simply cannot match in any way.  Which is perfectly fine.

Microsoft makes software for people who care about getting things done at a reasonable cost.  A vast diverse variety of things.  Arment is calling this out in his latest blog entry.  Finally one of the fanboys is actually explicitly acknowledging that what he uses his computer for and the way he uses it, the way it is an extension of *his* brain, is not going to work for someone else.  He has learned the lesson of the IT department.  The IT department does not offer general computing services.  The IT department offers business support services and provides a computer infrastructure that delivers those services.  So if you want to do something outside the boundaries of what they have narrowly defined, too bad.  The IT department doesn’t do that.  If you want something extra, take it up with the CIO.

The irony, to me, of the complaint of the Apple fanboy, is that they don’t like Microsoft because it leads to IT department thinking.  Except that it is Apple which has the IT department thinking, and Microsoft enables whatever kind of computer infrastructure freedom you want.  Apple delivers appliances.  They work the way they work, and that is that.  And like an IT department, they promise to make the end user experiences they enable to actually work.  Those are called Service Level Commitments, by the way.

Microsoft enables quite a variety of SLC’s, and Apple, being much more like an IT provider, offers one.  Apple is finding an amazing level of profitability by hitting a sweet spot of SLC which they make just a little bigger every year and growing into appliance markets.  Apple will probably never have more than 25% of any general market in the long run, but since they take the 25% most profitable part of the market they don’t particularly care.  Microsoft goes for the rest of the market so they derive profitability from volume.  They are both part of a much larger picture and they have their niche, regardless of what anyone wants to say about monopoly power.

This is how it has to be.  Because you simply can’t take a one size fits all approach with computers.  No single specific computing system is going to serve everyone’s needs equally.  That is simply impossible.  If you have any trouble accepting this, go to Home Depot or Lowe’s or Menard’s and have a look at the selection of hammers, which is but a small fraction of all the many and various kinds of hammers that are out there in the world.  It’s a hard thing at the end of a lever for mashing and there is an astonishing degree of diversity.

If anyone ever suggested that there needs to be only one kind of hammer  … well, I can’t even imagine anyone being that silly.  So anyone who suggests there needs to be only one kind of computer, well that is even more silly.  Because if there needs to be that much diversity for an extension of the hand, then how much diversity do we need for the an extension of our brain?

Like the Macalope, I seem to be endlessly fascinated by the way the various tech industry blogger/pundits are aggressive about being asleep. And by sleep, I mean the opposite of awake as explained by Pema Chodron when she says : “We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake.” I’m just a poor engineer who has gone over to the dark side of marketing and trying to understand the world who only recently has decided to accept that a large number of people are simply pretending to be asleep.

But the pundits definitely test me and my patience. Like this guy:

In the second to last paragraph Mr. Thurrott seems to be contradicting a quote from Larry Tesler. Really? Were you *there*, Paul? No, you weren’t, so STFU.

I don’t know much about this guy and I don’t read his site, I just came across this article when I was reading one of the Macalope’s posts. It is truly mind-bogglingly ballsy to suggest a different reading of history than someone who was actually on the ground at the time.

And then he caps off his little thought with the observation that it apparently took Apple 10 years to switch to Intel from PowerPC, and the planning for this change must have started in 1996. He somehow forgot that the Mac started out on the Motorola 68K line, and a quick look at the Wikipedia article on the Mac says that the first PowerPC Macs appeared in 1994. Somehow I don’t think Apple was seriously wanting to bolt to Intel processors only 2 years into the PowerPC architecture, a design that had Motorola as a partner.

Much more likely is that Apple’s engineers, Tesler among them, simply wanted to have an operating system that was more portable between processor architectures. To whatever extent that it is true Apple considered using Windows NT (I am amazed that Thurrott is actually suggesting this, NT was nowhere near capable of satisfying Apple’s requirements back in those days) they were probably just looking at an operating system that was running on x86, PowerPC, and MIPS architectures and thinking that would be a nice thing to have. As near as I can tell, by 1996 Solaris was running on PowerPC, x86, and SPARC. And according to the Wiki article on NeXTSTEP, it was running on the 68K, x86, SPARC, and PA-RISC. The portability of NeXTSTEP is completely unsurprising to anyone who knows jack about operating systems since it was derived from Mach. Finally, (according to the Wiki article) BeOS was running only on the PowerPC in 1996, with x86 support not shipping until 1998.

So as Thurrott is contradicting Tesler, he doesn’t appear to let a little thing like facts get in the way. He says straight up “every single one of them – all four of them – ran on Intel chips.” I’ll admit I wasn’t really paying attention too much to Be back in those days so I have to trust the Wiki article, but I’ll accept that BeOS wasn’t running on Intel platforms in 1996.

I just don’t get these guys, any of them. The Macalope seems to have quite a bit of fun reaming them, so it’s fun to read those rants.

I see this as part of a bigger picture of a bunch of people who want to collect ad money by attempting to appear that they know something and have something of value to add to discussion about the tech industry.

But when the pundidiots start trying to rewrite history in contradiction to the statements of people who were actually present and might know at least a little of what they are talking about then I’m thinking there is a problem. They sure as hell can’t have anything of interest to write in predicting the future if they can’t even be bothered to have straight facts about the past on hand. I suppose it is easier to look like you can predict the future if you can change to past to support your expectations.

My best guess is that with this post Mr. Thurrott is attempting to suggest that Apple took ten years of planning and technical work to transition from PowerPC chips to Intel chips. I can only guess his motivation. Perhaps he is trying to suggest some kind of weakness in Apple? I can’t imagine. What I can say with some confidence as an engineer who has actually ported a major operating system is that porting MacOS (again, since it is based on Mach) to a new processor is a 1 year job on the outside. Maybe another year to work out all the bugs of integrating the hardware and the software. The vastly bigger job is the migration of your ecosystem, which would take Apple on the order of 1-3 years.

Now if you happen to be talking about a migration from Intel to ARM, that’s a whole lot easier since Microsoft is already driving the migration of a major operating system from the one to the other.

I wonder how Mr. Thurrott will rewrite that history 10 years from now? I wonder if anyone will still be reading his blather so he can make money from ad placements? I’m kind of hoping the answer to the latter is “nobody”.

It’s a tried and true tradition in software development (as in many areas of endeavor) to have “war stories”, those tales that people who do things tell of their most challenging and difficult times on the job.

I had lunch with a friend yesterday who is doing hardware enabling, and I was chatting with a co worker today who does a similar job. It brought me back to those days when I was doing hardware bring up.

As much as I dislike having to deal with other people’s bugs when I am writing code on some platform, the difficulties often pale in comparison to when the other guy’s code is the hardware. You can’t run the debugger down into the hardware a lot of the time. You need special hardware to debug the hardware. Sometimes it is a probe, or a bus or protocol analyzer, or some variety of special thing that costs a lot and you can’t get budget for it. If the ability to probe the hardware is even available.

These are the kinds of bugs that take the longest, are the hardest to find, and exercise your problem solving skills well beyond what happens with software. With software you can usually do something with software to figure it out. With hardware … well, you need more hardware – if you can get it. And the most annoying part is that the other software guys don’t grasp just how difficult it is. They haven’t done it so they don’t get it and they think you are taking too long. It’s just another bug in the bug list to them. They don’t understand it is an order of magnitude more challenging.

So war stories about fixing hardware bugs, for those of us, the special few who dare to play with making hardware do what we want, are the best war stories. Except only people who have hardware war stories can appreciate them. And then when a purely software guy floats his best war story, all we can do is smirk. Because my best software war stories are just so much less impressive (to me) than my hardware war stories.

Kind of makes me wonder what kind of war stories the silicon process guys have when they are dealing with the problems of semiconductor physics and things that happen in a nanometer and smaller. That’s gotta be fun 😉

  • Roberta Koral: Hey Drew..Andrew ar Andy, whichever you prefer. I just found your blog. Roberta here.
  • globularity: Sharp analysis. -Davoid
  • Stephanie: What a marvelous article, thanks for writing it "friend."