Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Steve, 1999

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  • Jim Cathcart, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    They’d be more competitive if it wasn’t for some questionable pricing:

    Too true. Outside the Apple stores in Japan, it is possible to buy previous generations of brand new Macs under full warranty. It at least gives people a chance to buy within their budget. I haven't seen the same arrangement elsewhere.

    Also, having worked on third party licensing arrangements with Apple in the manufacturing space (audio peripherals), they can be very difficult to work in the fast moving consumer electronics industry.

    Since Nov 2006 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Smartphones still can't play MMOs

    They can, I've spent a few hours testing one out over the last couple of months. I had an empire stretching from Avondale to Laingholm. But I gave it all away for a single kiss...

    Password security? Cracks me up how much people obsess about it. Only my bank account is even worth bothering on a strong password, and even then, it does lock up after 3 failed attempts anyway, and sends me a text.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    it does lock up after 3 failed attempts anyway, and sends me a text

    taunting your failed memory

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19706 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to BenWilson,

    Password security? Cracks me up how much people obsess about it. Only my bank account is even worth bothering on a strong password, and even then, it does lock up after 3 failed attempts anyway, and sends me a text.

    There are plenty of things for which password security is not hugely important. But I'd venture that there's a few more things than your bank account deserving of some attention to security. If nothing else, having something like your Facebook or Google account hacked might not be extremely costly, but it is really fucking annoying. (And can be used for some very malicious things.)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Jim Cathcart,

    Since Nov 2006 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    One problem is that "lesser" accounts often give access to the information you need to successfully use social engineering on an important one.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    Jim: thanks for that link.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Jim Cathcart,

    Steve Jobs record on workers rights.

    Apple is the highest-profile Foxconn customer, and thus takes most of the heat, much as it was targeted by Greenpeace on the sustainability of its products (which improved markedly as a result of the scrutiny).

    But the screen on your Kindle? That Asus netbook? Your Nokia or Sony Ericsson phone? Your Playstation? Your Dell, HP or Cisco device? Made, in whole or in part, at Foxconn.

    Some of those companies have supplier responsibility codes -- Cisco for example -- but none of them seem to do the degree of supplier auditing that Apple does. Apple has been producing reports since 2007, and does cancel contracts.

    My point isn't that manufacturing practices in China can leave much to be desired -- although that's obvious -- but that it makes little sense to single out "Steve jobs' record on workers rights", when Apple is demonstrably more responsive than most of its peers.

    Apple's treatment of its US workforce is generally regarded as very good -- I know someone who used the staff health plan to get sexual reassignment surgery -- with the exception being the retail workers, who have had cause for complaint.

    On the suicides issue Auckland University's StatsChat recently pointed that while all suicides are are tragic, the rate of suicide amongst Foxconn employees is markedly lower than that of the general Chinese population.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    My high school had BBC Micro's in the computer lab until 1990.

    By far and away the best game of that generation was this.

    Chucky can shove his egg where the sun don't shine... :)

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    If nothing else, having something like your Facebook or Google account hacked might not be extremely costly, but it is really fucking annoying. (And can be used for some very malicious things.)

    Strikes me as an extremely unlikely thing to happen. The cost would not be great. The cost of entering long passwords adds up every day. The cost of losing a hard password is not insubstantial either, have actually had that happen to me many times.

    To me, having powerful passwords is a lot like putting 3 locks on your front door, all of which you have to open every time you want to come or go. It's overkill, unless you have genuine reasons to fear a sneaky break in.

    Getting phished is more likely. That has happened to people I know and it was a bit of a pain.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Jim Cathcart,

    Apple is the highest-profile Foxconn customer, and thus takes most of the heat

    Well, you would expect that. However, as Andy Grove points out, it’s the hollowing out of jobs in the U.S. computer industry where Apple and others have failed. At this stage benefits are accruing to technophiles and shareholders but it appears that Apple has some way to go to improve its triple-bottom line business practice. Did Jobs share some responsibility in that? You would certainly have hoped so.

    Since Nov 2006 • 228 posts Report Reply

  • Biobbs, in reply to Rich Lock,

    By far and away the best game of that generation was this.

    Chucky can shove his egg where the sun don't shine... :)

    Well... that's what I used to tell him to do regularly, when I was playing the game.

    Always thought Wing Commander et al should really have been paying royalties to Elite.

    The River Mouth, Denmark • Since Jan 2011 • 114 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    My first computer, in the early 80s, was a 48k Sinclair ZX Spectrum. It had a whole 7 colours, and unlike it’s predecessor (the 1k, monochrome, ZX-81) was marketed as a games machine! It had no monitor, the keyboard and joystick connected to your TV. I remember spending many hours happily playing Manic Miner , a rudimentary platform-and-ladders game, to the accompaniment of a tinny version of Hall of the Mountain King , played from a minute speaker hidden inside the keyboard. Games came on audio tape, so you hooked up your tape player to the computer and listened to the bleeps and squeals and watched the screen flash until it was done. Loading took a while, and if your tape got kinked or stretched, forget it! I also spent many frustrating hours typing in BASIC programs from computer magazines, which hardly ever worked due to unnoticed typing errors. I learned to type on those funny rubber keys. Happy days.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to Rich Lock,

    My daughter fires up the Elite clone Oolite a few times a year to go privateering

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    I remember spending many hours happily playing Manic Miner , a rudimentary platform-and-ladders game, to the accompaniment of a tinny version of Hall of the Mountain King , played from a minute speaker hidden inside the keyboard.

    Manic miner was the first thing I thought of when I heard the first minute or so of this track . Trent Reznor must be a fan...

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Jim Cathcart,

    At this stage benefits are accruing to technophiles and shareholders but it appears that Apple has some way to go to improve its triple-bottom line business practice. Did Jobs share some responsibility in that? You would certainly have hoped so.

    You would. And it does seem that Apple has been much more engaged with the issue than most of the companies that use the same assembly plants.

    I'd be interested to know how the Foxconn plants in the Czech Republic, India and Brazil compare to the big one in Shenzen.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to BenWilson,

    Strikes me as an extremely unlikely thing to happen. The cost would not be great. The cost of entering long passwords adds up every day.

    As Stephen says, identity theft is a real concern. Not as much in NZ as the States, but it's there. And there are a number of very nifty tools for minimizing password re-entry on, for example, home computers (Firefox's master password tool, frex.) Of course, that password then needs to be high-security, but for that sort of usage there are plenty of hardcopy options for storage, and remembering *one* complex password on a regular basis is a much simpler proposition.

    Ultimately, of course, all security is a risk/cost analysis; what's the risk of a breach and what's the cost of stopping it? There are some pretty crazy password policies out there in the name of security that inevitably result in bypasses. Twenty random characters, changed every sixty days, never repeated, that sort of thing, which is fine if you work for the SIS or whoever, but ludicrous for pretty much everyone else.

    There's a middle ground somewhere. It's different for everyone, and different for work vs. home and for different types of work. Personally, I live with someone who is paid to lovingly maintain his tinfoil hat in regards to these matters, so I will never be allowed to live it down if anyone ever hacks any computer-related account I have, no matter the actual result. I have lots of incentive to care.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Lilith __,

    My first computer, in the early 80s, was a 48k Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

    I had the predecessor ZX81. The hours of fun I had programming sine wave curves and playing Orbit.

    This video is so trippy, especially the flashback of the noise for the tape loading the game.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    I will never be allowed to live it down if anyone ever hacks any computer-related account I have, no matter the actual result. I have lots of incentive to care.

    LOL, well that makes sense.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to recordari,

    Love the video, Jack! A friend of mine had a ZX-81 before I got my Spectrum, and I remember thinking it was terrifically exciting, although also quite hard work to have fun with. ;-)

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to recordari,

    I had the predecessor ZX81. The hours of fun I had programming sine wave curves and playing Orbit.

    Luxury. I learned to program from a book. Never even saw a computer up close until I'd gone right through several books on BASIC. Then a friend got the predecessor to the ZX81 - the ZX80. I hand wrote some games for it, tried them at his place.

    It was probably the most stoked I've ever been in my life when I came home one day and my folks had got a VIC20. 3K of RAM. I wrote at least 50 games for it.

    I was asked the other day at a job interview if I had any experience in writing tight code for smaller machines, like smartphones. I had to point out that my smartphone is 10 times more powerful than the first PC I wrote software on in the 90s, solving problems a hundred times more complex than what they were wanting.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Lilith __,

    I remember thinking it was terrifically exciting, although also quite hard work to have fun with. ;-)

    The kids today, they have no fun-related work ethic.
    Cue appropriate Queen song.

    I learned to program from a book.

    So did most people back then, as the computer sure didn't have a help menu.
    I guess you were one of those guys freezing games and giving them a POKE while playing. What we would do in those days for a PEEK and a POKE.

    ETA: If you can read that whole wiki page without smirking or losing control of your facial expressions, then you are a better person than I.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to BenWilson,

    I've got a project on the shelf at the moment involving coding for the ATTINY13A , with a generous 1k of ROM and 64 whole bytes of RAM.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    So did most people back then, as the computer sure didn't have a help menu.

    Yup and it wouldn't have helped anyway, because I didn't have the computer. When I say I learned it from a book, I mean I knew the language before I had even seen a computer use it.

    It was the first time I understood the value of a good manual too. The VIC had the best introductory manual I've ever seen. That's why it sold so well, enabling them to build the C64.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    I've got a project on the shelf at the moment involving coding for the ATTINY13A , with a generous 1k of ROM and 64 whole bytes of RAM.

    Heh, you anachronist, you. Do you also enact sword battles?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

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