Sunday, August 22, 2010

Big Brother isn't who you thought He would be

Do you remember the famous Apple TV ad most folks refer to as "1984" or the "Big Brother Ad?"

According to ARS TECHNICA Apple Computer has"applied for a patent on a method to differentiate between authorized and unauthorized users of a particular iOS device. Once an unauthorized user is detected, the device can then automatically disable certain features or send notifications to Twitter or other services.
The patent, titled "Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device," describes several ways a device could sense who is using an iPhone or iPad. Among the methods considered are voice print analysis, photo analysis, heartbeat analysis (!), hacking attempts, or even "noting particular activities that can indicate suspicious behavior."
If the various analyses detect someone who is not authorized to use the device, it could set off a number of automated features designed to protect the device's data, suss out the offending party, and alert the device owner. Sensitive data could be backed up to a remote server and the device could be wiped. The device could automatically snap pictures of the unauthorized user and record the GPS coordinates of the device, as well as log keystrokes, phone calls, or other activity.

I can see where it would be helpful to disable a stolen phone.

Some of those who comment on ARS suggest it could be a way for Apple to disable unlocked or "jailbroken" iPhones, although a US Court has ruled that jailbreaking phones is not illegal activity. Apple could bypass the ruling by defining jailbreaking and/or unlocking as "suspicious behavior." This is actually stated in the patent application. It could be made part of the Software User Agreement. If you don't agree, then your iPhone won't even start up.

Steve Jobs is now a multi-billionaire, and his peers own things like AT&T, Telcel, and major recording and film companies. These are the people he cuts his deals with... if Carlos Slim (Telcel owner and world's richest man) wants Mexico's iPhones only to sell through Telcel, then the unlocked and jailbroken phones have to stop working. Of course, that's a big IF and purely speculative. But the lust for power and unbridled greed have no boundaries.

Jobs is now part of the network of filthy rich guys.

On the lighter side of the argument, one commenter writes: "Apple should buy into cattle prod technology. If somebody steals my phone, i want the battery drained into the the person using it. I want them to flop on the ground like a seizing trout. Maybe it can detect a lack of heartbeat and stop the discharge to conserve enough battery to upload its current location."

Maybe we'll get to see that on YOUTUBE in the next few years, if Big Brother lets us.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

And you thought Jet Skis were bad...

New to emerge from the diabolical minds of recreational technologists is the shark-shaped Seabreacher X. A machine that can do 50 mph on the surface and 25 mph underwater, carry two people, and wreak havoc at your nearest anchorage.

Even at around $100,000 each, you can be sure the superyachts will keep at least one of these aboard for their spoiled kids/grandkids....

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pride in your work... from where does it spring?

This week we got our first taste of the monsoons and while the cool rain and cloud cover made conditions delightful outdoors, we did get some outdoors indoors.
This photo shows several leaks that occurred in our new condo addition during the rains. It was enough to have us putting buckets out, mopping and moving stuff when we'd rather be sitting and gazing out at the lightning.

I climbed up to the area and found this brick wall riddled with voids and holes in the mortar (not to mention the drainpipes that were disassembled and left on the roof). Somebody didn't give a damn, and the contractor who paid this bricklayer didn't check his work.

Anyway, this morning at 6am, I mixed up a batch of mortar, climbed up and patched the holes after wetting them down. We could, and maybe should have called the contractor to complain, and maybe we still will do that, but for now the problem is fixed. We're ready for the next rain, whether the contractor does anything or not.

In my experience, this kind of shoddy workmanship is more common in Mexico than the US.
It's particularly scary if you are trusting someone to fix your boat or car. I, for one, do almost all of my own repairs. It's cheaper and safer in the long run, but I do get tired of the constant job lists. I believe I have too many things and have embarked on the task of getting them to someone else, but that's kinda' off-topic. Another blog.

I learned pride in my work... a sense of craftsmanship, from Mrs. Mary Chandler. She was my art teacher from the 2nd grade to the 6th. A year after entering junior high school, she was my teacher again, and moved with me into high school. I'm surprised I didn't find her in my college classes, but she was instrumental in getting me into college level art classes at Carnegie Institute of Technology at the tender age of 14. She had engineered a scholarship for me.

Mary made me work through the hard parts, when I would have said, "Hey, that's good enough!" Good enough wasn't good enough. When I saw the results of the extra effort and attention to detail, it seemed worth it all.

In this world we all need someone like Mary. Even bricklayers.