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Why is Amazon paying workers up to $5K to quit?

Posted on April 12th, 2014 at 13:42 by John Sinteur in category: Amazon


Amazon.com hopes the workers in its scores of fulfillment centers across the USA are happy in their jobs.

But if they’re not and would rather be doing something else, Amazon has a deal: The company will pay them a bonus — up to $5,000 — to leave.

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Posted on April 10th, 2014 at 15:07 by John Sinteur in category: Security, Software

A consequence of this principle is that every occurrence of every subscript of every subscripted variable was on every occasion checked at run time against both the upper and the lower declared bounds of the array. Many years later we asked our customers whether they wished us to provide an option to switch off these checks in the interest of efficiency on production runs. Unanimously, they urged us not to—they already knew how frequently subscript errors occur on production runs where failure to detect them could be disastrous. I note with fear and horror that even in 1980, language designers and users have not learned this lesson. In any respectable branch of engineering, failure to observe such elementary precautions would have long been against the law.

– C. A. R. Hoare, from his Turing Award speech 34 years ago

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Posted on April 8th, 2014 at 12:12 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft

Systems and services are so insecure today that a 5 year old might bypass them.

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Microsoft makes source code for MS-DOS and Word for Windows available to public

Posted on March 25th, 2014 at 22:33 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


On Tuesday, we dusted off the source code for early versions of MS-DOS and Word for Windows. With the help of the Computer History Museum, we are making this code available to the public for the first time.


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  1. Anyone remember Doonesbury’s first meeting with Windows 95?

    “It’s printing out its list of demands…”

  2. So, now they’re not the Evil Empire? Let me find my “Sex, Drugs and Unix” button (the T-shirt no longer fits :-)

  3. the T-shirt no longer fits

    I feel your pain…

Apple’s iPhone 5c ‘failure flop’ outsold Blackberry, Windows Phone and every Android flagship in Q4

Posted on March 22nd, 2014 at 18:02 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


From the constant harping about the supposed “failure” of Apple’s iPhone 5c, you’d think the phone is selling poorly. The reality is that middle tier model, while dramatically less popular than Apple’s top of the line iPhone 5s, still managed to outsell every Blackberry, every Windows Phone and every Android flagship in the winter quarter, including Samsung’s Galaxy S4.

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  1. You’d think that Apple was trying to gain marketshare with the new model rather than keep losing. ‘The constant harping’ was based on numbers as the quarterly earnings were not as predicted, and actually Apple’s own CEO Tim Cook had this to say about their middle tier model: “It was the first time we ever ran that play, and demand percentage turned out to be different than we thought.” ‘Different’ being the politically correct term for lack of expected succes, otherwise he would have bashed the success-drum a lot more loudly.

    The iPhone marketshare has been dropping for three years now, so even if it outsels the other models on individual basis (which is an odd comparison considering Apple sells two different new models now compared to many more from other manufacturers), that still does not make it the success it was intended to be.

Yahoo, Google and Apple also claim right to read user emails

Posted on March 22nd, 2014 at 16:48 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Privacy, Security


Microsoft is not unique in claiming the right to read users’ emails – Apple, Yahoo and Google all reserve that right as well, the Guardian has determined.

The broad rights email providers claim for themselves has come to light following Microsoft’s admission that it read a journalist’s Hotmail account in an attempt to track down the source of an internal leak. But most webmail services claim the right to read users’ email if they believe that such access is necessary to protect their property.

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Apple Explains Exactly How Secure iMessage Really Is

Posted on March 1st, 2014 at 11:23 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


Millions and millions of people use iMessage every day. But how many people know exactly what’s going on behind the scenes, or what happens to a message once you send it?

Maybe a handful. Up until now, the vast majority of what we knew about iMessage’s inner workings came from reverse engineering and best guesses. This week, however, Apple quietly released a document that breaks it all down.

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Tim Cook Soundly Rejects Politics of the NCPPR, Suggests Group Sell Apple’s Stock

Posted on March 1st, 2014 at 11:19 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


Mr. Cook’s comments came during the question and answer session of Apple’s annual shareholder meeting, which the NCPPR attended as shareholder. The self-described conservative think tank was pushing a shareholder proposal that would have required Apple to disclose the costs of its sustainability programs and to be more transparent about its participation in “certain trade associations and business organizations promoting the amorphous concept of environmental sustainability.”

As I covered in depth yesterday, the proposal was politically-based, and rooted in the premise that humanity plays no role in climate change. Other language in the proposal advanced the idea that profits should be the only thing corporations consider.

That shareholder proposal was rejected by Apple’s shareholders, receiving just 2.95 percent of the vote. During the question and answer session, however, the NCPPR representative asked Mr. Cook two questions, both of which were in line with the principles espoused in the group’s proposal.

The first question challenged an assertion from Mr. Cook that Apple’s sustainability programs and goals—Apple plans on having 100 percent of its power come from green sources—are good for the bottom line. The representative asked Mr. Cook if that was the case only because of government subsidies on green energy.

Mr. Cook didn’t directly answer that question, but instead focused on the second question: the NCPPR representative asked Mr. Cook to commit right then and there to doing only those things that were profitable.

What ensued was the only time I can recall seeing Tim Cook angry, and he categorically rejected the worldview behind the NCPPR’s advocacy. He said that there are many things Apple does because they are right and just, and that a return on investment (ROI) was not the primary consideration on such issues.

“When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind,” he said, “I don’t consider the bloody ROI.” He said that the same thing about environmental issues, worker safety, and other areas where Apple is a leader.

As evidenced by the use of “bloody” in his response—the closest thing to public profanity I’ve ever seen from Mr. Cook–it was clear that he was quite angry. His body language changed, his face contracted, and he spoke in rapid fire sentences compared to the usual metered and controlled way he speaks.

He didn’t stop there, however, as he looked directly at the NCPPR representative and said, “If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.”

It was a clear rejection of the climate change denial, anything-for-the-sake-of-profits politics espoused by the NCPPR. It was also an unequivocal message that Apple would continue to invest in sustainable energy and related areas.

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IT Threat Evolution: Q1 2013

Posted on February 27th, 2014 at 23:12 by John Sinteur in category: Google


A total of 99.9% of new mobile threat detections target the Android platform.

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Stephen Wolfram’s Introduction to the Wolfram Language

Posted on February 26th, 2014 at 14:42 by John Sinteur in category: awesome, Software

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Working Backwards to the Technology

Posted on February 26th, 2014 at 14:17 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


At WWDC in 1997, Steve Jobs, having just returned to Apple, held a wide-open Q&A session. There’s video — albeit low-quality VHS transfer? — on YouTube. It’s a remarkable session, showing Jobs at his improvisational best. But more importantly, the philosophies and strategies Jobs expressed correctly forecast everything Apple went on to do under his leadership, and how the company continues to work today. In short, he’s remarkably open and honest — and prescient.

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Apple’s failure to pay for favorable media coverage flies in the face of Samsung’s payola

Posted on February 24th, 2014 at 18:12 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


It would appear that if Apple wants to rein in the targeted negativity the tech media loves to dish out, it will need to begin spending billions like Samsung to promote tweets, push favorable reviews, pay spiffs as incentives to retail sale promotion and generously ply journalists with free products.

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Steve Jobs slated to grace US postage stamp in 2015

Posted on February 23rd, 2014 at 14:23 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


The US Postal Service hopes Steve Jobs can do for it what he once did for Apple.

The late Apple co-founder will be featured on a commemorative US postage stamp in 2015, according to a US Postal Service list of approved subjects obtained by The Washington Post. Usually kept secret to maximize buzz over stamps’ subjects, the list includes subjects the post office plans to commemorate on stamps for the rest of this year and the next couple of years.

The stamp will be a little bit more expensive than usual and it comes only in 2 colors, it will have rounded corners.

And finally Apple haters can give his backside a lick…

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  1. Knowing Mr. Jobs’ proclivities, it’ll be self-adhesive.

On the Timing of iOS’s SSL Vulnerability and Apple’s ‘Addition’ to the NSA’s PRISM Program

Posted on February 23rd, 2014 at 9:01 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Security


Jeffrey Grossman, on Twitter:

I have confirmed that the SSL vulnerability was introduced in iOS
6.0. It is not present in 5.1.1 and is in 6.0.

iOS 6.0 shipped on 24 September 2012.

According to slide 6 in the leaked PowerPoint deck on NSA’s PRISM program, Apple was “added” in October 2012.

These three facts prove nothing; it’s purely circumstantial. But the shoe fits.

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  1. Jobs passed away a year before that. What do you think that this would have happened if he were still alive in 2012? Snowballs have a better chance in Hell I believe…

  2. Rumor has it Samsung is gonna copy and paste this bug in about 2 weeks.

Microsoft Employees Fondly Remember Days When CEOs Were So Big They Took Up Entire Rooms

Posted on February 6th, 2014 at 8:26 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


Following Tuesday’s announcement that company vice president Satya Nadella had been named Microsoft’s new chief executive officer, many of the software giant’s older employees reportedly reminisced about an earlier era in the tech industry’s history when CEOs were so large they took up entire rooms. “When you look at our brand-new thin, mobile CEO, it’s hard to even imagine that these guys were once so gigantic that a warehouse-sized space was needed to hold one of them,” Microsoft senior developer Glenn Maloney told reporters, noting that despite Nadella’s impressive memory capabilities and ability to engage in complex operations, there was something “kind of charming” about relying on a bulky old CEO that weighed several tons and required an extended staff of engineers to maintain. “Sure, those giant executives were a little cumbersome and a whole lot slower, but I always liked being able to walk into a climate-controlled vault and see a humming CEO crunching numbers.” Maloney noted, however, that despite their difference in size and ability, tech CEOs of today were still essentially the same calculating, unfeeling machines underneath their exteriors.

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A Gem From The Archives: We Revisit A Mac Doubter

Posted on January 26th, 2014 at 11:54 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


PETER MCWILLIAMS: I think they’re hoping people are going to fork out $2,500 for a computer for their home. And I can’t see it.

ADAMS: What do you get for the $2,500 now?

MCWILLIAMS: What you get is a screen, a nine-inch screen. You get a keyboard. You get 128K of RAM, which is internal disk storage. And you get a 3-1/2-inch disk drive.

ADAMS: Let me translate a bit here or try to translate. You’re saying it has a very good memory. It has a 3-1/2-inch disk drive, which is not compatible with other computers. What’s the standard size, then?

MCWILLIAMS: The standard is five-and-a-quarter inch. And they have made a corporate decision that the 3-1/2-inch drive is going to make it. I don’t see it myself. But this whole computer is a calculated risk on Apple’s part. If the world is ready to accept a brand-new standard, this machine will make it. If it’s not, the machine won’t make it.

And it will have certain specialized applications like in architectural firms and so forth. But on the whole, it’s gambling that the world is ready to accept a new standard. My personal point of view is that the world is not.

BLOCK: That’s the late author Peter McWilliams, talking with our former host Noah Adams 30 years ago tomorrow, January 25th, 1984. They were talking about Apple’s Macintosh computer, which had just been introduced.

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  1. Because generally authors make great tech commentators. *eyeroll*

Macintosh 128K Teardown – iFixit

Posted on January 25th, 2014 at 9:09 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


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Happy 30th birthday!

Posted on January 24th, 2014 at 9:12 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


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Adware vendors buy Chrome Extensions to send ad- and malware-filled updates

Posted on January 19th, 2014 at 14:10 by John Sinteur in category: Software


A first-hand account of this, which was first spotted by OMGChrome, was given by Amit Agarwal, developer of the “Add to Feedly” extension. One morning, Agarwal got an e-mail offering “4 figures” for the sale of his Chrome extension. The extension was only about an hour’s worth of work, so Agarwal agreed to the deal, the money was sent over PayPal, and he transferred ownership of the extension to another Google account. A month later, the new extension owners released their first (and so far only) update, which injected adware on all webpages and started redirecting links. Chrome’s extension auto-update mechanism silently pushed out the update to all 30,000 Add to Feedly users, and the ad revenue likely started rolling in. While Agarwal had no idea what the buyer’s intention was when the deal was made, he later learned that he ended up selling his users to the wolves. The buyer was not after the Chrome extension, they were just looking for an easy attack vector in the extension’s user base.

And although extensions are sand-boxed, they can replace URL’s in a request. They will replace a 70mb download of DELL_AiOXXXX.exe from dell.com with a 1.7mb setup.exe full of real nasty stuff from a less reputable site..

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  1. Daaaang.

Samsung Vs Apple

Posted on January 13th, 2014 at 15:32 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, If you're in marketing, kill yourself

It’s hard to believe that the people who did the recent Apple ad and the people who did the recent Samsung ads live on the same planet.

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  1. One promises sex with a snow bunny, the other eternal life. Which is more realistic?

  2. Apple is Tiffany, Samsung is Target.

  3. Sue – in my case, probably eternal life….

  4. @Mark: lol…did you consider joining the furries?

  5. The snow bunny? :-)

  6. I don’t know why, but when I was watching the Samsung commercial, I thought of those old Axe body spray commercials…

  7. To get a selfie, put the watch on the other wrist.

The Codeless Code: Case 123 Order and Chaos

Posted on December 20th, 2013 at 19:21 by John Sinteur in category: Software


A certain monk, known for the elegance of his code, had a habit of refactoring the code of his fellows to match. “For inconsistency multiplied becomes chaos,” he would explain, “and chaos breeds complexity, and complexity brings confusion, and confusion is the mother of ten thousand defects.”

Master Suku< — who above all prized the cleanliness of code—heard of this. She approached the monk, saying, “I require your assistance in correcting a problem.”

Suku revealed to the monk a great repository, home to the source code for the Temple’s most ancient application. Over the course of decades an uncounted procession of monks and nuns had passed through its hallowed directories: adding, removing, refactoring, refining, trying a new framework here, a new approach there. Several times the entire code base had been migrated from one language to another, scarring the deeper layers with unfathomably bizarre design patterns. Within one utility class the naming conventions were so wildly inconsistent that the monk grew dizzy and had to lie down on the floor.

“Bring order to chaos,” said Suku, and went out.

The monk proceeded in earnest to rewrite the application in the style he had perfected over so many years. He chose a glittering new framework to replace the many rusty ones, then picked one dusty corner of the repository and worked slowly outwards: adding, removing, refactoring, refining.

The monk had converted the merest fraction of the files when there came a pounding on his door.

“Emergency!” said the breathless abbot outside, grabbing the monk by his robe and pulling him out the door. “Disaster! Disorder! Deadline! Doom! Not enough people and not enough time; you’re needed at once, come on, come on!”

The monk protested, calling for someone to fetch master Suku that she might intervene, but the abbot merely flipped the monk onto his backside and dragged him down the hallway like a noisy sack of rice.

That evening Suku found the monk, tied to his new workstation by many coils of strong rope.

“I have seen your commits in the great repository,” said the master, drawing a long knife which she placed at his throat. “Where once there had been a hundred styles, there now are a hundred and one.”

She made a quick motion. The monk cringed, expecting to feel his life blood spilling inside his robe. Instead the knife only severed one strand of his hempen bonds.

“Not perfect, but better,” said Suku, and went out.

She did likewise for one hundred evenings until the monk was freed.

Afterwards the monk meddled less with the code of his fellows, and instead began to pride himself on his ability to mimic the design patterns of others when modifying their applications.

“It is still a truth of refactoring,” he now said, “that sometimes one must introduce chaos to bring order, just as the road to the sea must sometimes scale a mountain before it turns downward again. Yet order is not a destination: merely a direction from complex to simple, from more to less. The master asked for less but I thought only of one, and chose a path worthy of a hailstone when simple subtraction would have sufficed.”

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Qualcomm Employee: 64-Bit A7 Chip ‘Hit Us In The Gut’

Posted on December 17th, 2013 at 11:24 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


“Apple kicked everybody in the balls with this. It’s being downplayed, but it set off panic in the industry.”

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  1. He’s baaaaack!

Snowden document reveals key role of companies in NSA data collection

Posted on November 3rd, 2013 at 1:57 by John Sinteur in category: Google, Microsoft


The key role private companies play in National Security Agency surveillance programs is detailed in a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden and published for the first time on Friday.

One slide in the undated PowerPoint presentation, published as part of the Guardian’s NSA Files: Decoded project, illustrates the number of intelligence reports being generated from data collected from the companies.

In the five weeks from June 5 2010, the period covered by the document, data from Yahoo generated by far the most reports, followed by Microsoft and then Google.

Between them, the three companies accounted for more than 2,000 reports in that period – all but a tiny fraction of the total produced under one of the NSA’s main foreign intelligence authorities, the Fisa Amendents Act (FAA).

It is unclear how the information in the NSA slide relates to the companies’ own transparency reports, which document the number of requests for information received from authorities around the world.

Yahoo, Microsoft and Google deny they co-operate voluntarily with the intelligence agencies, and say they hand over data only after being forced to do so when served with warrants. The NSA told the Guardian that the companies’ co-operation was “legally compelled”.

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  1. Heb jij laatst in mijn email ingebroken?

  2. If I was a conspiracy enthusiast, I might start thinking this whole dustup with the NSA is intentional theater.

Patent war goes nuclear: Microsoft, Apple-owned “Rockstar” sues Google

Posted on November 1st, 2013 at 16:01 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Google, Intellectual Property, Microsoft


Canada-based telecom Nortel went bankrupt in 2009 and sold its biggest asset—a portfolio of more than 6,000 patents covering 4G wireless innovations and a range of technologies—at an auction in 2011.

Google bid for the patents, but it didn’t get them. Instead, the patents went to a group of competitors—Microsoft, Apple, RIM, Ericsson, and Sony—operating under the name “Rockstar Bidco.” The companies together bid the shocking sum of $4.5 billion.

Patent insiders knew that the Nortel portfolio was the patent equivalent of a nuclear stockpile: dangerous in the wrong hands, and a bit scary even if held by a “responsible” party.

This afternoon, that stockpile was finally used for what pretty much everyone suspected it would be used for—launching an all-out patent attack on Google and Android. The smartphone patent wars have been underway for a few years now, and the eight lawsuits filed in federal court today by Rockstar Consortium mean that the conflict just hit DEFCON 1.

Google probably knew this was coming. When it lost out in the Nortel auction, the company’s top lawyer, David Drummond, complained that the Microsoft-Apple patent alliance was part of a “hostile, organized campaign against Android.” Google’s failure to get patents in the Nortel auction was seen as one of the driving factors in its $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola in 2011.

Rockstar, meanwhile, was pretty unapologetic about embracing the “patent troll” business model. Most trolls, of course, aren’t holding thousands of patents from a seminal technology company. When the company was profiled by Wired last year, about 25 of its 32 employees were former Nortel employees.

The suits filed today are against Google and seven companies that make Android smartphones: Asustek, HTC, Huawei, LG Electronics, Pantech, Samsung, and ZTE. The case was filed in the Eastern District of Texas, long considered a district friendly to patent plaintiffs.

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  1. I am still amazed that the *scoundrels* who ran Nortel into the ground managed to get away it.

The Codeless Code: Case 116 Trust No One

Posted on October 28th, 2013 at 14:15 by John Sinteur in category: Software


Several monks of the Laughing Monkey Clan found their brother in a state of great anguish, typing frantically at his workstation.

“What vexes you so?” they asked.

Said the monk: “When new business rules are delivered next year, my code will need to be updated. Today the abbot told me who will be assigned this task, and my heart sank. He is an impatient fool who scorns documentation and breezes by comments, electing instead to guess the purpose of everything by name alone. Thus I must idiot-proof every class and method.”

The monk pointed to his screen. “Here he will be tempted to modify this object’s properties, so I must make it immutable to prevent disaster. Here he will surely mistake the purpose of this parameter, so now I must check for an illegal argument wherever it is used.” The monk collapsed upon his keyboard. “Ten thousand curses upon that imbecile, Taw-Jieh!” he wailed. “That he of all people should be chosen to maintain my code!”

The other monks looked at each other uncomfortably.

“But you are Taw-Jieh,” said one.

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  1. Sometimes I just have no clue what you guys are talking about around here…

  2. When trying to decode this I followed the link and found a helpful guide in the document, on the top right, where it said “not geeky” (page 106 – the I in team) which led me to the geekiness ratings:

    ” The geekiness ratings
    In an effort to reduce frustrations on the part of the reader, the author has ranked each case by the following criteria:

    Not geeky.
    If you know what a computer is, then you can probably understand this. I’m not saying you’ll enjoy it, but you’ll probably understand it.

    Slightly geeky.
    Involves some basic software development concepts. Testing. Software reuse. Infinite loops. Caffeine.

    Moderately geeky.
    Oriented towards the casual hacker or the technology enthusiast. If you’ve programmed in something resembling a modern software language — Java, C++, Python, Perl — then you’ll be fine. Prolog developers will probably find the syntax quaint and insufficiently cryptic. Lisp developers will get eye-strain while habitually scanning for the first left-parenthesis.

    Extremely geeky.
    Intended for hardcore developers, particularly of the Java variety. If C# is your language, you may wish to translate the kōan first by Needlessly Capitalizing Nearly Every Damned Word.”

    According to this rating I am not geeky, I can see the item has some humour, but this is really an in-joke for programmers.

Google: Our Robot Cars Are Better Drivers Than Puny Humans

Posted on October 27th, 2013 at 1:30 by John Sinteur in category: Google


One of those analyses showed that when a human was behind the wheel, Google’s cars accelerated and braked significantly more sharply than they did when piloting themselves. Another showed that the cars’ software was much better at maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle ahead than the human drivers were.

“We’re spending less time in near-collision states,” said Urmson. “Our car is driving more smoothly and more safely than our trained professional drivers.”

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  1. My 1998 car is smarter than I am. I’m surprised it lets me drive.


Posted on October 20th, 2013 at 10:30 by John Sinteur in category: Microsoft


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  1. Love this picture, especially since Win8.1 won’t fit on anything smaller than a DVD. However, the label stating that this is disc 1, 2, etc. of 3711 is a good one! Kudos to the creator. :-)

  2. If one floppy weighs about 20 grams, then this upgrade would weigh 74.22 kg, or about 163.6 lbs. I don’t want to think about the cost of postage.

    What I’m not as sure of, is whether 3711 is sufficient to meet the storage requirement for this upgrade.

  3. And disk 3708 will fail.

Introduction to Abject-Oriented Programming

Posted on October 16th, 2013 at 18:19 by John Sinteur in category: Software


Abject-oriented programming is a set of practices for encouraging code reuse and making sure programmers are producing code that can be used in production for a long time. The number of lines of code in the application is a common measure of the importance of the application, and the number of lines a programmer can produce in a day, week, or month is a useful metric for project planning and resource allocation. Abject-oriented programming is one of the best ways to get the most lines of code in the shortest time.

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  1. Ah yes, more whacky futuristic coding practices that no-one will ever implement :-)

And Then Steve Said, ‘Let There Be an iPhone’

Posted on October 5th, 2013 at 10:07 by John Sinteur in category: Apple


The preparations were top-secret. From Thursday through the end of the following week, Apple completely took over Moscone. Backstage, it built an eight-by-eight-foot electronics lab to house and test the iPhones. Next to that it built a greenroom with a sofa for Jobs. Then it posted more than a dozen security guards 24 hours a day in front of those rooms and at doors throughout the building. No one got in without having his or her ID electronically checked and compared with a master list that Jobs had personally approved. The auditorium where Jobs was rehearsing was off limits to all but a small group of executives. Jobs was so obsessed with leaks that he tried to have all the contractors Apple hired — from people manning booths and doing demos to those responsible for lighting and sound — sleep in the building the night before his presentation. Aides talked him out of it.

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Google’s Datacenters on Punch Cards

Posted on October 1st, 2013 at 17:50 by John Sinteur in category: Google


Who watches the watchers?

Apparently, Domino’s.

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