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A Brief, Incomplete, and Mostly Wrong History of Programming Languages

Posted on May 25th, 2014 at 14:25 by John Sinteur in category: Software

[Quote]:

1801 – Joseph Marie Jacquard uses punch cards to instruct a loom to weave “hello, world” into a tapestry. Redditers of the time are not impressed due to the lack of tail call recursion, concurrency, or proper capitalization.


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  1. “1965 – Kemeny and Kurtz go to 1964.”

    “1986 – Brad Cox and Tom Love create Objective-C, announcing “this language has all the memory safety of C combined with all the blazing speed of Smalltalk.” Modern historians suspect the two were dyslexic.”

    Brilliant!!

  2. In the early 1990′s I used Smalltalk to prototype some really wonky stuff that I later implemented in C++. Now, that code runs about 80-90% of the semiconductor fabs in the world…

Capture image via captureStillImageAsynchronouslyFromConnection with no shutter sound

Posted on May 24th, 2014 at 14:16 by John Sinteur in category: Apple, Software

Brilliant!


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As Publishers Fight Amazon, Books Vanish

Posted on May 24th, 2014 at 11:47 by John Sinteur in category: Amazon, Apple

[Quote]:

Amazon’s power over the publishing and bookselling industries is unrivaled in the modern era. Now it has started wielding its might in a more brazen way than ever before.

Seeking ever-higher payments from publishers to bolster its anemic bottom line, Amazon is holding books and authors hostage on two continents by delaying shipments and raising prices. The literary community is fearful and outraged — and practically begging for government intervention.

“How is this not extortion? You know, the thing that is illegal when the Mafia does it,” asked Dennis Loy Johnson of Melville House, echoing remarks being made across social media.

Amazon is, as usual, staying mum. “We talk when we have something to say,” Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder and chief executive, said at the company’s annual meeting this week.

It’s a good thing the Justice Department fixed the ebook antitrust issues. Perhaps they need to punish Apple some more to take care of this?


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Google Plans to Show Ads Through Your Thermostat and Car

Posted on May 21st, 2014 at 22:10 by Desiato in category: Google, News

[Quote]:

According to a December letter sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission, which became public on Tuesday, Google hopes to put ads “on refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few possibilities.”


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Comments:

  1. Well, I guess I will have to do without refrigerators, car dashboards, thermostats, glasses, and watches, to name just a few devices.

  2. Are you opposed to Google or advertising?

  3. Weren’t we just talking about how hard it is to get staff who aren’t stoners?

  4. @rob: advertising.

  5. John, some strategically placed electrical tape will take care of those ads. :)

  6. How will I be able to read adds on the car’s dashboard when I’m on the phone all the time?

  7. @chas: Ah, good point! Clearly, this is a cunning plan to encourage acceptance of the self-driving car – provided by the Big G.

Bounden on Android delayed: we need your help

Posted on May 21st, 2014 at 11:14 by John Sinteur in category: Google

[Quote]:

In the Vine above are 7 devices all running the same compass app (ironically named Steady Compass) on Android. Yet, all compasses indicate that North is somewhere else. Unfortunately, this has nothing to do with electromagnetic fields confusing the compass; it has everything to do with the diversity of hardware inside these devices.

We have been developing Bounden for Android alongside its development on iOS, and have tested the game on a number of devices. It was only a week ago that we started expanding our list of test devices, after we quickly discovered that:

a) some devices had ‘broken’ gyroscopes that didn’t work on all axis,

b) that some devices were faking gyroscopes by mixing and matching the accelerometer data with compass data, or

c) that some devices did not have a gyroscope at all.


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Everything Is Broken

Posted on May 20th, 2014 at 20:27 by John Sinteur in category: Software

[Quote]:

Written by people with either no time or no money, most software gets shipped the moment it works well enough to let someone go home and see their family. What we get is mostly terrible.

[..]

Plus a system of automatic updates you keep putting off because you’re in the middle of Candy Crush Saga every time it asks.


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The Great Smartphone War: Apple vs. Samsung

Posted on May 6th, 2014 at 8:34 by John Sinteur in category: Apple

[Quote]:

According to various court records and people who have worked with Samsung, ignoring competitors’ patents is not uncommon for the Korean company. And once it’s caught it launches into the same sort of tactics used in the Apple case: countersue, delay, lose, delay, appeal, and then, when defeat is approaching, settle. “They never met a patent they didn’t think they might like to use, no matter who it belongs to,” says Sam Baxter, a patent lawyer who once handled a case for Samsung. “I represented [the Swedish telecommunications company] Ericsson, and they couldn’t lie if their lives depended on it, and I represented Samsung and they couldn’t tell the truth if their lives depended on it.”

[..]

It was the same old pattern: when caught red-handed, countersue, claiming Samsung actually owned the patent or another one that the plaintiff company had used. Then, as the litigation dragged on, snap up a greater share of the market and settle when Samsung imports were about to be barred. Sharp had filed its lawsuit in 2007; as the lawsuit played out, Samsung built up its flat-screen business until, by the end of 2009, it held 23.6 percent of the global market in TV sets, while Sharp had only 5.4 percent. All in all, not a bad outcome for Samsung.

The same thing happened with Pioneer, a Japanese multi-national that specializes in digital entertainment products, which holds patents related to plasma televisions. Samsung once again decided to use the technology without bothering to pay for it. In 2006, Pioneer sued in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas, so Samsung countersued. The Samsung claim was thrown out before trial, but one document revealed in the course of the litigation was particularly damaging—a memo from a Samsung engineer stating explicitly that the company was violating the Pioneer patent. A jury awarded Pioneer $59 million in 2008. But with appeals and continued battles looming, the financially troubled Pioneer agreed to settle with Samsung for an undisclosed amount in 2009. By then, it was too late. In 2010, Pioneer shut down its television operations, tossing 10,000 people out of work.

Even when other companies have honored competitors’ patents, Samsung has used the same technology for years without paying royalties. For example, a small Pennsylvania company named InterDigital developed and patented technology and was paid for its use under licensing agreements with such giant corporations as Apple and LG Electronics. But for years Samsung refused to cough up any cash, forcing InterDigital to go to court to enforce its patents. In 2008, shortly before the International Trade Commission was set to make a decision that could have banned the importation of some of Samsung’s most popular phones into the United States, Samsung settled, agreeing to pay $400 million to the tiny American company.


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Progress

Posted on May 1st, 2014 at 12:07 by John Sinteur in category: Software

The phone company gave birth to Unix. Now there is no phone company and Unix runs on your phone.


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Comments:

  1. There is no phone company?

  2. Also, who knows what Microsoft Research may yet come up with… ;)

  3. No, not any more. There’s a lot of VOIP providers, though. A “phone company” will deliver you voice over a copper pair. Maybe you can still find one or two niche companies that still do that, but mostly it’s gone.

Apple, Samsung, and Intel

Posted on April 17th, 2014 at 10:11 by John Sinteur in category: Apple

[Quote]:

Intel has already recognized that it is in the company’s long-term best interest to get into the ARM game in one capacity or another. At the same time, Intel no doubt has also recognized that it is not in the company’s short-term best interest to start producing large quantities of ARM-based chips for any company that asks. Intel has only so much production capacity, and the opportunity cost is too high to start producing low-margin ARM-based chips at the expense of its more profitable x64 processors. The company is at a crossroads: its short- and long-term best interests don’t align, and it has to choose one at the expense of the other.

That’s where Apple’s cash hoard comes in.

It’s interesting he doesn’t suggest Apple should outright buy Intel.

But as for building a chip factory for Intel, as well as the other worries he mentions, perhaps Apple should outright buy ASML to get a lead start on their EUV technology…


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Google Knew About Heartbleed and Didn’t Tell the Government

Posted on April 15th, 2014 at 12:28 by John Sinteur in category: Google, Security

[Quote]:

“I suspect that over the past eight months, many companies have taken a real hard look at their existing policies about tipping off the U.S. government,” he said. “That’s the price you pay when you’re acting like an out-of-control offensive adversary.”


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Heartbleed

Posted on April 14th, 2014 at 16:30 by John Sinteur in category: Software

[Quote]:

A novice asked of master Bawan: “Say something about the Heartbleed Bug.”

Said Bawan: “Chiuyin, the Governor’s treasurer, is blind as an earthworm. A thief may give him a coin of tin, claim that it is silver and receive change. When the treasury is empty, which man is the villain? Speak right and I will spare you all blows for one week. Speak wrong and my staff will fly!”

The novice thought: if I say the thief, Bawan will surely strike me, for it is the treasurer who doles out the coins. But if I say the treasurer he will also strike me, for it is the thief who takes advantage of the situation.

When the pause grew too long, Bawan raised his staff high. Suddenly enlightened, the novice cried out: “The Governor! For who else made this blind man his treasurer?”

Bawan lowered his staff. “And who is the Governor?”

Said the novice: “All who might have cried out ‘this man is blind!’ but failed to notice, or even to examine him.”

Bawan nodded. “This is the first lesson. Too easily we praise Open Source, saying smugly to each other, ‘under ten thousand eyeballs, every bug is laid bare’. Yet when the ten thousand avert their gaze, they are no more useful than the blind man. And now that I have spared you all blows for one week, stand at ease and tell me: what is the second lesson?”

Said the novice: “Surely, I have no idea.”

Bawan promptly struck the novice’s skull with his staff. The boy fell to the floor, unconscious.

As he stepped over the prone body, Bawan remarked: “Code as if everyone is the thief.”


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Comments:

  1. I like this a lot.

Be Still My Breaking Heart

Posted on April 12th, 2014 at 17:17 by John Sinteur in category: Security, Software

[Quote]:

Note that not all code, even in the same project, is equally exposed. It’s tempting to say it’s a needle in a haystack. But I promise you this: Anybody patches Linux/net/ipv4/tcp_input.c (which handles inbound network for Linux), a hundred alerts are fired and many of them are not to individuals anyone would call friendly. One guy, one night, patched OpenSSL. Not enough defenders noticed, and it took Neel Mehta to do something.

We fix that, or this happens again. And again. And again.

No more accidental finds. The stakes are just too high.


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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

[Quote]:

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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Heartbleed

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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Xbox

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

[Quote]:

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.

link


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Comments:

  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

[Quote]:

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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Comments:

  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

[Quote]:

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

[Quote]:

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

[Quote]:

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

[Quote]:

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

[Quote]:

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

[Quote]:

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

[Quote]:

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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Comments:

  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

[Quote]:

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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Comments:

  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

[Quote]:

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

[Quote]:

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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Comments:

  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

Finally!


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Happy 30th birthday!

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

1984macintosh


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