The religion of Apple

You weren’t just imagining the cult-like behavior of the average Macintosser:

Apple devotees are notorious for their steadfast dedication to the computer and gadget manufacturer, standing in line for hours and sometimes days just to be the first to try out a new piece of hardware. According to a new study, the areas of the brain which produce that tenacity in Apple fans are the same spots that fuel religious fervor.

Scientists using an magnetic resonance imagine (MRI) machine presented Apple fans with images of the company’s popular gadgets. Upon doing so, they found brain activity that mirrors how a religious person’s brain reacts when presented with a picture of their chosen deity.

As Chesterton once said, when people cease to believe in God, they don’t believe in nothing; they believe in anything. Including, apparently, Steve Jobs.

No worries

It appears Blogger is having serious technical difficulties. One can only presume Facebook is behind it. Normal posting will resume at the earliest opportunity.

A semblance of sanity

IP addresses are not people. And in related news, routers will not be permitted to vote in the 2012 election:

A possible landmark ruling in one of the mass-BitTorrent lawsuits in the US may spell the end of the ‘pay-up-or-else-schemes’ that have targeted over 100,000 Internet users in the last year. District Court Judge Harold Baker has denied a copyright holder the right to subpoena the ISPs of alleged copyright infringers, because an IP-address does not equal a person.

I’ve never understood the idea that an Internet connection can reasonably be pinned to a single individual. Even if there is only one computer connected to the local area network, who is to say that a different individual was not on the machine? But, given the 40-year war on common sense being waged by the U.S. judicial system, I suppose any semblance of sanity is to be celebrated.

Android is less evil than Apple

Talk about damning with faint praise…. Anyhow, being an Android user myself, I was concerned about reports that Google was doing the same thing as Apple in collecting location data on Android users. After looking into the matter, however, the behavior of the two companies appears to be rather different. The reason for my concern was that I had always kept the two options for location tracking, wireless and GPS, turned off, and it seemed astonishing that Google would be so stupid as to attempt to give its users a false sense of location security while secretly tracking them against their clear wishes as determined by their chosen settings. However, numerous people looking into the matter have determined that off really is off.

If you want to find out whether your Android phone is collecting location information tap Menu, Location & Security. You will see the screenshot shown above, which has two options for how your phone collects location information, either via wireless networks or by using GPS satellites. If you do not want your location information tracked, clear both check boxes.

Be aware that if you turn off location tracking, apps like Google Maps that show your location will not work. If you decide to turn location tracking back on, you will see the screen as shown below, telling you that you are allowing Google’s location service to collect anonymous location data, and that collection will occur even when no applications are running.

In other words, the real “problem” with Android is that people who have either never looked at their location settings or ignored at least one, and usually two, pop-up warning that their location will be tracked, don’t realize that they have opted in to location tracking. That’s not an actual problem; although it would be preferable if the default option was always set to off, the total cluelessness of many, if not most users, make it understandable why Google would have the default option set to on. The point is that it’s not nefarious and unlike Apple, Google has provided a way to completely turn off location tracking.

That being said, it is obnoxious that Google ties Android to a Gmail account and it would be vastly preferable if it did not do so. But it’s still to be preferred to the sheltered life in Apple’s technofascistic walled garden.

Can’t say I didn’t warn you

About the technofascists at Apple:

This is sort of a big deal. Apple is, without your consent or any warning labels, logging all of your iPhone’s location data and then transferring it over to your computer when you backup or sync your iPhone. The information is easily accessible — unencrypted and in a standard database format. (The option to encrypt is there, though I haven’t tested whether this option obscures your location data.)

Upshot? Any program you install or anyone you let on your computer could access this data, giving that program or that person full access to where you were and when you were there.

Check out the link. They have a map they were able to make of one of their employee’s locations. This is pretty egregious and is likely to have some unexpected ramifications. Just to give one example, given how popular iPhones are with women, it shouldn’t be hard to see that this “feature” is going to lead to more than a few divorces and breakups in the near future.

Killing the Internet

Succession riots in Egypt:

Egyptians are telling me Egypt’s internet has been disabled and that mobile phone service may be next. Twitter, used to coordinate public protests, has already been cut off.

This tends to raise the question… why does Obama feel that he needs a kill switch for the US internet?

Tech update

Needless to say, I was much amused by this patent application in light of all of the Macintossers initially dismissing the multibutton approach and declaring how stylistically horrific it is. Clearly it is much better to imitate the multibutton approach, only to do so in a manner that forces one operate by sight instead of by touch and places the virtual buttons directly under one’s palm, if for no other reason than Apple has blessed the approach.

Speaking of comparing the effectiveness of different interface approaches, we’re going to be releasing the performance results of various mice soon and it looks to be a bit of a scandal. We have compiled strong empirical evidence indicating that in between the switch from mechanical rollers to optical sensors and the advent of the the multibutton interface, there has been essentially no actual performance difference between so-called high performance gaming mice and cheap office mice. Here is a comparison of four mice, two of which have multibutton support and two of which do not. The difference in performance between the two multibutton mice is the result of their different approaches to the interface; there is a reason, after all, that clumsy people are described as being “all thumbs”. That comparison marks the fastest speeds recorded at 1920×1200 resolution, whereas the sustainable speeds that one can reasonably expect to maintain in consistent use are about 15% slower on both the conventional and multibutton interfaces.

Finally, on the practical application side, there is a new video focused on Mozilla Firefox and demonstrating how the default Firefox mode operates for those who might be interested.

Mailvox: le progrès, c’est moi

Remir throws down the gauntlet:

If you can beat an extrapolated 6.9 s for 10 clicks on a Meta, I will buy one. Likewise, if you beat 13.8 s for 20 clicks on a Meta, I will eat myself whole live on the Internet.

Now, I’m not saying that 21.59 s is slow, since it approaches the superhuman. I’m merely pointing out that you can’t reasonably expect to beat a jet with a propeller, even if it’s a turboprop.  Who needs extrapolation when you can simply do it for real?  Better start filing those teeth, Remir.

In addition to shattering the development team’s records, I thought it was interesting to note that the best of the 10 times that went into the 6.89 time was only 0.59, considerably slower than the present record of 0.41 that went into the 6.80 I clocked a few minutes later.  This led to an emotional epiphany in which I suddenly realized that I am presently at the very apex of human progress. The entire history of Man’s technological development and achievement over the millennia currently culminates right here: le progrès, c’est moi. Being a man who lost his fifth gear more than a decade ago, I harbor no illusions that this historical landmark in man-machine relations will be not surpassed soon, perhaps even today. But for one brief, shining, glorious moment, on a planet of 6,894,600,000 people, I can legitimately claim to be the world’s fastest mouser.

Speed freaks

Speaking of technological visions, as the Dread Ilk are aware, I am not in the habit of making assertions that I am not fully prepared to back up. In light of this, Markku and I have created a means of verifying our claims regarding the speed of our new mouse interface. While this is designed to permit one to test the Meta interface against the traditional interfaces, it also happens to serve as an excellent means of testing one mouse against another on the traditional point-and-click interfaces. We also included 20 of the most common hotkeys simply to see how the three mouse interfaces fared against it, but that’s really neither here nor there since practically no one uses more than five or six of the basic ones and you don’t leave your finger positioned over the Ctrl key in normal usage.

So, if you’re interested in trying it out and seeing how fast your mouse is against the best and average times of our interface, you can download the 5.3 meg zipfile here. Unzip it, click on the executable, and you’re in. First maximize the window, then select the interface you’re testing under Options; you can’t use Meta unless you have one, of course. Click on the black button with the blue logo to start the timer and it will stop once you click on the correct icon or menu. The logo will flash green, the timer will stop, and the logo will turn blue again, waiting for your next click.

Do at least 20 to get an average score, although 100 is better. If you have a high performance gaming mouse, please email me with the mouse model and your best average for 100 on icons and menu. You can see how it compares with my scores and the development team’s record scores below – I managed to beat the best single time but couldn’t maintain that pace.  And if you can beat Markku on his Logitech MX-518 on the menus, (34.19 for Menu 20 at 1920×1200 resolution), I’ll be very impressed indeed.

The end of Apple

My implacable hatred for Apple’s relentlessly fascistic vision of technology notwithstanding, I am a longtime admirer of Steve Jobs. I even regard him as somewhat of a role model since I am as confident in my own technological visions as he is in his. It is his unique talent for not only having a vision but also successfully communicating it that makes his recent departure so potentially ruinous to Apple:

Apple has not elaborated on the reasons for Steve Jobs’ medical leave, and it probably won’t unless/until it has to. As a result, those who care about the company and Steve can be forgiven for wondering how serious Steve’s condition is and for looking for clues about this in every communication.

In this vein, in our opinion, the wording of one sentence of Steve’s email to Apple staff is not encouraging: “I love Apple so much and hope to be back as soon as I can.”

In our opinion, those are not the words of someone taking a short leave who is confident he will be back at the company soon (or ever). Rather, in our opinion, they read like the tragic, heartfelt sentiments of someone who thinks he might never be coming back.

I wish Steve Jobs all the best and sincerely hope he makes a full recovery in order to come back and subject a new generation of Macintossers to imprisonment in his beautifully landscaped, walled-in, fascist, techno-utopian garden.