all your code base are belong to us

Okay, so it’s been a year since Microsoft purchased github for a cool US$7.5B. In today’s terms that’s merely Amazon’s annual gross in sales. Remember when a million dollars seemed like a lot of money?

For some of you who aren’t coders, you probably don’t understand the impact of this move especially within the context that Microsoft has a history of being sued for very questionable competitive practices. Github was likely the largest collection of freely-available source code in the public domain (also known as “open source”) and probably still so even after the acquisition. Do we even have to ponder the “why?” question at all?

allyourcodebase

Github had not just most of the open source code but it also contained countless private repositories from countless other entities. Imagine that almost overnight Microsoft then gained access to all the privately-held coding secrets of their competitors.

What does Microsoft really think of open source?

“The paradigm of freely sharing computer source code—a practice known as open source—traces back to the earliest commercial computers, whose user groups shared code to reduce duplicate work and costs. Following an antitrust suit that forced the unbundling of IBM’s hardware and software, a proprietary software industry grew throughout the 1970s, in which companies sought to protect their software products. The technology company Microsoft was founded in this period and has long been an embodiment of the proprietary paradigm and its tension with open source practices, well before the terms “free software” or “open source” were coined. Within a year of founding Microsoft, Bill Gates wrote an open letter that positioned the hobbyist act of copying software as a form of theft.” ~ Microsoft and open source – wikipedia

Is “Inner Source” actually Open Source?

Microsoft is now embracing something they’re calling Inner Source for their own internal coding. Clearly, Microsoft loves the infrastructure of tools and the free availability of open source… only they truly do not understand the idea of then sharing back with others.

Microsoft’s own Inner Source is like walking around the table in a poker game, freely viewing the cards in your opponent’s hands, purposely hiding your own cards and then expecting to be able to continue playing in the game.

Sorry, but I have to call bullshit on all this. Microsoft isn’t to be trusted. They’re not our friends. They’re stealing secrets from their competitors and they’re using those secrets to create closed-source software (business as usual). They’re destroying the very ethos of open source with every passing day.

new phone, new e-waste

I really enjoyed my iPhone 5S, to be honest. I liked that it was small enough to fit into any pocket I had. Part of Apple’s business plan appears to be to force older products into landfill by prematurely making them obsolete. And one aspect of that plan seems to be to strong-arm carriers like Comcast to not allow transfers of service onto older phones like mine. It’s too bad, really, because the phone otherwise works well for me.

The reason behind the carrier switch

I’ve recently moved and my Metro PCS (now T-Mobile) service is terrible here. And at $45/month that’s just not something I intend to keep.

Comcast’s up-sell attempt

So in Comcast’s retail store, the guy’s telling me that they can’t won’t transfer my phone number to an iPhone 5. “So how much is your used iPhone 6?“, I ask. (They want $450 plus tax which is so not going to happen.) He then gives me the hard-sell by suggesting that he could only give me the $100 transfer rebate by the end of tomorrow.

Somewhat-frantic used phone search

The next couple of hours involved me trying to find a local business which would sell me a used or refurbished iPhone 6 (noting of course that the iPhone X is the current model). I managed to find that Fry’s Electronics at the local branch had a refurbished one. And of course the sale ends by the end of that same day.

The purchase

So in this world-wind period I immediately jump into my car and visit Fry’s. Indeed, the sale ends on the same day so I’m reasonably forced to make the purchase on-the-spot. Of course, the phone has zero charge so I can’t even really verify that it’s not bricked. The price tag out the door is something like $180, less than half what Comcast would have charged me.

Metro PCS

I get the iPhone 6 home, charge it up (“100%”) and the next morning visit Comcast Metro PCS. You’re probably wondering why I didn’t just go straight over to Comcast. Because Comcast won’t just help me in this situation; they insist that the iPhone 6 be provisioned by my losing carrier first. So the Metro PCS people must be told by me that I’m innocently just upgrading my phone on the day before my new payment is due. I’m charged $15 for the changeover.

Comcast

Next stop is Comcast again and they can transfer the phone number. While the number is transferring, the iPhone dies from lack of battery charge. Er, what? It was 100% when I left this morning and I’ve barely used the phone. The iPhone 5S would go days before needing a recharge.

Research time

Back home—and with the phone on the charger again—I discover that Apple had a recall and a class action lawsuit regarding this particular phone with respect to the battery. I contact Apple Support to determine whether or not I can get the battery replaced for free. They indicate that they won’t pay for it but they can assist getting me into the service queue for the local store.

Apple Store

So I arrange the support visit at Apple only to find that I and many other people will be sitting here waiting to be helped for some time. I took the option to drop off my phone and to pick it up the following day.

The next day arrives and I find that I and many other people will be waiting some more to be helped for quite some time. I find it odd that a simple pickup like this took well over an hour. What I find even odder is that Apple would replace a battery and not charge it; the phone arrived with literally 0% charge and no way to determine whether the battery’s health was verifiable. The overworked support person—holding literally four products at once to deliver almost simultaneous to four customers—essentially put me on “ignore” when I indicated that it would be nice to know if my phone was working after the service-related activity. I think I paid $45 plus tax to get out the door.

New phone

So, now I have a new, working iPhone 6. Honestly, I didn’t need a new phone. I felt coerced into the upgrade to be honest.

Of course, then, I designed a new-and-improved holder for this one using Autodesk Fusion 360. It will clip onto the shoulder strap of my laptop bag and suitable for playing music while walking somewhere. I’ll print it on the 3D printer as soon as I get that unboxed and back in action.

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What next? (a.k.a. Combating e-waste)

I really have a hard time with this disposable-technology mentality. If we’re tied to a single operating system like iOS and it’s under Apple’s Machiavellian business plan then we’re left with two viable options: throw it away or change the operating system.

Having searched the Internet, I see no solutions in which someone has replaced iOS on an iPhone with anything like Linux. In theory, an older phone could be hacked as an amazing IoT device of some kind since the camera technology, RAM, processor and storage is killer compared to a Raspberry Pi, for instance. The street price two years ago for a used iPhone 5S was a mere $100 as I recall. So today, the street price of an iPhone 5 should be sub-$100. (I’ve just reviewed an eBay iPhone 4 ad which asks $7 as the price!) Imagine the supercomputer which you could build from a boxful of discarded iPhone 4’s and 5’s.

[Assuming that we’ve replaced iOS on each…] imagine the supercomputer which you could build from a boxful of discarded iPhone 4’s and 5’s…

  • I’m sure the average phone retailer has a stash of these in their back office and would be delighted to remove them from the playing field.
  • You wouldn’t need it to be a phone anymore or to have a carrier.
  • At it’s heart, the average (old) smartphone is a very fast computer with lots of RAM and an amazing camera and hard drive.
  • In the average supercomputer scenario, you wouldn’t worry about batteries since it would be tethered to power. Most battery-related issues could then be ignored.
  • In theory, you could create low-cost projects which involve sending multiple old phones up into the stratosphere via a helium balloon, collecting a 360° views and transmitting them back.
  • Similarly, you could create a drone submarine with a dedicated old phone at every porthole to capture and forward live, streaming video.

I’ll continue to look into this as an option. There has to be a way of hacking these phones. Just imagine the possibilities if you could.

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remember internet radio on itunes?

Years ago on macOS and when iTunes first came out, it included an awesome feature—you could easily stream Internet radio from within the interface in iTunes. Apparently that got in the way of Apple’s revenue on iTunes, always trying to sell you something.

morpheus

iTunes -> click on the down arrow next to Library -> Ctl+click Songs -> Edit List -> add a checkmark next to Internet Radio

 

And that’s all it takes to return this sought-after feature to iTunes.

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mojave, the last safe osx version?

Apple recently came out with macOS Mojave as the latest in a series of operating systems. Like most of us, you might believe that all upgrades are good upgrades. The truth is another matter entirely with respect to compatibility.

You probably didn’t know this but Apple is dropping 32-bit support in the next release.

They’ve been migrating to a full 64-bit operating system for several major versions now. You probably didn’t know this but they’re dropping 32-bit support in the next release. This is big news and it isn’t being talked about. Think of it as a means of extorting lots of money from the community of Apple developers. If those developers haven’t purchased new computers and they haven’t upgraded to the very latest version of XCode and if they haven’t paid their annual developer fees year after year then they won’t be able to exist in the next major version of OSX. Their apps just won’t work unless they comply.

What does this mean?

Simply put, perhaps a quarter of the OSX apps—especially those you have paid for—will not run anymore.

Apple’s quiet announcement

Behind-the-scenes, Apple has put up a page which warns developers what’s coming. But it’s not like they’re actually warning their own users NOT to upgrade their operating system. Of course, we’ll be nagged daily to upgrade as usual. Imagine how angry you’ll be some day in the future where you endure the typical hour-long upgrade only to find out that your Adobe Photoshop doesn’t run after the upgrade. Typical of Adobe, they’ll likely end support for the version of their software that’s only 32-bit and you’re caught in the crossfire.

How to tell

Here’s how to tell if a particular app won’t work with the next major release of OSX:

Apple menu -> About This Mac -> Software -> Applications -> select application -> 64-bit: yes/no

In this example, we see one of the pieces of programming provided by Adobe indicates “No” in that field meaning it will stop working soon.

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You can adjust the sizing of the report’s columns and then to sort by that 64-bit heading to show a list of the ones which won’t work.

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You have to laugh when you seen two of Apple’s own apps in that list and they’re responsible for their updates of course.

rip, red hat

Say it isn’t so.

Since the end of October is all about scary stories… Just on the heals of Microsoft buying github for US$7.5B last year, IBM has now has purchased Red Hat Linux for a cool US$34B dollars.

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Granted, I haven’t used Red Hat in a few years mostly since it is one of the few paid UNIX-based operating systems out there. Ubuntu, backed by Canonical, is clearly the better choice for anyone who knows what’s going on.

IBM is the antithesis of open-source software, as is Microsoft. This is just sad. But good riddance. Now get in the hole, Red Hat.

this-is-capitalism

intel edison

I recently purchased the (now discontinued) Intel Edison Breakout Board Kit from Fry’s Electronics. I’m guessing that I overpaid for this product offering by Intel since they’re only $23 at the time of this writing.

edison

I assume that there was a moment a few years ago in which Intel must have thought that they needed to enter into this whole IoT business and rule the space, given their history. I’m sure they were made confident in the sheer volume of Raspberry Pi and Arduino boards being shipped each year. “How hard could this be?”, I’m sure they asked themselves before venturing out into terra incognita.

Setting it up

Setting up the board was a bit different from earlier attempts with either Raspberry Pi or Arduino boards. Intel decided that it would have you use a paired-down Linux customization called Yocto to generate the operating system. The result is a slim o/s with just enough breathing room for things to run.

Additionally, it uses not one but two micro-USB cables to your workstation for a fair bit of that setup which seems unique. The first connection powers the Edison and creates a virtual network adapter and can be used to flash the code. The second is strictly serial and can also be used to communicate with the board. From the specifications, it includes two UARTs, for what it’s worth. Once setup, you can power it from the single connection, however.

At times, this duality can lead to trouble as seen when attempting to connect the Edison within Intel’s System Studio software. It was unable to connect using the hostname alone since this would try to use the wi-fi connection rather than the (expected) serial connection within their own software.

The Edison comes equipped with both Bluetooth and wi-fi. I would like to say that setting up the networking was easy; it wasn’t. I found the labyrinth of documentation to be daunting at times. The initial suggestion to get the chip running simply failed. I then had to do enough research to chase an alternative path to setting it up by using their Platform Flash Tool Lite version. Having then successfully connected the wi-fi to my network, I then attempted to see what was under the hood.

NodeJS

I was pleased to see that their own configuration utility which boots by default runs as a Node service. Once configured, the web interface provides little information than you probably already knew by inspection. They call their implementation of Node Intel XDK which is of course discontinued as well now.

System Studio

Intel provides an IDE for programming these devices. One needs to register in order to download the software. Having installed the interface, it’s easy to be impressed at how complicated the interface looks. It’s a lot like Microsoft Visual Studio with its number of panels and such.

Unfortunately, all this doesn’t work—we’re just talking about the “Hello World” example and it simply doesn’t work on the Edison. A single shell script called device-detection.sh does not appear to include the code for the device and further, throws a fatal syntax error in the Yocto bash itself.

Unfortunately, this means that any code compiled for the Edison uses the wrong target and so won’t run. Searching within their user community forum doesn’t result in anything useful so I’ve decided to abandon System Studio for the moment.

Arduino software

It looks like another option is to use the Arduino IDE software to push code to the Edison, assuming that we’re talking about C++ or similar compiled code. I haven’t tried this yet but I’m not sure if I really want to leave the relative comfort of JavaScript for C++ for this project anyway.

GPIO pins

Like a Raspberry Pi or an Arduino board, the Edison has GPIO pins. They’re just available on the back of the breakout board in this case. There is also a space for adding a barrel connector for power, should you want.

edison_rear

Overall impression

At a discounted price of $23, this falls into the middle range between a Raspberry Pi Zero W ($5 plus $6 for microSD) and the Raspberry Pi 3B ($35 plus $6 for microSD) price points. It can host a diminished Linux stack, serve up Node applications and appears to have two full UARTs at your disposal unlike the Raspberry which only has one full UART.

It’s probably okay for a few IoT projects but I doubt if I’d try to spin up a grand solution given its discontinued status. It was a good exercise in getting my feet wet with my first Yocto configuration at least.

I find myself disappointed with Intel’s inability to succeed within this product space. I could only guess how they failed at this; I have to assume that the right people skills were not included in the teams which contributed to this.

microsoft news

REDMOND, Wash., Oct 8, 2018 /PRNoisewire/ — On Monday, Microsoft Corp. announced new in-field promotions for users of the Windows 10 operating system. In a news brief, Microsoft CEO Natya Sadella says the company will replace existing STEs (Software Test Engineers) at the company with the product users themselves, removing the unnecessary positions at Microsoft. “By promoting our own users to in-field STEs, we’re streamlining the process of identifying and eventually dealing with the bugs in our operating system…, not that there are many.”

“Understandably, these are of course unpaid intern positions being offered to each user of Windows 10 but just think how great that will look on their resumes”, Sadella continued. “Who doesn’t want to work at Microsoft?”

MICROSOFT CORP- LOGO Logo

“We’ll be allowing Windows 10 users to include this position on their resumes for free for a period of twelve months. Afterwards, they may continue to do so by signing up with Microsoft ResumeFodder 365 on a month-by-month basis”, Sadella explained.

Nasdaq:MSFT responded favorably to the news, up $3.52 at market close.

one-line edit, no more google $$$

In reading articles today entitled “You can’t boycott Google” and “They Tried to Boycott Facebook, Apple and Google. They failed.” I would suggest that neither Adrianne Jeffries nor Jack Nicas, respectively, understand the power of activism. People do have personal power but only if they’re willing to accept this fact.

Case in point, today I made a one-line edit to my laptop’s hosts file. It’s so easy that it only took a moment of my time. And what great thing, you might ask, did I accomplish doing so? In a one-line edit, I just removed Google’s revenue stream for their search engine.

In a one-line edit, I just removed Google’s revenue stream for their search engine.

2jjzsp

Remove Google’s adSense from Websites You Visit

The beauty in all this is the simplicity. Even the mighty Achilles had his weakness in the form of a vulnerable heal. Much of Google’s ongoing stream of income relies upon those ad impressions. Remove the impressions and you remove their revenue.

Remove the [Google ad] impressions and you remove their revenue.

And let’s face it, we didn’t really want to see those ads in the first place. They’re annoying, they vie for your attention in ever-newer distracting ways and they use your paid-for bandwidth all the while and without your permission.

  • OSX:  Open a Terminal and enter the command: sudo nano /private/etc/hosts
  • Windows:  Start -> Run -> cmd -> Choose the option to Run As Administrator, notepad c:\windows\system\drivers\etc\hosts

In either case, add the following line and save/exit: 127.0.0.1     *.googlesyndication.com

Let’s See the Difference

Going now to the website which apparently ranks the highest in Google adSense revenue, I show what their website looks like without those ads.

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See all those empty regions? Yep, those were the ads. The page loads faster. The page doesn’t now try to update the ads while I’m trying to simply read the content. It’s now a lot quieter and easier to take in the information.

Less Impressions -> Now You Have Google’s Attention

This is all it will take to make a difference in the world. If others follow suit and take my advice, this revelation of personal power as seen in the aggregate might just change the way these big players operate.

It’s all up to you, though. What do you really have to lose (other than those unwanted advertisements)?

logistics

A while back and for an entire year, I did logistics for a third-of-a-million-square-foot plastic manufacturing plant in Tennessee. It looks like I may be returning soon to this field but in a decidedly-cooler sort of way.

Then

For that plant, I managed nearly every aspect of the company’s business: accounting, inventory, carriers, shipping/receiving, purchasing, documentation and labeling, systems design and management, website design and implementation, processes to improve productivity, you-name-it. Basically, I took over every aspect of my manager’s job except for welding and aluminum mold fabrication.

Daily, I drove a forklift and a pallet jack. I unloaded and loaded shipments. I climbed 60′ racks without any safety gear holding a clipboard in my teeth to do inventories. I mixed more tons of plastic by hand than I can remember, lifting each 30# bucket over and over again. With a forklift, I pulled replacement molds for the crew from inventory.

I ran a CNC machine to cut both plastic and wooden parts. I assembled pallets of parts, always optimizing so that the customer would pay the least for their order.

I drove a scissor-lift to 70′ to replace industrial-sized lightbulbs. I wired 120/240VAC circuits, sometimes three-phase. I repaired a CNC machine, the joystick control on the scissor-lift and the half-million dollar robotic ovens by Rotoline.

I swept the floors, I picked up and recycled parts dropped by the day crew, always being careful to remove anything from the floor which could puncture a tire. I drained water from the air lines. I both figuratively and literally put out fires.

I did color studies to make sure that the plastic was to specifications. I staged multi-truckload orders so that the correct several hundred pallets made it onto those trucks.

I maintained inventory levels for everything that went into these parts whether it was shrink-wrap, tape, labels, bolts, screws, raw plastic, colorants or the large cylinders of material which go into making foam. And yes, I manned a foam station at times.

I designed a layout and colors for the showroom floor and then stained its concrete to look like a beach. It turned out beautifully, btw. I could throw a roll of labels to the line crew at at distance of 40 yards and right into the hands of the intended receiver, saving all those steps and time.

I did cost accounting, determining that they were losing $6 each on their best-selling item. Across-the-board, I adjusted their prices and shipping quantities which actually resulted in happier customers.

In the span of just one year there, I doubled their sales, doubled the pallets shipped and most importantly, doubled their profits. Sixty thousand parts went out the door in 12 months.

Now

Today, it looks like I might be returning to this world in order to automate this same industry with technology. As a software developer in the IoT space, I’ll be challenged to deliver logistics solutions. Fortunately, I have the unique cross-experience of developer and logistics manager in one. I think I’ve got this one.

Academia

When I imagine the average college graduate tackling this same assignment, I have to just shake my head. How could the average college-trained engineer or MBA ever truly understand what it’s like to manage a warehouse and to manage supply chains?

In fact, I can’t even imagine the curriculum that could be crafted to take someone in a classroom setting alone and adequately prepare them for a task like this. Frankly, only back-breaking labor can prepare you for a task like this. Only existing in a warehouse day after day could prepare you for this.

Frankly, only back-breaking labor can prepare you for a task like this.

In my humble opinion, labor is missing from the academic path to success. And hard labor—the kind that can’t be accomplished in a business shirt—is the difference between success and failure in life.

Anyone with true experience in life, having personally sweated at a job is much less likely to create a business model which includes the exploitation of the labor of others. Could I ever expect someone in prison to make my products all day long for pennies? No, because I’ve actually worked for a living and I can empathize.

If you asked an MBA what it takes to maintain a plastic manufacturing plant, you can imagine that he/she wouldn’t know 1% of what I know about the same topic. And yet, as a society these people are highly-paid. Academia has lied by suggesting that you don’t need to know the details in order to succeed. And the only way to really know the details is to do the job itself.

Stepping back from all this

Every day we trust these big corporations to know what they’re doing, to behave in ways which are moral and to succeed without causing harm to others. The problem I see is that we are programmed to believe that only college graduates can and should run companies. As I hope to have demonstrated here, I don’t think there will ever be a way of teaching real-world skills in a classroom alone.

Assuming for a moment then that corporations are run by unprepared people, there are bound to be problems as a result of this. What I usually see in a college graduate is someone who sees the profitability and success from a perspective colored by their own optimism and ignorance of the actual world around them. They see the business through rose-colored glasses, in other words.

Perhaps it’s time that we stop putting so much faith in corporations and universities and more into the value of simple, hard work experience on the job somewhere. The only way to really know something is to live it.

boycott google

We reasonably expect that our service providers are not secretively working against its consumers/users and reporting search results to governments. In this case, if a Chinese citizen did a Google search which included marked keywords their name, GPS location and phone number were forwarded to their government. It is well-known that this then would eventually result in imprisonment and they will now be forced into slave labor to make consumer goods so that Wal-Mart can sell a toaster for $6.

When Google executives worried that the memo would somehow break out to the media, they then attempted to suppress the story by threatening emails, using technology to know who complied internally.

I think this needs to stop. And by “stop”, I’d suggest an all-out boycott of Google.

I think this needs to stop. And by “stop”, I’d suggest an all-out boycott of Google.

Google employees are reportedly resigning over China search efforts

Closer to Home

In a similar troubling story, Google employees are also protesting and resigning over its involvement with the DoD.

Project Maven: Nearly a dozen Google employees have reportedly quit in protest

DuckDuckGo Steps Up

I see that today the plucky DuckDuckGo.com search engine alternative has obviously read the news as well.

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The Corbett Report

Please watch this video. If you’re familiar with the character from the popular television show The Colbert Report, you might accidentally think that these are the same people (they’re not). Note the slight difference in spelling.

https://www.corbettreport.com/?powerpress_embed=24412-podcast&powerpress_player=mediaelement-video

Suppression of alternate media

As described in the video and demonstrated by the search engine comparison, Google has been caught manipulating the results in such a way that they are manufacturing public opinion. The days of valuing Google as an objective provider of search results are over; they’re no longer the “good guy”.

If you specifically depend upon independent media as opposed to the national media, GoodGopher.com has that option.

Change your search provider

Follow my lead and change your search provider today. Don’t wait for things to get worse.