* Posts by Acidbass

29 publicly visible posts • joined 1 Jun 2007

Apple as a religion: How the iPhone became divine


Century of the Self

I think the Adam Curtis documentary 'Century of the Self' does a great job of explaining, indirectly, the Apple religion thing. Its premise is that psychoanalysts in the fifties, led by Freud, defined human desires as blind, uncontrollable things which advertisers quickly found they could play off. It wasn't very subtle - there are plenty of hilarious '50s adverts to back this up - and when people started to reject the technique and proclaim individuality the advertisers found that they could still sell goods by appealing to that individuality: by imbuing the essence of a 'lifestyle' into the product people could demonstrate their individuality by way of that lifestyle: A is into the environment and drives a Prius, while B is clearly a suit, evidenced by the Benz. As different as their values might be they both paid money for their cars and are proud of what they say about them. A positive end-result for Toyota and MB, and a process we call 'branding' and accept as a normal part of life.

And that's exactly what Apple, and many others, do. The adverts, the blogs, Steve Jobs himself are all promoting a way of life that you can be proud to advertise to people around you. The reason the haters hate apple so much is because their ad agency is particularly good at this lifestyle marketing thing and every person on here with an opinion one way or the other is able to conjure up an image in their mind of a mac user. The users identify strongly with this image while the haters, for whatever reason, reject it. The actual demographics of mac users probably vary wildly from the stereotype, however, a testament to how well the psychoanalysts have abstracted positive associations into that stereotype: so the brickie with the iPhone has it because 'it just works' or 'it's cool' and that's more important to him than 'but the cost of that simplicity is reduced configurability' or whatever. The fact is that their ad agency's analysts and statisticians (ironically probably using windows pcs to run their SPSS analyses on) have identified that more people are into 'it just works' than 'I want to install an RFC2324 client on it'.

The point is that marketing a product based on lifestyle attachments is a technique used by firms that want to increase sales and thence return a profit. That's their only motivation, and some of us buy into the lifestyle and defend it because it resonates with our beliefs while others reject the marketing philosophy in favour of making an informed choice about the most functional product. Thus the difference between the fanbois and the haters, and the strength of feeling in the particular case of Apple, is actually down to acceptance/rejection of the lifestyle marketing technique rather than the actual products.

To call this a religious effect is to miss the point that, actually, religions are doing the same thing. By promoting a way of life which people are proud to demonstrate to others - by wearing special headgear or an icon on a necklace - the organisers get followers and thence money. Hence also why opinion is so divided between those who worship and those who don't: it's really about whether you view that kind of association-based promotion as manipulation or not.

Will 'wi-fi on steroids' give you spots, baldness and liver damage?


Liver spots

Hypothetical situation: your arbitrary fixed-band wireless device doesn't work because your neighbour has a badly-behaved white-space device. You'd start to wish you had your own white-space device which does nothing more than 'reserve' the bit of the spectrum your fixed-band box needs. It would be sold in the kind of paper shop that sells headphones and faded plastic toys.

Having bought this device, which works great because it has many lights on it, your neighbour's white-space thingy switches to another band, messing up their neighbours on the other side, and so they get one too and the white-space box starts using the GSM band in desperation. Eventually you have fifty of these things in your house squatting all the local spectrum and charging a toll on drivers who wish to use their phone while driving past your house, and you're in court in three weeks to argue the toss with her-over-the-road who's claiming she had first dibs on all the Wifi channels. You have to sell your car to pay for lawyers and electricity, and the stress gives you liver spots.

So yes to the byline.

Police drop BT-Phorm probe


AC@1550 has it nearly right

I don't think this was ever about advertising, that's just the cover story. Describe it as 'the Home Office's latest system for intercepting communications within its borders' and it doesn't sound so bad, it's just the latest in a long line of schemes which we've been living with for years. Dress it up as an advertising trial being run by one of BT's 'trusted third party associates' and you can then run a plausibly deniable trial, complete with semantically devoid Home Office legal advice. If it gets rumbled you can let everyone vent steam about the evils of advertisers and move on to the system the *other* company was building for you with a different cover story.

It all makes perfect sense really. Of course the home office, information comissioner, police, etc. are not going to investigate, they're the clients!

The funniest aspect of all this is that the admirable Mr. Hanff has probably got a special branch operative listening in to all his phone calls, but the good news is that they won't bust his dealer because it'll show their hand.

Ballmer eggs on Hungarian student


@ bowlax re cow eggs

They're those massive shiny black eggs you see in freshly-cut hay fields, that's their natural habitat. The farmers take them away with tractors and stack them up next to the farm then next spring they hatch. Least I tell children that anyway...

Spanish bull breeder to clone prize stud

Gates Horns

3.1.2 - Incantations, Dark

'By exposing the bulls to such a soul-crushing, futile and painful end, the bullfighters can separate some hand-wavingly undefined essence of the animal from its owner, which improves their character sheets as well as those of their party members and other people like the breeder and the eater of the testicles. The incantation grows more powerful as it's repeated, in the usual xp-per-level geometric series, and casts an equivalent Dark Gloom over most of the rest of the world, giving the bullfighters a further net increase in power differential against everyone else. They can leverage this differential in order to sleep with many people, and it pays for their leccy.'

Bull Gates because now you've got the same glorious scene playing out in your heads too.

Tiscali chief plots sell-off


re: vigliacco anonimo

Oh I don't know, there's something masculine about venice... maybe it's all those chaps using their poles to get about.

I bid 2 gallons of two-stroke mixture and a vespa. Ciao!

Boffins: Antimatter comes from black holes, neutron stars


@everything comes in twos - offtopic and long

A spaceship could totally descend through the atmosphere like a skydiver and not experience the burning-up, but it would have to slow down first. The man in a balloon is 'orbiting' the earth geosynchronously, by virtue of being coupled with the atmosphere, and so he has no net velocity in the tangential plane (neglecting wind currents). He's held aloft by his balloon and when he lets go he falls straight down, as viewed from someone down on the planet.

An orbiting spacecraft isn't held aloft by a positive bouyancy and so it isn't really 'aloft' in the same way: it's actually falling (at least, being accelerated towards the centre of the planet) but also it's travelling at right angles to the path it would fall so fast that, in the time it takes to fall a small distance towards the planet it's moved past the planet by such an amount (think of right-angled triangles) that it's no further away from the planet's centre, but is a few millidegrees round the orbital path and travelling with the same speed in a direction at right angles to the line between it and the centre of the planet, which is the identical situation to above but for a small rotation, so the same thing happens again and you move a few more millidegrees. It's all one smooth motion, and as you're out of the atmosphere (mostly) there's very little friction to slow you down and you can maintain an orbit with no energy input for a long time (the moon does not have engines, as far as I know, although that would be very cool).

The height of the orbit determines the linear velocity of the object, which is very high (>>thousands of mph). This is why geosynchronous orbit (its linear velocity as it travels round the earth is such that it covers one rotation in 24 hours, in the same direction as the planet rotates and therefore staying above the same spot) is a certain orbital band (i.e. between this height and this height). BTW outside the atmosphere you aren't influenced by the planet's rotation and you can orbit the planet travelling the opposite way, or from pole to pole, but inside the atmosphere you get dragged around with the planet.

To lower the orbit relative to the planet you just decrease your linear velocity, and gradually you enter thicker and thicker atmosphere, which exerts more and more friction. If you want to land, you have to slow right down from thousands of mph to zero (relative to the rotating earth now so you have to account for that too but it's a smaller effect). If you're moving too fast then contact with the atmosphere generates huge friction (the force is linearly proportional to velocity and in the opposite direction) and you burn up. This is what happens to shooting stars and whatnot, and why the shuttle has the heat resistant pads.

So the skydiver starts at height z with no horizontal velocity and no vertical velocity, and as he falls he accelerates (-d2z/dt2 - negative and second order with respect to time). His parachute exerts a drag force (dz/dt - positive and first order with respect to time) which reduces the effect of the acceleration. He's still accelerating though, and the faster he goes the greater the friction force until it counteracts the force exerted by gravity. At this point he is no longer accelerating, but still travelling at speed. The size of the parachute determines this eventual speed, aka terminal velocity. You aim to have this low enough to be able to survive impact at that speed, so it's far too low for the frictional forces to burn you up (although if you're skydiving from high altitude you'd have to wait until you got into atmosphere to deploy your parachute, at which point you might be travelling faster than terminal velocity and would need to slow down to it, so it might be close).

The shuttle on the other hand is also at height z and with no vertical velocity but a lot of horizontal velocity which is enough to make it burn up in contact with the atmosphere, and it loses some of it by decelerating with its engine until it can take the atmospheric friction, at which point it sheds the rest of its velocity that way. If it does it right it will find itself flying through the sky like a plane, and it then stays aloft by aerodynamics and lands like a plane.

The difference between the two is the amount of energy they initially posess. They may be in the same place in the sky (for a moment at least) but they have very different inertias and it's the shedding of this inertia which generates the heat, as it's done by friction. The shuttle could slow down using engines instead but it would have to use twice as much fuel then, which would mean taking even more fuel in order to get it up there in the first place.

Orbital mechanics are quite complicated, cause you've got two reference frames (one being the rotating planet, the other being the nonrotating surface of the planet's volume), two coordinate systems (rectangular works at small distances like manchester to london but spherical works better for orbits), and a gradual boundary between them, where teh atmosphere thins to next to nothing, and two very different inertia levels, the difference between them being determined by the gravitational pull of the planet and thus ultimately by its mass (escape velocity is a measure of the difficulty of getting off a planet of a certain size that comes from this difference in energy levels). To calculate orbits and burn times you need to factor all this in - I suppose it must be like sailing, where the world is divided into two half-spaces, each with a different vector field of instantaneous force vectors (wind currents and sea currents). The boundary between the two fields is more defined than in orbital mechanics though.

I would get my coat but I don't need one as my hull is impervious to atmospheric effects.

UK.Gov green lights nuclear power


@James: the reason

You have the reason right there. Sham consultations, ignorance of existing white papers, all the usual crap to porkbarrel his bro. At least he's looking out for his family, that makes him slightly less of a shit in my eyes.


@Chris: UK uranium deposits

Cornwall. Along with tin, radium and others. Perhaps the secessionists do have a viable plan after all...

Lord Triesman on P2P, pop-ups and the Klaxons


Auntie should be in charge

We should task the BBC with content distribution. They have excellent technical people and a public-service remit, as well as being a long-standing nurturer of culture (cultureculturalists?): they'd do a good job of it.

They'd hold all the tunes, films, ebooks, etc., and supply them un-DRM'd in a variety of flexible formats (net, dvb, dab) for fair prices, which are passed to the artists with a concession for running costs.

This would nicely complement the way we already pay them a fixed fee and they broadcast a huge variety of their own and other people's material, which we're historically used to recording on our videos/cassettes for repeat viewing/listening. And instead of trying to guesstimate how many people watched it they can just get the numbers off the backend server, straight from the horse's mouth as it were.

Your bedroom producer can upload their stuff too, and try and get people to pay for it. If you build it, they will come. The beeb gets to trawl it for the good stuff, in a 1Xtra style (they'd have to stop shouting 'SCLUsive!' as it would be both redundant and irrelevant, so more bonuses).

Thinking about it, they should just go the whole hog and let artists have a myspace style page to promote themselves too, it always pains me to have to go to myspace to check out a friend's tunes, but imagine if they could give you a snappy username to put into the national media portal, and you could get a flac of their latest bass extravaganza or their three-minute animated film in HD, without farting about with your usb stick and cds (i mean how oldskool is that?). Linux users will wait patiently (and silently) for this utopia, correct in their understanding of the windows implementation as a development prototype on some flaky but inexplicably popular devkit, with the real thing to follow when the concept had been proven.

You feel far less used giving money to the beeb than to BMG et al. I'd give my bank details to david attenborough and so would you. You could roll the monies into the licensing fee somehow, or whatever, the details are something else you can probably trust them to work out fairly.

Ooh, got a minute swelling of national pride there for a moment. Anyway as long as HMRC get the same from the whole endeavour as they currently do, and the artists get a reimbursement commensurate with their success (as defined, hopefully, by their talent as opposed to marketing funds), and the consumers get to not line the existing distributors' pockets then everybody's happy except the recording industry, and they'll either adapt to changing market conditions or just have to take it like the weavers and the blacksmiths and the miners. They're not as hard as the miners either and we can take them in a ruck if it came to it so we'll just front them out. They'll go into consultancy and the world will keep turning.

So if you happen to know that the BBC are bastards and I need a flame-thrower aimed at my rose-tinted glasses... wait till tomorrow will ya?


BBC boosts staff morale with jelly


@Ashley Pomeroy

No, not "aaah".

Rubbish UK management crushing creativity


@Boss Hog

I'm gonna have to ask you to go ahead and come in on sunday.

Mozilla hits back at Firefox 3 quality slur


@robert ramsay

Only for driving tests : )

Anyway as long as you don't mix them with monoamine oxidase inhibitors I believe you'll be alright. Now then I must make sure I uninstall that ecstasy plugin...

Is the world ready for a 1TB iPod?


Can I just say

640k should be enough for anyone.

Becks shows Scientology some rispek


Valentine Michael Smith

My two-penn'orth: amfM's more cryptic posts make a great deal of sense when I'm stoned. I think of it as a matched filter.

Also, 'weasel words'. A beautiful phrase, and every time I see its use I consider it to negate the shame brought to our language by one (1) use of said weasel words (sometimes I like to choose which particular utterance is negated, but reviewing the candidates takes a long time...)

Lords debate airline liquids ban


the strength of cat-5 (offtopic)

I just replaced the rear subframe on my car, upon which the petrol tank rests. While I jacked the subframe down I held the (empty) petrol tank in place with cat-5 tied round the shocks.

I didn't test whether it worked afterwards, because it didn't work beforehand.

Don't ask me why I keep broken network cables lying around, except that this one was bright green and looked pretty, and I was proved right in that 'it would come in useful one day'. And I did cut the rj45s off it, i'm not a complete noob. I was also tempted to leave it on as a truly unique geek mod - "mugen grille, koni shocks, powerflex bushings, 100Mbit/s petrol tank retainer etc." Anyone know if I can use SATA cable for my HT leads...?

Also, in this case the IT angle was about pi/4, that being the angle between the network cable and the shocks at the points it was tied off. Paris Hilton made the tea and I found that a stack of iphones and powerbooks was an inferior axle stand when compared to a 4U chassis containing a windows 98 cd. The inference is clear.

Don't worry about the coat, I just need my rohde and schwarz hat.

Boffins develop quantum-computer building block


Re: who is the walrus?

Donny, you're out of your element.

Apple slashes iPhone prices


Re: OS-X

>Re: "Have you ever actually used Oh Es Ten?"

>Isn't that just Linux with an annoying pointy-clicky interface on top?

I thought Darwen was based on BSD? Now those guys knew how to argue the relative merits of operating systems. If in doubt, fork!

Love to see that happen now: "I defy any of you NetMacOS lot to claim your system has less unpatched exploits than my OpenFreeWindows distribution" (which isn't open or free, natch). Fanboys these days can barely spell, let alone mount a coherent argument; let's not even mention going off in a huff and writing their own bloody module/driver/whatever to make the point. And the saddest thing is that this isn't through a paucity of CS graduates...

Still, it's entertaining to watch them go at it, even if it makes you feel ashamed to have enjoyed it, like those youtube videos where care workers get their clients to fight each other.

Okay so I made that up but you'd watch it wouldn't you, then feel bad that you had. It's like that watching fanboys argue, but I just... can't... help it... (Cade Metz doesn't help, blatantly fann(boy)ing the flames. Keep it up.)


Vauxhall Tigra Sport?

No wonder you posted anonymously. My Apple iVtecHondaAccord will blatantly rinse you out anyway.

<dons fireproof coat and leaves>

<Pops head back round door quickly to note that>

interestingly, the car industry seems to have got away with requiring you to buy ten thousand pounds worth of special tools just to change a rear subframe. Anybody got a 7mil Allen key? What about a 15mil spanner? Thought not. Closest I can find is those torx keys you use to change the batteries on apple phones.

Wii named fastest-selling console in UK history



If the base variable is the number of units sold (or equivalently the difference in unit sales between the two) then the rate at which the deficit in/decreases is the first derivative, and the relative change in that rate is then the second derivative.

This is just about meaningful to non-maths people, because you can make the analogy with acceleration, but the third derivative? Reagan really was a joker. We think Dubya is the worst they've ever had, but we forget there've been others like him. Maybe not quite so utterly gormless in appearance but still.

Just my \frac{d}{dp} (p^2) worth.

Siphoning MySpace tunes using Safari


The comic-book-guy technique

Personally I prefer to plug my opensolaris wristwatch into a promiscuous hub and packet dump the traffic as the other box streams it off myspace. I use a perl script to mark up the datagrams into xml then use this nifty safari plugin to filter out the ones belonging to the mp3, before reassembling the stream by hand using a set of emacs macros I wrote (in vi).

I don't actually listen to the audio, as doing it this way I feel I have a much deeper appreciation of the contents.

P.S. I hope you can supply me with an IP row-ter for my token-ring/ethernet lan config-yuration?

MIT in Matrix 'Crowd Farm' plan


Effect on crowd psychology

Asssuming this was practical and got implemented, the effects on crowd dynamics would be interesting. You'd get the drive-to-work-watch-telly-all-night people actively avoiding the piezo-tiles, because it would 'tire them out', and the people who quite rightly object to not being reimbursed for their increased energy expenditure would start using snow shoes or something, ideally with adblockers in them, and then the lentil-welders with organic children will be getting them to run around on the tiles all day in an effort to get them to sleep that night.

You can imagine that, if this stuff was installed in certain areas (let's say the concourse of a large train station) there'd be whole swathes of the crowd moving to the edges to try and walk along the easier paths, or taking some tortuous back route across the tracks, indian style, and also the power walkers (those ppl who run up the stairs in between the escalators and get to the top faster and with an increased feeling of self-satisfaction) would be surging through the tiled area - "makes you tired? don't know what you mean, it's invigorating".

Reminds me of the simpsons episode where homer renames himself max power and chains himself to a tree, and some steve jobsalike rides in on an eco-scooter "powered only by my sense of self-satisfaction".

It's been said above. Ride to work. It's not going to win any prizes for novelty but if we all did it then the greatest inhibitor to riding to work would be eliminated, that being the (sizable) proportion of drivers who have no road-sense whatsoever.

Half of European calls to be mobile by 2008



They all use 0870 numbers because they earn call-share revenue, by which I mean your call charge is higher and the organisation running the shoddy support line at the other end of it get a proportion of that. Kind of like premium rate numbers, but without the stigma.

And then of course they stick an autoattender on it, so rather than sit listening to a ring tone (which costs you no money) until they're ready, the very fact that they have less staff than they need earns them money because you have to pay the operator to listen to the PBX' ring tone instead.

Is that not the rudest thing you've ever heard of? (cue lots of examples of ruder things).

Check out saynoto0870.com, you can often find a geographical alternative to 0870/0845 numbers (IIRC, all non-geographic numbers have to point to a geographic one which is accessible, the organisations involved just try to hide them).

DVLA turns censor on grubby number plates



They wouldn't let me have any combination that spelled acid, which is a bit sh17 as they didn't actually ask me whether i was an old hippy or a chemist.

They wouldn't let me have LSD either.

Tossfest 2007: are you a hardened open sourcer?


Pun ratio

I don't think there was a single clause in that report that didn't include an inuendo. Absolutely sterling work.

- a woman walks into a pub and asks the barman for a double entendre, so he gives her one.

German hurls computer from apartment block


Homer's fat fingers

"I'm sorry, the fingers you are using to dial this phone are too fat. To request a new phone with big buttons please repeatedly slam your palm against the keypad."


A serious browser vulnerability, but whose?


re: If this Were any more clever

Sure you don't mean an iceweasel? No ie collaboration going on there...

Hyperion harbours building blocks of life, says NASA


They're lying

It's a jersey royal, rich in carbohydrates. If it came from tescos then it will have been frozen for many years too, which explains the water ice.

Spam King arrested in Seattle



What strikes me is the similarity between mass spamming, which is apparently not supported by governments and councils, and public advertising, which is not only endorsed by but generates large amounts of revenue for our political currently-non-lizard-only-in-appearance overlords.

Every time we walk around our town centres we see dozens of thirty foot long advertisements on the sides of streets and buildings. Business 'parks' and retail [discharge] outlets encloak themselves in this revenue-generating sh1t and, not content with covering our countryside with motorways, some cnut comes along and parks an advert-smeared artic alongside them too lest those driving might at least enjoy looking at the countryside their motorway has ruined (the motorways should be underground, costly at first just like the original motorway but cheap enough once the DfT has paid for a couple of TBMs and learned the techniques).

Adverts are garish, have weak jokes and puns (but seriously, the lowest common denominator can't be THAT low?) and seem to me to obscure some of the nicest things - classic architecture, trees and plants and stuff; i'd rather see a pile of rubble than three adverts for three different banks' identical rip-off cabal-price-matched five-points-below savings account, or BT rubbing my face in the fact that they supply millions of people with a service that would make shannon weep.

They're on buses, they're on street furniture, they're even free-standing in little metal cases in the middle of the pavement. The councils local to me have for some years been allowing businesses to put permanent metal adverts on roundabouts and sponsoring road signs. They're using screens now too, with speakers. $DEITY preserve me! I have successfully avoided television for years and now I'm forced to endure them in public?

The ones outside my work you actually have to walk around, and they're totally legit: more o'ferrall and their competitors are raking in huge amounts of cash for something which is, my ranting aside, little more than an annoyance, just like mr spam king. Compared to them, mr spam king is smalltime.

Spam: hated by end-users and infrastructure providers, not even really liked by legitimate businesses despite being a very effective in-your-face marketing technique (presumably because of the resulting opprobrium).

Billboards: i don't know anyone else who seems to object to them, yet I know nobody who actually likes them. They're a part of life, but imagine how much nicer it would be without them. They make our cities look cheap, cost the businesses involved huge amounts in marketing budgets, which increases the cost of the product, and for what? so that the big names in a given sector stay the big names, while treading water relative to each other. The smart consumer pays them no heed anyway, seeking out the genuinely congruent product on teh interweb.

As a smoker I'm not too bothered that my ability to smoke in public places is about to be curtailed, as it is unpleasant for non-smokers and is generally a bad thing to be discouraged, so when do we get *this* public nuisance removed?

I bet some of you can see adverts right now, out of your window or perhaps even inside your workplace (hmmm, adblock for my own eyes...? now there's a technoology i'll never get funding to develop).

Let's all take a few moments to imagine how pretty our towns and cities would look with no advertising at all. Go on, do it now. It's wonderful innit? NOT going to happen. Bad luck.

Soz for hijacking the comments with my rant, although it's blatantly what you all read the comments for : - ) I'm not a mailbombing fringe-lunatic really, just a normal guy who feels that turning corporations into collectives would solve a lot of the world's problems. Woo and yay for hippies and beards.