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Archive for July, 2008

Is Apple using scarcity to hide iPhone quality problems?

Posted in Analysis, Apple, Business, Consumer Electronics, Gadgets, Hardware, Marketing, Psychology on July 28th, 2008 by leodirac – 9 Comments

Here I propose an alternative explanation for iPhone scarcity: the difficulty in obtaining a new iPhone keeps people from complaining about problems with it. I will explore this sophisticated marketing technique that Apple may or may not be employing to cover up quality problems with the new iPhone 3G. Even if Apple is not doing this deliberately, I assert that it is a valid and potentially very useful technique if your product is lucky enough to have the prerequisites. New iPhones are hard to get The blogosphere is full of speculation about whether or not Apple deliberately made the iPhone…

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Stupid Prius Tricks – Traction Control Distractions

Posted in Hacks, Prius, User Experience on July 27th, 2008 by leodirac – 2 Comments

I love my Toyota Prius. I’m very grateful to Google for giving me a financial incentive to buy a brand new car which does everything I want. It’s totally big and practical, it’s very high-tech, it both supports and projects my values, etc. I could sing its virtues for pages. But for now, I want to share some non-obvious things about it in a series I’m calling “Stupid Prius Tricks.” (With a tip of a hat to David Letterman.) Several of these articles (like this one) are complaints, but this must be taken in the context that overall I love…

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How to protect yourself from DNS hacks

Posted in Electronic Security, Geek, Hacks on July 22nd, 2008 by leodirac – 2 Comments

A couple weeks ago, Dan Kaminsky found a flaw in DNS. Without getting into details, this flaw enables a malicious attacker to fool your web browser into connecting to the wrong computer to get your web pages. So when you type www.facebook.com into your browser, you might actually go to Joe Hacker’s site, even though your browser says http://www.facebook.com/ in its address bar just like it should. Dan, being a “good guy”, tried to keep the details of this hack quiet for long enough for network operators to patch their systems and close the loophole. He wanted everybody running a…

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XMPP PubSub: a great compliment to Atom/RSS

Posted in Geek, Social Computing, System Architecture, XMPP on July 22nd, 2008 by leodirac – 8 Comments

I spent the day yesterday at XMPP Summit #5 alongside OSCON in Portland. It was a great chance to catch up with old friends and meet a few new ones. But my favorite part was the break-out discussion of XMPP PubSub as it relates to micro-blogging. We discussed what hopefully will emerge as a standard way to associate an existing Atom/RSS feed with an XMPP PubSub Node. First some background on the relevant technologies. Feel free to skip ahead if you understand this stuff. PubSub 101: Push vs Pull PubSub is short for “publish subscribe” which is a common design…

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Why Evolution Runs Backwards in the Refrigerator

Posted in Analysis, Cooking, Economics, Evolution, Humor on July 19th, 2008 by leodirac – 4 Comments

Evolution-like processes exist in many places beyond genetic adaptation of biological species. We see similar processes in a great many aspects of modern life, generally running many orders of magnitude faster. Much of economics and business is governed by processes that select for the most successful product or business model or manufacturing process or organizational structure. Successful practices thrive and out-compete ones which are less effective at meeting human needs and desires. Warfare has very obvious parallels. In computer science, user interfaces, programming languages and system architectures all evolve by analogous processes. Similar effects can be found in governments, religions,…

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Recovering a RAID Array after Lightning

Posted in Geek, Hacks, Hardware on July 9th, 2008 by leodirac – Comments Off on Recovering a RAID Array after Lightning

The EVMS RAID 5 array in my linux fileserver crashed recently due to a lightning storm, and I thought I’d lost everything. But with some luck and intuition I was able to recover all my files. I’ll tell you how I did it, so hopefully others who run into similar problems can recover their data too. But first, a little background. Last week Seattle had some crazy electrical storms. In recent years’ storms, my block has done better than most with respect to power failures making me think we’re either lucky or in a particularly robust section of the grid….

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Externalities of the Columbian Hostage Rescue

Posted in Analysis, Policy, Societal Values on July 6th, 2008 by leodirac – 1 Comment

This last week there was a lot of news coverage of a “daring hostage rescue in Columbia.” Fifteen people were freed from the FARC. Many had been held captive for years, including politician Ingrid Betancourt, and three Americans. The press has been celebrating the victory along several lines. How wonderful it is for these people to be set free after years of captivity. How the US military helped plan and support the operation. How the guerrillas were fooled into giving the hostages up without firing a single shot. (Aren’t we smart! Aren’t they stuipd?) But there’s a dark side to…

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Google launches web chat client for iPhone

Posted in Ego, Google, XMPP on July 2nd, 2008 by leodirac – 1 Comment

Wonder what I’ve been up to at work lately? Here’s a tiny glimpse. Google just launched another way to access the Google Talk network. It’s a web-based instant messaging chat client optimized for the iPhone browser. It’s not my primary project or my secondary or tertiary, but I did write a blog post about it and made sure the whole thing got out the door today. If you have an iPhone, try it out at www.google.com/talk. Warning: Non-iPhone browsers will be directed away.

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