Reverse Engineering the Steve Jobs Biographies: Part 3

on product roadmaps, population demographics, & pancreatic cancer

Around 2004, Apple began making plans for a gradual switchover to Intel processors and UEFI firmware.

The reason the public heard for this was that IBM “couldn’t” produce the types of chips Apple needed for its prosumer and consumer hardware: fast, low-power variants for laptops and full-throttle desktop chips that could compete with Intel on clock speed and performance. It was Just Too Hard and Intel was Just Too Good.

this, naturally, was total bullshit.

Fast-forward thirteen years: Edward Snowden, whom the human periodically trolls on Twitter for being an  overpaid, deluded, undereducated lump of human garbage, goes on a Twitter tirade (later deleted) about how awesome it would be if AMD open-sourced its firmware because this would be such a revolutionary and wonderful thing. Wait, is that circular reasoning?

in fact, it would be neither revolutionary nor wonderful: see, Steve Jobs used Sun Microsystems’ OpenFirmware for all of his PowerPC-based Macs for literally all of 22 years prior to Snowden’s spontaneous live-tweeted (twitted? twatted?) stroke of genius

and this is probably why IBM said “sorry, we’re…we just…uh…we just suck too much, we can’t do this for you”

BECAUSE WHEN YOU MAKE THE GODDAMNED CHIPS FOR EVERY SINGLE ULTRA ENTERPRISE SERVER BEHIND EVERY MAJOR BANK AND AIRLINE AND CLOUD SERVICE AND MAJOR CORPORATE DATABASE it doesn’t make sense to allow a demographic BULGE (the children of the Baby Boomer generation) of people heading off to university CS programs to easily learn to work on your architecture at a low level. This is NOT what the USA likes to do in its management of the labor market and it is also potentially a security nightmare.

instead, we got Python and the Raspberry Pi and a veritable sea of now-Intel MacBook-toting CS grads, blissfully unaware of…well, for now, let’s just say ‘a lot’, who used Apple all throughout school thanks to John Sculley’s incredible ability to ram even the worst garbage Apple ever made through state government procurement channels. the rest is history. oh, and we got this Russian iPhone ad too, which may or may not have its origins in a stupid American “dick-in-the-box” joke
“In her dreams. In your gift box.”

*Barry White voice* “oooohhhh…yeaaaahhh.”

Throwback Thursday: Padolf Pupler Explains Est

as a pup I had a Hitler moustache

hope that’s cool

Today, we take a break from tech stuff and discuss some of the weird shit the CIA does to influence the direction of American society

one of the really weird things the CIA did in the late ’70s through the end of the Cold War was to heavily promote an organization called Est

as usual, I won’t point fingers at contemporary organizations, but I will be descriptive enough for you to make your own evaluation

fake KGB agent on TV: “est made me feel so much better”

the human: *projectile-vomits contents of entire stomach on TV set while laughing hysterically*

 In the late 1970s, the CIA had a big problem on their hands. The biggest generation in American history – the Baby Boomers – had come of age, and were gaining power, money, and political influence.

they were also pretty left wing, comparatively speaking: unlike the generation that fought the Korean War, this generation had a serious problem with foreign wars like the one in Vietnam, and didn’t seem overly bothered by socialism

naturally this had to be fixed. oh man, i feel a booze binge coming on

c’mon, knock one back with me here

 War and its associated accoutrements make up a huge part of the US economy; keeping that ball rolling was a pretty big deal – for both sides of the  Cold War

but it’s pretty hard to get people to actively disagree with the notion that killing people is a bad idea, so the way you keep the military-industrial ball in play is to direct attention elsewhere

this was pretty easy to do to the Boomers

CIA agent 1: so what in the hell do we do with these leftist nutjobs
CIA agent 2: i have no fucking clue
CIA agent 1: yeah but we have to do something. what the fuck do i tell the director if this stuff keeps up
CIA agent 2: well I know a guy from college who works for an ad agency on Madison Avenue now, he’s pretty good at this stuff
CIA agent 1: ok cool. give him a call then
CIA agent 2 *on telephone* “hey brad, this is mike, we haven’t spoken in like eight years but I’m, you know, trying to keep the peasants from revolting and stuff so we don’t slide into an economic depression. any thoughts?
ad guy: well you could always try exploiting narcissism, fuck, that’s all we really do all day
CIA agent 2: tell me more
ad guy: well I personally recommend finding ways to make people think they’re delving deep into their souls and finding that they’re really a Ford guy, or a Gilette guy, or an Avon girl, or…or…or whatever
ad guy: i mean, this is america, there’s generally not much there, but you gotta give them something to find, because if they dig deep and all they find is a giant pile of dead Vietnamese farmers who never gave a fuck about politics at all that’s pretty fucking depressing, you know?
CIA agent 2: yeah ok tell me more
ad guy: so the other day I saw a flyer for this talk by some german guy. i don’t remember his name but it was all about finding who you were inside, escaping your hangups and stuff. i mean, he’s german, there’s practically a porn shop on every corner there, it’s no wonder they’re so open
ad guy: it seemed a lot like the stuff we try to do to get people to make brands a part of their life, except…oh wait, here it is, it’s Warner Erhart
CIA agent 2: ok great but what exactly does this mean for us
ad guy: well you could give him some money, start scheduling talks, if it goes well, expand it using members, you know, kind of like an Amway for motivational speaking, get people to think about themselves and their identities instead of about politics, give them levels and badges kind of like boy scouts, maybe even pay them as if it were a real job or something
CIA agent 2: huh. well i can cut you a check right now for a million bucks is that cool
ad guy: yeah sure I guess, we’ll get on it
CIA agent 2: great. what are you going to call it?
ad guy: i dunno…wait. so I went out to lunch at this jewish deli around the corner yesterday. the owner’s from Russia, Odessa I think, and he screams at people a lot to eat their food, i mean, famines apparently do that to you and I was asking him about it. so the verb for eating in Russian is “est” and it also means “to have” like “I have a car” and stuff. let’s call it est, that should be a funny way for you to kick some dust in the Russkies’ faces
CIA agent 2: uh yeah that sounds great. run with it
CIA agent 2: so I gave my guy a million dollars what do you think is that too much
CIA agent 1: give him two

Reverse Engineering the Steve Jobs Biographies: Part 2

this is my serious face

In the mid-80s, Steve and his company were flying high.

the FBI, on the other hand, were less than pleased

One problem was that Steve was trying to be an entrepreneur in an industry that was tightly but unofficially regulated due to the Cold War, and as someone from a middle-class background who hadn’t graduated from an elite institution (or any institution at all) he was viewed as highly unreliable by law enforcement, by competitors, and even by his own investors – who tried to install as much ‘adult supervision’ as possible, but largely failed to get him to take advice from that supervision

I empathize, unfortunately, despite being the polar opposite of that profile

Another interesting ‘problem’ was that Steve’s top notch models from the mid-80s to the mid-90s consistently used as many discrete components as possible, at a time when integrating multiple functions on to single chips to reduce manufacturing costs was becoming more common, even at Apple, whose supply chain was probably artificially constrained to begin with

all but three of the chips on this Macintosh Plus motherboard could be found in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc: the ROMs, which contained the basic operating instructions for the computer and were easily copied; and the disk controller, a unique Apple component designed by Steve Wozniak and known as the Internal Woz Machine, was easily replacable with a standard component

Naturally, the Soviets reverse-engineered it pretty quickly, though they never put it into production

probably because they’d made a major, high-profile deal with Motorola to actually purchase the 68000 processor rather than just ripping it off, which meant that Macintosh clones would have been prohibitively expensive to produce relative to other models

Meanwhile, Apple’s cheaper models got the VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) treatment, with more and more discrete components integrated within a single chip:

an Apple IIc Plus motherboard from the same period

an Apple IIgs motherboard from the same period

Essentially, Steve was engineering his computers so that they could be easily copied abroad – while still maintaining patent protection in the West.

Interlude

periodically, a young family from russia or ukraine happily documenting their emigration to the USA shows up in my social media feeds via friends

the photos are always so happy, but they make me so sad – not out of jealousy or anger, but because I know what the FBI will most likely do to them, particularly if the wife is attractive

this lion is offering good non-verbal advice

The Most Hilarious Psy-Ops Provocation of All Time

why is it called punkt and why is the model MP01. oh, right, the title covers that. over to you, neo

*ahem*

Does your smartphone freak you out?

Are you a design-forward urbanite looking to disconnect?

Are you cognizant of the many ills of smartphones, yet not smart enough to choose a dumbphone that will actually rid you of those ills?

Enter the Punkt MP01.

You will still have an accelerometer logging your every movement should someone at the NSA want to do so.

You will still have a device with a non-removable battery whose microphone can be turned on remotely for private security firms and government security agencies to avail themselves of, potentially entirely without any good reason.

In the process you will spend 2-5x what you would spend on a passable smartphone. You will lose GPS (for yourself, anyway). You will lose multimedia messaging. You will lose tethering. And everyone will think you are a bit nuts.

Which, at this point, you probably are. Good luck out there.