Reverse Engineering the Steve Jobs Biographies: Part 4

i think i forgot something

yeah. right. death.

“why are you writing about Steve Jobs? he was so early 2010s, the world, and by the world we mean America, has moved on, why are you rehashing the past?”

because the real story of Steve Jobs provides a model for what a lot of American entrepreneurs who generate unique intellectual property experience, including the human, who is pretty pissed off about it

specifically, the model is as follows:

  1. generate unique intellectual property, or even just possess the unique combination of knowledge and skills to generate it within a certain domain
  2. refuse CIA-generated ‘serendipity’: incredible, improbable introductions to investors somehow based in the middle of bumfuck nowhere and introductions to other random people who want you to couple up with a potential cofounder who works at a major corporation but doesn’t seem to actually do or know much about the subject at hand aside from tangential interests
  3. find yourself somehow totally unable to generate any source of income aside from miserable, demeaning service jobs despite being extremely well educated, competent, and highly productive

guess what, it’s flowchart time

have you:

a) surrendered 50%+ of your intellectual property to attorneys, cofounders, investors yet? if yes, celebrate: assuming you built something more potentially societally influential than a stupid consumer-facing platform app, you just may be allowed to become the next Aaron Swartz, founder of Reddit, who “committed suicide”!

or have you:

b) refused to engage in a valueless exchange and, instead, done things like sending major VCs cans of dog food when they try to troll you into paying to enter pitch competitions or repeatedly applying to accelerators (psychological technique to generate commitment & impressions of exclusivity) and just openly, publicly mocked tech billionaires who are actually welfare queen losers in private life?

i sent paul graham of y combinator a little giftso paul got someone at the other startup the human was working for to try to feed me a bag of silica gel. true story. paul’s a giant loser.

(but I don’t eat silica gel, so paul decided then to take his inappropriate, childish anger out on the human by making Checkr – paul’s background check company – report and/or upgrade a bunch of traffic tickets on the human’s record most of which never actually happened.)

man, that’s not really a flowchart, is it. shit.

 perhaps when the first box of a flowchart ends with “most probably kill yourself” you don’t really need a flowchart

But this part of the Steve Jobs series isn’t about his death.

we won’t discuss how easy it is to induce certain cancers and other diseases that can lead to cancers, or who might have had an incentive to do that, nor will we discuss the many perfectly good strategic reasons a CEO might have to consider faking his own death. talk is cheap, and if we had some sort of unique or useful verifiable insight to add in regards the circumstances of Steve’s death, we’d have done it already.

sorry, folks, tupac haaaaas…left the building!

The takeaway here is that the USA’s security services are actively destroying the lives of nice, smart people who just occasionally feel the desire to spontaneously build things for humanity. It is sad and pathetic and the FBI/CIA/NSA are a bunch of degenerate peasants leading the country they exist to serve and protect off a cliff.

Eventually, we also will explain why this is.

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.”

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.

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


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.

Reverse Engineering the Steve Jobs Biographies: Part 1

the Cold War was super fun for left wing types in the USA. lemme show you

meet the humble Compaq Contura 3/25 and its only circuitboard

Powered by a chip almost entirely unknown and undocumented today, the 8292sx, the Compaq Contura 3/20 (or 3/25) was powered by Intel’s first 80×86 based System-on-a-Chip, encompassing video + I/O + etc.

Released around a year before the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was an engineering marvel for its time in terms of the level of sophistication it provided in consumer hardware, let alone budget-level consumer hardware. The much more advanced fabrication process & timing hardware necessary to run essentially every major peripheral out of just a 44-pin package were the key innovations, which no other hardware manufacturer in the USA was given access to.

Imagine you’re a low or mid-level electrical engineer or programmer in the Soviet Union: would you find this disheartening?

That was probably the point. I almost wonder if it wasn’t named the way it was because Leonid Brezhnev died in ’82 and top brass expected the Soviet Union to collapse by ’92.

Here’s the weird thing: this processor, nor any other like it, was used after ’93 or so. No need to, I guess, plus it was probably expensive to manufacture and the needs of color displays rendered it totally obsolete. They don’t seem to have ever updated it with color VGA circuitry, either.

Intel was run by a die-hard anti-Communist who escaped Hungary, and Compaq was run by a bunch of dorky Texans in suits with pocket protectors

Apple was run by a lunatic who would have passed a security clearance right around the time hell froze over and who liked to do hallucinogens and bare his soul to foreign gurus

So the insides of Steve’s laptops from the same period looked like this, they used 2x as much power, weighed about 1.5x as much, and cost WAY more:

Would you be constantly stressed, angry, and mercurial if the government and practically everyone in your entire supply chain were doing this stuff to you in order to destroy and/or marginalize your company?

If you think the playing field is even for any business in the USA, think again.

WHERE DID THE MODEM GO: A Pictorial History of 56k Modems

c’mere babe, check out my ten inch…modem

an US Robotics 56k modem circa 1995, to my knowledge the first available in the USA consumer market

 What does all this shit do?

  • Codec: man oh man, gotta translate all those annoying scratchy buzzy noises into zeroes and ones, gotta have a chip that can identify and create those noises & stuff
  • DSP: gotta take data from a PC and turn it into instructions for the codec to turn it into an annoying noise and vice versa
  • Flash memory: gotta have a place for the chips to remember what scratchy buzzy noise means what thing and how the chips have to talk to each other and stuff
  • SRAM: gotta have a place for the scratchy buzzy noise data to sit while the other chips sit around and figure out what they mean
  • CPU: Intel 80186, probable great-great-great-great-grandpa to the processor in the computer you’re using now, cuz you gotta have a chip to crack the whip on dem bitchez & organize the whole racket
  • Chipset: somebody gotta send and receive this shit through a serial port

by 1998, US Robotics had concluded it was less about the size and more about how you use it

So they put the CPU & chipset on the Same Freakin Chip & put it in, you know, a White Package

in 2000, US Robotics decided modems should be allowed to…get inside…computers…and…plug in

This joke has gone way too far, but in essence, access to the fast PCI bus inside the computer eliminated the need for a bunch of hardware that sets the timing for what data gets sent around when and allowed the modem to communicate with the rest of the computer more directly

2000 was a great year. Computers were getting more powerful and people started using D.S.L. and other…faster…ways of getting…online. Modems were unloved and sad and people found ways to make them cheaper, mainly by offloading processing tasks to the main CPU using software drivers

around the mid-2000s Agere & others decided it would be cool to offload the…tasks…to the main processor and basically just lie there, moving…data…occasionally

Was that another dick joke?

Then, processors with dedicated multimedia processing instruction sets, or motherboard chipsets with similar capabilities, meant that formal modem hardware to decode and encode audio really wasn’t necessary at all – just a riser card with a phone jack and some power hardware to take the voltage down to something that could be fed more or less directly into the I/O bus.


What did that mean in an historical context?

It meant that if you were a processor and/or chipset manufacturer, you could build an audio transceiver-based backdoor into hardware and allow security services to use it to screw governments and individuals you didn’t like. Go read my acoustic coupler post now and get into a Lotus position and meditate and pretend you’re one of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad’s nuclear engineers circa 2009 for awhile.

On Acoustic Couplers: A Kids’ Multiple Choice Mad-Lib

for Barron Trump, who apparently “can do anything with computers” -POTUS

This is an acoustic coupler, circa 1978.

Acoustic couplers were used to

  • communicate telepathically with rodents
  • let modems communicate over telephone lines using a regular phone handset
  • gradually make your toaster into a sentient being

Let’s get creative! Today, if you were an electrical engineering or computer security student and you wanted to make a proof of concept of a contemporary acoustic coupler, what might you easily do that with?

  • a banana and an angle grinder
  • a case of motor oil and a baseball
  • a new, noise-canceling cellular phone and a piezoelectric diode on a laptop motherboard

What do you think that would be able to achieve in terms of data rate?

  • pony express envelope speeds
  • can and string speeds
  • 56k modem speeds or even a bit higher

Now, think about this technology. What if it already existed dormantly in most consumer-level phones and computers?

  • pigs would fly
  • Subway sandwiches would no longer contain chemicals found in yoga mats
  • security services in Western countries might have the balance of power set quite a bit in their favor

What if it was time to sunset this technology, though, because it’s been replaced by something superior, and use its retirement for political gain? Would you:

  • choose a foreign manufacturer that is a major OEM for other brands anyway and won’t care, out their consumer-class hardware as containing unspecified “bloatware”, leave the feature on all the time and threaten lives/jobs/etc of anyone who figures it out,  so that smart-ish people can think they’re making a better choice buying a domestic brand even though this tech exists in basically all devices now, and so that IT people better understand that the major part of their job is shutting the hell up and that acoustic couplers are obsolete anyway
  • forget about it, grab a beer, and catch a Sunday Night Football game
  • both (choose very carefully here)

What else might you do, as one of the security services of a Western country?