June 20, 2013

Unmasking

Jeff Blagdon, writing for The Verge:

“Canada’s controversial Concealment of Identity Act banning the wearing of masks during riots and ‘unlawful assemblies’ has just gone into law, carrying with it a 10-year maximum sentence, reports CBC News. The private member’s bill was introduced in 2011 by MP Blake Richards in response to the increasing prevalence of vandalism at political protests and sporting events.”

10 years?!

WE ARE GOING DOWN THE WRONG ROAD.

June 13, 2013

Simon, Revisited

David Simon defends his commentary from last week about Edward Snowden's revelation of the NSA’s telephone metadata program.

We’ve read and heard quite a bit of protest alleging violation of privacy and government overreach in the wake of Snowden’s breach of security. The commentary has been heavy on indignity yet light on alternatives or improvements to the programs in question.

Telephone metadata reveals a picture of personal behavior, and yes, that can be misused by government and law enforcement personnel. Much of what police and the intelligence community are empowered to do can be misused. That in itself is not an argument against them. These programs serve a useful and necessary purpose and exist not in a void, but in the light of Congressional debate and judicial oversight. More light would be better. Curtailing these programs because there exists the potential for misuse would not.

Continual oversight and public awareness of the government’s argument for exercise of these programs are essential to keeping the use of these programs lawful.

As Simon previously has written, those airplanes really did hit those buildings, and people really have been murdered by terrorists vowing to do exactly that and more. We have yet to see evidence that NSA programs have violated Federal laws that were debated, voted upon and enacted, adjudicated and, in 2011, re-debated and renewed.

June 10, 2013

Apple: Detailed Product Multimedia

… for iOS 7, the new Mac ProOS X Mavericks and iTunes Radio.

Apple: What's New for 2013

Apple kicked off their annual WWDC developer conference in San Francisco today. Here's what's new:

  • 50 billion apps downloaded from the App Store over five years. 900,000 apps in the store, 375,000 of them for iPad. 93% of these apps are downloaded monthly. 575,000,000 App Store accounts. $10 billion cumulatively paid to developers over five years. If you're smart and authoring mobile applications, you're doing it here.
  • OS X, the Mac operating system: the new version is the first without a release number, and is known as OS X Mavericks. Perhaps this solidifies OS X and the OS Apple sticks with the the very long haul. The Finder app will now be tab-based, allowing what used to require multiple windows to be handled within a single instance. Files and folders can be tagged, and tags appear in the left sidebar, allowing same-tagged files from across the file system and iCloud to be grouped together for display and access. Multiple video displays (including HDTVs) work independently, allowing full-screen app display, menu bar and Dock in each. Several under-the-hood technical tweaks improve battery, memory and performance. The Safari web browser sees several memory and performance tweaks. Applications from the App Store are automatically updated in the background. iBooks, an iOS app for book purchase and reading, comes to the Mac. Mavericks will be available this fall.
  • Mac hardware: MacBook Air gets "all-day battery life," using the new Intel Haswell CPU. This chip has been touted by Intel for over a year and is finally available now. The 11-inch MacBook Air will have a nine-hour battery life, the 13-inch 12-hours. Updated features include faster flash-based SSD storage and 802.11ac WiFi. The 13-inch model with 256 GB SSD sells for $1299, available today. Other models are less expensive. No mention of Retina display for MacBook Air; Retina will likely define the Pro line of laptops.
  • Airport base stations: new 802.11ac Airport Extreme and Airport Time Capsule.
  • Mac Pro: yes, an update! We saw just a quick view of the prototype, and plenty of specs. This machine is awesome. Available later this year. Built in the USA.
  • iCloud: web-based iWork apps. Create and store docs, spreadsheets and presentations in iCloud using a web browser. Fully functional. Even works on Windows 8 with the Chrome or IE browsers. Available to the public later this year.
  • iOS, the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch operating system: new version, iOS 7. Major update, new user interface. New features: control center, swipe up to control radios, brightness, music, etc.; multitasking is extended to all apps by intelligent update scheduling; updated Safari web browser with new tab interface, access to iCloud keychain, new full-screen mode, more; new Airdrop feature for peer-to-peer sharing from multiple apps; new filters for Camera app; new Photos app for organizing pictures.
  • New languages and voices for Siri, very smooth and natural sounding. More Siri-integrated services, such as Twitter, Bing and Wikipedia.
  • iOS In the Car: integration of iOS with auto manufacturer models in 2014.
  • Re-organization of the App Store including age-appropriate, location sensitive. Auto-updating of iOS apps in the background.
  • Re-organized Music app, including all purchased iCloud music. New user interface.
  • New Music app feature: iTunes Radio. Streaming music similar to Pandora. Create custom stations. Purchase music heard on iTunes Radio via iTunes Store. iTunes Radio is built into iOS, OS X, Apple TV and iTunes on Windows. Free.
  • Phone, Message and FaceTime blocking (finally!).
  • Activation lock makes stolen iPhones completely unusable, even if wiped and run from scratch.
  • A ton of new API calls for developers.
  • iOS 7 will be available later this year, for iPhone 4 and later, iPad 2 and later, iPad Mini and the 5th-gen iPod Touch.

No word on new iPhones, iPads, iMacs or MacBook Pros. Expect new mobile devices in the fall.

June 8, 2013

We are Shocked, Shocked …

David Simon:

“For us, now — years into this war-footing and this legal dynamic — to loudly proclaim our indignation at the maintenance of an essential and comprehensive investigative database while at the same time insisting on a proactive response to the inevitable attempts at terrorism is as childish as it is obtuse. We want cake, we want to eat it, and we want to stay skinny and never puke up a thing. Of course we do.”

Wake up, America. We asked for this way back in 2001.

The date on that law is but a month and a half after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Were we hasty getting behind that legislation then? Or are we Captain Renault today?

Brewery Chart - Beer Drinkers, Unite!

Click through for enlightening data. Looks like Reagan gave us a reason to drink.

So, two things. When our supermarkets are stocking more fine brew than macro crap, we're living in the golden age of craft beer.

Second, does anyone really believe the prohibition "dip?" I'd guess a true data plot would include a dotted line connecting pre-prohibition to post-. But what do I know?