Oct 23 2014

The Breakfast Club (Retro Tech)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgSo, almost a Million for an Apple 1.

Did I mention I have a 2C new in the box?  I do, actually.  Also a Commodor 64 (not in the box), 3 TS 1000s (1 in box), couple of XTs (with Monitor, try finding an MDA today), an all ISA AT, a P-386 500 driving 98 SE and 4 x 8MB drives, and various other spare parts that I could assemble into different configurations of different vintages.

I started out playing Star Trek over a 300 Baud Modem on an ADAM 3A Terminal using CompuServe and did my first programing in COBOL and RPG on Holerith cards.

So I’m not old, I’m well connected.

I started out in the biz with a translation of an Insurance Rating program from TRS-80 to Apple Basic (anyone remember Romar?  It was like the very first clone).

The machine that’s missing from my collection is a Kaypro 10.  64K and 10 Mb of C/PM goodness that I developed my bread and butter XTab app on that I have ported through a variety of iterations of MS-DOS, CCPM, DesqView, OS2, and Windows.

I’ll tell you this- there is no money in poetry for machines or maintaining them either.

I’ve ended up with a skill set that includes 7+ languages- COBOL, RPG, FORTRAN, BASIC, C (and about 5 variants), Postscript and HTML, and MS Macro as well as a heap of hardware that I’m willing to let good homes adopt as well as friends and family who accuse me of being a cat lady who never met a stray I didn’t like.

I have a friend who collects rarer hardware than that.  He has a Poly-88 with full OS source directly from one of the developers.  It’s good for what a 4K 8088 with a hard sectored floppy and an S-100 bus can do.

I also ended up with bookshelves of Bytes, PC Mags, Dr. Dobbs, and Computer Shoppers.

Sigh.  It all ought to go to a museum.  My current main ride (down at the moment after a voltage surge) is a Asus M4A88T-V EVO USB 3.0 with 16 Gb and a 3.7 6 Core AMD Athlon II.  Because it’s not working I’m on my laptop, an HP 6475b sporting the same 16 Gb and a 2.5 Dual Core AMD A4 so don’t cry for me Argentina.  I think the voltage surge screwed up my Windows virtual memory file, but I haven’t tested that yet.  If I have to replace the Motherboard it’s $120.  If I have to replace the CPU it’s $170.  If I have to replace the memory it’s $130.  I think the hard drives are recoverable (already have the important data) but they’re $80 for 2 Tb.

This is why there is no money in computing.

The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1927)

Science News

Henry Ford Museum acquires 1976 Apple-1 computer

Dearborn Press & Guide

Published: Wednesday, October 22, 2014

“When acquiring artifacts for The Henry Ford’s Archive of American Innovation, we look at how the items will expand our ability to tell the important stories of American culture and its greatest innovators,” said Patricia Mooradian, president of The Henry Ford. “Similar to what Henry Ford did with the Model T, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs put technology directly in the hands of the people with the creation of the Apple-1, completely altering the way we work and live. The Apple-1 was not only innovative, but it is a key artifact in the foundation of the digital revolution.”

Only 64 of the originally produced 200 Apple-1 computers are known to exist – with 15 of this group known to be operational. In addition to the central Apple-1 motherboard, the acquisition also includes a hand-built keyboard interface, power supply, facsimile copies of the owner’s manual and schematics, Sanyo monitor and Apple-1 Cassette Interface.

Just as an aside, the part about “first pre-assembled personal computer ever”, not true.  Altair 8800, IMSAI 8080, Poly-88.  What these all lacked was an integrated video terminal and keyboard.

I was there and I bootstrapped a paper tape reader from front panel switches and I swore I’d never, ever touch a computer in my life.


Tech News

Science Oriented Video!

The Obligatories, News, and Blogs below.


Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

I would never make fun of LaEscapee or blame PhilJD.  And I am highly organized.

This Day in History


Blackwater Founder Remains Free and Rich While His Former Employees Go Down on Murder Charges

By Jeremy Scahill, The Intercept


The incident for which the men were tried was the single largest known massacre of Iraqi civilians at the hands of private U.S. security contractors. Known as “Baghdad’s bloody Sunday,” operatives from Blackwater gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians at a crowded intersection at Nisour Square on September 16, 2007.

While Barack Obama pledged to reign in mercenary forces when he was a senator, once he became president he continued to employ a massive shadow army of private contractors. Blackwater – despite numerous scandals, congressional investigations, FBI probes and documented killings of civilians in both Iraq and Afghanistan – remained a central part of the Obama administration’s global war machine throughout his first term in office.

Just as with the systematic torture at Abu Ghraib, it is only the low level foot-soldiers of Blackwater that are being held accountable. Prince and other top Blackwater executives continue to reap profits from the mercenary and private intelligence industries.

None of the U.S. officials from the Bush and Obama administrations who unleashed Blackwater and other mercenary forces across the globe are being forced to answer for their role in creating the conditions for the Nisour Square shootings and other deadly incidents involving private contractors.

While the Blackwater verdict is an important and rare moment of accountability in an overwhelmingly unaccountable private war industry, it does not erase the fact that those in power-the CEOs, the senior officials, the war profiteers-walk freely and will likely do so for the rest of their lives.

Guardrail Maker Trinity Industries Liable for Fraud in Texas


OCT. 20, 2014

Trinity Industries, the highway guardrail maker accused of selling systems that can malfunction during crashes and slice through cars, was found by a jury on Monday to have defrauded the federal government.

The case was brought under the False Claims Act by Joshua Harman, a competitor who discovered that the company made changes in 2005 to its rail head – the flat piece of steel at the front of the system – without telling the Federal Highway Administration, as is required. The company sold the guardrails to state governments that, in turn, received federal reimbursement.

A Texas jury on Monday awarded $175 million that will, under federal law, be tripled to $525 million.

At the heart of the dispute was a design change Trinity made in 2005 to its ET-Plus rail head, which could cause a guardrail system to fail, according to some state regulators and the federal lawsuit. Those changes were not disclosed to the Federal Highway Administration for seven years, despite requirements that any such changes be reported immediately. Trinity has said that the failure was inadvertent.

The guardrail system works by collapsing when hit head-on, absorbing the impact of a vehicle and guiding the railing out of its path. The rail head or end terminal, which is often marked with yellow and black stripes, is supposed to slide along the guardrail itself, pushing it to the side.

But the redesigned Trinity product narrowed the channel behind the head, which can cause it to jam instead of sliding along the rail, some state officials said. When that happens, the rail can pierce an oncoming vehicle like a harpoon, endangering occupants.

During the trial, it emerged that Trinity may have misled some states about its product. In a February 2006 letter, for example, Trinity told the state of Vermont that the design of the ET-Plus was identical to the system that had been approved by the state agency and the Federal Highway Administration, according to court documents. Gregg Mitchell, president of Trinity’s highway products subsidiary, testified that while at the time the company thought that statement was correct, he now considered it inaccurate.

Actually, Comparing Keene to Ferguson Is Precisely What You Should Do

By Jordan Lebeau, Boston Globe

October 20, 2014

Martin Luther King Jr. once said that riots were the language of the unheard. And riots are great to study because they’re messy, they involve a ton of people from the same area (who, according to demographics, are likely to be of the same race), and they’re spurred on by one or a few related events.

So let’s study: In Ferguson, Oakland, and Los Angeles, black people have rioted, most recently, in response to violence at the hands of law enforcement. Meanwhile, three of the most recent riots carried out by predominantly white crowds were over pumpkins, the firing of Joe Paterno, and a frat party in Santa Barbara.

I’m not here to trivialize the importance of American institutions united by funny letters on hoodies and bronze statues erected to commemorate octogenarians. They trivialize themselves just fine.

But if Dr. King is right, we can see the reasons for which black folk feel their cries go unheard. But for what reasons do whites feel unheard? Whatever they are, they at least seem to be far more trivial than those of their black counterparts. This would be a good time to tell you that no one is even certain what set off the Pumpkin Festival.

It seems like white people are just rioting over any little thing. Don’t get me wrong. That’s great. You know what would be great, too? If we all had so few systemic problems that we could riot at any gathering named for our favorite autumnal gourds.

If riots are the language of the oppressed, then talking about our reaction to them, and the way our words color them, could be our best chance at making any headway in the larger conversation about oppression. Because, let’s be honest, we haven’t made much headway in that talk since the era of the eight-track.

We should continue to compare the two, because in seeing both the relative and objective silliness in one, we shine a greater light on the gravity and necessity of the other, while providing us an opportunity to ask society why two groups of people could be faced with problems so disparate; one so laughable, and one the difference between life and death.

Amid Clamor Over Democracy, Hong Kong’s Tycoons Keep Silent

By KEITH BRADSHER, The New York Times

OCT. 22, 2014

As a struggle over Hong Kong’s political future unfolds, the men and women who arguably wield the most influence with Beijing, and financially have the most at stake, have maintained a studied silence on the outcome. Wary of upsetting China’s leaders, who could dismantle or damage their businesses, and concerned about offending the Hong Kong public, many of whom are already resentful, they have instead retreated behind the tinted windows of their limousines and the elaborate gates of their hillside estates.

Privately, the tycoons express a broad range of views on the street protests, and some have been more willing than others to accept the goal of broader public participation in elections, as opposed to the circumscribed version offered by China. Many do not trust Hong Kong’s leader, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, regarding him as someone with authoritarian tendencies and a streak of economic populism who might someday raise their taxes to pay for greater social spending.

But public reticence is all that Beijing is asking of the business elite for now.

A key goal of President Xi’s September meeting was to tell restive industrialists to put aside their differences with Mr. Leung’s administration and support the Hong Kong government during what Beijing already foresaw as an autumn of democracy protests, four Hong Kong officials and participants in Mr. Xi’s meeting said.

The request silenced them, said Regina Ip, a member of Mr. Leung’s Executive Council who is also a lawmaker from the pro-Beijing New People’s Party. “No public criticism has surfaced, despite what they might think,” she said.

As a result, the gulf between the students and the business elite has widened. While the protesters’ principal goals are political, mainly open elections for the chief executive, a current of economic discontent underpins the movement. Many protesters have complained about the high cost of housing, the scarcity of high-paying jobs and the lack of social mobility.

Economic issues also play into the government’s rejection of the protesters’ demand for open elections.

In an interview on Monday, Mr. Leung said that one reason fully open elections could not be allowed here was that they would result in “a numbers game” that would force the government to skew “politics and policies” toward poor people. A panel of 1,200 local leaders, many of them wealthy, currently selects Hong Kong’s chief executive, who is then appointed by Beijing.

Mr. Leung’s comments followed those by a Chinese academic who advises the central government on Hong Kong issues, who said in August that democracy in Hong Kong had to be limited in order to protect the interests of its capitalists.

In a memorable, and at the time surprising, comment at a speech here arranged by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, he said universal suffrage would hurt the business community because “their slice of pie will be shared by others.”

Beijing’s quiet alliance with the business elite has not sat well with the protesters. On Wednesday afternoon, close to 100 people protested outside the front gate of Mr. Leung’s official residence, accusing him of colluding with tycoons on policies that discriminated against the poor.

US Given New Deadline for Torture Photos ‘More Disturbing’ Than Abu Ghraib

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

by Jon Queally, Common Dreams

A federal judge has given the Obama administration less than two additional months to make its case why photos of abuse and torture by U.S. military forces against detainees captured following the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan should not be released to the public.

As The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman reports, Judge Alvin Hellerstein on Tuesday told government lawyers they must present a written argument for keeping more than 2,100 photographs secret even as many of them are thought to show graphic examples of mistreatment worse even than that shown in the infamous photos that depicted torture of prisoners in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in late 2003.

Responding to that latest developments, ACLU attorney Marcellene Hearn said, “It’s disappointing that the government continues to fight to keep these photographs from the public.”

She added, “The American people deserve to know the truth about what happened in our detention centers abroad. Yet the government is suppressing as many as 2,100 photographs of detainee abuse in Iraq and elsewhere. We will continue to press for the release of the photos in the courts.”

President Obama has faced intense criticism throughout his two terms for refusing to hold Bush officials accountable for the torture that took place in the aftermath of 9/11 and during the occupations of both Iraq and Afghanistan. Reporting over the weeked by the New York Times revealed that the White House is now considering reaffirming his predecessor’s position that the “ban on cruel treatment” doesn’t apply when the United States is operating overseas.

On Tuesday, the ACLU released an interactive infographic showing the top architects of the U.S. torture program under President Bush, none of whom have ever been held accountable for the abuse authorized by the program. In a blog post accompanying the new graphic, Jamil Dakwar, director of the group’s Human Rights Program, indicated that the Obama administration’s refusal to shine a light on the torture has become a stain on his own record and said that White House backing of the “fabricated” torture loophole would do “terrible damage to one of the world’s most important human rights instruments.”

Gee, didn’t I get banned for this once?  Fuck you kos, and Meteor Blades too, you torture apologists.

Feds confused, automakers alarmed over Takata air bags (Autoplay)

James R. Healey, USA Today

11:02 p.m. EDT October 22, 2014

The U.S. auto safety agency today dramatically boosted, to at least 7.78 million, the number of U.S. vehicles previously recalled for faulty Takata air bags that the government now says pose an immediate threat to front-seat passengers.

The Takata bags involved are mostly on older-model vehicles, some of which have been on the roads since 2000, and which began being recalled by automakers in 2008. When they inflate in a crash they can tear loose from their brackets, blowing pieces of their housings – shrapnel, in effect – into the faces and chests of occupants. The chemical propellant that deploys the bags in a crash was improperly handled during manufacture, and the danger is amplified by humidity.

At least two deaths are blamed on the defect, reported years ago by Honda. Two more recent deaths are suspected but not confirmed.

“It’s good to see Takata’s defective air bag issue finally getting the attention it deserves from the NHTSA and media,” says Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com, adding: “Of course, this is only the first step of a long process. With so many vehicles being recalled, it will take years to address the danger, and there will be far too many consumers that ignore the recall and continue to operate cars capable of throwing shrapnel at the driver or front passenger during an accident.”

The UNC fake class investigation and the ‘the myth of the student-athlete’

By Terrence McCoy, Washington Post

October 23 at 7:15 AM

The numbers alone are surprising. At the University of North Carolina, more than 3,100 students, many of whom were athletes, took phantom classes in a “shadow curriculum,” netting high marks despite the fact that they never met and there wasn’t any work beyond a final paper no one read. The scheme ran for decades, between 1993 and 2011, and the athletes “didn’t have to take notes, have to stay awake … they didn’t have to meet with professors … they didn’t have to pay attention or necessarily engage with the material.”

But once past the initial shock of those numbers – or the assessment’s candor – there is little that surprises in the news. There’s nothing new about academic chicanery when it comes to student-athletes, the very term increasingly exposed as a “myth,” in the words of one professor at the University of Notre Dame.

It’s a pleasant fiction, said Gary Gutting of the University of Notre Dame. According to the NCAA’s own surveys, he wrote in the New York Times, “football and men’s basketball players identify themselves more strongly as athletes than as students, gave more weight in choosing their college to athletics than to academics and … spend more time on athletics than on their studies (and a large majority say they spend as much or more time on sports during the off-season).”

They get scholarship money if they’re good enough, but it’s the equivalent of a paycheck, a National Labor Relations Board regional director ruled in March. They are paid to play, not study, he said, agreeing with a players union that in state schools at least, student-athletes should be permitted to organize unions.

These athletes present a curious paradox. The athlete would need to be more academically gifted than the non-athlete to spend all that time on sports every week and still compete with traditional students in the classroom. That rarely happens, Gutting added, finding the rate of graduation for football players is 16 percent below the college average – for basketball players, 25 percent below the average. “Even these numbers understate the situation,” he added, “since colleges provide under-qualified athletes with advisers who point them toward easier courses and majors.”


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