Archive | Tech RSS feed for this section

More reasons to grumble about Apple and the iPhone

14 Jul

So I thought about it all weekend, and decided that the utility of the new iPhone is something I can justify. And, I can get around my anti-AT&T feelings by using the iPhone to blog here about how AT&T broke the law and is getting away with it.

Of course, here in South Bend, Indiana, our closest Apple Store is 90 minutes (at least) away, in downtown Chicago. So I’d have to go to one of the two local AT&T stores. Neither of which, by the way, have any iPhones in stock, and they don’t know when they’ll show up again. Could be seven to ten days, I guess.

Word on the Internet is that the AT&T stores received minimal shipments of iPhones–if a particular store was slated to receive any at all.

Because AT&T doesn’t want people “jail breaking” the iPhones (to use with another carrier, for example), you can get the devices only at an Apple Store or an AT&T store where the thing will be activated on the spot. No option here. Phooey.

Oh well, just another reason to not carry a cell phone, I guess.


Today, I hate Apple, Inc.

10 Jul

Keep in mind that the opposite of love is not hate–it’s apathy.

I love Apple. I’ve been an Apple junkie/enthusiast/user since probably 1982 or so. I probably can’t count all the Apple computers that my family and I have owned over the years, starting with the Apple ][ +. That was replaced by an Apple //e, I bought an original 128K Macintosh, the //e was replaced with a IIgs, my 128K mac was upgraded to a Macintosh Plus (which I still own). I’ve owned a Mac IIsi, a gaggle of laptops, a bunch of desktops, a couple of Newtons, and a handful or two of iPods. To adapt a cliché, back in the day if you had cut me, I would have bled Apple multicolors.

I skipped over getting an iPhone last year because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to take it with me into most courthouses. I don’t want a phone with me in the courthouse, but if it has my calendar on it, I sort of need it. The iPod touch made a nice compromise.

But now I want an iPhone 3G. I want to carry only one device around with me–and have it with the convenience of a phone. Our local federal court has adopted a change to its rules to permit attorneys to bring cell phones into the building, which is not a big surprise given that our chief judge is a tech junkie himself. (I ran into him on the street one day as he was walking to a lunch meeting and noticed the unmistakable white Apple iPod ear buds that he was using. I smiled at that.)

So, I want an iPhone, and I’m even willing to bite the bullet for a few months and pay for two cell services for several months.

But today I’m hating Apple. Not for their products, but for their decision to use AT&T as the cell carrier. You see, I’m really, really honked off at AT&T for their participation in Bush’s illegal wiretapping program. I’m really angry too that they spent millions to lobby Congress to get immunity for their law-breaking. (Next time you get a speeding ticket, try to see how much you’d have to pay your legislators to get the speed limit changed. It’s nice to know that the big corporations can get away with stuff that we mere mortals (and voters) cannot.) I do not want to give AT&T any of my money. It kills me to pay them each month for the phone service we have to have. (VOIP isn’t an option since we need a phone line to the security service.)

So Apple, I hate you for putting me in this position. I want to indulge my lust for Apple’s excellent product, but I can’t do it without paying AT&T. If I give in, am I compromising my principles? Probably. But as one person put it, refusing the new iPhone would be like cutting off my nose to spite my face–not because I lust after the product, but because the product can help me get things done in my work.

I’ll have to sort this out. Maybe I will get a new iPhone and use it, in part, to blog about how much AT&T sucks. 🙂

Dems Disappointing Again

8 Jul

I’ve been so angry and discouraged over the entire FISA reform legislation that I haven’t been able to see straight or even think about blogging. I already sent my Congressman a note to explain that I won’t be voting for him this November. I won’t vote for his pinhead opponent, but I can’t vote for him either.

Glenn Greenwald again lays out the case for why these Democrats who are enabling Bush’s shredding of the Constitution need to be held accountable. I’m proud to be part of the “strange bedfellows” coalition that is pledging to defeat these enablers. I hope you’ll consider joining in.

Reliving an experience

18 Oct

God, I love the Internet and what some people are doing with it.

The Oyez Project is an effort to bring oral arguments from the U.S. Supreme Court to the public. Although I’ve never argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, I was rather involved in a Supreme Court case while I was in law school. And now thanks to the Oyez Project, I can relive a rare experience: attending a complete argument of a Supreme Court case.

Some background may be in order to explain why this experience is so rare. The Supreme Court oral arguments are open to the public, but seating in the courtroom is limited. To accommodate tourists and other interested persons, at the time (1990), the Court’s marshals would seat people in various sections, and after fifteen minutes or so, would rotate those people out and bring new people in. Since I was part of the legal team in the case, I was allowed to stay for the entire argument. Lawyers who are admitted to practice at the Court (as I am now) have the privilege of sitting through as many arguments as they like, but most non-attorneys do not get to stay for the whole thing.

While in law school, I ended up using my computer background to help an attorney populate his new offices with computers (Macs, naturally) and a network. He then invited me to work for him as a clerk, and I accepted the invite. The very first project he handed me was to draft a petition for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court.

Now, you have to understand this was a huge assignment. The Supreme Court at that time heard around 100 cases each year, and about 80 of them were ones that the Supreme Court selected out of the thousands of petitions filed with the Court during the year. Statistically, your odds were ridiculously low.  To get the Court to hear a case, you had to explain in your petition why the case was worthy of the Court’s attention.

I admit it, I was a bit overwhelmed by the responsibility. The task is somewhat like being a freshman quarterback and being told to play all four quarters of the conference championship–if your team wins, it goes on to the national championship. Heck, it’s worse than being a freshman quarterback. It’s more akin to being a freshman quarterback who has never even played a game of football.

I tried to give the assignment back at one point, and my employer, Michael K. Sutherlin, refused to let me give it back. He had other things that he needed to attend to, and as he said at one point, I was as qualified as he was since he’d never written one either.

To make a long story short, I wrote it (and rewrote it and rewrote it). Mike made a few changes, aided by his wife who taught English at Butler University, and then we filed it. It still blows my mind to think that my work was going to be considered by the Supreme Court.

To our collective thrill and surprise, the Supreme Court granted the petition. At that point, Mike Sutherlin took responsibility for writing the brief to be filed. I offered my comments on the various drafts, but the briefs filed on behalf of our client didn’t have much of my work in them. To continue the football analogy, I got us to the championship game. The rest was up to him.

After both sides file their written arguments, the Court holds an oral argument, usually about one hour in length. We all traveled to Washington, D.C. to watch the oral argument (how could I not–I had one professor who practically threatened to fail me if I didn’t attend instead of going to her class). The entire experience was one I probably will never get to enjoy again–I’m not knocking my own abilities as a lawyer, it’s just that the opportunities are so very few. But at least I got to be involved once. That’s more than the overwhelming majority of attorneys will ever get to do. And perhaps luck will shine on me again one day.

You can now listen to Mike Sutherlin argue the case, along with the arguments from the Indiana Attorney General and the U.S. Department of Justice, who opposed our client’s position. All thanks to the Oyez Project.

Fortunately for us, the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 in our client’s favor. I got us to the big game, and Mike Sutherlin beat the other side in a shutout.

You can read the Court’s decision, which also contains a review of the rather bizarre and frightening facts that gave rise to the case. I’d suggest reading the facts and the decision, and then listening to the argument that led to the decision.

It was an experience I will never forget.

What’s the big deal about Linux?

8 Sep

I need some help here. I was playing around today using virtual machine software on my iMac to install Ubuntu, a free and downloadable version of Linux. It was a simple thing to do and it looks nice and appears to be stable. Other than the fact that Linux is free, why should I use that instead of Mac OS X? I’m not trying to be antagonistic, I’m just trying to figure out what the draw is when it comes to Linux. What can I do with Linux that I can’t do with Mac OS X?If anyone has any ideas, please let me know.  

Apple’s iPhone price drop

6 Sep

The blogosphere and other parts of the ‘net are atwitter with people upset with Apple’s $200 price drop on the iPhone. The iPhone, you’ll recall, was released just a little over two months ago.

Forgive me, please, but people need to stop whining.

Technology prices drop all the time. Whenever you buy something, you have to realize that in a short time, a newer, better, and possibly less expensive version is going to be released. The iPhone is no different. You got swept up in the mania, understandably so, and have been able to walk around for two months with the coolest phone on the planet while the rest of us wait for our cell contracts to run out. Don’t complain to me now about the price drop. You could have waited, you know–and some of us will still be waiting for our cell contracts to run out!

And while I’m at it, people need to stop, yes freaking stop looking for the lowest damn price they can find. Let me tell you what bottom feeding does by giving you a solid example.

Back in the 1980s, the Walt Disney Company came up with the idea of opening stores in shopping malls around the country. The Disney Store was born. Disney fanatics could acquire souvenirs, collectibles, clothes, and so on–a lot of the same stuff they could buy at a Disney theme park, without the added expense of travel and accommodations. For a long time, the Disney Store was successful.

Like any other retail operation, the Disney Store had sales in order to move slow moving merchandise. These sales would occur quarterly.

Then some genius figured out that if they had sales more often, they’d sell more stuff. The genius forgot the part about the lower price. But this practice–frequent sales–created an expectation in Disney Store customers that they could “wait and buy it when it goes on sale.”

Revenues took a nice nose dive.

The Disney Store wasn’t profitable, so Disney ended up selling it to Children’s Place.

Yes, that’s right–your local Disney Store is not owned by Disney.

This “I gotta buy it cheap” mentality leads to economic disaster. When you shop at Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club, you may think you’re saving a few bucks, but you’re also putting the local business owner out of business. The small guy who paid his employees $9/hour is now working alongside them at Wal-Mart for $6/hour. All because so many people wanted to save a few bucks by buying their crap at Wal-Mart.

While I’m on the rant, people should take a good look at what property tax breaks your local Wal-Mart received from your local government. Not only is Wal-Mart sucking the lifeblood out of local economies, but we tax payers are giving them a smaller tax bill to do so! sign-about-the-big-box.jpg

This is what all the hoopla is about

8 May


Not terribly exciting, is it…but it is fun to be part of the anti-corporate online zeal. 🙂