My Best Teaching Is One-on-One


Of course, I team teach and do special lessons, etc.


But my best work in the classroom is after the lesson is over --
going one-on-one,
helping individual students with their assignments.


It's kind of like with computer programs, walking the client through hands-on.
The job isn't really done until the customer is using the program.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Apple vs. Samsung: claiming IP territory

The verdict today before Koh in Apple vs. Samsung inspired me to blog, so I logged in.

And I noticed my last post about Japan and Korea having a disagreement about territory claimed in the sea between them -- a small island that, until we discovered there might be resources in the sea around it, was not worth the trouble to either of them to formally claim.

Claiming territory. That's what this is all about.

Until Apple made it cool, a pocketable computer serving as a portable phone just seemed like a geek toy. That was the best Microsoft could do with it, and it was the best anyone else seemed to be able to do with the idea. (It didn't help that Microsoft was trying to hold the market for ransom and force everyone to use their MSWindows CE/MSWindows Mobile. Microsoft simply has no cachet, except with a certain kind of business or tech geek.)

Undeveloped territory that suddenly gets attention, and everyone trying to crowd into it. Of course, with the free market, one company is not supposed to be able to control an entire sub-market, but, unfortunately, it seems like most companies seem to have the stupid idea that controlling the market is good for profits.

I guess one thing we need to fix before we fix the patent laws is the general lack of understanding of economics among the current crop of managers and board members.

Well, Apple isn't any different. So, when they entered the portable phone market, they wanted patents to club other companies with. Or maybe just to defend themselves. But they couldn't get real patents on core technology like the radio stuff, because they didn't have any real research going on there. I guess that's why they resorted to the biggest flim-flam since the original pyramid scheme, design patents.

Software patents are bad. You aren't supposed to be able to patent ideas. Well, what idiots thought design (art) patents would not be patents on ideas? I guess, because "every" other country (that doesn't understand freedom) has them, the US must have them, too.

Uhm, yeah. Anyway. The rectangle with rounded corners and a screen mostly filling one face had not been tried in the last couple of years of Microsoft's fumbling efforts.

Not that it wasn't obvious. It had shown up since the earliest attempts at envisioning a portable computing/communication device. Plenty of prior art. But Apple took out the design patents, since they are available in the US. Never mind that they were only incrementally, non-uniquely different from other designs. Shame on Apple, but they've been trying this since the first look-and-feel suits.

Shouldn't look-and-feel be trade dress?

And since when is trade dress anything like patent? It's supposed to prevent fraudulent marketing, not enable it. And why a cluttered screen with bog-stock icons in a bog-stock grid should be considered anything close to trade dress, much less subject to design patent, is beyond me.

Except, there it is: land grabs. Find any piece of ground that has not been claimed, and stick your flag in it, so you have more room to set up your armies on.

Free market competition is not supposed to be a substitute battlefield. Destroying people economically is socially destructive, whether you push them off their farmlands or push them out of their market. Competition is good, but not constant all-out wars.

So Apple used its cachet to make the obvious obvious in the market for portable communication devices, and the market took off. Was there anything special about what they did? Was it just Apple's cachet?

Well, especially compared to Microsoft's offerings, yeah, there was something special.

So what was it? And shouldn't Apple have the right to claim IP on it?

Well, first, let me ask you: Where did Apple's cachet come from?

No, cachet is not just magic that no one can understand. Until you understand cachet, you have no business claiming to be a free person.

Let's dig way back to the Apple II. What was it?

Everyone else was business as usual. The two Steves said, look at the power in this thing. Desktop calculators? With these CPUs, we can put power in the hands of the people.

Jobs had something a little more than that in mind, but he understood from the outset how benevolent tyrants establish charisma and then use that to establish power. He had some understanding of the necessity of the appearance of freedom in supporting any sort of political movement, and he understood that economics is politics.

Power to the people.

What, you thought the hippie movement was over? Just because empowering people the wrong way always works for a little while and then doesn't any more?

If you're confusing power to the people with the hippie movement, you're missing the point. Empowering people, especially people who have been dis-empowered by whatever systems and institutions have been established before, is exactly how the charisma is set up.

Empowering people tends to buy their loyalty. Establishes charisma. Builds cachet. (If this idea offends you, maybe you need to re-think your reasons for hanging around the water-cooler or reading blogs and such.)

So, power to the people. For a little while. Then the people with the charisma tend to get to thinking they know more than everyone else. The reality distortion field gets to the source of the field. Then they start abusing their cachet for power. (What happened to the power to the people thing?)

Prices go up. Tech doesn't move forward enough to justify prices. Products aren't competitive any more. And that's not really all that evil, but the fear of losing the cachet inspires attempts to shore it up with external forces. Like court action. Or back-room deals. Or fake standards constructed too early. Or outright sending thugs around when people don't do what you want them to.

Look at Gates and Co. Did the same thing. Power to the people, except in their case it was power to some of the ignored people with moderate amounts of money -- lower level managers. Sure, mice and UI windows were fun to play with, but it was the market for a machine that could do lots of calculations cheaply that was going begging.

And, of course, Gates and Co. followed the same curve once they got their hooks into the cheap OS market. They knew more about the market than their customers, and they knew they must have the right to charge for it.

Usually, this would be a recipe for disaster. But trying to catch up with the Mac slowed their control ambitions down, long enough that they could establish a near monopoly among lower-level management before they bared their fangs to the general public.

And, when they bared their fangs, surprise! Customers ran away.

No, Bill, Nathan, Steve B., et. al. When you know more than your customers, they have no obligation to agree with you. Not in a free world. Freedom to innovate is not just for you.

That's why everyone was biding their time, waiting for the next mini-Napoleon to arrive on the scene. That's why you had to resort to even back-room deals, fake standards, market dumping, and so many other anti-competitive tactics to stem the bleeding. At the time, patents were still not usable for this kind of strong-arming, so you weren't really focused on those. (Missed a move on this chess board, did you Bill?)

Then we had the return of Steve. (Jobs, that is.) (Didn't I see this somewhere in an apocalypse?)

He had learned some lessons out in the wilderness. He had become much better at listening to the customer.

And he had Power to the People, by means of Free Software.

Why Free Software?

Not because you (the customer) don't have to pay money.

Because you (the customer) are free to do what you want, if you're smart enough or have friends who are smart enough who will show you how. That's empowerment.

So, what he gave us was FreeBSD plus some stuff they learned while messing around with Linux and Mach, to make the almost open Darwin OS, and add some stuff they knew from the Mac to make the semi-open Aqua instead of X-11, and they had a new winner:

Mac OS X, brought to you by Darwin OS and Apple. (And the Apple Public License, which was almost free. Lots of freedom, to attract the customers. But Apple was busy behind the scenes, putting patents anywhere they thought a patent might fly. Claiming territory. Making sure the freedom to the people could be called back when strategically necessary.)

A little power to the people, and (relative to Microsoft's mess) much better security. And it could make much better use of the power of cutting-edge semiconductor than their old classic Mac OS.

Almost open. Almost free.

Shoot. MSDOS was almost open. So was MSWindows. Such systems are almost always almost open when the new Napoleon on the block is getting his start. It's a necessary part of the pattern.

One lesson Jobs learned was not to rest on his laurels. (It's not the right lesson, but he learned it.) So, before Mac OS X went stale, he started working on iOS.

And iOS was almost open, too. $99 a year for the developers' kit and almost anyone could add the application they wanted to it. And if you behaved yourself well, you could make apps for others, and Apple would let you in their walled-garden of an app(lication) store.

Yeah, not nearly as open as Mac OS X, but there actually is a point to it. Sort-of. We don't, as a culture, understand security well enough for real security to sell on the market, but there is a demand for it now. So policing the market for iPhone apps seemed to be the alternative expedient.

Nothing new here. History is repeating itself. Over and over and over and over and ...

But when the one-and-only walled garden is the only alternative, almost-open is no longer open. And the expedient is only excusable until it becomes a system. (Which is one of the security lessons we aren't learning.)

You don't continue building up the walls of the walled garden, and you don't try to shut off the outside world. That's the kind of knowing better than your customers that has always been destroying big companies a little at a time. (And Microsoft wasn't the first, of course.)

You enable the outside world, and you build bridges between that world and your walled garden, if you have to have a walled garden. That's what keeps your market healthy, active, vibrant. That's what keeps the money moving.

That is why Android is so big.

Not because anyone copied anyone. Round corners on a rectangle, common icons, and a cluttered (Ick! she called that design?) home screen do not constitute any meaningful technical contribution to the state of the art. Best common practices. Lowest common denominator, is what that is.

Android is so big because it's free. Just like we are supposed to be.

Apple, somehow you induced the Honorable Judge Koh to force the trial through on a torrid pace, so that you would just have time to strut your stuff, but Samsung would not have time to pick apart all your thinly-veiled conceits, presentations borrowed from the boardroom, which you so convincingly presented to shore up your improbable claims to "innovation", whatever that has to do with anything.

Samsung did have enough time to show the illogic in your arguments about the iPad being so wonderfully innovative. That's why the decision went their way on that one and not on the phones, where they didn't have time. (I think I would have focused on tablets, too, in their place, by the way.)

So you won one suit.

But you cannot patent cachet. You cannot use cachet to prevent the next guy from his turn for long. The moment you try controlling people's opinions instead of giving them reason to have favorable opinion, that's the moment you start destroying your cachet. It's like using your thermonuclear bombs in your own backyard.

If there had been more time for everyone, Apple's arguments would have all run out of steam, and Samsung's would not, because Samsung's arguments had substance. And pretty much everything would have gone against Apple in this trial, had Samsung been allowed to make all the arguments they were ready to make.

There once was a normal world in the US of the previous century, a "half hour of silence", if you will, in which this kind of self-defeating behavior on the part of a corporation was relatively quickly rewarded with the natural consequences. In such a world, Steve Jobs's alleged mission to Tim Cook might have been Steve making sure the behemoth he constructed undid itself when he was gone.

But that world was altered significantly when thoughts became patentable.

I don't know whether Apple will buy out Microsoft or vice-versa, but it will be because none of them can figure out a way to keep people buying their latest junk. Because they rely on "intellectual property" instead of on service.

I'm not sure whether Google and the Android sub-section of the communications industry will stay around to keep the facade of competition in place, or whether some Congress-person will find some convenient conceit to de-fang the anti-monopoly laws to allow the mergers.

Maybe the mergers into one company to replace Bell's monopoly will happen some other way, but they will happen. And I'm concerned that this time, the communications monopoly/bureaucracy will not be nearly as benign as in the days of Bell.

This whole case has turned Apple's history into yet another exercise in how to destroy freedoms, and how to destroy a market and one's own place in it.

I would like to hope that the honorable Judge Koh could re-consider the outcome, comparing the results relative to tablets and phones, and declare a mis-trial, ordering a new trial with plenty of time to let Samsung show the whole evidence letting Apple's brass display their corrupt point of view for exactly what it is. I would like to hope that a higher court would see through the mess clearly and declare a mis-trial, instructing the lower court to give the legal teams all the time they need to shoot themselves in the foot or not, as the case may be.

But the US, itself, is busy doing the same wrong things Apple has been doing. So it's not a big hope.

Real freedom is scary, because we can't give up the desire for something tangible to depend on.

We know this whole big rock we live on is in free-fall, orbiting around our Sun, but cannot see how our own economic existence is the same. We are all in economic free-fall most of the time.

Just imagine if someone who could do such a thing decided the Earth had to suddenly quit its free-fall.

Which is worse, free-fall, or the inevitable alternative -- the sudden smack when ballistic objects collide?

We don't need that kind of control, we don't really want it, if we can only believe in reality, and put the lust for power over other people behind us.

And that's what Free Software is really suppose to be all about.

Friday, August 17, 2012

claiming territory

The South Pole.

There is an international agreement not to attempt land grabs there for several reasons.

One, the scientific community led the way. (No one else was foolhardy or hardy enough. Really.) And they like their international cooperation. (And for good reason.)

Two, really. No one else. That is, no one single enterprise or any single country is going to be able to justify the resources for staking a claim there.

Thoughts -- If the global climate change turns the ice pack up there into climate water and deepens the oceans, should we forestall the landgrab by deciding ahead of time to move the displaced island nations to the land that would be exposed there?

(The idea should give us all pause about how willing we are to have to face such a question, and it would hardly seem fair to force millions of people who are acclimated to warm weather to adjust to the cold there.)

The Moon. (And, by extension, Mars.)

Again, there is an international agreement not to attempt land grabs.

Again, no single country really has the resources to permanently establish anything but scientific relics up there. Thinking carefully, unless we get some sudden advances in technology that far outstrip all the modern advances we've made in tech in the last 300 years, I'm not inclined to think we, as a race, have the tech to put any permanent settlements on the moon, period. This gravity well is really deep, and the problem of junk floating in the satellite regions of the earth is intractable.

The Liancourt Rocks.

No explicit international agreements, but those are seriously forbidding rocks. Neither of the two countries that have reasonable claim on them have been able to put a self-sustaining community on them over the last 1500 or so years.

My wife and kids were reading the newspaper yesterday, worrying about the possibility that those islands could spark a war. Also, there is the worry that there would be some who would question whether Japan could defend their claim under the current Japanese Constitution.

And there was the inevitable, "What could the Koreans be thinking?" from everyone but me, so I did some reading on the internet last night, to see if I could catch up.

Well, here is the history, as I understand it.

First, Ulleungdo. Used to be Usan-guk, a different country. Kim Isabu conquered it for Jijeung (of Silla, one of Korea's predecessors in interest) in about 500 AD. Goryeo assumed control of the island when he (they?) took over during the 900s.

Then the Korean government, because of some need to shore up its power during wars with Mongols and with Chinese factions, called all its people to the mainland. A hundred years or so passed.

Somewhere around the 1400s, Japanese fishermen started using it as a base of activities. After several decades, the Koreans returned while the Japanese fishermen were back home, and started settling back in. Diplomatic back and forth, and Toyotomi (am I getting this right?) in a move that was intended to be taken back after he conquered Korean on the road to conquering China, ceded the island to Korea. After getting spanked by the Korean navy, there was no room for further quibbling with Korea about Ulleungdo, and Korea was not silly enough to leave it uninhabited after.

Ulleungdo has a small neighboring island, now called Jukdo. Small, but the land is arable land, and you can build houses and other buildings on it without difficulty. It has been part of the community for a long time, people living on it, more-or-less self-sustaining. Maintaining a permanent settlement there is not a serious problem. Jukdo is just over a kilometer off the northern tip of Ulleungdo, to the east.

The Liancourt Rocks are known in modern Korea as Dokdo. Nearly a hundred kilometers to the south and east of Ulleungdo, I understand that they are visible from Ulleungdo when the weather is (very) clear. If I got the link right, you should be able to see that they are also about 180 km from the Oki Islands of Japan. In modern Japan, they are called Takeshima.

There are two islets. Together, they do not appear to have even half the surface area of Jukdo. It is mostly mountainous terrain, very steep. The land is sort of arable, has natural foliage and wildlife. But it is not the kind of place you could farm.

Korea sent a couple to live there in the 1940s. It is not sustainable, so they set up a support staff of 30 or more that cycles on and off the island, including policemen. Looking at the islands, I could well imagine that it would not have been possible to keep that couple living on those islands for very long prior to the invention of helicopters.

If you read a report in some part of Korean history about 20 families living on an island in this general area, not so very far to the north and east of Ulleungdo, you would not suspect it was these two islets. Unless, I suppose, there have been significant geological/ecological changes.

More police there than residents. Heh. The police and military are there for a reason, of course. Japan has continuously protested the Korean presence, and Korea does not trust Japan. (There was this war, you see.)

Japan, of course, wants to claim the islands in order to establish some bargaining power over the natural resources in the Japan Sea/East Sea.

But on what do they base their claims?

Well, you see, these islands have not been known by the same names throughout history. In fact, up until the late 1800s, there was a phantom island a bit north and east of Ulleungdo on many maps. (Apparently, British cartographers had at one point messed up the location of Ulleungdo.) This phantom island was shown about the same size as Ulleungdo, so, unless there have been some serious geographical changes, it could not have been a reference to Takeshima/Dokdo.

There are some historical references to the islands. Maybe. But it's hard to say for sure, because the Japanese have referred to Ulleungdo as Takeshima on occasion. And, it appears, have referred to the Liancourt Rocks as Matsushima.

Could the Koreans have been so sloppy? Well, yes. Some of the claims the material the Koreasn use to demonstrate their claim on Dokdo actually use the name Ulleungdo. Some others use the name, Usan or Usando, which has also been used for both Ulleungdo and Jukdo in the past. You can't depend on the name in the document.

If you read the historical reports available, interpreting by description more than by name, it appears that both Japanese and Korean fishers have used the islands as a base. Quite probably, I'm thinking, the "Japanese" pirates who plagued the costs of Korea and China for several hundred years from around the 1200s used the islands as bases, as well.

(Those pirates were initially primarily Japanese farmers and fishers having trouble making a living with all the feudalism going on at home, but after a few years, were mostly Chinese merchants trying to get around the draconian limits on commerce the Chinese government had put in place. Which latter fact did not deter China and Korea from using them as an excuse to attempt to invade Japan twice. Really large armies, Japan getting ready for the worst, and the typhoons hit. "Winds of the gods, again."

If you are wondering why the Japanese were so militant, you have to realize that they were on the receiving side, as well. Mongols and Koreans, then Chinese and Koreans. Sometimes you wonder how anyone in the far east ever had time to grow food.)

One Korean fisher who got blown off-course and went to ground on the Liancourt Rocks during the 1800s (if I recall correctly), then ended up somehow effectively captured by some Japanese, asserted that the Liancourt Rocks were Korean since a long time ago, and obtained unofficial recognition of his claim from some Japanese officials who weren't really sure what was being claimed. (It sounds like he got punished for it back home, too, but the suspended sentence was apparently meant to be a reward of sorts. Strange politics in Korea in the late 1800s.)

The one thing that is sure is that they were effectively uninhabited, and had been for a long time, when Japan was fighting the Russians in the late 1800s. Japan used the islets in some of their military activities in that war. After the war, when Japan was claiming Korea as a subject state, Japan decided it would be wise to annex the islands, and made claims to that effect.

Either the Koreans did not dispute the claims, or they did not feel they could at the time. (The emperor in exile apparently did, however, dispute the claims. And the de-facto government also disputed the claims eventually.)

By the way, many people in the far east view the Japanese involvement in World War II as simply an extension of the Japanese (supposed?) expansionism that the war with Russia was part of. That might help explain the distrust that remains in the air.

(All these wars. If you help someone attack someone else, why are you surprised when they attack back?)

So, when the boundaries were restored to pre-war boundaries by the treaties that ended WWII, Korea was hoping that pre-war meant a bit earlier in history than most westerners would consider.

Dokdo was restored to Korea in the first several drafts of the treaty ending the war in the far east, but not in the treaty which the combatants ultimately signed. (Korea was not a signing country.)

I think Judge Cookson's suggestion should be openly considered. (She was the judge that dismissed a lawsuit brought by a Korean against a Japanese elementary school in New Jersey for using a textbook that taught that Takeshima is Japanese territory.)

One island each.

But then what? The islands are not really inhabitable without support costs that well exceed the real return value, if this thing ever were to get settled.

I don't think it's a good solution, but it should be floated because the whole flap is not about islands.

(Just like with the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. -- Had the devil of a time getting that link in Google maps. One island is blacked out in the satellite view. US Military? -- Oh, Sakhalin, too.)

It's all about the resources in the ocean. Which really should be shared by all the neighboring countries. Otherwise, there will be more wars.

(No links because you should look the facts up yourself. And don't just stop at wikipedia, because it has been thrashed back and forth by editors on both sides. It is presently a little too Korean-biased, in my thinking. Who knows about tomorrow? Anyway, if you don't read it for yourself, you won't understand how things could be open to so many different interpretations.)

Monday, August 13, 2012


Reading Groklaw when I should have been working, saw another criticism of Myhrvold's VP of Global Good thingy mentioned.

(Has the guy never watched any of those mad scientist B movies where the evil genius dies ranting about how he was only trying to save the world from itself? Oh! the irony.)

I have a cold. My head is stuffed with sinus fluids and old songs. Couldn't resist a riff:

Take a step back out and look in,

It's all about control.

Everybody wants to rule the world.

(I guess if I'm going to the trouble of repeating the riff here, I ought to expand it a bit, but I have work to finish by noon if I can. But, the irony. The irony! Don't these guys ever look in the mirror and ask themselves what on earth they were thinking of?)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

cram the cram

My daughter is studying her English homework from the juku. She should be going to visit her grandmother, but she has all this homework from the juku.


I did not want her to go to juku. This is her mother's idea. My wife says it's my daughter's idea, but I don't think so.


Well, okay, it's possible she got the idea at school from her friends.



Here's why I did not want her to go to juku:
rote, rote, rote, rote, rote, rote, tore, reto, oret, roet, otre, oter, roet
400 English vocabulary words that she is supposed to cram into her head over summer.


That's why they call it cram school, right?

そういう訳で塾は「クラムスクール」 とよばれる。な。

No time to think, just write, write, write until it becomes automatic(ally wrong). And then get after the poor kid for the mistakes.


Don't argue with me. I've seen perfectly good students destroy their interest in studying with this kind of attack. I've had to pick up the pieces so many times.


Well, picking up the pieces is part of a teacher's job, so that's not a big deal. Except there are the outlier students that then spend the rest of their junior high school experience fighting the teachers. Maybe, in the third year, before entrance exams for high-school, they come around. But then it's more rebellion in high school, usually.


The explosions, shattering, depression, self-injury, etc., will happen plenty enough, even without the useless rote. This is, after all, junior high school.


Fortunately, I haven't had to witness a suicide attempt (yet). I've got a good school where I teach, the teachers are trained at picking up the pieces and at softening the damage.


My own kids are not so fortunate. And it's somehow harder to pick up the pieces at home, in your own family. But this is part of a parent's job, too. (The final follow-up has always been the parents' job.)


Now, I have seen teachers tell the kids how to do the rote work right. Say, for example, take about twenty words at a time, take a week or more. First time, write the Japanese meaning once, then write the English word or phrase two to four times in the practice notebook on the first day. Do the first time in class, in fact.



For homework, take five minutes a day to run through the list, once each. Not ten times, not five times, once each per day. Then practice other stuff from that week's lesson, stuff from the text that uses the vocabulary.


A little repetition, mixed with working on the meaning, and you work from there on the stuff that doesn't stick.


Of course, some kids will try to do it all at once, so they can get it over with and go play. That's okay. There are, in fact, a few outliers in a different direction, for whom twenty times each all at once works sort of okay. Maybe, for that student, better than the slow, but sure pace. That time around.


But the cram school leaves no time for modifying the approach for individual students' needs.


No time stop for meaning.


No time to think about other ways to use the words.


No time to tie the words in with what they already know.


No time to correct mistakes.


No time to get it right.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

To iPad or not to iPad. (I do not iPad.)

There was a time when I wanted an iPad. I think I'd have been willing to put up with the quirks (and get a bluetooth keyboard) if I had had the money.


I do not want an iPad today.

今日は iPad が欲しくありません。

I did not want an Intel Mac. I'd have bought an AMD Mac, if Apple had made one. (I know you can build an AMD box with certain hardware and, with some effort, get Mac OS X running on it, but I'd have bought one built by Apple.)

インテル系のマックは欲しくなかった。 AMD の CPU が入っていたマックを、アップル社が発売してくれたら、買ったと思います。(ハード関連を工夫して AMD CPU の自作パソコン上 Mac OS X が稼働可能だと、知っていますが、買うならアップル製の機械を買ったでしょう。)

One reason I was interested in the iPhone and iPad was that the processor was not Intel. (I've written about the reasons elsewhere.) Oh, it's not just not Intel -- I find the ARM processors interesting in a lot of ways.

iPhone と iPad の関心を引っ張る所の一つは、 CPU はインテル製ではなかったことです。(どこかでその理由を説いたことがあります。)まあ、インテルのことだけではない。 ARM の CPU は結構おもしろい。

But no more.


When Steve was alive and healthy, he knew how and when to put limits on the reality distortion field that is marketing. He understood social engineering, its uses, and its place, and its limits. He knew when to stop.




I disagreed with him and Apple on their decision to completely drop the PowerPC processor, even though I'm not a huge fan of those CPUs. Darwin, the OS, was mostly CPU-agnostic, and, except for the biases of a few very vocal wannabee geeks with connections to a lot of marketing departments, there was every reason Apple should have kept PowerPC products in its line. It's called broadening the technology base. Careful packaging and marketing could avoid the potential confusion between x86 and PPC products, and the nay-sayers who don't understand compilers and CPUs would have finally shut up when they saw the reality behind Intel's claims of superiority. (It's still a wash in real applications, some faster, some slower, and that's just fine.)

ジョブズ氏とアップル社の PowerPC を完全に止めた決定については(パワーアーキテクチャーの大ファンでもないのに)全然納得が付きません。操作体系の Darwin OS には CPU 主義なんてなかったはず。各社の営業部に何らかの関係を持ったオタク擬の何人かの在中をおいて、 PowerPC 商品を作りつづける理由が多かったのです。つまり、技術基盤を広げて力を固まることです。パッケージングや営業に力を入れたら、市場の x86 商品と PPC 商品の間の混乱を防げることは可能ですし、コンパイラーと CPU の関係を良く理解していない、嫌々言う連中は、インテルの優位の主張についての実際の結果を見たら、やっと大人しくなったでしょう。(今でも、実際応用に行くと、ものによっては速い、ものによっては遅い、確実の優位状況がないのです。そんな問題じゃありません。)

And the competition between CPU vendors, even though IBM and Freescale would not be putting near the effort in as Intel, would have been good for the general state of the tech.

IBM も Freescale もインテルほど熱意になって競争に入らなくても、 CPU 売り手の競争は、業界に良い影響を持つでしょう。

Now that he is gone, it seems Apple has no self-restraint in their social engineering efforts. (Which was the sin of Microsoft. Oh. And the sin of Intel, and the reason I really don't like being forced to buy Intel processors.)

ジョブズ氏はもういない現在は、アップル社の社交工学規格に自制の気配がない。それは毎苦労ソフトの罪であり、インテルの罪でもある。また、インテルの CPU を買わされたくない理由でもある。

You can't patent cachet.


And, when credibility goes out the door, cachet tends to leave with it.


Anyway. No. iPad no more.

さて。断る。iPad を。

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Too late to complain: The performance of Intel's Atom


[update 2015.07.22: I think I'll finish translating this. もう、訳しちゃおうか。]

Well, one meaningless post deserves another.


Somewhere, I've written about bc and the joys of calculating pi to lots of digits on your own computer.

どこかでbc と、自分のコンピュータで π を、沢山の桁数まで算出する喜びについて書いたことがある。

(What is bc you say? You don't say. Well, bc is this handy-dandy command-line basic calculator utility that comes free with most Unix, Gnu/Linux, BSD, and related OSses. Android and iOS are unfortunate exceptions, although it shouldn't be that hard to add.)

(ええっっ、 bc ってなんだ?って聞かれるのですか?言わんか。まあ、 bc というものは便利に便利な命令型、基礎的な計算機道具です。およそのユニックス、 GNU/Linux 及び BSD 系のOSに、タダで添え付けてくれるのです。アンドロイドや iOS は残念ながらの例外です。取り付けるのはそれほど難しくあるはずないのに。)

(Gag. How did this go live? I don't have time to finish the Japanese, and I didn't want to post without a mention of Intel's plans to own the pipes. Erk. Cough. Splatter. I'm getting too old to keep up. And stupid Google can't decide what "edit" means.)

[update 2015.07.22:

So, here is the command line that starts a timed session of bc with the commands to calculate 1/4 pi to 4000 places:

[update 2015.07.22:
では、πの四分の一を4千桁まで計算する命令を持って、bc との対話を開始し、その経過時間を測る命令は次の通りです。]

time echo "scale=4000;a(1)" | bc -l
Here are the resulting times for three of the computers I own:

[update 2015.07.22:

1.25 GHz PowerPC G4 (1.2) Bus speed 167 MHz
real 0m55.246s
user 0m53.573s
sys  0m0.180s

CPU0: Intel(R) Atom(TM) CPU N455   @ 1.66GHz stepping 0a
real    0m55.324s
user    0m55.210s
sys    0m0.003s
CPU0: AMD Sempron(tm)   2600+ stepping 01
Detected 1832.806 MHz processor.
real    0m34.198s
user    0m34.022s
sys    0m0.004s

Yeah, the Sempron uses a bit more power than the Atom, more than double, I think. But it's about five years older. The G4 is how many years older than the Sempron? Uses about the same power curve as the Atom, judging from the netbook's battery life. Smaller battery than the iBook's, half the running time between charges.

[update 2015.07.22:
そうです。センプロンのCPUの消費電力はアトムのCPUより大きいです。倍以上大きい。ただ、このアトムよりは五年古い。この G4のCPUはセンプロンよりは何年古いでしょう?アトムと大体同じ消費電力の仕様に思われるのは電池がiBookの電池より小さく、充電寿命がその半分です。]

Steve Jobs, over there where you are now, tell me: Just what did you mean about Intel's road map? Why did you sell your soul to the other half of Leviathan? Is this what you bought?

[update 2015.07.22:

What to do about UEFI?

Woke up in a minor panic this morning.

If I don't tell the world about the inherent vulnerabilities in UEFI, the world will fall apart!

Yeah, I have these attacks, sometimes -- the "clarity" of the dreaming mind. I suppose I should post a rant about that clarity sometime. But I have three posts in suspended animation, and I really have two other, paying, jobs that I should be putting first, especially if I'm going to be working on Sunday.

(I'll pretend this is service instead of work. ;-) (erk. No, that's not really a valid defense, either. If I'm wrong here, I'm wrong.)

After the morning chores, I still feel inclined to post this, so I'll post the short version here, and (probably after I finish a translation job I've been letting slide too long) unpack it later on my defining computers blog.

So, some primary inherent vulnerabilities in UEFI, at least, as Microsoft is pushing it for MSW8:

  • Microsoft owns the keys to your computer (including MSWindows "smart phones").
Think about that. Would you be comfortable with GM owning the keys to your car? I'm going to leave a lot of questions begging on that one, because that question should be enough to get you thinking.

  • You cannot re-tool the keys to your computer without breaking the "license" Microsoft issues for your computer running their OS, starting from MSWindows 8.
So, if you decide you don't want Microsoft to own your computer, and install your own keys in precedence over Microsoft keys, you cannot legally run MSWindows 8 OS stuff. On ARM processors, you aren't even supposed to be physically able to re-tool the keys at all. Maybe you think you don't mind now, but if you ever change your mind, you can't to anything about it without "breaking the law". (See DMCA for how bad that is in the US.)

  •  Microsoft's master key works on everyone's computer, as I understand it.
So, let's use the automotive analogy again: GM would have the master key to your car. And it would be the same key for every car made by GM. (Not a perfect analogy, but when you get into the details, it's close enough.) Are you comfortable with the idea that anyone who can duplicate or reverse-engineer that master key could now drive away with your car?

More to the point, are you comfortable with the fact that someone could duplicate or reverse-engineer the Microsoft key and, without any notice to you, put a trojan horse, password logger, and all sorts of other evil stuff on your computer. Your bank information, your job information, your private letters, whatever -- all easy pickings.

  • The manufacturers all have master keys, and, as far as I know, those keys are the same for all the computers they manufacture.
So, not just Microsoft, but (for example) DELL also has a master key for your DELL manufactured PC or computer device. It's not the same as the one Microsoft has, but it is a master key, and, as far as I know, there is only one key for all the computers DELL makes. At any rate, it's not one key per computer. Likewise, Lenovo, etc.

  • You are out of the loop. No master key for you. Microsoft and your manufacturer have their own master keys and those take precedence over any master key you can set -- at least any you can set without breaking Microsoft's contracts. And, in the case of ARM-based portable MSWindows devices, any you can set without reverse engineering, which would also put you in breach of the DMCA law in the US.
Fundamentally flawed. Fatally so. What else do you expect from Microsoft and Intel?

Note, that, while Microsoft's and Intel's power games kill your security and create other problems, they also make it much more difficult to run community-developed OSses like Ubuntu or RedHat Enterprise. And they may may make it impossible to legally run them on the same machine you run MSWindows junk on.

Of course, you really have no reason to run MSW8, because all the stuff that keeps you in the MSWindows universe runs on MSW2k, but not on MSW8. Which leads to the proper solution:

  1. Keep your old machines that you have to run the legacy stuff on.
  2. Keep them off the network, or in isolated segments.
  3. Don't let anyone use those old machines as workstations.
  4. In fact, don't let anyone touch them, except to use the legacy programs.
  5. Move all your day-to-day-use workstations to RedHat, Cent, Ubuntu, Mint, FreeBSD, openBSD, etc., now.
  6. Don't buy MSW8. 
  7. Don't buy any software or hardware that is dependent on MSWindows 8.
That solves the Microsoft problem, although it doesn't solve the Intel problem.

Nor does it solve the problem of write-protecting your BIOS in a meaningful way.

But it lets you keep operating for now.

There is much more to be said on this, hopefully I'll get a chance to do so before summer ends.