Good, long read with Bellingcat founder, Eliot Higgins, about open-source investigations of MH17 and Syrian chemical weapons and what’s been learned about disinformation in the process.

Mirrors my belief that education is going to be crucial in the future, to equip kids to sort the wheat from the chaff…

You have to develop young people to consume media in a more critical way. To understand that, basically, an internet service provider is the gatekeeper to all the information in the world. If you start off on the wrong foot, the algorithm starts pushing you deeper and deeper into nonsense. If you aren’t equipped to respond to that, then you are going to get sucked into disinformation.

…and that that can be an agnostic process.

On the political question: we believe in democracy, we believe in the truth, we believe that people who do bad things should be exposed and ideally, punished, and that innocent people should be protected. That’s where we are broadly, politically. As much as I’ve criticized Trump and the Republicans here, I don’t see myself as being anti-one political party or another – if they’re telling the truth and being straight with the public and not screwing people over. But when they start going outside of that, when they start lying, when they start spreading disinformation, whoever they are, whatever they do, that’s going to be of interest to us and we’re going to go after them.

It’s about teaching kids/people HOW to think, not WHAT to think.

Why Microsoft Is Irrelevant

Fake Steve Jobs (really Dan Lyons from Newsweek) has an excellent blog entry detailing why Microsoft is no longer relevant as a player in the IT industry. The piece is in response to a New York Times article (rego required: see Bug Me Not for fake rego details) on Microsoft, which damned with faint praise.

Larry’s like, Look, the Borg has never been out ahead on anything. The difference is, they used to be able to catch up. They’ve always been copiers. That’s been their business model from the start. Let others go out and create a market, then copy what they’ve done, sell it for less, and crush them. They got into the OS business by stealing DOS from someone else. They created Windows by stealing Apple’s ideas. They got into desktop apps by copying Lotus and WordPerfect and then having the bright idea to bundle all the stuff into one cheapo suite. They pulled the trick off again with Internet Explorer versus Netscape, in the late 90s – that was the last time they were able to let someone get out ahead of them and then pivot and copy and give it away free and take them over. By the end of the 90s they had broken through 50% market share in browsers, and that was it for Netscape.

But what happened after that? This is what we were wondering. Larry says two things happened. One, the Borg got slower. They got big and fat and bureaucratic. Two, everyone else got faster. Look at Google. They got so big so quickly that there was no way for the Borg to claw them back. Same for all these other Web businesses. Amazon, Ebay, Skype, Facebook, Twitter. They came out of nowhere, and what they were doing was free, so the Borg couldn’t just do a crappy knockoff and sell it for less. They were up against free – the Web companies were using their own strategy against them.

Another difference was the customer set. In the old days you were talking about selling to corporate America, and consumers just followed suit – remember the marketing shit about how you want the same stuff at home that you have at the office? Selling to corporates was easy. You have lots of levers you can pull to make them do what you want and pay what you tell them to. We all had a playbook – we just studied what IBM had been doing for decades, and we copied them. (Larry stopped and chuckled a little bit when he said this, and for a moment just stared out the window with this glazed, happy expression on his face.) The Borg’s other customer set were hardware OEMs. Again, easy to coerce, and no messy dealing with end users. Perfect.

But on the Web things changed – now you were selling to consumers, and the Borg had no way to coerce or control consumers the way they could coerce corporate accounts.

Gotta Love The Internet

My run training has been going well recently, and my runners are due to be replaced, so I decided to start looking around for prices. I’m currently using Mizumo Wave Creations and they’ve been working well for me, so I figured I’d just get the same ones again. Recommended Retail Price in Australia is $250, but I’d seen them in Rebel Sport for $199.

In a bid to save some cash I decided to do a bit opf WBR (web-based research) and ended up buying from Runner’s Warehouse in the US: a pair of Wave Creations plus a pair of the lighter Wave Precisions, plus shipping to Oz for $230. Bloody bargain!

On a related note, Sydney’s Apple Store opened last week and their global Senior VP of Retail was asked why Australian consumers get ripped of by Apple’s pricing. He claimed that Apple’s prices are fair, which is horse shit. I’m looking to replace my 15” Macbook Pro, and there’s a 29% discrepancy between the US and Australian price - fair enough, 10% of that is GST, but that still leaves an almost 20% markup at a time when the exchange rate is 0.95. Mr. Johnson claimed that he had “never once - and I receive hundreds of emails a day from customers - had one email [complaining] about our pricing.”

So, I decided to send him one: >Hi Ron,

I read with interest your claim from June 19th’s Sydney Morning Herald, that in 8 years you “have never once - and I receive hundreds of emails a day from customers - had one email about our pricing.” If that is indeed true, then I’m happy to be your first.

Simply put, you’re ripping us off. I’m a software developer who has owned Macs since the early 90s a work exclusively on my MacBook Pro and I tend to upgrade to the latest version approximately every two years. I love all things Mac and as such, keep an eye on the goings on in the industry. More importantly, in the last couple of years I have been directly responsible for converting 20+ friends from PCs to Macs and all of them wonder why they didn’t switch sooner. My point is that I keep a regular eye on prices, as, if I’m not buying for myself, there’s a good chance I’m trying to convince a friend to switch.

I’m due to upgrade now and am looking at the better of the two 15” MacBook Pros: AUD$3400 vs US$2500, or at today’s exchange rate AUD$2619, so the Aus version is 29% more expensive than the US version, so if we allow 10% for GST, there’s still a 19% discrepancy to explain. Let’s remember that the laptops are manufactured in Asia, so there shouldn’t be a significant difference in delivery to Aus vs US. Also, I’m sure Apple has negotiated a uniform per unit price regardless of the end destination of the laptop. Every other manufacturer passes on currency savings to the consumer, except Apple. Yes, you make a token gesture with a $100 here and there, but, based on exchange rates, your laptops in Australia should have improved in price against the US by over 20% in the last few years and this clearly hasn’t happened.

I’d be interested in hearing your explanation for this.

regards, Donncha Redmond

I doubt I’ll get a response, or that the PR minions will even forward the letter to him!