May 11

Apples Slips in marketshare…and reveals exclusivity details with AT&T

Apple slips to #3 spot behind Android, and reveals in-depth details about their five-year contract with AT&T.

Its taken 3 years to get a solid answer but today Apple revealed that it had signed a 5-year exclusivity deal with AT&T in 2007.  This has all apparently come to light as court documents in the 3 year old class action against Apple & AT&T have surfaced.  Dating back to 2007 a class action lawsuit has been ongoing in California when California resident Timothy Smith filed a suit claiming Apple and AT&T violated California antitrust laws when they locked iPhones to only work on AT&T networks.

Unfortunately since the inception of the contract the AT&T network that supports Apple’s iPhone has been plagued with bandwidth issues, dropped calls and poor customer service. I really like my iTouch, and if I didn’t have to deal with AT&T there’s a pretty good chance I could be convinced to give up my Blackberry Tour in favor of an iPhone, but as long as I have to go with AT&T that’s just not gonna happen.

And unfortunately these issues with AT&T are really beginning to effect Apple’s marketshare.  This Monday the research firm NPD Group a report that shows that Google’s Android-based phones have overtaken Apple as the No. 2 spot in US consumer phone usage.  RIM’s Blackberry phones retain the top spot with 36% marketshare, with the Android system following at a comfortable distance at 28% marketshare, and Apple’s iPhone trailing behind at 21%.  And these numbers just reflect consumer usage and don’t take into account enterprise purchases.

Now, the last thing I’d say is that this spells some sort of doom for Apple, far from it.  However it’s very prevalent that iPhone products are being held back by this attachment to AT&T, and frankly AT&T has had more than enough time to get it’s act together and improve their network.  Apple should just bite the bullet and do whatever they need to do to break the contract, whatever the outcome I imagine AT&T would fold and then Apple wouldn’t even have to worry about it =D

I definitely love my Blackberry, but I think I love my iTouch more, and I’d love to have a National Broadband enabled iPhone.  And I certainly am not going to pay for two broadband plans, so as soon as the iPhone is released from the binds of its AT&T contract, I think my poor Tour will live the rest of it’s live in a drawer.

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May 02

Site Move: Update

Ah-hah, it was pretty much about as easy as I thought it would be get the dynamic redirect in.  All links to old posts should work nicely as they will bounce to the same post at the new site.

I rock!

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May 02

Thanks Professa has it’s own host!

FINALLY!

I mentioned something about this in early april, and since then have pretty much been quiet on the blog.  After I realized I really liked blogging, and I had FINALLY found the right software to do it with in this whole wordpress deal I also realized that my old web hosting situation just wasn’t going to work out.  I had to put off a couple things for a bit but finally got everything sorted out with my hosting company and Thanks Professa! finally has it’s own individual hosting account.

What does this mean?

Well, For one I’ll start posting again.  I’m sure all of my one readers will be very happy!

The move also gives me a lot more tools to advertise and share the blog with the other denizens of the internet so that, one day we might have two readers!

Old direct links to articles will continue to work for a bit, as there is basically a mirror of the site on the old host, at some point I will get around to making them redirect here instead of just mirroring.  I also need to figure a few other things out with the old posts, but that’s for tomorrow.  Or maybe I should say later today, since I’ve been working on this all night.

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Apr 09

Bot Attacks!

ThanksProfessa! finally got the attention of some spammers over these last few days.  One of my big concerns is allowing people to comment without having to log-in and deal with an account.  There’s a couple tools I just can’t use because of the way ThanksProfessa! is currently set up due to not having it’s own individual hosting account.  However, I found a number of tools that shouldn’t be too intrusive that should not only cut back on spam but also on these godawful pingback comments I couldn’t figure out how to block either.  Hopefully these new features won’t impede anyone’s posting of comments.  And hopefully they work!

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Apr 07

Star Wars Canon: Bridging the old and the new

Speaking of Star Wars

I think I originally got this off of Slashdot.org, although I no longer can find the exact post the source article has been sitting in my bookmarks folder for a while.  This fellow Keith Martin apparently wrote an essay explaining that the only way that the original 3 (middle 3) Star Wars movies make sense in light of the new movies (first 3, chronologically) is for Chewbacca and R2-D2 to have been life-long, top Rebel Alliance spies and covert specialists.

A New Sith, or Revenge of the Hope
Reconsidering Star Wars IV in the light of I-III

If we accept all the Star Wars films as the same canon, then a lot that happens in the original films has to be reinterpreted in the light of the prequels. As we now know, the rebel Alliance was founded by Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Bail Organa. What can readily be deduced is that their first recruit, who soon became their top field agent, was R2-D2.

Consider: at the end of RotS, Bail Organan orders 3PO’s memory wiped but not R2′s. He wouldn’t make the distinction casually. Both droids know that Yoda and Obi-Wan are alive and are plotting sedition with the Senator from Alderaan. They know that Amidala survived long enough to have twins and could easily deduce where they went. However, R2 must make an impassioned speech to the effect that he is far more use to them with his mind intact: he has observed Palpatine and Anakin at close quarters for many years, knows much that is useful and is one of the galaxy’s top experts at hacking into other people’s systems. Also he can lie through his teeth with a straight face. Organa, in immediate need of espionage resources, agrees.

For the next 20 years, as far as 3PO knows, he is the property of Captain Antilles, doing protocol duties on a diplomatic transport. He is vaguely aware of the existence of the princess but doesn’t know much about her. Wherever 3PO goes, being as loud and obvious as he always is, his unobtrusive little counterpart goes with him. 3PO is R2′s front man. Wherever they land, R2 is passing messages between rebel sympathisers and sizing up governments as potential rebel recruits – both by personal contact and by hacking into their networks. He passes his recommendations on to Organa.

Yoda is out of the picture by this stage, using the Force-infused swamps of Dagobah to hide himself from Vader and the Emperor. Or something. He is meditating on the future and keeping in touch with Obi-Wan via the ghost of Qui-Gon Jin, which as comm systems go has the virtue of being untappable. Obi-Wan, on Tattoine, keeps in touch with Bail Organa and the other Rebel leaders by courier, of which more later.

As Star Wars opens, R2 is rushing the Death Star plans to the Rebellion. R2, not Leia. The plans are always in R2. What Leia puts into him in the early scene is only her own holographic message to Kenobi. Leia’s own mission, as she says in the holographic message, is to pick up Obi-Wan and take him to Alderaan – or so she thinks. Actually, her father just wants her to meet Kenobi, which up to this point she never has. There’s a reason for that.

Obi-Wan has spent the last 20 years in the Tattoine desert, keeping watch over Luke Skywalker and trying to decide on one of the three available options:
A) If Luke shows no significant access to the Force, then leave him alone in obscurity
B) If Luke shows real Force ability, then consider recruiting him as a Jedi. The rebellion needs Jedi. Now.
But, if Luke shows any signs of turning out like his father, then C) sneak into his house one fine night and chop his head off. With great regret but it’ll save a lot of trouble later on.
Knowing this to be the case, Bail Organa (perhaps at the insistence of his wife) has found excuses not to send Leia to Ben for assessment of Jedi potential, largely for fear of option C.

To be fair to all concerned, Leia has shown no overt signs of a link to the Force. Luke on the other hand has. In his home-built hotrod aircraft, with no formal fighter pilot training and no decent instrumentation, Luke can regularly score centre-hits on 2-metre targets in complicated zero-altitude maneouvres. Until he attends the briefing on Yavin, Luke has no way of knowing that hardened combat pilots would consider that nearly impossible. To him it’s easy. Obi-Wan, who saw Anakin’s performance in the Pod Race, is nervous.

Much of Obi-Wan’s behaviour in this film, and Yoda’s in the next, can best be understood if they are frankly scared to death of what Luke might become. (Ben is also scared that he himself will make all the same mistakes he made with Anakin.)

Now, with the existence of the rebellion at stake, Bail Organa has finally told Leia to go see Obi-Wan and has sent her along with R2. The original plan would then be for Obi-Wan (with optional Luke and/or Leia in tow) to leave his exile and take the Death Star plans to Yavin, where they can be put to use. R2 (with Leia if Ben doesn’t want to take her) would then carry on to Alderaan to maintain the cover story. The original plan does not survive contact with a large Imperial Star Destroyer.

R2 and 3PO bail out in an escape pod, landing in vaguely the right area of Tattoine, where R2′s first priority is transport. He arranges to be captured by a group of Jawas and, once on board their transport, he makes a deal with them (possibly using emergency funds stored about his person) to take him where he wants to go. The Jawas refuse to go directly to Kenobi for fear of marauding Sandpeople but they agree to R2′s second request : transport to the Skywalker farm. They even get to keep the purchase price if they can sell R2 and 3PO there. The Jawas shake on it and go through with the plan.

Seeing 3PO fail to recognise the farm where he worked for 10 years gives r2 a moment’s amusement but, as soon as possible, he gets away and heads for Kenobi. Luke and 3PO follow, which may or may not have been part of the plan.

On first seeing R2, Obi-Wan has a twinkle in his eye and calls him “my little friend”. Well, he is. However, when Luke wakes up and says that R2 claimed to be owned by an Obi-Wan Kenobi, he blandly says “I don’t seem to remember ever owning a droid.” Ben has in fact owned several but the remark is aimed at R2 and translates as “You keep quiet. I’m not about to tell him everything just yet.” Obi-Wan thinks fast and tells Luke a version of his past that does not involve a father who became a dark lord of the Sith. He wants to examine Luke a lot more closely before he risks telling him the real truth.

Although the Death Star plans need to get to Yavin as soon as possible, Obi-Wan needs to make one more diversion first. If the Empire knows that Leia is a Rebel leader, then they also know about her father and the whole Organa family may need immediate evacuation. Fortunately, before coming to Tattoine, R2 had already arranged transport, which is waiting at Mos Eisley, under the command of the Rebellion’s other chief field agent and espionage asset. Chewbacca.

20 years earlier, Chewbacca was second in command of the defence of his planet. He’s there in the tactical conferences and there on the front lines and is a personal friend of Yoda’s. When he needed reliable people to join the embryonic Alliance, who else would Yoda turn to but his old friend from Kashykk? Given his background, there is no way that Chewie would spend the crucial years of the rebellion as the second-in-command to (sorry Han) a low-level smuggler. Unless it’s his cover. In fact, Chewie is a top-line spy and flies what is in many ways the Rebellion’s best ship.

The Millenium Falcon may look like a beat-up old freighter but it can outrun any Imperial ship in normal space or hyperspace, hang in a firefight with a Star Destroyer or outmaneouvre a dozen top-of-the-line TIE fighters. It’s a remarkable feat of engineering and must have cost a colossal fortune to build. How does Han come to own a ship like that? He only thinks he does, actually it’s Chewie’s. Half-way through RotS, we see the Falcon landing at the Senate building on Coruscant. If it’s the same ship (which of course it is) then it was the personal transport of one of the senatorial delegations – a much more likely source to commission its design. That delegatino must have later joined the Rebellion and given it the use of the Falcon. In fact, if the delegation is the one from Kashykk, then the ship may have belonged to Chewbacca as early as RotS.

Han is Chewie’s front man. It’s much better, and safer for him, if he doesn’t know what’s really going on. Chewie used to work with Lando Calrissian in a similar way but Lando wanted to settle down, so Chewie arranged for him to lose the Falcon in a card game to Han Solo, an even better choice as partner. Han and Chewie’s working method is pretty much what we see in the cantina scene: Chewie make the contacts and sets up the deals, then turns them over to Han who haggles over the price and gives the final yea or nay. This lets Chewie wander the seamy underside of the galaxy pretty much at will, making contacts, gathering and passing information with no-one was the wiser, especially not Han.

Chewie persuaded Han to do business with Jabba the Hutt so he could make regular runs to Tattoine, where Chewie could pass messages between Kenobi and Organa. When R2′s urgent message came through only days before, the only way for Chewie to get back to Tattoine in time was to make the “mistake” that forced Han to dump his cargo to avoid capture. As a down side, this led to Solo’s getting a death mark out on him from Jabba the Hutt. Chewie was a bit upset about the need for that but figured they weren’t going to be dealing with Tattoine for much longer.

En route to Alderaan, R2 and Chewie play stop-motion chess. This is the latest in a series of games they’ve played over the year in the back rooms of space stations and cantinas across the galaxy, but this is the first time they’ve done it in front of their respective straight men, so they put on a big show.

Then it all goes wrong again. Alderaan is gone and the Falcon is caught and brought aboard the Death Star. Only Han, Luke and 3PO don’t know just how much trouble they’re in but Obi-Wan has a plan and seems confident (but Jedi always do). Soon afterwards, R2 finds Leia in the detention cells and shouts that they have to rescue her, to which Chewie can only agree. If Vader learns he has a daughter, then they’re all in deep trouble, so Chewie does his bit to persuade Han to go along with Luke’s plan.

Then, on the verge of escape, Vader himself turns up only yards from both of his children, one of whom is leaking Force all over the place. Obi-Wan stages a distraction by letting himself  die and go into the Force while the others escape. At this point, Chewie suddenly realises that he’s been left in charge, not only of the Death Star Plans and the survival of the Rebellion but of the secret son and daughter of Darth Vader. With the Organas and Kenobi all dead, only Chewie, R2 and Yoda know who Luke and Leia are. And only Ob-Wan knew where Yoda has been hiding. Chewie is stressed out by the responsibility and R2 (who keeps making crude jokes about the whole affair) is being no help at all.

Chewie’s first problem is what is happening between Luke and Leia. With a psychic link they can feel but don’t understand, thrown together in a life-or-death escape, they are looking at each other with a sparky intensity that Chewie gradually recognises as Romantic Tension. He’s no expert on human relationships but Chewie is fairly sure that that’s Wrong, so he does the only thing he can under the circumstances – he throws Han at her. Han is at first not interested but after a while starts to warm to the idea with an intensity that gives Chewie new worries.

When they reach Yavin, Han decides to take the money and run and Chewie decides to go with him. Looked at in cold light, it’s for the good of the Rebellion. Even if Yavin is destroyed, there’ll be one agent who knows what’s going on who can try and put something back together, but he doesn’t feel good about it. When Han decides to turn around and join the attack, Chewie is all for it.

Han and Luke get medals but Chewie doesn’t. Actually, Leia offers him one but Chewie turns it down. He got one of those things from Yoda about 20 years ago, but there’s no way he can tell her that.

As the film ends, the three founders of the Rebellion are all gone. Bail Organa is dead, Yoda is out of contact and Obi-Wan’s ghost can only talk to other Jedi. (So that would be Yoda then.) Thus, the field leadership of the rebellion has just been turned over to the daughter of Darth Vader. Chewie is really hoping that someone with an official rank greater than hers will get here real soon before he has to think really seriously about option C.

© Keith Martin 2005

I hope you found it as amusing and enlightening as I did =)

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Apr 06

George Lucas just killed your sister and raped your mother.

Not really, but close enough.  I can’t quite summon the strength to say anything about this myself, I will let the story speak for itself:

Yes, George Lucas is really going there.

In the latest attempt to wring every possible cent out of Star Wars, the head Jedi has announced plans to spin off an untitled animated comedy series that “will look at the saga’s characters with a playful and irreverent tone,” per Lucasfilm.

Helping to oversee the hijinks will be former Scoobster Seth Green, who’s earned Emmy nods for spoofing the Skywalker gang in his Robot Chicken.

“It’s crazy to think that there aren’t normal, mundane everyday problems in a world so well-defined,” says Green, hinting at the show’s premise. “What do these characters do when they’re not overthrowing Empires?”

No word on which network will air the new comedy, but Lucasfilm shot down speculation that there would be crossover between the Star Wars sitcom and the hit Cartoon Network series Clone Wars.

Color us skeptical, but hey, it can’t suck any worse than that holiday special. Right…right?!

Yeah.  That’s right.
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Apr 06

sounds of silence

My apologies for the lack of posts over the last few days, I had a number of stories ready to go exploring race in America and the census, but I got into a discussion with my hosting company about moving ThanksProfessa! to its own hosting account.  Right now the thanksprofessa.com domain simply points to an old hosting account/domain of mine that is not particularly ‘in use’ anymore – at least not for the purpose it was originally intended/used for, but it does host a number of other websites that redirect to it from other urls, Thanks Professa! being one of the 5 or so little websites.

Just trying to work out the specifics of moving the database as well as making sure old direct links/permalinks will point or redirect to the new root site.  If it seems easy to construct the re-direct I will probably end up posting those stories here before the move ;)

Stay tuned for more details, and perhaps some other exciting expansions of the site!

-Dui

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Mar 31

Dead soldier’s father ordered to pay Westboro Baptist Church

This is absolutely and outrageously offensive, and stupid.

For decades now the Westboro Baptist Church has run amok with hate speech and public demonstrations that strain the limits of public decency.  I still don’t understand how this country got so fucked up, do you?  How can organizations like the ACLU defend this group’s hate speech as free speech?  Fuck the ACLU.  Free Speech hasn’t been free in a long time, Free Speech is subject to decency rules and bound by the cause of saving the American family.  How does this work?  How does this compute?  Does this make sense in anyone else’s brain?? Because mine wants to fucking explode!  We have to live in a world of the [wikipedia]FCC[/wikipedia], the [wikipedia]MPAA[/wikipedia], [wikipedia]ESRB[/wikipedia]‘s and the [wikipedia]Family Research Council[/wikipedia], and yet the Westboro Baptist Church can run amok and spread this hate speach?

For those that don’t know, the [wikipedia]Westboro Baptist Church[/wikipedia] is an extraordinarily hateful group that claims that the United States is being punished by god with the deaths of soldiers overseas because we allow homosexuality and other levels of “depravity” to continue.  They have taken to regularly protesting at the private family funerals of dead soldiers, holding picket signs reading “You’re going to hell,” “God hates you” and “Thank God for dead soldiers.”

One of these poor grieving families decided to stand up for what’s right and got slapped down by our illustrious justice system.  Albert Snyder, father of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in action in Iraq has been order by a court to pay the Westboro Baptist Church $16,000 in legal fees after a failed attempt to sue them for disrupting his son’s funeral.  Ridiculous.

If you have the means, you can help Mr. Snyder pays these fees by donating via his son’s site, http://www.matthewsnyder.org/.

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Mar 31

Santa Fe man hypersensative to electronic devices sues neighbor for Wifi use.

Wow, talk about a crazy neighbor.

This is a new one for me, but the Chicago Tribune’s Michael Haederle wrote an article a couple days ago describing the plight of a man from Santa Fe, New Mexico who claims he is hypersensitive to certain frequencies of electromagnetic radiation.  Of course, like any other good American citizen, this man has decided that he has the right to live in a tightly-packed urban environment and pester his neighbors about their use of a WiFi Router, dimmer switches, and cell phones.

Santa Fe is home to a pretty wide variety of beliefs, new age practices, and all sorts of other hi-jinks; some well founded, some completely insane.  In any case, this fellow Arthur Firstenberg apparently decided that if he purchased a house in a secluded part of a new development he would escape the terrors of electromagnetism.  First of all, any sane person would know that is a ridiculous venture and just move to the way outskirts of the city and call it a day.

In any case eventually a woman, who is actually a friend of Firstenberg’s, rented the house on the next block which backs up to his and he started to experience all sorts of symptoms of his condition again; nausea, vertigo, body aches, dizziness, insomnia and a heart arrhythmia.

He claims he asked her to ‘limit’ her use of the devices, and to ‘work with him’.  But we all know that is complete bupkis, I can tell this guy is completely wonky, so there is no way he actually presented a logical case to this woman, Raphaela Monribot.  And who can blame her, she rents the house, and the community has no restrictions on technology.  But this guy pressed the issue and is attempting to sue her for $530,000 in damages and an injunction to force her to stop using her Wifi and other electronics.  Insanity.

This guy Firstenberg needs to get the hell out of Santa Fe and leave everyone else alone.  Bein’ First-in-the-’berg doesn’t make you the chief!

…sorry, I’ll be quiet….

(whoops, my bad, updated for link)

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Mar 31

50th Anniversay of the Copier (& my tangential ramblings!)

Well, it seems this month marks the 50th Anniversary of the office copier.  It’s a milestone that definitely deserves some attention, as the first copiers revolutionized communication and office work.  Granted, the first copiers clocked in at a bit under 605 lbs and regularly caught on fire, but it was worth it to not have to re-type every document by hand.  These early machines, which rivaled a set of full size washer + dryer units could produce something like 7 pages per minute, simply amazing in those days. Commercial printing presses at the time could produce about 100 pages per minute, but that was about it.  The next best thing was a typist and a type-writer.  So the copier was really a huge step forward in technology.

What I found interesting was that Xerox was originally found in Rochester, NY.  You know, before I moved upstate, I was very unaware of the history and culture of my state.  New York city is very much caught in its own vortex of self-importance.  No offense to New Yorkers, as I still consider them my native kin, in a sense… I certainly have many friends and relatives who still live there.  But New York and New Yorkers seem to consider themselves some of the best Americans there are out there, definitely above country folk.  What I learned about New York State itself was pretty limited, pretty much [wikipedia]Teddy Roosevelt[/wikipedia] & [wikipedia]Franklin Deleno Roosevelt[/wikipedia] and that’s it.  But New York is really rich and vast state, with a lot of different urban environments, as well as vast rural spaces with rolling hills and forests.  New York City though seems to take the flag with signifying ‘what New York is’, its misleading.  Like I said, I never knew Xerox was founded in upstate, or that IBM originated in Endicott, NY, near Binghamton.  I never knew that Lockheed Martin still had an advanced manufacturing and prototyping plant in Owego, NY.  That’s just the things that pop into my head from the Southern Tier, there’s plenty more out there.  For instance, most people in New York don’t know there is a beautiful city called Ithaca smack dab in the center of the state that has a very wonderful beatnik atmosphere, and yet everyone downtown spends half their lives seeking out that kind of interaction and atmosphere.  It’s very strange, New York City.  I’m glad I grew up there, and I like to visit… but I’m really happy I got out when I could.

That’s what we call a very random tangent =D

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