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Just the right amount of crazy

Posted October 3, 2014 into Science and Tech by John Birmingham

Great profile of Elon Musk at Aeon.co, who is all I have instead of Steve Jobs now. A long piece, worth a weekend read, focussing on Space X and his plans for colonising Mars to secure the future of humanity in the face of the Great Filter, which gets a mention by Barnes in the thread on War Dogs.

‘It’s funny,’ he told me. ‘Not everyone loves humanity. Either explicitly or implicitly, some people seem to think that humans are a blight on the Earth’s surface. They say things like, “Nature is so wonderful; things are always better in the countryside where there are no people around.” They imply that humanity and civilisation are less good than their absence. But I’m not in that school,’ he said. ‘I think we have a duty to maintain the light of consciousness, to make sure it continues into the future.’?

...

finally he came around to the import of it all. ‘If you look at our current technology level, something strange has to happen to civilisations, and I mean strange in a bad way,’ he said. ‘And it could be that there are a whole lot of dead, one-planet civilisations.’

6 Responses to ‘Just the right amount of crazy’

Barnesm reckons...

Posted October 4, 2014
Elon Musk is the closest we have to Tony Stark. Also I think I have read
"there was a black leather couch and a large desk, empty but for a few wine bottles and awards." as a description of you when some jurono's have come to interview Birmo.

and for whatever reasons he offers I am just happy that someone is building a space program and a colony on mars will help. I also want to see orbiting space colonies like those proposed by Gerard K O'Neils high frontier, though I recognize that we can't yet build self sustaining enclosed systems on earth so building them in space still presents a technical challenge.

I think Elon Musk's proposal is a more sensible use of resources than trying to bomb people into changing their minds.

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ShaneAlpha has opinions thus...

Posted October 4, 2014
Still the same problem we've always had.
Getting out of the gravity well.

Bring the cost of that down to something reasonable, tear up the worst parts of the U.N. Outer Space Treaty and we might have a chance.

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Blarkon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 5, 2014
Elon Musk. The early 21st century's Howard Hughes.

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TheWah reckons...

Posted October 5, 2014
Every time any of my work colleagues read a story about Musk they send it to me. My ManCrush for Elon is known far and wide

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Darth Greybeard mutters...

Posted October 5, 2014
As Steve Jobs was to JB, so Elon Musk is to me. Only WITH ROCKETS.

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted October 5, 2014

Haven't read article yet, been de-nailing all day.

Part B of my recent USA mission was to attend a 40th in Pasadena. Home to a sizable chunk of Caltech (from whence JPL was banned.) At said 40th, towards the bleary part of the evening I spoke with a Perth chap currently doing orbital math @ Caltech. He said:

Part of the problem is "acceptable loss." For a national program like NASA, invested with national pride, One loss from 100 launches is unacceptable. This leads public servants to lean towards belt & braces style of decision making, with redundancies on backups. A extravagantly cautious approach.

In a private operation, shit happens.

This dude is entirely confident that the Private Sector will be the ion drive that gets us off planet. But that Why (ROI) will influence the hows & wheres. For instance Humans will certainly work in a commercial space environment, for longer and longer spells as the century progresses, but permanent colonies are probably not on the immediate horizon. The company town is dead, Fly in Fly out is the go. Just ask central QLD.

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The Launch

Posted September 9, 2014 into Science and Tech by John Birmingham

I wont be getting up at 2.45am for the Apple launch, even though the little boy in me would love to. The grown man with deadlines says, no, get your sleep. But I have carved out a couple of hours tomorrow morning to watch the presentation and geek out like crazy.

I’m not going to add to the speculation about what they’ll announce. The gadget blogs have ruined a lot of the fun with all of the component leaks, which is a reason I try to avoid them.

(Incidentally, if you’re wondering about the economics of leaky online churnalism, and I know you are, the prices being paid for these component shots far exceed the ad revenue they generate. So who’s paying? Best speculation I’ve heard is phone case manufacturers. If they can be in the market on day one with 50 000 cases, it’s worth paying someone in China real money to steal a shell).

Rather than trying to guess what Apple will do tomorrow, I find it more intriguing to imagine where whatever they’ll announce might lead twenty years down the track. I see computing embedded in us, organically embedded in us, and us embedded in a world of data. I see our DNA as our passcode to open an email, withdraw money from the bank, or login in here at the Burger.

I imagine a Jetsons home which knows when we’re approaching and has the dinner ready, probably in some refrigerator-souvide cooker (they already exist). I see phones as a small, insanely dense block of technology that somehow ties all of this together. I see class divisions in the tech we use, with the great mass of people opting for ‘free’ tech and services via Google’s (or whichever company succeeds them) ad-supported business, while maybe a billion or so wealthy individuals pay a premium to Apple (or whichever company succeeds them) to avoid all that shit.

I see something like Google Glass, but not Google Glass, feeding us whatever data we think we need on our eyeballs – and depending on who’s paying for the service, ads to go with it.

I see workable real time language translators in super small ear implants. I see ubiquitous telepresence and tracking.

And I see massive business opportunities in disconnecting us from the always on cloud.

But apart from two phones and some sort of wearable thingy, or bunch of thingies, I have no idea what’s coming tomorrow to get all this rolling with greater speed.

57 Responses to ‘The Launch’

Justin puts forth...

Posted September 9, 2014
iWhat??????? yaaaaaawwwwwwwnnnnnnn

but the future tech is interesting. Sign me up for a full serve of 'disconnect' please :)

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Halwes is gonna tell you...

Posted September 9, 2014
Censoring that would be like censoring William Burroughs junior. Your dreamt future world can get fucked. I can't think of anything worse than a future world with a bunch of pissed, angry, racist, latent homosexual, misogynists plugged into an omnipresent ether screaming information and instructions at me.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted September 9, 2014
Dino, you mean?

Dino not to be confused with is gonna tell you...

Posted September 9, 2014
Spent 10 dollars on wine JB.
Journalists have nothing to worry about.
Julian, Edward, Glen etc.
All the rest?
Move to Bolivia.
Moneys good.
If 9/11 can happen in New York, and Michael Hastings can die then my suggestion is get a job withe New Idea.
Less Dangerous.
Or you can write about nipple slips or the new Royal baby.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted September 10, 2014
This is almost poetry, Dino. But a thousand miles off topic.

Halwes has opinions thus...

Posted September 10, 2014
I do think that nipple slips are a worthwhile topic though.

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Halwes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 9, 2014

The future world will be OK then if it's always going to be that easy. I suspect it wont be though.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted September 10, 2014
I predict quantum computing within 20 years, Very small, very fast, enormous memory capacity. Beautiful and frightening probable consequences.

NBlob would have you know...

Posted September 11, 2014
Comrade Paul, 5years not so much 20.
FwBiL in SD spoke of breakthroughs in QC that were imminent, impressive, robust & likely quickly cheap like we've never seen.
the example he cited was instead of a power network being controlled by a Master Control Room by earnest men in cheap ties, every device, every house, most poles and certainly every substation would be the Smart in the Grid. Ditto traffic.
Not so much in the memory density, he suggested we are on the "lip of a plateau" of memory capacity development, it would continue to improve, just not at the logarithmic rate it had been in the last decade.
But the connectedness thing will continue in new & interesting directions. LiFi being just one example. This radio frequency thing is just like so Marconi.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted September 12, 2014
"Comrade Paul, 5years not so much 20."

1. Comrade? Are you implying that I am a Godless Communist?

2. I said "within 20 years" did I not?

"This radio frequency thing is just like so Marconi."

Actually, it is so Tesla.

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Barnesm would have you know...

Posted September 10, 2014

is it true the new iphone 6 goes through your contacts list and emails all those using iphone 5 and asks them if their lives a devoid of sense and meaning?

Lulu has opinions thus...

Posted September 10, 2014
As a Samsung S2 user, would it even notice my existence?

Sudragon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 10, 2014
As a Samsung S2 user the iPhone 6 will add your name to the list of first against the wall when our masters announce the takeover.

It's nothing personal, just business.

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w from brisbane mutters...

Posted September 10, 2014
Off topic, except it is on matters digital...

There is a computer game called Depression Quest. I thought it was a joke at first, but it isn't. On a separate note, there is some horrible crap going on in the gaming community over the last few months. A couple of women, who have some prominence in gaming, have been subject to vicious hate attacks because they have the unbelievable gall to be women. It's being dubbed Gamergate (sigh).

w from brisbane swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 10, 2014
Mmmm, once again the last bit of my post got chopped off...
There is a good short article from today on the New Yorker site about the game and some of the crap the female game designer has copped. It also has some decent stuff about depression.

pi mutters...

Posted September 10, 2014
Of course, the same pre-pubescent boys are just as bad as that to other boys that they have a needle-boner for.

It's bad, and totally un-called for, but this might just as easily have been a guy, and while the insults would have been different, the effect would have been the same, except you wouldn't be hearing about it, because it would be a guy and not a gal.

Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted September 11, 2014

" except you wouldn't be hearing about it, because it would be a guy and not a gal" which while strickly true is not a helpful stance since the comparison of how much women are harrassed on line isn't comprable to the harrassment of men on line. Time has a piece on this which is timely. This highlights why when both may be insulted, it is the sheer volume and degree of virtriol that is unleased when it is a woman that is the target it indiciatve of the problem in the industry.

damian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 11, 2014
"might just as easily have been a guy"

Don't think this is anywhere near true

Dino not to be confused with puts forth...

Posted September 11, 2014
Sexism exists.
I believe there is a 'nerd' sexism as well, though I like to believe nerds are less sexist.
The online thing is 'new' territory.
Someone has infected my computer.
I think smart girls are cool.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted September 12, 2014
Other than the spouses of my antipodean mates, and my own, I believe there are no smart girls.

Dino not to be confused with is gonna tell you...

Posted September 12, 2014
Hey Paul,
I read yesterday that 50% or more of the USA is single.
I guess since You and your Wife got hitched there is no one left worth marrying in the USA.

Anthony would have you know...

Posted September 12, 2014

OK, that's a rather good intelligent comment...


What have you done with the real Dino?

Dino not to be confused with swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 12, 2014
Fuck Anthony!
I have three or four 'Good Behaviour' Bonds.
One 6 month mother will land me in gaol.
Fuck Yeah.
Hence Dino will drink less alcohol, 'terrorize' the Poolice less and post more coherent comments, hopefully to entertain and make Burgers feel good.
That is my aim your Honour....

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Halwes is gonna tell you...

Posted September 10, 2014
This is a favourite concept of mine. Everything in the "unnatural world" had to be imagined first. There is nothing constructed that we see around us that hasn't been imagined by someone or some computer brain. It is starting to appear to me that even the most outrageously, inconceivable concept can be realised. If this is the case with constructed objects then are thoughts and ideas themselves also the product of this other brain function which is the imagination? Are we imagining rather than thinking and reasoning ourselves into certain courses of action or creeds not just in our everyday lives but continually as a species? The IT comment of "rubbish in gets rubbish out" comes to mind. But I question whether this evolutionary thinking doesn't operate at a deeper level than that. Should computer brains have the capacity for imagination or would we be asking for trouble? Now it gets scary. If the "unnatural " world had to be imagined then why not what we consider to be the "natural" world.? Brains on earth are of varying capacity and complexity but many organisms have one. They range from ants to Einstein. Brains are an electro - chemical reaction. Brains have synapses and circuitry that are always firing and receiving complex signals. Our earth itself seems to also have some kind of interconnected self regulatory system. The entire universe follows this electro - chemical brain pattern of firing quasars, chemical reactions and receptors so what if the universe is a very large, complex brain and we are a mere thought bubble of a giant electro chemical reaction? One thing is for sure is that, if reality is only limited by imagination then there is some very weird, exciting, terrifying stuff out there. Sometimes I wish people could stop imagining for a while and let us old blokes catch up a bit especially when it comes to phones and DVD players!

pi ducks in to say...

Posted September 10, 2014
No-one uses DVD players anymore dude.

Halwes reckons...

Posted September 10, 2014

That would be right. Just when I've almost learnt how to use one. The same thing happened with VHS.

insomniac is gonna tell you...

Posted September 10, 2014
Just to go full circle on you; a lot of the unnatural world has been borrowed from the natural world. Mother Nature has had millions of years of evolution to perfect some things. Probably not DVD players though.

w from brisbane ducks in to say...

Posted September 10, 2014
I'm haven't decided yet whether to go with VHS or Beta.

Darth Greybeard mutters...

Posted September 10, 2014
Oh shit. What about Blu-ray? That's still OK right? See, I read that by next year there'll be 4K blu-ray discs to go with our pointlessly expensive 4K screens which currently have zero content. Except that we'll also need new 4K players which is kind of sad because then we'll find out that our super-expensive 4K TVs won't work with the new players because they aren't HDCP 2.2 compatible. Man, it's like there was some terrible plot to keep us buying new equipment over and over again. I'm gonna move to Apple. They wouldn't do that to us, would they?

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon has opinions thus...

Posted September 10, 2014
Did Steve Jobs actually get cancer or was a time traveler sent back in time only to fail at stopping the imonster? Oh jeesus a shiver just went down my spine - did i just channel Dino? : )

Cyberpunk here we come!

I think 20 years is too short a time frame. It will be a race towards what is going to happen to this planet and what tech we have. If we are too focused on survival this stuff is going to become superfluous. The tech may end up being pointed out towards trying to save a modicum of civilisation rather than making sure the auto dog washer does a good job of cleaning poochy. Either way I think the "haves" vs "the have-nots" is going to feature very heavily.

On saying that though - dystopian futures always seem to be what we imagine but the reality is most likely to be one that features the colour brown. A lot. Middle of the road will be the new black. Beigeageddon i am going to call it.


pi has opinions thus...

Posted September 10, 2014
> Beigeageddon

That's a great word.

Dino not to be confused with reckons...

Posted September 11, 2014
Simon,
Get some help.
Even thinking about channeling my sorry arse is worthy of DSM IV; chapter entitled- "Best medical practice has no fkn cure!"
Today I had an accident with an oversized pallet. My bad. Probably $400.00 out of my pocket.
Yesterday I went to court. $750.00 and the fear of Judicial Authority remains-
This song says it all-
Except I am not dancing.
Having Powerful AI is of little use sometimes...
I am living in Beigeaggedon!
Help!

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Therbs asserts...

Posted September 10, 2014

It isn't the implants themselves which worry me, ts the farnarkelling with my neurons which may ensue. If anything's gonna screw with my brain cells its gonna be wine, whisky and beer.


Jetsons kitchen ftw!

Halwes mutters...

Posted September 10, 2014

And if they can farnarkel then they surely will. It will all be explained in the terms and conditions which we'll all agree to.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon would have you know...

Posted September 10, 2014
Any original ideas will be the sole property of AppleColesworthCorp or whichever conglom software you uploaded to your head.

Sudragon reckons...

Posted September 10, 2014
Imagine your computer when your anti-virus isn't quite up to date. Or all the pop-up ads on some web-pages.

Now imagine an advertisement for off brand viagra smack in the middle of your field of vision.

And you can't turn it off.

Better hope your headwall is a good one, and up to date.

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Rob mutters...

Posted September 11, 2014

I thought it was good that the new phone was a bit thinner and bigger. So it reminded me of my cheaper HTC desire I bought. For the record. HTC has a really good music player, and long long battery life. This is because its a big battery and the apps shut down when the screen is dropped to the background. I think thats kinda neat. But seriously what I got excited about in the world of computing yesterday was that the update to Battlefield 4 was announced. The game is finally working really well, and now I'm glad I stupidly by mistake bought the premium package. Anyways the new patch will update the maps to involve new tech, playing the prototypes found in the future war version of Battelfield 2142. Hover tanks, rail guns, lasers and all sorts of other tomfoolery. My glowing red six core chip PC (bought for $700 dollars on ebay) is chirping with anticipation like r2d2 when he got charged up on Dagobah.

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pi ducks in to say...

Posted September 11, 2014
All kidding aside, there is one thing here that could be truly revolutionary. The watch.

One of the biggest issues with using your phone for paying for things is that it is inherently insecure. You lose your phone, lose your password, someone cracks you phone, all the other bad things that can happen, and someone starts using your digital folding stuff.

Ah... but the watch... that could change that. Tap the phone, confirmation gets sent to the watch. OK to pay? Press the check mark (with the included finger-print scanner), and away you go. Two-factor authentication in every apple persons hand. Secure, fast, no passwords.

That's the big thing that I saw in this launch.

insomniac would have you know...

Posted September 11, 2014
I was thinking earlier about the use of the iWatch while driving. It's bad enough with people on their phones in the car, but how about having the watch on your wrist, easily seen at the 10 o'clock position on the steering wheel, just off center to where you should be looking?

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Dino not to be confused with puts forth...

Posted September 11, 2014
JB,
You are not going to believe me but I designed 'Smart Phones' and Apps back in 1996.
Yep.
Completely off topic but do you think Dreamworks plagairised this image for the little boy casting a fishing line and cork float-

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Halwes mumbles...

Posted September 12, 2014

Australia on high terrorist alert.! That should be good for a poll bounce.

pi is gonna tell you...

Posted September 12, 2014
I'm glad I don't watch news. I'm, therefore, the one that doesn't feel terrorized.

Lulu puts forth...

Posted September 12, 2014
Or to borrow Adam Hills's phrase (Last Leg, a few weeks ago): Australia's alert level has been raised from Crikey to Strewth.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted September 14, 2014
We call breathe a bit easier now that the alert level has been reduced to Dinkum.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted September 14, 2014
I just realized that I speak more Stralian than I do Yiddish.

Dino not to be confused with would have you know...

Posted September 14, 2014
Good.
"Gungadin da house an cook me my fkn dinner!"

Dino not to be confused with mutters...

Posted September 14, 2014
But you won't Paul.
You won't cook me my dinner.
I know you won't.
I have reduced my meat intake but honestly, after changing the oil and filter on my ute tonight i would like...
Veal Scallopini, milk fed(apologies to Veges etc) pink when I cut the flesh, sauted briefly in reduced onions, garlic, greenpeppercorns and cream.
Pink remember!
fancy cut carrots with tarregon and caramalised potatos with rosemary.
But you won't P{aul.
You won't go and get in the house and cook me my dinner.
You never have and You probably never will...
I can accept it, although I am very hungary tonight after servicing my vehhhical...

Dino not to be confused with would have you know...

Posted September 14, 2014
Tonight, for your dining pleasure...
A tin of organic Italian chickpeas, washed three times to reduce sodium.
Tossed in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and finely chopped garlic. Flat leaf Parsley from the garden will add some colour.
Presented in a clean stainless steel bowl with salt and pepper and locally produced bread from two days ago.
Enjoy...

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 14, 2014
Okay, so I am a little stoned and a little pisssed and really should know better than to risk feeding the beast, but, Dino, that cracked me up. And that ain't easy to do.

Dino not to be confused with ducks in to say...

Posted September 14, 2014
delicious

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted September 14, 2014

"Delicious"??

Don't harsh my mellow, dude.

Dino not to be confused with ducks in to say...

Posted September 14, 2014
Nah the chickpeas with stale bread...
Delicious Man!
I am going to open a restaraunt.
Sonn as I learn how to spelll...

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Halwes mutters...

Posted September 12, 2014
I forgot about the G20. That explains all the cops at Cairns airport. I love living in the bush.

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Vovchara puts forth...

Posted September 12, 2014
still waiting for flexipads, Samsung G7 or 8? What dou guys think?

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Vovchara asserts...

Posted September 12, 2014
still waiting for flexipads, Samsung G7 or 8? What dou guys think?

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Dino not to be confused with asserts...

Posted September 12, 2014
Vovchara,
Using the physics of 9/11 and the University of Sydney(look up their analysis) it is quite likely that if someone smokes an e cigarete or rides a petrol driven bicycle within 15 kilometers of a 47 storey building it will collapse.
I offer the following 'terror' alert.
Taller or 'shorter' buildings will collapse and kill innocent people cause IS has the capability to defy Science.
AL Queda(Our friends now) and Osama can defy Science...

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Respond to 'The Launch'

PJ O'Rourke blasts off

Posted September 8, 2014 into Science and Tech by John Birmingham

Like anyone with a sense of humour I enjoyed PJ's Republican Party Reptile. It was genuinely funny in a way that most conservative satire simply isn't, or possibly can't be. Satire derives its comdedic punch from mocking the powerful, which makes it a difficult ask for conservatives because they are, by definition, attempting to conserve existing power relationships. While the extremes of left wing group think are easily made fun of – God knows I've done it myself more than enough – the simpler concerns of the Left, particularly the older, less identity-focussed Left – are not so easily mocked. Not unless you want to come off sounding like a bully.

In Reptile, O'Rourke managed to find an almost perfect balance between the demands of satire and the power realities of his conservative faith. He even comedically benefited from breaking some taboos – such as his great joke about the Mexican air force crashing into an oil refinery. (Read the book, enjoy the lulz).

But, a lot of his later work was just a bit dull as he went about the business of kicking six kinds of hell out of left wing straw men. This piece, in The Daily Beast, harkens back to the earlier power of his humour, recalling some of the excitement I first felt on reading How to Drive Fast on Drugs While Getting Your Wing-Wang Squeezed. It plays to his strengths, which is the unapologetic celebration of science and progress, and largely avoids the sneering nastiness of some his later political writing.

It's about rocket ships, specifically the XCOR Lynx, which is now making a lot of money flying wealthy Chinese people into orbit.

All my rocket ship disappointments are the result of there not being enough private companies like XCOR Aerospace. I learned this at the Space Foundation’s annual Colorado Springs Space Symposium exhibit hall, where there was a full-scale mock-up of XCOR’s Lynx that I sat in.

The Lynx’s 30-foot fuselage and 24-foot wingspan would fit in a McMansion garage. And it’s as prettier than anything a rich car collector has in there now.

The Lynx is soft curving, bob-tailed, compound delta shape with a sharp glance of a cockpit and a pair of ample winglets too beautiful to describe without being sexist, so I wont try. Viewed in profile, they are upside-down mid-section silhouettes of Pippa Middleton leaning over to check your oil.

6 Responses to ‘PJ O'Rourke blasts off’

Barnesm asserts...

Posted September 8, 2014

Classic O'Rourke indeed and much more enjoyable thanhis other recent stuff.

"The Lynx’s fuselage is being turned on a sort of spit as its all-composite airframe is… I don’t know, basted?" - his knowlege of tech on display is truly breathtaking.

Though I tend to think of things like this as interm tech, until the space elevator is built. Then we are talking <$1000/kg to get stuff into orbit.

Perhaps a future fathers day present?

dweeze ducks in to say...

Posted September 8, 2014
"Perhaps a future fathers day present?"
For now, you can rest easy with a can of Lynx. Sure to get Pippa heading your way.

It's been a while since PJ was this good.

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Sharky has opinions thus...

Posted September 8, 2014
To quote
"
  • The interesting thing about staring down a gun barrel is how small
    the hole is where the bullet comes out, yet what a big difference it
    would make in your social schedule."

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pi is gonna tell you...

Posted September 8, 2014
My fave book of PJ was Holidays in Hell :

http://casnocha.com/holidays_in_hell_excerpts


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damian mutters...

Posted September 8, 2014
I loved Republican Party Reptile back in the 80s when I read it as a teenager. I also found O'Rourke becoming increasingly tribal and nasty to the point of becoming not just unreadable, but actually illegible - like most True Believers in any heavily dogmatic faith like his big-C (or should that be high church? I do remember the pience about silly protestant hats...) Conservatism.

I suspect O'Rourke is one of the reasons I came around to understanding my own distance from people like him being not about something I believe that they don't, but about my just not believing their stuff. For me this is a rejection of the relativism so many apologists will drag out. I think you have to believe in some abstract and dogmatic things to think like O'Rourke. I don't believe in anything much, and have to treat cases on their own merits. This isn't an ideological difference, it's about rejecting ideology. Too fine a distinction for some people I suppose, but there you go.

Anyway for what it's worth I found the same pattern I'd seen with O'Rourke working with the South Park guys, unless they have a greater appreciation for irony than I credit them for. In the end they seem to be sticking up for the rights of all those poor, oppressed and hated affluent white men and their humour eventually devolves into a rant.

One relatively recent thing by O'Rourke I liked was his "appreciation" of Adam Smith. I didn't read it, but he was on the radio to promote it and said some things that were not totally insane. Took many of the above-mentioned jabs and straw men, but I guess those straw men resembled anything real so little that this just came across as random jokes that didn't work.

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Elitism would have you know...

Posted September 8, 2014

P.J. at the 1987 America's Cup dinner in Perth. Dennis Conner in a bad tuxedo looked like 'a poster child for the penguin obesity fund...I like it that our newest sporting hero can't touch his toes or even see them.' He said he could get into 12-metre yacht racing if they armed them.




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Not a headphone review

Posted September 2, 2014 into Science and Tech by John Birmingham

More a cri de coeur. Whatever that is.

I have spent a lot of money on headphones these last few years. A little bit on bluetooth speakers too. But mostly on headphones. My sturdy old noise cancellers, the Bose QC Something Or Other that I bought a decade ago had degraded to the point where they weren’t cancelling much any more. I passed them on to Anna, who promptly lost the charger and one of the proprietary battery packs sitting in it.

Huh.

OK. Not my problem. I’d already bought a new pair of QC 15s. Not the best headset on the market. Not the cheapest (or most expensive). Not even the most popular. That’d be some Beats piece of crap, I imagine. I got them because the previous QCs had served me well over ten years and the model was reduced because of an imminent refresh.

So, long story short, I don’t really have those cans anymore. Due to a complicated arrangement that would do a derivatives trader proud, they appear to have passed into Anna’s control about a decade before I had planned.

That’s all right. It left me with an excuse to blow some more money on headphones. I’ll cut to the spoilers. I just bought the Bose in-ear noise cancellers; the QC 20i. Again, not the best, or cheapest or most expensive. And not even my preferred choice. I’ll take a pair of big honking over-ear cans any day. Especially if they’re made with soft, comfy cushions to protect my tired old cauliflower ears. But I got these for travelling, for the noise cancelling, and one thing a decade of flying with the earlier on-ear model taught me – dragging around a pair of big honking over-ear cans is a pain in the arse. I really wanted something that would cut out engine noise, screaming toddlers, and life saving emergency announcements while still fitting into a pocket.

So. The QC 20i’s it was.

Yes they work as advertised. No they’re not as comfy as my old ones. But I can always buy another pair for home or office use.

Which brings me to my moment of clarity. After spending months researching headphones, I have concluded that like Jon Snow, I know nothing. In a way, this is not such a bad thing. There is a jihad out there, being fought between true believers, and many are the dead. I thought, when Marco Arment published his exhaustive review of mid-priced head phones I could follow that. But then The WireCutter published theirs.

And then war came.

I’m not going to get too far into it, but it seems there is no peace in headphone heaven. No agreement on what even constitutes heaven. As best I can tell the contending Sects divide into two main camps. Call them bass and treble, just to piss them off. Because this seems to be the main dividing line. People who like deep thumpy hot bass. And people who like cold, clear austere treble.

Arment described the difference best, I thought:

Many people prefer a warm, “laid-back” tone that lacks some midrange presence, most upper treble response, and the fine detail that good treble response brings. This avoids the harshness that unrefined midrange and treble can bring on inexpensive headphones, so the sound is less fatiguing after long periods. But it’s like adding milk to coffee: the lost vocal strength and treble detail also make good recordings more dull and forgettable.

The other end of the preference spectrum is detail, clarity, and an “airy” feel that great treble can bring, and more energy in vocals that a strong midrange can bring. Great treble is my preferred style, and it’s what makes people say, “Wow! That’s so clear!” The downside is that it’s hard to get that right without sounding harsh or tinny.

I feel that I should prefer the second style of audio. It seems the more truthful, but the fact is, I’m not really an audiophile. I just spend stupid amounts of money on fucking headphones. I’d like something other than the in-ear 20i pair I have for sitting in my library watching movies or TV on my iPad, or even for listening to music. I’d like something that sits comfortably over my ears. A friend of mine works for B&O and tried to steer me towards their H6 model, but although it was very comfy and obviously well engineered, I did find the sound cold and impersonal. I guess that makes me a bit naff.

I already know how this will end.

A second pair of bloody QC 15s. That Thomas will probably claim.

Or maybe I'll try the Cutter's pick. The PSB's.

I'll toss the links in below so I can at least give myself a backhander for buying them through the Burger.

33 Responses to ‘Not a headphone review’

Blarkon mutters...

Posted September 2, 2014
Have the QC20i's. Only set of noise cancellers that I can wear on an airplane for a cross equator flight without being annoyed with them.

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JBtoo ducks in to say...

Posted September 2, 2014
A cry from the heart, AKA a French whinge.

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DrYobbo asserts...

Posted September 2, 2014
Surely it depends what you're listening to. Noone cranking Motorhead gives two freshly shaven shits about airy midrange clarity. And noone who went to the number of deafening gigs and festivals as most of my generation can tell the bloody difference anyway. Tinnitus anyone?

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pitpat puts forth...

Posted September 2, 2014

So I snore, not something I share lightly, and the love of my life has noted that said snoring may interrupt her nightly repose almost as much as the two Shitzus ( a most aptly named breed) who like to bark at the wind at 2am.

And it is soon to be both an anniversary and birthday, and Jen loves to listen to audio books to eliminate the distractions. Would noise cancelling earbuds do anything to cancel both snoring and dogs barking? I ask here because well CBG sounds/reads like a genius bar at one of those mythical Apple Stores I hear so much about but am yet to physically sight

Stuart is gonna tell you...

Posted September 3, 2014
The active mechanism of noise cancelling headphones work best on continuous background noise, the hums and roars of an aircraft in motion being the prime example. Irregular and changing noises like snores and barks won't be suppressed by the noise cancelling, although it may be attenuated by the closed design of these headphones.

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NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted September 2, 2014
Headphones are consumables. They get drowned, hooked on all manner of protuberances, stood on or smashed in car doors. Also I listen to 90% spoken word, 10% music. So when the $7 sonys are on special @ woollies, I grab several pairs.

I'd love a good pair of B&O or Senheisers, but the there are many other wants ahead of them in the $350 cue.

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insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted September 2, 2014
I'm with NBob on this. Is there really so much difference that you can distinguish? Its like having a giant HD teev in Boganville watching mungoball played by fat dwarves.

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John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted September 2, 2014
I think it's like wine. There's a real difference between rotgut and Montrachet, but you can still get some nice rotgut if you know where to look. And you can get badly ripped off at the high end.
I understand that Monoprice does really good utility headphones for less than $100.

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BobGrrl would have you know...

Posted September 2, 2014
I recently bought a pair of Razer Electras for the office: http://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming-headset-headphone-reviews/razer-electra-review/

I much prefer in-ear units to over-ear because they're comfortable and less obnoxious, but in the office this makes it hard for people to tell whether I'm listening to music or just ignoring them.

I refuse to spend more than $100 on headphones these days because they get bashed around and abused every day until they die.

I find the sound quality on these to be very decent, they're comfy and do a pretty good job of isolating you from outside noise, although they're not noise-cancelling.

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Darth Greybeard puts forth...

Posted September 2, 2014
I had some nice Sennheisers that suited my head width and lug'oles but my beloved nicked them (and that list goes on and on). Now using some even better Shures. They're comfortable for home and office use but not noise cancelling or portable. Had some cheapish Sony in-ears for that.

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Simon T has opinions thus...

Posted September 2, 2014
For a comfortable fit over the ears with excellent sound, can I suggest you consider the AKG K701's. I have a pair of the Quincy Jones version, Q701 running from a headphone amp and they sound fabulous, very spacious and neutral with a soundstage that you just can't get with an in-ear pair of 'phones. Some complain of a lack of bass which I do not agree with. Its just not over-done bass like many modern phones. You can get them for under $300 on ebay and will sound a heap better than any Bose headphones. But they are no good for going out and about- way too big and needing some power to drive them. My biggest criticism of then is that they leak sound like nothing else so if you have them up real loud, then others in the house will hear.

I have a pair of the Bose QC15s that I have used on flights etc but really don't like that pressure in the head feeling that I get with the noise -cancelling function. And they don't really sound that good to me. So when I recently lost my old trusty mid range Shure in-ears, I upgraded to the Shure SE 425 and have been very happy with their performance. They are a noise isolating in-ear headphone with a range of in-ear pieces that you can change to your ear canal shape and size and don't need batteries to give almost as good noise attenuation as active noise cancelling headphones.

Life is too short to listen to drink bad wine or listen to crappy headphones.

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Murphy_of_Missouri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 3, 2014
Skullcandy earbuds, iTunes on wifi, and a standard issue Jack and Coke. The buds cost $20 'Merican, the iTunes I already have from four years ago, the Jack and Coke is maybe another overpriced $8 per, figure three per flight.

Does the trick. Sound is good, so is the buzz and the clouds are amazing. Screaming kids? Can't hear them.

Respects,
Murph
On the Outer Marches

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Dan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 3, 2014
JB, I bought some grado sr60i's - best headphones I've ever owned. best $100 I've ever spent, too.

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Simon Jackman is gonna tell you...

Posted September 3, 2014
Nice one John.

Glad I'm not the only one spending a crap-load on headphones. Bose for the plane, despite them screaming "he's mid-level management".

Love the look of my 1st generation Beats but they are just not that good, the ear cups move around and makes a boatload of plastic-against-plastic clicking noise; maybe newer generation is better.

AKG 612s for home when I'm playing/mixing etc.

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Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted September 3, 2014

In ear whatever cheapies I have at the moment before they get lost/squished or evaporated. Those things need frequent replacement. Headphones for home stuff need replacing because abuse over seven years, might get some Shures.


And yeah, I prefer to hear the big jungle drum beats, thumping bass and F1 grade dual guitar blitzkrieg.

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Dave W is gonna tell you...

Posted September 3, 2014
I got some Sennheiser in-ears for the office because listening to music drowns out the other distractions here. The first set I bought have such a good seal that I couldn't hear my boss talking to me from 2 metres away. This may seem like a good thing. Turns out it's not. So that pair went home and I got a cheaper set that are the right compromise between arrogance/focus/team-player.

Lulu mumbles...

Posted September 3, 2014
Ooh, Dave, that first set sounds like just what I need. Which ones are they?

Surtac has opinions thus...

Posted September 3, 2014

I too use Sennheiser in-ears at work for the same purpose. I can't remember the model number but they're about $70 or so at JB Hifi. For music listening and movie watching in the study at home while the rest of the family are abed, I'm using some cheapish Sony over ear 'phones - $30 at Costco. They're actually quite comfortable.

I had a pair of noise-cancelling Sennheisers that provided sterling service for 5 or 6 years when I was doing regular trans-Pacific travel for work, and I thought they were worth every penny at the time. Sadly they self-destructed, but they will be replaced by something similar when I next travel overseas next year.

Dave W puts forth...

Posted September 3, 2014
I got them via Amazon but they were a shade under $70, so I think Surtac's probably thinking of roughly the same type. I didn't realise when I was buying that these were also iPwn handsfree mic/headphone, but the sound quality for music etc is unaffected by that.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon mutters...

Posted September 3, 2014
it is like i have walked into Wonderland or something - a world i never knew existed. When stuck watching movies in the wee hours of the night to avoid waking up wife and kids with the sounds of explosions or the walking dead feasting on a screaming soon to be member of the undead, i have always used some crappy old mobile phone ear phones (I'm assuming this is what is called in-ear?).

But the cord is pitifully short - with fathers day coming up i thought i'd drop a few hints about a nice new set of headphones. I'm using an old JVC amplifier that is of a vintage of nearly 40 years that has a volume that goes to 9 but is almost too loud at 4. I thought a decent set of headphones is now demanded (also need to get new speakers)

Little did i know that i would have to take along a sword to cut enemies cords and a couple of grenades to break through the noise cancelling effect. I will take this very opportune post to do some more involved research.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted September 3, 2014
Go check those two links I included in the copy above.

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spankee would have you know...

Posted September 3, 2014
I have used a pair of audio technica ANC-7's for the last 750,000 Frequent flyer points. I have absolutely no expertise to evaluate the sound quality, I chose them because they still work, albeit without the noise cancelling, when the battery is flat.

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Rob ducks in to say...

Posted September 3, 2014
I had some very nice senheisers that I got half price from Dick Smith to go with my only apple products, an ipod classic. Then they went missing from my desk at work, which made me sad. So i either use my apple in ear ones which are very logans run to look at, or I use some super cheap bass expanding ones from TEAC. So far they haven't been stolen. But i have my eye on the HR people, all the time now......

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John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted September 3, 2014
I totally forgot to mention my other ridiculous audio buy; bluetooth sporting headphones. I have a pair wired Sennheiser sports buds, which are great, but, wired. And when you're hitting the bag you're just asking to rip those bad boys off your head with an ill directed jab. Plus, you have to carry the iPod of phone on you. So I prefer blue tooth.
I did have an old pair of Jaybirds which served me well, and the newer Jaybirds BlueBuds X reviewed well, again at the Wirecutter. So I picked them up when the batteries began to go in the older model.
Three hundred bucks. Lovely sound. Cannot for the fucking life of me actually fit them.

damian has opinions thus...

Posted September 4, 2014
Well I am after a bluetooth sport headset for cycle commuting... basic req is to be able to take a call without stopping and it needs to work with a bicycle helmet. It's an area where reading review comments is vitally important because it seems most lack even reasonably decent range, even where the specs make it look otherwise, and you get drop outs if your phone isn't right there on an armband. Been a few months since I last looked, Jaybirds always seemed to have pretty mixed reviews and the price is out there for what it is... well I guess it's worth looking again as the weather gets warmer.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted September 4, 2014
Yeah, I'm afraid I couldn't recommend them for that use.

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Blarkon puts forth...

Posted September 3, 2014
I get given BT earphones as "speaker presents" at conferences, but have yet to find a set that float my boat (I generally avoid in-ear headphones, the only set I've liked being the 20i's mentioned above).

I only listen to audiobooks with them. I do have some RAZER earmuff type headsets for use with my desktops.

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Dokter ducks in to say...

Posted September 3, 2014
My go-to headphones for the last 15 years have been sony. Mainly the models that are advertised for DJs and studio use — not the top model as those are a bit too expensive for me.

The reasons for my choice is that they have, lack of a better expression, a flat sound. Meaning, High, mid, and low range is pretty equal. As a hobby musician, you don't want too much of one of these. Although, because the range is pretty equal, the sound is actually pretty nice.

Also, when it comes to sound, these puppies can take a massive pounding. If you're listening to bass-heavy music and crank it up really loud, your eardrums will pop before you blow the Sony headphones. To me, that shows that you will have years of listening pleasure.

I usually wear them out after 5 years. When I mean wear them out, I mean only the housing, not the speakers. I use my old Sonys for gaming, as I don't need anything fancy. They look like they've been through war, but still sound awesome.

I know Sennheiser is claimed to be the Rolls Royce of headphones, but when I've tried them, they don't pass my bass test. If the bass is too deep and clean, they actually start to flutter when you turn up the sound a bit.

But as you mention Birmo, headphones often are like wine. It all depends on what kind of sound you're after. For what it's worth tho, as I mentioned earlier, I've been with Sony for the last 15 years and never been able to find any brand that can replace them.

Best way to test headphones is to fill your iPhone with your favourite music, and head to a store and give the various headphones a try. Given you're looking for headphones to cover your ears.

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Dino not to be confused with mumbles...

Posted September 3, 2014
JB,
Headphones?
A sad modern poor cousin for being there.
A muffled cocoon to hide for a few minutes from reality.
The reality is headphones don't make your body shake.
I believe this song is about the withdrawl of British Troops.
Should sound OK in headphones.
I read that you are going to write about Australia going back to The Pikes-Siquot region referred to as Iraq. Those IS (didja hear that the Saudi's gave General Dynamics 10 billion dollars recently?) are causing the funny cat videos to be pushed aside with some fake(?) beheadings.
Anyhoo RTP doctrine must count for something.
The Kurds will probably do the heavy lifting again but I doubt they will be content with any hollow assurances. I figure it it's a mess.

Dino not to be confused with would have you know...

Posted September 3, 2014
The Regions were run by Corrupt Theocracies and Dictators.
Now there is only a few left. Family connections.
I have heard criticism of religious fundamentalists like IS.
Thank God we have Athiests like Richard Dawkins who can explain the collapse of WTC 7 and the subsequent deaths and suffering of millions.
I would hate to think that the West was intellectually bankrupt and relied on a purile judgement of the 'other'.
You know those religious bigots who don't believe in the Theory Of Gravity as espoused by Oxford Scholars...

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Nez mumbles...

Posted September 3, 2014
Don't got out and get those QC15s just yet. There was a leak the other day about the upcoming QC25. http://www.ausbt.com.au/new-bose-quietcomfort-25-qc25-headphones-break-cover-ahead-of-launch

I'm a noise cancellation fanatic and nothing has ever been as good as the QC15s for that. I also have the QC20i just like your fine self for travelling and I'll happily take the sound quality I get in exchange for the excellent noise cancellation. This new model could possibly improve on the noise cancellation further.

Like you, I also hate the damn wires. Around the house, if I don't need the noise cancellation I wear my Bose AE2w cans. I'd love for Bose to integrate this model and the QC15 into a bluetooth noise cancellation pair of headphones. They'd likely end up grafted to my head I'd wear them so damn much.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted September 3, 2014
Thanks. Duly noted and filed under 'U' for Useful.

Nez mumbles...

Posted September 4, 2014
Looks like the QC25 has been released. http://www.bose.com/controller?url=/shop_online/headphones/noise_cancelling_headphones/quietcomfort_25/index.jsp

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The bell tolls for thee, wet tee-shirt competition

Posted September 1, 2014 into Science and Tech by John Birmingham

No, not because of femmynist fright bats (©Tim Blair 2014), but because of SCIENTZ!

A Melbourne based nanotech company called Threadsmith's reached out on Twitter to ask if I'd like to try their water and dirt repellent T-shirt. I'm a sucker for a freebie, and I like T-shirts, so I said, "Hells yeah".

Took me a while to get around to wearing my plain white crew neck T. Middle of winter wasn't the best time for it, but last weekend, with some rain about, I thought what the hell, I'll dress inappropriately for the weather and wear this so-called water proof T-shirt down to the coffee house. Should I get wet I will ching-ching-ching cash in at law.

I wasn't really expecting much. An ill-fitting T-shirt for a start. But no, right out of the bag the medium fitted me very well. Then, I have to admit it, I didn't expect it to work. There's no chemical process involved in the manufacture. Threadsmith's have patented some water frightening thingy they totally stole from lotus leaves. And I can report that yes, it did repell the rain. It was sort of spooky to watch, actually. The cold, fat drops hit my jeans and soaked in, shrivelling my man bits. They either bounced off the T-shirt or beaded and rolled off. Onto my jeans. To further shrivel my man bits.

Before recommending investing this technology, I thus had to know whether they have plans to make jeans using lotus leaf nano secrets. They do. Man bits secured!

The other thing this material repells is dirt. Having once worn a pair of jeans unwashed for 57 days I can only say: finally!

Site's here, if you're interested. And yes, counterintuitively, you can wash them normally. To restore the spooky nano powers you apparently toss them in a cloths dryer on low heat every couple of washes.

12 Responses to ‘The bell tolls for thee, wet tee-shirt competition’

Halwes is gonna tell you...

Posted September 1, 2014

A possible new cover for the re-release of the Tasmania Babes Fiasco?

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insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 1, 2014
While I can't track down the precise application, most of them seem to be Chinese in origin, and it's not so much 'dirt repellent' but 'anti fouling', which has other connotations.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon reckons...

Posted September 1, 2014
the cops in ferguson need this for their uniforms when beating up suspects. Think of the paperwork that would be saved.

I am also reading the Julian May's Exiles books at the moment and she casually mentions this tech in the story.

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Lulu asserts...

Posted September 1, 2014
"The other thing this material repells is dirt. Having once worn a pair of jeans unwashed for 57 days I can only say: finally!"

But does it repel sweat? That's the other issue with serial-wearing.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted September 1, 2014
I am suspicious. Anything this powerful must mutate DNA.

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Therbs asserts...

Posted September 1, 2014

These clothes would be most excellent for pubbage.

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Barnesm reckons...

Posted September 1, 2014

John science writing lost a powerful advocate when you followed your heart and wrote for Rolling Stone.

"patented some water frightening thingy they totally stole from lotus leaves" and "To restore the spooky nano powers you apparently toss them in a cloths dryer" I doubt Carl Zimmer could have said it better.

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Legless puts forth...

Posted September 1, 2014
White. They only do white.

I would cough up $65 for a nano t-shirt but only if they do black. I'm already as pale as a bottle of milk and, if I wear white, the glare would blind people.



Darth Greybeard swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 2, 2014
Top of the head is worst.

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Lobes reckons...

Posted September 2, 2014
Make a tie out of it and Im in

Surtac mumbles...

Posted September 2, 2014
Me too - it would then be safe to wear to curry club lunches. I'm notorious for getting stuff on my ties.

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Drew-Mo ducks in to say...

Posted September 6, 2014

$65 for a T shirt? Thats like.....18x$3.50 shirts from St.Vincent's de la Boutique, or from a Big W throw-out rack.......even with water repelling qualities it's a lot of cash........and I would have to buy a dryer.....


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Huzzah for the Apple Tax!

Posted August 31, 2014 into Science and Tech by John Birmingham

Paid a visit to the Apple store on Friday. I've been looking at Retina MacBook's but it was an iPhone issue took me in, or two of them. I'd been getting complaints that my phone muffled the audio on calls. It doesn't. My Pad & Quill wallet/cover muffles them, as I thought might be the case. Still, it's a good cover and I won't be changing it. I rarely use the phone as a phone anyway. Who does these days?

The other issue was more serious - a battery and a data problem with Anna's iPwn5 (my old pre 5S unit). I wasn't really expecting any joy, since the phone was 2 years old. But joy I was to have.

Dude played around with it for a while, pronounced the battery a bit fucked. Not fucked in a way that was covered by any warranties or replacement programs, but what the hell. Here, have a new iPhone, JB.

Needless to say, I have mad love for this company.

I can't recall the number of times I had issues with pre-iPhone mobiles and could not get anyone to admit liability or take responsibility for them. Some of those old analogue batphones ended up thrown against the wall in rage.

Of course some peeps will say, yeah, but you shouldn't have had an issue with such an expensive phone in the first place.

Arguable after two years of heavy use, but apparently Apple thought the same way. Because they replaced it.

This is what your Apple tax pays for. Not just Jony Ive's car collection. You pay an Apple tax so you can walk into the Apple Store and have a properly trained staff member deal with your problem for free. You pay the big mark up on an iPhone or iMac or MacBook or whatever so that when something goes wrong you're a good chance of getting it fixed, for free.

It doesn't always work out, of course. There's a notorious problem with the screens on 2011 Retina MacBooks that Apple seems loathe to acknowledge at the moment.

But it worked out for me this week.

38 Responses to ‘Huzzah for the Apple Tax!’

WarDog has opinions thus...

Posted August 31, 2014
;-) on the other hand you could have got yourself the latest Nexus device for half the price and twice the capability. Or buy two, why not. Anna deserves the latest instead of a hand me down :-)

(can never resist bait)

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John Birmingham reckons...

Posted August 31, 2014
Ha! When I posted this entry I thought, "I'll bet WarDog will be the first first one to snap up this juicy juicy troll bait."

Should have got onto CentreBet.

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Bangar reckons...

Posted August 31, 2014
Not a fan but that there is a fine piece of customer service.

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Blake ducks in to say...

Posted August 31, 2014
By 'walk into an Apple store' do you mean... Prebook online or half a day in advance making sure you have the right appleid's for the right products?

For a company that prides itself on customer support actually getting past the gatekeepers is a real pita.

I've heard of them turning people away when they took 1min too long to drag their toddler into the store, even with an empty genius bar.

Once your there so long as there's no hint of water damage you're fine...

MickH puts forth...

Posted August 31, 2014
They have gate keepers?
So you have to be an Apple Drone with ID just to get into the store?!!

I'm always surprised how this company lasts....

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted August 31, 2014
You've convinced me. Damn Apple. They treat us like animals. I'm going to march right back in there and throw this shiny new free iPhone in their smug faces. After I make an appointment. Like an animal...

MickH asserts...

Posted August 31, 2014
Yep. You should never accept free stuff JB.
Give it back!
:P

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Bondiboy66 reckons...

Posted August 31, 2014
Hmm this is at variance with my wife's recent experience. He iPhone 4S battery had effectively carked it. I booked her a slot via the online reservation thingie, aiming for 5.30pm. She arrives, fights through several levels of shop drones, then sees the alleged Genius. Battery pronounced deceased, happy to put in a new one...which takes over an hour as we have to charge the new battery (why not half charge it she asks?) and we shut at 6pm. So we can't do it now. She of course objects, stating that the battery problem was telegraphed in the notes section of the online booking. ''Oh, we never read the notes'' she is told. Bugger you Jack, do the overtime then says Wifey. Long story short, after some argument, phone is repaired....and cost $95. She goes to pay with her credit card, and also to buy two new power cables for our Apple devices. Shop drone says that this has to be a second transaction...wife rightly objects pointing out that this hsould be one transaction, and two transactions will double the credit card transaction fee (are Apple in bed with the bank?). Wife forgoes the cords and just pays for the phone repair. All in all, a less than stellar performance from this Apple store.

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tqft would have you know...

Posted August 31, 2014
As much as I won't use apple gear for more ideological reasons than cost, I am slowly replacing all my wife's gear with apple stuff. But she doesn't want a smart phone.

iPad retina for around the house. iPad mini for in bed reading. The big iPad is too big for bed. She has on old iPod4(?) for music to & from work.

Just works. Never had a problem with the stuff.

She needs a new laptop. Going to get her a
<h1 itemprop="name" class="product_title entry-title" style="margin: 0px 0px 16px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(55, 55, 54); text-rendering: optimizelegibility; clear: none; text-transform: uppercase;">APPLE MACBOOK PRO 15.4″ </h1>
or something similar for xmas. Works. Keeps working. Windows updates? Over them. Reminds I should boot this laptop to the Windows partition and update it one day/month soon.

Bangar has opinions thus...

Posted August 31, 2014
just works? Why does the keyboard not display the change from lower case to upper case? It's not like anything online is case sensitive.

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Darth Greybeard reckons...

Posted August 31, 2014
I'm pleased to hear of your satisfying experiences with this fine and innovative company Mr Birmingham. I wish you and Apple a long and mutually beneficial relationship.

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mrbolano mutters...

Posted August 31, 2014
I had dust on the inside of the lens of my iphone 5 camera - new phone for me no probs!

And on the subject of Blake’s little missive - "I've heard of them turning people away when they took 1min too long to drag their toddler into the store, even with an empty genius bar.<font color="#333333">”</font>

<font color="#333333">How much does that story reek of hoo-ha! </font>

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted September 1, 2014
"Reek of hoo-ha"? What an odd expression. Contextually, I'm not sure it is a criticism.

Darth Greybeard ducks in to say...

Posted September 1, 2014
I believe it's an old Northumbrian expression of Viking origin. As in "I baint wark through pigstoi if Oi were you, tis up t' knees in hoo ha."

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted September 1, 2014
I suspect "hoo ha" is another example of slang words or phrases having very different American and Australian meanings. E.g., "gilding the lily."

w from brisbane swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 1, 2014
Yes, PNB. There are translation difficulties both ways.
Like the wonder that occurs Downunder when we hear Americans enthusiastically confess that they root for their team.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 1, 2014
If - as I now strongly suspect - "root" is Stralian for "fuck," then I now realize why "wombat: eats roots and leaves" is funny.

But it goes both ways. When an Australian young lady says "I just fucked my boyfriend" it means something very different than when her American counterpart says the exact same sentence.

Halwes mumbles...

Posted September 1, 2014

Even when we get fucked, we're still fucked. So both the American version and the Australian version are still true.

w from brisbane asserts...

Posted September 1, 2014
Yep, PNB. You're right about root.
Eats, roots, shoots and leaves. Is the full line.
That is why the Australian male's idea of foreplay is:
Wanna root?



Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted September 1, 2014
"Eats, roots, shoots and leaves" is even funnier. I will remember.

Blake asserts...

Posted September 1, 2014
Even after the long discussion im lost on the definition of hoo haa. I presume that Mr bolano is suggesting im making it up or stretching the truth.
In any case any impression to that sort is unfortunate. It is of course a second hand story but not third hand. The toddler and ipod belong to me but the English language hasnt really worked out a non-awkward way of describing my partner without being able to say wife (overuse of that term seems to imply some sort of wild west scenario).

In anycase I have no issue with the appointment system or am suggesting Jb return his free* stuff. Only that perhaps the apple tax could be used on some politeness training :-)

*free things that could be reasonably considered replaceable under Australian consumer protection law ;-)

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Barnesm swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 1, 2014

I am always suprised at the number of blue shirted staff mobbing the stores. Since salaries are a big chunk of an any business I always wondered how they can employ so many.

I don't like the Apple teck, but I can not fault their service model in comparison to many other businesses.

Halwes mutters...

Posted September 1, 2014

They can afford that many staff because they pay them slave wages, stitch them up into contracts that it would take a team of lawyers three years to decipher and make sure that they have no union representation

Barnesm mumbles...

Posted September 1, 2014

I suspected that might be the case, thanks for the info.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted September 1, 2014
It is illegal to pay less than the award rate in Australia, and illegal to deny workers union representation if they wish it. Not all workers do, of course. But they should.

Halwes mumbles...

Posted September 1, 2014
Do you reckon they are on the award.? I can't believe it. There are too many of them. How many items would you have to move daily to cover those wages and office space? Maybe 457 Visas? Students? juniors?

Halwes would have you know...

Posted September 1, 2014
As for non third party involvement ( unions) contracts, I see them all the time. The are legal.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted September 1, 2014
The agreements are legal, but its illegal to deny an employee union representation.

As for the Award, it's not an optional extra. It's the base minimum guaranteed by law.

Halwes asserts...

Posted September 1, 2014
So all the profit must be being made at the cheap labour end of the manufacturing process I suppose. It may be illegal to deny an employee union representation but you try and do it in real life. They just find some other reason to sack them. We deal with this shit all the time. What the law says and what really happens are poles apart.

Barnesm would have you know...

Posted September 1, 2014
Whilst I would be the first to decry a company exploiting its workforce, it seems unlikely to me that the apple stores in Australia would risk prosecution for failing to pay the award. I was wondering if the apple staff in the stores were on some sort of intership or some other cult arrangement since there were so many.
From the points Birmo raises it seems likely that Apple, unlike many other retailers, genuinely believes in lower customer to staff ratios for their stores. A business strategy that I wish other companies would adopt.

Therbs ducks in to say...

Posted September 2, 2014

There's no way Apple could get away with paying below award wages. It's not as if they're using off chops backpackers to pick fruit.

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Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted September 1, 2014

Make an appointment? The one on George St in Sydney is aces. Walk in any time. Work colleague had, erm, done something to his 5, walked in, fifteen minutes later had a replacement at no cost.


As its near where I work I also occasionally use their free wi fi for ios and app updates whilst looking at the shiny.

Darth Greybeard reckons...

Posted September 1, 2014
[See also: Cults, "love bombing"]

Therbs swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 2, 2014

Mmmm, cults. Leader says you are dangerously insane and must be educated in a special camp..

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MickH reckons...

Posted September 4, 2014
http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/technology/good-business-technology-advice/dear-apple-we-need-to-chat-20140902-10behr.html

Do you feel the same? Or is your loyalty less fickle?

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