Tag Archives: Crunch Gear

What, No Ironic Rabbit Ears App?

Apple:

Apple® today announced the new Apple TV® which offers the simplest way to watch your favorite HD movies and TV shows on your HD TV for the breakthrough price of just $99. Apple TV users can choose from the largest online selection of HD movies to rent, including first run movies for just $4.99, and the largest online selection of HD TV show episodes to rent* from ABC, ABC Family, Fox, Disney Channel and BBC America for just 99 cents.

Apple TV also streams content from Netflix, YouTube, Flickr and MobileMe™, as well as music, photos and videos from PCs and Macs to your HD TV. Enjoy gorgeous slideshows of your photos on your HD TV using Apple TV’s selection of built-in slideshows. Apple TV has built-in HDMI, Wi-Fi, Ethernet and an internal power supply for easy set-up, and features silent, cool, very low power operation in an enclosure that’s less than four inches square—80 percent smaller than the previous generation.

“The new Apple TV, paired with the largest selection of online HD movie and TV show rentals, lets users watch Hollywood content on their HD TV whenever they want,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “This tiny, silent box costing just $99 lets users watch thousands of HD movies and TV shows, and makes all of their music, photos and videos effortlessly available on their home entertainment system.”

Apple TV users can now rent thousands of commercial free, HD TV episodes on iTunes® for just 99 cents, with up to 30 days to start watching and then 48 hours to finish—or watch multiple times. Users can also rent over 7,000 movies with over 3,400 available in HD, with most new releases available the same day they are released on DVD.

Matt Burns at Crunchgear:

Forget the iTV name, the refreshed Apple TV is still called the Apple TV. But that’s about where the similarities end. The entire system from the form factor to the UI is different; even the entire concept is different. I think we can officially say Apple is taking the Apple TV and the whole streaming market seriously now. It’s no longer just a hobby despite what Steve says.

The new model is dramatically smaller than the old one — 1/4 of the size actually. It features 802.11n built in with HDMI, Ethernet, and optical audio on the backside. The power supply is even built-in. No more power bricks, people!

Just like the rumors stated, the new Apple TV is significantly smaller than the previous generation. That’s partly because it no longer utilizes a spinning disk hard drive for local storage. Flash memory now handles that task, but it’s really only for buffering as it’s not that large. This device is after all a low-cost streamer designed not to hold your media, but to access it from other locations.

The real news is the added content. Apple feels that people do not want to manage local storage — hence the lack of hard drive — and so content will be delivered from the cloud. Keep in mind, there’s no purchasing content, just renting. First-run movies will be available the same day that they hit DVD for $4.99. TV shows now cost $.99 rather than the old price of $2.99 but only Fox and ABC are on board right now.

Then there’s Netflix. Yep, it’s in the box as well and so is YouTube. Both are available through beautiful custom-built UIs. No more red screens for Netflix. (yay!)

Sam Biddle at Gizmodo

Brian X. Chen at Wired:

The major limitation: For TV rentals, only two studios are on board to stream shows through the Apple TV — ABC and Fox. This isn’t an adequate replacement yet for cable subscriptions.

So calling it a “hobby” was right — Apple’s starting out small, and maybe it’ll roll into something bigger if more studios warm up to the idea.

Nonetheless, I got some hands-on time with the new Apple TV and it is a promising start.

TV and movie rentals are really snappy and fast. After choosing to rent a movie or show, the Apple TV takes a few seconds to prepare a buffer and begins streaming your video live.

Also particularly cool was internet integration. I enjoyed searching through Flickr streams: Select a photo and hit the Play button and it immediately plays a slideshow with music and fancy transitions. I’m too lazy to check my friends’ Flickr streams the normal way on Flickr.com, aren’t you? Plus, the photos look great on a big screen through the Apple TV’s HDMI connection.

The Apple TV’s remote is familiar: It’s got the same aluminum and black design as the current MacBook Pros. It’s also very similar to the current Apple remote that controls Macs — only it’s a little longer and the buttons have small bumps for subtle tactile feedback. It feels great in the hand and navigating through the Apple TV menu was really smooth.

As good as the idea sounds, you won’t be able to use your iPhone or iPad as a remote for the Apple TV (not yet, at least). Instead, there’s a feature called “AirPlay,” so if you’re using your iPad or iPhone to listen to music, look at photos or watch a video, you can tap an AirPlay button, select your Apple TV and boom — your content is streaming onto your Apple TV. We weren’t able to test that since this feature won’t be available until iOS 4.2 ships in November, but we’ll keep you posted.

Paul Miller at Engadget:
It’s now a streaming-focused device (as we predicted months ago) in a small matte black enclosure we’re calling “the hockey puck.” It has HDMI, Ethernet, optical audio, and USB plugs around back, and of course 802.11n for the cable-averse. Inside there ain’t much — there’s no local storage, which makes this thing an entirely different beast than old Apple TVs, relying entirely on the “cloud” for content. Those new streaming HD TV rentals from ABC and Fox will be a mere 99 cents, while first run HD movies will be a less thrilling $4.99. Other services include Netflix, YouTube, Flickr, and Mobile Me, along with Rotten Tomatoes integration in the movie catalog. You can also stream from your computer, if you miss those old hard drive-sourced days of yore, but iOS 4.2’s AirPlay also enables streaming from an iPad straight to an Apple TV for something much more surreal. The best news? Apple will start shipping this sucker four weeks from now for $99.

Don MacAskill:

If only there were a way to seriously monetize the platform *and* open it up to all services at the same time. Oh, wait, that’s how Apple completely disrupted the mobile business. It’s called the App Store. Imagine that the AppleTV ran iOS and had it’s own App Store. Let’s see what would happen:

  • Every network could distribute their own content in whichever way they wished. HBO could limit it to their subscribers, and ABC could stream to everyone. Some would charge, some would show ads, and everyone would get all the content they wanted. Hulu, Netflix, and everyone else living in perfect harmony. Let the best content & pricepoint win.
  • We’d get sports. Every geek blogger misses this, and it’s one of the biggest strangleholds that cable and satellite providers have over their customers. You can already watch live, streaming golf on your iPhone in amazing quality. Now imagine NFL Sunday Ticket on your AppleTV.
  • You could watch your Facebook slideshows and SmugMug videos alongside your Flickr stream. Imagine that!
  • The AppleTV might become the best selling video game console, just like iPhone and iPod have done for mobile gaming. Plants vs Zombies and Angry Birds on my TV with a click? Yes please.
  • Apple makes crazy amounts of money. Way more than they do now with their 4 year old hobby.

The new AppleTV runs on the same chip that’s in the iPhone, iPad, and iPod. This should be a no-brainer. What’s the hold up? What’s that you say? The UI? Come on. It’s easy. And it could be the best UI to control a TV ever.

WORLDS BEST TV USER INTERFACE

Just require the use of an iPod, iPhone, or iPad to control it. Put the whole UI on the iOS device in your hand, with full multi-touch. Pinching, rotating, zooming, panning – the whole nine yards. No more remotes, no more infrared, no more mess or fuss. I’m not talking about looking at the TV while your fingers are using an iPod. I’m talking about a fully realized UI on the iPod itself – you’re looking and interacting with it on the iPod.

There are 120M devices capable of this awesome UI out there already. So the $99 price point is still doable. Don’t have an iPod/iPad/iPhone? The bundle is just $299 for both.

That’s what the AppleTV should have been. That would have had lines around the block at launch. This new one?

It’s like an AppleTV from 2007.

Devin Coldeway at Crunchgear:

The other players are scrambling to set themselves in opposition to the new Apple TV: earlier this week, Roku dropped their prices preemptively; Amazon is touting 99-cent shows; now, Boxee is pricing their long-awaited Boxee Box. It’s $199, and they defend the price in a blog post, saying that people really do want the extra features it offers. I’d tend to agree, but in the end it’s the consumers who will decide it.

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Godwin’s Law: Now With Seals

The wikipedia page with the FBI seal (if it is still there)

John Schwartz at NYT:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has taken on everyone from Al Capone to John Dillinger to the Unabomber. Its latest adversary: Wikipedia.

The bureau wrote a letter in July to the Wikimedia Foundation, the parent organization of Wikipedia, demanding that it take down an image of the F.B.I. seal accompanying an article on the bureau, and threatened litigation: “Failure to comply may result in further legal action. We appreciate your timely attention to this matter.”

The problem, those at Wikipedia say, is that the law cited in the F.B.I.’s letter is largely about keeping people from flashing fake badges or profiting from the use of the seal, and not about posting images on noncommercial Web sites. Many sites, including the online version of the Encyclopedia Britannica, display the seal.

Other organizations might simply back down. But Wikipedia sent back a politely feisty response, stating that the bureau’s lawyers had misquoted the law. “While we appreciate your desire to revise the statute to reflect your expansive vision of it, the fact is that we must work with the actual language of the statute, not the aspirational version” that the F.B.I. had provided.

Michael Godwin, the general counsel of the Wikimedia Foundation, wrote, “we are prepared to argue our view in court.” He signed off, “with all appropriate respect.”

Samuel Axon at Mashable:

The New York Times posted PDF documents of the FBI’s takedown request [PDF] and Wikipedia General Counsel Mike Godwin’s bold and catty reply [PDF].The FBI said the Wikimedia Foundation is breaking the law by showing the bureau’s seal in the FBI entry on its website, and that the seal is primarily intended as a means of identification for FBI representatives. Godwin countered by accusing the FBI’s Deputy General Counsel David C. Larson of selectively omitting words from the supposedly applicable law.

Specifically, he said that the letter of the law applies only to things similar to badges, and the spirit of the law is simply to prevent people from posing as government authorities — something Wikipedia (Wikipedia) is clearly not doing. He also implied that the FBI is trying to revise the law because of its hawkish concern that people will rip the image from the site and use it for nefarious purposes.

He assured Larson that the Wikimedia Foundation is prepared to go to court to defend its use of the seal if that’s what it takes.

Godwin’s letter is humorous for its directness, but it’s also funny for being passive-aggressive. For example, he says:

“Entertainingly, in support for your argument, you included a version of 701 in which you removed the very phrases that subject the statute to ejusdem generis analysis. While we appreciate your desire to revise the statute to reflect your expansive vision of it, the fact is that we must work with the actual language of the statute, not the aspirational version of Section 701 that you forwarded to us.”

Godwin is already famous as the creator of Godwin’s Law, which states, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1,” so this is definitely in-character for him.

Steven Taylor:

In looking at the law, I can see a reading going to either side.  However, it does seem to be more oriented towards either stopping counterfeit badges and/or people making money by making duplicates.  It does not appear to be oriented toward stopping an informational outlet from publishing such information.

At a minimum, I have to agree with the following:

Cindy Cohn, the legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, called the dust-up both “silly” and “troubling”; Wikipedia has a First Amendment right to display the seal, she said.

“Really,” she added, “I have to believe the F.B.I. has better things to do than this.”

Indeed.

Nicholas Deleon at Crunch Gear:

Wikipedia’s counsel recognizes that there are restrictions in place regarding the display of the seal, but that “the enactment of [these laws] was intended to protect the public against the use of a recognisable assertion of authority with intent to deceive.”

And if you think Wikipedia is trying to deceive to deceive the public with the presence of a seal in an encyclopedic article, I don’t know what to tell you.

The one thing that I may see some wiggle room: the high resolution of the seal. You can get the seal in sizes of up to 2000px, so maybe Wikipedia can tell the Feds, “Look, we’re keep the seal, but we’ll kick the resolution down to, say, 500px. Deal?”

Hopefully cooler heads prevail here.

Rob Beschizza at Boing Boing:

The part that’s hard to understand is why the FBI would seek to abuse the law in such petulant fashion, knowing that it will be subject to public ridicule for its actions.

Juli Weiner at Vanity Fair

Jim Newell at Gawker:

The FBI is definitely going to raid their offices, like, tonight.

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Uh… They’re Number One?

Frank James at NPR:

The U.S. is no longer the single largest consumer of the world’s energy resources. That distinction now goes to China, according to the International Energy Agency.

The IEA says that according to an analysis of its data for 2009, China, with a population of 1.33 billion compared with the U.S.’s 310.2 million, has outstripped the U.S.

It’s been known for some day that this day would come. But it happened faster than was forecast because China was hurt less by the global recession than the U.S.

Nicholas Deleon at Crunch Gear:

The actual numbers are pretty impressive, particularly when you consider that a mere 10 years ago China was quite a bit behind the U.S.

China consumed some 2,252 millions tons of the oil equivalent of sources such as coal, nuclear power, natural gas, and hydropower. The U.S. consumed 4 percent less. These are numbers from last year, by the way.

But that’s where energy efficiency comes into play. Since the year 2000, the U.S. has increased its energy efficiency by about 2.5 percent annually. China? 1.8 percent. So not a huge difference, but a difference nonetheless.

Does this really mean anything to you? Eh, maybe. Certainly it’ll have implications for the world at large though. Now that China is the biggest consumer of energy, it alone is in the position to tell energy providers, “Look, we’re willing to pay X for Y units of energy.” If China’s X is bigger than the U.S.’s X, then we may be looking at a situation where energy prices will go up simply because “someone else” is willing to pay more.

Which could mean that all the factories that produce all the lovely electronic gizmos we talk about day in, day out, could see their costs of doing business go up. And who would make up the difference? Yes, you!

Then again, it could have the very opposite effect, and end up lowering prices.

Mark Wilson at Gizmodo:

A different metric? Three years ago, China was the world’s biggest exporter of coal. Now it’s the leading importer. And last year, for the first time ever, Saudi Arabia sold more oil to China than the US.

Given that China’s consumption will give them more negotiation power in the world’s power market, it may be a good time to buck our trend of a mere 2.5% energy efficiency increase per year.

Frank Holmes at Wall Street Pit:

While most, if not all, had predicted China would become the world’s largest energy user, many didn’t think it was going to happen for another five years. China’s rise to the top can largely be attributed to a decline in energy usage in the U.S. China’s 2009 energy usage was below that of the U.S. from 2004-2008, before the financial crisis.

In fact, just ten years ago China’s energy consumption was less than half that of the U.S., according to the Wall Street Journal. The U.S. remains the biggest energy consumer on a per capita basis, the IEA economist said, consuming three times more per citizen than China. The U.S. also consumes more than twice the amount of oil that China does in a day.

But like most things with China, that statistic won’t last long. The IEA reported in last year’s World Energy Outlook that China and India will represent more than half of all incremental demand increases by 2030.

Well aware of the global politics of energy, the Chinese government was quick to dismiss the story as an overestimation by the IEA. Probably not the last time we’ll see modesty from Beijing as the country continues to put “world’s largest” in front of more and more resources.

Paul Denlinger at Forbes:

This is why the Chinese government has chosen to invest in developing new green energy technology.

The country is very fortunate in that most of the discovered deposits of rare earths used in the development of new technologies are found in China. While these deposits are very valuable, up until recently, the industry has not been regulated much by the Chinese central government. But now that Beijing is aware of their importance and value, it has come under much closer scrutiny. For one, Beijing wants to consolidate the industry and lower energy waste and environmental damage. (Ironically, the rare earth mining business is one of the most energy-wasteful and highly polluting industries around. Think Chinese coal mining with acid.)

At the same time, Beijing wants to cut back rare earth exports to the rest of the world, instead encouraging domestic production into wind and solar products for export around the world. With patents on the new technology used in manufacturing, China would control the intellectual property and licensing on the products that would be used all over the world. If Beijing is able to do this, it would control the next generation of energy products used by the world for the next century.

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Gawker And Apple, Yet Again

Ryan Tate at Gawker:

Apple has suffered another embarrassment. A security breach has exposed iPad owners including dozens of CEOs, military officials, and top politicians. They—and every other buyer of the cellular-enabled tablet—could be vulnerable to spam marketing and malicious hacking.

The breach, which comes just weeks after an Apple employee lost an iPhone prototype in a bar, exposed the most exclusive email list on the planet, a collection of early-adopter iPad 3G subscribers that includes thousands of A-listers in finance, politics and media, from New York Times Co. CEO Janet Robinson to Diane Sawyer of ABC News to film mogul Harvey Weinstein to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. It even appears that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s information was compromised.

It doesn’t stop there. According to the data we were given by the web security group that exploited vulnerabilities on the AT&T network, we believe 114,000 user accounts have been compromised, although it’s possible that confidential information about every iPad 3G owner in the U.S. has been exposed. We contacted Apple for comment but have yet to hear back. We also reached out to AT&T for comment. [Update: AT&T has confirmed the breach and the FBI has opened an investigation. Updates below.] A call to Rahm Emanuel’s office at the White House has not been returned.

Taylor Buley at Forbes:

Gawker contributor Ryan Tate set the Web ablaze on Wednesday with a blog post detailing the alleged breach of 114,000 iPad users’ email addresses. The post named names: among them, executives at News Corp, The New York Times Company and Dow Jones.

According to “Weev,” a well known Internet “activist” who we likened to Shakespeare’s Puck after a baffling Amazon.com security incident last year, the “Goatse” security group alerted various members of the mainstream press via email before granting Gawker’s Tate an exclusive on the data.

“i disclosed this to other press organizations first (ones who had ipad users affected by the breach, lol) and was ignored,” writes Weev in an email. “gawker found out and ran with it immediately.”

To prove it, Weev sent Forbes copies of emails sent to press at Reuters, News Corp, The Washington Post and The San Francisco Chronicle. The veracity of the emails has not been confirmed, but each has a timestamp dating back to Sunday night.

[…]

Asked if Gawker paid for the scoop, Weev said the publication did not provide remuneration. “we did a benefit analysis and decided they could take our story viral the fastest,” he writes in an email.

Hello Reuters!

An information leak on AT&T’s network allows severe privacy violations to iPad 3G users. Your iPad’s unique network identifiers were pulled straight out of AT&T’s database.

Every GSM device (including 3G iPads), has an ICC-ID on its SIM card. This ICC-ID is a unique identifier to the cellular network that is used by the carrier to route calls to your cellphone. If this ICC-ID is compromised an attacker could theoretically (thanks to recent cryptanalysis that cracked GSM’s hash and stream functions) clone your SIM card to act as you on the AT&T network.

Devin, the iPad you registered to your email has the ICC-ID of 8901xxxxxxxxxxxxxx94.
Shannon, yours is 8901xxxxxxxxxxxxxx73.
James, yours is 8901xxxxxxxxxxxxxx74.
Carl, yours is 8901xxxxxxxxxxxxxx72.
David, yours is 8901xxxxxxxxxxxxxx71.
Neil, yours is 8901xxxxxxxxxxxxxx05.
Rob, yours is 8901xxxxxxxxxxxxxx03.
Joseph, yours is 8901xxxxxxxxxxxxxx11.
Mike, yours is 8901xxxxxxxxxxxxxx57.

You can locate your ICC-ID number of your iPad and verify this information by using the following item from Apple’s FAQ:
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4061
There is nothing in Apple’s SDK APIs that would allow an application to have this identifier– it is a shared secret that should indicate physical proximity to the iPad. In addition, by harvesting ICC-IDs, an attacker can build a complete list of contact information for all iPad 3G customers. All these Thomson Reuters employees were revealed in a short data harvest by my working group along with hundreds of thousands of other iPad 3G customers.

If anyone in your organization would like to discuss this particular issue for publication I would be absolutely happy to describe the method of theft in more detail.

Have a good evening.

John Hudson at The Atlantic

David Coldewey at Crunch Gear:

he hackers, a group known as Goatse Security (I’ll let you work out the reasoning for the name yourself), organized a brute-force attack in which they pummeled a public AT&T script with semirandom ICC-ID numbers, which would return nothing if invalid but an email address if valid. A few hours later, they had the ICC-IDs and email addresses of everyone from Michael Bloomberg and Diane Sawyer to a Mr. Eldredge, who commands a fleet of B-1 bombers.As is occasionally the case with grey-hat hacker actions like this, the hack seems to have been executed first and AT&T notified shortly afterward — though not before an unknown number of third parties had access to the script. AT&T closed the hole immediately (it was as simple as turning off the script), and apologized as follows:

AT&T was informed by a business customer on Monday of the potential exposure of their iPad ICC IDS. The only information that can be derived from the ICC IDS is the e-mail address attached to that device.

This issue was escalated to the highest levels of the company and was corrected by Tuesday; and we have essentially turned off the feature that provided the e-mail addresses.

The person or group who discovered this gap did not contact AT&T.

We are continuing to investigate and will inform all customers whose e-mail addresses and ICC IDS may have been obtained.

We take customer privacy very seriously and while we have fixed this problem, we apologize to our customers who were impacted.

Impacted. Like wisdom teeth. Why not “affected?” Anyway, I notice they say they were not contacted by the group but by some business customer. The timing isn’t clear from the Gawker article, but I wonder if there’s a little more to this than anyone cares to admit. Groups like Goatse often warn their targets beforehand, but it seems like one or the other would have mentioned that if it happened. You’d think a company as exposed as AT&T would have bells on its scripts that would ring if suddenly requests increased by 1000%, but practices like that are perhaps too much to be expected.

Jason O’Grady at ZDNet:

Even worse is the potential security threat this could expose to members of the military that adopted the iPad. On the list are several devices registered to the domain of DARPA, the advanced research division of the Department of Defense, including William Eldredge, who “commands the largest operational B-1 [strategic bomber] group in the U.S. Air Force.”

Um, yeah. It’s that bad.

Media moguls and celebrities are one thing, but I’m guessing that the government and military users are taking this one pretty seriously too.I’m guessing that Al Qaeda would pay big bucks to have access to Eldridge’s iPad 3G?

According to data furnished to Gawker by the Web security group that exploited vulnerabilities on the AT&T network at least 114,000 user accounts have been compromised, although it’s possible that confidential information about every U.S. iPad 3G owner in the U.S. has been exposed.

Tony Bradley at PC World:

In truth, there was nothing elite (or ‘l33t’ in hacker speak) about the iPad 3G data leak. In fact, according to an interview on CBS News by Larry Magid with Goatse Security analyst Jim Jeffers, the security researchers more or less stumbled upon the authentication glitch. Jeffers said the exploit “was almost discovered by accident. One of our employees is an iPad 3G subscriber, and he noticed it in the process of the normal user experience of this device. It was something he just noticed as he was using it.”

Sort of like how finding and taking a car with the driver’s door open, keys in the ignition, and engine on does not make one an elite car thief. The lesson for IT administrators is to be more vigilant about closing these holes and making sure that the car door isn’t open, with the keys in the ignition, and the engine on–especially for Web-facing servers.

There is an entire genre of hacking dedicated to finding sensitive or confidential data inadvertently exposed to the Web. The book Google Hacking by Johnny Long, and the accompanying online Google Hacking Database, list hundreds of search queries that can be used to ferret out juicy information not meant for public consumption. It is actually not unique to Google. It should be called “Web search hacking”, but Google is essentially synonymous with Web search and “Google hacking” has a better ring to it.

George Kurtz, McAfee CTO and proud owner of not one, but two iPads, provides a detailed analysis of the iPad 3G data leak in which he ponders, “why is there such a dust storm over the recent AT&T/Apple iPad disclosure of 114,000 iPad owners and is it warranted?”

Kara Swisher at All Things Digital:

Now the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the AT&T breach, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal, in what seems to be an early probe.

Oooh, the Feds are involved now.

I wish I could say it will make a difference. Because it won’t.

In fact, coming on the heels of privacy controversies at Facebook and Google (GOOG), it’s just another log on the digital fire that has been burning up privacy for a very long time now.

And now more than ever, it is part of a massive confluence of trends, including:

Consumers more interested than ever in sharing information about themselves in order to make ever better social networking connections online; a plethora of innovative devices–mostly mobile–and Internet tools available to seamlessly and easily allow those consumers to do so; and, perhaps most of all, Internet companies intent on hoovering up as much information as possible, in order to garner more consumers and sell it to advertisers.

In large part, this is all well and good, creating a range of valuable and entertaining services at little or no cost and making the computing experience more personal and relevant.

Because of that, I have to admit I was less tweaked than I thought I would be, although I wish I were not.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose email was also compromised, expressed the feeling best.

“It shouldn’t be pretty hard to figure out my email address,” he was quoted saying in the Journal article. “To me, it wasn’t that big a deal.”

That’s because all of us are thinking less that such information is private or will remain that way for long.

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Something To Keep In Mind When Complaining About Your Job

Laura Northrup at The Consumerist:

Is Foxconn, the huge electronics company that manufactures for global brands such as HP, Dell, and Apple (yes, they make the iPad and iPhone) a towering fortress of secrecy where employees cower in fear, ten people to a dorm room, or a normal manufacturing outfit that has had a weird cluster of employee suicides recently?

Ten Foxconn employees have committed suicide in the last year, and five in the last month alone. The first that attracted major media attention in recent months was a 25-year-old man who claimed that company security officers accused him of stealing an iPhone prototype and beat him.

The company has responded to the damage to its image with promises to improve management techniques and working conditions, a rumored 20% raise for factory workers, and asking employees to sign a pledge not to kill themselves.

Ed Sutherland at Cult of Mac:

Apple said it was “saddened and upset” by a recent spate of suicides at Foxconn, a China-based electronics manufacturer believed to be making Apple’s upcoming next-generation iPhone. The Cupertino, Calif. consumer electronics designer also announced it would launch an independent evaluation of the plant where 10 workers have committed suicide in the past year.

Earlier this month, a call for investigations was spurred by the death of another worker.

Tuesday, a 19-year-old male worker, who had been at Foxconn just 42 days jumped to his death from a company building. That death came just days after another worker reportedly committed suicide and just one day after Foxconn representatives defended the company against charges of maintaining a sweatshop atmosphere.

In the wake of the suicides, Foxconn – which also makes components for other electronic giants, such as HP and Nokia – introduced several antisuicide tactics, including putting safety nets to prevent workers from jumping from company buildings, inviting Budddhist monks to pray, and creating the “Foxconn Employee Care Center,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Publicly, Foxconn has swung from physically attacking reporters to giving tours of the firm’s campus, complete with bakery, dormitories and Olympic-size swimming pools.

Ron Hogan at Popular Fidelity:

So what makes Foxconn workers want to put an end to their lives in such a dramatic manner?  Apparently, if you believe the critics, it’s job unhappiness.  The company is accused of using military-like discipline, maintaining shifts that are too long, and having the assembly line move too fast.  Meanwhile, the company is installing nets and barriers on all its tall buildings (I’m not joking) to curtail any future leaps.

That’s probably cheaper than addressing the problem of why your workforce would prefer death to continued employment.

Seth Weintraub at 9 to 5 Mac:

Something we’ve suspected all along: It isn’t that Foxconn has an abnormally high suicide rate.  The suicides are actually, per capita, less than the average in China.

The issue here is that Foxconn is mind-bendingly big.  It has 500,000-800,000 employees overall and 300,000 alone in that plant in Shenzen that makes all of those iPads that we love so much.

We can’t possibly imagine how many people that is.

To put it in perspective, Foxconn is 1/5th the size of New Zealand.  The country.

Four US states, Alaska, Wyoming, Vermont, and North Dakota are smaller than Foxconn.  That means that there are more people going to work at Foxconn than every man, woman, child and elderly person in four US states.

If you’ve ever seen a Michigan-Ohio State game, Foxconn employees could fill one of those stadiums eight times over!

OK, you get the point.  They have a lot of employees.  And the suicide rate is high in China in general. So these suicides aren’t abnormal.  In fact, they are below average.  However, since they are high profile, they are followed closely.

John Biggs at Crunch Gear:

Hon Hai Precision Industry, the anchor group for Foxconn, is offering its workers a 20% increase in pay as part of a regular third-quarter cycle.

It’s important to note that this is a cyclical was planned months in advance the suicides are ancillary to the eleven suicides thus far.

“I don’t think this will impact Hon Hai’s profitability,” said Vincent Chen, an analyst at Yuanta Securities in Taipei. “Salaries for production workers are usually raised at around the third quarter, which is the peak season for most contract manufacturers as they gear up for the year-end holiday season.”

Ezra Klein:

As someone who’s read a lot of Tyler Cowen in my day, this passage from China Daily’s report caught my eye:

Zhang said the company has never talked with them about the suicides and did not disclose the compensation amount, rumored at about 100,000 yuan ($14,600).

Prodded by reporters, Gou said on Wednesday he was taking the injury contract back because its language was not appropriate.

But he noted the company will reduce the amount of compensation, since “high amount of compensation may encourage suicides”.

Also interesting was this editorial arguing that the suicides among low-wage laborers “are but extreme examples of the problems caused by China’s traditional development pattern” and they highlight the need for China to develop more businesses where they control the intellectual property and keep the profits rather than simply administer the worst, and least profitable, elements of the production process.

UPDATE: Heather Horn at The Atlantic

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Filed under China, Economics, Technology

Broadband Across America

Grant Gross at PC World:

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will seek to take back 120MHz of spectrum from U.S. television stations in the next five years and reallocate it to wireless broadband providers in a voluntary program that would allow the stations to share or keep spectrum auction revenues, under a national broadband plan that will be officially released Tuesday.

The FCC would seek approval from Congress to conduct “incentive auctions” of unused spectrum, including TV spectrum, and the agency could either act as a third-party auctioneer of the spectrum or share the auction proceeds with the sellers, according to the broadband plan, which the FCC released to reporters Monday.

The TV spectrum auctions are part of a goal to free up 500MHz of spectrum for wireless broadband over the next decade, one of the major goals of the 400-page broadband plan. If, however, the FCC doesn’t get enough volunteers to free up spectrum, it will look for other ways to take back the spectrum, but FCC officials said Monday they expect to get enough TV stations to give up their extra spectrum in exchange for auction proceeds.

Ryan Singel at Wired:

The FCC is set to share the nation’s first official broadband plan with Congress Tuesday, a sort of Declaration of the Internet which seeks to ensure that a fast broadband connection is just as much an unalienable right as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

That’s pretty ambitious, but the FCC is as unambiguous about its intentions as the Colonists were about throwing off the yoke another form of oppression. For example, goal number three states that “Every American should have affordable access to robust broadband service, and the means and skills to subscribe if they so choose.”

Still the plan, put together by the FCC after months of hearings and public comment periods, turns out, in details, to be pragmatic and reformist, rather than revolutionary. That is, at least according to a summary (.pdf) released Monday.

The FCC is calling for more competition among broadband providers, more spectrum for wireless data services, subsidies for rural and poor citizens, and education for the digitally challenged. There’s a little bit for every constituency, from those who worry most about the digital divide to those who see a future where all health records are digital and networked.

There’s not much for those who dreamed of a drastic call for an all-fiber network to be built and subsidized by the government. There is, in fact, no government building of public networks at all. Nor is there much in the way of support for municipalities and states.

And for those itching for a confrontation between users and the big telecoms, the plan will disappoint since it steers clear of controversial topics such whether the wireless industry has to follow the same open requirements now applied to DSL and cable companies, and whether those who own the infrastructure connecting people to the net have to rent their lines to competing services at a fair price.

Though we don’t have full details of the plan yet, the insight we gain from the executive summary shows that Washington may have finally reached a “we get it” moment when it comes to technology. Broadband access isn’t just about rural America checking out YouTube videos. This is also about creating the broadband infrastructure that can drive future innovation on the homefront, update public safety, education, health care and energy to improve efficiency and grow jobs by fueling competition.

And it’s also not a policy that can be set in stone. Ten years seems like an eternity in Internet years, but it’s smart for the government to look at a long-term plan. There’s no way such ambitious goals can be rolled out in a year or two, There are a lot of moving parts and if the timeline – which we should see next – is a good one, hopefully some short-term advancements will offer a peek of what’s still to come.

Nancy Scola at Tapped:

The absence of creative thinking in this new plan is particularly worrisome because the small crew within the FCC that produced it had the chance to stir passions about what our broadband future might look like. The National Broadband Plan isn’t a set of regulations. It’s not a piece of legislation. It was meant to be an aspirational plan, but it’s not that aspirational. Blair Levin, the seemingly autonomous point-person appointed by Chairman Genachowski, talks about the FCC like Alaskans talk about the United States. It’s not clear if recommendations in the plan made to the FCC will actually be regulations made by the FCC. In other words, is the FCC prepared to actually enact the policies, like form new public-private partnerships or re-purpose the Universal Service Fund from telephones to broadband? I was told the FCC commissioners — the people with the power to turn the plan into action — had seen the report as early as a full month ago and had access to the broadband team’s staff.

Nicholas Deleon at Crunch Gear:

Up until a moment ago, this was going to be a standard “newsy” post: the FCC will announce its National Broadband Plan on Tuesday, here’s what it’s all about. Then I read the comments of a PC World article discussing that very same plan—many people are outraged that the government would muscle its way into the free market! If Americans wanted fast broadband then the market would provide it on its own terms. That, of course, is complete nonsense: plenty of Americans live in one-ISP towns, and if said ISP provides terrible service, well, though cookies, chico. This is America! Love it or leave it~!

And really, the FCC isn’t doing anything particularly controversial, at least I don’t think it’s controversial. All it’s doing is saying, by 2020, we’d like to see 100 million homes (out of an estimated 130 million homes come 2020) have access to broadband with speeds of up to 100 mbps. Some people already have access to that type of Internet connection, myself included. Other ISPs, including universally loathed Comcast, plans to roll out 100 mbps service in the coming months. So it’s not like the FCC is making some sort of unreasonable demand: the market has already decided that it’s worth its while to deploy 100 mbps service all over the country. A cynic might say that the FCC knows this, that 100 mbps service is closer than you might otherwise think, and is merely latching itself onto the ISPs so that it can be all, “See, FCC = leadership.” But don’t be cynical, don’t hold grudges: while you’re holding a grudge, the other guy is dancing.

I don’t know, I suppose it makes sense to get into this a bit more when the FCC actually makes the Plan public on Tuesday. But for now, all I have to say is: chill out. Not everything the government announces is tantamount to quartering British soldiers in your house without permission. I suppose I’m talking to people right now who actually believe, and understand, that a wired country is truly in the best interests of everyone.

So on Tuesday, Grant Gross at PC World:

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission officially released the country’s first national broadband plan Tuesday, and one of its major goals is to bring broadband service to all U.S. residents.

The FCC meeting Tuesday was a bit anticlimactic, because commission officials had conducted briefings on the major proposals in the 360-page plan in recent weeks. The FCC on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a two-page joint statement on broadband, but did not vote on the broadband plan in its entirety.

The approximately 200 recommendations in the broadband plan will need to be approved separately, FCC officials said. The agency is planning a series of about 40 notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRMs) in coming months, and some recommendations in the plan will need action from the U.S. Congress. The FCC also makes a series of recommendations to other U.S. government agencies.

Jared Newman at PC World:

The actual implementation of the plan could change lawmakers get their hands on it, but here’s an early look at who gains and who loses from the national broadband plan:

Winner: 100 Million Patient Homes, Plus Communities

One major long-term goal of the plan is to provide 100 million homes with 100 Mbps broadband, and to install 1 Gbps broadband at community sites such as schools and government buildings, all by 2020. That’s an eternity in Internet time, but it’ll ultimately mean that most homes and communities could have blazing-fast connections.

Winner: People Who Can’t Afford or Access the Internet

Another major goal is the availability of free or cheap wireless broadband, coming from wireless spectrum that the FCC will identify for auction. The point is to provide basic Internet nationwide for people who otherwise can’t afford it.

Winner: Wireless Carriers

Companies like Verizon Wireless and AT&T are dying for more wireless spectrum to feed a growing number of data-hungry smartphones. The FCC plans to throw them a bone with 500 MHz of spectrum. Wireless industry group CTIA is thrilled.

Loser: Broadcast Television

The government is largely relying on broadcasters to voluntarily give up some of their spectrum so it can be used for broadband. Broadcasters like having the choice, but worry that the government might force them to give up spectrum if they don’t play along. Things could get ugly if broadcasters have to start sharing spectrum or use low-power cellular transmitters to broadcast. People who rely on broadcast TV may find that service is merely surviving, rather than improving.

Loser: Lawmakers

Members of Congress were the ones who mandated a national broadband plan, but now they’ve got the unenviable task of figuring out what to do with it. The total cost of the plan could range from $12 billion to $25 billion, and though the FCC hopes those costs can be recouped by auctioning spectrum, it might be a hard sell to taxpayers.

Unknown: Internet Service Providers

Companies such as Comcast are getting a hand from the FCC to build their infrastructure and offer better service to more people. But government help raises questions of how much regulation those companies will face, and whether they should continue to rely on private investment. Service providers seem happy about the proposal for now, but things could change as lawmakers and the FCC delve deeper into the issue of national broadband.

UPDATE: Farhad Manjoo in Slate

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Good & Plenty Would Have Meant Expulsion

Robert X. Cringely at PC World:

In case you haven’t been following the plot of Webcamgate, starring the Lower Merion School District in Southeastern Pennsylvania and a cast of thousands, here’s the skinny.

[…]

Last week the Robbins family, whose son Blake attends LMSD’s Harriton High, filed a class-action suit against the district alleging that it’s been spying on its students via webcams on school-supplied MacBooks.

The suit came about after Blake Robbins was called into the assistant principal Lindy Matsko’s office last November to discuss “inappropriate behavior” he was displaying — at home. The proof? A snapshot of him taken with his laptop’s Webcam.

Apparently Matsko thought Blake was popping pills. According to Robbins, he was merely eating candy: Mike-N-Ikes. (A classic gateway drug — before you know it, he’ll be deep into Good-N-Plenty and then totally hooked on Tic Tacs.)

The idea that the school could peer into the Robbins’ home — and by implication, the homes of nearly 2,400 other students in the district — blew their minds. It also may have violated dozens of federal and state laws regarding privacy, wiretapping, and electronic communications, as alleged in their suit PDF.

The school district’s response? Yes, we have the ability to activate students’ webcams remotely, but it’s strictly used for tracking lost or stolen laptops, says school superintendent Dr. Christopher W. McGinley. No, we didn’t tell any of the students or their families about it. Oops. Our bad.

Jeff Porten at PC World:

How exactly did the school district get access to students’ Webcams? Well, Lower Merion installed security software on the Macs it issued to 2300 students, but never disclosed the possibility that they could be remotely monitored for audio and video input–which could be illegal under federal and state laws governing topics like wiretaps and computer-instrusion.

An analysis of how MacBooks could be used this way was posted by a security researcher writing under the (presumed) pseudonym of Stryde Hax. According to Hax, Lower Merion used LANRev software (recently rebranded Absolute Manage) to implement both the system lockdown and remote access on the MacBooks. LANRev includes camera, screenshot, and IP location tracking in its monitoring as an antitheft tool.

Lower Merion spokesman Doug Young claimed that this antitheft tracking was used 42 times when laptops were reported stolen, and led to the recovery of 28 of them. He said the policy of using Webcam shots only for devices reported stolen was never broken, but he couldn’t comment specifically on the Robbins case.

That contradicts anecdotal evidence compiled by Hax, who searched message boards used by Lower Merion high school students, and found many reports of iSight cameras powering up, as indicated by a brief flicker of the LED light next to the camera. Some students even put tape over their iSight cameras to prevent them from operating, but most were assured by the district that the light was a “common MacBook glitch.” The LANRev software apparently disabled the cameras for all other uses; students were unable to use PhotoBooth or video chat, so apparently most of them believed that the camera did not work at all.

Doug Hanchard at ZDNet:

Assistant Vice Principal Lynn Matsko of Harriton High School, who is at the center of current allegations of being personally involved in the Lower Merion District School board’s webcam spy scandal, has launched a vigorous defense.

CBS News Radio station KYW Newsradio 1060 recorded Matsko’s statement in a press conference.

Matsko did not go into details of who is being investigated.

It should be noted, all reports filed by ZDNet, CNET, and KYW Radio,  that at no time has anyone suggested that the web cams were recording motion video with audio. There are news reports suggesting that complete video’s including audio have been recorded by Harriton H.S. and archived, none of which can be verified after several attempts to do so. Still images have been admitted to being ‘archived’ by School spokesperson Doug Young. If accurate, this potentially limits what charges the FBI agents would recommend to federal attorney Michael Levy (Philadelphia) to file against Lower Merion District School officials. While Vice Principal Matsko fights to be absolved of personal accusations of spying on her students, Matsko still has to answer to the school board and investigators as supervisor of the staff of her school’s IT department. Repercussions including possible suspension or dismissal from the board. Matsko repeatedly stated school officials continue to fully cooperate with local and federal investigators.

Further research reveals that the Lower Merion School Board was using software installed on all its Mac Laptops developed by LANrev which specializes in asset tracking. LANrev maybe familiar to some of you; the company was acquired last year by Absolute Software, based in Vancouver, B.C., makers of LOJACK for cars and computers.

John Biggs at Crunch Gear:

The Lower Merion School District (motto: “We’re Building the Future Police State”), caught using a remote monitoring service on school-supplied laptops while the kids were at home, had some pretty creepy rules on the books to ensure compliance. To wit we find, thanks to strydehax, these gems:

* Possession of a monitored Macbook was required for classes
* Possession of an unmonitored personal computer was forbidden and would be confiscated

* Disabling the camera was impossible

* Jailbreaking a school laptop in order to secure it or monitor it against intrusion was an offense which merited expulsion

Expulsion, eh? Pretty rough stuff. But shouldn’t the school district be able to protect their investment? Well, the reason this all came up was that a kid in the district was caught eating Mike-n-Ikes at home. The principal called him in for eating candy and, presumably, this school watching this kid in his own room. This means, in an effort to prevent theft, there was some potential pedophilia happening here.

MadisonConservative at Hot Air:

This poor kid is being harassed and accused of criminal activity, but we all know situations that potentially could be far worse. Suppose cameras were turned on when students were getting dressed, or were just out of the shower. Suppose they were on when students were doing one of the many activities that becomes common during puberty. Lately, it’s become clear that some teachers are exploring “perks” of their profession. Hell, we’re lucky if we can undo the more and more common brainwashing being used on kids when they get home.

So which scares you more about your children and technology? To Catch A Predator, or this? Frankly…I’m torn.

Julian Sanchez:

When it’s a carefully-worded statement from Lindy Matsko, the vice principal implicated in the Pennsylvania school webcam spying lawsuit:

“At no time have I ever monitored a student via a laptop webcam,” said Matsko, who is in her 25th year working for Lower Merion School District, “nor have I ever authorized the monitoring of a student via a laptop webcam, either at school or in the home. And I never would.”

Nobody ever claimed that Matsko personally conducted webcam surveillance of students. Nor does the complaint allege that she gave some kind of order to individually target any particular student.  If we believe the district’s claim about how it uses its remote monitoring software—and there’s some reason for doubt—then the laptop camera was probably activated by a tech trying to determine whether the student had taken home a temporary “loaner” laptop that was supposed to remain at school.  The tech may have then seen what looked like drugs on the student’s desk, and forwarded the image to Matsko.  In other words, everything Matsko says here and the allegations made by the student and his family can both be wholly true.

She later added that, in more than a decade as assistant vice principal, she had “never disciplined a student” for actions beyond school property that had no connection to a school-related event, apparently in response to the Robbins lawsuit’s allegation the student learned of the webcam surveillance from a school disciplinary action.

Again, nothing here is actually inconsistent with the complaint.  The claim made there is that the student was called into Matsko’s office and accused of “inappropriate behavior” at home, captured by the school webcam.  There’s no mention of any disciplinary action being taken. The student has since explained that he was questioned about possession of something that appeared to be drugs, but which he says were Mike & Ike candies (of which he is apparently a notoriously ravenous consumer).  Maybe he explained this and they believed him.  Or maybe they didn’t, but decided to drop it since there was no real way to prove otherwise.

UPDATE: William Bender

Atrios

UPDATE #2: More Atrios

Ann Althouse

Radley Balko

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Filed under Education, Technology

Eat My Electricity, Prius!

chevy-volt

The Chevy Volt gets what MPG rating?

Richard S. Chang at NYT:

General Motors announced on Tuesday morning that its Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car had delivered a fuel-economy rating of 230 miles a gallon — which sounds outrageous. With that kind of gas mileage, you could practically drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on a single gallon of gas, or for around three bucks.

But, of course, you wouldn’t be able to do that. G.M. said the 230 number is only for city driving, and it’s not based on the same measurement standard used to calculate the fuel economy of gas-engine or hybrid cars.

Matt Burns at Crunch Gear:

Take a look at the current high-mileage kings and that 230 MPG rating really sinks in. The EPA handed the Prius a 51 MPG city ranking and the Insight a 41 MPG. The EPA says that the Ford Fusion hybrid can get 41 in the city and the Camary Hybrid 40 MPG in the city. With hyper-mileage tactics like killing the engine to coast down hills and fancy pedal work, a few obsessed drivers have pushed a few of these cars into triple digit territory.

None of these cars of course benefit from a battery pack that can power the car exclusively for 40 miles, though. The only real competitor to the Chevy Volt is the Fisker Karma as it’s fundamentally the same powertrain design but the EPA hasn’t had a go with that EV yet.  There is the Tesla Model S too, but that vehicle is limited by the range of a battery pack and doesn’t have an on-board gasoline generator like the Volt and the Karma and therefore will not be ranked under the same guidelines.

Sebastian Blanco at Autobloggreen:

Frank Weber, vehicle chief engineer for the Volt, told AutoblogGreen that the EPA’s method takes into account the two extremes: People who plug in every chance they get and therefore barely ever need gasoline and people who never plug in (if you’re buying a Volt and never plug it in, we’d like to offer you a bridge or two. Call us). By figuring out what the average driver will do with the Volt, the EPA has declared that 230 mpg is reasonable. Weber said, “The number is in the ballpark, it is not unrealistic. The moment you are driving shorter trips, or you go on longer trips and look at your average fuel economy, this number is achievable.”

Keep in mind, the 230 mpg number is only valid for the Volt’s city cycle. On the highway, the number will be closer to 100 mpg. Still impressive to look at, and the first car to get triple digits from the EPA. As you can read in this detailed PDF from NREL, there is much more to think about in calculating the fuel economy of PHEVs than simply how far it can go on a single charge and then what its “regular” mpg rating is. At least, there’s more to it if you’re the EPA.

Darren Murph at Engadget:

This past Sunday, GM reportedly submitted a regulatory filing with the US Treasury, and while it can’t be taken as official word per se, it does provide reason to believe that the promised November ship date will slip to an undisclosed month and year. The report also noted that there is “no assurance” that it will qualify for any remaining energy loans to develop advanced fuel technology automobiles, and if you needed more reason to doubt the whole ordeal, have a look at this zinger: “Our competitors and others are pursuing similar technologies and other competing technologies, in some cases with more money available; there can be no assurance that they will not acquire similar or superior technologies sooner than we do.” Ah well — at least we know the four or five prototype models destined for eBay will do Ma Earth proud, right?

Harry Fuller at ZDNet:

And if gasoline does ever hit $20 per gallon, well, the Volt could put GM back into the driver’s seat. The Volt’s sticker price is apparently going to be around $40K, and it would qualify under current law for about $7500 in federal rebates. So with sales tax in most states it would retail in the mid-$30K range. Expect a waiting list, as well. Every Michigan pol will have to own one for sure. There is no official way to sign-up yet.
Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, Nissan and Toyota all expect to launch their own electric cars in the near future. It’s not clear if any of them can beat the Volt to the market. Also, not clear: will any of these companies be allowed to sell their electric cars in Saudi Arabia?

Allah Pundit:

Thrilling news, not because the Volt’s going to solve America’s dependence on Middle Eastern oil overnight but because the baseline technology’s now not only available but almost cost-effective. Why do I say almost? Let’s do the math. Initial sticker-price estimates are $40,000; assume it’ll be a bit more than that, then deduct $7,500 for the federal tax credit you’ll get for buying one. Let’s say that leaves us with a cost of $35,000. Figure a new car with standard fuel efficiency will get 20 mpg and run you $18,000. Now assume gas prices of $3 per gallon. Buying the cheaper car will save you enough money to afford 5,667 gallons of gas, which, at 20 mpg, means it would be a better deal than the Volt for the first … 113,000 miles. That also doesn’t account for (a) the (comparatively tiny) cost of electricity to charge the battery, (b) the headaches for apartment-dwellers in finding a place to charge the thing, (c) the possibility of higher maintenance costs as the Volt’s new technology suffers glitches, and (d) the strain on urban electrical grids a decade or two down the road when these suckers become popular.

But never mind that. Like I say, we’re thinking big picture here, and the big picture for what this’ll do to Islamic oil autocracies once the technology becomes better and cheaper is sweet. Exit question: Shouldn’t Iran pessimists be looking especially carefully at this rig? If you believe some sort of confrontation in the Gulf is inevitable and you realize what’ll happen to oil prices if the Straits of Hormuz are closed or, god forbid, a regional war breaks out, then suddenly the Volt doesn’t seem like a terrible deal. Especially if you toss a little Carter-esque Hopenchange stagflation in there for old time’s sake.

John Cole

UPDATE: Daniel Gross at Slate

Allah Pundit

UPDATE #2: John Hudson at The Atlantic with a round-up

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Filed under Energy, Environment, Infrastructure, Technology