Personal genomics solves a genetic mystery

 chromosome I

Three grievous losses for St. Charles County couple, all blamed on genetics 
[Via : Lifestyles]

Three times Laura and Rob Sheppard experienced inexplicable and unimaginable loss. All three of their daughters were born with the same lethal problems, including under-developed brains. All three babies died shortly after being born. Each time, Laura Sheppard looked to her daughters’ MRIs to understand what happened to their brain development. “I needed to see, I needed to understand,” said Sheppard, a St. Charles County resident who works in pharmaceutical research and development. She described herself as a scientific person. “I find comfort in cold hard facts.”

But nothing could explain what caused their children to be born with such a host of problems. Laura Sheppard worried that it was something she had done or was exposed to.

“‘What did you do?’ That’s all I could remember thinking,” she said.


Thanks to new technologies, this is how doctor’s can now comfort parents getting the devastating news about why their children died, As Dr. Cole told Laura Shepard:

I have a lot of really smart people who work here, and I will work for years to try to figure out what happened.

And he did. Only it did not take as long or cost as much as it would have just a few years ago.

While this was not easy to accomplish, the low cost of getting genomic information, coupled with the 6 personal genomes they had from one family, helped them identify the problem.

This was an entirely new human gene defect, one that would have been very, very hard to find by searching the standard databases of diseases.

And it offers real hope for the parents to attempt to have further  children. The genetic defects can be picked up long before brain development stops. In fact, advances from in vitro fertilization techniques might allow them to only select embryos which do not have the defect.

And, in what I think will be a continuing trend, the parents are not hiding behind anonymity but are coming forward to tell their story. As Laura Shepard said:

Through their [the Shepard's daughters] lives they have touched and changed more people than their deaths ever will.

Rememberiung the visionaries who got it ‘right’


Visionaries of the tech world who foresaw Apple’s future
[Via AppleInsider]

April first is historically a day to honor brilliant minds who have shared their genius with the world. So many of these have contributed their opinions on Apple over the years that there’s not even enough space on the Internet to acknowledge all of their meaty chunks of cerebral output, but here are a few nuggets of wisdom from the tech sector’s most elite thinkers.


These are classic. Michael Dell saying Apple should shut down and give all the money to shareholders. Apple did just that, giving out more in just one quarter’s dividends than it was worth when Dell spoke.

Or Gates saying that the iPad was nothing special.

But the best is John Dvorak whose comments about the mouse in 1984 are suspiciously close to what he said about the iPad.

Why do we keep listening to guys who have been consistently wrong?

Samsung even copied its April Fool’s joke

Astronaut Gloves 

Like a glove: April Fools efforts from Samsung, HTC & Toshiba all share the same punchline
[Via AppleInsider]

With accusations of copying and commoditization already rife within the smartphone and tablet industries, three of the market’s biggest names — Samsung, HTC and Toshiba –?all showcased similar glove-themed prank products on Tuesday for April Fools’ Day. Hilarity ensued.


How very interesting that all these companies came up with the same idea. For a non-existent prank.

Not very original.

Seating upgrades using iBeacon


Apple’s iBeacon used to push seat upgrades in nosebleeds at sporting events
[Via AppleInsider]

Some U.S. sports arenas have begun pushing ticket upgrades to fans in the cheap seats through Apple’s iBeacon technology for iPhone, offering users the ability to upgrade their seats quickly and easily.


Nice win-win. The team gets some money for a seat that would already be empty and gets to make sure that the staium looks fuller.

The fans get to experience the game in a much better location. All because they had an iPhone.

Bots doing the reporting now

 Brigadier Mk.3

L.A. Times Journalist Explains How a Bot Wrote His Earthquake Story for Him - 
[Via The Wire]

At 6:25 a.m. Pacific Time on Monday morning, a 4.4-magnitude earthquake hit near Los Angeles. By 6:33, the Los Angeles Times became one of the first outlets to report the quake online. But it turns out they had a little help.

Database producer Ken Schwencke got the byline, but an interesting footnote told a different story: 

This information comes from the USGS Earthquake Notification Service and this post was created by an algorithm written by the author.


How long before reporters are not even needed any more? Most of them are pretty useless anyway, simply stenographers for press releases. As seen here, an algorithm could do just as well.

$90 accessory for iPhone demonstrates disruption of medicine


Stanford University develops $90 iPhone accessory to replace ophthalmology kit costing tens of thousands
[Via 9to5Mac]

Researchers at Stanford University’s School of Medicine have developed two low-cost iPhone adapters that provide images of the eye that usually require specialist ophthalmology equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars. The university hopes that it will be useful both for primary care physicians in the U.S. as well as rural medical centres in developing countries.

The adapters make it easy for anyone with minimal training to take a picture of the eye and share it securely with other health practitioners or store it in the patient’s electronic record.

“Think Instagram for the eye,” said one of the developers, assistant professor of ophthalmology Robert Chang, MD … 


Software and hardware that puts a $10,000 device in the hands of anyone with a cell phone. Now EMT or emergency room doctors can do a quick scan of the eye, when needed, and send the pictures on to the ophthalmologists, instead of just describing what the eye looks like.

We will see a lot more of these sorts of accessories applied to smartphones.

Apple’s wearables will be part of our digital hub


→ Wearing Apple

Craig Hockenberry:

Given everything presented above, it’s pretty clear to me that a “smartwatch” isn’t in Apple’s immediate future. But they’re clearly interested in wearable technology. So what are the alternatives for a product that could be released this year?

His guess is as good as any others I’ve heard. I don’t know if he’s right, but I agree that watches are problematic.

Apple’s previous blockbusters — Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad — were all in categories that people really wanted, and there was hope of something good existing within what was technically possible. There were halfway decent portable music players before the iPod, and people really wanted portable music players. Same for smartphones and tablets.

I’m not sure those conditions hold, especially the demand side, for smartwatches: it’s a category that pundits and the tech media are telling us we want, but I’m not sure enough people really do.


Those who envision some sort of smart watch have it wrong. In many ways what I think will happen (and so does this article) is that Apple will make a lot of “kinda dumb”.

First, the computational power will be in our pocket – an iPhone. I have written about this several times. We do not want a large bulky watch.

What we wear will provide biometric input that, in combination with the security of an iPhone, will permit secure financial transactions to be done, safer than a credit card.

It will transmit health data to our iPhone and then out to the web. 

As this article states, we do not have to wear these devices on our wrist. Heck, I expect there to be ear plugs that wirelessly communicate, or rings, or headbands.

Wearable separates the computer from display or input. That is where Apple is going.

$1000 genome sequence actualy costs $15,000 and misses perhaps 20% of known inherited disease genes

Illumina MiSeq 

Clinical Whole Genome Sequencing: Not Quite Ready for Prime Time?
[Via DNA Science Blog]

When I posted “Why I Don’t Want to Know My Genome Sequence here in November 2012, I got a lot of grief. Still do.

Now researchers at Stanford University have put whole genome sequencing (WGS) of genetically healthy folks to a limited but telling test, and the results appear in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association. (My version’s at Medscape.)

I can’t improve on the clear and compelling language of the JAMA article:

“In this exploratory study of 12 volunteer adults, the use of WGS was associated with incomplete coverage of inherited disease genes, low reproducibility of genetic variation with the highest potential clinical effects, and uncertainty about clinically reportable WGS findings.”

I’m not surprised. DNA science, any science, is by nature uncertain.


One of the reasons we are not yet to the point of sequencing everyone’s genome is not due to the ability to generate the sequence data.

It comes from assembling the individual DNA sequences of each patient and annotating just what genes are there, in what forms and doing what.

This is what adds so much cost to getting a detailed genome report for each patient.

We will get there. It’ll just take a little more time.

Open Source critics of Apple’s security bug forced to eat crow – Linux security bug is worse

apple prismfrom Wikipedia

Critical crypto bug leaves Linux, hundreds of apps open to eavesdropping
[Via Ars Technica]

Hundreds of open source packages, including the Red Hat, Ubuntu, and Debian distributions of Linux, are susceptible to attacks that circumvent the most widely used technology to prevent eavesdropping on the Internet, thanks to an extremely critical vulnerability in a widely used cryptographic code library.

The bug in the GnuTLS library makes it trivial for attackers to bypass secure sockets layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) protections available on websites that depend on the open source package. Initial estimates included in Internet discussions such as this one indicate that more than 200 different operating systems or applications rely on GnuTLS to implement crucial SSL and TLS operations, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the actual number is much higher. Web applications, e-mail programs, and other code that use the library are vulnerable to exploits that allow attackers monitoring connections to silently decode encrypted traffic passing between end users and servers.

The bug is the result of commands in a section of the GnuTLS code that verify the authenticity of TLS certificates, which are often known simply as X509 certificates. The coding error, which may have been present in the code since 2005, causes critical verification checks to be terminated, drawing ironic parallels to the extremely critical “goto fail” flaw that for months put users of Apple’s iOS and OS X operating systems at risk of surreptitious eavesdropping attacks. Apple developers have since patched the bug.


This bug may well have been there since 2005! The cry of Open Source is that, because so many eyeballs can see everything, critical bugs get found.

In contrast to closed source systems, such as Apple’s OS.

The reason these bugs were found was because people were specifically looking for them. Testing or eyeballs did not reveal them. Because Snowden released slides indicating that the NSA was specifically getting client data from various OS, including Windows, iOS and Linux.

This bug actually makes it easier for someone to get the information than Apple’s bug. For the hacker to use Apple’s bug, they had to be on the same network. But this one does not require that be the case.

You can bet that the NSA has been using this bug to get ahold of encrypted data from anyone using the appropriate Open Source tools.

All in systems that everyone supposedly can review.

The failure may allow attackers using a self-signed certificate to pose as the cryptographically authenticated operator of a vulnerable website and to decrypt protected communications. It’s significant that no one managed to notice such glaring errors, particularly since they were contained in code that anyone can review.

This was only found when some of the Open Source companies held audit reviews, probably to check out the very bug Apple found,

There was lots of criticism for Apple’s supposedly poor coding and bad error testing. But here we have something that has been a part of Linux for perhaps 10 years. Where was all the great checking by all those eyeballs?

I have to say that if Snowden’s revelations only helped Apple and others to identify these bugs (simply because they looked) he should be welcomed as a whistleblower. Because these are really devastating security flaws.

They hate Tim Cook because he cares about us


Tim Cook to Apple Investors: Drop Dead

Tim Cook to Apple Investors: Drop Dead

Apple CEO Tim Cook tells Investors Who Care More About Return on Investment than Climate Change: Your Money is No Longer Welcome

As Board Member Al Gore Cheers the Tech Giant’s Dedication to Environmental Activism, Investors Left to Wonder Just How Much Shareholder Value is Being Destroyed in Efforts to Combat “Climate Change”

Free-Market Activist Presents Shareholder Resolution to Computer Giant Apple Calling for Consumer Transparency on Environmental Issues; Company Balks


Sociopaths. They hurt us all. This group fails to understand that part of Apple’s success is caring about the world its customers live it. It wants to sell them devices that make that world better.

So trying to make the world better by decreasing pollution— in ways that actually also make money for Apple—is a direct ROI. Or it should be to these guys. But they seem to be suffering from some psychiatric disorder.

An anti-social one.

Yes, they do not want Apple spending money on environmental stuff, such as reducing toxic emissions or polluting water supplies, when that money should go to shareholders. Some quotes:

“The company’s CEO fervently wants investors who care more about return on investments than reducing CO2 emissions to no longer invest in Apple. Maybe they should take him up on that advice.” …

…After today’s meeting, investors can be certain that Apple is wasting untold amounts of shareholder money to combat so-called climate change. The only remaining question is: how much?”…

…”Apple’s actions, from hiring of President Obama’s former head of the Environmental Protection Agency Lisa Jackson, to its investments in supposedly 100 percent renewable data centers, to Cook’s antics at today’s meeting, appear to be geared more towards combating so-called climate change rather than developing new and innovative phones and computers.”

Sociopaths. They got GE to buckle here but not Apple. Here is how this was described by another attendee:

What ensued was the only time I can recall seeing Tim Cook angry, and he categorically rejected the worldview behind the NCPPR’s advocacy. He said that there are many things Apple does because they are right and just, and that a return on investment (ROI) was not the primary consideration on such issues.

“When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind,” he said, “I don’t consider the bloody ROI.” He said that the same thing about environmental issues, worker safety, and other areas where Apple is a leader.

As evidenced by the use of “bloody” in his response—the closest thing to public profanity I’ve ever seen from Mr. Cook–it was clear that he was quite angry. His body language changed, his face contracted, and he spoke in rapid fire sentences compared to the usual metered and controlled way he speaks.

He didn’t stop there, however, as he looked directly at the NCPPR representative and said, “If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.”

We would all be better off if they did sell their stock. They lack an understanding of why Apple is so successful.

As do many sociopaths from Wall Street. As I wrote earlier— Apple is successful because it has created a family that includes its own customers.

So, Apple makes the world we live in better and we buy stuff from it because of that. By helping save the environment (even if that help does nothing) it shows that it wants to improve where we live. And sell us products that also make our life better.

They are both part of the same thing, as far as Apple is concerned.

Even if climate change was not happening, it would still be useful marketing, because it shows Apple cares about our world. Don’t those sociopaths get it? 

Nope because of the actual defects in sociopaths—they show a lack of remorse, a lack of shame, and, tellingly a lack of empathy.

Sociopaths, lacking the empathy and sympathy described by Adam Smith in his book on Moral Sentiments. These are not the moral men he expected to be running capital markets.

They are bandits, enriching themselves at the detriment of the rest of us. It is not normal for them to be the ones running our capital markets.

We need them all to sell all their stock.We need to move the sociopaths to other jobs.

Then perhaps we can begin the road back to normalcy.

Schneier asks the question – Magic Eight ball says “Reply hazy. Try again.”

 Apple Blossoms

Was the iOS SSL Flaw Deliberate?
[Via Schneier on Security]

Last October, I speculated on the best ways to go about designing and implementing a software backdoor. I suggested three characteristics of a good backdoor: low chance of discovery, high deniability if discovered, and minimal conspiracy to implement.

The critical iOS vulnerability that Apple patched last week is an excellent example. Look at the code. What caused the vulnerability is a single line of code: a second “goto fail;” statement. Since that statement isn’t a conditional, it causes the whole procedure to terminate.

The flaw is subtle, and hard to spot while scanning the code. It’s easy to imagine how this could have happened by error. And it would have been trivially easy for one person to add the vulnerability.

Was this done on purpose? I have no idea. But if I wanted to do something like this on purpose, this is exactly how I would do it.

EDITED TO ADD (2/27): If the Apple auditing system is any good, they would be able to trace this errant goto line not just to the source-code check-in details, but to the specific login that made the change. And they would quickly know whether this was just an error, or a deliberate change by a bad actor. Does anyone know what’s going on inside Apple?

EDITED TO ADD (2/27): Steve Bellovin has a pair of posts where he concludes that if this bug is enemy action, it’s fairly clumsy and unlikely to be the work of professionals.


Schneier is a guy to listen to. There are a lot os things discussed in the comments about this because we have so little information.

It fits his criteria, With the logs of changes on hand, Apple should be able to back track and figure out how this happened. The best conspiracy theory would have to include the possibility that anyone signing off on correct testing of the code would also have to be involved – unless the same guy who added the code also signed off on the testing.

Makes for a great idea. even if it is much more likely that human error was involved.

Will Samsung provide such details abouts its movile security?


Apple details Touch ID and Secure Enclave tech in new security white paper
[Via AppleInsider]

An iOS security white paper published by Apple on Wednesday offers a deeper understanding of the company’s Touch ID fingerprint sensing system and the so-called “Secure Enclave” found in the A7 SoC, both of which were introduced with the iPhone 5s.


This is nice to see. The key is building their own processor and devoting space to a Secure Enclave.

What will Samsung do? I wonder what patents Apple holds here?

How an ad hoc group of engineers fixed – a model for adaptive bureaucracy?


 How an ad-hoc team of outside coders and troubleshooters revived (Steven Brill/TIME)

[Via Techmeme]

Steven Brill / TIME:
How an ad-hoc team of outside coders and troubleshooters revived  —  Obama’s Trauma Team  —  How an unlikely group of high-tech wizards revived Obama’s troubled website  —  more than two weeks after the launch of—White House chief …


A very interesting read. We sometimes miss the unselfish efforts of Americans and their need to step forward to offer themselves to help. Thankfully, the desperate politicians allowed them to this time.

As much fun as seeing the engineers in Apollo 13 work the problem.

What started as an ad hoc group assembled in the middle of October produced by December 24 a website functioning beyond their expectations.

And every one of them was as proud of this as anything they had ever done — whether it was starting a company or helping run political campaigns. No sociopaths here

A key paragraph is from page two, after describing just how bad things were on Oct. 17, including the possibility it would be scrapped:

Carney tried to fend off the inquisition, but he had little to work with. Pressed repeatedly on when the site would be fixed, the best he could say was that “they are making improvements every day.”

“They” were, in fact, not making improvements, except by chance, much as you or I might reboot or otherwise play with a laptop to see if some shot in the dark somehow fixes a snafu.

Yet barely six weeks later, not only had not been scrapped, it was working well and on its way to working even better.

This is the story of a team of unknown–except in elite technology circles–coders and troubleshooters who dropped what they were doing in various enterprises across the country and came together in mid-October to save the website. In about a tenth of the time that a crew of usual-suspect, Washington contractors had spent over $300 million building a site that didn’t work, this ad hoc team rescued it and, arguably, Obama’s chance at a health-reform legacy.

One-tenth the time and for a lot less money. That is what committed ad hoc communities can accomplish using the tools being created in this modern age.

Taking the form that would be recognizable to anyone who has read about the Manhattan Project, it leveraged the bottom-up, pragmatic strengths of engineers without imposing serious top-down, authoritarian restrictions from above.

It just worked so fast with so few people, because the tools we have allow that to happen.

It shows the failure of our top-down, authoritarian approach to deal with some of complex problems facing us. A decade ago this could not have been fixed, harming millions of people, besides being a political defeat.

Now we have had a group of just plain Americans rapidly come together to fix the problem, demonstrating a degree of adaptability and resilience that will become more important as we progress into the future.

One thing learned:

But one lesson of the fall and rise of has to be that the practice of awarding high-tech, high-stakes contracts to companies whose primary skill seems to be getting those contracts rather than delivering on them has to change.

Will it be remembered? Industrial Age companies look for cost-plus approaches, allowing them to make a profit no matter what. Information Age approaches use a different set of criteria, ones that can be observed here.

The Industrial Age approach took months and millions to produce something that made them a profit but did not work. Information Age approaches fixed the problems in days and for much less cost.

By creating ad hoc, highly networked communities of experts each focussed on win-win solutions to help the community, not  zero-sum ones to protect their career.

Using people who stepped forward to volunteer their best abilities. All wanted to make it work, not looking at making a profit.

Just read about the road trip they made, passing around a iPhone conferencing in people from across America, to get an idea of just how bad this all was. Because these were not politicos who were working out ways to save a political career but actually trained engineers and scientists.

Working the problem.

Usually, politicians only allow these guys in at the end of the process and keep them on a short leash. Richard Feynman demonstrated what can happen when a scientist is let loose.

The first thing they did was exactly the same thing Richard Feynman did when he was involved with the Challenger committee – talk directly with the engineers doing the work.

Here, the engineers were embarrassed and wanted to fix things. No talk of scrapping.

As one of them said, “If you can get the managers out of the way, the engineers will want to solve things.”

Managing an Information Age project requires a very different ethos than an Industrial Age one.

And that was key. If the people responsible for writing the original code do not want to help, then it is better to just start over. Having the enthusiastic help of the original engineers made the solutions possible.

This approach also meant getting help from anyone who could help, not fighting turf wars.The White House crew simply connected and pulled in people like Mike Abbott, who had saved Twitter’s website when it was out of control, possible on track to destroy the value of the company. 

One man, in the middle of raising money for his startup, dropped that effort to join.

They had people who could make tens of thousands dollars a day from their consulting business step forward to help. And even here they had to find a way around the top down constraints:

As for Dickerson, Burt and the others who arrived for what they thought was a few days only to stay eight to 10 weeks, they were told that government regulations did not allow them, even though they offered, to be volunteers if they worked for any sustained period. So they were put on the payroll of contractor QSSI as hourly workers, making what Dickerson says was “a fraction” of his Google pay.

Don’t want to be abusive of volunteer workers? I can agree with that. Simple fix. Pay them by the hour. It did not stop their work at all.

As Dickerson said, “It’s just a website. We’re not going to the moon.” Although, the health of millions could be put at risk if they failed to correct the problems.

They started fixing problems at the site within hours of arriving at the headquarters. And they provided this awesome insight that has to be remembered:

What were the tech problems? Were they beyond repair? Nothing I saw was beyond repair. Yes, it was messed up. Software wasn’t built to talk to other software, stuff like that. A lot of that,” Abbott continues, “was because they had made the most basic mistake you can ever make. The government is not used to shipping products to consumers. You never open a service like this to everyone at once. You open it in small concentric circles and expand”–such as one state first, then a few more–”so you can watch it, fix it and scale it.”

Will this be remembered?

This ad hoc model is not leaderless. In fact, the problems had arisen because the standard contractor approach had produced no organization in a leadership role. Just a bunch of nameless people around a table.

The ad hoc team quickly identified a leader and away they went, beginning work within hours. Over the first weekend, they had made simple changes that increased the efficiency 4-fold and stopped any talk of scrapping.

Nice to see that the newer model — bottom up, decentralized — simply worked around the damage created by the centralized, authoritarians. (It is actually an old model but new technology allows it to be used against tremendously complicated and extensive problems.)

There would still be problems, many of them outside of their control, but they were on a path to fix the structural problems of the site.

It is a model that we will really need to make better use of. It was used here because the politicians were desperate. Their top-down, cost-plus approach to use contractors may work for Industrial Age processes but are not optimal for modern, Information Age needs.

The authoritarian need for control of all aspects of the process simply do not mesh well with the adaptive strengths of these dispersed approaches when dealing with complex systems.

Simply read the rules of the twice daily standups — which demonstrably saved the site — to get an idea of the differences.

Authoritarians not welcome at all. In fact, the one true button-down authoritarian involved — a business executive, not an IT guy —  was actually smart enough to let the coders do their job. 

It was a true ad-hoc team focussed on pragmatic solutions that fixed things.

Authoritarians are present in both parties. It appears to be a necessary trait for some. While some have discussed the ability of Obama’s administration to leverage the new ad hoc tools — as he did in his Presidential elections — the administration also demonstrated a failure to understand the lesson, falling into authoritarian mode when under pressure, as every President has. 

Indeed, the key mistake made by President Obama and his team–who never publicized the arrival of Burt and other campaign coders in October the way they touted the role of the data-analytics marketing team last summer–is that they had turned only to the campaign’s marketing whiz kids instead of the technologists who enabled them.

Listening to the managers and not the engineers. Sounds like NASA.

Obama’s authoritarian tendencies simply allowed the geeks who made such advances for his campaign  to disappear, settling for the same standard group of insiders seen in every previous administration.

But at least some in his administration did keep their names of the tech engineers on its contact lists. And it did have people who knew when to call in the cleaners. It was smart enough to make the best decision rather than simply work to save its own butt — as most bureaucracies do when they fail.

At least it was smart enough to call them back in. (Gotta thank the CTO, Todd Park.) And it saved the website, thus providing insurance relief to millions.

Will they remember the lessons? 

We are family – How an agile and resilient company responds to a customer or why I love Apple

#broken #ipad #screen

(Not mine. I have a picture. I’ll upload later.)

A couple of weeks ago, I did something really stupid.

I put my new iPad Air on top of my car as loaded in a bunch of stuff. And I forgot about it.

Like the dog in National Lampoon’s Vacation, the poor little iPad tried to hold onto the roof, only flying off as I reached about 35 mph.

I heard it come off and hit the ground. Stopping and running back to see the damage revealed a totally smashed screen.

I mean with pieces of glass falling off. I went home and it still worked; I could just not decipher the odd lines on the screen that still had parts working.

But I could back it up. So I did. Then I did something that turned out to be miraculous.

I went to the Apple Store to see if there was anything I could do – repair or what not. I had used an American Express card to pay for it so I figured I could use they Buyer Protection to get some money back.

But as it turned out, I had also purchased Applecare+ (always a worth while expense) and one of the things recently added to iPad ‘scare was the Two Strikes clause.

You get two free replacements, no questions asked, when the iPad is damaged

Even if it was my fault. (i’d imagine that they would not replace it if you tried to blend it ;-)

They erased my old iPad, set me up with a new one with a new Applecare+ coverage. For like $50, cheaper than any sort of new purchase would have taken.

They had 3 people come over to deal with this – one to deal with the old iPad, one to get the new one up to speed.

And the manager came over, introduced herself, showed actual concern for the horrible state my iPad was in and just acted like I was part of the family who needed comforting

And that is why I love Apple.

Even when we do something stupid they treat us like part of the family and not some leper to be shunned.

(And yes, I do know that Apple can easily replace the screen, refurbish the unit and sell it in China and still make money. But when are win-win solutions a problem?)

Instead of feeling like  a schlub at some customer service line, I was treated like a continuing valuable customer who needed something done for their problem. And Apple did just that.

I had a replacement within 30 minutes and was on my way. In a store that was simply jammed. And pretty much no wait.

This is why I will buy Apple. A little time and energy here  on something they will make out okay in the end, and they create a community that is self sustaining.

Stupid authoritarian response to agile Twitter account

 Harkins Theatres - Camelview 5

Paramount Flips Out That People Might ‘Watch’ Twitter Account Posting Top Gun Frame By Frame
[Via Techdirt]

Over the last week or so, there have been a bunch of news stories about the (now gone, as we’ll explain in a moment) twitter account, 555uhz, which had been tweeting every half an hour what appeared to be a captioned frame-by-frame image from the classic 1980s movie, Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise. It was slightly weird and quirky, like plenty of random Twitter accounts. This one had picked up a little over 6,000 followers, but late last week Paramount began sending DMCA notices to the account, leading to Twitter shutting down the account entirely, likely for getting so many infringement claims.


So, this site was transmitting 1 frame every half hour. No way would anyone actually collect all the frames to recreate he movie. And it would still have no sound.

But it was such a threat to Paramount that it had to be shut down.

The name of the account gives that away – 555uhz:

But, the real framerate of @555uhz isn’t 24 frames per second, nor is the Twitter account sampling 24 frames per second. The real framerate is the rate at which the account posts frames to Twitter, just like the real framerate in a movie is the rate at which a spool of film projects images onto a screen. We can figure the Top Gun tweet-rate out easily enough: 48 tweets a day, two tweets an hour. That winds up being 2/60 or .034 frames per minute. Now, convert that to frames per second: .000555. Look familiar?

Frames per second is a more specific version of the unit Hertz (Hz), and 1 Hz is just one full cycle of some periodic thing (like sound waves, for example) happening in one second. So we actually have .000555 Hz, which converts nicely to 555 microHertz (uHz).

0.000555 frames per second! It would take over 9 years to collect the whole thing – they were actually simplifying things so it would only have taken a few months.

Yet this is such a threat to Paramount that they have to shut it down

If someone wanted to download the movie illegally there are much easier ways to download it. And much faster.

But the site was drawing interest because it was so unusual and reminded people of the movie. It was aggregating a community of people with an interest in Top Gun. For fno cost to Paramount.

Fans spend an inordinate amount of money and time on the things they are fanatic about. It can cost a lot to find them.

But Paramount was getting them for free. And it simply acted like the authoritarian organization it is. It crapped on its own fans, fans that it most likely spends a lot of money to engage –Paramount spends over $80 million in advertising each year.

A resilient and agile company would have recognized this and leveraged it. I mean, several people said they went and rewatched the movie simply because of this site. Paramount should be happy.

Paramount could have transmitted one of the frames out of sequence and then had a contest for the person who discovered where it was. They could have leveraged the community for all sorts of things instead of destroying it.

All without spending much money at all!

But, they showed themselves an authoritarian dinosaur, calling their own fans criminals and destroying the community.

Now they have a lot of ticked off people instead of fans.

Authoritarians simply act stupid because they know nothing else.


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