Fogey Friday – 29th June

Jun 29, 2012 No Comments by

Fogey Friday is a round up of some of the more interesting tech stories that have appeared in the past week’s mainstream media.

Apple – Pays Peanuts Gets Geniuses

Apple – are they nuts?

The New York Times seems to have it in for Apple.  Last Sunday their front page lead story and a double-page spread inside were devoted to the notion that Apple’s retail drones are worth more than they get paid (between $11 and $12 an hour).  Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will be aware that Apple is the world’s richest company and makes kerzillions of dollars every minute, most of which it keeps under the mattress instead of doing what normal cash-rich companies do and buying other businesses or making sundry investments.  Aisle wallahs at Gap and Best Buy earn even less but the point the article takes an eternity to make is that each of Apple’s in-store eager beavers contributes $473,000 worth of sales to the post Jobs pot every year.  Which is a lot.  There are no performance-related bonuses and Chariman Mao would have been proud of the Apple work ethic.  So there. Life ain’t fair.  Read all about it here.

As a counterpoint to the negativity, here’s David Pogue’s report (also in the NY Times – they’re big on balance..) from the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference.  TF thinks Dave might have acquired moist shorts while writing this.

New Google Nexus 7 tablet!


New Kindle Fire 2!!!


Here in the UK we still aren’t allowed to have Amazon’s US market-leading Kindle Fire – its colour, touchscreen tablet/ereader.  Doubtless we can’t be trusted or too many greedy people want too much money for their precious copyright or somesuch bureaucratic bollocks.  And the entertainment industry wonders why consumers give such a micron of shit about them that we’d share files of their hallowed product.  And soon there will be a Kindle Fire 2, before we’ve even got a sniff of the Kindle Fire 1. Anyway, to rain on Amazon’s parade Google have gone and got Asus to make them a tablet they’re calling the Nexus 7, because it has – you’ll never guess – a 7-inch screen.  Which is the same size as a Kindle but smaller than an iPad.  So it’s not going up against the iPad but against Kindles.  All of this is of minimal interest to UK techno-proles given that all the real action (ie money) is in the US which is where all the focus for such products and 4G mobile networks is.  The Nexus 7 will run a new version of Google’s Android operating system called Jelly Bean.  Those whacky Googlers.  If I made Jelly Beans I’d sue.


And Lo! It Came to Pass – Capping Downloads

See, we weren’t imagining things or making it up – US Internet Service Providers are giving up on ‘all-you-can-eat’ broadband price plans and starting to charge customers for the gigabytes they use, which rather puts the kibosh on streaming hour upon hour of HD video from Netflix or somesuch.  And don’t imagine for a second that this will remain a US-only issue.  If anything, the relative paucity of broadband connectivity will be even more acute in the UK, at least until BT finishes replacing all its copper cables with fibre-optic.  This is one of those situations where the cart is disappearing over the horizon while the horse picks its hooves and munches some juicy grass.  Read the awful truth here.


OFCOM Talks Tough.  Grrr.

They just won’t give it up, will they?  You’d think it was all anyone in the entertainment industries ever thought about – illegal file-sharing, Internet piracy, copyright theft call it what you like. And you’d be pretty much correct.  It has become their number one obsession and they’ve managed to squeal and moan so loudly governments have got on board to ‘protect’ the precious loves and their oh-so-vital-to-the-future-of-mankind product.  Now imagine this scenario: TF gets hooked on drugs.  We have plenty of cash and there are any number of dealers out there.  They have the drug we need but in spite of having got us hooked in the first place and in spite of us waving our cash at them they refuse to supply us with our next fix.  But that’s the way it often is, especially in TV land where squeezing every last cent out of a ‘property’ is the principal motivating factor for the private-jet ‘my limo’s bigger than yours’ corporate nobs.  There are plenty of parallels (Premiership fooballers’ wages spring to mind) but when you read that ‘star’ X has been paid so many millions for being in some low-rent twaddle while the same dosh-spewing execs would send a teenager to jail for making no money from posting a TV show online so his mates could watch it too, TF has to wonder why consumers’ rights groups are so conspicuously impotent on this issue.  And why aren’t book publishers up in arms about how TF can buy a book which, after we’re done with it,  can then be read by any number of people (lending it, giving it away to a charity shop) and those subsequent readers contribute nothing to the author’s or publisher’s income stream?  Think of the book as a ‘file’.  Why is my sharing that file okay?  Or is this what’s meant by ‘fair use’.  Maybe OFCOM could publish a paper about fairness?  Don’t hold your breath.  Read the OFCOM riot act here.



One way to keep yourself out of OFCOM’s reach could be to invest in a SurfEasy ‘plug in privacy’ device (we say ‘could’ because if the law wants to get you, it will, no matter what you do).  It’s a sliver of USB stick that slides inside a credit card-sized protector that slips in your wallet/purse to be carried around everywhere.  Usually, when you’re online, you have no idea who’s mining your information or what they’re doing with it.  And it’s not a question of having ‘nothing to hide so why worry?’  This blurb from the SurfEasy website explains how innocent online activity can be interpreted in such a way as to cause an individual no end of problems.  For the tech-savvy Fogies out there, SurfEasy acts as an anonymous proxy server or VPN (Virtual Private Network) server; no one knows who you are or where you are and your browsing, when done via the SurfEasy key, leaves no trace.  This also means that evil bastards who might try to steal your personal information can’t.  You might think SurfEasy is both a pervert’s or Internet pirate’s free pass but as with all illegal online activity, the long arm of plod can bypass such systems, it’s the nefarious and downright sneaky that SurfEasy keeps out.  The key costs $59.99 for the first year which includes 2GB of encrypted browsing per week (equivalent to around 45 hours web browsing per week).  Thereafter the service costs from $3 a month.  Delivery of a key to the UK is $19.90.  More info at


BT Vision is Shite – official

BT has just passed another customer service milestone by becoming the pay-TV service most people complain about.  Jolly well done to all.  Laughably, their official excuse is they’re crap because they’re too successful.


And finally….

Apple has stopped Samsung selling its 10.1-inch Galaxy tablet in the US.  They say the Koreans just copied their iPad.  Small irony there – individuals who copy digital files are pursued and pilloried whereas collosal multi-national industries prop up the GDP of developing nations on the back of copying someone else’s patented/copyright design.  The Samsung response to this setback?  The Galaxy Tab 10.2.  Completely different.