Lessons from the Printer

The other day, my printer started giving me trouble. A green light kept flashing that normally never flashes. An amber light was illuminated and a dangerous looking red light was flashing over the door for the ink cartridges. I pushed the button for printing out the diagnostic page and the results were not good. While the print heads were in fine shape and the ink cartridges more than half full, the pink cartridge had expired. In fact, it had expired last year, meaning I had be using an ink corpse for almost a year.

I removed the pink, which is called magenta for some reason, and examined it. I did not see any signs of decomposition, so I put it back in and the lights returned to normal. I was able to print whatever it was I was printing. The next time I tried to print something, the bad lights lit up and I had to go through the same process. For some reason, taking the cartridge out and putting it back in tells the printer to ignore its own concerns about the fitness of the ink cartridge, but only for one print session.

Of course, expiry dates on ink cartridges are ridiculous. In theory the thing can dry up, but that’s just another version of empty. The whole point of doing this is to force users into buying new printers. In my case, the ink replacements will cost twice what I paid for the printer. Only an idiot would do that, so I’ll buy a new printer for $100. Apparently, something happens to ink cartridges to make them cheaper when they are wrapped with a new printer. That means trashing a working printer because pink has expired.

Imagine buying a cheap compact car and finding out that a brake job or a new set of tires costs more than the car. That would never happen, of course, because public outrage would force the government to crack down on the car makers. Built-in obsolescence is fine if it only applies to styles or fashion. When it is part of the engineering process of a good, then the state is expected to step in and put an end to the practice. Planned obsolescence is a form of fraud. The maker is using insider knowledge to trick you.

There has been at least one court case over the practice of the obsoleting of ink cartridges by HP. The resolution was a few million bucks, nothing to discourage the printer oligopoly from continuing the practice. Third parties have tried to get into the print cartridge business, but the makers abuse patent and copyright laws to thwart them. Lexmark went all the way to the Supreme Court in order to block these companies from reproducing cheap ink cartridges. Lexmark lost, but only on narrow grounds so the practice continues.

This is an example of something Steve Sailer has pointed out about Silicon Valley. This industry has thrived as much by thwarting the laws that apply to other industries as they have by pushing the barriers of technology. Whether it is patent laws or labor laws, these big tech firms have played by a different set of rules. In fact, they have often been given the right to make the rules.. Volkswagen is facing a criminal probe over gaming the emissions system, while Apple faces none for tampering with your phone.

The other thing that the printer scams, and now the phone scams, are signalling is the end of the technological revolution. Companies like Google and Apple stopped being technology companies a long time ago. Instead, they are oligopolists. In the case of Apple, they were never a technology company. They were a design and marketing firm that repackaged existing technology into cool consumer products appealing to cosmopolitan hipsters. They sell expensive display items for the trend setters and the fashionable.

As a reader at Sailer’s site observed, Google now resembles an adult daycare center where mentally disturbed women terrorize the few people doing real work. Google has not don’t much of anything, in terms of tech, once it gained a near monopoly of on-line advertising. The reason Susan Wojcicki can wage endless jihad at a money losing division like YouTube is it is owned by an oligopolist given a special right to skim from every internet user on earth. Google is now a tax farmer, not a tech company.

The end of the Industrial Revolution featured civil unrest and industrial scale violence across Europe. In the US, it resulted in great social reform movements that ranged from public morality to economics. By the middle of the 19th century, it was clear that the old feudal governing system was no longer able to maintain order in Europe and the colonial model was not working in America. A century of war and revolution resulted in social democracy, a Western governing system compatible with industrial societies.

What my printer is telling me is not just that the pink has expired, but the social arrangements that allow this scam have also expired. The Technological Revolution has made the old arrangements untenable. It’s why our ruling class struggles to do even the minimum. It may turn out that the managerial state is the perfection of industrial age governance, but entirely unsuited for the technological age. Whether or not we are on the verge of a century of social tumult is hard to know, but that’s the lesson of history.

This also suggests that the great biotech revolution is unlikely to happen. The Industrial Revolution happened outside of state control. Similarly, the Technological Revolution happened outside of the regulatory scheme. Biotech is pretty much a government funded and regulated enterprise at the moment. There are no entrepreneurs in their garage challenging the boundaries of genetics. All this work happens in government sponsored and regulated laboratories. History says revolutions from within never happen.

98 thoughts on “Lessons from the Printer

  1. Good piece.

    Among the most egregious is industrial companies pretending that copyright laws means you can’t change the software running YOUR heavy equipment.

    • None of my heavy equipment has software. Never yet had to have outside help, other than tires and injector pump rebuilds. Knock on wood……..

  2. Zman: I enjoyed this post because it started with an every-day fact of life (printer cartridges; yes, a total scam) and created an engaging, philosophical discussion, including legal and economic aspects.

    Our lives are being consumed by balky, half-baked technology, produced by engineering drones and marketing nitwits who think the analog world no longer exists and nothing ever needs to be touched or repaired by human hands. All the switches, plugs (ports) and descriptive product information (model and serial numbers, etc) needed to set-up, modify, and repair computers, peripherals, and smart devices are either inaccessible, ergomically challenged, or require the hapless operator to turn stuff upside-down, or to untangle a speghetti bowl full of cords, simply to fix a darn machine. It’s infuriating! Compounding the problem are installers who fail to take into account that something to be installed might need to be accessed later for repair or replacement. It’s infuriating!

  3. “This also suggests that the great biotech revolution is unlikely to happen. The Industrial Revolution happened outside of state control. Similarly, the Technological Revolution happened outside of the regulatory scheme. Biotech is pretty much a government funded and regulated enterprise at the moment. There are no entrepreneurs in their garage challenging the boundaries of genetics. All this work happens in government sponsored and regulated laboratories. History says revolutions from within never happen.”
    in the US perhaps, but who knows what goes on on

    The Island of Doctor Moreau

  4. Off-topic. I have to share what I was just bludgeoned with.

    I’m very, very used to being slammed over the head with leftism and anti-Americanism in TV and movies, and often I just grit my teeth and look past it, otherwise I’d never get to watch anything at all.

    But tonight, I encountered something so egregiously, hatefully anti-American and anti-Christian that it actually threw me. I simply had to stop the show and eject the DVD. I’ll take it back tomorrow. I can’t in good conscience watch a show made by people who think like this.

    American Gods. Season 1. Episode 6: A Murder of Gods.

    Now, six episodes in, the show was already obviously the typical diversity fest, and I didn’t agree philosophically with the concept — that Gods are created and fueled by the belief of humans. But that’s a topic for another post. I read the novel years ago, so I was ready for that. But this episode. Wow.

    Each episode opens with a little “Coming to America” Vignette. In this one, illegals are crossing the Rio Grande in the middle of the night. One of the illegals can’t swim well, and starts to drown. He’s rescued by Mexican Jesus, literally walking on water, smiling beatifically. No sooner does Mexican Jesus get the guy across, than a bunch of white, redneck Christians pulls up in their trucks, with guns engraved with Bible verses, and massacres the defenseless illegals, including Mexican Jesus, clutching crosses while they fire their guns. Pretty heavy-handed, right? I nearly stopped right there.

    Well, about halfway through the episode our protagonists drive into the fictional town of Vulcan, VA, which sits in the shadow of the massive Vulcan ammunition plant. It looms over the town, belching smoke into the sky.

    Wednesday (in an ominous tone): “Welcome to Vulcan, Virginia.”
    Shadow: “Where is everyone?”
    (Camera pans over a sign “NOTICE: Lawful concealed carry welcomed on these premises.”)
    Wednesday: “Everyone in this particular town is a dedicated citizen. Dedicated to one sticky belief. America. (Camera pans past American flags on poles above the street) THEIR America.”
    (Camera pans over citizens of the town wearing red Vulcan logo armbands and dark suits, obviously Nazi-inspired. Everyone is carrying rifles.)
    Wednesday: “There aren’t just two Americas. Everyone looks at Lady Liberty and sees a different face.”
    (Camera pans over more citizens, all carrying rifles, wearing dark outfits with the armbands. Even an old woman in a wheelchair with an American flag flying from it is carrying a rifle, staring suspiciously.)
    Wednesday: “Even if it crumbles under question.”
    (This is about the time when I shut it off and ejected it in disgust. I had to put it back in to transcribe this.)
    Wednesday: “People will defend the warm, safe feeling their America gives them.”
    (Camera pans over more Nazi-themed Americans)
    Wednesday: “They will defend it… with bullets.”
    (Yes, more Nazi-themed Americans with rifles. Now including teenaged girls.)
    Wednesday: “No, these streets mean one of two things — radiation or something like this here.”
    Shadow: “A funeral?”
    Wednesday: “Less a funeral than a celebration of sacrifice.”
    (Apparently the whole town turned out in their fascist regalia, with their guns, for the funeral)

    I should pause here to explain that a little earlier, we were shown a vignette of a manager at the ammo plant leaning against a faulty railing, which gives way. He falls into a vat of molten lead and is made into Vulcan ammunition. Yes. Seriously. That heavy-handed.

    Wednesday: “And if I know my friend, someone got tossed into the volcano.”
    Shadow: “This was a human sacrifice?”
    Wednesday: “Faulty railings at the forge. Couple times a year, an employee takes the plunge. Insurance company says it’s cheaper to settle than to close down and refurbish. As good as throwing them in intentionally.”

    That’s pretty much the whole leftist Hate America package rolled up in two scenes from one episode:
    1. Blessed illegal aliens
    2. Evil, white, Christian murdering gun-owners
    3. Evil, uncaring, death-dealing corporations
    4. Evil, small-town fascists
    5. Americans hate people who are different from them and will kill them (with bullets!)

    For fuck’s sake. I’m embarrassed that some small portion of my small DVD rental price will go into the pockets of the people that made this.

    • I wonder whether Neil Gaiman thought about how it might be possible to incorporate people like Elijah and Jesus into his myth-permeated versions of the real world. Maybe he thought about it and decided that it couldn’t be done. In the Sandman graphic novel series too there’s a Bible-sized hole. (Although now I remember that Cain and Abel are characters there, with Cain repeatedly murdering Abel. And Satan’s there as well.) Hmm … in Good Omens, co-written with Terry Pratchett, there’s a Apocalypse-of-John-type War in Heaven going on, as well as a switched-at-birth Antichrist, but I don’t recall a Jesus there, although maybe there was one.

  5. Buying a new printer when your ink cartridges run out is..just…wow…stupid. Unless it is like 10 yrs old or the cartridges are rare or something. New printers come with only partially-filled cartridges. I know you’re old, but even my 85 yr old parents know that.
    I’m seeing a lot of stupid things being written across the whole right-o-sphere, manosphere, etc. Broken records all across the blogs, intellectuals preaching red-pill jiu jitsu. This coincides with my perception that maybe indeed Trump is the emperor with no clothes. Maybe his absurd and stupid tweets and other nonsense coming out of his mouth are not 4-D chess, but just inanity. Ann Coulter has observed this as well. When Trump dumped Bannon, he made a big mistake, and revealed that he probably really is just an idiot.

  6. Another issue worthy of note is the Lightbulb Cartel- GE, Phillips, Sylvania? or what ever it’s called.

    They conspired in the ’70’s to reduce the life if incandescent light bulbs to 1,000 hours and have done the same with LED’s- from 20,000 hours to 5,000.

    If Trump went after these fuckers very publicly it would do him no harm.

  7. Apple faces none for tampering with your phone

    That’s because they did nothing wrong. Apple updated iOS to slow older phones down when the weakened battery was at peak use and in danger of crashing the phone. It did not cause the phone to run more slowly all the time, only when it was in danger of crashing. Who wouldn’t want that change?

    More generally, it’s silly to say Apple isn’t a technology company. Are they doing basic science? Probably not but, for example, the iPhone revolutionized the industry and changed the products of every manufacturer making phones. It’s hard to argue that the iPhone is repackaged technology other than that it’s a, you know, phone. Apple haters like to whine that it’s all marketing or the Jobs distortion field but who but a few Luddites would want to go back to the way phones were before the iPhone?

    Google, as you suggest, is fully converged and is not a company that any sane person would want anything to do with but, again, I’m not sure it’s accurate to say they haven’t made any technical contributions lately.

    Finally, it seems to me that Volkswagen isn’t getting away with anything. They’ve been fined and people are going to jail. Are you suggesting we should execute some of the executives?

    • Yep. Search on line for “biohacking.” You’ll get a lot of stupid hits about exercise and diet, but the rest will leave you wishing you owned one of those doomsday bunkers… preferably one with a really good filter system.

  8. The cell phone business is an even bigger scam. Why don’t you buy your TV or laptop from the cable company?

    Because they’re commoditized.

    My cell phone plan was 6gb high speed data and unlimited anywhere in North America. Owned my own phone.

    For $10 more a month, for 2 years, they gave me: new LG6, 7gb, $300 of goodies, including $100 debit card usable anywhere.

    Tell me, what is the real price of the phone, and service?

    2 sales people 3 hours to sell me.

    And we’re going to let these people vertically integrate? I have a better idea; break apart any company with more revenues than a state’s tax revenue.

    Large corporations are huge parasites, and can’t innovate anyway.

    • I think that model is about to break. The phone used to cost next to nothing with a plan. Now you have a lease that any idiot can multiply into the actual cost on top of the plan.

      Or, you can just go to Motorola or Amazon, buy an unlocked phone and shop for the plan.

    • Tracfone. Customer service is marginal at best, but it’s just fine if all you need is a phone.

      Also, each year my wife simply buys a new Tracfone with a year’s worth of service from QVC. With QVC’s pricing bundle, it’s cheaper than buying another year’s worth of service from Tracfone. She simply transfers her phone number to the new one over the Tracfone website.

  9. “Imagine buying a cheap compact car and finding out that a brake job or a new set of tires costs more than the car. That would never happen, of course, because public outrage would force the government to crack down on the car makers. ”

    I’m not so sure about that, a google search; Repairs cost more than the car is worth!! got over 5 million results in 0.39 seconds.

      • Ha! Had a BMW that exploded into it’s composite pieces shortly after 100k. The dealership was surprised at my reaction – it was obviously time for a new one. I agreed and traded it in for a Mazda.

    • Sure. Buy a ten year old Aston Martin and repairs will cost more than the car. Name a care you can buy new that the brake job will exceed the sticker price? Find a two years old car that would fit that example.

      • I’m only suggesting the market is moving that way. My 2000 Jeep Wrangler is still cost effective to repair and maintain and I still see the ’89 Wrangler, that I had before this one on the road.

        & obviously, in my opinion, a rig should be road worthy and cost effective to operate for more than 2 years.

      • I had a friend who drove a really old beat-up van. He joked that when he filled the tank, he doubled the value of the van.

        • I paid 800 bucks for a 1989 4×4 suburban back when gas was 4 dollars a gallon. Filling the 30 gallon tank increased its value. Heh. I sold it for 1600 with a full tank and felt like I lost money.

    • If a car is 2 years or 10 years old it shouldn’t cost more to repair than it’s worth. Even a engine replacement wouldn’t do it. Except maybe with those hyper expensive German cars where getting bent over is part of the overall experience.

      I have a 1997 Buick Riviera that I bought at a junk yard for $900.00 (salvage title) seven years ago. With repairs I probably have $2k into it. Still purrs like a kitten. Spreading the cost out over seven years, it comes out to about $300 a year.

      The only time costs should exceed the vehicle’s worth is if you have a accident where there is a lot of frame and body damage. or flood damage. The auto shops will assrape you in labor costs. Flood damage just destroys the electrical system and harnesses. In both cases auto insurance companies will scrap the car and send it to a salvage auction where they are either scrapped for parts or resold on the grey market after being fixed up.

  10. I’m a business lawyer…In my experience, the abuse of patent and copyright laws (which themselves have become very abusive because of their extension to long periods of time) is absolutely rampant. On a personal level, one of my kids was a principal in a startup which was sued by a patent troll, in this case a wealthy trader who collected many worthless patents. The patent was absurd, and would have failed for any number of reasons including obviousness and the fact that Microsoft already had a master patent in the area. But small companies can’t afford patent lawsuits, which can go on for decades, so they folded. Microsoft, interestingly, has a policy of not suing startup companies even for real infringement…

  11. Canon and Epson both have tank style printers that do away with cartridges. Just pour ink in the tank. They are of course initially more expensive, but reviews say the ROI is about two years.

  12. I refuse to buy Apple products even though I loved my Macintosh in 1986.

    The phone carriers and manufacturers are pissing me off. A few years ago I had a phone with a headphone jack, swapable battery and a micro-SD card. Now they are trying their best to phase out those features while forcing me into an expensive monthly lease.

    Well, it’s never going to happen. When my current phone dies (or becomes expensive to fix), I’ll be buying a $200 unlocked phone such as Motorola that still has a jack and SD card at least, and shopping for the cheapest network to activate it on.

    Apple and Samsung seemed to have cornered the suckers’ market on $1,000 fancy phones with reduced features and privacy invading capabilities.

  13. Low-end inkjets have been cheaper to replace than recart for some time. Lexmark’s answer to this was to sell new printers with ink carts that were only 1/4th full. Others added date-chips so refilling with 3rd party ink became impractical. Canon eyed this market and offered up a printer that has a refillable tank, and went into the bottled-ink business.

    My response was to hoard old HP LaserJets.

    • I think Laserjets are the way to go, but after I went to pick up a replacement cartridge for my parents’ HP inkjet ($45 each!) I swore I’d never buy an HP product again. So far so good with aftermarket cartridges for the new, non-HP printer.

  14. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black(K) are the base colors use in printing. Red, Blue,, and Green on a CRT monitor.

    I retired from a Large printer manufacturer (X). They actually gave away $2000 printers because they had a solid lock on the ink replacement. Hell, the printer would actually call home to snitch about a replacement that was either refilled, or had come from the grey market. When you can charge $75 for a single stick of ink, you got it going on pretty well.

  15. Zman:

    Inkjet printers are of the devil.

    Samsung home B&W laser printers FTW. Usually in the $100 range. About 18″ cubed. Rock solid. Good drivers. Low page count toner cartridge it comes with is really a few thousand prints. High page count toner cartridges run about 50% to 75% a new printer. We usually get 5 years or so, with one or two new toner cartridges before we wear them out. I don’t do much printing, but wife & kids hit it hard.

    Samsung has a similar sized color laser in the $300 range. Been solid for 2 years.

    • I have been using a Dell color laser for 1.5 years now. I bought it for my business while doing research for a replacement hack when it goes empty.
      Didn’t think it would go this long being in the graphics business but most everyone looks at my proposals on a pdf by email.

    • Concur. Most of my printing is done on an old Samsung ML-1710 laser that I got on sale for around $60, back in 2004 or 2005. I’ve probably gone through 5 or 6 toner cartridges, maybe more- I get them from Amazon for about $25 each. It’s a workhorse, and I’ve never had any problem with it.

      I also have a Canon inkjet, a cheap MG3122, that I use for color prints. Long ago I had an HP, but as many here have attested the HP is very fussy about accepting offbrand or refilled ink cartridges, so I got rid of it for this. In this one I use the Jarbo remanufactured cartridges, and I’ve had good luck. It has one black & one tricolor cart, both for $33.88 at Amazon, and they’ll give me around 400-500 pages.

      Little-known fact: inkjet ink is more costly than French perfume. (I know that’s true because I saw it on the Internet, LOL.)

    • I’m with inkjet for photographs, and even with experience, every photo can take about 3 or 4 prints to get it right, or ok. Once we go to the commercial printers the same thing, >.mm strange colours I didn’t expect.

  16. Yes to everything you just said. Now go one level deeper. This is happening for a reason. Prolonged affluence has altered the environment in which we now evolve, and the end result is that most people coming of age in this coddled environment are losing their robustness. They no longer have the hunger to overcome challenges or the imperiousness to fight through hardship. The dominant trait of this new breed is whining. That is what your printer was doing, whining for attention.

  17. I think intelligent people caught onto the “planned obsolescence” tech thing a long time ago. There’s a television commercial (I forget the product), but there are a bunch of Gen X parents sitting in a support group sounding like their parents. One of the men says, “Why would I get rid of this? It works fine.”

    That’s the advertisers celebrating the merits of planned obsolescence. People are total suckers for that sort of thing. I have an iphone 6, and I might as well be using a rotary phone with a cord around most people on the 8 or X or Galaxy or whatever. It works awesome, does everything I need it to do. My wife asked me for a X for Christmas, so I got her one. I like my 6 better. I still have my ipod Nano from 2005…16G does everything I need it to do, and the battery still lasts a full 8 hours skiing nonstop. Apple screws with the software, so I don’t “synch” it very often, and I manage the entire device manually. I can state unequivocally, first hand, that Apple has ALWAYS screwed with these devices. I just know how to get around it most of the time. 13 year old device, still works like the day I got it.

    Obsolescence is a mindset not just a hardware/software maintenance issue. Like with my iphone 6, it’s obsolete simply because of marketing, not REALITY.

    In the last year, by simply going to eReplacementParts.com, I’ve repaired my electric lawn mower (broken arm handles), my vacuum, and the running belt on my 14 year old treadmill finally gave up the ghost. Cost of a new treadmill? $2K. Cost of belt? $150 and about an hour’s work.

    This, because I discovered that a lot of “Repair Shops” are not actually interested in fixing things. They’re front companies to sell you new stuff. For example, with the vacuum, I got a long explanation of how expensive fixing it would be, and that the part wasn’t available from their supplier, so why not buy this nice shiny new one for $200? (or whatever it cost) Literally, the part cost me $8 and I found it in 8 minutes at home. Their mistake was telling me what was actually the part I needed. I could see the salesman, er “repairman”, wanting to walk it back when he gave me specifics.

    Planned obsolescence is just the strong and smart preying on the weak, stupid and lazy.

    • The guy to coin the term “planned obsolescence” was a marketing guy. He meant it in the context of advertising.

    • I think a part of the problem that you’re referring to – is the utter lack of a lot of the general public to want to “do” anything.

      Maybe stuff is just too damn complicated these days. I admit that might be part of the problem. When things go wrong – you can’t just band-aid it back together like you could likely do with the general level of technology that existed say 50 years ago.

      When my truck started running like crap and dying on the highway – I finally discovered that mice had eaten thru the engine control wiring. Even having access to some good diagnostic tools – it still led me around in circles for a good 2-3 months trying to track down the issues. The codes the ECU would display were a result of the entire system being compromised by the eaten thru wiring. So I replaced parts to satisfy the trouble codes – the codes would disappear – and another one would popup indicating something else was wrong. After doing that 2 times I got suspicious. After the third time I was like “something else is wrong here”. I managed to fix all of it myself – at a very significantly reduced price than what I would have paid at a dealer – but it took a lot of my time – and having a few decades of diagnostic experience under my belt to know when to say ” that’s not what the problem is” and search for another issue when replacing a part didn’t solve the problem.

      I don’t run across an awful lot of people who can do that. I’ve lost count of the times when I’ve seen so-called “professionals” chase a problem by just replacing the same damn part over and over again. I’ve seen it in auto repair , I’ve seen it in high tech, I’ve seen it in the medical field, I’ve seen it in applicance repair, and I’ve seen it in the construction trades.

      The “this time for sure!” attitude exists among a lot of people from what I’ve seen. Combine that with the ” I don’t want to fix my lawnmower – I’d rather watch the football game” type mentality I see becoming more and more prevalent – I can see why the attitude you’re referring to exists.

      The other side of this is: what happens when that repair shop replaces the part – and it doesn’t fix the problem? The average customer goes ballstic. I’ve worked behind a service counter – some people you size up pretty quickly. If you think you’ve likely got a problem customer on your hands – you sell them something new and get rid of them for a couple of years until the thing breaks and the warranty is over.

    • Part of the problem is Moore’s law. Much equipment becomes useless long before it stops functioning or wears out because of newer superior products. This engenders less enthusiasm for building for permanence. And it’s not just the equipment, but also interfaces and protocols. Anybody have a serial port cable? How about a floppy drive? Does anybody use the analog RGB inputs on a new TV? Can you imagine handing down a calculator or computer from 20 years ago?

        • I sure wish I’d kept my 2000. It was a beast, back in the day, and it’s the last computer I’ve had that I enjoyed using.

        • Some products retain collector value, like Woody dolls in Toy Story 2. Hard to predict in advance. If Walmart came out today with a repackaged HP41 clone, who would buy it? I have a perfect, ucode copy of the HP41 running on my Windows system. http://www.hp41.org/Emulation.cfm

        • I still have my old Apple II somewhere in the attic. Upgraded the memory from 48K to a fearsome 64K! I also came across the original boot disks a while ago.

      • I still use my 25 year old HP 42S from college and will until they quit making watch batteries that fit it – which may not be that far down the road. I only wish I had an old 41CV like my buddy.

    • I use kindle to read in the dark hours of the night. My current one is officially known to the Amazon God as “W’s 4th Kindle.” None of this was by my own violition.

  18. Not quite off-topic, but tangential, is a recent article by Roger McNamee in the Washington Monthly (who, you say? McNamee can’t get this stuff published in the tech world, because it is so incendiary). It is about Facebook specifically, and it might be one of the most important things you can read. The rambling article deals with how Facebook and Google invite constant agitation of the public, the sort of agitation that helped Trump get elected and Brexit happen, but also (unsaid in the article) how this agitation feature stirs up the Trump derangement going on today. McNamee misses that Russia could have indirectly helped Trump get elected, but that is not the same thing as Trump colluding with Russia. Russia is the tip of the iceberg, but constant agitation is the game, and the left has played the agitation game for centuries. There are multiple small insights in the article, but the underlying message, IMO, is that the agitation game is what it is all about, and FB and GOOG are leveraging it. Pandora’s box has been opened, and there is no “fixing” them. All Zuckerberg and company can do is deflect (net neutrality anyone?) and hope that their capacity for mass agitation is not taken away from them. Even if it is taken away, it is still out there to be used by government actors and others. Mass agitation over the internet explains so many things, such as Antifa, BLM, Trump Derangement Syndrome, exploding Mohammeds, and so on. McNamee inadvertently and indirectly explains why people are acting so freaky today. It is not that they can’t handle the firehouse of information coming out of the internet (which is what I always assumed), but that the internet content is manipulating the emotions of the blue-pilled. McNamee’s article needs to be read through multiple times, the half of it that tries to “fix” Facebook can be jettisoned, and the rest of it can open your eyes.

    • McNamee has a pretty successful side gig as a musician, mostly but not exclusively here in the Bay Area. His main band is called Moonalice and his more occasional band is called Doobie Decibel System. Yes, he’s a big promoter of cannabis usage, a couple of his songs blatantly so. A hugely wealthy venture capitalist with a neo-hippie schtick and strong liberal advocacy.

      He’s fair as a singer-songwriter-guitarist but he’s hired some of the best, most experienced area musicians who I’m sure are grateful for a well-paying and regular gig. Initially there was a lot of resentment around here about him buying his way into high-profile gigs despite limited talent but now that’s pretty well accepted, because he provides free high-quality multicam videostreams of entire festivals as well as pretty much all of his performances.

      He gives out free posters at every show because he can afford to. He did one show in San Francisco’s Union Square in Sept 2016 after Hillary’s notorious van collapse where he put out a “Get Well Hillary” posterboard for attendants to sign. At that gig they gave out not just one but maybe a dozen posters, of the most vile anti-Trump propaganda that was redolent of anti-Jewish NSDAP art back in the day.

      Recently he did a solo performance called Trump Impeachment Preview. I would expect that he donated major bucks to the Hellary campaign.

      Just to give y’all an idea of who this guy is and where he’s coming from.

      • I think his work on this one is very important to be familiar with. The thing is, you must read between the lines to find the value. He covers the important elements with all sorts of unsupported mental jumps that try to frame the whole thing as a Trump conspiracy. He is also trying to “fix” Facebook with all sorts of outlandish wackadoo ideas. The fifteen second synopsis is that anger and agitation are easy to stir up, and the FB and GOOG algorithms seek to individually agitate people, 24/7. It can be used to manipulate, and it is obvious to me that the manipulation is constantly being employed, and that is why so many people are completely insane about Trump and various SJW causes. Their emotions are ginned up, without their awareness. But you do need to parse the article carefully and eliminate a lot of dross in the thing, to find the valuable nuggets.

  19. At the risk of being burned at the stake, I would like to point out that Apple slowed down older iPhones to PROLONG their useful lives by avoiding power-use spikes that previously caused iPhones to shut down unexpectedly as the battery aged.

    Annual updates to the system do slow down the phone, because they include features that are adapted to a faster processor (just as PC software has done since DOS).

    The updates are optional, but we can all agree that Apple is too aggressive about pushing them to people with older phones.

    Finally, much of the blame for old and slow iPhones must fall on users who fill up their phones with irreplaceable photos but are too cheap to back them up or copy them elsewhere. A full phone is a slow phone.

      • It’s not a ‘good try’, it’s a fact. Apple handled this terribly. The user should have been notified and given an option to enable throttling or risk future phone shutdowns. Likewise, there should be a clear indicator as to battery state and throttling status, if enabled.

        But the power spike/phone shutdown issue with old batteries IS real.

        However, the other part of what Andrew said about features adapted to faster processors…that’s been nonsense for well over a decade in the industry. It was true in the 80s and 90s when software was rapidly evolving. Now software efficiency is simply falling into the toilet. Many programs on old Power Macs have 99% of the functionality of today’s versions and run faster even though today’s processors are an order of magnitude faster. You can thank an army of H1B visa hires for that. Along with academic naval gazing when it comes to new programming languages and frameworks.

  20. Refilling the cartridges is the solution, but the printers are rigged to question refilled cartridges. Costco refills them for about $10, but sometimes the printer gets glitchy when you put them back in. I try to print everything in black, so the 3 color cartridges stay full. Zman is right, this is a totally unnecessary hassle. They could easily triple the size of the cartridges, and allow easy refills.

    • Asking around, it seems that the re-manufactured cartridges work in some printers, but HP printers reject them. That means there is a deliberate effort to prevent recycling of the ink cartridges.

      The funny thing is 25 years ago I bought a Canon laser printer for home. That thing ran flawlessly for a dozen years. It as pricey at the time, about $300, but the toner was $30 and lasted a long time. The only reason to replace it was they stopped making the toner. Since then, I have had to buy a new printer every two years. It’s either print heads or firmware that fails, even if I don’t get hosed on ink.

      • Buy a cheap Brother Laser printer and One cartridge. It will do at least 4 to 6 thousand pages for $1 to 2 Hundred bux. Done and done.

        • I wasn’t sure we would mention brands. The Brother MFC series have an option for a larger Inkwell. I get the Brother cartridges [ from someone else’s printer cartridge refilled, from the cartridge refiller. This is because some of these Companies [HP] have a feed back system to reject the code which has been registered as empty.
          In any case, I have a second back up Printer because these things always collapse when you want them most. The only drawback is they are space occupying. I have a second table behind the main desktop for printers, hard drives, bench top computer, and various such as leads and things. .

      • For several years running, the only thing I ever printed out was my tax returns. In between tax seasons, the ink jets would gum up (at that time, the ink jets were separate from the ink cartridges). Since the cost of cleaning the ink jets was more than the printer (for one thing, you had to send it off, with no firm date for return), each tax season I would simply buy a new cheap-o printer for about $70, print out my taxes, and shut it down for the rest of the year. Part of my cost of doing my taxes.

    • Zman’s post should be refined a little better.

      What he’s talking about has been a “feature” of INK JET printers for as long as I can remember. And that’s going back 20 years or so for my home PC experience with consumer printers.

      It’s part of the reason why I gave up on inkjet printers a long time ago and went with laser. For a while I got away with printers scavenged from work – when the last of those finally died – I bought a Dell home office quality laser printer. The printer came with low page count toner cartridges. But even those lasted me for a couple of years at the printing level I typically do. When the black ran out – I found that Dell sells much higher page count toner cartridges. You can get the lower pg. count cartridge – or pay more $$ for the high pg count cartridge. Doing the math – the high count cartridge is much better deal over the longer run.

      If the printer was sold with the higher pg count cartridges though – it probably would have been double in price. Are the manufacturers “lying” to consumers? I don’t think so – at least not on the model that I bought. For the more “consumer” level printers – they might be , but consumers often shoot themselves in the foot with their constant ” but it’s cheaper!!” behavior.

      If you want to stay in business – you have to sell shit. That’s the way it works. If consumers are stupid and refuse to buy things on anything else but price – well then the non-lying manufacturer will likely go out of business.

      Maybe people need to smarten the hell up. Otherwise people like Bernie Sanders will inevitably end up running things thru governmental oversight and you can say goodbye to having more than one or two options for your toothpaste and deodorant because it’s “too hard to make a choice” for the average dimwit consumer out there.

    • The cartridges come with a counter, counting the number of times they are used. They don’t actually measure the amount of ink left inside. That’s how the printer “knows” it is getting empty. Refilling the cartridge doesn’t reset the counter. Some printers let you override an “empty” cartridge reading.

    • I’ve got an old HP laser jet that’s at least 17 or so years old. Black toner only and never fails. Problem is it connects to the computer via a cord, not by Bluetooth or any such nonsense. I’ve held off replacing my desktop apple, which I seldom use now anyway, because I don’t want to have to buy a new printer. Tim

  21. Chances for a biotech revolution may be better than you think, though not the sort of revolution you’re meaning here. Just as phones have been turned into weapons, most technological advances are either developed for war or eventually used for war. The implications for biotech are beyond frightening.

  22. Z Man;
    Yet another outstanding post. Bravo_!

    Re biotech: I’d say it actually *is* an information technology just not a clean one involving electrons only. DNA is code and cells are the (really, really complex) hardware. Drugs share software economics after all (first copy $50 mil; second in-production copy $0.50 or less).

    But it most likely *has* to be strictly controlled so long as it involves self replicating, living cells and not just drugs. I believe that while the basic research needs be a costly endeavor*, the development engineering need not be. So far as I know, some glassware, a bioreactor** and an instrument or two are all that’s required: $50k – $100k tops to get started on a low-scale basis once you have the exact formula. If the precursor chemicals or cells are not available you can usually make them.

    Trouble is that if you f-up an electron-based IT experiment, worst case the proverbial garage gets burned down. If you f-up a cell line IT experiment and it gets loose, worst case is a re-run of the Black Plagues, or even worse: Because self-replicating.

    *Bio research is costly only because our lack of knowledge and ‘hardware’ complexity requires many, many trials. Each individual experiment, OTOH, is usually not that costly unless it requires state-of-the-art or custom built instrumentation.

    **A fancy word for a controlled-condition fermentation tank such as used in wine making and the like.

    • I’m not enthusiastic about biotech. Given the moral climate of our elites, the odds of something horrible happening are very high.

      • China appears to be leading the way in genetic research. They aren’t troubled by the “ethical” issues Western academics ostensibly complain about.

        • I’m well aware of what the Chinese biotech people are doing since I have vested interest in. They are very unethical and have done things beyond the pale. Their efforts in Stem Cell research is hamfisted guess work that looked promising in the beginning but failed over the longer term. And it didn’t stop them from trying to sell it as cures for desperate Westerners.

          BTW you know why we have “ethical” standards you evidently disdain? Because we used to do same crap Mengele did. Do a little footwork and study what our doctors who gave patients near lethal doses of radiation to see how they handled it. They prey on convicts, children with terminal illnesses, blacks, old poor white people, etc. This went on until the 60’s. The military during this time for a decade marched soldiers into atomic mushroom clouds to see how it poisoned them.

          Then there was a cancer researcher who injected a extremely aggressive cancer line (HeLa) into thousands of patients without their consent to see how it spread. It killed a few. He only got a suspension.

          You really don’t want medical researchers operating without “ethical ” guidelines. There are some real sociopaths operating in the field and they need to be kept on a leash.

  23. Find the cheapest ink cartridge first, then buy the printer. Most everyday computing can be done on a raspberry pi.
    My son was forced to use apple computers in grade school and fostered a lifelong resentment for anything apple.

  24. at Engadget article: the head of the FBI says that smartphone encryption is a public safety issue. LOL ! The smartphones themselves are a public safety threat.

    • Google owns a big chunk of the fiber backbone. They also are one of the bigger registrars. They dominate the on-line ad market and own the search engine of the internet. Their billions are a river of nickels from every internet user.

    • Vince (?);
      A generic definition of a tax farmer is a ruthless local shark who is a sub-contractor for a distant and indifferently competent elite. He is hired to collect taxes on their behalf. The tax farmer may take a spread on taxes collected as compensation for his efforts. But since nobody in the Capitol knows what the local collections actually are, usually the tax farmer takes all he can but has a fixed quota to pay the elite. Anything collected above that quota is his to keep.

      The concept of operations is that a local shark knows who has what assets or income while those in the capitol don’t know and, anyway, prefer easy money to the strenuous effort of skinning the peasants.

      Sometimes the tax farmer buys the office lump sum against future cash flow. That way the elite get theirs up front. But in all cases the tax farmer must be leant some of the elite’s muscle, otherwise nobody would pay.

      This device was used by the pre-revolutionary French kings and the ancient Romans. For example, the hated tax-collectors who are mentioned throughout the Gospels were local Jews acting as tax farmers for the Romans: Traitors to the Nation.

      Actually: Al from da North. Don’t know who’s handle I inadvertently borrowed

  25. I read somewhere recently that Musk’s Teslas come with two battery capacities, the higher one costing more obviously. But here’s the rub. You get the same battery in either case. It’s just a software switch that you pay for that enables the higher capacity.

    I’ve dreamed of some philanthropist coming out with a Gnu-car. A completely open source car, with all the ECU code public, etc. I’m sure that would drive the EPA nuts as everyone would be doing their own “VW” hacks for improved performance.

    • I read somewhere recently that Musk’s Teslas come with two battery capacities, the higher one costing more obviously. But here’s the rub. You get the same battery in either case. It’s just a software switch that you pay for that enables the higher capacity.

      That’s an old chip industry scam. The “high performance” device and the “low-power” mobile device are the same exact same piece of silicon, they are just in a different package with some functionality disabled in hardware. Two connections are shorted together or left open. If the manufacturer is especially cheap and lazy, they will use the same package and jumper two pins on the circuit board.

      Not surprised to hear that a guy like Musk is using it.

      • Same as water heaters from Home Depot, don’t remember the exact numbers 3 or 7 years, same device different price.

    • A GNU car already exists. I have been a “hot rodder” for probably 35 years now. Back in the days when CPUs and fuel injection started running engines instead of carburetors – there was much angst among the racing and hot rodding community about the glory days of do it yourself vehicle building and maintenance coming to an end. These days – it’s clear that the glory days are NOW and not then. There are copious options available out there to build your own vehicle – either by modifying an already existing vehicle or by building one from scratch. I am referring to both the physical mechanical vehicle AND all of the assorted control systems that populate a “modern” vehicle.

      There are engine and transmission control ECMs available from a whole host of aftermarket sources. These allow you to use modern engines in the vehicle platform of your choice and control and tune those powertrains to your own requirements.

      The major hurdle here is legislation and not the ability for the DIY’er to build a vehicle himself. Plenty of states have cracked down on DIY vehicle modification under the excuse of “emissions”. Some manufacturers have also basically made their vehicles into sealed boxes with little chance to modify them to your own tastes. BMW is one mfr. that stands out as having sealed up their vehicles to modification by the average person.

      There is also a trend in the hard core car community towards older less complicated vehicles. A huge aftermarket has grown over the last couple of decades to support *popular* old vehicles. It’s relatively common to see older pickup trucks and SUVs (as a for instance) with more modern drivetrains (engine and transmission swaps) in them. Because the vehicles are older they evade a lot of the emissions laws, which allow people to do things like swap in newer diesel engines , tune them for best efficiency – and get a reliable , easy to maintain, load carrying vehicle that gets pretty good gas mileage ( A 6.6L Duramax diesel with the correct tune can get over 20 mpg installed in a 6500 pound vehicle like a Suburban).

      It’s also possible to do things like build a classic sports car like a Ford Mustang or Camaro – from scratch. Brand new body shells are available – as are all of the other ancillary parts like interior bits, windows, seats, dashboards – etc. All that’s needed is a VIN number. The final cost to do this is roughly the same as new Camaro or Mustang off a dealer lot, but because the car is technically a classic – you evade a lot of the modern legislation that is imposed on new vehicles.

      The hurdle to the GNU car you’re dreaming of isn’t technological – is political and legislative – and philosophical. There’s plenty of people out there who would rather you get stuck in public transportation and get dumped out of your private vehicle altogether. This mentality mostly comes out of the blue hive areas in my experience.

      You don’t find a lot of leftists among car nuts in my experience. Once you fall down the rabbit hole of loving automobiles – you discover pretty quickly that the government and progressive power structure is your enemy and not your friend. Love of cars is very similar to love of guns IMHO. They’re both gateway drugs out of leftist lunacy.

      • Excellent! Hot rodding has evolved, and it certainly is the transportation “freedom” statement that gun ownership represents in a different context. The powers-that-be hate hot riders.

    • Magenta has a wider bore, and its a mixture of blue and red light, represented in ink as that beetroot pink colour Z writes of.

  26. Apple should be hung up by the balls for what they’re doing to the old phones. My iPhone 6 is in mint condition because I look after a $600 asset, yet their fucking compulsory updates have made it run like treacle. It’s almost becoming unusable. You’re right, if any other manufacturer did this they’d be bankrupted by the lawsuits.

    • I have an older Windows PC that barely moves now. No question in my mind that Microsoft purposely crippled the thing.

      • Open the case and blow all of the dust out. Pay special attention to the fan/heatsink for the CPU ( it’ll be the large black/metallic squarish thing sticking up from the motherboard. All systems are equipped with thermostats for the cpu, ram, disk drives. As they accumulate insulation, i.e. dust, they retain more heat. The cpu will throttle itself to reduce heat, thus slowing your system down.

      • When did you last defrag and kill temp files?? Disk fragmentation can degrade performance by as much as 80%. Also, aside from a good cleaning, run diagnostics on the hard drive and network chip (either on the way out can cause stalls).

        • You are spot on Reziac. I kept an average XP system going strong until (9 months ago) the hard drive had no more rpms left. Disk clean up every day minimizes fragmentation also. I picked up a used AlienWare with Windows 10. You have to stay on your toes with the downloads. It is like having your Mother in Law living with you. Bastards.

          • I use a free utility software called Wise Care 365..
            cleans up a whole heap of stuff and over three years I’ve detected no deleterious effect.

      • I make every conceivable effort to prevent the spyware and control updates in Windows 10, but its not easy. You can go to the control panel to impose restore options, but once Windows finds out it blacks out all your defence restore dates and defence mechanisms.

    • I bought one of the original Iphones when they first came out, but was too cheap to pay for a new one after the screen cracked. So I went back to my Samsung flip phone.

      Now I have a $12 LG brick style that fits in my shirt pocket. It can even send texts when absolutely necessary, and if I lose it who cares?

      The only real inconvenience might be that it doesn’t have GPS, but I prefer the older solar powered paper “maps” version anyway.

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