Bill Eccles: November 2010 Archives

Sorry it took so long to get around to this. By now, I imagine you’ve already discovered that, as is clearly stated, this update is not PHP-neutral. Apple installs PHP 5.3.3 over your custom PHP installation.

I looked at the configure that Apple uses and it looks about like our usual configure info.

So the steps required to make this all work with what we have from our previous expeditions:

  1. Keep copies of the Apple binaries and how they configured their installation:

    $ php -i > ~/php-config-2010.11.30
    $ sudo cp /usr/libexec/apache2/libphp5.so /usr/libexec/apache2/libphp5.so.old
    $ sudo cp /usr/bin/php /usr/bin/php.old
    
  2. Get the 5.3.3 tarball and unpack it.

  3. Move the libpng headers around a bit so that configure doesn’t find old headers for use with the new libraries:

    $ sudo mv /usr/X11R6/include/png.h /usr/X11R6/include/png.h_old
    
  4. Append the new flags to the configure statement and configure away:

    $ ./configure  '--prefix=/usr' '--mandir=/usr/share/man' '--infodir=/usr/share/info' '--disable-dependency-tracking' '--sysconfdir=/private/etc' '--with-apxs2=/usr/sbin/apxs' '--enable-cli' '--with-config-file-path=/etc' '--with-libxml-dir=/usr' '--with-openssl=/usr' '--with-kerberos=/usr' '--with-zlib=/usr' '--enable-bcmath' '--with-bz2=/usr' '--enable-calendar' '--with-curl=/usr' '--enable-exif' '--enable-ftp' '--with-gd' '--with-jpeg-dir=/usr/local' '--with-png-dir=/usr/local' '--enable-gd-native-ttf' '--with-ldap=/usr' '--with-ldap-sasl=/usr' '--enable-mbstring' '--enable-mbregex' '--with-mysql=mysqlnd' '--with-mysqli=mysqlnd' '--with-pdo-mysql=mysqlnd' '--with-mysql-sock=/var/mysql/mysql.sock' '--with-iodbc=/usr' '--enable-shmop' '--with-snmp=/usr' '--enable-soap' '--enable-sockets' '--enable-sysvmsg' '--enable-sysvsem' '--enable-sysvshm' '--with-xmlrpc' '--with-iconv-dir=/usr' '--with-xsl=/usr' '--with-pcre-regex' '--with-freetype-dir=/usr/X11R6' '--enable-zend-multibyte' '--enable-zip'
    
  5. Use four cores to make PHP. It’s a lot faster to use the -j 4 option, and if you have more cores, make the number match:

    $ make -j 4
    
  6. Install.

    $ sudo make install
    
  7. Restart Apache.

    $ sudo apachectl restart
    
  8. Clean up what we did to the libpng headers:

    $ sudo mv /usr/X11R6/include/png.h_old /usr/X11R6/include/png.h
    

Done.

Alternatively, if you have already installed 5.3.3 before, all you need to do is:

  1. Keep copies of the Apple binaries and how they configured their installation:

    $ php -i > ~/php-config-2010.11.30
    $ sudo cp /usr/libexec/apache2/libphp5.so /usr/libexec/apache2/libphp5.so.old
    $ sudo cp /usr/bin/php /usr/bin/php.old
    
  2. Install.

    $ sudo make install
    
  3. Restart Apache.

    $ sudo apachectl restart
    

Done!

From the nicely-formatted-for-readers-on-any-mobile-platform Reuters article:

The survey found that just 25 percent of smartphone owners planned to stay loyal to the operating system running their phone, with loyalty highest among Apple users at 59 percent, and lowest for Microsoft’s phone software, at 21 percent.

Of users of Research in Motion’s BlackBerrys, 35 percent said they would stay loyal. The figure was 28 percent for users of phones running Google’s Android software, and 24 percent for users of Nokia Symbian phones.

I’m surprised John Gruber missed the opportunity to point out that since Steve Jobs’ return to Apple, it’s not about market share. It’s about mind share. He does point out, though:

Android’s loyalty numbers are much closer to Windows Mobile’s than the iPhone’s, which, of course, proves that Android is winning.

Love it.

John’s link is here

Article here. And I could not agree more.

This isn’t security; it’s security theater.

[Via DaringFireball.net.]

Worth the read. Says that Germany’s economic strength is rooted in doing the opposite of what we (the US) and the UK are doing. And what are we doing?

The money quote:

Wisely, the Germans declined the advice. Manufacturing still accounts for nearly a quarter of the German economy; it is just 11 percent of the British and U.S. economies (one reason the United States and Britain are struggling to boost their exports). Nor have German firms been slashing wages and off-shoring—the American way of keeping competitive—to maintain profits.

United Technologies Corporation has a strong presence in Connecticut these days. But the recent offshoring of some of its Hamilton Sundstrand unit’s San Diego engineering to Poland is telling: where costs are high, move the resource offshore. I will go on record to say that I give UTC’s manufacturing presence only about 10 more years in Connecticut (with all but development manufacturing jobs leaving Connecticut and heading to other states and offshore), and UTC’s engineering presence only about 20 more years in Connecticut. Management will be all that’s left.

(My timing may be a bit off. If anything, I might be guessing longer than reality…)

[Via DaringFireball.net.]

OK, so Clinton didn’t quite gut the American intel budget. And maybe it was Bush the First’s fault. I don’t particularly care. In any case, I’m guessing that what America needs now, more than ever, is better intelligence, both foreign and domestic. After all, it’s a lot easier to cure a cancer with early detection than after it’s grown to unmanageable size.

So let’s cut the “guns budget” and put the money where it needs to be: in intelligence. People on the ground. Recruits in foreign service. All that stuff. You know, Bond, just without the flashy car, the showy women, the drinking, etc. Heck, let’s get the Russians on our side—our enemy is their enemy, too. Think about how effective that partnership would be.

(Anybody know who the American equivalent to the James Bond character is? Has there ever been an equally famous fictional CIA character?)

This article tells you how to download the software for your iOS devices directly in Safari and then tells you that you can tell iTunes which update to install manually.

However, there’s also a great use for these directly-downloaded files if you have multiple iOS devices to update. Use the referenced links to download multiple iOS updates simultaneously—the total for downloading all of your updates is as long it takes for iTunes to download just one update. Then put the files into the appropriate ~/Library/iTunes/(iPod/iPhone/iPad Software Updates) folder.

Then, when you plug in your iOS device for updating, the download process is skipped, the update is verified, and you’ve saved yourself waiting for sequential downloads to occur.

Is this a big deal? Could be. I plug in multiple iOS devices and update as many as I can simultaneously and once you click “Update” for one of them, all operations are halted for the others. (You did know iTunes will do more than one device simultaneously, didn’t you?) Last night, I had to update two iPads, iPhones 3G, 3GS, and 4, and iPod Touch G2. That’s five firmware files and would have been about 1.5 hours of downloading via iTunes vs. 15 minutes with Safari.

Matt Kernan manages to make it around security to get into the US—sort of.

OK, quick summary: Upon returning from an international flight, the TSA wanted to screen him using the backscatter machine or a patdown because they do this for all international passengers before they’re allowed to enter the secure zone of the terminal. He declined for the usual reasons. However, he wasn’t trying to make a connecting flight—he was merely trying to get out of the airport and had no need to go into the secure zone of the terminal.

It’s unclear to me whether or not he stated this fact at the time of his encounter with the TSA, so I’m not sure that he’s totally in the clear on this one. “I’m not trying to make a connecting flight” may mean to the agent, “I’ve got time to kill.” On the other hand, “I’m just trying to leave the airport to get home” is pretty unequivocal. And withholding that important bit of information is intentionally muddying the waters.

When I flew international into Dulles about four years ago (see, “Right on Queue”), the international flight arrived outside the secure zone and I was in the US once I went through customs (thus no pretense of unreasonable search and seizure). To make it onto our domestic flight, I had an awful encounter with a line to get into the domestic secure zone.

Line or not, it sounds to me like CVG needs some rearranging to be more in line with the Dulles model.

[Via DaringFireball.net.]

First, from Techdirt: Why Congress Isn’t So Concerned With TSA Nude Scans & Gropes: They Get To Skip Them.

Self-explanatory.

Second, from MSNBC: Are airport X-ray scanners harmful?

Money quote:

Peter Rez, a physics professor at Arizona State University in Tempe, did his own calculations and found the exposure to be about one-fiftieth to one-hundredth the amount of a standard chest X-ray. He calculated the risk of getting cancer from a single scan at about 1 in 30 million, “which puts it somewhat less than being killed by being struck by lightning in any one year,” he told me.

While the risk of getting a fatal cancer from the screening is minuscule, it’s about equal to the probability that an airplane will get blown up by a terrorist, he added. “So my view is there is not a case to be made for deploying them to prevent such a low probability event.”

(Did I just quote MSNBC? What’s come over me?! Via DaringFireball.net from Randal Schwartz.)

And, finally, from Ask the Pilot: News flash: Deadly terrorism existed before 9/11 We’ve been dealing with the same threats for decades. But we used to be a lot calmer about it, less self-defeating

Worth reading every word, but, to summarize:

“The terrorists have won” is a refrain I don’t like using. It’s sensationalist and ignores inherent complexities. But for the moment, I can’t think of a better way of putting it.

(Via Jason Sigger via Robert Farley.)

Short story: a Brazilian billionaire is building a 90-square-mile area specifically for the purpose of attracting companies, Apple included, to use it for building their products—instead of China.

My question: Why isn’t anybody doing this in the US?

Are the products that Apple and others are building so labor-intensive that it would break their banks to build them in the US? It used to be that high-tech items were built in Japan. Now, even the Japanese outsource to China. What’s so special about China?

I’ll admit that what I’m saying here is based a lot on conjecture. I assume that labor rates are ridiculously low in China, based on what I read daily on the intarwebs. And I’m assuming that robots are not used for these assemblies because reconfiguration of tooling is a lot more difficult for an automated production line than when the line consists of humans. That would give Foxconn a great deal of flexibility in its product mix.

With those thoughts in mind, then what would be the difference between a Foxconn factory and an Apple factory?

First, automation: Based on Steve Jobs’ previous experience with assembly plants, they would be worlds apart. The original Mac factory in Freemont, CA, was nearly totally automated which, for 1984, was pretty darned good. Yes, hands were involved in some of the circuit board assembly process, but the process was very automated for its time. In this day and age, I doubt any hands would be involved in the whole process, especially with Apple’s low-mix, slow-to-change product line. Steve would totally see to that.

But could it be totally automated? I think it could. But another question: could it be totally automated for a reasonable price? In 1984, the Mac plant cost $20M. That’s a lot of money to invest in a plant that produced a Mac every 27 seconds. Let’s assume that a new plant would cost 10 times that now—$200M. According to 2010 sales figures from last quarter, Apple sold about 27 million iDevices (i.e., “not Macs”). The capital cost of the factory would add $7.50-ish to the cost of each device. Or it would suck $7.50-ish per device out of Apple’s profit. Anyway, it could pay for itself in one year.

Question: would you pay $7.50 more for a product that said quite clearly on the front, “Now made in the USA for only $8 more!”? In the US, I’m certain you would. In the EU? Maybe.

Ooops! It turns out that the sales figures I quoted above were for one quarter of the year alone! Would $2 be too much to pay for “Made in the USA”? I don’t think so.

Second, labor: I’m sure the plant would have a fair number of people who tend to the machines, and that fits right in with the US’s need to maintain a high-tech service job base. Gradually, we’re shipping overseas all of the jobs that we can. Brainpower can telecommute from India, Poland, etc. But hands-on maintenance cannot. Construction cannot. Plant management cannot. Trucking could not. So it would be beneficial for the US if Apple built a plant that requires some hands-on help for its care and feeding every now and then.

Third, location: Easy. Tennessee, close to Memphis, as a matter of fact. First, Tennessee got Steve his new liver quickly; it would be a nice payback to the state to which he owes his life. Second, it’s where FedEx has its massive hub. Clearly, that would be a bonus. Third, the affordability of building and working in Tennessee is pretty darned good. (Google it on your own. I’m feeling lazy today.) I do figure the chemical and natural resource cost if sourced from within the US might be higher than in China (and, in fact, might still be sourced from China). But, again, I’d have to guess that the higher price might be worth it.

Would it require any sort of “industrial park?” Nope. Just land and electricity. I mean, this billionaire guy is building an “industrial park” with the hopes of attracting Apple and others. In other words, he’s driving up the price of being there to attract companies to be there. If Brazil were such a great place to be, it should sell itself, sans business park concept.

It seems to me that Tennessee (though I’d prefer it to be Connecticut, of course, just so I could be involved) would be an ideal spot for Apple to plunk down a factory. And I’d love to see that happen.

Steve, would you comment, please?

Update, January 2, 2010

One company, MacNeil Automotive Products—you know them as “WeatherTech”—has done three things right, in my opinion. First, they have brought their manufacturing capacity back into the US. Second, they are expanding that capacity, also in the US. And, third, they are publicizing the heck out of it. David MacNeil writes about this transition on the company’s website. He has been very public and very vocal about this transition and buildout, taking an additional two page spread in every issue of Car and Driver I’ve received since they started the buildout to publicize it. That’s two pages in addition to the usual four to six pages they normally use. He must be doing something right.

Do his products have the same cachet as Apple products? I’d say so, based on my experience with them. They fit and feel better than any floormats I’ve run across in the automotive store. They command a price premium. And they work very well.

Are Apple and MacNeil in the same game? No, not at all, so saying “It works for MacNeil, so it would work for Apple” is certainly a specious conclusion.

But it does give some food for thought, no?

Interested in the uncontained failure on Qantas Flight 32?

Click and read.

Amazing, frightening, and still yet more amazing.

(via Flightglobal.)

The headline does not reflect the money quote:

Did you know that the nation’s airports are not required to have Transportation Security Administration screeners checking passengers at security checkpoints? The 2001 law creating the TSA gave airports the right to opt out of the TSA program in favor of private screeners after a two-year period. Now, with the TSA engulfed in controversy and hated by millions of weary and sometimes humiliated travelers, Rep. John Mica, the Republican who will soon be chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, is reminding airports that they have a choice.

I… did not know that.

Source via DaringFireball.net.

The article is here and is well worth your read. I had no idea airport security could be done so easily, so simply. In Isreal, the threat is 100% real. In the US, it’s… murky, at best. And yet they achieve total compliance. We achieve total invasion of privacy.

I read this courtesy of a link on DaringFireball.net, though I disagree with a link to Bruce Schneier’s assertion that it won’t scale to US proportions. In fact, Schneier makes the assertion but then fails to back it up with data. His commenters take up the challenge, but it’s the argument fails to conclude with a clear winner.

A "Veteran" on Veteran's Day

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Note the use of double quotes in the title. Indeed, I served in the armed forces. Indeed, I supposedly “wrote a blank check” to my country. Indeed, I qualify for VA benefits, property tax reductions (minimal, but still more than zero), and could even get a Veteran plate for my car.

But I always felt like a poser. Not a real Veteran, capital “V,” but more like a “former employee.”

You see, I went into the US Air Force having completed my four years of college on a full-ride scholarship. “Full-ride” is recruiter lingo for, “We pay damned-near everything for your education.” All my family had to pay was for room and board, a minuscule amount of money for the education I got from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. And all I owed the USAF was four years of well-paid, well-benefited employment.

Yeah, I recognized that I was to serve in the military where they use guns and stuff to kill people, but I also knew that serving in the USAF with an engineering degree was unlikely to get me into a position where Uncle Sam would have to cash that check. As it was, I was right. I shot a gun on only two occasions, and only at targets, and missed qualifying marksman by one lousy point. Could I have repeated that in the heat of battle? Unlikely. Could I have been sent to “the front lines” to work on something electrical? Absolutely. Might I have been a crewmember on some plane that flew over the front lines? Coulda’.

But I didn’t.

No, I flew my Mark 1A1 Steelcase Modular Office Furniture System pretty much nowhere. I got a ride on a B-52H. I got to see more than a handful of Air Force bases and contractor locations. I programmed. I scheduled. I “supported the warfighter,” as the performance reports say. It was important work, certainly, but…

…but I sure don’t feel like a Veteran, capital “V,” as a result.

Instead, I recognize that there are those who wrote that check and gave it to Uncle Sam and said, “Here. No strings attached.” I realize that there are those who do this day in, day out. I know that there are those who face bullets and bombs and do so because they volunteered to serve their country. I know of those who have had that check cashed for part of what’s in the account… or all of what’s in the account. I know of the families who endure the hardships, suffer the losses, and shed the tears.

That wasn’t me.

No, those are the true Veterans, with the much-deserved capital “V.” It is your day today, and it is I, a veteran, who salute you.

Tennnnnshut!

Presennnn…harms!

God speed, and thank you.

Mystery to Some, But Not to Me

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John Gruber, widely respected Apple pundit, says:

What’s fascinating is that against this backdrop, last week’s election went to the Republicans, who admit that their top priority is passing large tax cuts for the richest 2 percent of Americans. I know much has been written about this, but I think it defies easy explanation how economic policies that benefit so very few enjoy the support of so many

Two things jump immediately to mind:

  • He still doesn’t understand that the incredible leftward list that this country underwent in the last two years has been rejected as being too far to the left, regardless of the policies of the winners. The election’s results pretty clearly announce, Our bad1, that was too far.

  • Everybody wants to win the lottery. Everybody wants to make astronomical amounts of money as a movie star, sports star, or highly-paid CEO. But nobody wants to see those winnings or “earnings” taxed so as to discourage those who aspire to win or work. Why bother buying a lottery ticket or auditioning repeatedly or practicing if the only thing you’ll get for your effort is taxed?

Not that I’m saying that I necessarily agree 100% with the economic policies of either party. But if we’re going to go as far as to tax unearned income, such as those that I get by making smart stock market decisions (I think “deserved”—the governments sees “lucky”), we might as well tax the hell out of Tiger Woods and the like because their unearned income is far more than what they should get paid for a round of golf or for posing with a pair of shoes. I wouldn’t want that, though.

Unfortunately, we’re already headed down that path, what with the definition of a rich single person being earnings of $200,000 per year and a rich couple being earnings of $250,000 per year (that’s combined).2 Anything more is clearly too much.

I guess that’s the price we have to pay for working hard enough to buy food for our families, pay our bills, pay our school loans, and pay our business loans, none of which are tax deductible.


1 Note that I place the blame on the voters, not those elected. They probably thought, in spite of the polls, that they were just fulfilling their mandate.

2 Here’s a reference to the marriage penalty and the health care reform bill. It was written before the bill’s passage, but it made it through and is, in fact, referenced in my corporation’s health care plan descriptions this year. Frankly, I’m not so sure that if I were part of a LGBT couple that I’d be fighting for equal treatment…

Article here.

Betcha’ didn’t see that coming, did you?

Balance

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If you ask any eighth-grader about why we have three branches of government, you’ll likely get a blank look until you mention, “Checks and….” Then you’ll get “Balances!”

And that is what tomorrow is all about, folks, achieving balance. It is not good for the government to be dominated by any one ideology or party. That does not reflect the makeup of our country, and when it happens, a very small minority is satisfied, and most people end up unhappy. It wasn’t good in the early part of this century when the Republicans ran the show (poorly), nor is it good now when the Democrats are running the show (also poorly).

So the way I look at voting tomorrow is: It’s not about achieving your views, it’s about achieving balance to their views.

Go. Vote. Achieve balance.