Monday, October 11, 2021

WebObjects and NeXT on Dell? It almost happened...

 Read over at CNet how Steve Jobs tried to convince Michael Dell to use NeXT on PCs: 

Fast forward to 1993. Jobs, ousted from Apple after a fallout with the company's board in 1985, had started a new company, called Next, and created a beautiful (but expensive) workstation, with its own operating system, as well as software called WebObjects for building web-based applications. Dell says Jobs came to his house in Texas several times that year, trying to convince him to use the Next operating system on Dell PCs, by arguing that it was better than Microsoft's Windows software and could undermine the Unix workstation market being touted by Sun Microsystems. The problem, Dell says he told Jobs, was that there were no applications for it and zero customer interest. Still, Dell's company worked a little bit with Next and used WebObjects to build its first online store in the mid-'90s. 

In 1997, Jobs rejoined a struggling Apple after it acquired Next for $429 million, and he pitched Dell on another business proposal (as Jobs was evaluating Apple's Mac clone licensing project, which he ultimately shut down). Jobs and his team had ported the Mac software, based on Next's Mach operating system, and had it running on the Intel x86 chips that powered Dell PCs. Jobs offered to license the Mac OS to Dell, telling him he could give PC buyers a choice of Apple's software or Microsoft's Windows OS installed on their machine. "He said, look at this -- we've got this Dell desktop and it's running Mac OS," Dell tells me. "Why don't you license the Mac OS?" Dell thought it was a great idea and told Jobs he'd pay a licensing fee for every PC sold with the Mac OS. But Jobs had a counteroffer: He was worried that licensing scheme might undermine Apple's own Mac computer sales because Dell computers were less costly. Instead, Dell says, Jobs suggested he just load the Mac OS alongside Windows on every Dell PC and let customers decide which software to use -- and then pay Apple for every Dell PC sold. 

Dell smiles when he tells the story. "The royalty he was talking about would amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, and the math just didn't work, because most of our customers, especially larger business customers, didn't really want the Mac operating system," he writes. "Steve's proposal would have been interesting if it was just us saying, "OK, we'll pay you every time we use the Mac OS" -- but to pay him for every time we didn't use it ... well, nice try, Steve!" Another problem: Jobs wouldn't guarantee access to the Mac OS three, four or five years later "even on the same bad terms." That could leave customers who were using Mac OS out of luck as the software evolved, leaving Dell Inc. no way to ensure it could support those users. Still, Dell acknowledges the deal was a what-could-have-been moment in history. [...] That different direction led to Jobs continuing to evolve the Next-inspired Mac OS and retooling the Mac product line, including adding the candy-colored iMac in mid-1998. 

Friday, October 8, 2021

Ireland Caves to Pressure and Signs on to Normalized Tax Rates for Multinationals

After intense debate, Ireland has signed on for the plan to make technology companies pay 15 per cent tax everywhere. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is ready to finalize an implementation plan hoped to secure a share of revenue from digital multinationals. Irish tax rules have allowed Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and others to use an arrangement to considerably reduce their tax bills. Ireland did so as part of an investment attraction strategy, and it worked well, with Ireland hosting lots of European offices and garnering many jobs.

Others around the world did not appreciate this, and, often, little tax was paid in jurisdictions where consumers actually consume technology companies' products. Governments naturally felt they were being deprived of tax revenue. The Republic of Ireland has an attractive rate for corporations at 12.5% and had, until now, refused to join the plan. Different Irish governments had fiercely defended the low rate, arguing such a rate attracted businesses to the country's small economy. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/10/07/ireland-corporate-tax-rate-.html

The core goal of the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Project is to create a global minimum effective corporation tax rate of 15 per cent for multinationals with revenues in excess of €750 million. As of August 2021, 140 nations had signed up to that plan. Finally, in October, Ireland has signed on, as well.

Read about the OECD project here...

Monday, October 4, 2021

When Billionaires Feud, We All Lose

When the richest men on the planet fight over bragging rights, and more, the gap between the top tier wealthy class and the rest of us is laid bare. 

Lately, law suits against the US government are a battleground in the modern space race. A race based on egoism as much as loftier goals. SpaceX ( Elon Musk) and Kuiper Systems (Jeff Bezos) are before the FCC over making room in low-earth orbit (LEO) for a class of mini satellites. These firms are deploying satellite constellations in to provide broadband internet access.

Amazon.com Inc.'s satellite subsidiary, Kuiper Systems LLC, filed a blistering brief with the Federal Communications Commission, accusing Musk and his companies of flouting regulations with a general attitude that "rules are for other people."

The dispute is similar to a conflict between SpaceX and Bezos's Blue Origin LLC space company over a NASA contract to build and demonstrate a human lander system for a planned return to the moon.

In the competition to provide space services, both men have injected their own egocentric characters into the mix. Jokes about phallic space ships, derision over altitude records, and other petty insults litter what has become a playground for the rich and famous to advance their own personal brands. 

A printed letter to the FCC mocked the opposition’s efforts by claiming one privileged white guy is getting more… privileges… than the other:

"Whether it is launching satellites with unlicensed antennas, launching rockets without approval, building an unapproved launch tower, or reopening a factory in violation of a shelter-in-place order, the conduct of SpaceX and other Musk-led companies makes their view plain: rules are for other people, and those who insist upon or even simply request compliance are deserving of derision and ad hominem attacks," Kuiper attorney C. Andrew Keisner wrote in a brief filed September 29, 2021.

We see other elite rich bickering:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddawkins/2021/06/04/british-billionaire-family-feud-nears-an-amicable-end-as-sir-frederick-barclay-settles-ritz-hotel-bugging-scandal/

And of course Bill Gates vs Steve Jobs,

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/24/bill-gates-i-was-so-jealous-of-genius-steve-jobs.html

***

When Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz dismissed Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposal for higher taxes on fortunes of $50 million or higher as “ridiculous,” we see how billionaires think about their place in society. Or when an audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, laughed out loud at the suggestion that the super-rich should contribute more. As exemplified during a government shutdown, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was baffled when federal workers went to food banks to feed their families. “I know they are, and I don’t understand why,” he said in a CNBC interview. Ross, friend of disgraced former President tRump, suggested furloughed workers take out short-term loans instead.

It’s clear these rich white men benefit from income inequality, tax cuts and special interests. Perhaps these feuds and tone deaf mutterings of the new landed gentry are really a drag in the rest of us? Is it undemocratic for the richest 1 percent in this country to control 40 percent of the nation’s wealth.m? In the 1950s, the average chief executive made 20 times more than their employees; now, chief executives earn 361 times more — about $13 million per year at the country’s top corporations. Those 2017 tax cuts? The primary benefits went to those who were already rich. And this is in one of the richest countries on the planet. Gross stratification will lead to further strife, as  resentment increases about the richest people and corporations getting fatter bank accounts while most working class people are just a  missed paycheck away from needing to rely on a food bank. This argument is not about marginal tax rates or an unregulated free market. It is the perspective that the game of life is rigged, and the middle  class is losing. 

Are billionaires contributing their fair share? That question is obscured by the playground antics of men with planetary sized egos. Nothing new … the Bezos - Musk conflict is storied; read more on this decade-long “pissing contest”:

https://www.businessinsider.com/jeff-bezos-elon-musk-rivalry-history-timeline-2020-7






Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Laundry Basket is Replacing the Filing Cabinet

Students these days apparently can’t understand the concept of the hierarchical file structure, thanks to search engines and the cloud:

"I tend to think an item lives in a particular folder. It lives in one place, and I have to go to that folder to find it," astrophysicist Catherine Garland said. "They see it like one bucket, and everything's in the bucket." Strange as it may seem to older generations of computer users who grew up maintaining an elaborate collection of nested subfolders, thanks to powerful search functions now being the default in operating systems, as well as the way phones and tablets obfuscate their file structure, and cloud storage, high school graduates don't see their hard drives the same way. 

"Students have had these computers in my lab; they'll have a thousand files on their desktop completely unorganized," Peter Plavchan, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at George Mason University, told The Verge. "I'm kind of an obsessive organizer ... but they have no problem having 1,000 files in the same directory. And I think that is fundamentally because of a shift in how we access files." As The Verge points out, "The first internet search engines were used around 1990, but features like Windows Search and Spotlight on macOS are both products of the early 2000s [...] While many of today's professors grew up without search functions on their phones and computers, today's students increasingly don't remember a world without them." 

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, or a reason to recoil in horror because how dare the youth of today do things differently, why the very idea. "When I was a student, I'm sure there was a professor that said, 'Oh my god, I don't understand how this person doesn't know how to solder a chip on a motherboard,'" Plavachan said. "This kind of generational issue has always been around." And Garland, the astrophysicist teaching an engineering course, has started using her PC's search function to find files in the same way her students do. "I'm like, huh ... I don't even need these subfolders," she said.


https://www.theverge.com/22684730/students-file-folder-directory-structure-education-gen-z


 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Lithuanians Advised to Ditch Chinese Mobiles over Embedded Censorship

Chinese mobile phones are compromised, and should be disposed of promptly, according to this report from SlashDot... Lithuanian cyber experts...

Flagship phones sold in Europe by China's smartphone giant Xiaomi have a built-in ability to detect and censor terms such as "Free Tibet", "Long live Taiwan independence" or "democracy movement", Lithuania's state-run cybersecurity body said on Tuesday. The capability in Xiaomi's Mi 10T 5G phone software had been turned off for the "European Union region", but can be turned on remotely at any time, the Defence Ministry's National Cyber Security Centre said in the report. "Our recommendation is to not buy new Chinese phones, and to get rid of those already purchased as fast as reasonably possible," Defence Deputy Minister Margiris Abukevicius told reporters in introducing the report...

Read more here...