Dec 27

The smartphone wars: Fortune catches up with me

Fortune magazine says 2011 will be the year Android explodes and makes a number of predictions that track what I’ve been writing on Armed & Dangerous for the last year so closely that I have to wonder if their correspondents have been reading this blog.

Nice work, guys, even if you are a bit late to the scene. Me, I kinda thought 2010 was the year Android exploded, what with posting several quarters of market share growth in the 600% range and overtaking Apple in the U.S. userbase figures. But the article isn’t just old news presented as though it were breaking; there’s some fascinating info about a new chip from Broadcom that’s going to blow a Jupiter-sized hole in the price floor of the smartphone market.

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Dec 22

Taxonomy of the haterboy

Human beings being what they are, famous people attract fans. Human beings being what they are, famous people also attract haters, the dark obverse of fans. If you are famous, normally your fans are going to be more visible to you than your haters because your fans will have more tendency to seek you out; but the Internet changes that by lowering the cost of hater behavior.

Here at Armed & Dangerous we’ve seen our share of fanboys (and, though with regrettably lower frequency, fangirls). We’ve also seen our share of haterboys (hatergirls are far more rare). I’ve now seen a large enough sample over the years that some interesting patterns have emerged. There follows, accordingly, a taxonomy of basic haterboy types.

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Dec 18

NMEA 2000 and the Obverse of Open Source

In discussion of the GPSD project, a commenter suggested that its role might be going away in part because the NMEA 0183 protocol historically used in GPS sensors is being replaced by NMEA2000. So far, this is not true, and the reasons it’s not true are worth a look because they illustrate a sort of flip side of the economic and technological tends driving the adoption of open source and open protocols in the wider technology market.

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Dec 10

Examples and consequences

SF author and civil-rights activist Joel Rosenberg has been unjustly arrested. Good coverage at PopeHat; essentially this is harassment following a Nov 5th assault on Joel by a cop while he was pursuing a FOIA request related to his first arrest, on bogus charges that prosecutors subsequently dropped.

I have very mixed feelings about this one, because I suspect I may, in a manner of speaking, have helped get Joel in trouble.

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Dec 09

Blog outage for upgrade

Hey ho, another day, another mandatory WordPress security update.

There will be a brief outage. Possibly there might be a prolonged one.

The management regrets any inconvenience.

UPDATE: That’s done. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled flamage.

Dec 04

The uses of tribal cohesion

One of my regulars has expressed mildly disgruntlement about the degree to which a feeling of mutual tribal solidarity has taken hold among hackers, and become an increasingly defining characteristic of them. He finds it creepy – he didn’t use the phrase “disquieting groupthink”, but I’m pretty sure he was thinking something like it.

“You are, I regret to say, partly a victim of my social engineering…” I said to him, and promised to explain that. Yes, what he’s reacting against is in significant part my doing, and I did it for specific reasons, and it had the results I intended. This does not mean all the consequences were unmitigatedly good – sociocultural engineering, like other kinds, is a matter of tradeoffs under constraint. Explanation in more detail follows.

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Dec 03

Culture and certification

I had an IRC chat with one of my semi-regular commenters a few nights ago in which she reported giving a talk on hacker culture that went extremely well.

[00:12] <HedgeMage> It was one of those situations, though, where I felt *very* odd being treated like a subject-matter expert. I certainly don’t consider myself one in this case, though I guess it’s all relative, and as far as I could tell I knew more [abut hacker culture] than the audience.

[00:13] <HedgeMage> Sure, I knew more than those I was teaching, but it bothered me a bit that they seemed to think I was an expert when I clearly wasn’t.

[00:15] <esr> Been there, done that. The *really* weird stuff starts when you give descriptive reports of hacker culture that others begin to consider normative.

[00:15] <esr> If you’re not careful, you can unintentionally become a geek cred certification authority.

[00:15] <HedgeMage> I have an easy way to avoid that.

[00:15] <HedgeMage> I refer them to you :P

[00:16] <HedgeMage> So, no dying or I might end up there!

This actually isn’t the first time I’ve been in a conversation like this one. And that brings on some thoughts about social authority among hackers and geeks and in other subcultures that seem worth developing.

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