Tag: religion

Microsoft gets religion

godIn the good old days being spiritual was a thing which involved religion, often requiring you to sit under some tree while being tempted by virgins, or to pound someone to death for not believing in your invisible friend.

Microsoft wants to change all that by applying it to its coming smartphones.

In a recently leaked document, Vole refers to its work on the Surface phone as being “spiritual”.  That’s the Word from Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer Chris Capossela on the prospect of a Surface Phone and he confirmed the company is working on a “breakthrough” phone that is the “spiritual equivalent” of its very successful line of Surface branded products.

The question is what does that mean? We asked our spiritual guru who told us that Microsoft was clearly following its rival Apple by using religious terms to describe something dull and mundane. If you do that, then marketing becomes evangelism and you don’t need product knowledge you need faith.

Like most religions in the last 2000 years, Microsoft is basing it all on monotheism. This is something which Apple has attempted, but could not move past its dualistic roots.

At the centre of Microsoft’s plans is Windows 10 which will be the One True operating system which will mean that different device categories under a single, universal ecosystem. Soon we might start seeing “there is no operating system but Windows” being waived by enthusiastic engineers.

This one true operating system will include smartphones, which is an area where Microsoft has a problem with unbelievers. The release of a premium “Surface Phone” of some sort, however, could change all that.

This is where Capossela is the new religion’s Paul of Tarsus. He used to write speeches for Bill Gates and his own Sermon on the Mount implies that Microsoft is returning to mobile in the same way that the prodigal son came back home for a hot dinner.

If he manages to convert enough people to this view then Windows 10 Surface handsets could suddenly be relevant. Get enough followers swirling around a single operating system and you should get exponential conversions.

Internet really is Satan’s tool

It looks like the born-again Christians and the Taliban are correct and the internet is slowly killing off religious belief.

Research carried out by MIT has found that a dramatic drop in religious affiliation in the US since 1990 is closely mirrored by the increase in internet use.

Back in 1990, about eight percent of the US population had no religious preference. By 2010, this percentage had more than doubled to 18 percent. That’s a difference of about 25 million people who have lost their religion.

Allen Downey, a computer scientist at the Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts, who has analysed the data in detail, said that the demise is the result of several factors but the most controversial of these is the rise of the internet.

Downey’s data comes from the General Social Survey, a widely respected sociological survey carried out by the University of Chicago that has regularly measured people’s attitudes and demographics since 1972.

Downey found that the biggest influence on religious affiliation is religious upbringing and those who are brought up in a religion are more likely to be affiliated to that religion later.

However, the number of people with a religious upbringing has dropped since 1990 and this inevitably lead to a fall in the number who are religious later in life. But this data indicates that it only explains a quarter of the drop.

Some of it is also due to an increase in people getting a college-level education. Since the 1980s, the fraction of people receiving college level education has increased from 17.4 percent to 27.2 percent in the 2000s.  He thinks that accounts for about five percent of the drop, so some other factor must also be involved.

In the 1980s, internet use was essentially zero, but in 2010, 53 percent of the population spent two hours per week online and 25 percent surfed for more than seven hours. This increase closely matches the decrease in religious affiliation. In fact, Downey calculates that it can account for about 25 percent of the drop.

It is not simply because huge numbers of Americans are discovering porn and other distractions; it is because the internet blurs community lines. Instead of just speaking to people inside your community, who might share your religious beliefs, you end finding information about people of other religions (and none), and to interact with them personally.

Downey said that the drop in religious upbringing, the increase in college-level education and the increase in internet use  together explain about 50 percent of the drop in religious affiliation.  The other half remains unexplained.

There appears to be something else in modern life which is causing people to lose their faith. Our theory is that it also coincides with US conservative politicians becoming more religiously extreme and bringing in headline grabbing policies which are anti-women and more looney. Suddenly people are thinking, if that is what being religious all is about, I cannot be bothered with it.

Facebook fraudsters target religious leaders

Facebook scammers are increasingly trying to imitate American religious leaders and rake in some easy money.

Since they are tapping an ample supply of gullible fans, business seems to be going well. 

The Kansas City Star reports that one scammer has created a fake page impersonating Rev. Adam Hamilton, who uses his legitimate Facebook page to keep in touch with his 18,000-member United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. The scammer, of course, doesn’t really care about the flock, he just wants to raise cash by peddling phony church mission projects. 

It is not an isolated case, either. Facebook scammers have targeted some of the best known evangelists such as Joel Osteen, Rick Warren and Craig Groeschel, with mixed results. Scammers also impersonated Bob Coy, Frank Santora, as well as a megachurch in Connecticut and a pastor in South Africa, who died 16 years ago.

It remains unclear how many followers were duped into handing over their hard earned cash to scammers – by which we mean Facebook scammers, not TV evangelists. Churches that have been targeted say that Facebook takes down phony pages on a routine basis, but as soon as it does, another one simply pops up.

Reverend Hamilton said he went out of his way to try and warn his congregation of potential fraud. 

“It sounds to me like another Nigerian scam,” he said.

Unfortunately for Hamilton, the scheme is much more sophisticated that an average Nigerian scam, as it relies on real identity theft rather than fairytales about princes and hidden billions.  

Judge rules that Jobs' quotes are evidential

Apple had a crack at stopping its dead CEO, Steve Jobs, from putting his foot in it during a court case against Motorola Mobility.

Jobs’ Mob is scheduled for a high profile patent trial in a Chicago federal court against Motorola Mobility later this month.

Before he croaked, Jobs had discussed Apple’s patent litigation with biographer Walter Isaacson.

He gave such quotes like: “Our lawsuit is saying, ‘Google, you f****** ripped off the iPhone, wholesale ripped us off… it is Grand Theft… I’m willing to go to thermonuclear war on this.”

Apple wanted to keep the comments out of the court room because they showed that Jobs had it in for Google and Motorola and the patent cases were more to do with spite rather than a real legal decision.

Chicago federal judge Richard Posner rejected Apple’s request without explanation.

According to Reuters, he also got a bit miffed at an Apple motion that the jury must be stacked with Apple fanboys.

Posner forbade Apple from arguing that jurors should be predisposed to favour Apple over Motorola if they like Apple products, or admire Steve Jobs.

He said that Apple will not be allowed to insinuate to the jury that this case is a popularity contest between two competing products.

Looks like it will be a tough case in Chicago, if Apple is not allowed to stack a jury and prevent evidence that Jobs mounted a petty and spiteful campaign against Android. 

Jobs absolutely hated the Apple iMac

It seems that when Steve Jobs was signing off on the iMac his marketing genius might have been out to lunch.

In an excerpt from his upcoming book published by the Sydney Morning Herald,  Kevin Segall, the bloke behind the “Think Different” campaign said that he had a devil of a job telling Jobs that his suggested name for a new Apple computer was rubbish.

Jobs insisted that the name should be MacMan, you know like PacMan only with an M.

Jobs invited everyone to a meeting to see the computer, then whipped a gray sheet off the device to reveal the computer that would put Apple back on the map.

Segall claimed that the group apparently let out a collective “holy cow” because it shattered every idea of what computers were supposed to look like and no-one appeared to have any sense of perspective.

It was a colourful one-piece computer that showed off its inner circuitry through a semitransparent shell. Hooray.

But the problem was what name to call this revolution in computing and Segall recounts Steve Jobs saying to the group, “We already have a name we like a lot, but I want you guys to see if you can beat it. The name is ‘MacMan'”.

Segall suggested iMac but that was not a hit with Jobs. It took a few attempts and a Chinese burn before he woould stray from his treasured MacMan name.

Apparently he refused to accept it until he had seen the new name silk-screened onto the model of the computer to see how it looked.

After that he stuck I in front of everything. 

Sotheby's auctions "Smelly Jobs'" letter

Sotheby’s New York has started auctioning holy relics from Apple god Steve Jobs.

Up for grades is a letter penned by Steve Jobs when he worked for Atari and could not be bothered washing.

The letter is a 1974 report that Jobs wrote for his boss suggesting ways to improve arcade game World Cup.

Jobs’ was not happy working at Atari. He thought everyone else there was a “dumb shit” and he was made to work night shifts because he refused to wash and was too smelly to be around mortals.

The letter lays out his ideas for improving player experience on the world cup game. The typed four-page document includes three circuit designs in pencil and additional designs for the paddles and alignment ofᅠplayers defending a soccer goal.

According to the catalogue entry, the report was written by Jobs for his supervisor, Stephen Bristow.

It was stamped “All-One Farm Design,” a name Jobs nicked from a commune he hung out at. The address was his mum’s place in Los Altos.

At the bottom was the Buddhist mantra, “gate gate paragate parasangate bodhi svahdl” which means something like  “Homage to the Awakened Mind which has crossed over to the other shore – which has gone altogether beyond freed from suffering.” It is somewhat appropriate now that Jobs is no longer with us, but knowing him,  the awakened mind is probably a prayer to himself.

Sotheby’s estimates that the memo will go for $10,000 to $15,000 which is about the same price as an iPhone only less shiny and less interactive and more flavoured with Eau de Jobs

Also on sale is a working Apple I motherboard complete with a cassette. There were only 50 existing Apple Is which did not catch fire and only six that are known to work.

It is expected to go for between $120,00 to $180,000 which means that it has held its value all these years. 

Apple bribed to set up stores

Apple is being bribed to set up its cathedrals for its new religion by local councils who believe the stores are status symbols for a city which magically attract new business.

According to Ars Technica, city councils have been offering Apple taxpayer money to set up shop. Some deals include Apple getting to move in rent-free.

One case was Utah which is bringing an Apple Store to the City Creek Center in downtown Salt Lake City. Apple was bribed with five years’ free rent to move in.

New York’s MTA transit authority offered Apple a bargain-priced deal of $60 per square foot to open a store in Grand Central Terminal. Any other computer seller would have to pay $200 per square foot. Another retailer would also have to give the city’s underground system a cut of the profits, but Apple didn’t have to agree to that.

Apple also made a deal with Chicago officials, scoring 10 years of free rent in exchange for $4 million to renovate a nearby underground station.

While this seems unfair to other businesses, it would appear that the reason the sweeteners are being offered is because other stores benefit from Apple’s haloed presence.

In other words, it is not illegally favouring one type of company with taxpayers’ cash, it is investing in a magical talisman to draw more business to a region. We doubt there are the numbers to prove this, it is just a matter of faith in the new religion. 

Piracy religion, Kopimism, crosses into the US

In the future, universities will talk about the rise of 21st century cargo cults whose believers were middle class people who looked for god in the form of technology.

High on the study list will be Apple, with its worship of founder Steve Jobs, and its swirling queues around sacred places of worship such as Apple stores.

However, a new religion is rising up to challenge Apple in its own latte belt.

The Swedish “online piracy religion” is seeking official recognition in the United States. Dubbed “Kopimists” the religion preaches that any act of copying information is sacred and cannot be limited by any human law.

The religion was revealed in 2010 to a 19-year-old philosophy student Isak Gerson. Instead of crucifixes the religion holds Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V as sacred symbols.

The word Kopimism is inspired from  a mistranslation of 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Copy me, my brothers, just as I copy Christ himself.”  The verse actually says “follow me” not “copy me” but it seems that Koptics have not actually read the rival religion’s texts.

Kopimism has branches in 18 counties but has recently been registered in Illinois, USA. The American branch of the church is currently trying to get federal recognition and tax status.

This might be a bit tricky given that the US is the home of the Great Satan of Kopism – Big Content. Big Content is the key persecutor of all pirates, and if it had its way, would have all pirates crucified in public places.

Christopher Carmean, a student at the University of Chicago, who heads the American branch, told Russia Today that more than 450 people have registered in his church and some 30 of them are actively participating in congregations. So far there have not appeared to be any martyrdoms, but it is early days yet.

Most religions need a founder, preferably one which dies while carrying his or her mission. Apple is still leading the pack on that one.

In the EU the biggest enemy of Kopism is the Pope who has claimed that the religion was a send up of religion, a send up of copyright and a send up of the government to register such a body as religious.

If you disagree with the RIAA, you are a criminal

The head of the RIAA has come to the conclusion that all those people who complained about Big Content’s cunning plan to take control of the Internet are actually criminals.

Cary Sherman wrote in the New York Times that the campaign that was waged against the SOPA and PIPA bills was “unfair”.

He claimed that Wikipedia and and others had fed people with misinformation about what the two laws meant. It was being claimed that the two laws amounted to internet censorship which would put the US on a par with China.

Sherman said that was not the case. We guess he means that censorship in China was carried out by the State, were in the case of this law it would be enforced by Big Content. He pointed out that there was no difference between what was being touted in SOPA and what happens when an American court, upon a thorough review of evidence, has determined something to be illegal and when police close down a store fencing stolen goods.

However, he seemed to miss the fact that the laws did not involve any evidence or courts at all. A person could lose their internet connections simply on the say so of Big Content.

Sherman said that no doubt some of the opponents of SOPA and PIPA were worried about the way the law would be interpreted, but the vast majority of them were those who thought that content should be free.

“How many of those e-mails were from the same people who attacked the Web sites of the Department of Justice, the Motion Picture Association of America, my organization and others as retribution for the seizure of Megaupload, an international digital piracy operation?” he said.

He said that it was hackers like the group Anonymous that engage in real censorship when they stifle the speech of those with whom they disagree. 

MPAA boss calls for bribed politicians to toe the line

An online petition has called for a Senate investigation after the Motion Picture Association of America called for its bribed sock puppets in Washington  to toe the line and not bow to pressure from the great unwashed.

The MPAA’s chairman Chris Dodd is under fire for remarks he made on Fox News, warning those politicians that his group has bribed will lose financial contributions from Hollywood unless they support tougher anti-piracy laws.

According to the LA Times, while the US knows that corporate lobby groups bribe politicians with campaign contributions, it is one of those things that it’s rude to talk about. However, Dodd put it fairly bluntly and in a way that the US press could not really ignore.

“Those who count on quote ‘Hollywood’ for support need to understand that this industry is watching very carefully who’s going to stand up for them when their job is at stake,” said Dodd. “Don’t ask me to write a check for you when you think your job is at risk and then don’t pay any attention to me when my job is at stake.”

And it is starting to look like there has been a backlash against it.

On Sunday, an online petition claiming more than 10,000 signatures demanded that the White House investigate comments made by Dodd in his interview.

The petition says that the comments represent “an open admission of bribery and a threat designed to provoke a specific policy goal. This is a brazen flouting of the ‘above the law’ status people of Dodd’s position and wealth enjoy.”

But just in case you thought that it was a slip of the tongue. MPAA spokesman Howard Gantman pointed out that Dodd was making the obvious point that people support politicians whose views coincide with their own. When politicians take positions that people disagree with, those people tend not to support those politicians.

In other words, we paid for you to bring in anti-piracy laws, we do not expect you to give up when it makes you unpopular.