Remembering life before the fall

If you remember the days of floppy disks or putting something on a CD a while back then you know about the problems of data retention.

I get around this by copying older material on to larger drives as they come out, giving me the original plus at least one copy. For the really important stuff each new and bigger drive starts with this set of data.

Since disk storage is always getting cheaper and bigger, buying new drives is not expensive. None of them will last forever, of course, so enter Hitachi. They have a new storage technology that uses layers of glass in the form of quartz on which dots are inscribed and then read with a microscope. The lifetime is indefinite and it can stand up to 1,000C for a couple of hours, is waterproof, it ignores radio waves and quite a few chemicals. So if, say, the Library of Congress was inscribed on such materials then after the apocalypse, as long as binary was still understood and you had a computer, the data would be retrievable. Not really in production as yet, but I suspect the first takers will be governments, libraries and museums.

You will note I didn't start this week with the iPhone 5 mostly because I didn't want to upset Apple lovers. There were so many negative reports from the first week of use that I will have to keep the items short.

When unpacking your new toy be very careful, if you drop it and the screen breaks you are in for a long wait to get it fixed. The new screen cannot be separated so that means currently about $220 (6,800 baht) for a new one. Early next year this will drop to around $150 but the problem now is there's a world shortage. A replacement from Apple is running at around $290, the prices above are from local fix-it people.

According to the repair people the general fixability of components in the new iPhone is more difficult because things once separate have been combined. Some new owners have reported scratches and nicks on their new phones out of the box with as many as a third having some kind of mark or defect, according to some reports. This is what happens when you rush a product to market, quality control suffers.

Enter Guy Kawasaki, an erstwhile evangelist for Apple who now describes Apple as arrogant. Back in the 1980s and 90s this man was the face of Apple products, extolling their virtues and railing against the big manufacturers. Some say he is responsible for Apple products staying so high profile in those decades.

Skip forward to the iPhone 5 with its new proprietary connection slot instead of the industry standard Micro USB connector, and the man is disappointed in Apple and is calling them socially irresponsible. Mr Kawasaki has solved the problem in his case, however, because he now uses a Samsung Galaxy S3.

When it comes to the new connector there have been reports of it sticking in USB ports. Apparently the connector is made just a little too large and in some cases has been impossible to remove. The casing at the USB plug end will also slide off fairly easily if the user is not careful.

As expected, the iPhone 5 was jailbroken in a less than an hour by one of the people who seem to be very good at such things. At the time of writing a user-friendly version was not available but it could be by the time you read this.

A jailbreak allows an Apple user to install and run non-Apple approved software from places outside of iTunes.

Google does not have a maps app for the iPhone 5. Earlier versions used Google Maps, but the latest one uses an alternative. So far reports have not been good on either the accuracy or the functionality of the replacement product and the fan boys are looking for a Google alternative. Being snubbed by Apple, or in this case simply kicked out, Google is not rushing out to build a version that is iPhone 5 compatible.

In non-Apple news this week, when surfing the net with your Android-based mobile be aware that there are some sites that could have malicious code aimed at these users. If you use Chrome you are probably safe but some codes can be triggered that will factory rest your phone. There should be some patches around by the time you read this, and there is already one for the S3.

Finally, I want to leave you with a scary thought. The governor of California recently passed a bill to allow driverless cars in California, paving the way for a sci-fi future. Why is this scary? Now imagine this in Bangkok. Enjoy your week.

James Hein is an IT professional of over 30 years standing. You can contact him at

About the author

Writer: James Hein
Position: Database Writer