Podcast Ep. 129: EU Summons Ghosts Of Brexit Future

EU Halloween dog

The government’s plot to stop internet disinformation, the decision by some tech companies to hire thickies who didn’t go to uni, and the scary extension of Brexit until Halloween are the three topics this week.

Joining us is Jimmy’s impressive earning power in light of his non-grad status.

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Danny Boyle and Aaron Sorkin explain casting Fassbender, historical inaccuracies and three act structure in Steve Jobs biopic

Danny Boyle, Toronto International Film Festival, September 2008 by Gordon Correll

Tying in with Friday’s US release of the biopic Steve Jobs, the folks at the Verge have put out an interview with its director Danny Boyle and writer Aaron Sorkin, talking about the decision to focus on three product launches in Jobs’ life, casting the non-lookalike Michael Fassbender, and historical inaccuracies in the film.

Many of the family and friends of Steve Jobs have criticised and even reportedly attempted to scupper the film because of Jobs’ record as a bit of an arsehole – so from the filmmakers’ perspective this acts as a time to explain their approach to capturing the technologist’s life.

Image Credit – Danny Boyle, Toronto International Film Festival, September 2008 by Gordon Correll

If the Steve Jobs film portrays him as an arsehole, that’s because he was

Steve Jobs, at WWDC 2007, by Ben Stanfield

When biographers probe the life of a celebrated figure the family will always wonder just how much of the bad stuff is going to hit the presses.

As such Steve Jobs, a biopic of one half of Apple’s founding team, was always going to cause trouble given the well-chronicled nastiness of one of the pioneers of consumer electronics.

Even before the film started shooting Laurene Powell Jobs, a critic of Walter Isaacson’s biography which forms the basis of the film, was reportedly lobbying film companies and movie stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale not to back or appear in it.

Then as its release approached Apple’s current chief executive Tim Cook dismissed Steve Jobs and the documentary Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine as “opportunistic”, though he hasn’t seen either of the films.

And more recently Jony Ive, designer of many of Apple’s greatest hits, saw fit to divulge his opinions on the matter despite not seeing Steve Jobs, branding the movie “ridiculous” and complaining it ignored the “context” in which Jobs was operating.

“There are sons and daughters and widows and very close friends who are completely bemused and completely upset,” he added. “I’m sorry to sound a bit grumpy about it but I find it ever so sad.”

The trouble with these comments, aside from the fact they come from people who haven’t even seen the film in question, is that they ignore that Jobs was a man who denied he fathered a child with his childhood sweetheart Chrisann Brennan, forcing her to raise their daughter Lisa with only limited financial support from him for several years.

They also skirt over the fact he was often abusive and unreasonable to colleagues, and rude to hotel and restaurant staff, the kind of people who were obliged to be pleasant to him despite his misbehaviour.

Some of this is shown in the biopic, and indeed Ive himself once explained these flashes of temper to the biographer Isaacson:

“I once asked him [Jobs] why he gets so mad about stuff. He said: ‘But I don’t stay mad.’ He has this very childish ability to get really worked up about something, and it doesn’t stay with him at all. But, there are other times, I think honestly, when he’s very frustrated, and his way to achieve catharsis is to hurt somebody.

“And I think he feels he has a liberty and license to do that. The normal rules of social engagement, he feels, don’t apply to him. Because of how very sensitive he is, he knows exactly how to efficiently and effectively hurt someone. And he does do that.”

This view is backed up by Steve Wozniak, the other more technically gifted half of Apple’s founding team and a consultant on the film. He was asked by the Beeb what he felt the film showed well in terms of Jobs’ personality:

“It deals with what we are all very familiar with – a lot of his negativism. This comes about less with him doing negative things to other people, and more him just sort of standing [there] and not caring as much about others as himself, and not being able to have feelings very much.”

He added that whilst the film did not portray what historically happened in the events it covers, “it really conveys what Steve Jobs was really like inside… and what it was like to be around him.”

If you wanted to be generous about all this you would point to Jobs’ difficult upbringing. And nobody is denying that the techie later reconciled things with his daughter Lisa, or that he did not have a nicer side to him.

But whilst the family will no doubt prefer to remember the more generous side of Jobs, history should not be so kind. It is important people remember that even the most celebrated men can be bastards, and Jobs was undoubtedly one of them.

Image Credit – Steve Jobs, at WWDC 2007, by Ben Stanfield

Why Apple’s subscription service is a sneaky bid to rip off consumers

Apple core, December 2005 by Martin Cathrae

Did you buy an iPhone 6 recently? Perhaps with some hard earned cash you’ve been saving up? Well fuck you.

That, at least, is the message from Apple.

At their huge press event in California yesterday, the company unveiled a smorgasbord of new products: new iPhones, the new iPad Pro, a new Apple TV and iOS 9. But the most audacious and disgusting release was a US only (for now) subscription service. For $32 (£21) a month, Apple will deliver you a shiny new iPhone every year.

Let me put that in perspective for you: The iPhone 6s Plus, Apple’s expensive flagship mobile phone, will launch at $299. If, like a capitalist zombie, you got rid of that $299 phone after a year, it would have cost you $24.91 a month, some $7.09 less than Apple’s subscription service.

Essentially, Apple’s subscription service will charge you 30 percent more than if you bought a new phone every year.

Of course, defenders of the scheme will tell you that you get Apple Care+ thrown in for free. However, with each phone lasting you just a year, standard warranty and your consumer rights should easily cover any faults you might come across.

This strategy is an example of planned obsolescence being used to rob consumers – the biggest money-making tactic big companies have. It’s what causes your car to break down, your computer to stop working and your clothes to fall apart. Companies ensure that their products will fail or break, so that you have to buy a replacement.

The practice goes at least as far back as 1924. At a secret meeting in Geneva, the leading manufacturers of light bulbs devised an agreement that established what’s known as the Phoebus Cartel. In the cartel, light bulb manufacturers agreed to reduce the lifetime of bulbs in a bid to sell more of them, agreeing that all parties would benefit from making light bulbs which broke.

Nearly a century later, planned obsolescence has become the dominant means by which industries make profit.

Think about it: When did you last buy a product that lasted years without either breaking or needing repair? We have the technology to make items capable of withstanding deep sea and space exploration – do you really think it’s impossible to make more products that don’t break?

As such this shift to a subscription model should make us ask where it all stops. Do you think it’ll just be Apple? Or do you think, in an unlikely bid to make obscene amounts of money, that you might soon need to pay subscriptions for new Playstations, televisions or even pairs of jeans?

No doubt fanboys are already tweeting: “#WTF?! Apple are cool and trendy! They’d never rip us off!”

But would they?

Image Credit – Apple core, December 2005 by Martin Cathrae