An update on Maxis' incomplete game called SimRefinery


The original story on how this came about is here:

And now to the article:

Unsurprisingly, the savvy, computer history-minded readers of Ars Technica took this proclaimed rarity as a challenge, and a new user signed up to comment on the article with an intriguing image upload: an apparent copy of SimRefinery on a single 3.5-inch disk, labeled only with the game's title in Times New Roman and a black-and-white Maxis logo. The anonymous user, who goes by the username "postbebop" and has so far not replied to our requests for comment, credited the disk to a "retired chemical engineering friend" who had work experience at Chevron in the early '90s.

After teasing a plan to recover the disk's contents and upload them to, postbebop went silent. Until today!

The anonymous Ars user returned to our comments section on Thursday to confirm that they'd uploaded the disk's contents, after an apparently annoying extraction process, to for everyone in the world to download and play. The above gallery is a peek at how the incomplete prototype version of the game functions as emulated using DOSBox. While that link will let interested users play the prototype in any Web browser, the full game download also includes an intro.bat file; booting that with an application like DOSBox will play a pre-recorded demo of how the game is meant to function. This demo has a few explanatory prompts, but it also has long, unexplained pauses, perhaps meant for a live demonstration by MBS staffers to interested Chevron managers.

Wow! This is quite awesome to see that a protoype version of th egame is playable.

Also here's a great analysis on the game itself!

How Apple Decides Which Products Are ‘Vintage’ and ‘Obsolete’


Vintage is “another word for dropping support,” Gay Gordon-Byrne, executive director of the Repair Association, told me in an email. Gordon-Byrne said that most manufacturers designate an “end of service life” date, and that five years is “not particularly nefarious while clearly forcing consumers into new purchases.” Apple says that it loses money on device repair, so it makes sense that the company wouldn’t be incentivized to offer repair service for products that are long past warranty.

Sara Behdad, an associate professor at the University of Florida whose studies the life cycle of electronics and e-waste management, said that the cost of maintaining the supply chains needed to produce parts for vintage and obsolete models is likely “the main reason to dissuade [Apple] from offering repair services.”

“Even if they want to offer repair services, if the product was sold five years ago, it’s not cost-efficient for them to really have all the parts available,” Behdad said.

Apple declined to comment on the record for this story.

This is more of a reason to switch to a Windows or Linux computer. It can last for up to 10-15 years instead of 5-7 on Macs. Plus Apple's anti-repair stance really makes me sick.

LEGO giving away $4 million to black communities


LEGO has gone above and beyond most companies by not only advocating for the Black Lives Matter movement but also donating $4 million to organizations that are supporting the movement. The Black Lives Matter movement had a resurgence after George Floyd died at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. Across the film and entertainment industries, individuals and companies are using their platforms to speak out. As an example, Disney-owned Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm issued statements in support of those protesting for justice for George Floyd.

I'm so glad that LEGO is taking massive action by giving away $4 million to help black communities.

Internet Users of All Kinds Should Be Concerned by a New Copyright Office Report


Looking ahead, the most dangerous thing about the Report may be that some Senators are treating its recommendations for “clarification” as an invitation to rewrite Section 512, inviting the exact legal uncertainty the law was intended to eliminate. Senators Thom Tillis and Patrick Leahy have asked the Office to provide detailed recommendations for how to rewrite the statute – including asking what it would do if it were starting from scratch.

Based on the report, we suspect the answer won’t include strong protections for user rights.

The US could be on the road to a Article 17-like Copyright Directive and this would be the first step towards that goal which is bad news for everyone but the richest people.

HBO Max won't hit AT&T data caps, but Netflix and Disney Plus will


HBO Max, AT&T’s big bet on the future of streaming, will be excused from AT&T’s mobile data caps, while competing services like Netflix and Disney Plus will use up your data.

That’s the follow-up from a Vergecast conversation with Tony Goncalves, the AT&T executive in charge of HBO Max. Asked whether HBO Max would hit the cap, Goncalves said his team “had the conversation” but didn’t have the answer. AT&T later confirmed to The Verge that HBO Max will be excused from the company’s traditional data caps and the soft data caps on unlimited plans.

According to an AT&T executive familiar with the matter, HBO Max is using AT&T’s “sponsored data” system, which technically allows any company to pay to excuse its services from data caps. But since AT&T owns HBO Max, it’s just paying itself: the data fee shows up on the HBO Max books as an expense and on the AT&T Mobility books as revenue. For AT&T as a whole, it zeroes out. Compare that to a competitor like Netflix, which could theoretically pay AT&T for sponsored data, but it would be a pure cost.

Since ISPs and wireless carriers can do whatever they want to fuck the consumer after the death of Net Neutrality, here's AT&T's latest move.

Publishers/authors are trying to officially kill the Internet Archive


Today, major publishers Hachette Book Group, Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and Penguin Random House LLC went to war with the project by filing a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Internet Archive and five ‘Doe’ defendants in a New York court.

The plaintiffs, all member companies of the Association of American Publishers, effectively accuse the Internet Archive (IA) of acting not dissimilarly to a regular pirate site. In fact, the complaint uses those very words.

“The Open Library Is Not a Library, It Is an Unlicensed Aggregator and Pirate Site”

It's become very clear that these publishers and authors want to kill libraries and it would be a dangerous precedent if they win.

For example: libraries never needed permission to lend books, and these same publishers are trying to change that with this suit.

Police Erupt in Violence Nationwide


The ongoing protests following the killing of George Floyd were caught up in violence again on Saturday, as police all over the country tear-gassed protesters, drove vehicles through crowds, opened fire with nonlethal rounds on journalists or people on their own property, and in at least one instance, pushed over an elderly man who was walking away with a cane. Here are some of the ways law enforcement officers escalated the national unrest.

One of the most powerful headlines in a long while, and it’s well described who is mainly responsible: The Police.

Mike Masnick's post on the President's executive order today.


To be clear: the executive order is nonsense. You can't overrule the law by executive order, nor can you ignore the Constitution. This executive order attempts to do both. It's also blatantly anti-free speech, anti-private property, pro-big government -- which is only mildly amusing, given that Trump and his sycophantic followers like to insist they're the opposite of all of those things. But also, because the executive order only has limited power, there's a lot of huffing and puffing in there for very little actual things that the administration can do. It's very much written in a way to make Trump's fans think he's done something to attack social media companies, but the deeper you dig, the more nothingness you find.

For now, we shouldn't be worried about this however watch this space as this develops since there will be court battles to come.

GE switches off light bulb business after almost 130 years


Savant specializes in full smart home systems for the luxury market. Acquiring a lighting business directly will allow it to take advantage of vertical integration and take more control over the physical equipment it installs in consumer' homes. Savant will keep the business's operations in Cleveland, where it is currently based, and will receive a long-term license to keep using the GE branding for its products.

The lighting business is GE's oldest segment, dating all the way back to the company's founding through a series of mergers with Thomas Edison's companies in the late 1880s and early 1890s. The company became a conglomerate early, investing in a wide array of technology and communications businesses. It moved toward aviation and energy and away from consumer products through the 1980s and 1990s under CEO Jack Welch. That industrial mindset lasted into the 21st century, under CEO Jeff Immelt, from 2001 through 2017.

End of an era.

Basecamp (DHH and Jason Fried's company) is launching HEY soon


You started getting stuff you didn’t want from people you didn’t know. You lost control over who could reach you. You were forced to inherit other people’s bad communication habits. An avalanche of automated emails amplified the clutter.

And Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, Apple, and all the others just let it happen.

Now email feels like a chore, rather than a joy. Something you fall behind on. Something you clear out, not cherish. Rather than delight in it, you deal with it. Your relationship with email changed, and you didn’t have a say.

Nice to see email get a breath of air and life.