By Rick Sutcliffe

Apple’s sales saga continues to flummox many pundits. They forecast earnings estimates too low or too high, and when they miss, they criticize–not themselves, but Apple–as if it were Cupertino’s fault they aren’t more prescient.

The latest take on this is that because Apple’s iPhone sales generate so large a percentage of the total income, and aren’t breaking records by a very wide margin these days, the company is somehow in trouble, and about to become last year’s news. Really? Start your own company, and when your sales exceed Apple’s, go ahead and point the finger. Are these the same people who once upon a time delighted to forecast Apple’s impending bankruptcy?

Is the market saturated? Not as long as there’s a billion or two potential customers out there willing to pay top dollar for a high end product in a first class industrial design. The pundits haven’t paid as much attention to declining sales by other makers, while Apple’s remain robust.

The Apple watch continues to chug along, though the Spy confesses to remaining indifferent. It isn’t his kind of gadget. He has an old Apple TV box to catch a few made for TV movies and other items of interest, but doesn’t use it often and is unlikely to upgrade to the new box until it’s been through a couple of iterations.

On the software side, shiny new El Capitan offers a new desktop mountain, many changes under the hood, and nothing much for the Spy to get excited about, except perhaps for the fact that this upgrade went more smoothly than most, still didn’t exclude any more machines, and the new version, just works–perhaps a little more comfortably, though not always more quickly–most of the time. (It has indulged a few reboots for no apparent reason, though.) One drawback: Some applications such as DefaultFolder can no longer run because of a new security model. Developers are scrambling. Check compatibility with key software before upgrading.

FileMaker is an Apple of a different colour The Spy has been using FM11, but when he got a dire notice saying that version was about to be end-of-lifed, he sprang for a $239 upgrade to v14. However, he waited a few days before downloading the updater and the one he got is called FileMaker pro 14.0v3 updater. It goes through the whole process, says it is writing files, then comes up with a message saying “a valid copy of FileMaker 14 could not be found.” Well, of course not.

It is supposed to be trying to install such a copy by upgrading version 11, unless the file is the wrong one. First contact to support was not answered. Second contact told what was supposed to happen, including displaying a window that says “Enter in your qualifying FileMaker Pro product”. Not. Now trying again with a reply to that, requesting a link to the right updater (not present in the invoice or accompanying mail).

Last monthThe Spy explicated his backup strategy, and mentioned he had upgraded from a Synology 211+ to an eight -bay 1815+. He’s not ready to give a robust review as yet, but it is nice to have fourteen times the storage space, and more room for expansion still. First impressions: not much documentation, but the unit is much quieter. Initial burn in has gone well, and he’s working on expanding functionality, and bringing a few backup websites in house.

Meanwhile, he wanted a more robust internal network to match the new NAS, and decided to upgrade from the old Cisco Linksys e4200 router that’s been his workhorse the last few years. Much has changed since it was installed–the AC wireless standard came in, beam shaping technologies have arrived, and routers now sport two or three bands (old noisy 2.4GHz and one or two at 5GHz.) Moreover, Linksys is no longer under the Cisco roof but is now owned by Belkin.

Much research went into this purchase, multiple reviews being taken into consideration, but in the end, the Spy sacrificed what some claimed was a slight speed advantage for the new Linksys models for the broader feature set of the ASUS boxes. It finally came down to a choice between the 2400 and the 3200 model, and since perennial supplier NCIX was selling the latter for $5 less, he went high end.

Initial setup was routine. Plug in and attach to computer but not the WAN, change the admin account name and password, set up one of the 5GHz channels to do auto long in to any of the three on a single channel name. confirm a few security settings, plug a stick into the USB3 outlet and activate sharing on it, plug in the WAN and the NAS, and all was functional.

The RT-AC3200 unit comes with a relatively complete manual, in the sense that there is at least a phrase, sometimes a whole sentence describing each of the enormous number of settings ASUS has exposed for the user. Unfortunately, the descriptions are not sufficiently robust to explain how such settings interact with one another, and this ambiguity is just sufficient to allow a wrong interpretation on some points to result in being locked out of the router.

Oh, well, that’s what the reset button is for. Did get Open VPN working with the Tunnelblick connector on the MAc, though, so remote admin works. Also have DDNS up and working with a nice Python script that will appear here once its’s tested a little more. More detail when the Spy has completed a few more of the initial adventures.


We just finished an election here in the frozen north and watch with bated breath as another wends its weary way to a conclusion sometime next year in terra incognito to the south. It seems to the Spy that too much of the campaigning in both countries revolves around the spread of slander against other candidates. (Throw mud in every direction and some can be made to stick even if its’s all false.)

This is nothing new, but scurrilous remarks and claims made twenty years ago couldn’t be spread very easily or very broadly. Today they are all over the Internet in minutes, and because they are in a sense, published, they become believed. Yet there is no way to check the truth value of allegations against office holders or their putative replacements, and even if there were, the initial claim is enough to tarnish a reputation, for that is what people remember.

Nor is misinformation confined to the news, which the Spy has over his long years found consistently factually unreliable and very often slanted–to the point where the “news” has become “editorials”. Accuracy is also a problem with Wikipedia and similar sites–so much so that he severely restricts students from citing Internet references in their papers, unless they are to online referred journal articles.

It makes him wonder if we living in the information age or the misinformation age? Perhaps referred journals and guaranteed fact-checked news and xyzpedia sources need their own internet, one of factually reliable and political bias free materials. Something to think about.

Last words and plenty of them. Under his hat as SF author, the Spy recently started a new series The Throne with the novel Culmanic Parts about the Alternate earth Hibernia’s thirteenth to fifteenth century scientific and technological revolution. The Throne was supposed to be a single seventh book to conclude The Interregum but he got carried away with what started as one chapter on the fifteenth century and became three novels. A second book in that series Rea’s Blood or Navy Girl, is in an advanced stage of publishing production and could be out any week.

It takes us to the battle of Trafalgar in 1440. A third, which covers the conclusion of Ireland’s war with Spain and a regime change in 1441 is called Tara’s Mother It is finished too, and will be edited immediately after. The final, final book, which will conclude both series is The Paladin, and covers the rest of the history of Ireland’s throne through to the twentieth century and the end of the sixty yearInterregnum in 2001. It is essentially complete and now in the first stages of proofreading and fact checking. Look for it next year. When all is done and said, over 2.5 million words will have been written. Scary thought for October 31.

–The Northern Spy

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author’s own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a. k. a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics at Canada’s Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member or consultant with the boards of several community and organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level.

He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and nine alternate history SF novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he’s a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of BC since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns? Surf on over to ArjayBB. com. Participate and you could win free web hosting from the WebNameHost. net subsidiary of Arjay Web Services. Rick Sutcliffe’s fiction can be purchased in various eBook formats from Fictionwise, and in dead tree form from Amazon’s Booksurge.

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Arjay Enterprises:
The Northern Spy Home Page: http: //www. TheNorthernSpy. com
opundo : http: //opundo. com
Sheaves Christian Resources : http: //sheaves. org
WebNameHost : http: //www. WebNameHost. net
WebNameSource : http: //www. WebNameSource. net
nameman : http: //nameman. net

General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Books:
Author Site: http: //www. arjay. ca
Publisher’s Site: http: //www. writers-exchange. com/Richard-Sutcliffe. html
The Fourth Civilization–Ethics, Society, and Technology (4th 2003 ed. ): http: //www. arjay. bc. ca/EthTech/Text/index. html

Sites for Modula-2 resources
Modula-2 FAQ and ISO-based introductory text:
R10 Repository and source code:
URLs for resources mentioned in this column