Tumblings, Have No Fear

Just don’t fuck­ing ask, okay?

I’ve been play­ing around with iOS apps late­ly, which unfor­tu­nate­ly means con­stant­ly refresh­ing the gor­geous but god­for­sak­en Apple App Store app-wide. Yes­ter­day evening, I hap­pened to tap by the Social category’s top charts and spy a sort of appli­ca­tion I didn’t know exist­ed: a third-par­ty client for the Tum­blr dash­board called “TBR for Tum­blr.” Not only did it exist — it was (and is cur­rent­ly) the #1 Paid Social App on iOS. I found this a bit odd because I remem­bered specif­i­cal­ly going out of my way to write up a very pos­i­tive review on their native app over the sum­mer. After hav­ing gone months with­out even set­ting eyes on its icon, I’d opened it and plod­ded around enough to see that its UI’s ani­ma­tions and image dis­play was far far bet­ter than it’d been the last time I opened the app. I nev­er actu­al­ly write app reviews for the store, but I legit­i­mate­ly thought we might bring back and con­vert some loy­al users (and I do gen­uine­ly believe that good design needs to be ver­bal­ly, intel­lec­tu­al­ly, emo­tion­al­ly and finan­cial­ly more com­pen­sat­ed, of course.)

I’m assum­ing that none of these events have any actu­al cor­re­la­tion at all, but I’m sure you’ve heard that Apple pulled the Tum­blr app from the App Store some­time before Fri­day night and has yet to restore it. Last night, they explained that they’d found child pornog­ra­phy some­where on the plat­form, for which it’s very hard to decide whom is to blame. A first pos­i­tive I have to offer you: right now, lets appre­ci­ate that more of this con­tent does not make it past our com­plex safe­guards and on to the open web. Let us also take a moment to explain to any unfa­mil­iar (or per­haps extreme­ly elder­ly) read­ers that it was not the com­pa­ny who made the ser­vice and soft­ware called Tum­blr that was “serv­ing child pornog­ra­phy,” but rather an assort­ment of their indi­vid­ual users.

Every image uploaded to Tum­blr is scanned against an indus­try data­base of known child sex­u­al abuse mate­r­i­al, and images that are detect­ed nev­er reach the plat­form. A rou­tine audit dis­cov­ered con­tent on our plat­form that had not yet been includ­ed in the indus­try data­base. We imme­di­ate­ly removed this con­tent.” -Tumblr’s live tick­et for the Novem­ber 16th issue.

It’s com­plete­ly under­stand­able that Tum­blr users are dis­ap­point­ed, fright­ened, and/or angry, but I’d like to briefly touch on just a few rea­sons why none of these events need be the end of Tum­blr. if any­thing, there’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty here for a seri­ous rework of its fun­da­men­tal struc­ture.

  1. There is a third-par­ty soft­ware devel­op­ment scene for Tum­blr, which could like­ly be redesigned or slight­ly tweaked to cir­cum­vent any fur­ther law and/or pol­i­cy-vio­lat­ing con­tent — gourd for­bid — and just inter­act with the stuff you want.
  2. Tum­blr was built on The Open Web first and it will still be there when it ticks on its last 60 sec­onds of uptime (which doesn’t have to come any­time soon.) This means that you will always be able to access Tum­blr with a web brows­er. If an account of yours hap­pened to be mis­banned with the rest, you can appar­ent­ly request that it be looked back over and rein­stat­ed.
  3. God may have for­sak­en us, but we can have faith in Open Source: a fed­er­at­ed Tum­blr alter­na­tive is almost cer­tain­ly man­i­fest­ing right now in the mind of a genius web devel­op­er which will no doubt be way faster, more secure, bet­ter look­ing, and ETHICAL AS FUCK.

If fuck­ing Look­book is still around, I can’t imag­ine Tum­blr will ever actu­al­ly have a tru­ly swift death forced upon it, for bet­ter or worse. The key of course is that we all have to stop pan­ick­ing and attempt­ing to archive our entire Tum­blr his­to­ries — yes, it will die with­out any users.

Rod Canion with Brian McCullough

Edit­ed Con­tent

The orig­i­nal audio con­tained some unnec­es­sary and uncom­fort­able paus­es, so I took the lib­er­ty of trim­ming it down a bit. The above play­er will play the new file, but the orig­i­nal is avail­able from the source, if you’d pre­fer.

If you’ve ever found this industry’s his­to­ry intrigu­ing, you’ve like­ly heard Bri­an McCullough’s superb Inter­net His­to­ry Pod­cast before, and it’s obvi­ous to you how invalu­able an inter­view episode with Compaq’s Biggest Boy would be for a head start on digest­ing the sto­ry. In accor­dance with Halt and Catch Fire’s pilot release in 2014, the broad-shoul­dered sol­dier of open com­put­ing appeared to have been on a mini media tour (even though he open­ly admit­ted he’d yet to actu­al­ly watch it.) [His last remark — “maybe even as excit­ing as the real thing” — may sound like sil­ly Dork Rod con­jec­ture, but the show wasn’t near­ly as engag­ing because they had(?) to remove the com­pat­i­bil­i­ty com­po­nent, which is the meat of the whole thing.] McCul­lough is usu­al­ly ace at this stuff, but he sounds a bit shaky in this one, though nobody should blame him — I cer­tain­ly would be, too. Rod Canion’s accent (BIOS=buy-OSS) and gen­er­al inten­si­ty must make for one hell of a pres­ence, even over the phone. 2014 was a long time ago.

McCullough’s own sum­ma­ry of the con­ver­sa­tion is so thor­ough (he was writ­ing a book,) there’s only a sin­gle pos­si­ble addi­tion.

There’s a cer­tain risk­tak­ing gene that runs through a lot of Tex­ans.”

There’s no oth­er way to say it: I believe in Texas. Specif­i­cal­ly, Hous­ton. DJ Screw, UGK, Z-Ro, Trae, Fat Pat, etc.- these I adopt­ed as reli­gion, years ago. From my per­spec­tive, Rod Canion’s ball­sy, loy­al Hous­to­ni­an­ism hus­tle makes per­fect sense. Yes, I’m afraid you’ve basi­cal­ly stum­bled into my pas­sion­ate cause to unite two Hous­ton icons.


Rod Canion

CEO, Co-Founder

A soft-spo­ken Tex­an whose boy­hood spent tin­ker­ing with hot rods led him to study engi­neer­ing, Can­ion received his master’s degree in elec­tri­cal engi­neer­ing with an empha­sis in com­put­er sci­ence in 1968, and he imme­di­ate­ly began work­ing for Dal­las-based elec­tron­ics titan Texas Instru­ments (TI).” — “Joseph R. ‘Rod’ Can­ion,” — Entre­pre­neur

Lotus SmartSuite and the year 2000

I stum­bled across this won­der­ful help doc­u­ment in Lotus Smart­Suite 9.8 and my head just shot right off.

All of the pro­grams in this release of Lotus Smart­Suite meet Lotus guide­lines for Year 2000 (Y2K) readi­ness. When used in accor­dance with its asso­ci­at­ed doc­u­men­ta­tion, each of the Smart­Suite pro­grams is capa­ble of cor­rect­ly pro­cess­ing, pro­vid­ing and/or receiv­ing date data with­in and between the 20th and 21st cen­turies, pro­vid­ed that all prod­ucts (for exam­ple, hard­ware, soft­ware and firmware) used with the pro­gram prop­er­ly exchange accu­rate date data with it.

A lit­tle back­ground infor­ma­tion
In the past, you have prob­a­bly entered a 2-dig­it num­ber to rep­re­sent the year in a date with the assump­tion that the year would fall between 1900 and 1999. For exam­ple, 4/10/02 was in 1902 and 5/8/47 was in 1947.

With the change to the year 2000, you should be aware that com­put­er pro­grams may now inter­pret dates you enter with 2-dig­it years to be in the 20th or the 21st cen­tu­ry depend­ing on the method the pro­gram uses to define a 2-dig­it year.

Smart­Suite pro­grams use a slid­ing (rolling) win­dow method to deter­mine the year when you enter only 2 dig­its to rep­re­sent the year in a date.


  • You can enter the year as 4 dig­its to make sure you get the results you want. For exam­ple, enter 1916 or 2016 instead of 16 for the year.
  • Although you can change how a pro­gram dis­plays a date by select­ing dif­fer­ent date for­mats, the pro­gram stores a con­stant val­ue for the date no mat­ter how you choose to dis­play it.

What is the slid­ing win­dow method?
In Smart­Suite, the slid­ing win­dow method defines a win­dow of 100 years around the cur­rent year (deter­mined by the sys­tem date on your com­put­er). When you enter a 2-dig­it year, the pro­gram com­pares the 2 dig­its you entered with the years that fall with­in this 100 year win­dow.
For exam­ple, enter­ing 25 for the year might be inter­pret­ed as 1925 but 04 might mean the year 2004.

The years that mark the begin­ning and end of this win­dow are defined by where the pro­gram splits the win­dow with the cur­rent year.
By default, 1–2-3, Approach, Free­lance Graph­ics, Orga­niz­er, and Word Pro use an 80/20 rule for this slid­ing win­dow — the win­dow begins 80 years before and ends 19 years after the cur­rent year.

How does the 80/20 rule work?
Sup­pose the cur­rent year is 1999. Using the 80/20 rule, a win­dow span­ning 100 years includes the years 1919 to 2018.

In 1999, any 2-dig­it year you enter from 19 to 99 will equal years from 1919 to 1999. Any 2-dig­it year you enter from 00 to 18 will equal years from 2000 to 2018. If you want to enter a date before 1919 or after 2018, you must enter 4 dig­its for the year.
For exam­ple, assume that the cur­rent year is 1999.
• If you enter 4/2/19, the year will be 1919.
• If you enter 4/2/72, the year will be 1972.
• If you enter 4/2/00, the year will be 2000.
• If you enter 4/2/17, the year will be 2017.
• If you enter 4/2/1917, the year will be 1917.
Every year this 100 year win­dow moves (slides) for­ward one year. Under the 80/20 rule, when the year changes to 2000, the win­dow will include the years 1920 to 2019. When the year changes to 2001, the win­dow will include the years 1921 to 2020, and so on.

How do you change the 80/20 default?
The 80/20 default for Smart­Suite is set through a sin­gle entry in the Win­dows reg­istry. You can change this reg­istry entry using the sam­ple scripts avail­able on the Web (www.lotus.com/smartsuitedev) and in the \Extra direc­to­ry on the CD ver­sion of Lotus Smart­Suite.
Cau­tion Chang­ing the default changes it for all of the pro­grams in Smart­Suite.

How do Smart­Suite pro­grams store dates?
All the Smart­Suite pro­grams store date val­ues with the ful­ly qual­i­fied year. There­fore, dates already stored in files are not affect­ed by the slid­ing win­dow. The slid­ing win­dow is used to inter­pret a date when you enter it using 2 dig­its to rep­re­sent the year.
Cau­tion If years are stored as sep­a­rate val­ues in a file, and scripts or macros inter­pret these dates as they run, the slid­ing win­dow rules will apply to those val­ues when only 2 dig­its are stored for the year.

For 1–2-3 users only
You can turn off the 80/20 slid­ing win­dow in 1–2-3 by chang­ing the date set­tings in the 1–2-3 Pref­er­ences dia­log box. You can also dis­play all dates with 4-dig­it years. For more infor­ma­tion on 1–2-3 and the year 2000, open Help in 1–2-3 and search on Year 2000 in the Help Index.

The infor­ma­tion regard­ing the Year 2000 readi­ness of Lotus prod­ucts is pro­vid­ed for infor­ma­tion­al pur­pos­es only and is not a war­ran­ty or an exten­sion or mod­i­fi­ca­tion to the terms of any applic­a­ble war­ran­ty. The lim­it­ed war­ran­ty for Lotus prod­ucts is sole­ly as con­tained in the soft­ware agree­ment gov­ern­ing your use of Lotus soft­ware. For the most com­plete and cur­rent infor­ma­tion about the Year 2000 readi­ness of the Smart­Suite prod­ucts and oth­er Lotus prod­ucts, please see the Lotus Year 2000 web site (http://www.lotus.com/year2000).

Behold the Compaq Comeback

This evening, a pack­age is sched­uled to arrive upon my doorstep con­tain­ing a Com­paq Portable Plus lug­gable com­put­er from 1983 which I have fan­ta­sized about buy­ing for far too many years. Despite liv­ing in the midst of per­haps the worst pos­si­ble finan­cial sit­u­a­tion to spend $139.99 out­right on a rel­ic of com­put­ing, I final­ly just bought one any­way last Thurs­day because I’m absolute­ly fed up with life with­out the mag­ic I remem­ber feel­ing from com­put­ers. Yes, I am hav­ing a mid-life crises and The Machine is just a phys­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tion of one of my favorite sto­ries, but I expect it will pro­vide some­thing irre­place­able for me and at least one piece of enter­tain­ment for just about any­body: I’m going to start a pho­to­series of myself using the 26-lb., suit­case-like, and utter­ly time-dis­placed Portable Plus in dif­fer­ent cof­fee shops through­out Port­land

There’s also poten­tial oppor­tu­ni­ty (or neces­si­ty) for me to make use of my lim­it­ed knowl­edge of hard­ware elec­tron­ics. I’ve nev­er been very com­fort­able with open­ly using the term “hob­by,” but I ful­ly intend to savor, doc­u­ment, and pre­serve every pos­si­ble detail of my expe­ri­ence, so we’re going to behave as if the tales of com­put­er his­to­ry are pre­cious to a ded­i­cat­ed audi­ence besides myself, and that I am there­by and here­after bind­ing myself to an impor­tant duty of dis­cov­ery, cura­tion, and pre­sen­ta­tion expressed through mul­ti­me­dia of the high­est pos­si­ble cal­iber.

In oth­er words, I’m pret­ty sure I’ve just begun a vin­tage com­put­ing blog. Before we go any fur­ther, then, let’s dis­pense with the oblig­a­tory arrange­ments.

Why Compaq?

Put sim­ply, Com­paq was punk as fuck. Three dorky Tex­an techn­odads pre­med­i­tat­ed their leave of fair, secure jobs in the indus­try in order to bet every­thing on the promise of a sin­gle unde­ni­ably pro-user ide­al to dis­rupt its dom­i­nant monop­o­lis­tic supervil­lian. Unlike any of the count­less oth­er sto­ries from the infor­ma­tion age with the very same intro­duc­tion, theirs was imme­di­ate­ly pro­pelled into stratos­pher­ic, record-break­ing suc­cess — from cof­fee table sketch­es in the waste­lands of sub­ur­ban Hous­ton nights to one bil­lion dol­lars in less than five years, prov­ing that it was pos­si­ble to win huge in tech by com­mit­ting sin­cere­ly to lib­er­at­ing the con­sumer and man­i­fest­ing the ulti­mate per­for­mance of the under­dog com­plex Amer­i­can busi­ness has ever wit­nessed. 

Those of us who’ve main­tained some curi­ous orbit of tech­nol­o­gy have recent­ly entered a rec­on­cil­la­to­ry process as the world has become all at once inti­mate­ly famil­iar with our col­lec­tive pur­suits’ true con­se­quences. Nev­er has it been more appro­pri­ate to reflect on the whole­some brava­do of the only Amer­i­can com­put­er com­pa­ny to build a bil­lion-dol­lar busi­ness atop the sole mantra of user lib­er­a­tion. At a glance one might assume that AMC’s attempt to repro­duce Mad Men’s for­mu­la with a sto­ry set in Compaq’s ori­gin in a series that’s sup­pos­ed­ly attract­ed a fair num­ber of Net­flix­ers called Halt and Catch Fire in con­junc­tion with the 2016 doc­u­men­tary Sil­i­con Cow­boys have suf­fi­cient­ly remind­ed Amer­i­ca of to whom it real­ly owes its priv­i­leged tech indus­try. How­ev­er, a Twit­ter search for “Com­paq” turns up vir­tu­al­ly noth­ing of con­se­quence, and — on the oth­er cul­tur­al spec­trum — I’ve yet to see a sin­gle well-doc­u­ment­ed col­lec­tion of Com­paq hard­ware, and I’m unsat­is­fied.  

Like it not, you’re com­ing with me on a safari back through two full nos­tal­gic cycles to redis­cov­er our won­der and excite­ment about tech­nol­o­gy because I miss it des­per­ate­ly and I know you do too. We’re going to find some­thing mar­velous.

I believe com­put­ers can be mag­ic again.

I believe in Com­paq.