Archive for the 'stoopid' Category

08
Jun
10

On Readability

While most of the ink spilled about WWDC yesterday was about iPhone 4 and iOS, the things that interested me most were Safari 5 and Xcode 4. This is mainly because I’ve been running iOS 4 since April and there really wasn’t anything new for me there and because I’m perfectly happy with my 3GS until iPhone 5 comes out. This happiness is due in no small part because my early upgrade “discount” would make it cost $399 for me instead of the $199 for the real upgrade discount. Oh the reality of wireless economics, how they mock me. <faux outrage> How dare AT&T want to make the money that they spent on my subsidy back! </faux outrage> i think that everything that needs to be said about iPhone/iOS 4 has been said, and been said well.

Anyway, as cool as Xcode 4 is, I have to wait for it along with all the other losers who didn’t go to WWDC, which leaves me to play with Safari 5. Besides extension support and enhanced HTML5-ness, the big thing is Reader. Like everything Apple does, Reader has spawned a rather stupid controversy among people who should know better. In a nutshell, what Reader does is simple: It makes irritatingly designed websites nice and easy to read.

Much has been made over the fact that Apple says that Reader “removes annoying ads and other visual distractions from online articles.” The howling goes from hypocrisy to a weapon of mass destruction against the web. People have been complaining about adblockers for years, screaming about how they’ll bring the end of ad-supported media. This movement is so strong that Block Firefox (remember them?) is gone and blockfirefox.com is now a parked ad site.

I’m going to take the other viewpoint that adblockers aren’t the problem. In fact I feel that ads and multi-page stories themselves aren’t the problem. The problem is exactly as Apple says it: annoying ads, to which I’ll add annoying websites that break posts onto multiple pages just to get more ad views. There are ways to do advertising that are OK. There are stories that make sense as multiple pages (like any of John Siracusa’s epic OS X reviews or other long article).

The problem is that way too many websites seem to feel that the content gets in the way of advertising. Ads that fold over the entire windows, keywords that get turned into ads that popup when you mouse over them, flash ads that play automatically, ads you have to watch before you can go to the story you want to read, ads placed into the column of text you’re trying to read, oddly-shaped text columns wrapped around the ads, etc. The other issue is with stories that get broken into multiple pages just to get more pageviews. How many times have you clicked onto the third page of a story only to find that there’s only a sentence or two there? What, they couldn’t fit that last sentence onto the second page? Oh, or when they include a few paragraphs from the previous page? That’s always fun. And the excuse that people don’t like to or don’t know to scroll is stupid. Its 2010, we’ve been scrolling on the web for over 15 years now.

Just look at this Computerworld article for an example. All of those ads for five paragraphs of text and a screenshot that in all likelihood that took less than five minutes to take, crop and upload. Scroll down and look at all of the crap next to and beneath the text. Also note that Reader doesn’t see that story as as story. It thinks that its a link page, so it doesn’t display the Reader button. That alone speaks volume.

“But what about the bandwidth? That costs money!”

Yeah sure, bandwidth isn’t free, but the content I wanted to look at weighs in at 36.8kB, including the image. That’s a whole kB more than the 35kB Google Analytics javascript that got called when I loaded the page. Now, I am aware that serving even text can add up, but let’s keep things in perspective.

After all that, here’s what people are afraid of. Random Mac user is surfing the web as usual, going to all her favorite sites, but using Reader to avoid the ads on each one, thereby depriving the site of its desperately needed ad revenue. Here’s the reality: Safari user goes to a site, gets pissed off at all the crap that makes it harder to read the content that they came to see that they click Reader simply to make their blood pressure go down.

When Apple says that they included Reader to combat annoying ads, that’s exactly true. Reader is not an assault on the ad-supported web, its an assault on shitty, user-hostile web design. If websites want not to be harmed by this, stop annoying people to the point where they’ll go to the trouble to click a button that magically makes it better.

 

Postscript

There will always be people who hate and are offended by all ads. These people tend to have the same characteristics of freetards (and now that I think about it, likely are freetards) and should just be ignored. Websites gotta make money, and ads help pay for it. Don’t like it? Buy a fucking subscription/pro account/whatever.

I also didn’t get into the security vulnerabilities and privacy issues that ads can introduce. Installing a flash blocker, disallowing third-party cookies and hacking your /etc/hosts file to lock out ad networks that like to silently install tracking cookies may be things that advertisers don’t like, but fuck them, I get to decide what goes on my machine, not them. There’s a reason why cops need a warrant to install a GPS tracker on my car, so why should Google or whoever get to do the same thing on my browser for free?

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13
Apr
10

Opera Mini

I tried Opera Mini for about an hour yesterday and deleted it after. Despite what a lot of reviews say, its a terrible, terrible browser. I can only assume that the great reviews on the popular sites are only testing Opera on their own popular sites and other popular sites that already exist in Opera’s server cache.

The problem is, I like to go to many sites that aren’t very popular and aren’t caches by Opera. In these cases, OM renders much slower than Safari and it looks like shit. The text is illegible and the CSS is totally broken.

For example, here’s this blog in Safari:

IMG_0344.PNG

And again in Opera:

IMG_0343.PNG

Completely asstastic. I have no idea why people were excited about this trash. In addition to the horrible rendering, its clear that Opera isn’t a real iPhone app. It has serious usability issues beyond its primary function. When scrolling, there’s no momentum, no bounce at the ends and no bounce to the top when you tap the menu. These things are included for free in UITextviews or UIWebviews. That’s why the crap browser that you can put into any iPhone app after about ten minutes of work is better than Opera.

I can’t believe that Apple approved this for any reason other than to a) demonstrate just how good Safari really is and b) to remove one more thing that the blogtards can scream about. It certainly wasn’t for the quality or utility of the app.

21
Dec
09

Seems to Me the Answer is Obvious

The Gray Lady poses a question: How does privacy jibe with employer-owned computers and smartphones?

Seems to me it doesn’t. If you don’t want your private messages read, keep them the hell off of your boss’ machines. Simple as that. If that means you have a work Blackberry and a personal iPhone, so be it. There’s a reason why I use my own, personal laptop at work. Well, several reasons, most having to do with the fact that I like to actually get my work done without our jackass IT department getting in the way, but still.

Yes, its less convenient to have two phones and to juggle a personal laptop with a corporate Windows tower (after all, most corporate drones, myself included, get assigned some ancient Windows box, not a shiny new laptop). But seriously, is it really that big a deal? And, if we’re really going to be that paranoid, use strong passwords on your accounts (not including the corporate accounts with the retarded rules that you have to change every quarter anyway. Fuck that account.), password-protect your computer and phone, and encrypt your fucking email. That shit gets subpoenaed, yo!

13
Dec
09

iPhone Syndrome

Updated to add the original link, fix some spelling and grammar errors and because the 3GS has a 3mp sensor, not a 5mp. Not that it changes my point.

This was yet another stupid story that made the blogosphere rounds yesterday, and which I really couldn’t be bothered to spend any time on, since I figured that it was the same Apple-users-are-all-cultists bullshit that people like to run for link bait. But John Dowdell over at Adobe couldn’t resist chiming in and adding his own two cents. Since the idea of jd accusing anyone else of suffering from Stockholm is the height of irony, I just had to check it out.

Predictably, it was a pile of horseshit pondering all the same complaints that people have had about the iPhone since it was announced. The only novelty is that iPhone users now have a psychological disorder and Apple gets a free ride in the press. Right.

Anyway, here is their list with my answers.

1. The first iPhone was not a 3G phone: What do you need 3G for? You can easily use the iPhone without using a 3G network and anyway, 3G is not particularly widespread, so this is not a problem.

Actually the first iPhone didn’t have 3G because the 3G chipsets available were massive battery hogs. Network speed was sacrificed for battery life. This isn’t a secret, Steve Jobs said as much in the intro. No one liked EDGE or thought it was better than 3G and everyone was expecting a 3G version.

2. The phone cannot send MMS: There is no need to send MMSs, hardly anybody sends MMSs.

MMS is inferior to email and is primarily used by phones with shit cameras and no real data connections. Can you send multiple full resolution 3mp5mp images via MMS? Yeah, didn’t think so.

3. You cannot forward a SMS: This is a function that hardly anybody uses and was therefore not included in the first iPhones.

So what? It was added in one of the first OS updates. If it was such a dealbreaker for anyone, they shouldn’t have bought it. I’ve never forwarded an SMS and really only use it at all with people who don’t have push email on their phones.

4. The phone has a poor camera: The built-in camera is perfectly adequate and the iPhone takes fantastic photos with its camera.

It is adequate. If you can take decent photos with it, it’s adequate. It’s not a GREAT camera, but I don’t think anyone outside of Apple’s marketing claimed otherwise. Anyway, the best camera is the one you have with you.

5. It is not a real Smartphone, it cannot multitask: The phone has all the necessary functions and the OS is technically superior compared to other Smartphone OSs currently on the mobile market.

Again, the iPhone has always been capable of multitasking. The phone, safari and iPod apps all work in the background, as do a bunch of unix daemons. Apple has just refused to open third party apps to background rights so far. It is widely expected that Apple will do so in the future, possibly as soon as iPhone OS 4, if only to deny the competition a bullet point. Do people actually like the fact that the Pre has trouble answering calls in time due to its multitasking model?

6. The iPhone cannot multitask, resulting in a great number of applications being unusable: The absence of multitasking is a deliberate design decision resulting in a faster UI.

See my point above. If you honestly think that the iPhone can’t multitask, then you’re a moron. My jailbroken iPhone has Backgrounder on it that uses a private API that allows apps of my choosing to run in the background. This has a cost in both stability and battery life, but it works. So yes, it was a deliberate choice on Apple’s part, not a technical limitation of the platform.

7. You can not change battery on the iPhone: How many customers run around with spare batteries? None or very few.

Again with the battery argument? Its not just “very few” people who swap batteries on a regular basis, its “almost no one.” Even some analysts who were complaining about that admitted that they don’t swap batteries. Its simply a non-issue. The only time I ever had to swap batteries was because it died, I had to swap the sim card or to do a hard reset because it ate shit. None of those have been a problem with my iPhone or that of anyone I know.

8. Apple decides which applications you can install on the phone: This is good, because Apple thereby ensures that you do not get inferior programs on your phone.

There have already been instances of apps being removed from the store because they steal contacts or are otherwise malicious. Apple has a point here.

9. The app store is a closed universe: Apple knows what is best for end users, which is good for the many iPhone users.

The App Store has been an amazing success, both for customers and developers. Before the App Store, mobile apps were poor quality, expensive and buggy. The App Store has a lot of problems, not the least of which is Apple’s opacity and inconsistency. There is a lot to improve, but the idea is a good one. Opening the phone to side loading is something that a lot of people would like to see, but not too likely to happen.

10. The phone does not support Java, so games need to be developed especially for the iPhone: Java is slow and not properly integrated with mobile phones, games for the iPhone are much better because they are directly developed for the iPhone.

Fuck Java. Are you seriously bitching about the lack of shitty Java apps on the iPhone? Java is slow, because Java apps require a JVM to run. That’s a Java Virtual Machine, running on a mobile device. Why do you think that Sun developed a mobile version of Java? As opposed to Cocoa Touch, which runs native, compiled code that’s optimized for the platform. There’s a reason why people refer to Java’s promise of “Write once, run everywhere” as “Write once, debug everywhere.”

Oh, and fuck Flash too. Flash is a buggy piece of shit that runs like ass on anything that isn’t IE on Windows. And since goons like Dowdell feel that minority platforms like OS X and Linux with their “inferior” browsers aren’t worth their time, Flash will continue to suck. Remember that video that Adobe put out demoing Flash on the Pre? Notice how the Pre’s battery went to shit? Think catching a couple of videos is worth that?I don’t. There’s a reason why Apple blocks non-cocoa or webkit code interpreters.

11. The app store contains numerous small trivial commercial programs: The app store’s large selection gives users the freedom of choice and the many small programs help make the end users daily lives more fun.

Small trivial commercial apps? How exactly is that a problem? Considering that the big advantage that Windows has over the Mac is games, this strikes me as a bit insane. The App Store also has non-trivial apps and big games. There’s a reason why the store has categories like games, productivity, utilities, health, business among many others. How exactly does the presence of paid fart apps detract from the platform? I haven’t purchased one, and the fact that they exist doesn’t affect my experience at all.

I mean seriously, what exactly is the problem here?

12. It is difficult to use the touchscreen for fast SMS messaging: The touchscreen makes the phone easier to use and you quickly get used to it.

I wrote this entire post on my iPhone, using the Squarespace app. No mobile keyboard is as good as a fullsize keyboard. There are people who need a physical keyboard and there are those that don’t. The only right approach is the one that works for you. Arguing that just because you can’t type fast or well on an iPhone, no one can, well I call bullshit. I type pretty damn fast and use both thumbs and using Blackberries hurts my thumbs. And the Droid’s keyboard is unusable unless you look at it. And the Pre’s keyboard is too small for me. I could go on. No keyboard is perfect and every keyboard is unusable for someone.

13. The iPhone is a low technology phone packaged in a sleek design: Apple has taken the combination of the design and UI to the next level, therefore the technological specifications don’t really matter.

Low tech? How exactly is the iPhone low tech? Every Android phone except the Droid is using the same processor as the original iPhone from 2007. Every smartphone that isn’t from Apple, Palm or a Nokia N-series has 256-512MB of built-in storage and relies on micro sd cards for expansion. That’s a bug, not a feature. You can only install apps in the built-in memory, not on the sd card. Seeing as how I have 1.5GB of apps installed with more siting in iTunes that I’m not using, I fail to see how Apple’s approach is low tech. Additionally, the iPhone 3GS that I’m using has the most powerful ARM processor available, which is shared only by the Pre, the Droid and the N900. (The Snapdragon has a higher clockspeed, but is an older architecture than the Cortex A8.)

The iPhone was the first to ship with a multitouch capacitive glass display. Every touchscreen device previous used a plastic resistive display. Its soft keyboard is still best of class, as is its browser, which pioneered real mobile web browsing. Please, please tell me how much better Blazer or Pocket IE were than Safari. Even better, tell me how much better they are now.

What exactly about any model iPhone is low tech? Other devices might have better specs here and there, but when it comes to the total package, none of them came close. Its only now that devices are providing similar experiences.

14. The quality of the phone is poor, calls are often interrupted and network coverage is poor: It is a good phone, these problems are due to the operators’ networks and not the phone.

Apple doesn’t run any cellular networks, it builds the phone. Carriers that are not AT&T do not share AT&T’s limitations. AT&T is the only major carrier to not include MMS at launch and the only to not allow tethering. The iPhone has average call quality, which is not helped by the weakness of AT&T’s network.

15. You can only purchase the iPhone from operators chosen by Apple: Apple has spent a great deal of time and energy selecting the best operators for customers.

Um, welcome to the cell phone industry. Usually, its the carrier dictating which devices it carries, and what features and software it runs. Again, in countries that are not the US, the iPhone runs on multiple carriers. The only real requirement is that the carrier have a compatible GSM network and be willing to do business Apple’s way. Verizon and Sprint don’t operate GSM networks and T-Mobile uses an oddball frequency. There will not be an iPhone on Verizon until they use a global GSM standard.

Tell me, there are GSM Droids and Pres in existence. Why are they not available on AT&T?Why is it bad for Apple to do exclusive deals, but not Palm or Motorola?

16. The iPhone is targeted at a niche segment and will not be able to develop further: Apple has succeeded in designing a phone for people that appreciate design and user friendliness.

I don’t really understand this one. The iPhone opened smartphones to the mass market. Apple is selling more year over year. The niche that Apple is targeting is the one that is willing to pay for data plans or willing to pay for an iPod Touch.

Who really thinks that Apple has hit the peak of the iPhone market? Surely there must be some data to back that up, right?

17. The iPhone does not support memory cards: Iphones already offer the necessary memory people require and end users can choose between two models, one with a little memory and one with a great deal of memory.

16GB is a little memory? In what reality? A 16GB micro sdhc card costs at least $40 and can’t have apps installed on it. SD cards are a crutch that hobbled devices that can’t be bothered to include enough built in memory.

18. You can not install your own browser: The browser Apple has designed is so superior that you do not need any other browser on your phone.

Mobile Safari is the best mobile browser on the market. This has been confirmed several times by various sources. You can get webkit-based browsers on the App Store today, so that argument is total bullshit. But what about other browsers? What, like Opera or Fennec or IE? Compared to webkit, opera (the real opera that actually does its own rendering) is really slow. Fennec isn’t a real product yet, and IE? What a fucking joke. There’s a reason why Safari, WebOS, Android and soon Blackberry all use webkit.

So the real complaint is that there’s no competition for webkit. Well, that’s really on Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera then, isn’t it?

19. You cannot use the iPhone as a modem for your portable PC: People that have an iPhone do not need their portable when on the move.

Um, actually, you can. That was one of the big features of OS 3, remember? The fact that AT&T still doesn’t allow it is a source of constant complaints. Its just that rational people know to complain about AT&T, not Apple. The fact is, the iPhone can tether right now and does with useful carriers and even with AT&T using hacks.

20. There is no radio in the phone: You do not need a radio in your iPhone because the iPhone supports iTunes that offers almost unlimited music.

Yeah, the radio on the zune really helped it kick the ipod’s ass. Yeah, there’s no FM radio in the iPhone. There’s a simple reason why Apple gets away with that. Its because no one cares. Radio has the advantages of shitty reception, DJ’s who never shut the fuck up and lots and lots of commercials. (Commercial) Radio sucks and you know it. Hell, you can even get NPR, Democracy Now! and all sorts of radio and tv shows as free podcasts or iPhone apps. The inability to recurve terrestrial FM is clearly not an issue. Besides, how many smartphones have FM radios, and for those that do, how much use do they get?

There are many arguments for and against the iPhone, on the other hand there is no doubt that Apple has some of the most loyal end users on the market and that iPhone users will go out of their way to defend the phone they love and worship.

Love and worship? Fuck, will we ever be free of the myth of the Apple cultist? People like their iPhones because they’re actually very good devices with a great interface. People who live in Google’s ecosystem might be better served using Android, and Blackberries work great when your company uses BIS for its email.

There’s not really any need to defend either Apple or the iPhone. Both are clearly doing well on their own. The thing that really gets me is this notion that anyone who uses one and likes it is somehow delusional or mind controlled by Steve Jobs. Its not perfect, but imperfection is clearly not the same as being bad.

The Droid lets you run Google Voice out of the box, but it scrolls like shit and can be seriously unresponsive. The much-vaunted Android Gmail app is slow and has to use the menu button to do all sorts of tasks that the iPhone’s Mail app handles more smoothly through use of its toolbars.

There are many similarities to the Stockholm Syndrome and from an outside perspective there is little doubt that many mobile phone manufacturers are most probably envious of the users on Apple’s platform.

Somehow I doubt that this was written by any sort of qualified professional.

In reality the iPhone is surrounded by a multitude of people, media and companies that are happy to bend the truth to defend the product they have purchased from Apple.

Where exactly is this Apple-worshipping media?Everyone, including Apple blogs, is critical of Apple’s handling of the App Store and AT&T (well, not this guy, but macmacs can blog too). The problem is that there are so many people, like whoever wrote this shit, or jd or Enderle or whomever that write blatant lies and stupid shit. There’s a reason why the Angry Mac Bastards have so much material to work with every week. This guy seems to have confused “truth” with ” shit I wish was true.” Notice there were no sources given ever, for any of his points, especially for his armchair psychological diagnoses.

There are indeed many similarities between the Stockholm Syndrome http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome and what we have taken the liberty to start calling the “iPhone Syndrome”

No, there aren’t. Unless you were taken hostage by an evil iPhone, which case you have bigger problems.

– and if you are one of the many other phone manufacturers: Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, LG, HTC etc., you will most probably be very envious of the euphoria that Apple has invoked in their customers

Here’s a hint to those manufacturers: make great hardware tightly integrated with great software. Make an awesome user experience. HTC is getting there. Their hardware is really good, Android is still pretty rough, at least compared to the iPhone.

09
Dec
09

iTunes Zombie Files

For some reason, my iTunes library has been generating zombie files lately. I listen to a lot of podcasts and delete them when I’m done. I use a smart playlist that catches audio podcasts so I can just plug into my iPhone and go. Yesterday and today, that playlist has kept zombie files in it after I deleted the file. By zombie, I mean the playlist has the relevant info still listed, but has a (!) next to it, indicating a broken link.

I had absolutely no idea how to deal with this, and Google was no help. So I tried manually editing the iTunes Library XML file to no avail. It just showed up again. I went to some rather extreme methods to get rid of that zombie, but I finally came across the answer:

Option-Delete

That’s it. Some proper documentation or a reliable database would be nice.

14
Nov
09

Comments and Trust

Some doughboy has a series going on how he is “freeing himself from Apple’s grip after being a fanboy for 15 years. Again, I could give a shit what kit someone else is using. As long as I don’t have to support you, go nuts. In fact, everyone should be familiar with the major computer platforms and at least handle the various smartphones. Competition is good and knowledge is power.

That being said, Mike Doyle seriously has his head up his ass about Apple. He complains that Apple locks people into their platform by doing such insidious things as including useful software like a web browser, calendar app and mail client. Or having said web browser include RSS functionality. Or by making and selling peripherals, which I assume includes input devices (mouse and keyboard) and a monitor.

Oh, and the iPhone is evil and tying OS X to only (reliably) run on Macs is wrong, despite a court defending Apple’s right to do the same. I left a rather lengthy comment on his site, but I decided to just publish it again here.

I just wanted to chime in and say that while its great that you’re exploring alternatives to the platform that you’ve been using, I don’t really understand where a lot of your anger is coming from. In your earlier posts, you complained that Apple was exerting too much control by including a lot of Apple software, notably Safari, Mail, iCal and iTunes. And that that Safari includes an RSS reader. (FYI, Mail has one too.) Are you really arguing that Apple shouldn’t include useful functionality out of the box? That makes about as much sense as the people who argue that Microsoft shouldn’t include IE with Windows. As in, none at all. So you just discovered Firefox, DragThing, NNW and whatever else. These are not new apps that suddenly broke through Apple’s tyranny. (Well, Picassa’s new, but that’s just because Google didn’t port it to OS X until this year. Again, not Apple’s fault.)

But that’s not because Apple didn’t want you to, otherwise this link wouldn’t make sense, would it? (BTW, that link is the #5 top download at apple.com/downloads.) Just because Apple doesn’t ship it, doesn’t mean they don’t want you to use it. Its not Apple’s fault that you didn’t discover Google’s apps until recently, or that both Mail.app and Mobile Mail have always supported IMAP. You know what’s even better than Google Calendar? Busy Cal. Check it out. It uses iCal’s open library database and easily syncs with Google.

Oh wait, did I say open? Why yes I did. Your iCal data is open and easily exportable, your Address Book data is open and easily exportable, your Mail.app data is open, easily exportable and uses open standards and your iTunes library is in an open file structure, in /USER/Music/iTunes/iTunes Library. Any Mac app that uses Core Data stores its data using SQLite. Address Book even directly syncs to Google. Don’t like iTunes? Use Double Twist. To the guy who said that Apple basically stole BSD: a) the BSD license is not the GPL and has no sharealike requirements and b) Darwin, OS X’s kernel is not BSD. It takes a lot from BSD, but it is its own open source project. Yes, that’s right. Apple’s kernel is completely open sourced, as is Webkit. Go look at Safari’s Help>Acknowledgements sometime. Hmmm, looks like BSD license, and GPL v.2 license in there!

As for that PC World article you linked to, please. The iPod/iTunes thing has been done to death. There are plenty of non iPod PMPs out there. Go buy one of those. BTW, the Zune uses the exact same business model as the iPod. iPhone and AT&T? Where are the howls of outrage that the Droid isn’t available on Sprint or that there’s no GSM version for AT&T? Carrier exclusivity is nothing new or unique to Apple. OS X and the Mac? That’s Apple’s business model. Apple is not Microsoft, Red Hat or Dell. Apple tried licensing the MacOS before, and it almost killed them. Oh and 10.6.2 didn’t kill Atom support, because Atom was never supported. Pushing unwanted software onto Windows users was bad behavior and was, frankly, inexcusable. But they must have figured that Windows users would never notice, since Microsoft does that all the time. And a patent? Tech companies apply and receive stupid patents all the time. Wake me up when that actually shows up in a real product.

As for your phone, this is a tricky issue. There is clearly a difference of opinion at Apple. Clearly they want the iPhone to be both a pocket computer and an embedded device, but it can’t be both. The situation with the App Store is bad, without question. Something has to give. The question is whether or not it will before Android gets better than the iPhone. The Droid and Android 2.0 are good, but not good enough to make a dent in the iPhone. Yet.

As for the legal stuff, you actually did commit at least one crime there. Seeing as how you used Pwnage instead of Blackra1n, you were a party to a violation of the DMCA on the Dev Team’s part and you violated copyright law when you downloaded that hacked .ipsw file from that Google link. Why do you think that the Dev Team doesn’t distribute those files? If you answered “Because that’s really fucking illegal and Apple would sue us and win?” then you’d be correct! Yes, you bought that iPhone and you can do whatever you like with it, but the OS is Apple’s and fucking with it is illegal under the DMCA and redistributing it is illegal under the Copyright Act.

Before you protest, EULAs like Apple’s have been held up in court, and no, the Psystar case has no bearing here because Apple doesn’t distribute the iPhone OS independently of iPhone devices. And don’t tell me about the developer builds because I’m an iPhone dev and you’re not and I had to agree to all sorts of shit, including agreeing not to fuck with the OS. That includes reverse engineering, decompiling, digging out private APIs and the such. That’s not Apple tramping on my rights, by the way, that’s a contract that I read, and agreed to.

And the baseband unlocking is another issue. Is it legal to hack the baseband? I don’t know, you tell me. Its a legal gray area, but not the slam dunk “its my right to do what I want with my stuff” that you think it is. If you want to run your own custom OS on the iPhone and still be legal? Then port Android. There’s no law (at least in the US) preventing you from doing that. The hardware does belong to you, but the software doesn’t. Don’t like it? Call your Congressman.

Also, do you know where you got that .ipsw file from. I mean do you *really* know? Are you aware that jailbreaking involves finding a security hole in the OS, you know like a buffer overflow that can enable arbitrary code execution? How do you know that you don’t have a keylogger installed, just waiting for you to go to your bank’s website? And of course, the answer is, you don’t.

I also jailbroke my 3GS so I could run GV Mobile, which is nice, but not OMFG nice. (Version 2 could change my mind, but since that’s not due until Christmas, I’m not going to hold my breath.) I used Blackra1n, which took about 30 seconds, much nicer than the hours of terminal voodoo the original jailbreak took, let me tell you! The difference is Blackra1n only installs itself and not anything else (a quick SSH session does wonders). The problem with jailbreaking is that it can render your phone highly unstable (my original required constant reboots until I got fed up enough to just rejail it) and removes code signing.

Also, if you haven’t already, get a terminal emulator and change your passwords (both the root and mobile user account use alpine as their passwords). type ‘passwd’ and your new password then type ‘su’ then ‘alpine’ then ‘passwd’ and then your new password.

And finally, don’t use iTunes to update your phone. This isn’t because Apple hates jailbreaking, its simply because jailbreaking is an unsupported hack. That means that Apple doesn’t support it, doesn’t test for it and doesn’t really think about it when they build new OS versions. The reason why you lose your jailbreak when you update is because the update overwrites the whole OS, but doesn’t touch the userland, kind of like how a major OS X update works. There is *never* any danger of bricking a jailbroken phone just from an update. The danger is when you update an unlocked phone, which is running custom baseband firmware. Again, its not because Apple hates you, its because you’re running an unsupported hack that may or may not be compatible with the upgraded firmware.

Since you’ve been an Apple user for so long, I’m going to assume that you’ve never had to flash new firmware onto a motherboard. Before Apple, that was a really, really scary thing to do. In fact, other than iPods, iPhones, Macs, PS3s, PSPs and Xboxes, it still is. Apple made firmware updates easy and reliable. Once you step out of there, its both hard, scary and often unrecoverable. Try recovering a bricked PSP after a failed firmware hack. Trust me, its a hell of a lot harder than simply plugging it back into iTunes for a restore.

This is already way too long, but I just want to say that I don’t really care what kind of computer or phone you use. I think that more people should experience as many platforms and ways of computing as possible. I just think you need to let go of the notion that Steve Jobs spends his days thinking about how to lock you into Apple’s ecosystem. You also need to not blame Apple for your failure to explore alternatives until now and to stop blaming Apple for things that are clearly not Apple’s fault.

Steve Jobs is not your friend. Apple is not your buddy. Apple is a publicly traded, multinational, multibillion dollar corporation, which like all such entities, exists to make money. They happen to make the most money when they build high-quality hardware running unique, high-quality software that provides an excellent customer experience. The things that Apple gives away, its does so for its own advantage. Such advantages might help the open source community, or potential rivals like Google and Palm. Don’t forget that Google is exactly the same. You are not Google’s customer. You are a set of data points and a pair of eyeballs that Google sells to its real customers.

PJ over at Groklaw, while discussing Apple’s victory over Psystar, mentioned that if what you’re really after is software freedom, then you need to go somewhere other than Apple or Microsoft. Or IBM or Adobe or Oracle or really Google for that matter. If that’s what you’re really interested in, then its open source only for you. That involves a lot of work, but its doable. I tried it and its not for me.

The other thing to be aware of is that the GPL is exactly the same as any EULA from Apple or Microsoft. Its just that the GPL favors “the community” over a corporation. Your usage of the code is still restricted and still bound by copyright law. The GPL would have no teeth without copyright law. There’s no open source free for all and there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

My comment about running a black box iPhone ipsw file? The same concern applies to Google and Android. Google doesn’t disclose what it does on its servers, nor does it disclose how its closed, proprietary Android apps work. Additionally, there is no requirement for handset makers or carriers to disclose the changes they make to Android before you get your hands on it? How much do you really trust Google? How about Verizon, Motorola or Samsung? Its in Apple’s best interests not to fuck its users, because Apple sells directly to those users, and it knows that trust lost is never regained. Google “sells” Android to handset makers and carriers, not to end users. Google just needs to keep them happy, not you. Google doesn’t sell you email, calendar service or maps. It gives them for free so that it can harvest data to sell to its customers, who are advertisers. Google makes its money from advertisers, not from you. Google is selling you to advertisers. How much do you really trust Google?

07
Nov
09

Steinberg Again

Steinberg on Apple’s lineup:

Apple’s logic is that they aren’t going to build a product unless they can sell enough copies to make it profitable.

So, yes, Apple will build what you want, but only if the “you” can be counted in tens or hundreds of thousands.

Um, that’s true of every large company that makes things for the mass market. That’s Apple, Sony, Crown Publishing, Toyota and so on. Unless you have the funds to make it so, no company will make something for you. They make the items that they make, in some amount of variation to attract a variety of customers. But true customization is expensive and rare.

There are things about my car that I don’t like, such as having to press the unlock button twice to open all the locks. That’s a really stupid idea, considering that my car is a coupe liftback. So that’s one press for the driver’s side, and two presses to add the passenger door and the trunk. But I accept that because I knew about it when I bought the car and its not worth the time and effort and money to change it.

Its the same with computers. If you want the perfect computer, build it yourself. There’s no other way. I remember the Apple of the 90’s and having to navigate Dell’s website to configure a box, and neither experience was a good one. If Apple doesn’t sell what you need, go buy a PC from someone else or do it yourself. But stop whining and good luck bringing that hackintosh in for service at the Apple Store.