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  • Lying About Apple

    Posted by Shannon Love on June 16th, 2011 (All posts by )

    Lying about Apple, especially the iPhone, seems to be a fad these days.

    The usually mostly reliable Register seems to be caught up in some kind of anti-Apple hysteria lately. Today, they breathlessly report:

    The leading computer company plans to build a system that will sense when people are trying to video live events — and turn off their cameras.[emp added]

    Small problem, nothing in the articles supports that breathless assertion. It is, quite simply, a lie and journalistic fraud.

    They offered no evidence at all that Apple “plans to build a system.” The story simply reports that Apple has filed a patent for such a technology. It is common practice for companies to patent everything that they think up. If something is technologically possible, the company patents it just in case. Filing a patent in no way indicates that the company means to deploy the technology.

    I did a patent crawl of Apple a few years back and found that Apple has about fifty unused patents for everyone I could identify that made it into a shipping product. Filing a patent tells us nothing about what the company intends.

    It is equally likely that Apple could use the patent to prevent other companies from deploying the technology. I guess that wouldn’t be that interesting would it?

    I have substantial interest in Apple, but I don’t think I am being biased when I get tired of these hysterical stories that always turn out to be nothing. Remember a couple of months ago when Apple was “tracking their user’s every move!” It turned out to be a bug that prevented a cache file of local wi-fi spots from being deleted. There was never any evidence that Apple even knew the file existed much less that they were using it in any way without the user’s knowledge.

    Apple has been enormously successful in the last few years at balancing the rights of content producers, especially small, independent producers like myself, with the rights of content consumers. The didn’t do that by reducing the functionality at the end user’s side. End users get high quality music, media and software much cheaper than they did in the past and small producers can actually reach the market and get paid without having to sell themselves out to a big media or software company. It’s a massive win-win for everybody.

    Yet somehow, this is regarded as absolutely Orwellian to the point that everyone believes uncritically every bad thing anyone says about Apple no matter how unsupported or far fetched.

    I really wish there was a way to hold people responsible for this level of malice and/or incompetence. But hey, journalists are too important to be held responsible. It might have a “chilling” effect on their bank accounts.

    Yeah, I am pissed off.

    Update:

    Patently Apple is a site devoted to tracking and examining Apple patents (of which there are hundreds or more every year). They have a detailed examination of the patent.

    The upshot is that the patent is actually for a means of communicating with mobile devices via the infrared picked up by the device’s cameras. Most high quality cameras today can detect infrared but people can’t see it so it is usually ignored unless it is used for night vision. The Apple patent provides for a means of putting infrared “tags” on objects and locations that would broadcast information that the mobile device could pick up and display.

    For example, a museum could put tags besides displays that would provide information about the display. The technology also could be used to provide virtual direction signs. It’s basically a way to wire in augmented reality to specific locations.

    The patent also speculates that the technology could be used to provide tags that would order the device to disable its camera. This is odd because you can’t possibly make a valid business model that would make the disabling technology pay. End users won’t pay for any kind of functional limitation unless they get something in return. Patently Apple explains this by observing:

    In Apple’s patent point # 48, the patent specifically adds “classified facilities” as being another application for this technology: “In some embodiments, a transmitter can be located in areas where capturing pictures and videos is prohibited (e.g., a concert or a classified facility) and the transmitters can generate infrared signals with encoded data that includes commands temporarily disabling recording functions.” Hmm, I guess that means that area 51 will be better protected in the future. And no, you didn’t see any little green men, right? Kidding aside, you could be rest assured that the request for such a feature must have come directly from the US government at some point in time.

    Given my experiences at Apple and other computing companies, I think he is correct that a government request/mandate is probably the primary driver behind this functionality. It’s really clear that such a disabling technology would be useless unless backed by a government mandate requiring all recording devices to use the tag system. There is no point in only disabling 20% of the recording devices present.

    While the disabling technology could be abused, it could also be a benefit because, lets face it, there are a lot of areas of personal life in which we wouldn’t like people to be able to record us. How about a medical files storage room? Do you want anybody to be able to take a snap of your medical files and post it online? How about public rest rooms, gyms or dressing rooms? What if you want to host a wild party and don’t want video of you dancing in nothing but a lampshade showing up in your boss’ email Monday morning?

    So, in the end, we have a much more complex story than, “Apple is going to cripple your phone’s camera just to protect greedy big media companies!” Instead we have a potentially very useful technology that like all technology has a lot implications both good and bad.

    Honestly, why couldn’t Register (and a lot of other tech media sites) have the integrity to add a single extra paragraph to flesh things out a bit? Oh, right, they sell news stories, not news facts. Stories are by definition fiction and an evil Apple makes a better story,. End of story.

    Update II: I suppose it would be paranoiac and churlish of me to speculate on how much Google or Microsoft might have paid to have the false story spread? Just saying Google with its Android and Microsofts virtually unknown Windows Mobile must be really liking the way the media has spun this story.

     

    36 Responses to “Lying About Apple”

    1. Subotai Bahadur Says:

      I had not yet followed up on the headline I saw on the supposed app. I will go with your explanation until and unless there is other data. Thanks.

      However, on the matter of collecting and transmitting data on the locations of all iPhones, iPads, and all computers with Snow Leopard and later OS; despite Steve Jobs’ public denials, they have admitted to Congress that the time and location data is transmitted to Apple every 12 hours.

      From the Wall Street Journal: http://tinyurl.com/6bqt4hy

      Apple, meanwhile, says it “intermittently” collects location data, including GPS coordinates, of many iPhone users and nearby Wi-Fi networks and transmits that data to itself every 12 hours, according to a letter the company sent to U.S. Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) last year. Apple didn’t respond to requests for comment.
      …break …

      Apple gathers the data to help build a “database with known location information,” the letter says. “This information is batched and then encrypted and transmitted to Apple over a Wi-Fi Internet connection every twelve hours (or later if the device does not have Wi-Fi Internet access at that time),” the company wrote in the July letter to Congress.

      The letter, which is available on Rep. Markey’s website, became newsworthy this week in light of findings from two researchers who uncovered a file on iPhones that keeps a record of where the phone has been and when it was there. The file is unencrypted and stored by default.

      My own personal opinion of Apple has taken a nose-dive. Jobs deliberately lied to the public, or their lawyers deliberately lied to Congress [and tellingly against their own interest]. My trust in their products is now on a par with my trust in Microsoft and Google; which is minimal. Where before, I would have dismissed the rumor about the app out of hand, now I will check it out. And my personal eventual dream Apple system is now something that they could not pay me to take.

      Subotai Bahadur

    2. ThomasD Says:

      I’m still not clear if Apple should be let off the hook just yet. What is the exact mechanism by which the machine would identify any devices doing the filming? And how would it then know which device(s) to turn off?

      Clearly for this type of system to even be possible the device in question must be emitting a unique and detectable signal while filming.

      Either the phone would be broadcasting a phone signal announcing activation of the camera, or some other aspect of the camera, in this case IR – no doubt from the rangefinder/focus system of the camera – would be encoding a form of identification that could then be cross referenced to the other aspects of the phone account.

      Is part of the patent to begin adding this ‘feature’ to Apple devices? Or are the devices already encoding this information in their IR emissions? If so, is Apple already disclosing this to current users?

    3. Whitehall Says:

      These rumors and the hostile public reaction that results serve a vital public purpose of telling companies like Apple that this sort of invasion of privacy of their customers will be seen as a breach of trust.

      Let them be scared of the public’s response so they can be deterred.

    4. Dan Says:

      This article sounds a lot like a Apple Fangirl to me…

      just sayin.

    5. Jonathan Says:

      I heard a rumor that Apple was going to force users to speak in prose.

    6. Shannon Love Says:

      Subotai Bahadur,

      Unfortunately, the article you quote is full of errors and dishonest spin. Let’s see:

      Apple, meanwhile, says it “intermittently” collects location data, including GPS coordinates, of many iPhone users and nearby Wi-Fi networks and transmits that data to itself every 12 hours

      That’s a lie. Apple did not say it collect information about “users”. Here’s what is actually going on: Apple, just like Google, Microsoft and some Linuxes use “crowd sourcing” to find wi-fi locations. When a device finds a wi-fi spot it sends the location to server. When you turn on wi-fi, your device downloads a list of local wi-fi spots from the server. This speeds finding wi-fi connections and saves battery life.

      That’s it.

      The information that Apple et al are supposedly sinisterly collecting is just wi-fi locations. They don’t collect the device id, the device owner name or any other individual information. Just the anonymous reports of wi-fi locations. There is no way to connect any wi-fi report to any individual or their devices.

      Also, to put this in perspective, the cell phone company knows exactly where you are to an error of about 5 meters whenever your phone has a battery in it. You are constantly tracked like a tagged animal whenever you carry a cell phone. Cell phone companies capture and pour over this data to use in designing their systems and for marketing. Yet, for some reason, people have no problem with this.

      …they have admitted to Congress…

      “Admit” implies they were coerced into telling the truth. They weren’t. Congress asked about the technology and they told them exactly what it did the first time they ask. Unfortunately the politicians and media all have monetary interest in demonizing the most visible computer company. The only thing Apple has to apologize for is not deleting the cache file for the wi-fi list. It was supposed to be a temporary file that was deleted when not in use but it wasn’t. As soon as the error was brought to Apple’s attention they fixed the problem within 30 days.

      No one was tracked. No one had their privacy violated. No one suffered any injury of any kind.

    7. Shannon Love Says:

      Whitehall,

      These rumors and the hostile public reaction that results serve a vital public purpose of telling companies like Apple that this sort of invasion of privacy of their customers will be seen as a breach of trust.

      I agree and I think it was irresponsible of Apple not to have anticipated how this might look to the public and not to have planned for having to communicate better.

      I don’t think Apple is used to hostile attention that being top dog attracts. Apple was the underdog for so long they don’t think about how others will try to exploit the attention given to the pack leader. Apple is making all the technology waves right now, essentially creating an entire new technological niche, and that draws parasites. They need to plan for that and be even more scrupulous in how they act and how they are perceived as acting.

    8. Shannon Love Says:

      ThomasD,

      Clearly for this type of system to even be possible the device in question must be emitting a unique and detectable signal while filming.

      I think you’ve misunderstood the technology. The Apple devices would read tags and not emit them. The tags would be like signs written in a human invisible ink and the Apple devices would just read the signs. The camera disabling feature would just be a program that looks for a sign that says, “It’s against the law to record here” and then the device would disable its camera until the device moved away from the sign. It’s basically an electronic version of the “no cell phones/cameras” that you see in some locker rooms these days.

      Is part of the patent to begin adding this ‘feature’ to Apple devices?

      No. A patent does not mean that the technology is or will be used. It just protects the company’s intellectual propery rights. Technology companies like Apple never use the majority of the patents they file. Like I said, it’s really impossible to conceive of a business model wherein Apple crippling their own devices exclusively would make them money.

      Or are the devices already encoding this information in their IR emissions?

      The Apple devices would not encode or emit any information. Instead, they read the emissions from other devices. It’s exclusively a technology to read incoming transmissions not a technology to send them.

    9. PenGun Says:

      The reason I will not use an Apple product is simple. I want control. It’s my device, it should do exactly what I want.

      This why I left the mainstream when Windows NT 4 came out. I have used Linux happily ever since and after many years of use have some expertise.

      Steve wants a controlled, closed and profitable, for him, environment. There is no part of “high, wild and free” in his oeuvre. As an aging hippie this will not do for me. Possibly it will for you.

    10. Jerry L Cox Says:

      It occurs to me that this is basically a tempest in a teacup with obvious solutions.

      Apple (or any vendor) provided solution: Make reading IR tags optional via a camera software switch.

      Third Party provided solution: Sell IR filter for lens to filter out IR wavelength and associated tags. If the camera can’t see the IR it can’t disable itself.

      With possible government involvement it almost makes one want to go back to using real film. But alas there is no more Kodachrome.

    11. Shannon Love Says:

      PenGun,

      The reason I will not use an Apple product is simple. I want control. It’s my device, it should do exactly what I want.

      Translation: I want to steal the results of other people’s work and Apple’s DMR won’t let me.

      I say that because the only thing that Apple “controls” is other people’s property that you use on your machine. The only thing Linux lets you do that Apple doesn’t is steal from people like me.

      Linux demonstrates the severe limits of any system based on an absence of property rights. Linux developers make their money by selling the expertise it takes to run the software they write. Linux and Linux apps remain the province of geeks because the Linux business model forces obscurity in order to sell services. The software is “free” but figuring out how to actually use it is very expensive. Most of the software is unpolished and incomplete.

      You certainly don’t have a situation as with the Apple iOS and Mac app store where small developers can write little useful apps, sell them for $0.99 a seat and still make descent money. Users get useful apps, without the bloat, and developers can actually eat without having to work OminMegaCorp.

      You want to steal. I get that. Hell, everyone wants something for nothing and will rationalize why it is moral that they can do so e.g. all software companies are as big as Microsoft, all musicians are multi-millionare rock stars, all writers make as much money as John Grishem, people will just magically spend vast amounts of their personal time to make me all the things I want without me having to give them anything in return etc ad nasuem.

      Well, it doesn’t work that way. There is no Santa Claus. If you want people to devote their resources to creating things for your use you have to trade your time and resources in return. Most creatives aren’t rich, aren’t “big” and they require protection of their property rights to keep from getting eaten by those who are rich and big. Linux doesn’t provide that protection so it will never thrive to the extent it could if it had a realistic and moral business model.

    12. PenGun Says:

      Oh my, you know almost nothing.

      You understand OS X is a mash up of FreeBSD, NeXT and some legacy crap from Carnegie Mellon’s pitiful excuse of a kernel? No probably not. The kerneltrap OS errors for OS X and FreeBSD were identical for about a year.

      Free software is the foundation of Apples OS, it’s browser and most of what is good about OS X. The reason Steve took FreeBSD is the license that allows almost anything at all. It’s why M$’s TCP stack was pure FreeBSD for many years, may still be.

      You owe a huge debt to free software and Linux has provided most of the real advances in the past 10 years at least so you owe us. Big time.

    13. Shannon Love Says:

      PenGun,

      Boy did you misunderstand things.

      First of all, MacOS is based on BSD not FreeBSD which is a fork. FreeBSD was kept compatible with the licensed version that is why they look so similar. NextStep licensed BSD from Berkley in 1988, long before open source software and before Linux was a gleam in Linus Torvalds. FreeBSD did not fork until 1993, four years after Nextstep 1.0 shipped.

      Yes, Apple uses a lot of open source software, mostly open source that it itself is the primary contributor/funder. Here’s list. Open source is great as long as somebody is willing to provide the polish and support which Apple does. However, none of these technologies is part of the core OS. Even BSD is just a foundational layer of a much larger OS.

      I know all this because (1) I worked at Apple when Apple bought Nextstep and (2) I am an Apple programmer today. I know both the history and the internals and you obviously don’t. Wow, come to think of it, I am contributing to Apple’s Macruby open source project right now.

      More importantly, I take it you are conceding the point that the only thing that Linux lets you “control” that Apple doesn’t is other people’s property. I mean you failed to mention what 90% of my last post was all about so I take that to be a concession to my point.

      Or, do you have a long list of things that (1) Linux lets you do that Apple doesn’t but (2) doesn’t involve stealing other people’s work?

    14. PenGun Says:

      As I said they took FreeBSD. As I also said for about a year the kerneltrap errors for FreeBSD and OS X were the same. It’s a FreeBSD kernel. BSD has a slightly more restrictive license. The advertising clause.

      “Or, do you have a long list of things that (1) Linux lets you do that Apple doesn’t but (2) doesn’t involve stealing other people’s work?”

      Huh. I can modify the source. All else is trivial.

      You will have to explain how using Linux to which I have contributed is “using other peoples property”.

      I won’t use Apple devices. How is this using other peoples property?

    15. Scott Says:

      Eric S Raymond has several perfectly valid points that you might or might not want to address: http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=3331 Raymond is not given to hyperbole, in my experience.

    16. Shannon Love Says:

      PenGun,

      As I said they took FreeBSD.

      Explain how they “took” FreeBSD four years before it existed? MacOSX is based on Nextstep which used an extensively modified BSD and which shipped four years before the FreeBSD project was started. You are just wrong. Check your dates.

      Huh. I can modify the source. All else is trivial.

      You can modify the source, in theory, assuming that you are part of the 0.0001% of population who has both the programming expertise and the vast amounts of free time necessary to wade through thousands of lines of other people’s code and tweak it. But if you are part of the 99.999% of the population without the skills or you have the skills (like me) but no free time, then the source is as totally opaque as any proprietary system. I gave up on Linux for all but a few server installs because I simply did not have the time to fiddle with it anymore and you do have to fiddle, a lot, to get the real benefits from Linux.

      Nobody, regardless of skill, has the time to tweak more than a tiny percentage of the system. So the idea that you “control” the entire Linux install is utterly illusionary. As a practical matter, you don’t, and it is the practical, real world use that matters and not the abstract concept.

      The camera disabling technology will only work in practice if backed by the force of law because the free market will not economically support such a device. So using a Linux device would not save you. The government would simply make devices without the disabling tech illegal.

      You will have to explain how using Linux to which I have contributed is “using other peoples property”.

      Because the vast majority of people are not programmers and when they say they want to “control” their computers what they really mean is that they don’t want any kind of DRM and they don’t want DRM because they want to use other people’s work without permission or pay. Even when I talk to programmers, every discussion about “control” comes down to not code but digital media and those conversation usually devolve into long rationals for stealing.

      Maybe you are different but I seriously doubt it given your comments on other issues. Honestly, how much of the media of all kinds on your linux box is either public domain or scrupulously paid for? Hell, without DRM, you can steal things by accident. I once set a script to download a trailer for an anime series late at night but instead of the trailer, the url actually point to a cache of dvis of the entire season and my script got the whole thing. It’s that easy to do without DRM.

      The only reason to reject a reasonable, fair and workable DRM system is because you want to steal. Apple’s system is reasonable, fair and workable and huge benefit to small, individual creators. The fact that you don’t like it strongly suggest you want to steal from small, individual creators like myself.

    17. Shannon Love Says:

      Scott,

      Eric S Raymond likes to hyperventilate a great deal. I respect a lot of his work but he has long refused to look at the economic problems associated with open source software and he likes to push it as a near magical solution without quite explaining how its all going to be paid for.

      In this case, I don’t see any evidence he even bothered to look at the patent or understand the technology. He, like most uninformed hysterical commenters, seems to believe that Apple has patented some kind of jamming technology. They haven’t. It’s just a technology for reading virtual “signs” that are “written” in infrared. Once a device reads a sign, it can be programmed to do almost anything but one potentially useful option would be to disable the camera if it is in an area it is illegal to record in.

      Raymond neglects to mention that you could program a smart phone to disable its camera based on almost any environmental clue e.g. the GPS coordinates, the relationship to cell towers, local wi-fi spots, whether someone is touching the phone, changes in lighting or because its Tuesday. All the Apple patent does is add another way for the phone to be aware of its physical surroundings, what the anyone does with that awareness is an entirely different question.

    18. James Says:

      Eric is given to all sorts of hyperbole, particularly in regards to Apple and iOS. And for good reason: the success of the iOS platform, and the rest of Apple’s amazing growth since 2007, has come due to Apple completely going against the sacred postulates of the Open Source movement.

      The Linux talk about “I should have ultimate control over my device” is a pure religious superstition, never backed up with any sound argument whatsoever. It’s much like saying that you should simply have the right to use whatever kind of fuel or lubricants you want in your car, while at the same time being able to maintain the manufacturer’s warranty coverage.

      Steve Jobs has brought more freedom to computing than Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds, Eric Raymond, and all the Ubuntu geeks combined. Simple as that. Freedom that is important: The freedom to buy a device that is useful.

      The Opentards are nothing more than a rather bizarre religious cult, based on silly superstitions, who are unable to fathom that the majority of their ideas are either mistaken or misunderstood appropriations from other disciplines.

      If you disregard the Opentards’ superstitions, there is no reason to choose Linux for a desktop.

    19. Scott Says:

      Raymond neglects to mention that you could program a smart phone to disable its camera
      Not really…Raymond makes it very clear that any attempt to do this in an Android would be hacked very rapidly to re-enable it. I’m not totally sure who you mean by “you”, though…since “you” most likely could not do this with iOS. I suppose you could re-enable on iOs with jail-breaking & some form of side-loading, but then we’re into Opentard territory, no?

      Eric is given to all sorts of hyperbole, particularly in regards to Apple and iOS.
      Except his hyperbole has been right in the one and only place it truly matters — the marketplace. I’ve been amazed at his predictive ability over the last year regarding Android v iOS. The rapid overtaking is fairly remarkable, if you can look at it objectively.

      The Linux talk about “I should have ultimate control over my device” is a pure religious superstition, never backed up with any sound argument whatsoever.
      You don’t think the argument about governmental jamming, overt or covert, is a valid argument? I’d say, given the number of cases of police harassment after being recorded that have popped up recently makes it especially valid. To imagine that this camera shutdown switch (since you don’t like jamming), will remain a technology available only to good people rightfully enforcing their copyright strikes me as entirely too trusting of government over all.

      Steve Jobs has brought more freedom to computing than Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds, Eric Raymond, and all the Ubuntu geeks combined. Simple as that. Freedom that is important: The freedom to buy a device that is useful.
      Not really, since the pervasive internet we’ve come to know and love over the last 5 years, and makes these useful end devices valuable, is very much a Linux phenomenon.

    20. Gerry from Valpo Says:

      Will the next iPhone be able to detect if I am pointing the camera at my Wiener?

    21. Scott Says:

      Gerry wins.

    22. Shannon Love Says:

      Gerry From Valpo,

      Gerry From Valpo

      God, I hope so. I know Benjamin Franklin said not to trade freedom for security but man is it tempting in this case.

    23. David W Says:

      “Because the vast majority of people are not programmers and when they say they want to “control” their computers what they really mean is that they don’t want any kind of DRM and they don’t want DRM because they want to use other people’s work without permission or pay”

      That’s the only possible reason, huh? Either you’re for ‘Alles in Ordnung!’ or you’re a dirty rotten thief? All Hail the All-Knowing, all benevolent RIAA!

      I have a much simpler reason for not wanting DRM – it makes things break, and it only affects legitimate customers, like, well, me. The pirates don’t have it anyway, literally; they can’t pirate a work until the DRM has been removed. For 99% of the pirates, they have no work to do to get there; it’s already been removed by the time they see it. But thanks to DRM, with it’s guilty until proven innocent mindset, if the verification servers are down for any reason, if my internet connection stops working (or I’m moving), if I don’t have the right password or lose the manual, well, suddenly I don’t have my copy anymore. My copy for which I paid good money.

      Maybe, if there were ever a system that worked, I could support DRM. I’m pretty sure that’s impossible, but as a thought experiment, I could handle it. But as it is, it’s no different than the teacher keeping the class from recess because someone played hooky, no different than arresting witnesses to a crime while the criminal walks away. No different than making us all submit to the TSA, while the terrorists still manage anything they can think of. It’s theater! It looks good, but it has no connection to its stated goals, while adding cost and inconvenience to everyone’s life.

      The only place that DRM ever succeeds, in the true sense of preventing the pirates from getting ahold of the work, is…actually, I can’t think of one. Movies are out on the torrents before they’re in theaters; most music and games before they’re in stores. If you can ignore that niggling voice of conscience, the pirates provide a superior experience! But no matter how many times its failed, DRM always adds one more level of inconvenience to my life, one more point of unreliability, one more thing I have to think about. But don’t worry – one of these times they’re get it right, they just need to add one more level of check and this time, for sure, it’ll keep the pirates out.

      That’s why I buy CD’s instead of iTunes, why I go to Good Old Games instead of Gamestop, and why on a growing list of things, I do without – because if I buy something, I want to have it, not have it until/unless some negligence or error or corporate decision takes it away from me, with no recourse thanks to a EULA I supposedly ‘signed’ by the mere act of buying the item.

    24. Shannon Love Says:

      Scott,

      Raymond makes it very clear that any attempt to do this in an Android would be hacked very rapidly to re-enable i

      Unless it’s implemented in hardware which it definitely will be binkecause otherwise it would be useless.

      Think about, lets assume there is are people out there who want a phone which will disable its own camera based on an external input. E.g. people who want to be able to take their phones into locker rooms, classified facilities, confidential facilities (e.g. medical or banking documents facilities), private parties, who knows what else. Now, obviously, they will only be able to do so if the managers of the facilities trust that the phone’s camera is actually disabled and they won’t trust any device in which the disabling feature can itself be disabled from software. Governments that would mandate such a technology as well will want such a function to be built-in to hardware for the same reason.

      There is no such thing as open source hardware because making computer hardware requires the resources and skills of giant corporation. If Intel, AMD and a handful of much smaller chip makers all decide to put some restrictive functionality into the hardware, there is nothing open source software can do about it.

      Except his hyperbole has been right in the one and only place it truly matters — the marketplace. I’ve been amazed at his predictive ability over the last year regarding Android v iOS

      You shouldn’t be. Everyone familiar with Apple’s business model always knew they never planned on being the dominant market player for more than a brief period of time. Apple’s model, even in mobile devices, is tight hardware, software and (recently) content integration. That model makes it physically impossible for Apple to build enough Apple hardware to supply everyone who wants any particular class of device. It will never happen.

      Instead, Apple focuses on being the market innovator with the goal of capturing a large enough minority share of the market long term to make butt loads of money and keep the technology going forward. Apple is the Scotts-Irish of the computing world. They carve out a homestead on the wild frontier but as soon as others move in, Apple pulls up stakes and heads out to the edge again.

      Of course Android, or some other hardware independent system, will capture the lion’s share of the market. Just like Microsoft did back circa 1990. But that means the end users will face all the same problems faced by Microsoft users e.g. integrating diverse and non-standardized hardware, not knowing which device supports what functionality of the OS, becoming the target of malware authors etc. How long after Android becomes the dominant OS will it take for the governments of the world to step and start regulating it? Is a government monopoly OS inherently better than any other?

      You don’t think the argument about governmental jamming, overt or covert, is a valid argument

      Of course it is but that is not what is under discussion. We are talking about a technology that not only isn’t any form of jamming but that isn’t even technologically linked to disabling the camera in any form or fashion. I mean, it would be possible to write a functionality into an OS that would disable the camera if the device received a certain text message. However, I don’t see people frothing at the mouth about the dangers of text messaging software.

      Not really, since the pervasive internet we’ve come to know and love over the last 5 years, and makes these useful end devices valuable, is very much a Linux phenomenon.

      Only on the server side and it takes both server and client to tango. Linux sucks when it comes to maintaining content property rights. If you earn your bread creating content or software, Linux is an active impairment to your ability create.

      As it has done for the last 30 years, Apple is providing the template for all future development. Apple takes a technology in the air and then makes it work in mass production. It is Apple that makes technologies that are acceptable to ordinary people. After Apple creates the acceptance, then other come in and clone Apple’s tech. All PCs are modeled on the Apple I and II which were the first successful mass produced personal computers. All GUIs are modeled on the original MacOS. All contemporary Desktops are modeled on the USB only- no floppy drive iMac. And of course, all things Android are modeled on all things iOS. They even took the app store name.

      One could say that the weakness of the Linux OS cluster is that it can’t really clone the things that Apple does and therefore can’t gain widespread acceptance.

    25. ThomasD Says:

      Shannon,

      Thanks for the reply. If what you say is correct then the application seems much less an invasion of privacy, and possibly even a mechanism for protecting privacy (in this age of everything-on-the-internet and the-internet-is-forever I’d gladly rent one for my kid’s pool parties/sleepovers.) But your description is also at complete odds with what is being reported.

      A patent application filed by Apple revealed how the technology would work. If an iPhone were held up and used to film during a concert infra-red sensors would detect it. These sensors would then contact the iPhone and automatically disable its camera function.”

      Assuming this is accurate what is being proposed is not an internal defeat mechanism acting on an external signal, it is an external hunter seeker device looking for IR from cameras. How else could it know which phone to contact if each phone was not already identifying itself in some unique manner?

      Do you have another source for your information? Is the actual patent filing available?

    26. PenGun Says:

      The whole point of free software is it’s free. Unencumbered by any RM at all.

      I like that. I like to be the one to decide what happens with the device I paid for.

      It does not matter what anyone thinks about this, it is quite possible. If you really need DRM to keep you in some kind of line you may have agreed to, then buy and use Apple products. I will not.

      As to media, the stuff that comes with all this copy protection is pretty well all garbage anyway. After boosting all of Dish for a while, a technical exercise really, it became apparent there was nothing on. This with 700 channels available. I sold my satellite hardware and now I just download the Daily Show and Colbert Report. That is pretty well the extent of my digital consumption with the exception of some cartoons I download. Neither the Comedy Network or Adult Swim care.

      I have a Win 7 partition and a Steam account which I use for games and to run my fancy printer. I do like my Stalker.

      My Linux partition I call home is a fine place with the setup I’ve honed over the years. Keystrokes invoke lots of things I don’t do a lot of clicking wit da mouse. I still use the command line for burning DVDs, much faster than pulling up some lame burner client and a lot of other things too. My entire collection of media just plays it’s self with appropriate settings from my good ol’ Midnight Commander file manager. It just works. I doubt it would even be possible to arrange OS X to my liking. It certainly is in Linux where spend nearly all my time on a computer.

      I don’t need yer stinkin’ DRM. I don’t have to put up with it either. I can take anything I want. I don’t though, just like in regular life, honesty is the best policy.

      You will have to trust me. I will not put on your chains.

    27. Scott Says:

      There is no such thing as open source hardware because making computer hardware requires the resources and skills of giant corporation. If Intel, AMD and a handful of much smaller chip makers all decide to put some restrictive functionality into the hardware, there is nothing open source software can do about it.

      I would disagree with that in the sense that there is no reason, short of government fiat, for the chipmakers to disable functionality of the nature which is under discussion. You can’t take the camera out of the cellphone at this point. And I see no way you can have a true hardware-only switch that disables a cellphone camera, unless the lens and sensor is wholly modular and removable, and well, who’s going to buy one of those, except super-specialists? I don’t disagree that are potentially legitimate uses for jamming/capability reduction/whatever, but I’m not sure I want it to be something I don’t manage.

      Everyone familiar with Apple’s business model always knew they never planned on being the dominant market player for more than a brief period of time.

      I don’t know if I agree with that. That seems like a lot of lip gloss on the way their model has evolved since a little after Jobs’ return. IANABoardMember, so I could be wrong.

      Of course it is but that is not what is under discussion.

      It’s very much under discussion. Heck, it’s your original post and your update, about Point #48. You discuss it in this comment, about locker rooms and medical history files. This business about text messages, while true, isn’t.

      Only on the server side

      That’s the worlds biggest “only”, I think.

      Well…pretty far afield from the original debating points. I still don’t think it’s hyperbolic to point out the potential for abuse, especially governmental. It’s fair to say that there are legitimate uses of the technology, too, which I never doubted or questioned, but there are probably legitimate uses for that county to have access to a key to your home, as well.

    28. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Most Linux users, I think, are chiefly interested in bragging about how cool they are. Long ago, I was a programmer and as recently as ten years ago could write small apps in Visual C++. I wouldn’t dream of trying to tweak the major OS I use. I switched to Apple when I was at Dartmouth 16 years ago. It was a campus standard and easier to use although slower than a PC in doing heavy duty computation. Calculating a regression analysis with five variables took a PowerPC Mac 30 minutes and a 486 PC about 10 seconds. A few years later with the Intel Mac, the difference was gone.

      The DRM issue agitates a few people but most of us are not affected.

    29. PenGun Says:

      OS X … *nix for pussies.

    30. James Says:

      PenGun:

      Thank you so much for your comment that OS X is just *nix for pussies. You have no idea how much it made me smile. Thank you for your confession. And for making it clear why Linux has been such a failure.

      OS X has been such a great success because it has a higher degree of usability. It’s for pussies. And by that I suppose you mean human beings who aren’t geeks.

      Linux geeks pretend their silly religion is about increasing people’s freedoms. Opening up the world of computing to more people. This facade doesn’t last long, however. So many Linux users glory in the complications.

      Here’s a better way to look at OS X: just as good as any other *nix with vastly better GUI, usability, scriptability, and a massively better library of software to choose from.

      Enjoy your illusions of control and freedom. I’m going to go use my Mac to get some real work done (as opposed to Linux-y dicking around) using software capable of things no Linux device can equal.

      The Apple tax is cheap compared to the expenses you guys dish out for yourselves.

    31. Shannon Love Says:

      Scott,

      I still don’t think it’s hyperbolic to point out the potential for abuse, especially governmental.

      I was originally objecting to arguments about the potential for abuse, I was arguing against the, “Apple plans to deploy a technology to disable iPhone cameras.” That statement, widely repeated across the internet, is a flat out lie. Even so, it has already become accepted gospel for most.

      More subtly, I object that Apple is singled out for speculating in a patent, a legal and fiduciary requirement btw, while the same or greater potential for abuse exist in every platform. Nothing prevents any Android hardware manufacture from adding the capability to disable Android phones based on any input. I don’t see people hyperventilating about that.

      Does anyone think it would be better if Apple had hidden the potential for using the augmented reality tags to single a device to disable it’s camera? Isn’t more responsible for a company to make public all potential uses. When you punish people for being open and thorough all you do is encourage them to be secretive and slipshod.

      I think the real motivation behind this internet myth is not a desire to protect people from evil corporations but instead people with philosophical, professional and economic investments in one mega corporation, Google, seeking to sow FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) in order to materially damage the market position of their primary economic competitor, Apple.

    32. Shannon Love Says:

      PenGun,

      OS X … *nix for pussies.

      Color me shocked that someone who has revealed themselves in previous comments to be a racist elitist is an elitist in his choice of operating system.

      How sad is it that you base your self-esteem on an operating system?

      You attitude is a prime example of why Open Source has failed to live up to its potential. You claim you want ordinary, non-computer specialist to use Open Source yet you sneer I people who devoted their intellects to things like medicine instead your noble pursuit of remembering that it’s `ls -a` to show invisible dot files instead of `ls -i`. Yeah, you are so superior to everyone else.

      Elitism is what Leftism is all about and Open Source mirrors Leftism in most respects. Just like Leftist you hold the people you notionally want to help in utter contempt for the crime of not being you and investing in time and resources in the things you think are important. Just like Leftists, you will decide what do and do not need and not the people you supposedly want to help.

      We computer geeks should be devoting ourselves to giving others the tools they need to perform the real-world data task that provide the real material benefits to real people. It’s not an exercise for our ego.

    33. Brian Dunbar Says:

      OS X … *nix for pussies.

      An operating system is a tool. One utilizes the best tool for the job.

      If you’re so far into the technology that your choice of operating system is a major definition of who you are, you need help.

    34. PenGun Says:

      LOL Linux is a communist tool.

      “An operating system is a tool. One utilizes the best tool for the job.

      If you’re so far into the technology that your choice of operating system is a major definition of who you are, you need help.”

      How can I put this? I ran servers for many years. My specialty was backends and I wrote a lot of code. Being able to call any Linux service as a useful adjunct to the web application I was working on is a huge advantage and one of the reasons Linux owns the web.

      I used Linux to write a youtube long before there was bandwith for it. Just for fun and to learn Perl

      No, it’s you fanbois who define yourself by your rather poor OS. It is not that special folks. Just a locked up version of an *nix and not done all that well apart from the user stroking part. You will find Linux owns supercomputing which does define the best in operating systems.

    35. PenGun Says:

      “You attitude is a prime example of why Open Source has failed to live up to its potential. You claim you want ordinary, non-computer specialist to use Open Source yet you sneer I people who devoted their intellects to things like medicine instead your noble pursuit of remembering that it’s `ls -a` to show invisible dot files instead of `ls -i`. Yeah, you are so superior to everyone else.”

      I never claimed anything. I run Slackware, a rather user hostile distribution, because I like it. The more friendly distributions are set up differently than I like and they are somewhat locked down to protect the users from themselves.

      I am not an open sores advocate. Free software I can get behind. I really don’t care who uses Linux, if you love computers you will get to it.

      Because of my fascination with computers I have had a lot of fun and learned a great deal from a completely open OS … Linux. I have also run FreeBSD and OpenBSD as well. I like *nix a lot.

      I have not sneered at people who are into medicine, your missive reveals typos and mistakes doubtless because you were angry. Calm down.

      I operate a great deal from Midnight Commander, as many of us do, and ya know my . files are always visible.

    36. Scott Says:

      Shannon, if the Open Source people are trying to damage Apple’s market position, they are doing a spectacularly poor job of it, and have been spectacularly poor at it for almost 10 years now. For this reason alone, I think you’re flat wrong on that aspect of this kerfluffle.

      This is equally wrong: Elitism is what Leftism is all about and Open Source mirrors Leftism in most respects. Just like Leftist you hold the people you notionally want to help in utter contempt for the crime of not being you and investing in time and resources in the things you think are important. Just like Leftists, you will decide what do and do not need and not the people you supposedly want to help.

      I happen to use open source a great deal in my various microscopically-small businesses. I don’t decide what to do — my customers do. Now, I do most of my work in industrial, harsh, embedded environments, so I’m a corner case. But the only reason I can even consider doing that is because of the evolution in open source, and my limited ability to put all these pieces together in a way that does what the customer wants. So, with all humility, I don’t think you could find a Leftist bone in my body. And I absolutely do not hold my customers, the people who put brisket in the smoker, in contempt.

      It’s been instructive, over here, during this back and forth. I don’t sneer at Apple users, as seems to be the consensus. I don’t think I’m super-cooler than anybody else because I can hack, a little bit. I mean, I even use a Windows 7 desktop, on a cheap Acer laptop, to do 99% of the hacking, anyway, so I’m like the bottom of the food-chain.

      But the enormous amount of vitriol unleashed by Applers on FOSSers — well, that’s been as delicious as the Great Flame Wars of the Early Aughts between Apple and Bill Gates’ Satanic Minions. Here I’ve stumbled into the crossfire yet again, and unfortunately, there’s precisely one common denominator.