The Macalope Weekly: Making things up

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Hey, kids, you know how sometimes when you’re trying to make a point and you don’t have enough evidence to support it, so you just make things up? Well, these guys do. Dan Gillmor has had enough of Apple’s draconian control of things it’s not actually controlling draconianly! Meanwhile, vicious gangs of jailbreakers are coming to jailbreak your iPhone against your will! Finally, Google’s Eric Schmidt finally says what’s everyone’s been thinking: Apple’s just jealous of the innovation of other companies!


Saturday Special: Going full Cory Doctorow

Another day, another blog post about how someone’s not leaving Apple, Apple left them!

This time it’s former San Jose Mercury News columnist and media critic Dan Gillmor (tip o’ the antlers to Wil Shipley). The Macalope’s been a fan of Gillmor’s work in the past, so he’s a little disappointed.

Oh, not in seeing Gillmor go. That’s his decision. What he’s disappointed in is Gillmor’s misguided assertions about Lion.

This wouldn’t be a big issue if I liked Lion more. Some of the changes look terrific, based on reviews. Others are more questionable, even though they’re designed to create a more modern structure—in itself a worthy objective but not when forced on users who have become accustomed to perfectly workable earlier methods.

Please define “forced” here because, unlike you, the horny one has actually used Lion and he has no idea what you’re talking about. Yes, some would prefer if Apple didn’t dump a bunch of icons in the Dock and change the scrolling default to inverted, but all these things are configurable.

But Gillmor’s real complaints aren’t about Lion, they’re about Apple’s other OS and the App Store.


Given the well-chronicled consequences of the company’s control-freakery in the iOS ecosystem, which is being merged with the Mac, that’s unacceptable—to me, at any rate, even if it’s just fine with everyone else.

Actually, Dan, no. What Apple’s done is add iOS interface elements to OS X. The Macalope has theorized that Apple could, some day, lock the Mac down and only allow applications from the Mac App Store to be installed on it, but it hasn’t done that. Instead, it’s provided choice. The company offers a convenient place to find vetted applications, or you can go to the Internet and install any ol’ application you want. Hey, look, you can even run janky open-source applications in X11!

So, it’s not Lion you don’t like, because Lion doesn’t do any of the things you’re complaining about. What you don’t like is Apple’s business model.

Which is fine. Leaving the Mac is your decision. Your misinformed, self-righteous decision.

By rejecting its past so thoroughly—a proud history of creating devices that we users could modify for our own purposes with no one’s permission but our own—Apple is forcing me to move on.

Dan, the Macalope will type this slowly so you might get it this time: Lion is just as configurable as Snow Leopard. As a matter of fact, because it has more options (even if you don’t like those options), it’s more configurable.

So, what was your complaint again?

The insidious jailbreaking agenda

Just a little over a week ago the Macalope was chastising Adrian Kingsley-Hughes for being too gung-ho about jailbreaking. Now he has to take out the trash in the opposite direction, as Beatweek Magazine keys a Reefer Madness-esque diatribe on jailbreaking.

Apple tried to get such practice made illegal, and having failed in the courts, is now set to finish off the battle in the technical arena by making the next generation of its devices essentially unhackable.

Sure. All it has to do is ship a completely bug free version of iOS. Simple!

Some of these hackers simply want to muck up their iPhone or iPad and be done with it. But many or even most of them are instead on a mission, as evidenced by the propaganda term “jailbreaking” they’ve applied to their actions from the start. Their agenda is clear: they consider iPhone users who don’t hack their iPhone to be “in jail” and must be freed. As such, these “jailbreakers” have spent years twisting the arms of every iPhone user they come into contact, begging to be allowed to hack those users’ iPhones as well.

Wow. OK, the Macalope wouldn’t describe himself as a fan of jailbreaking, but he really wasn’t aware there was an epidemic of hacker gangs jailbreaking people’s iPhones at gunpoint.

The result: Apple Stores flooded with mainstream users whose iPhones are no longer reliable, usable, or comprehensible now that they’ve been altered into a fundamentally different software product than what Apple sold those users.

Holy crap! It’s too bad Apple has to support those and legitimate customers can’t just reset their phones to get them back to factory condition!

Oh, wait, that’s exactly what herp derp derp.

Seeing as how many of these geeks devote their entire lives to working around Apple and continuing to hack their iPhone and iPad as if their life and self-worth depended on it, these geeks may well figure out how to hack the iPhone 5 anyway.

What?! Isn’t the title of this piece “Lockout: iPhone 5, iPad 3 boot jailbreak hackers from platform at last”? ARRRGH.

The odd part of the ongoing jailbreaking saga is that despite the geeks’ collective effort to paint their hackery as “saving” the rest of the iPhone userbase from Apple’s “draconian” and “menacing” and “overlording” ways, the small handful of things you can do with a jailbroken phone nearly all fall under the category of inconsequential (making virtual ants crawl across your screen, replacing the AT&T logo with your own name) or illegal (stealing pay-for features like tethering without paying for them).

Actually, the vast majority of jailbreaking is probably done to enable the iPhone on other carriers. That seems a little less dastardly, though, and we don’t want to kill Beatweek’s strawman buzz.

Look, even the horny one has jailbroken an iPhone. Partly to just to try it, like that time in college when…

Uh, anyway, also because one of the little Macalopes had bricked it by trying various passcodes so many times it locked the SIM card and AT&T won’t give you the code to unlock it if it’s not the phone currently on contract.

While the Macalope still maintains that jailbreaking your iPhone just to install a security patch (one that Apple released less then two weeks later) is a fool’s errand, he thinks what happens between consenting adults and an iPhone in the privacy of their own homes is their own business. Enough with the scare tactics.

That’s rich

No, not Apple (although, yes, they are tremendously rich). No, the Macalope’s talking about comments from Google executive chairman and whiny teenager Eric Schmidt.

Yes, hell hath no fury like a former Apple board member who was secretly making a competing product based heavily on the iPhone! Apparently Schmidt is chafing in all the wrong places (tip o’ the antlers to 9to5 Mac) about Apple’s preliminary win against HTC, a ruling that could affect every Android handset.

“The big news in the past year has been the explosion of Google Android handsets and this means our competitors are responding,” he said.

“Because they are not responding with innovation, they’re responding with lawsuits.”

Ooh, Eric. Talc?

This is, of course, the standard “thing you say” when the courts are handing your ass to you. That’s Business 101, right after the supply and demand curve and right before golden parachutes. It is, however, a little rich coming from the company whose mobile operating system went from copying the BlackBerry to copying the iPhone, oh, right around when the iPhone was released.

“We have not done anything wrong and these lawsuits are just inspired by our success.”

Sure, Eric. Sure. Sadly for you, however, the courts would disagree. As would common sense.

The tough part for Google is that we haven’t even gotten to the main event yet. As John Gruber translates Schmidt’s over-dramatic, men’s soccer-style pratfall:

Google, as a company, is worried that Android violates one or more of the Nortel patents.


[Editors’ Note: In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

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