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Code Sign of the Times

Twenty eight years later than when initially anticipated.


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'The new Microsoft' - that has an austere ring to it. 'The new Google' - sounds good too but it's a bit redundant. But the first expression applies to Apple - at least according to the readers at MacRumors. They're in an uproar - Apple can evidently disable 3rd party software on their iPhones by remote control.

This stands to reason. They weren't worried about running everything as root because they were going to sign all executables. Their program loader can nix any app they don't like. Primarily to prevent intrusion perhaps - but what's intrusion?

Things are getting way out of whack and Steve Jobs is becoming the Orwellian Big Brother to replace the Bill Gates version and stand alongside the Brin/Page/Schmidt version. Yuck.

And the freelance butt lickers are already boasting they have 'inside information' and Steve Jobs would never try something so evil - oh no no! And aside from realising these people have no lives one wonders what they think they're going to accomplish. Are they as dumb as all the rest? Evidently they are. Either that or they're well paid to collaborate. Or too stupid to understand they're being duped.

Apple of late can't help sinking up to their eyeballs in shit for every new step they take. People are starting to wonder what happened to the Apple of old; others are questioning whether there ever was any Apple of old - whether that was only some type of Cupertino engendered illusion; still others are talking about opening the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project again as a rehab centre for people on their way back to the novel idea of freethinking.

Apple's iPhone App Store is a mess anyway. Vendors find their apps suddenly removed from the listings with no forewarning, explanation, or apology. The Mings were more considerate.

The iPhone's history has certainly been speckled. First it was this site that pointed out Apple were essentially running the iPhone OS like Windows: everything ran as root. Then Charlie Miller picked the device apart in a matter of hours. After that he got some nasty correspondence from Cupertino of course.

Then came the CodeResources coup - code signing. Suddenly all software on the iPhone - and on Apple's increasingly abandoned 'computer operating system' - could be signed and thereby controlled by the kernel's program loader. And hordes of Leopard users were in an uproar - or try cleaning up the junkyard Apple make of the services menu and the web apps suddenly won't work anymore.

Try cleaning up these sloppily packaged bundles and the same thing happens. And Apple engineers seem to have never heard of people feeling a need to do this.

What a mess.

A new era. Throwing the hammer at Big Brother. Twenty eight years later than when initially anticipated.

There's a URL out there the iPhone supposedly accesses. Some say it's so the iPhone can find if the applications it's running are still approved. If not - then anything can in theory happen.

Others claim the URL isn't used for anything so drastic at all - and thereby miss the point entirely. Microsoft actually contemplated downloading malware onto improperly licensed client machines. Had the legislation they were pushing passed they would have had the legal right to do it.

Already there's been a rumbling that 'free and open' systems such as Linux and FreeBSD or inquisitive software such as is available at this site can be trashed through an invocation of the DMCA. We certainly live in uncertain times.

The Defenders of the Faith™ will argue that Apple really haven't done so much terribly wrong yet. How refreshing. But it's never about how benign the dictator is - it's about anyone having such a power over others in the first place.

Apple turned the mobile phone market upside down with their iPhone. Suddenly things aren't free anymore. People used to get a dazzling gadget cheap or for free for signing with a carrier. Suddenly people aren't interested in the service anymore - they're interested in (mesmerised by) the gadget itself.

Suddenly the spectre of Big Brother is everywhere.

It's not about Steve Jobs abusing such a power - it's about people not wanting him - or anyone - to have that power in the first place. They don't really trust him - or anyone - that much. They're smarter than that.

And now comes Snow Leopard. CodeResources and code signing is already in place. Steve Jobs might have his ideal gadget by the time of the OS release: he'd fully control everything. Nothing not code signed by Apple will run. Steve Jobs in such case has essentially got thousands of programmers really cheap. And he's such a gentleman he lets them keep 70% of their revenues. For now.

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