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Proton & Apple

There once was hope.

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There is a point to all this. There is. Just keep telling yourself.

The fanboys wait for the next iteration of iTurd. You be cool.

Andy Yen of ProtomMail doesn't like Apple much. Who can blame him?

How Apple uses anti-competitive practices to extort developers and support authoritarian regimes

Seems the EC will investigate Apple's antitrust practices. Spotify filed a complaint against Apple. Apple can be in breach of EU competition laws.

Andy applauds the decision.

'Following years of advertising itself as a company that puts users first, Apple has increasingly aligned itself with oppressive governments and curtailed digital freedom. There was a time when Apple portrayed itself as a rebellious alternative to giants like Microsoft. Today, Apple has become a monopoly, crushing potential competitors with exploitative fees and conducting censorship on behalf of dictators.'

Remember when Steve Jobs flew the pirate flag over Apple HQ? That was back in the pre-Macintosh days.

'We have come to believe Apple has created a dangerous new normal allowing it to abuse its monopoly power through punitive fees and censorship that stifles technological progress, creative freedom, and human rights. Even worse, it has created a precedent that encourages other tech monopolies to engage in the same abuses.'

Remember when Apple first told people they'd get to keep 70% of their own money?

Apple is using its monopoly to hold all of us hostage

Yen explains.

'Apple's iOS controls 25% of the global smartphone market (the other 75%, is largely controlled by Google's Android). This means that for over a billion people (particularly in the US where their market share approaches 50%), the only way to install apps is through the App Store.'

Think of the technology and innovation behind that. Think about it for a second.

iOS apps follow the OS X model. They're not executables. They're bundles. They're hives of files. A bit like the Microsoft mess with 'Program Files' but different. And worse.

This whole stunt is predicated on complete control of everything that happens on one of their devices, no matter what the device user may want.

Apple own a root certificate. That means they can completely control authenticity if they want. If they're able to digitally seal something, you won't be able to crack that seal, as they own a root certificate. This is a simplified explanation, but even so.

Special sections are squeezed into executable headers. The new section details where to find the special Apple code. Yes it can be defeated, and we proved this by accident over ten years ago, but most people won't know how and most people are lazy, so Apple will be OK. Remember iPod_Control? Apple needed to sell an idea to the record companies and they succeeded. They had to make sure that 99.9% of the fanboys never figured out how to share their music. When it comes to fanboys, that 99.9% is easy. All they ever had to do was go to a command line or use our Xfile and they could share away. Most of the fanboys are too scared to try. Same thing here. They don't dare. They have no balls. They're fanboys.

Now all you need is a way to check the 'integrity' not of a single file but of a bundle. So they invent a way of doing this.

But stop for a moment and ponder what's involved. For this means that, in addition to actually loading the software to run it, the system has to check the integrity of everything, calculate checksums on it all, then compare to what's written in that new section in the binary, then remotely check the authenticity of the root certificate - and all this before Syphilitic Birds gets to run or Cocaine Crush offers you that first snort.

All this had to be invented and implemented and brought up to a decent and satisfactory level of performance. That's a lot of time and work.

'Perhaps the most harmful expression of this power is Apple's exorbitant 30% tax on developers, which is now the subject of antitrust investigations in both the United States and the European Union. To be clear, this is an enormous fee and would be intolerable in normal market conditions, but it's particularly damaging if you offer a product that competes with Apple. It is hard to stay competitive if you are forced to pay your competitor 30% of all of your earnings.'

The fanboys don't know. SWREG, Digital River, Kagi, Reg.Net, et al, et al, et al: they've been distributing software online for decades. (SWREG was the first ever. They just went tits up.) (Digital River is the monster, having aggregated - acquired - most of the competition.) (Others that have fallen by the wayside, or been bought up, include the once-pervasive NetSales.)

What they all have in common, despite their own unique sales agreements, is a commission of about 10%. Not 30% - 10%. 10. Ten.

Andy thinks the 30% is the worst. Did you notice that Apple never mention that figure? That they always express it as 'and you the developer get to keep 70% yourself!' Did you notice that?

But there are things that are worse. Not SWREG, Kagi, Digital River, NetSales ever had $100 registration fees. They wanted your business! And they never fucking had 'product approval teams' - if you could sell it, they'd market it.

They were very much in the 'payment processing' business. And that's not an easy business. They have to have cash on deposit with the card companies, with AmEx, MasterCard, Visa, and so forth. The field is ripe with graft and fraud. Then there's the class of dopey idiots who buy something one day and then deny wanting it the next. Those can be enormous sums for a payment processor.

They have to manage wire payments. Terrestrial transfers. International transactions with SWIFT and IBAN. And still navigate the Neanderthal terrain in the US. They have to handle all possible currencies. And then put up with crackpots who ring up all day long and promise to give them Nicole Kidman's secret cell number. It's not an easy business. And they did that for a 10% cut.

Apple's 30% with a $100 annual fee tacked on the top, coupled with their aesthetic that they can and will dump you at any time - that's like Al Capone announcing that he's going into the soft drink business and everyone please pay your taxes!

And that's still not the worst.

So what's the worst? That's individual. But perhaps it's hearing that John Gruber has written another 150-word op-ed about why the so-and-so software title should or should not be allowed in Apple's App Store - without anyone ever having the fucking balls to challenge the App Store itself. None none NONE of those cowards dare challenge Apple. None of them question why an OS vendor and hardware vendor, where the OS is dongled to the hardware and where BLOODY LIMERICKS appear in the OS kernel - yeah that's sick alright - telling you, just like Bill Gates thirty years earlier, 'please don't steal' - should be able to exert that control in the first place. None of them question that. They don't dare. Pussies like Apple's fanboys wouldn't think of it. They'll harass their enemies at their workplace, they'll do fiendish things, but they will never raise their voice to Cupertino.

'This is virtually indistinguishable from a protection racket', writes Yen. It is a protection racket. And worse: the saintly Auntie Tim knows it full well. They all do. They don't give a fuck. For by the time they're finally shut down, they'll have walked off with all the gold in Dodge City.

Yen points out that Apple can use 'official' policy to remove titles from their App Store. But this is again missing the same point cited so often in the past, and this in conjunction with other Big Tech companies: they never explain unless you're the 'money', and their 'rules' are deliberately vague anyway. Apple won't remove only for reasons cited by Yen. Apple will remove any fucking time they please. You do not want, for example, to offer any software that makes their own software or their company as a whole look bad. And there are a tonne of Unix application domains they don't allow, period. Unix guys? Thanks for the help. Here comes Apple.

They also thwart - or try to thwart - access to their own services and support for people they don't like. They pull a lot of dirty tricks. Whether this is sanctioned at high level is another matter. But they do it still the same.

Tim & Teresa

Andy's piece goes on to explain other ramifications of Apple's evil policies. Mother Tim and Mother Teresa have more in common than perhaps meets the eye.

But under the bonnet of this once-great operating system is where you see the real destruction.

Here's where you find the closest thing to what NeXTSTEP used to be.


GNUstep started because their founder had to port a ginormous application out of NS and found it'd be easier to just write the underlying NS frameworks - a bit like what Linus Torvalds did with Unix. (GNUstep actually predates Linux.)

They didn't have the original NeXT code of course, but they worked after specs as Linus and friends did for their 'Unix'. And GNUstep is open source.

NS wasn't fully mature at the time of the merger. Those California companies have always been weak when it comes to objects and encapsulation. Dave Cutler runs rings around them in that area.

Particularly their file management subsystem was never satisfactorily encapsulated. They designed their Foundation class NSFileManager (an abstract class) on Unix APIs and intrinsics. So far so good - but even Unix has never been satisfactorily encapsulated, but resembles, in (lack of) spirit at least, the chaos of Berkeley sockets.

NeXT put the visible AppKit class NSWorkspace atop their NSFileManager. NSWorkspace was their workhorse, authored in part by Bertrand Serlet. You could see NSWorkspace on your desktop, with its 'About' box and everything. This wasn't encapsulation but it was the best they had in 1996. And it's still a far cry from the drop in quality Apple systems have today.

One needn't spend much time online to see what utter disasters Apple have created in the past as a direct consequence of their abysmal lack of talent when it comes to understanding filesystem management basics.

Apple mostly have their APIs online. Things are a bit sloppy, but they're always in a hurry at Apple. Yet there is no way an even casual observer can deny the outright revulsion when seeing what they're up to. Apple's inherited NeXT APIs look like what happened at a suburban garage sale after being visited by a horde of drunken vandals. Yank out something here, break off something there, it's all for the taking, nobody cares what happens with that API anymore - even though it's still precisely that self-same API holding everything together - or at least trying to.

The Church of Apple

They have their cathedrals everywhere today, Apple do. Houses of worship. It's not about what you buy today, it's about you becoming a believer, about the not-so-small fortune you'll spend in the years to come. Over and over and over again.

A good laptop for $500? Perhaps $300? Count on it costing $1500 at least from Apple.

Remember John Sculley's first executive decision on the Macintosh project from 1984? Steve Jobs wanted to sell it for $1999. Sculley instinctively raised the price to $2499. They're doing it ever since.

Now you have cellphones that cost more than PCs.

The point is: that everything is geared to this new religion. Quality in software engineering or system design is irrelevant. Sad times indeed.

What the world needs is a stable universal OS. A foundation on which all else can be built. A Rock Solid Foundation.

There was once a hope that Apple, of all unlikely companies, would provide this. But Apple can't help being Apple.

About Rixstep

Stockholm/London-based Rixstep are a constellation of programmers and support staff from Radsoft Laboratories who tired of Windows vulnerabilities, Linux driver issues, and cursing x86 hardware all day long. Rixstep have many years of experience behind their efforts, with teaching and consulting credentials from the likes of British Aerospace, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Lloyds TSB, SAAB Defence Systems, British Broadcasting Corporation, Barclays Bank, IBM, Microsoft, and Sony/Ericsson.

Rixstep and Radsoft products are or have been in use by Sweden's Royal Mail, Sony/Ericsson, the US Department of Defense, the offices of the US Supreme Court, the Government of Western Australia, the German Federal Police, Verizon Wireless, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Microsoft Corporation, the New York Times, Apple Inc, Oxford University, and hundreds of research institutes around the globe. See here.

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