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Charlie and the fanboy factory

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Charlie Monroe had a bit of a problem. Or more like a nightmare.

'On Aug 4, 2020 I woke up to a slightly different world - I had lost my business as it seemed. Full inbox of reports of my apps not launching (crashing on launch) and after not too long I found out that when I sign into my Apple developer account I can no longer see that I would be enrolled into Apple's developer program - au contraire - it shows a button for me to enroll, which I tried clicking, but only got a message that I can't do that.'

Charlie investigated.

'After more investigation, I found out that the distribution certificates were revoked - evidently by Apple as no one else has access to them and I was sound asleep when all this happened. Each app these days needs to be code-signed using an Apple-issued certificate so that the app will flawlessly work on all computers. When Apple revokes the certificate, it's generally a kill-switch for the apps.'

'I got really frightened as all of sudden, no user was able to use my apps anymore...'

Charlie Monroe runs a small family business, as he calls it. He writes and supplies a number of apps for platforms owned and operated by Apple.

Those of you hitting the Kool-Aid bottle hard: you can go elsewhere now.

'Should I quickly go and apply for a job? Or should I try to found another company and distribute the apps under it? What should I do? The most damaging to me is the message shown to user.'

Grand, innit?

Note the language. Note the scare tactics. There's no 'in between'. This software will damage your computer. Nothing remotely ambiguous about that.

Those pointy heads could move the beast to the 'Trash' if they wanted, they could remove it permanently too, but they want to make you obedient, to fall in line (and perhaps encourage other wayward fanboys to do the same).

And - finally - your opportunity to be a good Apple citizen. Oh so rich.

'Report malware to Apple to protect other users.'

How exactly this would protect anyone isn't explained. They already know everything about you anyway. They own your computer, and now they want to own your soul.

'Average user immediately goes nuts. I fully understand that the entire idea here is that Apple can remotely kill malware and to keep the user on the safe side, but can't they differentiate between individual cases?'

By 'average user' Charlie has to mean 'average drooling unicelled window-licker fanboy user'. Nothing else makes sense. Ordinary people would feel only anger - at Apple.

'I really find the above borderlining [sic] on slander.'

No, Charlie, it's not 'borderlining' on anything. And it's worse than slander. It's even worse than FUD. It's an attempt to scare you, to frighten the fanboys, to administer their cattle prod, you naughty boy, to make you fall back in line. Rebel scum.

But can we step back briefly to contemplate this?

'The entire idea here is that Apple can remotely kill malware...'

Anybody but a fanboy will object. Because it's only the fanboys who understand nothing.

Let's shorten that a bit further.

'Apple can remotely kill.'

Perhaps even a few fanboys will get on the right page.

What's likely happened is that Charlie's download got laden with extended attributes and shit, including the skanky 'Quarantine' flag, meaning the system immediately put the app in the alternate universe of the Ringwraiths, never to return.

And, further, on every attempt to launch, Apple's OS, instead of just launching the sucker and then doing the GTFO as it should, actually phoned home to check poor Charlie's credentials.

And the fanboys thought this was only to launch applications.


The story spread quickly to Paul Graham's site. Paul's a big fan of Apple, so it's no surprise he hosted the discussion there.


Visitor 'echelon' is in quick to offer a sliver of obvious.

'No company should have this much control over people's businesses and livelihoods... Do you like not having control of your devices?'

Charlie joins the discussion.

'* No email in my spam box. * My contact address is still working and have received notifications about them approving my updates for the App Store yesterday (so saying that they have no way of contacting me is not true). * No known breach of account. * No accidental revocation (I was sleeping while this happened). * The certificates are revoked as you can verify via command line.'

Once again a reminder: that using the 'command line' puts you in direct contact with the 'mother ship'. This is being done remotely. Because you were a fool, and gladly paid your annual $100 fanboy fee to enter Jonestown the Apple developer Sea Org, you relinquished all control. They now own you - your software, your body, and your soul.

Good News!

But there's good news! (It's good news, right?)

'Fortunately, possibly thanks to the traction the story got and all the support from everyone I got (for which I am infinitely grateful), after almost 24 hours after 10PM, I got my account re-instated.'

Keymaster Defeats Gatekeeper

This scenario was predicted over ten years ago. Over ten years ago. People warned. (We sure did.) People tried telling the fanboys that it was in their power to stop this. But fanboys never listen.

We were about to contact Charlie when we saw news of the developments. Charlie had a limited number of options.

Charlie's products, especially Permute and Downie, are very popular, so he could have tried a go of it outside Apple's walled prison.

He could have stripped that fanboy code-sign bullshit from his apps (save himself a lot of time to boot) and then told users how to nullify Gatekeeper on splashdown - or given them the equivalent of Keymaster.

But then he'd miss the great marketing advantage of placement in Apple's App Store.

The Conflict Defined

For there's a conflict at the centre of this debacle, this ongoing tragedy, this crime. Apple tether their fanboys to the post to make them the bait.

As soon as enough fanboys wake up to the fact that they're being ruthlessly exploited by Apple, as soon as they, in sufficient numbers, categorically refuse to further frequent Apple's App Store, then their spell is broken, people can go back to having ownership of and control over their own machines, and it won't matter how many cry-baby limericks that Apple, in pathetic desperation, put in their kernel code.

Evil begets stupidity.
 - Paul Graham
The best programmers can work wherever they want. They don't have to work for a company they have qualms about.
 - Paul Graham
Programmers continue to develop iPhone apps, even though Apple continues to maltreat them. They're like someone stuck in an abusive relationship.
 - Paul Graham
The dictator in the 1984 ad isn't Microsoft, incidentally; it's IBM. IBM seemed a lot more frightening in those days, but they were friendlier to developers than Apple is now.
 - Paul Graham
When you look at the famous 1984 ad now, it's easier to imagine Apple as the dictator on the screen than the woman with the hammer. In fact, if you read the dictator's speech it sounds uncannily like a prophecy of the App Store.
 - Paul Graham
The way Apple runs the App Store has harmed their reputation with programmers more than anything else they've ever done. Their reputation with programmers used to be great. It used to be the most common complaint you heard about Apple was that their fans admired them too uncritically. The App Store has changed that. Now a lot of programmers have started to see Apple as evil.
 - Paul Graham
To all those who replied to my first piece I have this to say: Steve Wozniak is one of those I respect greatly but I don't think he ever meant to create a community of snobs around the computer he designed. He is one of the better human beings who were part of the technology revolution that has taken place over the last 30 years. The current batch of Apple users - at least most of the sample I've been exposed to - are an embarrassment to a gentleman like him.
 - Sam Varghese

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