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Apple's Truman Show

'There's no more truth out there than there is in the world I created for you.'


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It's just as easy as it was for Truman Burbank. The bubble you live in is only a bubble. Getting out is easy.

This isn't to say that the Christofs of the world haven't made it as difficult as possible for you to realise this and to find your way. But their methods are deceptive, and you can see through them.

Let's start with their definition of reality, the reality they want you to perceive as real.

There was a time when users on this platform truly longed for a return to the day when there was only one folder and one place to put everything. Outside the bubble, there are tens of thousands of folders that already exist, but they didn't want you to see that.

In a direct conversation with a member of their server team, they said, quote: 'but we don't want you going there'.



File search / open / save as dialogs were deliberately impregnated with special tricks so you wouldn't see things. Their technology was mostly pervasive. It didn't matter if you used their 'file manager' - the same technology, with the same tricks, was in the file dialogs. If there was something they didn't want you to see, you didn't see it.

We countered with CLIX, an attempt to break open all those invisible resources for you. Initial reaction was overwhelming. So many people had tried the platform, seen it as an escape from Windows, seen it as a 'freedom from'. Most of them quickly realised what was really up, true freedom was not allowed and would never be allowed, and so they moved on to other less threatening platforms.

We continued with our own file management suite. Not a welcome task, as we'd just completed a two-year project to expose the innards of Microsoft Windows, along with its shoddy programming standards.

But we did it. We brought the truth of the underbody to the graphical user interface. A member of the human interface group remarked that our suite looked just like the command line, entirely missing the point: it was the command line.

The research that went into the thousands of powerful CLIX commands wouldn't have been possible without that file management suite.

Time and again we noticed how the platform itself deliberately diverged from standards, and introduced questionable quirks. Instead of adapting our tools to accommodate these changes, we built new tools instead, and kept our core technology steady on target.

We noticed how they perverted the low-level directory enumeration APIs to further hide things from you. APIs that traditionally were used as convenience functionality were now being used to hide even more stuff from you.

All the while you, in your bubble, kept believing the world was simple, there were only four pieces of hardware to choose from, and the entirely of your sad existence could fit comfortably in a single folder.

You weren't told about all the file attributes. If any of that information ever slipped out, it was quickly removed.

You weren't told about the file flags.

You weren't told about access control lists.

You weren't told about extended attributes.

Your make-believe world hinges on you never seeing extended attributes in action, never being able to control them.

Here's the skinny as it stands today.

Your vendor of choice starts off in the new era by crashing all over the place and by revealing they were running everything on their new hand-helds as if it were Microsoft Windows, then doing an abrupt about-face. Perhaps they'd had that Master Plan all along but wanted to get their shiny new hardware out the door first.

Now they had special provisions in their operating system kernel to prevent anything - anything at all - from running if it weren't approved by them. On your own machine where you'd assume no one would ever interfere.

They did this by looking for a brand new executable header section. If that section wasn't present, 'no-go'. Your product won't run. If the section was found but the product in some way had been tampered with and its seal broken, it wouldn't run. And where do you get this coveted seal? Ah. There's the rub.

You could apply for a seal. If you pay the $100 application fee. That was no guarantee you'd get one of course - only a guarantee you'd be out a Benjamin. If they didn't like your product, if your product in some way made them look bad, if your product could in some way show people how to break out of the bubble they put you in - 'no-go'.

If at some later point in time, after you'd already won your precious seal, they suddenly decided they didn't like you or your product anymore, they'd revoke it - remotely. Even as people try to use your 'approved' product, signals are sent to their headquarters, telling them who you are, telling them all about you. Cosy. Not one bit creepy.

A set of guidelines is established. Here are the things your product may do, here are the things your product may not do. Outside your bubble, people laughed at such things, such arbitrary conditions. There were attempts made (or implied) to convince you that there were good, even altruistic, reasons behind such bizarre regimens, but it was all hooey. Nobody outside the bubble believed it. Only you inside the bubble believe it - swallowed it. Like you always do.

'I don't find this inconvenient, I love the graphics, this new version is faster!'

John Steinbeck has a fabulous passage in one of his books about his friend Ed Ricketts. How chicanos are employed in the middle of the night to help Ed Ricketts get some frogs for experiments. Some of them gather on the one shore of a pond, then beat the earth to scare the frogs into crossing the pond, where the other part of the group wait with the gunnysacks.

You're the frogs in that scenario. You ran from Windows, you believed you'd be free here, as did many of us, but all that happened was you ended up in a gunnysack. And now you're to be experimented on by the doctor.

As they say in Silicon Valley, if the product is free, then you're the product.

But here's the irony: you, as the product, are not free.

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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