g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
Tal G in Jerusalem
Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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Thursday, April 21, 2011
12:00 - Big Brother is watching Brave New World
http://www.cnn.com/2011/TECH/mobile/04/21/iphone.tracker.explainer/index.html?hpt=T2

(top)
Things have changed, apparently. Now we can expect in-depth breaking news on CNN the day after someone notices that there's location data on iPhones.

Two researchers on Wednesday unveiled the details of this secret file, called "consolidated.db," which stores location info going back to June 2010. That's when Apple updated its mobile operating system, called iOS, to version 4.0.

Apple hasn't commented on these allegations, and it appears the company does not have continuous access to this location data, according to the researchers, one of whom says he is a former Apple employee.

All of this may be confusing for iPhone owners, especially since this news terrifies some and seems like a lot of fun to others. To help clear things up, here's a quick round-up of what you need to know about iPhone tracking and your security...


Apple has been coated with Teflon for the past three years at least. While Google has increasingly been tarred with the "evil" brush (which, it must be said, they probably brought on themselves by crowing about their cosmic alignment in their slogan, making everyone habitually look for counterexamples), Apple has managed to skate through every PR mishap smelling like a rose.

Nobody even remembers that there was once a movement of sorts to "spread the word" about how the iPod's built-in, non-replaceable battery was only spec'ed to last 18 months, in what someone thought was a "planned obsolescence" scheme in full view. Security breaches that went unaddressed in OS X and iOS for months are now mere footnotes to archived bitter blog posts. And people who think Steve Jobs is the Devil Incarnate for having put the iPhone on sale for $599 and then arbitrarily cutting the price by two-thirds once the opening-weekend rush was over are outnumbered by those who will shrug and say "So what? It was worth it."

Sure, every time you buy an iPhone 4, a Foxconn employee hangs himself. We've all heard the jokes. But in the real world, nobody cares what allegedly shady things Apple might have done; iDevices have become that important, as key to one's lifestyle as the gas you have to buy from the oil companies you know are evil or the phone bill you have to pay the company you know is out to get you. So even if they're able to come up with cute phrases like "grip of death" and suggest that Jobs sneeringly told everyone in a giant-talking-head-screen monologue that they should just get corrective hand surgery, these things just don't stick.

I doubt anyone will care about this location-disclosure thing; it potentially exercises a few of the more excitable members of society, but the people who would stock cellars against the technological Armageddon aren't exactly the most likely types to have smartphones in the first place.

But I do find it interesting that CNN and others are so quick out the gate not only with a sensationalist lede, but with a point-by-point deconstruction of just how worried you should be (and how to mitigate it). Time was that this was the purview of tech blogs and your nerd nephew. But now the likes of CNN know that a pretty big percentage of people hitting their sites, whether technologically savvy or not, are showing up with a user-agent string with "iPhone" in it somewhere. They may not know an app bundle from the box the phone came in, but they're an audience nonetheless.

There was a time, not so very long ago, that Apple stock would plummet the day they announced earnings, regardless of whether it was bad news, good news, or ecstatic news: SELL SELL SELL. Today, though, I get the feeling that even if it were revealed that all iPads housed a tiny spider robot that could be centrally activated from Cupertino and would wander around your house stealing your credit card numbers, the smart money would be to go long on AAPL.

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© Brian Tiemann