I Take Full Responsibility For Apple Inc Protecting The Privacy of a Dead Terrorist

Green Door, by leeroy

Apple have refused an FBI request to help crack the iPhone of a terrorist.

Ray McClure, the uncle of murdered soldier Drummer Lee Rigby has said that Apple is protecting terrorists, and that ‘life comes before privacy’.

I think Drummer Rigby’s uncle is mistaken, both in his assumptions about what Apple is technically capable of, and the moral trade-off between life and privacy.

We need to understand that Apple are not being asked to decrypt just the iPhone of one particular terrorist.  They are not like a landlord with a spare key that will open a particular door.  If they were, then there would be legitimacy in Mr McClure’s complaints.  A judge could examine the particular case at hand, and then sign a warrant that permitted entry to the property or decryption of a device.  Targeted surveillance and privacy violations are a legitimate law enforcement tool.

But that is not the request.  Instead, the FBI have asked Apple to hack their entire operating system in such a way that would enable them to by-pass encryption on any iPhone.  Including mine. Continue reading “I Take Full Responsibility For Apple Inc Protecting The Privacy of a Dead Terrorist”

In Praise of The Room Three

For the past few weeks I’ve been playing The Room series, a set of three games for mobile devices by Fireproof Games.  This week I completed The Room Three, and thought I’d write a quick review.

The premise of all three games is simple.  The player is presented with an ornate contraption, and the task is to unlock the secrets contained within.  Do you pull this lever, or press that button? What combination of switches must you flick in order to open the door? How do I make that panel slide back? Where is the key that fits that lock? Continue reading “In Praise of The Room Three”

How many coins do I need to get all the characters in Crossy Road?

To be 95% certain of getting the last character you need from the Crossy Road vending machine, you’ll need 26,800 coins.  (Jump to the full table.)

Let me explain.

Crossy Road is a game for iOS and Android. It’s been described as ‘endless frogger‘. You begin playing as a chicken, and you have to cross a road and other obstacles.

For extra fun, the game offers additional characters to replace the chicken. At the time of writing there are 72 104 characters: farm-yard animals, jungle frogs, ghosts, zombies, robots, aliens and fauna from the Australian outback. You can even play as humans in the form of the game’s three creators. Continue reading “How many coins do I need to get all the characters in Crossy Road?”

IncarcerApp: Toddler Mode for the iPhone

This post by Peter Merholz from 2010 stuck in my head:

Toddlers love the home button. Being the only physical button on the device, and thus the only the that provides tactile satisfaction, toddlers press the button all the time. Particularly while using an app they really like. And they don’t realize that pressing this gets them out of the app. And after they press it, they then look at you, as if to suggest something is broken, and you need to help them.

(Via Kottke).

On a Jailbroken iOS device, IncarcerApp gives users a way to solve this problem, by temporarily disabling the home button on a phone.

This tweak is, I think, a perfect illustration of why users might wish to legitimately jailbreak their device.  The term Jailbreaking carries negative connotations.  It suggests a link to piracy, copyright theft, data theft, and the spreading of malware.  But the tweak described above is about none of these things:  It is about a common design/usability problem that many people encounter.  Why shouldn’t these parent-users have control over the core functionality of their devices, so that their children can use the device for entertainment and education?  Why does Apple place barriers to this kind of action?  I would bet that if the functionality provided by IncarcerApp were available by default on iPhones and iPads, educational apps for very young children would become more popular.