I got this email from Apple Support about my Apple ID. That’s not surprising since their developer site may (or may not) have been breached last Thursday (see here for details).
It was a little more surprising since I’m not an Apple developer and don’t have an Apple ID – but hell, I’m not going to argue; they might sue me.
But, despite the fear of being sued, I would suggest that Apple spends a little time on its grammar and style checker. The spelling’s not bad, but it doesn’t seem to understand the relationship between full-stops (or American periods) and spaces.
Oh, and that sentence. “We need your help in order to not be frozen your account,” is decidedly not Anglo-Saxon in structure.
So, Apple, until you can improve things, I don’t think I’m going to bother with you. But one last thing. Although you’ve got the link “update Now >” looking quite reasonable, I do suggest you change the name of your support site hidden beneath it. http:// e-kosmetyczka.waw . pl/404.html could almost look like a scam site.
Cult of Android, the online antidote to the online Cult of Mac, announced on 13 September, “Ladies and gentlemen, I wish I was making this up, but unfortunately I’m not… They’ve actually filed a lawsuit against an online Polish grocery site…”
Cult of Android’s Vincent Messina was, of course, writing about Apple Inc. Fresh from a colossal victory against rival mobile colossus Samsung, it was reported that Apple’s lawyers had now targeted an online Polish grocer called A.pl. ‘A’ is the first letter of the alphabet. .pl is the web suffix for Poland. A marketing argument is thus that A.pl will appear very near the top of any alphabetic listing of online grocers in Poland.
The problem, however, seems to be that A.pl sells apples; and that’s getting perilously close to trading off. But worse than that, A.pl has (had, it seems to have removed it), a picture of an apple; and A.pl’s apple looks too similar to Apple’s apple for Apple’s lawyers.
Two days earlier, Reuters had summarized the argument. “‘Apple brand is widely recognized and the company says that A.pl, by using the name that sounds similar, is using Apple’s reputation,’ patent office spokesman Adam Taukert said.”
“A.pl chief executive Radoslaw Celinski said: ‘The accusation is ludicrous’.”
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who is famous for having a different and more liberal attitude towards patents, said, “I hate it.” He was, however, talking about Apple’s victory over Samsung. His views on Apple Vs A.pl are not yet known.
Back on 7 August I suggested that Microsoft’s plan for its own tablet was a big mistake (A Microsoft-made tablet? Big mistake). I may have been wrong – but only if it is part of a completely new and wider strategy.
Let’s look at the Big 4: Apple, Google, Microsoft and The User.
Microsoft’s strategy is built on the predominance and continued dominance of the PC. Without the PC there is only a small Microsoft – and the PC is in decline, and possibly a terminal decline. Microsoft’s strategy is in decline.
Apple’s strategy is built around owning everything, both hardware and software – and charging an obscene price for that monopoly. So far it has worked very successfully; but if you listen to the undercurrents from The User there is growing User dismay over both the price of that monopoly, and the frequency with which loyal subjects are asked to dump existing product and buy new product. Apple’s strategy is at the apex, and the only way is down (with a slight delay when it dumps OS/X in favour of desktop iOS).
Google’s strategy is to base everything in the cloud, and to own the cloud. This makes distribution very, very cheap, and upgrades cheap, seamless and invisible to the User. Google is proving very, very successful in this strategy.
But what about The User? The User’s strategy is to demand everything now, preferably free (but at least very cheap), anywhere and anytime. Microsoft provides none of this. Apple provides some, but not much, of this. Google provides it all.
So on current strategies, Microsoft is doomed, Apple will decline while Google will grow and thrive. (Incidentally, Amazon seems to have seen the writing, and I rather suspect that all three will have to watch out for Amazon in a few years time.)
But what if Microsoft has also finally come to its senses? What if the Microsoft tablet is not just a one-off foray into hardware, but part of a completely new strategy aimed at combining Apple’s hardware/software monopoly approach with Google’s cloud efficiency?
There are growing rumours that Microsoft is about to switch from, say, 3-yearly Windows releases to yearly releases. This makes no sense whatsoever under the current strategy. Expecting users to buy a new operating system every year won’t wash. Unless…
Let’s say that the MS plan is not new operating systems delivered in box or on disk, but new downloads delivered from the cloud just as its current patches are delivered every second Tuesday of the month. This model would require something like an annual license for the OS rather than a fixed price for the box. If that license were around £25 per year (preferably less), few users could say that use of Windows for just £2 per month is excessive. Let’s now take that to the logical conclusion: Windows and Office both migrate to the cloud and are both upgraded or patched on a continuous basis, as and when required, and paid for on a low-cost rolling license.
So Microsoft’s new strategy could be to own both hardware and software – starting with its own tablet but moving into phones (perhaps by buying Nokia?) and desktops (perhaps by buying Dell or Acer, or even building new from scratch?) – in mimicry of Apple; and then maintaining its software in and distributing from the cloud in mimicry of Google. Such a strategy would combine the best of all possible worlds; and while it is by no means certain that Microsoft could do it, if successful it could reverse the decline of Microsoft.
Back on 29 October, I commented that Apple obeys the letter but not the spirit of the law in fulfilling its court order to say that Samsung had not breached its design patent. I was wrong. In a new ruling announced on Friday, Judges Longmore, Kitchin and Jacob announced a damning verdict on Apple’s behaviour. Samsung had complained to the court that Apple’s compliance with the court order was lacking – and the court agreed. Apple had not even obeyed the letter, never mind the spirit, of the ruling.
Firstly, the court decided that Apple had not complied with the instruction to place adverts in newspapers and magazines (specifically, the “Financial Times, the Daily Mail, The Guardian, Mobile Magazine and T3 Magazine” “within seven days of the date of this Order.”
The new ruling notes that “there was self-evident non-compliance with the newspaper/magazine aspect of the publicity order.”
But the court is more concerned with the page Apple published on its website (now long since altered to fit the original ruling). In his new ruling, Sir Robin Jacob takes the trouble to work through Apple’s ‘apology’ line by line. It’s worth reading the judgement in full, which you can do here. Firstly he objects to Apple adding new material within the statement ordered by the court. “I do not consider it was open to Apple to add matter in the middle of the notice we ordered to be published,” he ruled on Friday. “A notice with such matter is simply not the notice ordered.”
His most damning comments are, however, reserved for the final paragraph added by Apple. “Here what Apple added was false and misleading.” Of the first sentence he rules, “That is false…” Of the second sentence he rules, “That is misleading by omission.” Of the third sentence he concludes, “This is calculated to produce huge confusion.”
The court, to put it mildly is not amused. The announcement of the court ruling had to be just the ruling without embellishment. This Apple has now done: Samsung / Apple UK judgment. But in what can only be viewed as punishment for turning an adverse court ruling into a pro-Apple advert, the court also demanded that a new statement be added to Apple’s home page:
Given our finding that the Contested Notice did not comply with our order and did not achieve what was intended there was no dispute but that we should order it be removed. There was dispute as to what should go up in its place. Apple contended that no more was needed on its home page. We thought otherwise. The Contested Notice had had over a million hits. It was necessary that the fact it was misleading be brought home. Only a notice on Apple’s homepage could be sure to do that. We were of course conscious that a notice on the homepage was highly undesirable from Apple’s point of view, but its own actions had made it necessary. We also thought that a rather longer period was needed than the one month period of the original order. We ordered that the notice and link should stay up until 15th December. The notice on the homepage had to make it clear that the Contested Notice was inaccurate and did not comply with the first order.
Apple has now complied:
Adding salt to the wound, the court also awarded costs (for this particular round of the struggle) to Samsung on an indemnity basis. “Such a basis,” wrote Sir Robin Jacob, “(which is higher than the normal, ‘standard’ basis) can be awarded as a mark of the court’s disapproval of a party’s conduct, particularly in relation to its respect for an order of the court. Apple’s conduct warranted such an order.”
And finally, the last sentence of Sir Robin’s judgement, says, “I hope that the lack of integrity involved in this incident is entirely atypical of Apple.” The damning nature of this judgement suggests that I may have got a second posting wrong: Yes, Microsoft is still more evil than Apple. I may need to revise my opinion now.
Pfizer’s US patent on Viagra was due to expire this year.
But when generic companies moved to enter the market, Pfizer piled on a ‘method-of-use’ patent over the same drug, set to expire in 2019. A federal judge upheld that patent after a bench trial last year, so Pfizer will be the only company allowed to sell [Viagra] in the US for at least seven more years, and prices will remain high.
Pfizer caught “gaming the system,” loses Viagra patent in Canada
One could call that ‘gaming the system’. The US courts did not.
In Canada, Israeli generic drug company Teva Pharmaceuticals challenged Pfizer’s Canadian patent. The Canadian court found that Pfizer’s patent did not include required information on the central compound, sildenafil citrate.
The disclosure failed to state in clear terms what the invention was. Pfizer gained a benefit from the Act — exclusive monopoly rights — while withholding disclosure in spite of its disclosure obligations under the Act. As a matter of policy and sound statutory interpretation, patentees cannot be allowed to “game” the system in this way. This, in my view, is the key issue in this appeal. It must be resolved against Pfizer.
Teva Canada Ltd. v. Pfizer Canada Inc.
“I would therefore allow the appeal with costs and hold that Patent 2,163,446 is void,” said the judge.
One is forced to ask if there is a pattern here. The US courts found in favour of Apple (US company) and fined Samsung (non-US company) $1 billion. The London courts found in favour of Samsung. The US courts allow Pfizer (US company) to game the system against non-US generic manufacturers; the Canadian courts do not allow Pfizer to game the system.
In losing its design case against Samsung in July, and the subsequent appeal earlier this month, Apple was ordered by the court to display a statement on its website confirming that the Samsung Galaxy Tab does not infringe the Apple iPad’s registered design. It has now obeyed the letter of the law and has posted the required statement in full, viz:
On 9th July 2012 the High Court of Justice of England and Wales ruled that Samsung Electronic (UK) Limited’s Galaxy Tablet Computer, namely the Galaxy Tab 10.1, Tab 8.9 and Tab 7.7 do not infringe Apple’s registered design No. 0000181607-0001. A copy of the full judgment of the High court is available on the following link http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Patents/2012/1882.html.
However, in typical Apple style it has turned defeat into victory by adding several additional paragraphs – including, for example, the famous statement that Apple “is cool”, while Samsung is “not as cool”. Apple’s statement concludes with a completely new paragraph:
However, in a case tried in Germany regarding the same patent, the court found that Samsung engaged in unfair competition by copying the iPad design. A U.S. jury also found Samsung guilty of infringing on Apple’s design and utility patents, awarding over one billion U.S. dollars in damages to Apple Inc. So while the U.K. court did not find Samsung guilty of infringement, other courts have recognized that in the course of creating its Galaxy tablet, Samsung willfully copied Apple’s far more popular iPad.
This, surely, is Apple obeying the letter of the law, but wilfully disregarding and exploiting the spirit of the law.
By now everyone in the world knows that Anonymous claims to have lifted 12 million sets of Apple user details from the feds; that the feds say we never had them in the first place; and that Apple says it never gave it to them anyway. The first is wholly believable (and most likely true); the second is unbelievable – and although I don’t know about the third, I have my suspicions.
But that’s not what I want to talk about. It is the message from Anonymous in its announcement. You can read it here: SPECIAL #FFF EDITION – ANONYMOUS. It’s long, it’s a little bit rambling, but it’s well worth the effort.
If you do read it, stop and think about it. Don’t dismiss it as the paranoia of disaffected teenage geeks. Instead, take a moment to consider the message:
You[r] home, stuff, car and computer, you will pay for everything you have for all of your life. All the time: a monthly fee, forever until you die. That’s the future; nothing is really yours. LAAS – Life As A Service. You will rent your life.
You’ll be tempted to dismiss it. Don’t. Jump over to 10 Things That Every American Should Know About The Federal Reserve. This one is written by a lawyer: Michael T. Snyder, a graduate of the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia with two law degrees from the University of Florida.
The truth is that our current debt-based monetary system was designed by greedy bankers that wanted to make enormous profits by using the Federal Reserve as a tool to create money out of thin air and lend it to the U.S. government at interest.
In the traditional sense, this one is better written, but they both say the same thing: different words, different grammar, different style – but still the same thing. Banks trap us in debt. It’s a syphoning system. They create money that doesn’t exist, and they certainly don’t have, and then one way or another they ‘lend’ it to us. We have to pay back, ostensibly with real money but actually with our lives, what they created out of nothing.
One way or another, the banks get us to pay them for our own enslavement.
Microsoft once ruled a roost that is now dominated by that great cock, Apple. Apple dwarfs all other technology – in fact, all – companies. And Microsoft is jealous.
Apple’s secret is that it owns both the hardware and the software; and is a must-have brand. Microsoft owns only the software; and for many is a must-not-have brand. None of this is written in stone.
But Microsoft’s solution is just plain wrong. It is planning to build its own tablet, to compete with the iPad and Android.
This would be a mistake. Microsoft should remember its roots (software) and its history (it destroyed IBM’s PC-DOS, and the IBM PC, by making MS-DOS available to any and all hardware manufacturers; but made none itself). Google has learnt this lesson. Android is the antithesis – and possibly the ultimate nemesis – of iOS. It is open, cheap, and available to all hardware manufacturers.
Microsoft’s latest plan for its own tablet will merely hasten its own demise. Already, MS-fanboy Acer has said, “If Microsoft is going to do hardware business, what should we do? Should we still rely on Microsoft, or should we find other alternatives?” There’s some sort of advice here: if you want to rule the roost, don’t shit in your own hen-house.
Apple, it keeps telling us, is on top of security. Well, I used to give it the benefit of the doubt on that; but now I’m not so sure. What worries me is not the existence of a massive Mac botnet (Windows suffers from far more), nor even Apple’s response to the finder of the botnet, Russian firm Dr Web. “We’ve given them all the data we have,” said Dr Web’s chief executive Boris Sharov. Apple’s reply? Zilch – but that’s just arrogance, not really anything to worry about, just something we have to accommodate.
It’s the one thing that Apple actually did do that worries me.
The botnet was discovered by Russian firm Dr Web. Not exactly a big name in security, but a good one nevertheless. The company set up three sinkhole servers to help monitor the botnet, estimate its size – and perhaps take it down. Apple’s one actual response? It contacted Russian Web registrar Reggi.ru and asked for one of the servers to be shut down since it was engaged in malicious activity. It wasn’t – it was one of Dr Web’s sinkholes.
Dr Web’s CEO, Boris Sharov, thinks this was an honest mistake by Apple. I suspect it was a dishonest mistake. I suspect it was more to do with Apple attempting to maintain its carefully constructed facade of invulnerability. I suspect that if it had been one of the better known anti-malware companies that had discovered this 600,000 strong Mac botnet Apple would have reacted differently. Instead they thought they could keep quiet, try to shut down the botnet by taking down a C&C server and nobody would be any the wiser.
Instead the company has simply shown itself to be a child in an adult’s playground. Poor show, Apple.
Elcomsoft is a hacker. A white hat hacker, one of the old school, not one of these new-fangled, bad boy (or girl) black hat criminal cracker hackers, but a hacker nonetheless.
It produces encrypted file recovery systems, usually in the form of password recovery tools. They may be used by some of the cracker hackers as password cracking tools, but they are built as honest-to-goodness password recovery tools. And most of us could have used one at one time or another. Now Elcomsoft has a new string to its bow: the very first Apple iWork file cracker – sorry, password recovery tool.
Why is this the first? Because, explains Elcomsoft, Apple’s encryption is “an industry-standard AES algorithm with strong, 128-bit keys. Brute-forcing a 128-bit number on today’s hardware remains impossible.” This effectively means that the only way to recover an encrypted iWork file is to hack the password. But, says Elcomsoft, “Apple used the PBKDF2 algorithm to derive an encryption key from plain-text passwords, with some 4000 iterations of a hash function (SHA1).” If that’s as much geek-speak to you as it is to me, the bottom line is that brute-forcing the passwords would be too lengthy to be meaningful.
Unless, and this is where thinking like a hacker comes in, you can find some way to reduce the likely number of possible passwords. First, Elcomsoft notes that the price range for iWork shows that it is a consumer rather than business product. Users are likely to be human beings rather than corporate automata. “Multiple researches,” says Elcomsoft, “confirm it’s a given fact that most people, if not enforced by a security policy, will choose simple, easy to remember passwords such as ‘abc’, ‘password1’ or their dog’s name. In addition, it’s in the human nature to reduce the number of things to remember. Humans are likely to re-use their passwords, with little or no variation, in various places: their instant messenger accounts, Web and email accounts, social networks and other places from which a password can be easily retrieved.”
From this starting point and armed with “ElcomSoft’s advanced dictionary attack with customizable masks and configurable permutations,” brute forcing the passwords suddenly becomes a lot simpler; and iWork recovery is now included in the Elcomsoft Distributed Password Recovery Tool. It is, says Elcomsoft, “the human factor and advanced dictionary attacks that help it recover a significant share of iWork passwords in reasonable time.”