Rotten Apple dealings, part number gee-I-lost-count

I’m combining my commentary from these three recent stoies into one post, because they are all about Apple’s latest shenanigans and I don’t want to post three in a row.

The first two are about yet more arbitrary iPhone app rejections. ZDNet’s The Apple Core blog reports on Apple taking out certain wi-fi discovery applications, on the grounds they use an undocumented interface (i.e. something Apple decided was too good to let just any old programmer use). Another one is more troubling; TechCrunch reports on the phone radiation monitoring application Tawkon and its denial.

Both of these examples have something in common: they highlight the arbitrary nature by which iPhone applcation developers can be put out of business. As it stands now, the iPhone developers are at the mercy of Apple.

With regard to wi-fi discovery, the responsible thing to do would be to open up the API (interface), properly document it, and ensure that every programmer who wishes to use it may. I’m not sure of the gory details, but this certainly smacks of something Apple would just do on a whim. At least one of the applications in question is releasing a version for jailbroken iPhones, though again I will note that jailbreaking shouldn’t even be necessary to begin with.

Tawkon actually performs a very useful function, something that really should be built into most mobile phone handsets. It’s sad, but unfortunately no big surprise, that Apple’s own interest (covering up exactly how much radio frequency emissions come from its product) trumps those of the people who wish to make money by selling such an application. Does Apple really have something to hide here? I would not be surprised if the final, Apple-approved version of Tawkon is crippled beyond usefulness.

The last article is about the iPad and Associated Press, courtesy of TechJackal. Apparently the good old AP is planning to offer a paid service to read its news articles on the iPad. Yes, the same ones available for free via the web.

The closed model of the iPad breeds greedy schemes like this of dubious merit. It’s a great deal for the AP and Apple, and a lousy deal for the people out there who have placed their trust in Apple by buying their wares. I know, it’s nothing really new. It’s sad that we have so many Apple lemmings out there willing to jump on the company’s latest offering, none of whom even care about the implications behind Apple’s unfortunate use of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) where it is clearly not needed and works to the detriment of its customers.

Shame on you, Apple. Your customers and developers deserve better than this.

No room for egregious racist vandalism

First the UCSD incident, and now this.

Several news reports, most notably KMBC,, the Columbia Missourian, and this picture from detail an incident at the University of Missouri where someone (assumably a pair of students) litters the area in front of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center with cotton balls. For those that don’t get what makes this racist, it’s a reference to picking cotton as slave labor.

From the article:

Cotton balls were strewn across the [Gaines/Oldham] center’s lawn, walkway and bushes between 1:30 and 2:30 a.m. Police said two people were seen running from the center grounds.

To their credit, the university’s staff are taking this seriously, and held a town hall meeting on the Monday night following this Friday morning incident. Jessica Silverman posted an account of this meeting to her Twitter account (skip directly to tweets about the town hall meeting). For the impatient, I’ll summarize the key points below:

  • Tim Noce, the MSA president, connecting this to not only the UCSD “Compton cookout” incident but also a UT incident against the LGBTQ community.
  • Michael Middleton, Deputy Chancellor, stating the entire university has been offended, and cracking a joke of questionable taste.
  • Roger Worthington, chief of diversity with MU police, who briefed the attendees on the investigation and mentioned talking to the FBI in Kansas City. “This was a hostile act against University of Missouri… We should respond as one Mizzou to this incident.”
  • Student concerns about lack of funding for security cameras, lack of black faculty (MU lost 9 black faculty members in the last 3 years), and cutting funding for the Black Culture Center.

Indeed, as reported in The Maneater and the Columbia Missorian since I began writing this post, the students suspected of involvement (identified as Zachary Tucker and Sean Fitzgerald) have been arrested on charges of tampering in the second degree, and at least temporarily suspended from the university. As it turns out, there is a provision in the Missouri state law for enhancing this particular charge to a class D felony, punishable by up to 4 years in prison and a fine up to $5,000 (normally, second-degree tampering is usually only a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine).

My take on this? I’m quite horrified that this type of action would take place in 2010. We, as a society, need to make a stand together and say that there is no room for this type of egregious, vile, and putrid intolerance. I’m frightened that someone considering a military career (both were in the Navy ROTC program), entrusted with the protection of our country, would dare to be involved in a senseless show of bigotry.

I saw at least one comment (on the story at The Maneater) expressing the belief a felony charge is too harsh:

9:18 a.m., March 6, 2010

Wm. Fred. Moore said:

I think that it’s way overkill to sock these guys with a felony! Unless they’ve demonstrated that they’re guilty of worse than the cotton ball prank,give them some reorientation and let them continue to grow at M.U.

(There were others expressing a similar sentiment, but I think this one is the most illustrative.)

And I disagree completely. I think given the circumstances, this overt act of disrespect and hate for human beings based primarily on skin color is felonious. I hope that by making an example of the students involved in this incident that it will deter others from such egregious acts.

I concede that they have a right to their view. Vandalism was an entirely inappropriate way to go about expressing it, and as such should be dealt with severely.