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Swaine Manor: Apple's Tough Love

Volume Number: 26
Issue Number: 05
Column Tag: Swaine Manor

Swaine Manor: Apple's Tough Love

So a Priest,a Rabbi, and an iPhone Prototype Walk into a Bar...

by Michael Swaine

Tough Love

I'm not one of those nervous nellies who go all frizzy whenever Apple has to slap some blogger's wrist. You know, people like Steve Wozniak (

These people just don't understand Apple.

See, Apple loves us. That's why it keeps giving us these magical gifts: the iPad, the iPhone, the iPod, the iPod Sock. Not to mention the eagerly anticipated next version of OS X, code-named Lolcat. No, seriously, we are not to mention it. We're all under universal nondisclosure. Haven't you been reading those license agreements you've been clicking on every time you let Apple install a software update?

I'm just kidding. And if you truly believed in the deep and abiding love Apple has for you, you would have known that. But sometimes Apple has to practice tough love.

So when an engineer left a secret prototype of the next iPhone in a Redwood City bar and a college student found it and sold it to a blogger and the blogger went public with the story, Apple naturally got a little miffed, and naturally called in the California Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team and the Redwood City Police.

And this led to some unpleasantness ( about jackbooted Gestapos kicking down a journalist's door and seizing his computer and so on. Not what Apple wanted at all. Because Apple loves us. Apple is sad that it had to be so stern.

Journalism and Dancing

By the way, this story once again raised this whole "is a blogger a journalist?" thing. Let's deal with that.

A lot of bloggers want to be journalists. They think it's a glamorous, noble profession. They think that by being recognized as true journalists they are on their way to a lucrative career. That's right: they think it's a career. They clearly haven't been paying attention to what's been going on in journalism the past few years.

There is a legend that once journalists were brave and noble and stood up to corporations and the government. I'm not saying that was never true. I wouldn't know; as a child of television I can't remember anything that happened over three weeks ago. But clearly this legend has nothing to do with journalism today.

Bloggers, take note. You have more integrity and credibility right now than the average journalist, and if you add one more banner ad to your blog, you'll be making more money, too. Why would you want to be a journalist?

And then there's the Ellen thing (

Let's face it: Ellen Degeneris has been pushing it for years, doing her "dancing with the stars" thing without paying royalties to Dancing with the Stars. Now she really went over the edge, making a joke iPhone commercial that suggests that the iPhone user interface might be confusing or hard to use. Excuse me? That's clearly actionable, not to mention a possible human rights crime against potential Apple customers who might be confused by this joke commercial and as a result be denied the joy of iPhone ownership. I love Ellen, but she really messed up here.

It's a good thing that Apple called her on this, for her own good as well as ours. Otherwise you know where she'd have gone next. Yep, she'd have violated Apple's ownership of dancing silhouettes by fiddling with the lighting when she was doing one of those embarassing-the-guest-by-making-them-dance things she does.

Bullet dodged. Thank you Apple, I'm sure Ellen is saying.

Eternally Vigilant

Now I understand that the publishers of iPhone App Development: The Missing Manual are nervous since Apple slapped them with a restraining order until they can determine who took this manual. Not to worry. Redwood City police are on the case, employing the current profile of the Conduit of Stolen Apple Merchandise, derived from The Case of the Phone Left in a Bar. So they're looking for another college student working part time at a church-run community center giving swimming lessons to children after volunteering at a Chinese orphanage.

Or whoever Apple tells them to look for.

An arrest is expected imminently.

Can I just say that I feel a lot more secure now about leaving things in bars? Especially anything with Apple's logo on it. I know Apple's got my back.

I'm sure that in the future Apple will make better use of the GPS and other tracking technology in its devices, so that problems like the missing iPhone prototype can't happen at all. Because they will know exactly where every one of their products is at all times.

So I hope I've made it clear how Apple is looking out for our welfare. Oh, and if all that weren't enough, Apple has provided a business model for the creator of the website

Thank you, Apple. We feel the love.

Michael Swaine is the former editor-in-chief of Dr. Dobb’s Journal ( and current editor of PragPub (http://, the electronic magazine for pragmatic programmers. You can reach him at


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