Wednesday Morning: Breaking Spring

In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish’d dove;
In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

— excerpt, Locksley Hall by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Welcome to spring break. And by break, I mean schedules are broken around here. Nothing like waiting up until the wee hours for a young man whose fancy not-so-lightly turned to love, because spring.


While the teenager lies abed yet, mom here will caffeinate and scratch out a post. It may be early afternoon by the time I get over this spring-induced sleep deprivation and hit the publish button.

Apple blossoms — iPhones and iPads, that is
Not much blooming on the #AppleVsFBI front, where Apple now seeks information about the FBI’s method for breaking into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5C. The chances are slim to none that the FBI will tell Apple anything. Hackday offers a snappy postmortem about this case with an appropriate amount of skepticism.

I wonder what Apple’s disclosure will look like about this entire situation in its next mandatory filing with the SEC? Will iPhone 5C users upgrade to ditch the undisclosed vulnerability?

What if any effect will the iPhone 5C case have on other criminal cases where iPhones are involved — like the drug case Brooklyn? Apple asked for a delay in that case, to assess its position after the iPhone 5C case. We’ll have to wait until April 11 for the next move in this unfolding crypto-chess match.

In the meantime, spring also means baseball, where new business blossoms for Apple. Major League Baseball has now signed with Apple for iPads in the dugout. Did the snafu with Microsoft’s Surface tablets during the NFL’s AFC championship game persuade the MLB to go with Apple?

Volkswagen coasting
It’s downhill all the way for VW, which missed last week its court-imposed 30-day deadline to offer a technical solution on its emissions standards cheating “clean diesel” passenger vehicles. If there was such a thing as “clean diesel,” VW would have met the deadline; as I said before, there’s no such thing as “clean diesel” technology. The judge allowed a 30-day extension to April 24, but my money is on another missed deadline. Too bad there’s not a diesel engine equivalent of Cellebrite, willing to offer a quick fix to VW or the court, huh?

Of note: former FBI director Robert Mueller has been named “special master” on this case by Judge Charles Breyer; Mueller has been meeting with all the parties involved. What the heck is a “special master”? We may not have a ready answer, but at least there’s a special website set up for this case, In re: Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” MDL.

The cherry on top of this merde sundae is the Federal Trade Commission’s lawsuit filed yesterday against VW for false advertising promoting its “clean diesel” passenger cars.

With no bottom yet in sight, some are wondering if VW will simply exit the U.S. market.

Automotive odd lot

  • Jury says GM’s ignition switch was bad, but not at fault in a 2014 accident in New Orleans (Reuters) — Keep an eye on media representation of this case. Headline on this one focused on the switch, not the jury’s decision.
  • Car-to-car communications will be road tested soon (MIT Technology Review) — This technology might have prevented Google’s self-driving car from getting crunched by a bus recently.
  • Dude demonstrates his hack of Alexa + Raspberry Pi + OBDLink to remote start his car (Gizmodo) — What. even.
  • Did Tennyson write anything about spring spawning naps? Because I feel like I need one. Hope we’re back in the groove soon. See you in the morning.

6 replies
  1. scribe says:

    A special master is a person appointed by a judge to manage parts or all of a large complicated case where it would take up too much of the judge’s time to do so, creating a disservice to the other litigants in other cases. Sort of a deputy judge. The master usually controls discovery and makes it move forward. They usually get appointed in complicated cases where the discovery is going to be extensive. Like VW.

    Rule 53, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure:

  2. lefty665 says:

    FWIW My kid says shortly after the FBI dumped its case in San Berdoo Apple pushed a security update to his phone. Could be a coincidence or maybe Apple plugging holes as soon as the heat was off.

  3. bloopie2 says:

    Well, we have self-driving cars now, and we have people who need naps (most of us, I believe). Conflating those, do we get self-napping people? Can I get my Echo to collaborate with the “drowsy driver sensing” system of the car, thus to know when I’m ready for a lie down, pull the car over at the next rest area, turn on the white noise generator, darken the lights, feed me some Z-Quil through my IOT IV, and set the alarm for 20 minutes? What could be better?

  4. Denis says:

    The AC/DC binary x2.
    I am forever amazed at how often the “AC/DC binary” provides the only reasonable paradigm for analyzing cock-ups: Was he/she honest but incompetent, or competent but a liar and/or crook? Whichever way the needle tilts, there is grounds for firing the person, but a tilt toward dishonesty is also grounds for a penal response.
    When the FBI nerds signed sworn affidavits telling Magistrate Judge Pym that it was not possible to crack the iPhone without compelling APPL to help, did those nerds honestly not know what the hell they were talking about, or were they lying?
    But then we also have the APPL nerds swearing that the only way to crack the iPhone was to write huge code that would tie up 10 programmers for 4 months. Were they so incompetent or stupid that they didn’t know enuf about their own OS to figure out how to do what the Israelis did in a matter of days, apparently without writing huge code? Or were they lying?
    Of course, one would objectively have to entertain the possibility that the FBI and APPL techies gave the lawyers the straight story but the lawyers twisted it.
    Anyway you cut it, someone signing and/or filing affidavits in this case was either negligently clueless or a freakin’ liar — and that goes for both sides — i.e., AC/DC x2.

    • Bardi says:

      Until the FBI actually demonstrates they can “hack” the phone, my bets are on Apple. So far the FBI has been all talk and no action.

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