Bite Me Apple

Last night, during a typical Pacific Northwestern wind storm, the transformer for our neighborhood popped and power has been subsequently out of service for the duration. Fortunately, I was awake to witness the power outage and then turned off all my devices which I had recently charged.

This morning, after locating a coffee shop with juice and wi-fi, I came back home intending to top everything off using my handy dandy Suntactics sCharger-12 High Performance Solar Charger. I opened some blinds, plugged my standard issue Apple certified lightning cable into the PV panel and my iPhone 5s and was surprised when, for the first time ever, iOS 8 let me know that I wasn’t using a certified cord.

Just to be perfectly clear, the chord in question **is** an Apple product. The cord came in the box with the phone. The problem is likely the product of their proprietary MFi chip detecting a voltage drop specific to the PV panel or fluctuation caused by periodic cloud cover. But here in lies the biggest problem with black box bullshit development. Someone at Apple decided that they could make a bit more money to add to their heaps of the stuff if they embedded a fairly stupid method of ensuring that you only charge your phone using their proprietary system.

The license is for the cable, not the power source. Their detection method is too dumb to know the difference and thus it pushes good people (like me) into a situation where they have to do bad things. Right now I’m looking for ways to hack the fuck out of this system so that I am no longer subject to its ridiculousness. I’m doing this on a limited charge, doing my best MattGyver impression, in the hope that I can bump my battery while the sun still shines. Here comes the next big, mean, dark cloud.


One thought on “Bite Me Apple

  1. Quick update: I was able to get a bit of charge on my phone using the PV panel, but only after turning the device completely off. And then only intermittently.

    I would love to point out that this unintended restriction placed on the use of my Apple device qualifies as complete and utter bulshytt (in the aptly coined sense of Neal Stephenson’s speculative-fiction novel Anathem). The proprietary MFi cable detection technology embedded in Apple and Apple licensed cables is little more than market leverage to get people to buy over priced pieces of copper. The fact that I have to hack so hard to simply use a PV power source is motivation for me to look at my options.

    I love Apple products when they work, as they do most of the time. But when they fail to work they usually become FUBAR rather quickly. Phones and handheld devices are an excellent place to begin if we’re going to see a general migration to decentralized, micro-power generation. There is a surplus of available generation that goes untapped in wind, solar, even repetitive motion, and this could amount to gigawatts in the aggregate. It’s bad enough when I’m left high and dry in a unusual situation like a power outage after a wind storm by a bulshytt piece of technology, but MFi is also unintentionally baring social adoption of sustainable technology. And the derp goes on.

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