Bad Apple! The real cost of two factor auth

There are so many other words I wanted to put there, most of them unprintable. But right now I’m really pissed off with Apple. I’m an advocate for keeping things safe, I’m a fan of two factor authentication. But as far as I’m concerned Apple have it wrong, desperately wrong.

Currently there is a lot of press around on whether Apple should release information to the FBI (or at least provide access to devices), this is not a rant about the rights or wrongs of that. It’s personal, much more personal.

2013 I had been using an Apple account associated with my main email address, with two factor auth set up. Due to a series of unfortunate events I lost access to the device. I knew the password but no phone (it was only trusted device at the time), in short I lost ability to use that account, it was frustrating, $00’s of software, music and movies had been purchased but none available anymore, primarily because I had not written down the recovery key which was the only other way to reset the account. Accepting that it was my own stupidity that had caused the loss I set up a new account and started from fresh. Again choosing two factor auth but this time carefully recording the number in my trusty Evernote file. Two and a half years later, $000’s of dollars of software, music and movies later (example here FCP is $500 alone) and I need to reset the account. Following all the prompts I was a little shocked to see ‘Your recovery key is not valid’. Double checking everything I tried a few more times, each attempt met with the same warning. To be clear, the recovery key wasn’t written down, the actual Apple screen was captured, there was no chance of error there. The date and time stamp on the Evernote entry matched within 1 minute of the email received that day from Apple advising two factor auth had been activated.

So I was becoming agitated with this and decided to call Apple. One hour ten minutes later and we were no further forward. I’d been escalated a number of times, technicians had me repeat all the same steps all with the same result. It looks like I have to start everything again. Unbelievable.

I use two factor auth on a lot of accounts, and feel secure, be it a text message or an authentication app, I’ve never had a problem. Apple however have gone out of their way to complicate this whole process.

I feel that strongly about this, I’m seriously considering removing all Apple products/software from my life!

Should it be this difficult to get access to things you’ve paid for?



Oh Apple, I’m such a fool…

I am sorry message

Oh Apple, I’ve made such a fool of myself. Why? Why did I fall for the lure of the slim lines? the promise of the wearables? I was sure that Android was going to make me happy, to fill the gaps that had grown between us. I cannot believe I fell for it.

After a month of trying to fit in with the new crowd I just knew it was a hopeless task. Yes it was nice to parade around with wrist notifications and changeable faces, but that pretty much sums it up, a facade. Too many variables, too many inconsistencies. I miss our time together Apple, I even find I’m missing the ‘problems’ we had, the fights, the ‘Siri’ irriate moments.  Please can we go back to the way things were, please can you give me another chance. I’ll wait patiently for iWatch, I’ll even stop complaining about the quality of the beta, I know it won’t be easy to start with, but I’m sure together we can make it work.

Yours hopefully.

Paul x.

Dear Apple, it’s over. ..

Dear Apple,  I’m sorry but it’s just not working out. It’s not you, it’s me.  Look, the last four years have been good. I’m not going to forget the memories we made. Yes,  we’ve had our ups and downs, but it’s just not the same any more. I remember how excited I used to get when an update was announced,  or staying up all night just to see a keynote. But the passion is waning. Then there are all the health issues you’ve had, the constant rebooting, the lackluster battery, the fights with Xcode, the mediocre updates. You teased me with your promise of a wearable, but it seems to be just more of the same,  lack of care for developers and more media hype,  your dad would be horrified if he knew what you were up to.  I’m sorry it’s time I moved on.   In fact I’ve a confession to make,  you remember that skinny white phone that’s been hanging around my desk, well its become serious between us, in fact I’m now using it and the watch as my primary device. You see I no longer have to use propriety IDE’s and learn obscure languages, I can use cool tools like DevExtreme by DevExpress and target more than you offered. So this is it, this is goodbye.


iPhone 6 -> 3 weeks in

Over the years I have always enjoyed getting my hands on the latest gadgets, and my time as an Apple developer has been no different, as soon as a phone was announced I’d want to be among the first to get it.  This year Apple announced that it would release to multiple countries on the same day, so being in Australia would mean we would be one of the first in the world!!

The pre-order site went live at 5:30pm local time on Friday September 12 and my order was completed within minutes….  let the wait begin.

At 8:30am on Friday September 19, the courier knocked on the door delivering my coveted device. My first thoughts on removing the wrapping … what a dull box, the rather nondescript plain white with slightly raised outline was a little disappointing, next the unboxing itself…

I must say that I felt a little underwhelmed when I first took hold of the phone, it felt, well, wrong. After a short wait for my backup to be transferred I was able to start playing.  There is no dispute that the form factor is amazing, thin and feels nice, I’m just not a fan of the size. All of a sudden I’m using too hands or doing crazy thumb stretches to reach different parts of the screen. I knew a quick double tap on the home button would bring screens down to make this easier, but there are so many issues trying to do this I found it simply not worth it.

Three weeks on and I’m still getting used to the phone, I don’t think I could go back to an iPhone 5s, though its still a little awkward if not frustrating dealing with thumb stretches. A friend of mine decided to go with the 6 Plus, I’m pleased I didn’t, it just seems uncomfortable, we jokingly call it the iPad mini mini. One annoyance and I’m not yet sure if it is an iOS 8 issue or the phone, is the lack of rotation support (read: BUG), many apps (including Apple ones) do not respond to the phone being rotated, I have to go back to the home screen then back again, weird!

What has been really quite fun to play with writing code that takes advantage of the new sizing API’s in iOS8 but thats a post for another day. In the meantime I’m watching eagerly for the release date of the Apple Watch 🙂

Not Flappy, Not Happy, Ratings gone MAD!

Ok, I don’t rant too often, but this one has me annoyed. Local development house PIG Studios decided to do something a little different when it wanted to launch itself. Effectively there are a number of games in the pipeline, but given the noise of flappy bird, they decided to try and launch a quick, annoyingly addictive game – Fello Pean Tubes. Enter Cecil… now Cecil is a sperm, albeit a cartoon one, he looks like an albino tadpole, and the idea is that you have to help Cecil navigate his way through the fallopian tubes to help fertilise the egg. There are three different game modes (baby, crawl and run), each offering a different starting speed. All the game assets were unique, created by the artists at PIG Studios, the intro music was a stock file while the in game experience was written again by one of the guys at the studio. Almost a month ago, Tim submitted the game for Apple’s approval having jumped through all the hoops of becoming a registered Apple developer. After the obligatory week of waiting, the game (known from now on as FT) was rejected. Apple cited a problem with the advertising information in the pList, and it was rated wrong…


So, the boys decided to remove iAd and just sell the game for a meagre $0.99. This time the rating was put to 9+ and a resubmission was made. Now remember at this point, there were no faults with the game, it was all admin related. Another 7 days go by, then the app is moved into “Review” for 3 days!. Finally, REJECTED! the reason was the same, your rating is wrong, this game has suggestive mature content!!!

I may be broad minded, having raised 3 girls and two boys has meant everything in life was discussed. But telling a developer you have to have an R17+ rating on a swimming albino tadpole because it is suggestive??

For now the boys decided to up the rating and just get the game into the AppStore, but I feel it is censorship gone mad. There are more suggestive cartoons on free to air TV than what FT offers, I mean aren’t schools now giving “The Talk” at a younger age now? Seriously Apple!

Anyway, best of luck to the boys over at PIG Studios, I would recommend any iPhone users grab a copy of Fello Pean Tubes (Android version coming soon, so I’m told), and I know they have some exciting things in the pipeline, FT is the first of a 4 part series, and there is some cool Unity development going on too.

Why not grab your copy and help these guys out…



iPoints available for sale

November 2009, I had just purchased an iMac and decided it was time to write an iPhone utility. Samantha & I were both enrolled in Weight Watchers and one of the cool things before eating anything was to see how many “Points” things were. Using the trusty $50 calculator purchased at a meeting you could enter the Energy and Sat. Fat content from the nutritional information panel found on most foods and be told the damage.

So I spent the weekend writing a cool little app that allowed me to calculate the same information on the iPhone. It was my first experience in submitting an App to the AppStore and allowed me to learn a lot about Apple. At this point the benefit of writing the App was to help my wife and myself on our journey.

Original App:

The AppStore process should go…
– waiting for review
– in review
– processing for AppStore
– ready for sale

If there are problems such as bugs etc, then you have to repeat the first two steps a few times, but I was confident.

Ha! My App was rejected, for possibly breaching Weight Watchers patents or trademarks. So I did some research, contacted Weight Watchers in Australia, there was nothing available on the Australian AppStore doing what iPoints would do. So after some correspondence between myself and a legal representative in Cupertino, iPoints was permitted on the Australian AppStore. Total time in process 4 weeks.

December Sales : 90
January Sales : 380
February Sales : 401

It was incredible to watch. Now there was no way I was going to get rich from this just yet, but knowing nearly 900 people in Australia alone were running around with my weekend project was cool.

Then a letter from Apple, basically saying Weight Watchers International have issued a take down order, blah, legal threats, blah etc.

I attempted to contact WW both Internal and Australia. Stone walled at every turn. They had nothing on the AppStore at the time, and I was offering to develop this thing further and share the profits, minimal risk for them. Nothing, nada zip. Not even recognition of my correspondence, I phone WW Australia and introduced myself only to be told “Oh, we are well aware of who you are Mr Usher”. Still no amount of discussion was going to see a joint venture happen, so I complied with the request and Feb 2010 removed iPoints from the AppStore.

Anyone who had purchased iPoints was allowed to continue using it, and I was still receiving emails from people all around the world asking for it.

The problem as this point was the $700 revenue for the program would soon be eaten up seeking legal advise, so I decided to cut my losses, but it has been a sore point ever since.

March 2012 – Friday evening, I was looking through my code archive and came across the iPoints folder, “you know what” I thought to myself, let’s redevelop it. So that evening and into Saturday, I updated the user interface, put a custom keyboard in place, changed the measuring units and added retina display support. Done. Submit.

I submitted the product as an upgrade so that the previous 900 users would get a nice surprise (free upgrade), but since the previous App had been removed I also figured there may be some hoops to jump through.

Well, this morning, some 7 days after submitting, I awoke to the cool notification that iPoints status had changed from “waiting for review” to “in review” to “processing for AppStore” and finally “Ready for Sale”

It’s always nice to wakeup to an App approval

This time on the international market, so let’s see how those numbers stack up.

Note: Points is a registered trademark of Weight Watchers International.

Evi heads off for review

48 hours from start to finish. Evi Estimate Viewer is our new application that allows users of Buildsoft Estimating (Global and Offsider) to view their estimate on the iPad.

Support for Paradox databases is sparse so we needed a format that was more iOS friendly. This was achieved by writing a little utility (Evi Estimate Converter). Isn’t it funny when you start with a simple idea how it just keeps growing.

The estimate converter had to support local (or network) Buildsoft data, but then we decided that it should be usable by people without the estimating software available to them, so functionality was included to handle the.E0X file as well.

Next the UI for the Windows application, it has to be easy and clean.

It was noted that the file size of the data was starting to get a little on the large size (2-4mb per job), so a review of the methods used and some cool compression was put in place…. Now between 20kb-100kb (Yes KB)

Obfuscate the binary and build the setup program. Finally build in auto error reporting, I prefer the options provided by Red-Gate SmartAssembly

Off to the testing team for their tick of approval. ( SSW Do you conduct a “test please” )

Now, back to the iOS side of things. Support for the data file needs to be flexible, so iTunes File Sharing, Dropbox and in App support (email etc) had to be built. The most frustrating of these was the in App support. There is a quirk when using the iPad simulator where URL support just works, however, when tested on a real device it fails. It turns out that the simulator does some behinds the scenes magic and will match the case of a filename, yes, match the case! An afternoon of frustrations sealed with an early morning (3am) victory.

Finally, another round of testing, followed by a PASS, and it’s time to submit to Apple for approval and sale.

Here are some of the screen shots from the final products.

— UPDATE : 21, Feb

EVI Is Approved ! available in the AppStore