CH

January 23, 2016

The measure of a state is its ability to deny benefits to outsiders

Filed under: philosophy, sovereignty games — Benjamin Vulpes @ 12:00 a.m.
The measure of a state is its ability to deny benefits to outsiders

her: it would appear the police aren't allowed to enforce street camping laws: https://archive.is/DwqIP

me: 2016! feefees always trump everything. especially such mundane concerns of the privileged as public health and safety. this is classic 'who could have known' overnice horseshit. raaa

her: The 3rd comment down1 is a good question though: where are they supposed to go?

me: i can't even see the comments. historically, 'elsewhere'. recently, 'projects'.

her: Sigh.

me: most recently, 'anywhere man muh riiiights'.

her: We don't have enough projects2.

me: the universe does not provide an answer to every problem.

her: There is a serious lack of beds in Portland.

me: yeah i mean supply is down and demand is up. most people can only think 'better get the government involved'.

her: Who else is going to provide need based housing?

me: the universe does not guarantee a solution to things that humans perceive as problems.

her: Who said anything about the universe? There are government agencies staffed with human beings who are tasked with coming up with solutions to these problems as they arise. Those people are failing. The universe doesn't have anything to do with it.

me: your side of this argument is predicated on the notion that there is a solution to the problem of people who cannot afford a roof over their heads. i am gently suggesting that perhaps there is no solution. put another way, there will always be more organisms than can survive off of the free energy in a system.

her: but you are wrong about that. Other cities elsewhere have been able to put roofs over homeless people's heads.

me: is it a sustainable3 practice over 100 years? 200? do not confuse a point in time for a steady-state.

her: We do have a bussing problem. Maybe it's something as harsh as asking these people if there if they were put on a bus in Boise or Spokane, and if they say yes buying them a ticket back there4. Utah implemented housing first, treatment second, and they don't have street fires

me: roadies also don't particularly want to live in utah for obvious reasons. roadies want to live in portland, for obvious reasons.

her: If Portland were dealing only with Portland's homeless, the infrastructure would probably be adequate.

me: there is no such thing as 'only Portland's homeless'. for as long as people can get here by greyhound or train and for as long as our voters continue to increase the budget for housing them, they will continue to arrive.

her: Wtf you don't know anything about how people become homeless do you? There is totally such a thing.

me: how are you to keep the others out, though?

her: That is a very good question

me: this is the classic problem of identifying 'the deserving poor'. dates back to like the 1700s with absolutely no solution, and leads in fact to criteria like 'deserving poor don't do drugs' which leads to fascist control of state charity distributions.

her: It probably has a really harsh answer. Like in order to qualify for benefits you have to show that you received mail here sometime in the past 5 years or something.

me: right? ultimately it comes down to a thing you and i have spoken of before, the problem of 'unlimited downside'. which is to say that i am happy to support my ski-bum kid, but not yours. because if yours, then hers, and then infinity. this is the road to socialism, and why it is such a very miserable curse upon the world.

her: And I want to help homeless people who are from Portland or have established themselves as part of the community, but I don't want to do that job for Boise or Spokane

me: right?

her: Or Redlands. Or Reno.

me: i actually came up with a nifty formalism for this

her: Ja?

me: 'the measure of a state's sovereignty and quality of life therein is the degree to which it can deny benefits to outsiders'

her: Oof

me: 'harsh answer', as you said. but imho, you came to the right conclusion on your own. which, relatedly, why benlandia does not even recognize outsiders as citizens.

So: if you live a place, and its governers routinely fall all over themselves to give your money away to randos passing through, you live in a socialist hellhole like me. If you live in a place, and the first reaction to randos driving through and attempting to contribute is "nope, and do it correctly if you try again", you live in The Most Serene Republic of Bitcoin, just like me.

The models are mutually exclusive. Pick a side before it's picked for you.

Footnotes:

1

I agree with you… However, since there isn't enough shelter place for the homeless population, where are they supposed to go? Just wondering.

2

I couldn't agree more. It's trivial to short-circuit the liberal desire to improve the world: "Look, let's just build a bunch of concrete towers with tiny rooms, and pipe water, soylent and internet to them. Perhaps even give them Netflix accounts for entertainment: Netflix can write the accounts off as charitable donations, it's not like providing entertainment costs anything these days."

3

huaehaue

4

Actually, you just put them on the bus will they or nil they. Perhaps a gasenbusen?

Money, Trust, and the Wild Wild Web (A socioeconomic history of SSL, or that green lock symbol in your browser)

Filed under: history, software development — Benjamin Vulpes @ 12:00 a.m.
Money, Trust, and the Wild Wild Web (A socioeconomic history of SSL, or that green lock symbol in your browser)

In the beginning, there was the web. Tim Berners-Lee did smile upon it, for it was good. And he rested, or something.

The web in those days was a simpler thing: HTTP servers responded with simple documents of text nominally structured in such a way as to lend semantic meaning to the content embedded within them. Email servers relayed missives signed and unsigned from all parts of the net to all other parts of the net, from alt.tasteless to comp.lang.lisp. Simply having a home connection in the mid-eighties was a rare thing – much like jeans might have been for my Soviet Union counterparts.

Among the dreams of early "Netizens" grew one that would distract them, and by and large derail an entire cycle of the cool kids. The idea of a self- and mutually-semantically describing-and-linking documents captured all of their imaginations, and so XML ate an entire generation, including the self-immolating Erik Naggum (and many other nameless grinders-on-of-the Semantic Web).

One cannot, however, set meat so delicious as the Internet out in the sun without attracting parasites. The curious plebes and eager kids alike wanted online, and (entirely predictably) AOL and similar companies built their own turbines to loft into the flow of the everyone who wanted onto the 'net, seeking what Joules could be pulled from the stream of derps rushing by.

And so the glorious paradise of intellectuals and smug Lisp weenies was lost to the Eternal September. This piece, however, is not about them. Instead, I write today of the socio-economic drivers behind of TLS/SSL: how the world arrived where it is today, and how (come now, are you yet surprised by the relentless slant around here still) Bitcoin will render the whole damn thing moot.

After Berners-Lee and Phriendz had their fun, the late nineties Venture Capitalists showed up. Paul Graham built Viaweb, an early ecommerce website development tool that ran…via the web…because there were enough non-technical folks derping around to constitute a market of people who wanted to run stores online without understanding how they worked. Predictably, Graham's customers' customers would need to pay for things online, the only option for which (give or take an annoyingly slow ACH or three) turned out to be credit and debit cards.

Unfortunately for the world, there are fundamental problems with using credit cards on the internet. These problems are actually fundamental problems with the previous generation's transaction-processing system that remained more-or-less papered over until Bitcoin came along and kneecapped the whole ancient shebang; interbank wires, ACH, and the credit-card system included. The USG is currently desperately trying to adapt to the new world, but its attachments to the old world will prevent anything they try from working.

The basic problem with using credit cards, debit cards, and generally the entire banking system online is that everyone who does so runs the risk of permanent loss of capital. To better understand what systemic flaws SSL's authors claim to address, let's look at how paying for things online with a credit card would have worked in the good old days before the USG shat up OpenSSL.

Some of the web's original payment-handling weaknesses, narrated and enumerated

Should your girlfriend have gotten a hair up her bum to buy shoes on Nordstrom back in the day (I have no idea when Nordies actually launched their first website), she'd have typed http://www.nordstrom.com into the browser. The browser'd have looked up nordstrom.com in the DNS resolution tables accessible to it, which map the human-legible string "nordstrom.com" into an IP address (69.58.186.114, at this point in time), opened up a socket to that IP address, asked for a specific file (/shoes.html, perhaps), and then rendered that. After much more clicking around, perhaps adding the desired shoes to the cart, the girl'd decide to check out (requesting /checkout.html, for example), put her magic credit card digits into the form Nordstrom sent back down the wire, and send it back to them.

A visual:

internet.png

This unprotected flow has several flaws that are worth enumerating so that we're all on the same page when I go to discuss what SSL does to mitigate them.

  • DNS
    • you cannot know that the DNS server is trustworthy and will give you the right IP for Nordstrom's servers
  • IP routing
    • the packets to the internet are inspectable by any re-routing party
    • as such, any server that passes along a request for nordstrom.com can decide instead to respond as nordstrom.com
    • because the packets are transmitted in the clear, anyone in between your girlfriend and her shoes can read her credit card numbers out of them

The fundamental flaw in the {credit,debit}-card system is that in order for money to move from one database row to another, the purchasing party must hand over information enabling the selling party to transfer arbitrary amounts of money out of the purchasing party's account–up to and including everything in the account–anywhere in the world. The processing networks originally mitigated against this flaw in their system by strictly controlling who could accept those magic numbers, and imposed strict rules (see: PCI compliance for a modern example) on how to handle the numbers once they hit disk. Once that system attempted to move onto the internet, it ran into the obvious problem that you can't actually transmit credit card numbers over the internet-as-it-was-at-the-time safely.

Enter SSL

Clearly the situation was intolerable to people building web systems that demanded integration with the payment systems of the time. Mailing checks wasn't precisely an option, nor was proceeding with the obviously flawed system. It was proposed and cemented into the infrastructure of the internet that the centralized bodies closely related to those issuing domain names (ensuring that DNS requests for nordstrom.com actually returned the Nordstrom IP's) would thenceforth be responsible for building and deploying the infrastructure to convince consumers that when they did visit a website like Nordstrom's or Zumiez', that it was safe to put the keys to the kingdom (aka debit card numbers) into that web site, primarily by displaying the now-classic Green Lock in the browser bar.

This is SSL: widely known, and reviled for its role in centralizing and rendering more vulnerable to statal control the open internet.

In a nutshell, browsers use mathematics similar to those employed by GPG to ensure that they are talking to the correct servers. Upon connection (this description is of necessity incomplete and incorrect in the specifics, but I hope it is accurate enough to convey the general flow to the non-technical reader. My colleagues in #b-a will no doubt cane me thoroughly for this bastardization, and I'll update this section as appropriate), the browser requests the server's public key in order to establish a secure connection. The server responds with both a public key, and an SSL certificate from a third party verifying that the public key is in fact valid for the web site in question. The certificate (another crypto artifact) is produced by a key in the "trust chain", descending from the (USG-blessed) DNS and SSL regulators' keys. Eg, I buy a certificate of my private key's legitimacy from Namecheap, who buys a certificate of their private key's legitimacy from someone closer to the Forbidden City, who in turn buys a certificate of their private key's legitimacy…on and on until you reach Lizard Hitler's Czar of SSL Issuance himself.

The core flaw with this system is that ex a bunch of hitherto undescribed infrastructure, the browser has no way to validate that the "trust chain", eg the list of certificates leading up to LHCSI does in fact terminate with the Czar's key. The obvious(ly incredibly stupid) solution is to bundle the relevant public keys into the browser from the get-go.

A classic bootstrapping problem. How is one to obtain certificates that are valid, if one cannot connect to servers that one knows to be trustworthy in the first place?! The simple and incorrect answer is to bundle those certificates in the operating system, or the default browser. The correct answer is that developed and practiced by people who take personal cryptographic hygenie very seriously: we meet face to face, and confirm each other's public keys while actually in each others' presence. This is clearly impractical for mass-market implementations.

SSL, as implemented, guarantees that the USG and its affiliates in the ICANN and throughout the rest of the world will retain a stranglehold on website "authentication", and as a direct result, the freedom of anyone who wishes to attach to The Internet (or the USG's internet, if you will) and process payments through the USG-and-NATO-affiliates' systems.

In the minds of the statists, control of the transmission of money is both the goal of the state and its primary tool for exerting its power. In my mind, government control both of the monetary supply and transmission media is the keystone that must be hammered first from the arch of global socialism.

Enter then Bitcoin

While SSL nominally exists to provide comfort of mind to the average person with a few thousand bucks in the bank that their tiny savings won't be pilfered instantly upon exposure of card data to the internet, its subtler and more important raison d'etre is to ensure the control of what I grew up understanding to be the internet and what I grew up understanding to be the payments systems. I suppose that this is the cost of pandering to the ill-educated public: the big-government mindset of necessity leads to centralized solutions to comfort the public and corrupt free and independent systems like the early Internet.

Bitcoin blows this wide open in any number of ways. The first, and apparently least obvious reason (based only on how often I find myself explaining this) is that even in a world of intercepted and compromised connections, one is never exposed to the risk of permanent loss of all of the capital in a given account simply by remitting funds. Absolutely, an attacker can provide a fraudulent delivery address and balance to remit, but even then the victim is only out however much they sent of their own volition. Due to the protocol nature, users never risk the entire balance of an account (if you'll pardon the poetic license) by simply engaging in a transaction, unlike the credit/debit card systems. The onus falls back upon the remitter to balance the size of transaction against the risk of the remittance destination being malformed en route to their eyes. Another obvious point I find myself reiterating is that adult use of strong cryptography renders the interception and malleation of remittance amounts and destinations completely impossible barring a failure of operational security by one of the transacting parties.

The transition away from SSL won't happen overnight, and likely won't even look like a real transition. It's too deeply embedded in the fiat systems to disappear until they do, and their doom was sealed with the loss of control of the monetary base and transmission media. Ultimately SSL will simply cease to matter, as all of the currencies that exist by the fiat of man will eventually suffer a flight of capital into Bitcoin, or whatever successor dominates the landscape at that far point in the future.

At that point, the five billion dollar salary Google pays its serfs will be about as useful as the million dollar flats the Soviet Union gave away to its serfs was, and nobody will give a shit about credit cards, because they'll be backed by all of (and only) the reserves of all those Weimar Republics who failed to get out of Bitcoin's way.

Footnotes:

HA! Simple XML…Don't make me disembowel you.

Perhaps not for consumers anytime soon, but eventually. And for the rest of us who want to shoop money around the globe, immediately.

Who at the time in question retained some vestigal relevance by virtue of sitting atop piles of actually hard-earned capital (in stark contrast to today's VC's, whose capital accumulation process documented elsewhere) and actually thinking for half a second about how to deploy it rather than simply shotgunning it at the parade of merit-washed graduates of such storied institutions as Stanford and MIT (those graduates, it's worth noting, whose own sole role in the operation is to drain money back out of the far-down-market funds that Chuck runs in the form of salaries paid to "startup CEOS" and reinvest it in the Harvard/Yale/Stanford "ecosystem" of graduates and subsequent round-raisers. The odd lucky sod strikes it lucky with the VCs and either knowingly hands the bag down to the next-greater-fool at a phenomenal profit or is gently shepharded out of the operation by his earliest and savviest investors claiming to work for "the good of the company", and eking out only a miserable fraction of what he might have earned had he embraced the classic American ponzi with both arms).

This is actually a common problem with systems that evolve into new ecological niches. Assumptions made in the old world don't hold true in the new, and vast amounts of complexity must be papier-mache'd atop the old system to broker between its existing interface and that which the new world demands.

There is simply not enough money in the world to construct the requisite systematically-available interface layers between BTC and the ancien regime that'd be necessary for them to survive in the new world. Not that the task's impossibility prevents the tiny slice of high-risk capital currently masquerading as Venture Capital from burning as many dollars as their retirement-fund-managing friends are willing to drop into the "high risk" bucket, mostly because they fundamentally misunderstand the fiat system's goals for their frenetic activity, and the impossibility thereof.

The joke here is that SSL has never been anything but shit.

It's not a sexist example, yo, I just like girls in heels.

Generated with websequencediagrams.com, source follows:

title unvarnished and simplified old-skool HTTP

participant girlfriend as g
participant browser as b
participant dns as d
participant internet as i
participant nordstrom.com as n

g->b: lezzgo a nordies
activate b
b->d: nordstrom.com plz
activate d
d->b: 69.58.186.114
deactivate d
b->i: relay these packets to 69.58.186.114 plz
activate i
i->n: hey have some packets (GET /shoes.html)
activate n
n->i: here's more packets (shoes.html)
deactivate n
i->b: yer packets, ma'am
deactivate i
b->g: SHYOOOOZ
deactivate b
g->b: add shoes to cart plz
activate b
b->i: more packets for nordies (POST /cart.html)
activate i
i->n: relays POST /cart.html
activate n
n->i: relay 200 OK plz
deactivate n
i->b: 200
deactivate i
b->g: SHOES IN CART NAO, also cc form
deactivate b
g->b: cc digits
activate b
b->i: relay to nordies (POST credit card deets to /checkout.html)
activate i
i->n: here are some magic money numbers
activate n
n->n: talk to payment network
n->i: OKEEEEE
deactivate n
i->b: relays OK
deactivate i
b->g: ok u gots shyooz nao
deactivate b

That "GPG doesn't scale" is not a concern for people who use GPG and Bitcoin. It should be, however, a concern for everyone whose world is constructed on the paper foundations of centralized key infrastructure, now that we have an uninterdictable currency.

If they control both the monetary base and its transmission vehicles, they posesses also the ability to freeze their adversaries funds and debase their own currency to pay for thousand-dollar hammers from "favorite son" contractors. That Bitcoin will bring an end to both aspects of this reprehensible system should be a foregone conclusion to readers of this blog by now.

January 15, 2016

Defend the world-trashers at the expense of those doing their tiny damndest, and lets see where that gets you

Filed under: Uncategorized — @ 12:00 a.m.
Defend the world-trashers at the expense of those doing their tiny damndest, and lets see where that gets you

Portland's a notoriously lovely place for the chronically down-on-my-luck-oh-and-also-my-face-is-covered-in-tattos-so-I'm-really-fucked-and-can't-possibly-ever-do-anything-but-beg. Long, idyllic summers, and gentle, temperate winters – I've only ever seen one homeless dude die where he was sitting one cold night (on the stairs across the street from where I lived at the tail end of my college saga), and he didn't even freeze1! Not to mention almost a half-million passers-by easily menaced2 into contributing to the beer and heroin fund.

Portland also has some hilarious laws around the use of public spaces. For instance, sleeping in public on sidewalks is (I believe) entirely legal, and the cops cannot shivvy anyone along for doing that. Far be it from Portlanders to go so far as to arrest those individuals, jail beds are scarce enough and appropriately reserved for people who engage in such unheard of crimes as armed robbery. Methheads, I tell ya.

All of this conspires to breed a truly loathsome and persistent underbelly of society in these parts. Not that every large-ish town doesn't have its fair share of people otherwise unemployable and whose company is unenjoyable by anyone other than people exactly as distasteful as themselves, but all of the above and the general niceness around P-town has let this (please afford me the poetic license to call it a) subculture metastasize to absurd proportions.

Some delightyful examples of which are trivially plucked from Springwater path's "Avenue of Terror" persists, but police hands are tied!

Terry Dublinski-Milton is a neighborhood activist and board member of the Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Association…said people are concerned about how the camps are impacting a nearby creek and environmental restoration area that volunteers have spent 20 years working to restore.

There are people who tend to their local environment, and people who destroy and pollute their local environment. These two groups will always be at odds: the former striving endlessly to turn shitholes into nice little houses, and shabby ghettos into marginally liveable neighborhoods; and the latter preying upon the former's parks for places to sleep, their churches for free meals, and generally attempting to take the nice things for which they did no work and kick the others out. Such is the law of nature: dig thyself a Mountain Home, and you may be sure that an orc horde will be coming by sometime in winter to kill your dwarves, drink your beer, and shit in your bed.

The very painful Portland weakness is to defend to the hilt any misbehavior by the orcs. It comes from an entirely understandable (if you take a step back and regard the people who make up Portland as being so steeped in the Progressive tradition of saving the souls of the poverty-stricken that they don't even realize that their ideology is in fact an ideology but hold it to be the One True Way to Manage a Group of People) if completely wrong desire and set of plans to improve the world. Unfortunately, the search for deserving poor requires that one root through a lot of undeserving poor to find them, and if you are inclined to excuse misbehavior on the grounds that "I couldn't possibly know what it's like for them", all I end up with is a city where it's somehow acceptable for the trash of the earth who can't even find a place to store their squalor in Gresham to menace the hard-working people who don't even make enough to commute by car to the metropolitan area.

The whole story of Portland's income-inequality tension is a hilarious one of the most poverty stricken enlisting the slightly-less-poverty-stricken-but-'blessed'-with-college-degrees-and-a-mission-to-heeeelp against the just barely not actually broke people America likes to call "the middle class". And 'enlisting' is probably giving the street-folk just a bit too much credit – Portland's progressives go out of their way to protect, defend, and excuse just about any idiotic public behavior one can point to of a summer day at Col. Summers. "Life is a varied tapestry, maaaan".

[Mark Mollenkopf] says he's counted up to 20 tents and has seen 'chop shop activities,' drug use, and a lot of other illegal behaviors.

Give 'em an inch, they'll take a yard. Permit near-permanent tent cities, and they'll turn into dens of iniquity and fencing of small-value stolen goods. Professional criminals steal by the truck, fence by the truck, and have enough smarts to keep it out of civilians faces. The bottom-feeders living along the Springwater corridor have, unsurprisingly, none of that subtlety or finesse.

Mollenkopf again:

"As I got about 20 feet from them they started telling me to turn around and go somewhere else, I asked that they move aside so I can pass and one of them (who I saw again this morning) yells, 'Are you kidding? Get the fuck out of here!'"

The only acceptable response is "fuck you, and here's the piece of steel with which I'm going to hit you until you get out of my way and apologize". "Oh, but Ben!" I can hear you whining from here, "That's so easy to say from the comfort of your couch with your dependents draped snoozily about the apartment, but get out there in the real world and say that!" Motherfucker, I ride a bike that has a split top bar in which I keep my U-lock. I keep it there because a) it saves about 50 seconds of fucking around with the bag on every mount and dismount, b) for menacing cars and c) for actually smacking cars that don't get the message. FIGHT ME IRL.

People for whom violence is not a way of life (and yes, this does include me) have a very difficult time understanding how to interact with people for whom violence is a way of life. The hack is simple: when interacting with the violent, either out-kill them or get out of their way. The latter option is always more appealing to the Portlander, because they're nice and violence is bad and so on. The latter option is also death to the soul: did you really just let yourself get pushed around by a hobo?

"There have been repeated attempts to get the city to act with no avail", [Dublinski-Milton] shared…

Nor will there be for the forseeable future. Pansy-ass socialists.

Footnotes:

1

True story.

2

If you want real menacing, Portland, go to a place like New York. This country bumpkin learned right quickly to never ever shake hands with the extremely large black man on 14th street selling oversized candy bars for ten dollars each to raise money for his high school basketball team to go to the whatever at that point he's squeezing you for the cash and polite kid that you are you're looking for something to say (other than the correct response [having failed to frown him out of the way in the first place], which would be to laugh and say "No man, it ain't happenin'. Better luck with the next mark.") to get away without hurting his feelings or more importantly compromising your identity as a Nice Person.

January 11, 2016

The Monotonically-Increasing Fucked-up-ed-ness of Apple Software (or, how to sync your contacts to the iPhone without exhuming Steve Himself)

Filed under: apple, software development — Benjamin Vulpes @ 12:00 a.m.
The Monotonically-Increasing Fucked-up-ed-ness of Apple Software (or, how to sync your contacts to the iPhone without exhuming Steve Himself)

Of late, my iPhone has been vibrating without displaying accompanying notifications, or for any discernable reason at all. This is an entirely possible state to get the phone into, where some application has permissions to run the vibrator and receive push notifications, but lacks the permissions to show banners, or display anything on the lock screen.

After trolling through the Notifications panel, nuking errant vibrators and ensuring that only Test Flight, Slack, the phone, Google's Calendar and Mail, and the Messages applications had permissions to hook into the notifications system, I idly dug into the battery performance panel to see what horrors lurked within. Lo and behold, Apple's Mail application was responsible for a whopping 21% of my battery use (Gmail clocks in at a comparatively lightweight 14%, not that I have any reason to actually trust these numbers beyond that they show a Google product trouncing an Apple one…).

"Well hey!" I think, naively, to myself, never having wasted an evening unsnarling an Apple toolchain problem after implementing some nominally quick fix to solve a niggling problem ever in my life, "Clearly the thing to do is rip my various mail accounts out of Mail, because I know from experience that uninstalling shit shipped on an iPhone to be a fruitless endeavour haunted by surreptitious reinstalls! That'll keep Mail from ever running out to the network to check for mail! Aren't you smart, kiddo!?"

All of my contacts disappeared.

This, a UX professional will tell you, should not have been a surprise, given that the phone presented a dialog asking which of the Mail, Calendar, Contacts and Notes that came from that account I wanted to delete. All of them, obviously, get your redundant damn data outta heah, right? The surprising bit was that all of my contacts came down from that Google account in the first place anyways, and were never copied to the device's local contact store.

No problem, though, I have some notion of how to fix this (no, not using an iPhone of the most recent vintage is not an option). I'll just export my contacts from Gmail, and sync them to the phone. Oops!

contactsmissingfeatures

EVERYONE'S FIRED.

No, it's fine. Really. I'll just jump through these hoops as well. Export the contacts (Which? All? Are there some groups I care about and not others for some reason? Oh, jesus, does this include everyone I've ever received mail from on a mailing list? I did not weep, but lo I did come close…).

VCF files finally in hand, I am ready to ship these contacts back to my mobile device (from whence, I must point out, they came in the first place).

So, to iTunes, right? To the…tab for contacts, right?

contactsqmark

Nope, let's try…Info?

infoqmark

Theoretically, that's where I'd expect the contact-syncing mechanism to lie. Theoretically, except it has no groups or contacts in it. And when I sync…and sync again…and restart my phone and sync again…and (no fuck that I'm not restarting my computer) lo, there are still no contacts on the phone.

And then it hits me. MMS the .vcf to myself.

And yes, that is what finally works. MMSing the .vcf exports of my GMail accounts to myself. Not iCloud (because fuck that, Apple web properties never actually work), not syncing via iTunes, but actually sending the collected vCards to my own phone and importing them from the Messages interface.

DOES THE MIND NOT BOGGLE?

How to Manually Import Contacts to the iPhone

  1. Export your selected contacts from wherever they are in .vcf format
  2. MMS them to your phone number
  3. Import that vCard from Messages

Steve's dead. I'm transcribing all of my contacts onto 100% cotton paper with chemically inert ink, and you should do the same.

Footnotes:

For all that it appears to be a JS abomination running on the iPhone, the Google Mail application routinely trounces the Apple Mail application in searching, rendering, speed, and more or less everything one would want from an email application on the phone.

Isn't it funny that a 'power user' only uses a tiny fraction of the surface area of the App Store's offering, and that the average consumer will just let their phone sit there with push notifications for everything enabled and commensurately miserable battery life? As always, knowing what idiocy to not engage in is the wunderwaffen.

Which is not to say that I'm using the thing because I like it. What, you think that fab staff enjoy going to work in bunny suits? Give me a break…

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