The Fake Steve Jobs Is Out Of Line


The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs is a blog, not written by Steve Jobs (of Apple fame), which was once clever and entertaining. It’s decidedly less so this week as The Fake Steve Jobs incites a data riot to bring down AT&T’s network.

His plan, reinforced again here and here, encourages frustrated iPhone owners, such as myself, to simultaneously run data intensive apps for an hour straight this Friday at noon PST in an “attempt to overwhelm the AT&T data network and bring it to its knees.” However, “Operation Chokehold” is no Boston Tea party. It’s a spiteful and selfish act. Which has probably been good for his blog traffic. But spearheading a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against one of the largest US communications networks may also attract the sort of attention he’ll be less pleased with.

I imagine there are those who would argue that The Fake Steve is merely writing a humor site. However, he (Dan Lyons) is a professional journalist. And this is a call to action in the real world, not the “fake” one. Look, I’m no fan of AT&T’s inferior network performance. But his plan does nothing to ameliorate the situation or enlighten the players – both AT&T and Apple are most assuredly aware of the situation. So, to my fellow pissed off AT&T customers, out of respect for all the pregnant women, business people, and ME, let’s act responsibly and please keep the network up Friday.

25 thoughts on “The Fake Steve Jobs Is Out Of Line”

  1. Why is OK for a corporation to threaten and bully its customers, but not OK for the customers to threaten the corporation?

  2. @Todd: Because in threatening the corporation back, you’re inconveniencing millions of other people. But more seriously, you’re potentially jeopardizing victims of crime who can’t call 911, people with health conditions who can’t talk to their doctors or call 911, and so on. This is a horrible idea.

  3. I’m gonna have to agree with Jamie here. If you really want to mess with the carrier, find a breach of contract on their behalf, aka no service where promised. THEN your attorney can mess with them. But don’t take them down when people rely on phones for medical emergencies, especially these days.

  4. AT&T themselves state that you should *not* rely on their cellular network in an emergency;

    AT&T and an associated group of telecommunications companies under the name “National Emergency Number Association” (NENA) released the results of a June survey which concludes that Americans need to have an emergency communications plan based around a landline connection.

    “A big part of this is knowing about the options available for dialing 911,” NENA Chief Executive Officer, Brian Fontes said in a statement. “The more choices you have to reach 911 in an emergency, the better, and a corded landline phone should be one of those options. It provides the security of a home phone line connection to 911 so that in most cases first responders know your home address.”

    Not to mention that this consumer protest is scheduled to occur at for a finite amount of time, on a publicly scheduled date, known in advance…

    …can you say the same for AT&T intermittent outages? Does At&T tell you in advance when you’ll have zero bars?

  5. I also agree with Jamie here. This is similar to a DDoS attack and teaches AT&T nothing. It only pisses off many others and possible puts lives in danger. The legal and criminal ramifications could be huge, and at the end of the day, AT&T still had a crappy network.

    I do think we should rage against AT&T, but not by turning ourselves into the monsters we are trying to fight. We need to flex our minds here and come up with a good plan that is sound legally.

  6. #1 I don’t think many if any people are going to bother with this protests
    #2 I think it is clear the is humor not an actual car to arms
    #3 If if people did this it isn’t a DDoS, it is people using apps in there intended way
    #4 I’m fairly sure there is a data channel and a voice channel between the phone and the tower. DDoS on data shouldn’t stop people from making voice calls in case of an emergency. It does use the some of the same infrastructure from tower to Central Office, but if ATT can’t prioritize Voice that is ATT’s fault.

  7. jon f, should a worthy competitor launch on another carrier, I’m out. Give me a Droid without a physical keyboard or a HTC HD2 running Android on a CDMA network and I’m done with AT&T. At least until the iPhone HD 4.0 hits. ;)

    John J, re #2: If it was a solitary post, I’d possibly chalk it up to satire. But he has posted 3 times on this matter (four if you include the email objection he ran), including trumpeting his coverage on other sites – which suggests to me it is indeed a call to action.

  8. Wait just a second,
    didn’t AT&T force ALL iPhone users to pay for an “unlimited data plan”? AT&T wrote that check, if we all attempt to cash it, who is at fault after all? 

  9. To all the people posting here complaining that this would impact all those poor people that need to call 911; You do understand that there is a difference between DATA and VOICE networks, right? We’re talking about overwhelming their DATA network. Stop spreading FUD.

  10. So someone in jest asks people to do something that could potentially overwhelm the data network. And yes the voice network is separate. Who is being “targeted?”

    AT&T said you could have unlimited access. Now someone is crying uncle on their behalf.

    Reminds me of the fractional reserve system when everyone has a run on the bank because the promise of being able to give back everyone’s gold is false and hollow. Yes, let us weep for poor ol’ AT&T because they are terrified of a stupid blog! Truly pathetic.

    This is what passes for a corporation that is supposed to be leading technologically? Bah!

  11. I’ve been told that the data and voice channels are the same for GSM/UMTS, which is what AT&T uses.

    This is not so for CDMA.

  12. Mark, if that were true, can you explain why:

    On ATT, you can talk and surf the internet at the same time. ATT uses GSM.

    On Verizon, you CAN’T talk and surf at the same time. Verizon uses CDMA.

    They are separate on ATT. Get your facts straight.

  13. What if tens of thousands of people do this….and the AT&T data network continues to work just fine? Will a lot of people be eating crow? Someone should do a before and after graph of “AT&T sucks” posts. The results might be interesting.

  14. @Janey

    It only took a couple of *hundred* iPhones to overwhelm the tower in downtown Austin during South by Southwest 2008, back in March

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    March 14, 2009
    SXSW Festival Takes Down AT&T’s 3G Service

    The AT&T 3G network seems to have come crashing down due to an overload of iPhone users utilizing their high-priced data services at Austin’s SXSW festival. Users have experienced dropped calls and unreasonably slow data rates the entire time they have been at the festival.

    According to Business Insider, AT&T is aware of the problem:

    “To accommodate unprecedented demand for mobile data and voice applications at SXSW, we are actively working this afternoon to add capacity to our cell sites serving downtown Austin. These efforts are ongoing, but we anticipate that customers should see improved network performance this evening and for the remainder of the event. We will continue to monitor network performance throughout the event, and will do everything possible to maximize network performance throughout. We apologize to customers who were inconvenienced during this surge in local network demand.”


  15. As others have said, this is just the DATA network, not VOICE. If it happens to take down the DATA network so be it. People can still call 911 if they need to.

    Seems to me this is a reasonable response to AT&T’s continued underwhelming support. I love my iPhone, but I hate hate hate AT&T. And yes, I too will jump ship the minute the iPhone appears on another carrier.

    Their support is awful. The voice coverage is piss poor. I can’t drive anywhere without dropping the call repeatedly. The data coverage is anemic. They oversold the service they were selling so they could charge iPhone users more than users of any other phone for “unlimited” service. And they failed to provide it. On top of that the CEO appears to be an arrogant shit who doesn’t realize that when he talks in public people write down what he says.

    I’ll be doing some heavy surfing on Friday between noon and 1pm. Maybe watching some NASA video…

  16. It is not a response only to AT&T’s poor service, it is also a response to their attempts to blame the i-phone, and to their talks about punishing heavy data users, after forcing them to take an UNLIMITED data plan.
    I don’t think it is out of line at all. AT&T are the ones who are out of line. If it was only crappy service, that would be one thing, but crappy service, blaming others, and threatening to punish customers? Something must be done, and this is a reat way to do it.

  17. 911 won’t be affected.

    Even cell phones that have not been activated on any network can call 911 with no service.

    Stop using this as an excuse for condemming this action. I can understand when the iPhone first launched, but AT&T has no excuse since the iPhone has had proven sales.

    I do blame Apple for making it exclusive in the first place. This not just about complainning about the problem, but forcing AT&T to fix it.

    Nobody is hacking anything or doing anything illegal, just using approved programs in the way the were intended.

    By now AT&T should have been able to service every iPhone in America all going at the same time. There is no excuse for any failure in the network, just perhaps an acceptable slow down in data transfer but no interruption.

  18. for all you lame people who don’t know jack squat about networks… 911 calls are given a priority over every other data call. I fail to see where its a problem that “millions” will be inconvenienced for 1 hour when I am inconvenienced just about every day due to lousy service!

    If you can’t live without your “cell” phone for one hour, seriously, get a life. AT&T gets what they deserve.

  19. I have to agree with what others have posted. Data and Voice on GMS are on two completely different channels. One will not effect the other. AT&T is most likely responsible for the rumor that it will. This is just not true, clearly the are trying to shame people into not taking part in the protest.

    The problem here for AT&T is that this protest is a double edged sword for them. The network will most likely slow at this time and piss off a lot of customers not aware of the protest. But if they take legal action then everyone will know about the protest. And lets face it, that kind of bad press about a straight up customer revolt over bad service will do far more to damage AT&T’s rep than any multimillion dollar “there’s a map for that” ad campaign. You know the people at Version, Sprint, and T-Mobile are just loving this.

    I don’t have an iPhone and I’m not on AT&T, but I must admit these iPhone protesters have a valid complaint. Unlimited data means just that, Unlimited. These customers came to AT&T and signed a 2 year contract expecting Unlimited data. Now AT&T is saying, “thanks for signing suckers, now were gonna change your terms and jack your prices.” I would be pissed to. Thank God I’m on Sprint where Unlimited really means Unlimited.

  20. This is not a DDoS. People aren’t scripting bots to bring down a site; they are using a service they’ve paid for to access network information. The problem is, every single day is effectively a DDoS (according to the people that want to call it that) because the service is already overwhelmed by heavy usage. You don’t need to say, “Let’s all use our iPhones at noon,” because most of iPhone users are already using them.

    If you want to hurt AT&T, start a class action lawsuit. They are making more and more claims about network coverage and availability that they can’t honor. There are lawyers all over this country whose country club memberships are in danger. Let’s toss them a bone.

  21. Having run three marathons, a million years and waist sizes ago, I’ve gotten that obsessiveness out of my system. But I will pick up the next gen Fitbit for more restrained usage.

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