Burning House

iPad, iPhone, Wallet

If your house was burning, what would you take with you? It's a conflict between what's practical, valuable and sentimental. What you would take reflects your interests, background and priorities. Think of it as an interview condensed into one question.Burning House Project

The image above was my entry for the Burning House Project. I thought about what I would submit as my entry. If my house was on fire the first thing I would do is secure my family. I would get my wife, my son and my daughter. That's it. I wouldn't re-enter the house for anything else. But then my thoughts drifted to more practical things and I realized the question is "what would you take with you?", not "who".

Truth be told, I don't really need these devices, credit cards or ID. We live a mostly digital life. Our family photos, videos, contacts, etc. are all backed up and store inline. All I really need to restore our life is access to a computer. But having these things -- drivers license, health insurance card, credit cards -- makes life a lot simpler.

What does it mean that Touch ID was “hacked”?

So Apple designs a solution to those people, Touch ID. And some Germans guy discovered a decade old technique to fool the sensor. The negative hype on the Web is a bit misguided. Security conscious geeks are not the target audience for TouchID. The people who have no PIN or passcode at all are.

Earlier this year, security software vendor McAfee concluded a survey which indicates that almost a third of smart phone users find passwords and PINs so frustrating or inconvenient that they don't bother setting one. They are opting for no security.

Bruce Schneier offered some perspective in an article he wrote for Wired:

There are two ways an authentication system can fail. It can mistakenly allow an unauthorized person access, or it can mistakenly deny access to an authorized person. In any consumer system, the second failure is far worse than the first. Yes, it can be problematic if an iPhone fingerprint system occasionally allows someone else access to your phone. But it’s much worse if you can’t reliably access your own phone — you’d junk the system after a week.If Apple’s iPhone Has Fingerprint Authentication, Can It Be Hacked?

So Apple designs a solution to those people, Touch ID. And some Germans guy discovered a decade old technique to fool the sensor. The negative hype on the Web is a bit misguided. Security conscious geeks are not the target audience for TouchID. The people who have no PIN or pass code at all are.

The iPhone 5s is the first mobile device to make fingerprint access quick, reliable and simple enough that the masses will use it without hesitation. So much so that there’s really no excuse to not have it enabled on your phone anymore.


To be clear, the goal of Touch ID is not to be unhackable. The goal is to get more consumers to move from no security at all to some security.Smashing through the media hype: iPhone 5s fingerprint reader not really “less secure” or “hacked”

I think we will see that in a few years, finger print technology will be ubiquitous on mobile devices. Apple could improve on TouchID in one way though. It would be nice to have the ability to enable Touch ID with a PIN. Maybe it will in a future iOS patch. The user could have three options:

  • Use passcode or PIN
  • Use Touch ID
  • Use Touch ID with a PIN or passcode.

For now if you want to use Touch ID with increased security, register it to use the last two fingers on either hand (pinky and ring finger). Those are the fingers less likely to leave a print.

However, I'm just happy that Touch ID exists for those ignorant (stupid?) enough to not use a PIN or passcode. Let's get those people on board first. Let's be happy for those people. Then ... we can send Apple our geek checklist.

A wallet for my iPhone

I'm in the market for a new wallet. My current wallet was purchased several years ago. It has served me well but is beginning to look worse for wear. After several years I feel I need a change.

I carry my iPhone in my left pants pocket. With no case. Commando. I've always been careful to not put iPhone into my pocket with a set of keys. This reduces the chance that my iPhone screen will be scratched.

Keeping my iPhone and my wallet separate does cause a problem. It's a small uncomfortable problem. Bulk and weight. The wallet and iPhone 5 together is like putting a small rock in my pants. Wait ... don't go off on some sexual tangent. I'm writing about wallets!

In any case, it's uncomfortable while sitting. Quite. I find myself taking my iPhone out of my pocket when I sit to work or at a meeting or eating. Sometimes taking the iPhone or wallet out of my pocket isn't easy to do. Especially when wearing jeans.

I don't have the traditional billfold. I have one of those wallets that is a partial clip and part card, holder. It has three card slots which I've stuffed with a number of “necessary” items. Ok. Some of it isn't necessary. There are two credit cards that I don't need in my wallet so I really just need enough space to carry six cards ( or maybe less ) and a money clip that can hold a few bills is all in I need. I do want some space to place my iPhone.

Twelve South, SurfacePad, iPhone 5[exif id="33193"]

Twelve South, SurfacePad, iPhone 5[exif id="33195"]

The item in the photograph above is the SurfacePad for iPhone from TwelveSouth. It's an attractive flip cover but not very useful as a wallet. It has no slots to hold credit cards or money but can be used as a stand. Although it provides minimally more protection that carrying my iPhone 5 naked in my pocket I want one anyway.

Twelve South, Bookbook, iPhone 5[exif id="33190"]

Twelve South, Bookbook, iPhone 5[exif id="33191"]

I've researched the iPhone wallet need for over a year. I still haven't found what I'm looking for. Most of the wallet I've seen -- most on Etsy -- is some sort of felt sleeve with one or two slots for money and credit cards. They don't look durable and would require me to slide my iPhone out every time I want to use it. Plus my hands would then be occupied holding the rest of the wallet while using the phone.

The wallet about is the BookBook, also from TwelveSouth. I think this wallet comes close to what I want. It has four slots for credit cards and ID cards, plus an internal pocket for cash. The iPhone 5 fits snugly in a slot on the right and the back cover has holes for the iPhone camera and flash. I would not need to remove the phone to make a call. So what's holding me back from a purchase? I'm just not in love with the outside spine. I don't like the look of that book. If this was smooth leather this would be perfect.

Any ideas on where I can find a wallet like the BookBook without the book design?