It seems like this ought to be an April Fool’s Day joke, but I’m only doing one of those this year. If you’re looking for more room on your iPhone to hold all your e-books, Gizmodo reports that Redditors have found you can force iOS to clear some space for you by trying to rent a movie from iTunes that you don’t have enough space to download. Gizmodo columnist Bryan Menegus writes:

I loaded my beat up iPhone 5 with music until it was bursting at the gills and then attempted to rent Peter Jackson’s 6.83 gigabyte masterpiece [The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers]. Lo and behold, I had gained almost 200 megs out of nowhere. Three more rentals and my overstuffed phone had gone from a meager 381 megs to a full 1.2 gigs of free space.

You won’t be charged for the rental as long as you don’t actually have enough space to download the movie (remember, try to rent it from your phone, not from iTunes on your PC!), but it does seem to clear out a decent chunk of space each time. It’s not clear what it actually does get rid of, or why it gets rid of a little more each time you do it repeatedly. The best guess of the people in the Reddit thread is that it forces a manual clean-up of unnecessary cache files.


  1. This trick shouldn’t be needed. Apple should build this cache clean-up function into iOS’s Settings. Even better, that wasted space should be cleaned out in the background with a user doing nothing.

    That’s particularly true given the mean little marketing game Apple has been playing the last few years.

    * With the newer Macs (since about 2012), users can’t add RAM themselves (it is soldered in), the base model ships with far too little RAM, and Apple charges about four times the market rate to get a decent amount of RAM.

    * Being mobile, iOS devices do need soldered-in RAM, but again Apple ships a low-end model with too little RAM, forcing users to pay the company’s robber baron rates for sufficient RAM.

    The new iPhone SE illustrates that. The design is marvelous and, but for one bit of nastiness, the price is reasonable. The 16GB on the low-end model is woefully inadequate, particular in a device with a 12 megapixel camera. To get an adequate 64GB, however, users must pay $100 more. One Mac news site estimated the difference. Apple was charging $100 more for storage that cost it only $12 more, meaning that Apple’s making over 800% profit on that almost mandatory upgrade.
    If I ever get around to making a collection of Perry’s laws, this would be one of them: “The richer people get, the greedier they get.” That certain fits not just Apple but the entire Silicon Valley. It’s becoming like the royal court of Louis XVI just before the revolution.

    You saw that most notably recently when it came out that the Silicon Valley rich think that society as a whole should support those who lose their jobs to the new robotics the valley is so eager to develop. Even a grade-school kid can see how unfair that is.

    Why should the hard-working owner of a plumbing business be taxed to support that robotic-created dole? He’s not putting anyone out of work. In fact, those added taxes will hurt his ability to get more business and employ more people. No, if there’s a tax to dole out to those put out of work by robotics, say truck drivers left unemployed by Google’s robotic cars, then that tax should be on the makers of robots and them alone. Of course, these billionaire jerks with hearts of stone, will fight that tooth and nail or, to be more accurate, with their political donations (and the speaking fees for H.C.)

    That’s one aspect of what is called crony capitalism. It has the government subsidize risk, i.e. the development of solar power. It has government subside sales (i.e for electric cars). Wherever there are risks and costs, taxpayers are shaken down. But when there’s a profit to be made, the government, as deeply into this crony scheme as are the businesses, quietly slips away. Under crony capitalism, all the profits are reserved for the capitalists. Most of the costs and risk go to taxpayers.
    Judging the ethics of companies and people isn’t hard. All you need do is watch what they do when they have choices. Apple could easily ship all iPhones with enough storage, making these cache tricks unnecessary. The cost of that added storage is a mere pittance. Instead, it plays these unpleasant little games for those 800% profits.

    Apple is not alone. Back in the mid-1990s, I was in a meeting with some of the dot-com developers. They were playing a similar game. A few rich people got in on the ground floor and reaped huge profits when the stock went public. By the time their dubious dot-com idea bombed, they were long gone. I was tempted to tell them, “When the [Marxist] revolution comes and people like you are being taken to the wall, don’t expect me to hide you.” The Sanders campaign is—or at least pretends to be—that revolution.

    I saw the opposite when I moved cross-country in August 2012. Pulling a battered trailer behind a 30+ year old Toyota meant overheating was a risk. I did all I could to prepare the car, but ascending a mountain range in Utah, my car began to overheat as I neared the top. I went on, assuming it’d cool down once I started downhill again.

    It didn’t. I pulled over and discovered the radiator was rapidly going dry. I put every drop of water I had in it and started off. The temperature gauge rose quickly again, so I had to exit at the next stop, where fortunately there was a service station, although only one in the middle of nowhere.

    The guy who owned it would have never made it into the ranks of Apple or any other high-tech company. He was too decent for that. He was extremely busy because he one worker wasn’t there that day, yet he took the time to fix my problem, a small hose I had failed to replace before the trip. When I asked him how much for the repair, he said $10. He must have known that, moving like I was, I didn’t have much money to spare. That $10 barely covered the cost of his materials.
    That is why, if I lived Silicon Valley, I’d have a sign in the back of that old Toyota. It’d say, “Watch Out! I brake for rattlesnakes and gas stations operators but not tech-industry billionaires.”

    Appropriate enough.

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