How to Pass Time Until the Apple vs. FBI Courtroom Showdown

March 19, 2016, 1:59 PM UTC
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights 2015 Ripple Of Hope Awards - Inside
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: Apple CEO Tim Cook attends the Robert F. Kennedy human rights 2015 Ripple of Hope awards at New York Hilton Midtown on December 8, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage)
Noam Galai—WireImage

A version of this post titled “’C’ is for cookie—and crypto” originally appeared in the Cyber Saturday edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter.

Nothing quite captures the pangs of anticipation I feel for next week’s Apple event (the one on Tuesday, not Monday) than, perhaps, the subject of the company’s latest video ad. The Cookie Monster, yep.

The cerulean gourmand of Sesame Street bakes a batch of—surprise, surprise—chocolate chip cookies in a newly released commercial. He uses Apple’s virtual assistant Siri to set a cooking timer on an iPhone 6s. The insatiable oddball, waiting for the treats to ready, nearly devours a wooden spoon out of sheer restlessness.

Unlike that furry blue beast, people awaiting the courtroom showdown between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Apple at least have Time’s exclusive interview with CEO Tim Cook to tide them over. In the cover story, Cook says he feels like the whole debacle over accessing data stored on an iPhone used by a terrorist has been a “bad dream.”

My favorite line from the piece? This: “Encryption is one of those technological realities that are so ubiquitous and powerful that they alter political realities—it has a whiff of revolution about it,” writes Time’s Lev Grossman. “It changes the balance of power between government and governed.” That balance of power is rapidly tilting, anyway, in today’s increasingly expansive age of surveillance.

For more on the Apple vs. FBI battle, watch:

Anyone who—like our famished friend the Cookie Monster—still has time to burn after that recommended read might also like to try this whimsical interactive my colleagues Analee Kasudia and Stacy Jones designed. With it you can test how long it might take someone on average to hack an iPhone passcode, assuming a weakened version of the company’s software—like the type the FBI demands—had fallen into his or her hands.

Some caveats: You should never submit an actual passcode to a site whose traffic is not HTTPS-protected, or to one that you do not trust. A clever hacker could manipulate your connection to the site, intercept or steal whatever data you input, and subsequently “pwn” you. If so compelled, use only a passcode “like” the one you normally use; mix and match the letters, numbers, and symbols—and even then be wary.

Also note that this tool employs a “dumb” algorithm. It does not take into account the ease of cracking the most common passcodes—for instance, “1234” would fail almost instantly in the real world. The formula here is simplistic: Number of possibilities multiplied by the amount of time needed to enter each combo, divided in half for the average. Criminals and investigators would no doubt use smarter “brute-force” hacking software to break into iPhones.

Finally, this tool is meant only as a fun diversion. (Foulmouthed participants may find hidden surprises after clicking the Guy Fawkes mask below the entry field…) For a savvier algorithm, check out, a site that is indeed HTTPS-protected. Always remain cautious about where you enter your login details though—even there, as the site itself warns.

Okay, so only a few days to go until both sides of the Apple vs. FBI dispute cross-examine each other in Riverside, Calif. on March 22. The courtroom and overflow rooms have space only for less than 400 onlookers to tune into the proceedings. Hopeful attendees can form a queue outside the venue in an attempt to gain admission—one ticket per person—starting at 7 a.m. that morning.

Until then, we all must wait. And wait. And wait.

Siri, check the timer?

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