Wednesday, July 7, 2010

iPhone 4 Bumper to the Rescue

The iPhone 4 design is superb but has a tiny flaw. The cell signal is attenuated when holding it naturally with the left hand. Evidently the wrap-around antennas are affected when in contact with the skin. The fix? A plastic wrap-around "bumper" case. Here is the map of it's five day journey...

View My iPhone 4 Bumper's Route in a larger map

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Doesn't the "G" stand for Global?

While traveling in southern Brazil I decided to give the 3G iPhone's new GPS a try.

I opened up Maps and asked for my current location. It took a while to load - I even had to wake up the screen once or twice - but the maps finally loaded and the blue dot appeared. It had me located on a street in Los Angeles, over 4,000 miles north west of my actual location. Maybe it should be UPS (USA Positioning System) instead of GPS.

A lot of other things went right, though. The 3G network was always available and as long as we hand fed it the address of our current location it did a remarkable job of providing directions for where ever we needed to go.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Work-around for the "Deleting All Photos" Bug

Ouch. This is the first real problem I've encountered with the iPhone. After accumulating about 800 pictures I finally decided to get organized and clean out the ones I didn't really need anymore. For the first time I clicked the 'Delete Imported' button in iPhoto after making sure I had a copy of them all. I was shocked to discover that after doing so I could no longer access any subsequent photos taken with the iPhone.

Luckily this solution had been posted on the Apple - Support forums, not by an Apple employee, but by a clever and resourceful iPhone user.

1. Make sure your phone has been synchronized in the version of iTunes you are using.
2. Restore your phone. (in iTunes in the summary tab click the restore button)
3. After JUST the phone settings are restored, DO NOT restore your personal information from a back-up. It will prompt you for this, don't close this screen just hold off on it for now.
4. Simply take a photo (no need to disconnect). The photo should now appear in the camera roll, as usual.
5. NOW go back to itunes and restore your personal information from a back-up.

Monday, October 15, 2007

SSH for the iPhone

As a system administrator on call 7x24 since the early 80's the application I yearned for most on the iPhone was SSH. Maybe someday Apple will put it there for me, but until they do there is WebShell.

Installing WebShell requires root access to a Unix server equipped with at least Python 2.3

First you need to make sure python 2.3 or later and OpenSSL are installed on your system. You will also have to install the pyOpenSSL python extensions to OpenSSL.

Next you need to generate a server certificate. From the WebShell directory enter this command to quickly generate a certificate:


Now issue this command to run the server:


To make sure that everything went well, check this URL in your browser:

You can change WebShell's background by overwriting the background.jpg file. You can also change the display colors in webshell.css. Restart the server afterwards to make your changes effective.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Connecting the iPhone to the Big Speakers

I've been playing my iPhone's music on the car stereo and the sound system in my house, both of which have an Auxillary input jack.

You would think there would be a convenient cable for this purpose but because the iPhone's output jack is so deeply recessed I had to modify one. It's not at all difficult. I had to invest $3.00 for an iPod Earphone Splitter and a Stereo Extension Cable.

Just trim about a quarter inch of the rubber from the end of the splitter cable.

Click to See Cable Spec
Click to See Cable Spec

Friday, October 12, 2007

Saving YouTube Videos on the iPhone

I've been storing videos from YouTube on my iPhone.

Why bother? We can play YouTube videos directly from the network. Ah, but what about those times when a network connection is not available?

It has happened to me while travelling by air and there are certain areas where I get little or no signal at all. Try connecting to YouTube from deep inside one of those 30 story office buildings where there is so much RF interference that your watch runs backwards. Even worse, what if one of your favorite videos gets kicked off YouTube due to a "policy violation"? Then it's gone forever.

Downloading videos from YouTube and storing them on your iPhone (or iPod, iNano, etc) is all done with free software. You will need:

  1. The Firefox browser. You can get Firefox free here.
  2. The Fast Video Download extension for Firefox which is free here.
  3. The free FLV to MP4 converter available from
There may be other programs that claim to do these sorts of things. The ones I've picked out above are free, have no viruses or spyware, ads, etc. and are easy to use. Here is the procedure:
  1. Install the software listed above.
  2. In the Firefox browser, go to YouTube and choose the video you wish to download.
  3. Click the "Download Video" icon at the bottom right corner of the Firefox screen.

  4. When the download is complete, launch the DVDVideoSoft converter and convert the downloaded video to the MP4 format.

  5. Launch iTunes, select File->Add to Library and then select the converted file.
  6. In iTunes, synch the Movies section to your iPhone
That's it. Here is a mirror of the Firefox add-on and the converter you can use in case any of the links above go south. Now I am going to go watch Lita Ford sing Kiss Me Deadly on my iPhone.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

EDGE Network Use Blocks Incoming Calls

No, the phone didn't ring but there it was - a voice message waiting for me. I must have missed a call. I made sure it wasn't in the vibrate mode, checked the ring volume, sighed and contemplated the latest fashions in hearing aids.

Now it turns out the problem could simply have been I was on the 'net. Like the dial-up modems of old, if I happen to be transferring data via the EDGE network, no phone calls can get through. Ouch

According to the iPhone Atlas:

... stems from the fact that there are two types of EDGE network types, NOM1 and NOM2. When your iPhone is connected to a NOM1 network, the data transmission will generally be interrupted, and the incoming call allowed to come through. When your iPhone is connected to a NOM2 network, however, the EDGE data transfer process cannot be interrupted, and the call will generally go to voicemail.

To see which network type your iPhone is in, go into the iPhone Field Test mode by entering *3001#12345#* with the phone keypad and press Call. Under the GPRS you will see either 1 or a 2 assigned to the nom field. Don't get your hopes up too high. Apparently the ATT network is primarily NOM2 and it is not a certainty that the iPhone can even handle NOM1.

The solution? Use the Wi-Fi mode whenever you can.

I checked the voice message. It was a telemarketer. I wonder if they sell smart phones?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Bleeding Edges

Rampant reports of bricked iPhones may be just typical start-up product issues instead of intentional deactivations by Apple.

In fact, it may be less painful for Apple to let people believe the bricking is purposeful rather than admit the software under that capacitive touch screen is not quite perfect yet.

According to an article at wired ...

beautiful as it is, the iPhone isn't finished -- its OS is a hack, rushed out to meet Jobs' demanding product deadlines.

... Erica Sadun, a technical writer and blogger at who contributed to an iPhone unlocking application, said Apple's update wasn't designed to disable hacked devices. Just the opposite: Sadun thinks Apple worked hard not to brick iPhones -- even hacked ones.

"It wasn't intentional at all," she said. "If they wanted to brick hacked iPhones, they could have done a much better job of it."

Sadun said the software update disabled some hacked phones because it was a "troublesome update" -- it even caused problems with iPhones that hadn't been touched. "They messed up," she said.

That makes more sense to me than believing Apple could not be 100% effective at deactivating an iPhone that has been tampered with in any way. Permanent deactivation probably requires nothing more complex than clearing the appropriate bit in the static RAM.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Where are the Retractable Earphones?

No doubt Sharper Image will come up with some eventually but as of post time I've not found any that suit.

There are some places that offer them for less than $20 bucks but *gosh* they are not Apple Store white and don't have the extra long plug needed for the neatly contoured but recessed jack at the top left edge of the iPhone.

At least now there is a use for that sculptured leather coin purse I picked up at a street market in Budapest.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Learning to Share

When you happen upon a webpage you wish to visit later, there is a way to get a copy of the URL from the iPhone to other places.

We've noted before that the iPhone lacks a copy/paste buffer for sharing information between applications. In those places where this is most painfuly obvious, such as the Notepad, the designers make an email option available. The Safari browser has this option also but the location is not intuituve.

While you are in the browser looking at the webpage you like, tap the address bar as you would if you wanted to enter a new address. When the keypad appears along with it comes a "Share" button in the top left corner of the screen. Tap it to create an email message with the URL already entered in body of the message. This is especially useful when you are trying to work with one of those long-ish URL's like so...

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