Sunday Jun 21, 2009

iPhone Upgraded and Jailbroken

With the release and all the hubbub about OS 3.0 for the iPhone, it was only a matter of time before I upgraded.  However, I was interested in seeing others experience with it and also having the jailbreak for it out before I did the upgrade.  Well, I went ahead and did it this weekend and here are the highlights.

First, since I had previously jailbroke and had read about potentially losing storage if one just upgraded over a jailbroke phone, I first restored to a vanilla 2.2.1.  And I did this with iTunes 8.1 as I didn't want to upgrade iTunes and cause any problems.  This went fine and as expected, I lost all my jailbroken functionality.  I also learned that doing a full restore can be very slow with the restoring apps via iTunes seemingly going slower than installing them from scratch via the AppStore.

Since upgrading to OS 3.0 requires iTunes 8.2, I went ahead and let iTunes upgrade itself and then went ahead and let it detect my phone and the OS upgrade and perform it.  This all went fine, but oddly after it was done, my battery meter had both the icon and a percentage!  On my jailbroken 2.2.1 using SBSettings I was able to have the meter toggle between the icon and a percentage but this was new.  In reading some blogs I learned that this is a feature of OS 3.0 but is only supposed to work on the 3G S, but apparently phones that were previously jailbroken also get it.  I guess restoring to 2.2.1 doesn't fully "unjailbreak" it.  Anyway, I'm glad I have this feature as I like having the percentage.

Sparky

I restored from my backup to get all my apps and data back, again, very slow, and then went ahead and jailbroke.  This went smoothly other than I was unable to pick my boot logo of choice.  I wasn't worried though as I had used LogoMe in the past to change the boot logo after jailbreaking.  Using Cydia, I installed:

  •  OpenSSH - Can use ssh to connect to my iPhone
  • Cycorder - Shoot videos without requiring the 3G S
  • JamVM - Java VM for the iPhone
  • SBSettings - Shortcuts and toggles for a bunch of features that are otherwise buried in the Settings apps
  • Five Icon Dock - Allows me to put 5 icons on the dock rather than the stock 4
  • Mobile Terminal - Get shell access to the phone
  • Insomnia - Keeps the iPhone's network connection open when the device would otherwise go to sleep, however, the current version doesn't seem to work with OS 3.0 so looking forward to an update
  • Backgrounder - Allows apps to run in the background, however, the current version doesn't seem to work with OS 3.0 so looking forward to an update
  • LogoMe - Provides a way to change the boot logo that is displayed, but alas, it too doesn't seem to work with OS 3.0 but see below for workaround
  • MobileFinder - Provides a Finder app like one has on OS X on the desktop, but alas, it doesn't work with OS 3.0 either
  • Tricker ThreeG - Fakes applications into thinking they are on WiFi when they aren't so that they give the full WiFi functionality
  • Qik and UstreamBroadcaster - Apps to stream video to the web

While Tricker ThreeG seemed to work fine, it seems to hardcode the apps that it fakes out so I switched to the app I had previously, VoIPover3G which allows one to specify what apps to fake out.

On the boot logo, I went ahead and went through the jailbreak again this time taking the extra steps to get my logo in the right format so that I could include it as part of the initial jailbreak.  That seemed to work fine.

So, I now have OS 3.0 and am jailbroken, although some of the apps I like to use aren't working yet.  I'm confident they will be updated soon.  As I use it more, I'll blog about some of the new features I come across. 

 

 

Saturday May 30, 2009

Twitter having issues

I've been following some tweets from folks watching the NHL and NBA games this evening and I'm getting mixed results.  At times it is loading, but at others I'm getting a message

Twitter is over capacity.

Too many tweets! Please wait a moment and try again.

and others the servers are just timing out.  I wouldn't think the load would be especially high on a Saturday night.  What is going to happen when there is presumably a burst of traffic next week at JavaOne?

Monday May 11, 2009

iPhone App Store - Reality of Myth?

When I bought my iPhone around Christmas last year, I fully intended to play around with developing applications for it, but hadn't even downloaded the SDK ... until this past weekend.

So I downloaded and installed the SDK and was able to build a sample app and run it in the simulator, but now I wanted to get it on my phone to run it there.  This is where I started to learn more things than I had thought I'd wanted or needed to learn.

While I have the required Intel based Mac and am running OS X 10.5 (paid to upgrade it from 10.4), and I have an iPhone, it turns out that Apple hasn't made enough money off me yet and insist that I pay $99 to join the iPhone Developer Program to be able to put an app I develop onto a phone I already own.  Now, I'm just looking to play around with the SDK and apps on the phone and am not ready to start selling an app on the App Store to recoup my $99, so I go about researching what other options there are but in the process learn more about what would happen after I would pay my $99 if I chose to go that route, and this is where it gets more scary.

I found this record of Michael Ash's experience with going through the whole process and learn of delays and complications and other issues that all in all make the whole process sound somewhat less than what I'm looking for.  If I had an app I was ready to sell I'd probably have the incentive to wade through the whole process and figure out how to make it all work.  But for someone just wanting to try things out, Apple has put a pretty big barrier to entry in place.  And from many of the comments to Michael's experience, he isn't alone.  It boggles my mind how Apple can get away with this, but it appears there are enough developers who will endure what they have to do.

But since I'm not, at least yet, I continue looking, and as I've written about jailbreaking before, I look into what that provides for.  I discover that one can simply copy an app built with the SDK to a jailbroken iPhone, but you have to do self/pseudo signing of the app and there is a tool to do this on the iPhone, "ldid", but when I try to use it I'm getting the following error:

 util/ldid.cpp(418): _assert(0:arch != NULL)

So this isn't fully working for me yet, but I'm still working on it.

Last, it appears that if you sell your wares on the App Store and folks return your app, Apple will be taking money out of your pocket!  You'd think that the 30% they take from the sales would cover their costs, but alas, I guess not.

But the bottom line is that it would seem that for many (most?) folks, getting access to developing apps on the iPhone and ultimately getting them in the App Store may be a myth.  What are your thoughts or experiences?  And does anyone know how to get past the error above?

Friday Mar 20, 2009

Tethering an iPhone

I wrote about jailbreaking my iPhone a few weeks ago and finally had a chance to really give tethering a try.  All in all, a success and I expect I'll use it from time to time.

Originally, I had gotten the Modem app from Cydia and gave it a quick try, but was unsuccessful in large part because I only spent a few minutes on it and I think something was confused with having both the peer-to-peer WiFi and the home WiFi router in the vicinity.  In searching for the instructions for the Modem app again I came across PdaNet so gave it a shot.

The install using Cydia was very straight forward and the instructions for using it were also very simple.  Set up a peer-to-peer WiFi network on my Mac, connect to it from my iPhone, then run PdaNet.  After a moment or two it figured stuff out and created the route from the WiFi to 3G connection and I was online from my Mac.  I didn't have to run anything or configure anything on my Mac other than the peer-to-peer WiFi network and PdaNet appeared to do its thing and then run in the background just fine.

I did a few speed tests and observed between 800Kbps and 1Mbps which I was pleased with, and browsing and retrieving e-mail seemed snappy enough.  What I did notice was that my battery meter was dropping faster than the level of the dog food when my two dogs are given unfettered access to the bag (a story for another day).  It would seem that actively using both WiFi and 3G does drain the battery so having it connected to your computer or otherwise charging is probably required for any kind of sustained use.  I did not use it long enough to see if having it "charging" actually charges it when in use or just keeps it from discharging.

All in all then, a success and I look forward to using it when needed.

 

Saturday Mar 07, 2009

Jailbreaking an iPhone

My wife was kind enough to get me an iPhone for Christmas and I just realized that while I've had it for over 2 months now I hadn't blogged about it all yet.  Well, I took the plunge and have looked into jailbreaking so I thought this would be a good opportunity to to do so.

My thoughts on the iPhone in general mirror many other reviews you've probably read.  Slick interface, great music/video device, navigation a little clunky at times due to few buttons, and App Store is great but some key missing apps or functionality.  The key things I thought were lacking or attracted me to jailbreaking were:

  • Can't run apps in the background (i.e. IM clients only work when you are running the app).
  • Can't tether to my laptop to get internet access.
  • No video recording.
  • No copy/paste (I'll admit this isn't a huge issue for me, but everyone else complains so I will :)).
  • Switching 3G/WiFi/GPS/etc. on/off is a pain.
  • There is no JVM.
  • There is no Flash.
  • It is a full blown computer running OS X, just let me access it and don't restrict me!

From everything I read, jailbreaking would address much of the above.

After doing some Googling I found a bunch of instructions for doing so that were all very similar, but I went with these instructions and it all went quite smoothly.  Note that I was doing this from a MacBook Pro running OS X 10.4.  The instructions seem to indicate that Apple in their quest to keep folks from jailbreaking changed something in 10.5.6 making it so you can't do the step to put the iPhone in DFU mode.  There is a workaround of course!

After I complete those steps, I then used Cydia to install:

  • SBSettings - One swipe of the top of the screen gives single button access to turn off/on 3G, Bluetooth, WiFi, control brightness, and more.  It also shows your current IP address and free memory and disk.
  • Backgrounder - Allows you to selectively mark applications to run in the background.  Tried it with Fring and it seems to work fine.
  • Cycorder - 15 fps video capture.
  • Modem - Should allow tethering, but I haven't given it an honest effort to get working yet.
  • A utility to toggle the battery status to/from numeric percentage.
  • OpenSSH - Provides the ability to use ssh/scp/etc. to connect to the iPhone from any computer.
  • MobileTerminal - Gives terminal access to OS X on the iPhone.
This all seemed to work fine, the only real issue being that typing in Cydia doesn't seem to honor my turning off sound on the keyboard.

I then decided I wanted to be able to run my own apps.  I followed this to install iPhone 2.0 Toolchain and ended up with gcc and other tools necessary for running compiling C code.  I was able to run a quick Hello World program and then also took a little benchmark I have written in C and compile and run it with no changes whatsoever.  Look for another blog entry soon with results from that.

I also came across JamVM which gave me a Java VM which was also able to run my Java version of my benchmark (quite a bit slower than the C version FWIW).

I have not come across anything for Flash yet, but otherwise most everything I was looking for appears to be addressed.  As I find more things, I'll blog more!


Sunday Nov 09, 2008

If You Buy a Mac

My recent "Why Buy a Mac" blog about sitting next to someone on a plane running Windows on a Mac received a number of comments so I thought I'd respond to some.

There were several OpenSolaris related comments and I'm all for using it. I've installed the 200805 release in a VirtualBox VM on my Mac as well as native on an old Dell I have. And I recently had an opportunity to get a release candidate for the next release and it is improved but I don't know that it quite has all the apps I want/need. I'm going to continue using/tracking it though and would gladly switch to it as my primary OS when it is "ready". But I don't know that I'd go out of my way to run it on a Mac and certainly wouldn't spend Apple money to buy a new machine to do so.

Related to the above, there was a comment about using Ubuntu. I've used it (or its variants like gOS and Linux Mint) both in VMs and native and feel it is still ahead of OpenSolaris as a "regular user" desktop, but similarly wouldn't buy Mac hardware to run it.

There was also the comment about the person being required to use Windows or that he worked from Microsoft. Actually could have been considering it was a flight leaving Seattle!

And while I'm on the subject of Mac's, see Michael Cote's writeup on tips for a new Mac user. A good read.

Thursday Nov 06, 2008

Why Buy a Mac

... if you are just going to run Windows on it?

I was on a flight yesterday, and as a MacBook Pro user myself was interested to see my seat mate pull out one as well but surprised to see him boot up Windows. Ok, perhaps he uses BootCamp with Windows to run a Windows specific app or something, but to my further surprise he proceeded to simply watch a video during the flight. Isn't this something that OS X can do as well (better?) and so would make sense to use OS X for?

Yes, the Mac hardware is very nice and I'm pleased with mine, but I can't see spending the extra money over another quality notebook only to turn around and run Windows on it. Thoughts?

Tuesday Aug 12, 2008

Non Microsoft PCs becoming more mainstream

It is becoming easier and easier to get a personal computer from a major manufacturer running something other than Windows. Of course, there is always a Mac which has been and continues to be a very good option for many, but it is major traditional PC manufacturers offering models with Linux that may be the sign that Windows foothold on the "PC" may be weakening.

Dell announced offerings some time ago, but recently announced new laptops that will be running Ubuntu giving a nice selection of machines to choose from, desktop or laptop.

IBM has also announced "Microsoft-free desktops".

Choice is good!

Wednesday Jun 25, 2008

NBC to put Olympics on the web ...

... but only for Vista.

And if you read this closely it is actually just for Vista Media Center. Limiting the audience like this is interesting given this quote from the above press release by an NBC Senior VP: “As we prepare to broadcast the Beijing Olympic Games, we are committed to reaching as many viewers as possible”. If reaching as many viewers as possible was a real priority, wouldn't a technology that ran on more than just one variant of the Vista (how many Vista users are on Media Center and how many Windows users aren't even on Vista yet?) let alone trying to be multi-OS (Mac? Linux?) or multi-platform (iPod?) be high on the list?

And after reading this and this it appears the content should be available "roughly 12 hours after an event ends" but not after the Olympics are over. And it isn't just this service that is that is limited but "all video at the NBC Olympics site requires Silverlight, Microsoft's rich web application and video streaming technology that competes with Adobe's market-dominant Flash".

To be fair, a quick visit to NBCOlympics.com shows that watching at least some video on the site does only require installing Silverlight and there is in fact an install for Mac OS X, but not Linux, and it doesn't appear for any mobile video devices. Perhaps this will be the case for a variety of video clips and it is only the full content from the original story above that is limited to Vista.

Regardless, this still reeks of a vendor using a relationship with the content rights owner extend a platform monopoly which may not be in the best interest of the consumer. I'm sure Silverlight provides some whiz-bang capabilities that may make the experience of watching better, but forcing consumers to move to Vista or even install yet another plug-in when there are perfectly adequate ways to provide video content (even some from the vendors existing bag of technology) seems wrong. If Silverlight really is better, provide the content in both forms and let the consumer decide if installing the plug-in or moving to Vista is in their interest.

Saturday May 24, 2008

MacBook Pro, VirtualBox, and OpenSolaris

OpenSolaris was a big part of CommunityOne this year and as I mentioned in blogging about it, I was installing it and would be blogging about it soon. Well, it isn't as soon as I wanted (something about Java CAPS 6 has kept me busy) but here is an update of where I've gotten.

I'm running on a Mac, so went the route of installing OpenSolaris 200805 in VirtualBox 1.6. Getting and installing VirtualBox was straightforward, and then installing OpenSolaris also went very well. This blog entry goes into a bunch of detail on an identical type of configuration so I won't attempt to capture it all here again.

After the install, I wanted to get the desktop to use the full screen real estate I have and so went about finding out how to do that. Followed the steps and voila I can run full screen and have it appear that I have running OpenSolaris natively on the Mac.

So far I've installed OpenOffice.org via IPS which went just fine, and I'll be looking to install more things soon.

My outstanding issue is that I don't have audio working yet. By default audio was disabled in VirtualBox so I enabled it and tried both options it presents there but OpenSolaris hasn't recognized either. If anyone has any tips, please let me know.

I have also started installing OpenSolaris on a spare Dell D600 I have. I had LinuxMint on it already (Ubuntu based distro) and when I was done installing I could no longer boot to Linux! I found this blog that explained how to put the Linux Grub back and have it provide for booting to OpenSolaris which worked fine. I haven't gotten wireless working on it yet so that is the next project (any tips welcome!)

Thursday May 01, 2008

Mac Mail or Thunderbird?

As I've mentioned before, I have a Mac and have generally been pleased with it. I use Firefox, Thunderbird, Adium, NeoOffice, and occasionally Safari, but haven't really used Mac Mail. Many of my colleagues also have Macs and talk highly of Mac Mail so I gave it a shot for a week or so and liked some things a lot, but disliked several things enough that I've gone back to Thunderbird.

First, what I liked:
  • The simplicity of the tool. There don't appear to be a lot of bells and whistles, it just does basic e-mail well, which makes it easy to use.
  • How it handles viewing threads. It sorts them by the time of the last message, and it shows the name/time of the last message when the thread is collapsed.
  • Offline mode works reasonably well. A few quirks where when offline it still tries to send a message but tells you it will send when online, but it works. I've had trouble with Thunderbird (see below)
  • You can easily choose to include a signature or not when composing a message.
  • The searching works nicely giving nice options for easily changing where you are searching, and it expands/shrinks the message list pane as you search or select messages. Slick.
And what I didn't like:
  • It can't compose HTML e-mail! I frequently use various formatting to create more visually appealing and easier to read messages ...
  • Messages are marked as read as soon as you view them. There is no way to have a delay on this. This means I constantly have to manually mark them as unread and have to use a keyboard shortcut or right click and choose an option to do it. Thunderbird allows you to mark messages as unread by just clicking where the indicator would be in the message list pane.
  • There isn't a way to receive RSS feeds. I use Thunderbird for that and having it all in a single tool is nice.
So, the list of good is longer than bad, so why did I switch back? Well, the two negatives are pretty serious for me, and I have found plug-ins for Thunderbird to handle the thread viewing and signatures.

The first is ThreadBubble which simply resorts threads by date when a new message arrives. So it does the key part of what is needed. It doesn't however provide a summary "message" in the message list for the thread showing what the latest sender and date is, you have to open the thread to see that.

The second is Signature Switch which lets you define several signatures and then select the one you want, but also to have it select the right one based on who the e-mail is being sent to. Very slick.

So, what other plugins should I be using? Or am I missing something with Mac Mail that would get me to switch back?

Tuesday Jan 01, 2008

links for 2008-1-1

Thursday Dec 27, 2007

links for 2007-12-28

Monday Dec 17, 2007

links for 2007-12-17

Full disclosure: I'm a MacBook Pro user at work but have been a long time Linux user and am in the process of trying out several distributions in Parallels and VMware Fusion VMs on the Mac. More to come on that.

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