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Pink Pod September 27, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Alternatives, iPods, Issues, iTunes Store.
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The US retail chain Target is selling a special edition pink iPod shuffle, complete with a US$15 iTunes Store Gift Card for US$79, with a portion of the proceeds of up to US$25,000 going towards The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

It is yet unclear whether or not this is just a clever (and worthy) repackaging, or if it’s a partnership with Apple, but whatever the case may be, we should have more of these.

(Via AppleInsider)

[Quick Aside: As a professional editor, I’m compelled to point out a typo in the product name. Target, “shuffle” is not supposed to be capitalized. The weird Apple Capitalization Rules extends to its other products, which among others states that the second letter is usually the one that should come in caps – iPod, iMac, iTunes, or that words coming after iPod or Mac should never be capitalized – iPod shuffle, iPod nano, iPod classic, iPod touch, Mac mini.]

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The One September 27, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Alternatives, Announcements, Hardware, iMacs, The Other Side of the Fence.
6 comments

It seems the fading Gateway still has some fight left in it. The former computer giant has unveiled its contender for the iMac throne with something Gateway calls, simply, One.

Tale of the tape:

  • 3.6″ thick all in all
  • 19-inch widescreen LCD
  • 2 models at US$1300/US$1800
  • 1.5GHz/2GHz Core 2 Duo
  • 2GB/3GB memory
  • 320gb/500gb hard drive
  • special online-only model at US$1500
  • all black front
  • metal shell
  • all cords and most ports out of sight (all on the power adapter)
  • side-mounted slot-loading DVD burner
  • no announced date of availability, but soon

Now call me silly, but doesn’t that look like something we all know?

iPhone relocking hack September 25, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Alternatives, Because You Can, Hacks, iPhone.
2 comments

The coming firmware update strikes fear into the hearts of the thousands of users of unlocked iPhones, as Apple has declared a long, drawn-out and protracted “cat-and-mouse” war with them and the firmware updates are likely to intentionally brick the iPhones and turn them into nice high-tech paperweights. Unlocks have been shown to be largely impervious to software updates and upgrades, but firmware updates are another matter entirely – even without all this cat-and-mouse stuff it’s a dicey proposition in the best of times.

(Personally, if I had an unlocked unit that works, I wouldn’t really have the urgent need to update it if there’s a chance it could be bricked. Besides, it’s just a matter of time before the usual suspects find a way to get around that little roadblock. Just wait. Then again, I understand how having a firmware update that you can’t install can get under your skin.)

TUAWs wonderful Erica Sadun (who posted one of the first unlock procedures) has posted a relocking hack that’ll restore your iPhone’s legit status so that you can update the firmware, and then re-unlock it again (this is getting ridiculous, really), assuming that the new firmware doesn’t break the unlock procedure, which is why the firmware is probably being issued in the first place, which makes you wonder why you want to upgrade it in the first place.

All in all, a silly, self-imposed conundrum we find ourselves in. And all for a phone.

Anyway, you can get Ms. Sadun’s relock procedure from TUAW here. Or from the iPhone FAQ, from iphonegoboom.com (great name!) which has everything else you might need to know.

Once again, caveat hax0r. According to the feedback comments, this thing is as risky as the first unlocks that came out. As Erica herself advises, if you must, wait a day or two for the procedure to be debugged. And be aware that there may be a hardware-based lock/unlock limit built into the iPhone, so think hard before doing this.

For the click-lazy, we reproduce Erica’s procedure here, purely for educational purposes:

  • (Take out your SIM from your iPhone.)–Still checking on this step.
  • Download the 1.0.2 firmware to your computer and unzip it. It uses a .ipsw extension but your unzip program should still work. Change the extension if you have to.
  • Extract the ramdisk as such: dd if=009-7698-4.dmg of=ramdisk.dmg bs=512 skip=4 conv=sync
  • Mount the extracted ramdisk.
  • From the ramdisk, copy /usr/local/bin/bbupdater, /usr/local/standalone/firmware/ICE03.14.08_G.eep, and /usr/local/standalone/firmware/ICE03.14.08_G.fls to your iPhone. Place these into a folder on the OS partition (such as /bbupdate) and not into a folder on /var/root. The /var/root partition is set noexec and you cannot run programs from there.
  • Disable com.apple.CommCenter.plist–either using UIctl or launchctl: launchctl unload /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.CommCenter.plist
  • On the iPhone, navigate to the folder where you stored bbupdater and the eep and fls files.
  • Run bbupdater as such: ./bbupdater -f *.fls -e *.eep
  • Reload comm center: launchctl load /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.CommCenter.plist
  • Reactivate with your favorite AT&T SIM. I personally like using iASign.

Blogger thanks Apple for making him switch back to Vista (Eh?) September 24, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Alternatives, Hardware, Microsoft, Oddities, Operating System, The Other Side of the Fence.
2 comments

A blogger posted a big thank you to Apple for making him switch from Vista to Mac, then back to Vista. While on the surface this sounds like a back-handed compliment, it actually makes sense – I think.

Aviv Eyal, co-founder and VP of Grouper Networks (which was eventually acquired by Sony), and co-founder of Friskit, wrote in his blog that Macs made him appreciate Windows Vista, which had previously confounded him no end:

I was getting very frustrated with Vista on several of my PCs and laptops on a daily basis to a point that I stopped enjoying working on computers. On a clean Vista Pro install with just IE, Outlook and Office on strong Dell workstations and on a Vaio laptop, I kept getting hangs and crashes left and right. I now run Vista using the excellent Parallels Desktop for Mac software. It is worth every penny.

Eyal calls Windows the “light” side of the force, and Macs and OS X the “dark” side. He expounds further on this odd compliment:

With 4GB of RAM on a 2.4ghz Intel core 2 duo MacBook Pro laptop, I get very decent performance from Vista running virtually in Parallels, in full-screen mode it is easy to forget that you are not running Vista natively, so if I need to use word or powerpoint I just switch back to the dark side virtually on Parallels and if Vista hangs crashes I just quickly restore the virtual machine to a previous state while I keep working on my Mac apps.

Uh …ok. I think. At least this underscores that fact that there is no reason not to buy a Mac these days. Even if it’s for the wrong reasons.

Check out Eyal’s post on his blog here.

Stream movies to your iPhone from your Mac September 22, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Alternatives, Because You Can, Hacks, iPhone, Video.
1 comment so far

The wonderful folk at the Embraceware blog thought up a way for you to stream videos stored on your Mac straight to your iPhone so you can watch it there (and ostensibly over the net as well).

You can head over to the site for the instructions, and for more info. In case you want to jump right in, we reproduce Embraceware’s step-by-step here:

Step 1
Open “Sharing” in System Preferences and enable “Personal Web Sharing” – this will turn on the built in web server installed with OS X. When enabled, it will display an address (your IP or computer network name) as the URL for accessing the site on your network. Note this address – we’ll be visiting it on our iPhone via Safari later.

Step 2
The root of the web site is located in /Library/WebServer/Documents.
Open the Terminal and type the following:
cd /Library/WebServer/Documents/
and press ENTER.

Step 3
Still in the Terminal we will continue by creating a Symbolic link to your iTunes “Movies” directory and place this link in the root of your web server by typing the following:
ln -s /[path t0 your iTunes Movies folder] Movies
example: ln -s/Volumes/Machintosh HD/users/john/Music/iTunes/Movies Movies

Step 4
Open Safari on your iPhone and visit the address provided when you enabled the Personal Web Sharing in your iPhone followed by /Movies
Example: http://192.168.2.20/Movies/

A little ingenuity goes a long long way. Thanks to Embraceware for the tip!

(Crossposted from Mobile Philippines)

Send in the clones September 21, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Alternatives, iPhone, New Stuff, The Other Side of the Fence.
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The first contender for the iPhone throne has been unveiled. Or at least what it would look like it if had been.

At the Intel Developers Forum (Fall 07)’s ultramobility keynote today, Intel revealed a hybrid handheld PC/phone running on their new low-cost, low-power Moorestown platform (the more highly integrated successor to the Silverthorne chipset they’re still developing), that looks suspiciously like a stretched-out something we all know.

Actually, this is a mock-up of something that the Moorestown chip might be useful for (like iPhones), and the iPhone-ish-ness of the phony device is intentional. But it does give us a clue to where all this stuff Apple started is going to go.

Hmm. Well, all’s fair in love and tech development.

More pics and details from AnandTech.

Shocking news July 30, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Alternatives, iPhone, iPods, Microsoft, Music, News.
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A recently completed survey by the Eagle Research Group found out that 70% of Zune users surveyed are not happy with their players and intend to switch to either an iPod or to an iPhone as soon as their service contract expires.

36% said that had they known Apple was coming out with the iPhone they never would have purchased a Zune. Also of note is that 3% of the survey respondents were either employees or contractors of Microsoft.

Imagine that.

Using an iPhone as a storage device without Apple’s help July 12, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Alternatives, iPhone, New Stuff.
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Ecamm Network has just released a stop-gap solution for those iPhone owners hankering to store files onto their new gadget – even if there are perfectly good flash drives and iPods aplenty to do it on. Never mind that you won’t be able to actually see or even access the files on the iPhone itself, the fact that you can actually do it, use the iPhone as a 4GB or 8GB external drive, should be reason enough. I think.

Ecamm’s iPhoneDrive gets the drop on Apple on enabling this dubious ability on the iPhone for a paltry US$9.95 (try before you buy – demo available here). Connect your iPhone to your Mac (Windows users are SOL) and it appears as an external device you can drag-and-drop stuff onto, or as an alternative to dragging-and-dropping, provide you a toolbar where you can do the same thing the long way.

I predict this’ll be good for about two weeks to a month, or until Apple issues that initial update that’ll just enable this no-brainer feature on the OS. Then you can kiss your ten bucks goodbye.

Stoning the competition May 3, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Alternatives, iPods, The Other Side of the Fence.
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It’s war in Lilliput!

Creative has announced its first display-less 1GB digital music player called the Creative Zen Stone.

It plays MP3 and WMA, has a 10-hour battery life and comes in six different colors: black, white, pink, blue, green and red. It’s small and light and can carry about 250 songs, give or take. It has two basic modes: play and random play. Oh, it has a clip in back too.

Sounds awfully familiar, don’t it?

There is one big difference though – it costs about half that of that other screen-less thing it looks like.

The Creative Zen Stone will be available beginning May 14, and will cost about US$39.99, or about a little under P2K.