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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.]

WinDiscrimination: Microsoft slaps Mac users; apologizes September 23, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Apps, Issues, Microsoft, The Other Side of the Fence.
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Several days ago users of Microsoft‘s Windows Live Messenger who used dotMac addresses to get their Windows Live IDs found out that they were being blocked from using the online service. When trying to log in, it would return an error message that told them they had now had to change their address in order to continue using the service.

Because of a recent system update, you must change the email address that you use to sign in to Windows Live Messenger. Until you change your email address, you won’t be able to use Windows Live Messenger.

Eh? Ex-squeeze me? Baking powder?

Other users who registered with other addresses like GMail were not affected, and only those with .Mac-related logins were specifically rejected from the Microsoft service.

MacNN contacted Microsoft about this, and MS officials told MacNN that it had recently become aware of an

…internal error during routine testing that resulted in customers using .Mac domains being asked to change their e-mail address in order to access to their Windows Live IDs.

Internal error. Surrrrre it was. Some code became wonky and spontaneously, independently and without human intervention, began mysteriously blocking their IM users, but somehow only those using dotMac addresses. Internal error. Creepy code, that.

Microsoft immediately created a support page for affected users and further apologized in a statement that read in part:

Access to Live IDs has been restored to our customers who use .Mac domains. We regret any inconvenience this caused for our customers.

Hmph. We regret it too.

(This begs the question: why would some folk who obviously use Macs actually sign up for a Microsoft online service? Does this imply that they deserve what they got? Hmm.)

iPwn: Fixing a broken iPhone glass screen for $5 September 19, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Hardware, iPhone, Issues.
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While users are reasonably assured that the iPhone screen is relatively scratch-proof, apparently it isn’t shatter-proof.

Some folk are finding their iPhones with shattered screens, for various reasons, and Apple refuses to cover this in the warranty. The repair, not surprisingly, costs more than the phone itself. According to Apple, a new glass screen (just the glass screen, not the touch-sensitive surface) costs US$250 plus tax and shipping. Doh!

A dude going by the name of Epic Proportions on The Something Awful Forums pulled out his week-old iPhone from his pocket and saw that the screen, for some reason, had shattered. Dismayed by Apple’s response to his cry for help, he figured out a way to fix it for US$5 and some time and elbow grease.

Read about the story of Epic Proportions and get a step-by-step of his ingenious workable solution here.

Possible explanation for NBE September 18, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Hardware, iPods, Issues.
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An LCD engineer from Taiwan posted on the Apple Discussions page on the Apple Support site today a possible explanation for the Negative Black Effect plaguing the new iPod Touch as being poor quality control with the anti-reflective (AR) coating on the screens. The engineer says:

The AR coating is essentially a clear layer that prevents light from reflecting off of that surface. What’s happening here is the upper glass layer is reflecting light from the LCD screen back down onto the said screen. Without an AR coating you get exactly what you see – shimmering blacks. The problem isn’t noticeable with vibrant colors on screen. Rotating the screen will change the way this light is reflected to your eyes and may minimize the problem, but since the LCD was engineered to give best color output when looking straight on, you’re left with a losing battle.

No official response yet from Apple, but the AR coating theory seems as good an explanation as any. Let’s hope it’s this simple.

Major glitch popping up in TouchPods September 16, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Hardware, iPhone, iPods, Issues, Rants, Steve Jobs.
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(That’s my pet name for the ungainly and awkward “iPod Touch”, by the way; some folk call it the iTouch, but I think not. Besides, TouchPod has a nice ring to it, don’t you agree?)

Something called the “negative black effect” (speak about inappropriate names) is appearing in an increasing number of TouchPods.

Reports have surfaced earlier this weekend as the TouchPods began selling at Apple Stores that the new screens seem to be inferior to the iPhone’s, contrary to the Jobster‘s (stupid name; but Stevester seems worse) statement that screens are the same. Blacks aren’t as black, and colors seem washed out, as in this side-by-side pic from Gizmodo (iPhone on the bottom):

More units seem to have it worse: some TouchPods’ black portions look like the shimmery, odd blacks you get from film negatives (hence the “negative black effect” name), and they seem to be a spotty and erratic phenomenon. Look at this comparison from Apple-Touch.com (iPhone on top):

Apple seems to be taking in defective units and replacing them without question (which is a tacit admission that a problem exists), but sometimes the replacements themselves have similar problems. No official statement yet.

Caveat emptor. Certainly a strong argument against early adoption, and for waiting for the first revision. Or just waiting for the 16gb, 3G, open-line iPhone that everyone seems to be expecting. Hmm.

Check out a sampling of reports from Apple-Touch, Tech.Blorge, Gizmodo and Engadget.

MacPic of The Day September 16, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Because You Can, Funnies, Hardware, iPhone, Issues, Pics, Services.
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Breaking News: Linux-less iPods September 15, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in iPods, Issues, iTunes, Operating System, Rants.
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Reports have come out that Apple has tweaked the new iPods (Classic, Touch, nano) so that iTunes breaks when you use the Linux operating system.

Some folk who like Linux a whole lot (or dislike Apple in general) have repurposed the older iPods to run off Linux instead, but Apple seems to have inserted new code into the iTunes DB file in the player in the hidden i_PodControl/iTunes folder that disables the database and shows exactly zero songs on the player.

Knowing the usual suspects, this qualifies as a minor nuisance. After the iPhone, this should be a piece of cake. But still.

Hackers are at work on it already. Click here for more details on the issue.

(Cross-posted from Mobile Philippines)

Artificial segmentation September 12, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in Apple Inc., Issues.
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(No, silly. Segmentation. S-e-g-m-e-n-t-a-t-i-o-n. Get your mind out of the gutter.)

Once upon a time I worked pro-bono at a small computer store, a young man selling software and generally being an early version of someone who might work at an Apple Genius Bar, offering sage advice and tips (only back then it was 1988, Macs didn’t exist, and the Apple II+ ruled). People, discovering what they could do with their Apple IIs, came in looking for software they could use, like for desktop publishing, spreadsheets and word processing. Trying like hell to be helpful, I would usually recommend the latest and the best.

One day, someone came in looking for Broderbund’s Print Shop, which was by then old and janky, and I told them to get the The New Print Shop instead, which was better, faster and had nicer graphics libraries.

My boss observed me doing this and pulled me aside. “What are you doing?” he asked.

“Selling software, boss.”

“Don’t sell them the new ones right off! These guys don’t know any better. Get them to buy the older stock, and when they come back complaining that it doesn’t do much, then you tell them there’s something newer and better, and would they like to buy that one too? So you get two sales instead of one!”

“But that’s – ”

“That’s business.”

I never forgot that lesson. And I also never stopped believing that that was wrong.

It was one thing if we didn’t have The New Print Shop in stock yet, but still, my instinct was full disclosure: tell them there was something better, we just didn’t have it in the store yet, but in the meantime would you settle for the older version? It was entirely another to have to pretend otherwise or feign ignorance just so you could make a sale.

Apple Inc. isn’t doing this sort of thing exactly, but close enough to make me feel like they are a lot like my old boss in that old computer store.

This hullabaloo about them removing the ability to add new events on the Calendar app directly on the iPod Touch smacks of selling old Print Shop. You can add events on your computer, which uploads to the iPod when you sync, but you can’t add it on the fly. The fact that you can do this on an iPhone grates – there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to on a Touch, except for the fact that Apple is deliberately segmenting the products just to make more bucks. Like getting old Print Shop when we can get The New Print Shop anyway. Sure, they are a business, they can do what they want – but still. It’s not right.

Makes me wonder about that missing Bluetooth feature too. Shame on you, Apple.

Ok, ok, no more boxed bills August 24, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in iPhone, Issues.
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Beginning next month, AT&T will just send summarized billing statements to its iPhone users instead of the previous practice of sending them. Every. Single. Detail. of their call, SMS and internet activity.

Recently, there was public outrage when iPhone users got their first bills in incredible, amazing, painstaking detail, on voluminous sheets of paper, some reaching over 300 double-sided pages (see previous MacADoodle post), and had to be shipped – in a box. The cost, wastefulness and overwhelming uselessness of this practice had people up in arms all over the net.

So beginning September, AT&T is abandoning this practice and will just send a summarized bill. AT&T said this decision has absolutely nothing to do with the hue and outcry that resulted from their excessive billing, they were going to do it anyway.

“This was something we had planned all along,” said AT&T Spokesperson Lauren Garner.

They said if you must have the special edition boxed set, you have to specifically request it now, otherwise you just get the Reader’s Digest condensed version like everybody else. If you insisted on it, they’d have to charge you US$1.99.

So there.

Mother of all bills August 20, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in iPhone, Issues, Video.
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Most of us here in the Philippines lust after the iPhone, but we can at least be glad we don’t have to deal with some problems the Americans have been getting about using one. Like the big phone bills – not the fees, mind you. Literally, the big bills.

Much has been made of the incredibly detailed iPhone AT&T bills that users have been getting, some as many as 50-plus pages, but popular blogger Justine Ezarik‘s bill tops them all – it came in a box, all 300 pages of it. Apparently users can chose from three billing options – small (online), medium (summarized) or ginormous (itemized SMS, call and internet usage). Somehow some people are getting the boxed set, like Justine:

(Cross-posted from Mobile Philippines)