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Unlocked IPhone Review June 30, 2008

Posted by Einar Rowan in IPhone, Reviews.
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The IPhone is one of the most edelstahl pieces of schmuck I have had the pleasure to own. The build quality is second to none, it feels very compact like everything is tightly packed inside and not a waste of air. As a side note, most of the programs and methods in this review can also apply to the Apple IPod Touch.

There are many sites that detail how to unlock a IPhone, some methods are more simple than complicated. I used the simple ZIPhone method that required a simple program download, setting my IPhone to recovery mode (hold power and home button for 25 seconds), running ZIPhone and selecting the all-in-one step of Unlock, Jailbreak & Activate (For the ITouch just Jailbreak, which puts the installer app on the home screen). Once this process completes, in less than 5 minutes, the only step left is to insert your SIM card and unlock the SIM using your cell provider SIM Pin.

I got a EPlus Base DE contract so I can used my IPhone in Germany, T-Mobile being the regular provider in Germany. You cant even buy a IPhone without a T-Mobile contract in Germany, unlike the states where you can walk into a Apple store and buy one without a contract, like I did before I came to Berlin.

About Screen w/BASE DE SIM

The call quality is not the best on the IPhone, sometimes it can be hard to hear the other end of the conversation but overall it works as a phone. Signal reception seems to be very good, even underground on the Subway I get proper signal. I do not use a Bluetooth headset with my IPhone, nor do I walk around with a bluetooth earpiece in my ear constantly like as if I am trying out for the Secret Service. I can be lazy but not lazy enough that I cant raise my phone to my ear.

For my IPhone phone keypad I replaced the original keypad with the Buuf2 Keypad. This is a nice looking keypad that gives the IPhone a natural holistic feel. Even when I am not using the Buuf2 SB theme it is a great keypad replacement and is easily uninstalled with the Installer app.

Buuf2 Custom Dialer

Safari for the IPhone is fast, much faster than my PSP browser. It does have a 8 open page limitation, you can only have up to 8 open at one time. I wonder if anyone will release a hack to remedy this, however it is not a deal killer. For Safari I can recommend using Eye TV and Remote Buddy.

Eye TV has a neat feature called “Eye TV Sharing” that enables access to recorded programs on the IPhone or ITouch. What this means is that when I am at home I can watch all my recorded shows on the IPhone, as long as my computer that has Eye TV installed is running and connected to the network. So far this only works when I am on the same network as my computer but still, it is nice being able to sit on the patio and watch TV without with a TV or Computer. Stream quality is excellent, it displays a very high resolution picture and the player it uses is the built in Quicktime codec.
Here is a screen-shot the Eye TV Sharing program selection, displaying my recorded EM 2008 game:

Eye TV Sharing Web Interface

Next up for Safari is the Remote Buddy program. This is a great remote access program for the IPhone, enabling you to control your computer with the IPhone, view the webcam on your computer, even play ITunes music off the computer. The program in not free but is worth trying out for it’s 30 day trial period. I use this program mainly as my remote baby sitter. When my kids watch a movie on the computer I can bring up this site on my IPhone and watch the kids through the webcam, like a virtual remote nannycam. I can be in the next room or out in the patio and have can see what the kids are doing. It does not play sound, only video but you can take a snapshot of the video.

Remote Buddy AJAX Interface

Some great Installer Apps I use and find very helpful are Summerboard, MxTube, Geopedia, Snapture, Poof!, IAwake, and Screenshot. Each of these programs add to the overall functionality and customization of the IPhone. Let start with Summerboard. Summerboard allows you to download themes and really gives your IPhone the look and feel of something special and different.

Buuf2 Summerboard Theme

MxTube is one of the coolest programs because it allows downloading of YouTube videos. You save these locally on the IPhone and then watch them at your leisure. You will want to use this program with either the auto-off function turned off or using a program like Insomia or IAwake that allows the Wifi to stay on when the phone goes into sleep mode. I prefer to do turn off the auto-off when download multiple videos, being able to watch the download speed is to a geek like a gear-head tracking quarter mile times. I use the download progress sometime for a bandwidth test, however the download speed also depends on the server at the other end but none the less fun to observe.

MxTube Application Download Status

Geopedia is fun if you are a fan of Wikipedia. This application uses your wireless signal to locate your position on this Earth and displays point of interest around you and then gives you the ability to go to the Wikipedia article, view it on a map, see Flickr pictures and related articles.

Geopedia Locate Me POI Interface

The IPhone has a 2-Megapixel camera built-in and a very basic picture taking program. It allows you to only take a single photo or view your picture roll. I replaced it with Snapture, a very robust free camera program. I like the fact that it will take 3 pictures in a row automatically, allows digital zooming, and color correction. It also has a Photos button that brings you to your photo album. Very easy to use and much better than the default program.

Snapture Main Screen

Poof! for IPhone hides application icons from showing up in your home screen. This useful with programs like Snapture, you can hide the default Camera and Photos icons so you dont have redundancy and useless programs taking up space.

Poof! Application Hiding

IAwake allows the IPhone to keep the Wifi powered when the phone goes to sleep. This comes in handy when downloading something that takes a long time but you dont want to drain your battery by turning off the auto-off feature. One thing I noticed when using this program is that the back of the IPhone gets hotter than normal, I think it’s becuase the wireless power is at full steam.

IPhone Screenshot 1.2.1 is what I used to make all the screen-shots for this post. It is very simple and allows you to email screenshots stored on the IPhone. Oddly enough, when you open the program you cant actually take a screen-shot of the program itself. You can modify the location of the saved screenshots, set the file type, set the capture button location and other settings.

The IPhone makes every other smartphone seem old and obsolete. The IPhone is to the cell community like Firefox is the internet. The IPhone is fast like Firefox and all other Windows Mobile devices are slow like IE. The IPhone is a chic device and I get my fair share of jealous glances from onlookers and on the flip side, I sneer in technological dominance when watching people using a stylus to tap on a Windows Mobile device. I am blow away with the picture and video quality, it is like a mini PSP screen. I am not impressed when people try and convince me they are satisfied with their little fuzzy Palm Treo video quality. I am also not impressed with version two of the IPhone, I want the metal backing, I want the added weight and bulk, I do want Bluetooth audio, Wireless-N, front-facing cameras. All of which are not present on the new IPhone. 8gb of storage may seem like not enough but this is not the do-all, have-all mp3 player, it is a temporary place to store what you want to listen to now, what you want to view now. It is a “right here, right now” device, think of something and the IPhone should be able to.

The IPhone is the cell phone that has evolutionized the industry, lets hope other manufactures take notice and learn a lesson. The Palm Treo had the potential but neither the intuition nor vision to give us more, even with the thousands of 3rd-party apps available. Windows Mobile devices are handicapped again by Microsoft inability to make anything simple, WM6 has lots of functions but who knows how to use them.The IPhone is the new benchmark for all other phones, it is oozes intuition and style.


H.N.I.C Steps Down from Microsoft June 28, 2008

Posted by Einar Rowan in Microsoft.
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The head nerd in charge, William Henry Gates the 3rd, has officially stepped down from Microsoft on June 27th, 2008. He introduced us to personal computing, I can vividly remember the years spent working on a 486/DX NEC Windows 3.1 desktop using a 56Kbps USRobitics modem and AOL back in the early 1990’s. He introduced us to Direct X, allowing a generation of kids to vent our angst against virtual baddies on our Windows 95 boxes, popping off head shots with deadly precision, using the original Monster 3D 8mb dedicated graphics cards. Windows 98 really started the evolution to the next level of computing with the Quake 3D and Half -Life series of games, Windows 98 really felt different than 95, 95 felt more like 3.1 with a different graphical user theme. With the introduction of Windows 2000 we were blessed with wireless Internet, high speed USB ports, and better TCP/IP network functionality.

Bill Gates and Microsoft really hit it big with their next OS, Windows XP Professional. It has become the defacto standard for business machines and support for XP will continue well into 2014. Then all of a sudden Microsoft Vista is released and touted as the next big OS, and boy how they were wrong. Thanks to Vista, Apple’s market share in the Personal Computing market is steadily rising and XP is still in demand. Although I refuse to use Vista as my primary OS (Mac OS X has taken over this role for me) it not a terrible OS as some people say. New releases from the Linux community like Ubuntu, OS X Leopard, and the Netbooks are beginning to show the kinks in Microsoft’s armor.

I hope Bill Gates retirement does not mean the beginning of the end of Microsoft, just look at the history of Def Jam records after Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin left and maybe there is still hope. I hear from a lot of haters that Mac OS X is to simple but do we really want to use something as complicated as Vista? Microsoft better recognize that simplicity is in and bloatware is out, quality and design do attribute for something, and that nobody wants to have a Zune Phone.