When technology just works

Today I needed to visit a medical specialist for collection of something. I had to pay $250 as my insurance did not cover. I sent a check as requested however today they had not record of receipt. Not wanting to write a second check and then find they cash both, I logged onto my online banking right there with my iPhone (miracle I could remember my login and password as all important logins like this are different and normally I need my notes) and I’m able to confirm deposit and even view a scanned copy of the check. Confirming the date they are still unable to find. I’m able to use an office computer and print out this confirmation to show them proof of payment.

The technology of the iPhone and the thoroughness of my bank online check verification solved the hassle, simplified the confirmation and greatly reduced the stress of the situation. At T-2 days the technology worked and I was most grateful.

iPhone bug

I discovered a bug on my iPhone. The issue was around Daylight saving. Thanks to Dock I was able to take screenshots which was much better then photos.

In Calendar when you select 1am on the scrollers, you get 1am as the start time. When you select 2am, the start time goes to 1am. When you select 3am, it goes to 3am as expected.

My Hacked iPhone

I installed Dock on my iPhone and it gave a very handy and wanted Screen Shot function. So now I can show my present iPhone screen. It looks like:

Apart from the obvious differences of different and more icons, I have by background behind icons, and I’ve turned off the text, so you need to know the icon means. Still, it’s wicked cool.

My MacBook

I arrived home last night at midnight from San Francisco to a pile of mail and a number of packages. My shiny new MacBook had arrived. It was rather ridiculous that I wanted a HDD upgrade and I could no buy it in the store. They come with 160GB and have only one upgrade option to 250GB.

Nevertheless, I’m now trying to familiarize myself with Mac OS/X 10.5 (Leopard) which is rather foreign as I’ve never used a MacBook before.

So what was my motivations? After Hacking my iPhone I wanted to do more, and even try and write an app, so I needed a Mac OS. I actually wanted a MacBook when I first joined MySQL last year, but my request was not approved (“You have to be able to run Windows” was the response, and yes I told them it can run windows).

Combined with a my Q3 Bonus, I just had to have one. This has been a number of significant purchases in recent months, an iPhone and a Canon 40D. All I need now is a girlfriend and my bank balance will be in more serious trouble.

Hacking my iPhone

I’ve finally taken the plunge after wanting to for some time. This is what I did, all steps are from using the iPhone directly, no computer required.

NOTE: I can’t take responsibility for anything that happens to your iPhone. As the warning for the installer program states, “This software comes with absolutely no warranty of any kind. If it should cause any harm to your iPhone or data, we shall not be held responsible.”. That said, there are instructions to Virginizing your iPhone to 1.0.2. So if you ever had to return the phone to Apple you would need to do this first.

Part 1. The Installer
NOTE: This only works if your Phone has firmware Version 1.1.1. If you have the iTunes button you have 1.1.1 (as at 01-Nov-2007). You can find our your Version by going Settings -> General -> About and look for the Version value.

1. Disable Keyboard Passcode Lock if enabled (Settings -> General -> Passcode Lock -> Off), Disable auto-lock (Settings -> General -> Auto-Lock -> Never), enable Wi-Fi (Settings -> Wi-Fi -> On) and get connected to a wireless network (Settings -> Wi-Fi -> Join Network)
2. Using Safari Browser, goto http://jailbreakme.com/.
3. Click on Install AppSnap link. The phone will appear to do nothing before it returns to the initial screen, with Slide to Unlock. (It took less then a minute for my iPhone to go back to Slide to unlock, other notes indicate up to 5 mins)
4. Slide to unlock. You will see a new icon called Installer. (Don’t click it yet)
5. Power off your phone, and power back on. (I’m uncertain how long this will take, as I did it slightly different, but don’t be alarmed if it takes at least 15 minutes this first time, as that what it took for me.

Note: At step 4 I selected the Installer button (it asked me to Update, which I did). This was bad idea, it went to Downloading package and never recovered after 5 minutes. I needed to do a reboot via holding down menu button. Click on the Installer button again, and it simply doesn’t start properly, going back to the main page. Turning off via power button freezes as well. After 5 minutes, tried holding down first the menu button, then the power button, no luck. Froze on the shutdown spinning icon for at least 15 mins.

Part 2. The Necessary Programs

You can now install the following programs when selecting Installer. Note: after each installation it will go back to the initial slide to unlock screen.
Note also the initial order, in particular the first 3 are important.

6. Installer -> System -> BSD Subsystem (Version 1.5, 6.6 M)
7. Installer -> Sources -> Community Sources (Version 3.0, 165 bytes) Update This happens automatically now.
8. Installer -> System -> OpenSSH (Version 4.6p1-1, 696k)
9. Installer -> System -> Term-vt100 (Version svn198, 81k)
10. Installer -> Package -> Summerboard (Version 3.0a11, 693k)

This then gave me access to SSH to my phone, SSH out to the big bad world, and ability to have different themes, changing the look and feel, see Summerboard themes for example.

Part 3. The fun applications.

I installed to start with the following application, you should choose what you like.

Installer -> Games -> Sudoku (Version 1.0-1, Size 24k)
Installer -> Utilties -> Erica’s Utilities (0.36, 42k)
Installer -> Utilities -> Erica’s iPhone Utils (0.06, 12k)
Installer -> Utilites -> Erica’s Ported Utils (0.06, 2.5M)
Installer -> Multimedia -> VoiceNotes (0.21, 60k)
Installer -> Productivity -> Crosswalk (1.01, 362k)

Practically everything is from www.modmyifone.com. Many references available online helped including here. Thanks James for the demo and points to success.

Some darn wicked stuff.

One of the cool things, being able to save Call History, SMS messages and Notes. Did via SSH with the following commands:

PATH=/var/root/bin:$PATH;export PATH
sqlite3 -line /private/var/root/Library/SMS/sms.db 'select address,text from message;'
sqlite3 -line /private/var/root/Library/Notes/notes.db 'select data from note_bodies;' | sed "s/^.*data = //"
sqlite3 -line /private/var/root/Library/CallHistory/call_history.db 'select "* " || address || " (" || ((duration/60)+1) || "  minutes)" from call;' | sed "s/^.*= //"

Ban the Backquote

I really don’t like the backquote character (`). This is primarily due to it’s use by MySQL in internal and community tools.
MySQL allows objects, .e.g table names, column names etc to contain both reserved words and spaces, providing they are appropriately surrounded by backquotes, so tools now simply enclose everything with backquotes. Really annoying.

Last week while on a client site I was told a funny story. The CEO of a company bought an iPhone however was unable to use it at work due to the WEP key for the Wireless access in his organization includes a backquote. I’ve confirmed it, the iPhone keyboard does not have a backquote key. So now, because he is the CEO, everybody will have to change their Wireless WEP key just because of the iPhone.

But it gets better. Around midnight last Saturday between Slate Plus (for Dinner & Pool) and going down to SOHO for more drinks, Farhan had to change a cron job. As his battery was running low, he was trying to find it, you guessed it, the backquote character on his OQO. Just lucky it’s Windoze and if you can find the character map application, you can insert the character.
Rob and Michelle were on hand, and with my new EOS 40D and 50mm 1.4f lens I was able to take a series of photos without flash and without alerting my unsuspecting subjects.

My iPhone Bill

Today I got back home to my iPhone bill. Lucky for me it was only 15 pages long. Rather stupid, but this news has been circulating for a few days. You can read More Google News stories including creative titles like “How many trees did your iPhone bill kill?”, “A 300-page iPhone Bill?” and “iPhone: The 800-Pound Gorilla Spawns a 300-Page Bill”. Not only did they waste trees, but I read one article stating it cost AT&T $7 in postage for one bill.

The present news is that the only way AT&T will address this is if you accept to get a paperless bill. How stupid, how about they just not print every data transfer, it’s not like you can actually get on a data plan that’s not unlimited anyway.

Cool Product – OQO

My flatmate just go an OQO and he hasn’t stopped raving about it.

A small PDA type device, however it runs a full version of Windows XP, has a full keyboard, mouse and keypad, a screen of 800 x 480 and build-in Wi-Fi and wireless broadband that can be connected to a telephone provider. Apparently with Skype installed you could then use it as a phone. He just tested it as we were talking to see if it had a built-in mic. I must admit even I’m impressed. Something I’ll need to play with a little more. Doesn’t beat my iPhone however for the cool alpha geek, in your pocket sized being able to show my photos & view the web device.

Other iPhone experiences for corporate users

I am not alone in my experience as a corporate AT&T/Cingular user wanting an iPhone. See my last post iPhone activation – Finally after 3 days. In the past 30 minutes I’ve read the same pain from many people. How can Apple and AT&T get this so wrong?

Some posts of interest:

No iPhones for corporate accounts?!
Anyone else here on an AT&T corporate account?
Apple, er AT&T, tells corporate types to pound sand
No iPhone for business account customers at launch?

iPhone activation – Finally after 3 days

If you have been following my iPhone saga, last time was iPhone for corporate users. What a debacle

So after 3 days, my phone is finally activated, however it was no as simple even with the required hoops mentioned last time.

I started by getting my company to add iPhone as an acceptable device for *our own* company account. The response was “My rep has stated that he can not add the iphone to our corporate account. This is currently not allowed to do it by AT&T corporate. Our only option is #2 which is to release your number and port it back to a personal account. “

What the! So my number is released, and I start the process of getting my iPhone on a personal account. I take the option of calling 1.866.895.1099 rather then trying with iTunes. I explain the situation, and then I’m asked for the account number. I don’t have that, it’s a company account, then I’m asked to type in *#06# on the phone, but of course I’m calling on my phone and that doesn’t work. Then I had to prove I was the owner of the phone by providing 3 recent numbers called. Of course this is in the phone I’m presently using.

Ok we overcome this, then I’m told I may have to pay a security deposit on my phone. What the! More questions including what is your Drivers License Number. Well I don’t have a US drivers license. Anyway, a few more minutes and I’m told I would not have to pay a security deposit.

Continuing on, I was told my account was created, and then I could use iTunes to activate my phone. Wanting to ensure this all worked smoothly I was still online with the operator. I had to agree to the “Apple and Third Party Terms and Conditions” and “AT&T – Terms of Service”. I made a copy of these pages, but didn’t keep the links that they reference unfortunately.

At the end of the process, I click the final button in iTunes and the phone goes dead. Doh!. My Apple iPhone is immediately activated and my present phone is de-activated. A few minutes later I actually had the operator I was talking with call me back, so that counts as one of the few positive experiences in this entire process.

Given this has been a forgettable experience I state I specifically want to make a complaint and I want a number for complaints. I’m told there isn’t one, I have to register online at the AT&T website and then find the email for contacting them. Well, that’s just not customer service.

So finally at like 1am Tue Jul 3rd 3 days after my purchase, my useless paper weight is usable.

iPhone for corporate users. What a debacle

What a debacle. Here is how poorly AT&T have handled the management of the iPhone for the millions of “individual” users that have their bill paided for under a corporate account.

First, prior to release I inquired with my company’s technical people who contacted our local rep. Here is what they had to say.

“I’ve spoken to our Cingular rep and he not going to be able to sell the iPhone to business customers for 1-3 months. I suppose this is to keep stock high in the retail channel. Your best bet, according to him, is to go directly to an Apple store and buy it there. He thinks it’s a better bet then going to a Cingular store.”

So on the night of the release I goto the New York Apple Store, which is huge and open 24 hours, inquire about getting an iPhone given I’m on a corporate account. I have to ask a sales person who asked another more senior who asked another more senior again (it all was rather smoothly handled) until I get the response, “Yes, I can get an iPhone given I’m on an existing corporate account, I simply have to a call AT&T for the activation process and get a new 2 year contract”. That’s it. None of the detail I’m about to discuss. So, as I’ve recently written I did indeed buy the phone. (Includes Pictures & Video)

The first time I call Friday Night (now actually 1am Saturday morning), no answer other then a very boring on hold message for 30 minutes.

I call a second time Saturday midday and again, no answer other then a very boring on hold message for 30 minutes.

On Sunday, call a third time at midday, and surprisingly after 20-25 mins I get an operator. Before that story, it was interesting to observe a change in the on hold message from the previous two times. This one I recorded, I wish I’d had the earlier ones. This time the message clearly states. “Your iPhone is not eligible for any corporate discount.” Wow, just some little detail nobody has at hand before.

Of course, I can’t get my phone activated. What a surprise. As the operator stated, paraphrasing “The iPhone is intended for individuals. We didn’t expect this need for corporate account uses”. I’m sorry, I’m an “individual”, I just have somebody paying the bill on my behalf. AT&T/Apple you blew it here.

So in order to get my iPhone activated I have to contact the appropriate person at my company with the right authority (fat chance that will happen on a weekend, Friday 6pm realize of a product, and nobody considered this, either the did and decided to let the pain happen or the didn’t, either way it’s rather poor product release consideration. So the right person has to contact AT&T and either allow to list the iPhone as a regular device or Release my number (without penalty I’m told). Given there is no corporate discount either option works for me, I just want to play and show off my $600 useless phone. I should also add, my phone account already runs at about $120 per month, I have unlimited data already, so it’s not like switching to an iPhone I would actually be paying more from my account. The operator could see that, so where is the problem. If I had a phone on a corporate account without unlimited data already I could see this being an issue.

I also find out on this call another piece of information I didn’t know. The iPhone is an non insurable device. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I take it AT&T offer phone insurance, except for the iPhone. Does this mean it won’t last the distance of say 12 months.

Overall the operator was as helpful as she could be, she was courteous and provided all the information I needed, but not with the result I wanted.

AT&T and Apple have done a piss poor job of the release for “individual users” that simply have there phone account paided differently. It’s been a rather unacceptable experience. I’m disappointed in the process and now a full 2 days later I still have a useless iPhone that I can’t activate.

And for the record, I went to the iPhone website to make a complaint. You think after looking at all the contact details I could find a link to do this. Seems, they may not be happy with people making complaints.

Update You can read the final conclusion at iPhone activation – Finally after 3 days

The iPhone

Apple today released the iPhone. It was released at 6pm on Friday June 29. Who releases a product at 6pm on a Friday? While walking up 5th Avenue before dinner I noticed a line of people outside a Cingular (now the new AT&T) store (the only phone network you can get an iPhone for).

Apparently people had been lining up at the New York Apple store for two days. Fools. So after dinner tonight at 11pm I headed up to the NY Apple store with Andrew and Jo, given they had never been there before. Lucky the store here is open 24 hours.

No lines, but inside it was the normal mayhem with some extra fanfare around the obvious new iPhones. Check out photo.

A few minutes later I got to play with one, really cool. Smaller then I expected, I had some difficulty understanding how to zoom in on web pages, I needed to learn the pinch and expand step. The keyboard is smaller then my Nokia E62 PDA so that was a little annoying.

You could even get a free box bag with a picture of an iPhone on it. Check it out.

Of course the box is free when you buy an iPhone. I got the 8GB model at $599 US, plus case plus tax set me back $681.82

Ok, so that’s nice, just had to wait the 1hr 15min to get home.

It’s now 1am, and the first requirement is to download the latest iTunes. Reboot my laptop into Windoze, and of course it’s like a 56MB file. While downloading I grabbed the image from my camera, upload the image to my Fotolog account, and started this blog. Download and install complete, and guess what, Windows has to restart your computer. There is just one more reason why I hate Windoze and simply don’t use it. Reboot later, and finally I get to start.

Activation of phone is via iTunes. Of course this doesn’t work. Please Call AT&T. This was to be expected as my phone is under an a corporate account. I did specifically check with the store before purchasing that I could use this account for the required 2 year contract commitment.

Of course the number presented on screen, and that I rang (1.877.419.4500) could not help me because I’m a business account. I have to call the Business Center on 1.866.907.3484. Ring that, and guess what I’m on hold, 20+ mins later still nothing. It’s now 2:14am, I hang up, I was on the phone waiting for 27 minutes. Rather disappointing, I guess that’s one reason why you start a sales promotion at 6pm on a Friday. All the phone support the Business Center have gone home for the weekend.

This had better turn out for the better in the morning. I’ll be rather peeved if I find out, I need some account information I simply don’t have then have to wait until Monday to call my office (of course wait until midday as that is 9AM Pacific time).

Right now failure, after such a great evening with friends, food and just excellent service it’s just one of those bummers in life.

Update 1. I’ve added video of the NY Apple Store iPhone activity.
Update 2. My phone is still not activated. Read about it at iPhone for corporate users. What a debacle.
Update 3 It’s alive iPhone activation – Finally after 3 days