Sunday, April 27, 2008

My iPhone Fixes - Part I

April 27th, 2008 - It is 4:40 AM and it still feels like 4:40 PM coz its so humid around. Back to where I left, time to fix one of the many missing features/limitations of the iPhone. I have managed 3 of the essentials so far.

1. SIM-Fix - The first thing you probably do when you get a phone is to transfer the contacts from the SIM on the phone memory, so you can start making calls to your contacts. But on an iPhone its a lengthy procedure, especially coz Indians hardly save Contacts on their Address Book on their Home-PC, so getting it to synch with a phone is out of question. And just coz you have an iPhone are you going to go the extra mile and have an Address Book filled out, I didnt think so. So the solution was to get a third-party app downloaded and installed to acheive this task on the iPhone. The details on how you do that is mentioned in here, just make sure you read it carefully and dont miss a step. These and many other third-party app is installed using a third-party software called "Installer". When you buy an unlocked phone, the "Installer" icon should be on the Home screen, if not, you are DOOMED. Coz getting the "Installer" on the iPhone is a geek job and if you are game for it, check this out. As a matter of fact, if I see you filling out the Address Book at the end of reading the tutorials above, I wont be surprised :) I told you, it just aint easy with the iPhone. Besides, when was hacking actually easy??!!

2. SMS Fix - Assuming you know how to use the "Installer" by doing the first fix above, this one should be relatively simple. So by installing what is called "SMSD", again a third-party app, you will be able to delete individual SMS messages coming from the same number and forward SMS messages to multiple recipients. Before we start, remember you need to install the correct version of SMSD depending on the firmware version of the iPhone. The one mentioned below is for iPhones using firmware version 1.1.3 and 1.1.4. To check the iPhone firmware version, go to Settings>General>About

---Touch-Open the "Installer" app from the iPhone Home Screen
---Touch-Open the "Sources" option from the bottom task list
---Touch-Open "Edit" on the top right hand corner
---Touch-Open "Add" on the top left hand corner
---Type the Source:
---Let it download. Once it is done, you will directed to the "Categories" under the "Install" option.
---Scroll the list and you should find something called "SOS iPhone - Applicatifs", Touch-Open
---Scroll the list again and you should find a Package named "SMSD Fr", Touch and it should install
---Once installed, you press the Home button, the screen will refresh and you will find a new icon called "SMSD". If not, just turn the phone Off and On and you should see it.

Remember, the original SMS/Text icon will still be there on the Home screen, both work simultaneously. If you dont want the old icon, thats gonna take another third-party app to do the job, I didnt think it was worth the labor and so I have it in there. What I found very intresting and also proud of the fact that "SMSD" is the brain child of an Indian. check his page.

3. iPod Fix - So much for a jailbroken iPhone huh? Yeahh baby. Somehow these things challenge me and I'm going to be honest, I give up too but not before giving it a shot. So now for the iPod fix that will help you convert your Videos and Movies in a format supported by the iPhone. Music in a mp3 format can be just dragged and dropped in the iTunes and that does not need any conversion. Before I let you out on the third-party app, remember to download and install the latest version of Itunes from the Apple Web site so you can start the synch job. So basically, what I found was 2 softwares, one that converts DVD Movies and the other converts regular Videos with .avi, .mpeg, .flv formats. For DVD Movie Convertor, download this and for regular Video Convertor, download this. If you are new to iTunes, here is a good place to read on how to use it to play with your iPod, note that iTunes for iPhone has additional options.

4. Exchange OWA Fix - This is something I havent done for my phone yet but I want to mention it neverthless, coz I might be able to do something about it in the future and it is important for me. This is with regards checking your Office mail (if your Office is using an Exchange Sever) on the iPhone either using the "Mail" option or using OWA on the "Safari" Browser. Now I think you already heard me say that iPhone does not support ActiveSync with Exchange Server but it can still support thin clients like OWA using the IMAP protocol. What the f*** am I talking about, check it out here ;)

---To check mail, using the "Mail" option on the iPhone, you need to follow these instructions
---To check mail using the "Safari" browser option, check this out.

Your IT guys really need to be in your pocket, if you want pull this one out. Remember, having ActiveSync support (by June 2008) only provides richer e-mail experience, the IT excercise to configure the Exchange Server for iPhone will still hold true.

Well thats a wrap on my first few fixes on the iPhone, honestly I'm not missing anything else that I think I need to fix to get what people may call "value for money". I'm actually better off now that I get to see videos, movies and listen to music when I'm done with my office chores. I guess the next fix or workaround on my agenda is to see how can I get this Bluetooth to work with any Stereo headphones available in the stores so I can get rid of Apple ka thakela earphones. If you fixed something on the iPhone, do let me know, until next time, Ciao.

April 28th, 2008 - Well well....something that I didnt think I cared too much about but again I found that even "Applying a theme" on the iPhone is quite a task and thereby worth a geeks curiosity factor. So here we again need to make sure the "Installer" app is on your iPhone. If you do, go to Installer>Install>Categories>System>SummerBoard, install this Package and when done, press the Home Button. You will see an icon on the Home Screen called "SMBPrefs". It opens up, touch the option Theme and you can choose the Theme you want to display, every time you choose one, the screen refreshes. By default, it will display 4 Themes including the Default (iPhone Theme.)

There are some more Themes you can install from Categories>Themes (SummerBoard), once installed, go to the Home Screen and follow the instuctions mentioned above. I must admit, the Themes look pretty cool with cuztomized icons, colors and wallpapers. Enjoy!!

So what was so great about applying a theme, well for starters, what you read above is the result of searching 2 hours to get a straight answer on the Internet, second if you need to install/copy/paste/replace a custom theme and for that matter any file or folders on the iPhone, you need to synch the iPhone with your Home-PC (with a Wi-Fi connection only) using a network protocol called SSH to do the job. See this. Yes, I know what you are thinking, F*** the iPhone...:) Nope, I'm not giving up. Have a good day.

Disclaimer: "If the instructions on my page work for you, I know you and if they dont, I dont know you"

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Feel, The Features, The Bloopers - Part II

April 20th, 2008 - Resuming from where I left

7. Now lets talk about some Enterprise features like checking your mail a la using Exchange Sever, here is where the businessmen will cringe for the lack of "ActiveSync" support on this phone in this version and they should wait until June 2008 for v2.0. The iPhone supports POP3 and IMAP formats and so you can configure the mailbox on the Phone to Gmail, Yahoo, AOL and .mac. The iPhone does not not support OWA either by default and you will need to change settings on the Exchange Server do get it going. Now unless you are some BIG SHOT in your office, your IT is highely unlikely to do this for you. I have configured the Phone Mailbox to my personal Gmail and Yahoo, works like a charm. Now you can synch the iPhone to update your Contacts and Calendar appointments, set Reminders, use the Calculator, view .PDF and .doc files. But honestly, dont bother comparing it with Windows Mobile, you will be disappointed. I have become wiser over the years and I have started leaving work at workplace and so my choice for a Non-Enterprise phone.
8. Now for the browser, the Safari browser does render most of the pages neatly but again point to note, the iPhone does not support flash/java. Do I care? No. Do you care? I dont know. Surfing the Internet with options to zoom by just pinching the screen with your fingertips is a true third generation technology and engineering marvel
9. Talk about the keyboard, its visual on the screen, no accessories available to attach a physical one. Again, I hardly use the keyboard to SMS texts or anything similar. You gonna have to get used to using one hand or two hands and tapping the right key on the screen, I think its a big deal, with practise it becomes easy. Oh yea, no stylus by the way. Would Indians prefer using the chopsticks to eat rice? Exactly...I thought as much :) Use your hands man. I wonder if Steve Jobs has half-parents from India since he put so much emphasis on using our hands :)
10. The iPhone has a 2.0 megapixel camera and stores pictures on its spacious 8GB hard drive, no videos. I would have liked it to have the video feature but again its not like I cannot live without it. Now the iPhone does not have an option to add additional memory. Really, I cannot imagine myself crying for more than 8GB space on my phone. I could have probably wanted a memory slot so I could transfer some of my stuff from another source to the phone, when was the last time I did that? Never. I used the synch capabilities and that was more than enough.
11. Now for something that "I DO AGREE" is a true blooper, the Bluetooth capability, the Bluetooth is only to use the iPhone standard bluetooth headset-mic, no tranfer of data and no capability to stream stereo music on bluetooth music-headsets. Thats ridiculous. The headphone jack is also not universal and you will need an adaptor to first connect it to the iPhone and then connect your universal music headset. The Bluetooth is going to be high on the iPhone Agenda for v2.0, I can bet know what on it
12. Listening to music on the external speakers on the iPhone should be avoided especially if you are someone who has used a Sony-Ericsson phone in the past, it will be a heartburn, just use the headsets and you should do fine.
13. Now for the iPod features, if you are an Apple user, you should know they are arrogant and want users to use a format patented by them, like movies should be in a .mov format and music should be in AAC format, the Media Player should be Quick Time and so on. Similary, on the iPhone it uses its software iTunes to synch Movies, Videos, Contacts and even Ringtones. The pain is, the iTunes software just does a supported format upload, it does not convert anything thats Not-Apple. So you have to first download some third-party software to convert your .avi, .mpeg, .wmv, .flv movies and .mp3 songs in to .mov and .aac and then have iTunes upload it. Dont worry, the Internet is blessed with such third-party software, I'm using a couple and it works just fine with rich quality on the iPhone. I'll share the names in my later posts. But the effort is worth it, seeing is believing on the iPhone
14. On to the Phone and Phonebook, it is standard and you have everything you will need including Visual Voice Mail. What was missing was the phone's capability to Import SIM contacts. It also cannot access Contacts on the SIM directly, something that most of the phones in the markets are able to do, every Contact resides on the Phone Memory only and that comes from synching the Address Book on your Computer. Also, I noticed in the Recent History Log, it shows All Calls and Missed calls, Missed calls are marked in RED and you can switch views to see either All Calls or Missed calls. But I think it would have helped to have views seperately for Dialled calls and Received Calls as well, thats missing. It has something called Favorites instead of Speed Dial and that comes very handy. The Phonebook can be browsed by flicking your finger up and down or touching an alphabet on the sides. Dialling a number manually on the screen is also a pleasant experience, enjoy all the Phone features on the guided tour on the Apple Web site.
15. Customization is restricted to a point where you cannot have a system icon on the Home Screen (also referred to as Springboard) move, modify, delete. Ringtones available are so-so and nothing great to talk about. Again, something I'm least bothered about, I'm a creative guy but that doesnt have to be in everything I own. Some of the icons on the Home Screen may not be of any value to you like Stocks, Weather, Maps, iTunes and also remember the iPhone relies heavily on the Internet to update some these information. If you dont have a GPRS connection, forget about this phone. Installing third-party applications is a tedious task and just to find a folder on the phone, you have to run commands from a terminal window, it is so Unix based, Windows guys will hate it. To all my pink-friends (ladies) just coz someone gave you an iPhone, dont take it, you wont be able to put a pink ringtone without help ;)
16. This was funny until I got to know about it from a friend who also owns a iPhone, the iPhone stores all SMS messages as conversations, which means SMSs coming from a same number are all stored as one single conversation and if I have to reply to it that attaches to the conversation, like you were having a chat with someone. The problem is if you get different messages from the same number, there is no way to delete individual messages. You end up deleting everything that came from that number. Even funnier was the fact that if you get a SMS, you cannot forward it to multiple receipents, you only have an option to reply to that message. You can however, compose a message and send it to multiple receipents. Considering the number of genuine SMS that I end up getting or sending, I can live with this. But hey, I found a way to get around it and I continue to scour around to find solutions to other limitations as well, watch out for my post on "My iPhone Fixes". Some more missing features listed here...

Well, thats all I have been able to see, feel and gather so far in the last 1 Week of my purchase of the iPhone, hope this helps in making your decision easier. You think you know better than me, lets thrash it here :)

The Feel, The Features, The Bloopers - Part I

April 20th, 2008 - It is 5:30 AM and as I had promised myself, sitting down to write my experiences with the phone they call "neighbhors envy and owners pride", the iPhone. Should I even bother telling you why I would buy something like this off the shelf, you know by now what an example I make of an impulse decision. I couldnt hang on to my Nokia E50 for too long but mind you, its a kick ass phone, something every office goer would love to have.

Trivia: The iPhone was introduced to the world on June 29, 2007, same date I was introduced in this world 28 years back.

So I got this new offering from Steve Jobs last Weekend, April 12th, 2008. Now this is not my first tryst with Apple products and I have 2 iPod Shuffle, a 512 MB and a 1 GB, both came as gifts. Yea, you cant go wrong when you gift me a gadget :) The reason I mention this is, it helps to know how the Apple products work and what kinda software they use. Now buying the iPhone off the shelf is easier said than done in India. It available in thin numbers and getting the latest model and version can be quite a task. As for the price-tag, you should get it for around $ 550. That is steap for sure, considering it goes for $ 399 in the US for a 8GB model. You may have heard of a 4GB model but that aint available in the US or Indian markets, it has been Archived. Your choices are between 8GB and 16GB models. The firmware version I have is 1.1.4 which is the lastest. You can check this by going to Settings>General>About

Allright, so what you are going to see or get to know is that your iPhone is unlocked or what they call as "jailbroken" in the Tech world. Why? GOD!! When did you last surf the Internet and read something worthwile? Coz Apple iPhones as I write this, is released only in the US and European markets and is supposed to work with only the choice of Carriers they picked for us like AT&T in the US. But the geeks around the world have managed to crack this and get the iPhone to practically work in any country with their local Carriers, how cool is that? if you have survived the price onslaught, lets see what kinda guys would wanna put their money on a phone like that, apart from their crave for gadgets and technology. Again no prizes for guessing that I did enough research on the product capabilities and despite knowing that iPhone is not capable of doing certain things that conventional phone users would like it do, I went ahead with my decision and here is why...Oh yea, watch the guided tour on the Apple Web site, before you dive in to this.

The Exterior...

1. The dimensions are 4.5 X 2.4 inches, the idea was to see if it will fit in my jeans pockets when I go around, I'm not the kinds who have it (phone) hanging on their waistbands. The depth and weight are .46 inches and 135gms respectively and thats neat. Last but not the least, it should fit in your palm, like holding know what I mean :)
2. Next, the finishing and just the whole package is revolutionary besides artistic more than anything, no keys, no anttena, no flip-flap, no swivel action, just a smooth peice of art in your hands to be explored with your fingertips. If you are not the PDA types and touch dont suit you, you either grow up to it or you can be happy with what you have, whatever crap you have that is :)
3. It has a headphone connection on the top, Sleep/Wake button, on the left it has a Vibrator Mode button and Volume Up/Down button, on the bottom it has a connector for both Power and PC-Synch capabilities. It has a 2.0 megapixel camera behind the phone. It also has 2 integrated Speakers on the bottom, one of them acts as a mic. All of these look and feel very aesthetic on the iPhone

The Interior...

4. You put this baby ON by pressing the single round button in the bottom center of the phone or pressing the Sleep/Wake button on the top right corner of the Phone. And what you see immediately is a beautiful rich display of a Wallpaper, you can choose to display everytime the phone comes up from Sleep. Now here is what will hit the Wallpaper lovers really bad, once you unlock the phone by sliding your finger on the phone, the Wallpaper disappears and you see the dark black screen with standard icons on the iPhone. You can choose to put a theme and the dark screen will be replaced by the Wallpaper options the theme has but you cannot simply choose a picture from the Gallery and make a Wallpaper to display at all times. Something almost every multi-media phone is able to do. Do I care? No. Do you care? I dont know.
5. Next thing I want to highlight is its ability to pickup the Network signals and the fact that it supports only EDGE type of Internet capabilites versus 3G, which is the most popular. In my opinion, after having used cell phones for 8 years, Network has to do with where you live more than the fact that phones are made with poor reception quality, which is a thing of the past. So I did not find any issues in this department. Now I have advanced GPRS with my Vodafone connection and browsing pages was reasonable. If someone has a problem, I think he doesnt know which devices should be used for high-speed browsing. Also, a regular Internet user knows sites with pictures and heavy content (like YouTube) will take time to render on the screen. Actually, I found YouTube rendering pages pretty well. The iPhone also supports Wi-Fi and surfing should be a lot faster using this connection.
6. Battery Life is again depending on the Usage, my Talk Time usage is not worth mentioning, although one of the things I was very particular about, was to use this device as much as possible for its iPod capabilities so I'm going to be using it to watch movies and listen to music more than anything else. So why didnt I go for the iPod or iTouch? Would you mind if a supermodel was also your wife? Exactly, thats what I thought :) Talk about Multi-Utility. The Video and Music playback time is 7 and 24 Hours respectively. So much for Part I, will continue in Part II.