Saturday, July 26, 2008

Tutorial: How to Disable iPhone Backup?

Since the iPhone 2.0 firmware, iTunes can backup your iPhone for up to 2 hours (I had experience that took me more than 3 hours). One of the reasons is iTunes tries to copy every single files from the iPhone to the hard drive. I have about 40 applications are installed and the backup folder (/Users//Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup) shows I have more than 5000 files in the backup archieve. According to my observation, it takes about 1-2 seconds to copy 2 files from the iPhone to my computer (PowerMac Dual G5 2.0GHz with 4GB RAM).

Seriously, have Apple heard of rsync? Why they want to copy every single files from my phone back to the computer? I can restore the application via the AppStore, right? I think iTunes just need to save the application's SQLite database files only if they have been modified. That will definetely speed up the backup process. (Yeah, again, rsync Apple!!!!)

Before Apple fixes this problem, I guess we have to live with the slow backup process. I used to sync my iPhone 1.x with my computer mutliple times a day. Now, I may only sync my iPhone if I have calendar update (yes, MobileMe does not support subscribed calendars yet) or updating the music/podcasts.

If you are brave enough, you can hit the "x" button to skip the backup and force iTunes just to sync your other files instead. However, that always create corrupted backup archives. If you see multiple backup folders within /Users//Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup, highly possible your backup is corrupted. To fix it, just simple delete /Users//Library/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup and restart iTunes again. It will force iTunes to create a brand new backup archieve.

The other way to skip the backup process is modifying iTunes configuration. No, you cannot find it in the iTunes Preference. You have to manually modifying the system settings by typing

defaults write DeviceBackupsDisabled -bool true

in the Terminal application on the Mac and restart iTunes. If you want to perform the backup again, issue the same command but replacing "true" to "false" (I highly recommend to do the backup at least 1 time a week). For Windows users, sorry, may be the similar settings are hidden in the registry and I have no idea where to find it yet.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Me: The Curse of Technology

About 8 years ago, we have Windows Me. It is a re-skined Windows 95 and everyone hates it. It is soon replaced by Windows 2000. Today, we have Mobile Me, which is a upgraded version of the old .Mac service. Will it be the other flop as well?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Blackberry - No Additional Application Designed for Your Device were Found

I have received a lot of emails and comments related to my tutorial on installing Chinese font files on the T-Mobile Blackberry Pearl (8100). As I mentioned in the blog, the font files are mainly for 8100 and I really unable to help on the other different models because I dont' have all the Blackberry hardware to test.

The pattern is very inconsistent. Some of the newer models work but some of the newer models do not work. Some of the readers do post their experience in the comments and I think they are very helpful. Let me summarize them here in case you do not want to scroll through all the comments.

First of all, when you are downloading the 4 files from me, make sure there are 2 ALX files and 2 COD files. If you see ZIP or TXT extension, please rename them correctly.
  • rivviepop points out you can convert the ALX files into JAD files and install them.
  • Someone found a multi-lingual version of the Blackberry OS from here.
  • The other user hack the chinese font files from the Hong Kong version OS. He/She loads the CJK.alx along with my font files.

I also did some researches on the error message "no additional application designed for your device were found" on Google. It seems this error message does not really mean it cannot find the binary files. Highly possible you have an outdated version of Desktop Manager. You can find more detail explanation here.

Again, I really unable to help if you are unable to install the font files into the Blackberry other than 8100. If anyone has any luck on 8130, please post the method here. The 8130 users will be very appreciate.

Why Steve Jobs is getting thinner?

Here is why....


Microsoft: Let the war begins....
Apple: I'm ready....

Steve Ballmer: In the competition between PCs and Macs, we outsell Apple 30-to-1. But there is no doubt that Apple is thriving. Why? Because they are good at providing an experience that is narrow but complete, while our commitment to choice often comes with some compromises to the end-to-end experience. Today, we’re changing the way we work with hardware vendors to ensure that we can provide complete experiences with absolutely no compromises. We’ll do the same with phones—providing choice as we work to create great end-to-end experiences.

Read more here.

Review: Evernote (iPhone)

Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere. This application is available in multiple platforms: Windows, Mac OS X Leopard, iPhone, Windows Mobile, Web, etc.

The desktop version of Evernote allows you to capture virtually anything on your computer screen. Once you save it in Evernote, it will be sync to the Evernote storage server and will be sync to the other machine or phone that has Evernote installed.

The iPhone version of Evernote allows you to access whatever you have saved in the Evernote storage server plus you can create text note, voice note, and image note. I find out the voice note is a very good tool for voice recorder (far better than any other voice recording software for the iPhone since the records are synced back to the server).

So how it works?
  1. You capture the things you want to remember using what you already use—your Windows or Mac computer, the web, and your mobile phone.
  2. Evernote runs everything through its recognition technology and then make it all available across all the devices. You can then organize and tag the notes, if you want.
  3. When you want to remember something, just search for it and there it is just like you remember it.
(Price: Free)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mac OS X iSerial Reader and Serial Box Files

Some of you sent me email and asked me why his/her iSerial Reader cannot read in the new serial box files anymore. One of the reasons is because the iSerial Reader contains a security key and it was expired a couple months ago. You can download the latest version of iSerial Reader and the serial box files right here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

iPhone PwnageTool 2.0.1 (iPhone Jailbreak and Unlock)

iPhone PwnageTool 2.0 was released yesterday. Within 24 hours, iPhone PwnageTool 2.0.1 has been released to fix some bugs. You can download it from here or here. You can also download the bootloader from here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

iPhone 3G Sightings (iPhone Availability)

July 11, 2008 (Launch Day):
AT&T Store near Puente Hills Malls @ 1:30pm - All Sold Out (Even the display unit is gone)
Apple Store in Brea Mall @ 2:00pm - Almost 200 people are in line.

July 12, 2008:
Apple Store in Pasadena @ 2:00pm - Almost 70+ people are in line.

July 13, 2008:
Apple Store in 3rd Street Santa Monica @ 3:00pm - About 40 people are in line.

July 14, 2008:
Apple Store in 3rd Street Santa Monica @ 12:30pm - About 40 people are in line. Talked with an orange t-shirt Indian lady in the store and she told us the wait for iPhone 3G will be probably 2-3 hours and the phone activation time will be 4-6 hours.

July 15, 2008:
Apple Store in Brea Mall @ 11:00am - Still insanely lots of people in line for the iPhone 3G. Don't people have anything to do other than spending hours inline for a freaking phone?

I just check the Apple iPhone 3G Availability page and found out most of the Apple stores are running out of the iPhone.

July 16, 2008:
My co-worker went to the Apple store on the 3rd Street in Santa Monica around 1:00pm. There were about 30 people ahead of him and about 20 people behind him after he arrived there for 15 minutes. He waited for about 2 hours for the phone and the other 5 minutes to activate the phone. He also told me the store has a new shipment in the morning and most of the 16GB Black are selling out (how dare he is!!! He should grab me to go with him!!!).

July 17, 2008:
My friend went to the Costa Mesa store today and the line was about 45 minutes.

July 18, 2008:
I called the Brea and Costa Mesa store today and both of the stores are out of stock of any iPhone 3G. It seems there will be no iPhone 3G through the coming weekend.

July 23, 2008:
The iPhone 3G was out of stock in most of the stores in the Southern California for the past few days. The Apple iPhone 3G availability page showed the Santa Monica, Century City, and Beverley Hills stores have all 3 models of iPhone 3G. Brea Mall only has the white 16GB model. I just called Santa Monica store (10:30am) and the sales told me the line is about 3-4 hours waiting.

July 26, 2008:
The Apple availability page shows most of the stores in the CA has iPhone 3G in stock for the weekend. Plus, all the stores will be opened @ 8am instead of 10am except Sunday. Apple also increases the headcount in the stores to assist the customers to get the iPhone 3G. Awesome!!!

Someone has figured out how to obtain the availability status every 15 minutes from an Apple's feed. You can come to here to check it. Again, always call the store before your commute to the store.

OK, finally, I am inline at the Brea mall today @ 7:45am (since the web site mentioned the store opens @ 8:00am). In real, the store is not opening @ 8:00am but there are Apple store orange t-shirts outside of the store and explaining the situation. They hand out a card that represents what model you are getting (it's pretty cool so you can leave early if the model of the iPhone you are getting is out of stock).

Then, there is the other orange t-shirt verify your AT&T account if you are existing customer. I ran into a problem about my AT&T account that the foundation account # is not matched with my phone number (I'm Pacbell Wireless customer since 1996 and I never change wireless carrier. May be that's why.) The orange t-shirt is very helpful and he called AT&T to resolve my issue. Once I got into the store (around 10:30am), the blue t-shirt helped me to pick the phone plan and activate the iPhone. I asked him a couple questions and he seems no clue at all:

1. I bought some applications for my old iPhone. Can they transfer to my new iPhone?
His answer: NO
Real answer: The actual answer is yes as long as your Mac ID matched the old phone. The applications are go by DRM bounds with your Mac ID instead of the Phone.

2. Will my old iPhone backup restored to the new iPhone?
His answer: All your phone number and songs will sync back to the phone via iTunes.
Real answer: It's not about the sync but restoring the backup. It seems he has no clue what I'm asking at all.

After asking these 2 questions, I feel like I'm buying gadgets in the Best Buy where the Best Buy dudes have no clue at all. What's going on, Apple?!?!? Where is the training?

Anyway, I'm restoring the backup and syncing the songs back to my new 16GB White iPhone.

Monday, July 14, 2008

iPhone 2.0 Quick Tips

  1. By pushing the Home and Lock button at the same time. You can take a screenshot of the current screen. The saved image will be stored in the camera roll.
  2. The camera is now location based. The saved image can contain GPS coordination. Webapp like Flickr can take advantage of the location and display the image on a map.
  3. Calendar supports multiple calendars now.
  4. Address book supports quick search. You will greatly appreciate that if you have lots of contacts just like me. However, I find address book is a little bit slower on my upgraded iPhone 2.0. I am wondering if iPhone 3G may have a faster CPU. Anyway, I use Google Mobile App most of the time if I want to search something. It really works like QuickSilver on the iPhone.
  5. Calculator finally has scientific calculator in landscape mode. However, it doesn't have based conversion!!! I bought PCalc to replace the build-in one anyway.
  6. International input!!! Goto Preference | International | Keyboard and you can add international input to your phone. For example, Chinese handwriting!!! Now, finally, I can easily search YouTube or web in Chinese using this official app (without jailbreak my phone).

iPhone 2.0

Everyone talks about iPhone. I finally talk about iPhone too. Yes, I have an iPhone and just upgraded to iPhone 2.0. No, I don't have iPhone 3G... yet. I will get one eventually, but not now, at least, not in the following 1-2 weeks.

Upgrade to iPhone 2.0 is pretty smooth for me. I did it twice. I did the first time on the night before the offical firmware released. People claimed the version I put on my old iPhone is mainly for iPhone 3G so I did the "upgrade" again on Friday night @ 8:00pm PST. Everything is fine except the re-activation part. Very lucky, I tried 2 times and I have my iPhone re-activated again.

Once I have iPhone 2.0 upgraded, I immediately downloaded tons of software from the app store (in iTunes or on the phone). It works great and I feel I have a Palm Pilot on my hand again except everything I need is almost built-in: Hand-writing Chinese input and Located based softwares. The only complain I have just MobileMe is pretty much handicap. I cannot have subscribe calendar in MobileMe (I have many other calendars in Google Calendar and I don't want to use 3rd party software like Spinning Sync).

I will keep experiementing new software on my "new" iPhone. Yes, I'm very excited and No, I'm not very pleased with the experience with MobileMe and my Macs.

P.S.: Thanks for everyone visiting my tutorial on installing chinese fonts into the BlackBerry. As I mentioned before, I have fully switched to iPhone (personal) and Windows Mobile (work). I'm really unable to help you on how to install the font files into the newly released Blackberries. I'm so sorry about that.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Tutorial: 2009 Acura TSX and Apple iPhone

The 2009 Acura TSX's technology package includes the navigation system (with XM traffic and weather), premium sound, USB port (iPod integration), aux audio port, and cellular phone integration (by bluetooth). According to Acura's handsfreelink site, TSX only supports a very limited features with the Apple iPhone. One of the most important features, phonebook import, is not supported according to the site.

However, it seems my TSX can import my 400+ contacts from my iPhone to the navigation system without any major problems (the import stops once it reaches to the contacts that use non-English characters). Since the Apple iPhone doesn't support contact transfer using bluetooth, I cannot send selected contacts to my TSX. Also, once you have imported the contacts from the iPhone contacts into the TSX cellular phonebook, you cannot modify/edit/delete individual contacts with the car phonebook. It is very inconvienent.

Setup the iPhone with the TSX is easy. Here is how you do it:
  1. Have your car key in position I or II.
  2. Push the phone call button on the steering wheel and say "Phone Setup"
  3. Push the phone call button and say "Pairing"
  4. Have your iPhone ready
  5. Make sure the bluetooth is on and in discovery mode (Settings | General | Bluetooth)
  6. Push the phone call button and say a 4 digit as the pairing code you need to enter to your iPhone
  7. A dialog will display on your iPhone. Enter the 4 digit code you just said to the car
  8. Done
The TSX has 2 phonebooks in real, one in the navigation system and one in the car. You can assign voice tag with the phone numbers that are stored in the car. In order to enter phone number into the car phonebook, you can use bluetooth contact transfer (not support by iPhone), voice, or import from the navigation phonebook.

Personally, I don't suggest you using voice to input the phone number. The voice recognition system (built by IBM) has no problem to recognize the numbers I said to it but it has difficulty to recognize the single word "ENTER" (you have to say it at the end of the phone number so the system can save it into memory). If you have other phone that support bluetooth contact transfer, you can use it to "beam" the phone number into the car phonebook.
  1. Push the call button on the steering whell and say "Phonebook"
  2. Push the call button and say "Transfer a contact"
  3. "Beam" the phone number using a non-iPhone phone via bluetooth
  4. The car will ask you to give a voice tag
  5. Push the call button and say the voice tag
  6. Push the call button and say "Yes" if the system accepts your voice tag. Sometimes, the system will reject your voice tag if it sounds too close to some other words.
  7. Done
You can also transfer the phone number from the navigation system's phonebook after you import the contacts from your iPhone.
  1. Push the Info button on the dashboard
  2. Use the dial to select Cellular Phonebook
  3. Use the dial to select Import Phonebook
  4. Make sure your iPhone has enough battery if you have a huge contact list (like mine). I have 400+ contacts and it takes about 10-15 minutes to finish the import
  5. After the contacts are import into the system. You can use the dial to select Search Phonebook
  6. Pick the phonebook you just import or any other phonebook you have import previously. Totally, you can import 6 phonebooks
  7. Use the dial and virtual keyboard (or voice) to locate your contact and phone number
  8. Push the dial to right so you can import the selected number into the car's phonebook
  9. Push the call button on the steering wheel and give the selected number a voice tag
  10. Push the call button and say "Yes" if the system accepts your voice tag
  11. Repeat #7 if needed
  12. Done
(07/22/2008 Update: Importing the contact list into the navigation system doesn't work anymore after I upgraded my iPhone to 2.0. I suspect it will be the same for the iPhone 3G as well.)

(07/25/2008 Update: I tried to use my Mac to send vcard via OBEX to the car. It seems not working at all. Acura is not implementing the correct OBEX for vcard transfer or the OBEX in Acura is old version. The make the problem even interesting, my car discovered my iPhone 2.0 after I played with it for 30 minutes and it downloaded the phonebook from my phone. OK, I am totally lost about how the whole thing connect together.)