Thursday, December 6, 2007

Finally Google and AIM (AOL)

It has been a long time since we were speculating the collaboration of Google Talk, Google's IM, and AIM, AOL's IM. And this is finally here.

Unfortunately for me, the only person that I know who is on AOL world is myself. When will Google Talk connect with Yahoo! Messenger?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Final Cut Express 4

Apple released Final Cut Express 4. According to Apple's press release, new features are:

  • low price of $199
  • support for the latest AVCHD cameras
  • allows mixing of standard and high definition content on a single timeline
  • includes the ability to import iMovie ‘08 projects
  • gives users access to hundreds of sophisticated FxPlug cinematic effects and filters

Sounds very nice. Because video cameras are being popular again, it's good to have a full line up; iMovie (part of iLife) for beginners, Final Cut Express for mid-level or pro-sumer and Final Cut for professionals.

Apple also announced a database called "Bento". Is Apple going to include this in iWorks? That would be great, but Apple owns FileMaker which is a database software company, so probably it will stay as their product. Bento actually reminds me of a file format Apple suggested long time ago; back in the System 7 days, I think. It was a concept of a multi-media file format in which a single file can contain various data like text, graphics, sounds, videos, etc. I am not sure where that went though. Anyways, the Bento database is to bring calendars, contacts, etc. on Mac OS X to one interface. You can download a pre-release trial.

Lastly, for all these stuff, I am planning to write reviews. Yes, I am soon going to get a Mac again! So stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Apple Updates (I ain't doing it yet...)

Apple has released a few software updates.

iTunes 7.5

QuickTime 7.3

iPhone/iPod Touch 1.1.2

According to some reports, the updates include a battery charging indicator on iTunes, internationalization and add calender event feature on iPhone and iPod Touch.

Did I do the update? No! Come on, the rule is to wait for a week before doing the update. Let the fearless geeks test out the new software and make sure it does not cause unnecessary issues.

BTW, my personal update. I'm planning to soon buy Macs. Yes, plural. I hope to post more with review and tip information.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Parallels Offering $20 Apple Gift Card with Purchase

Run Windows on Mac OS X with no reboot!
Parallels Desktop 3.0 for Mac

Parallels is a software that will let you run Windows on your Mac. Different from Apple's Boot Camp, it runs within Mac OS. I.e., Windows application will run side-by-side with your Mac application!

I was planning to test out Parallels as soon as I get a Mac. Unfortunate for me, but fortunate for you Mac owners. Parallels is offering a $20 Apple gift card with a purchase of Parallels Desktop 3.0 for Mac. Go and get it and make use of this limited time offer. And be sure to let me know how it goes. Hopefully I will join the crowd by the end of this year...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Google (Gmail) Now Supports IMAP

Actually, this does not seem to be the case for all users. I personally have verified this. One of my Gmail account still did not have the IMAP feature available. Nonetheless, this is something great to have and what many have been waiting for. Your Gmail will perfectly sync on your iPhone and any other computer/device you would access your email from.

On your iPhone, you will have to manually set it up by selecting "Other" instead of "Gmail" since the iPhone is still not aware of this change to Google. For detailed instructions, Google has a great help page with pictures.

I'm not sure what some accounts don't have IMAP available, but if this is the case, you will have to do with the old fashion POP3 style.

I noticed that the iPhone will by default put your sent emails to "Sent Messages". This ends up creating a label "Sent Messages" in Gmail and tags all your outgoing emails. To avoid this, go to your mail settings on your iPhone and you can change the "Sent Mailbox" to "Sent Mail" under "[Gmail]".

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Google Finally iPhone Compatible

Yes, the iPhone has a full browser and that is its strength, but who wants to browse every single web site in full size? Zooming in, zooming out, scrolling up and down, left and right... This is the last resort, not the main way of browsing. And finally Google is iPhone optimized. Well, more accurately, they recognize your iPhone. I'm happy, but I can't stop from thinking why it took so much time. Anyways, try these familiar links on your iPhone; pretty convenient.

URL for Google Services

URL for Googe Apps

Again, for Google Apps users, don't forget to replace "" with your hosted domain name.


Monday, October 22, 2007

How to Access Google Apps iPhone Edition

I'm not sure why Google doesn't make this easy or provide instructions on their web site.

Previously, I posted an article on how to setup Google Apps' email on the iPhone mail application. This article is about how to access the web mail interface that has an iPhone specific UI.

Well, it's easy; it's just an URL you need to access from your iPhone.

Make sure you change the "" to whatever domain name you are hosting on Google. This interface has already been available with Gmail. I just had hard time figuring out how I can easily get the same interface on Google Apps' email.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Telecommunication 2.0? (tips and tricks...)

Let me tell you what I am trying to do this past couple months...

Shall I say "telecommunication 2.0"? It's the technology or the service of combining existing voice communication systems and the Internet; such as web 2.0 applications.

If you say telephone 2.0, that may be VoIP, but VoIP itself doesn't really have much appeal. True, in many corporate infrastructures, IP phones are becoming standard. But for most consumers, this doesn't really matter; VoIP is just an infrastructure technology. For the tech savvy, Skype and the sort may be cool, but it's not convenient as existing phones. Carrier backbones may switch to VoIP, but that again really doesn't matter to the consumers. So then, what am I trying to do? Not saying that I like the term "telecommunication 2.0", let me explain what this is about.

Recently, it's very interesting to see a lot of Internet applications that work with the public telephone network. They work with your land line phone or mobile phone and adds convenient features. It's not a replacement, but a complement. And it seems to be more attractive and useful than closed VoIP services which probably comes with bells and whistles. Here are the things I am trying out right now.

  • GrandCentral - Lifetime permanent telephone number.
    Now owned by Google, this service provides you a free lifetime phone number. It comes with advanced voicemail and call forwarding feature manageable via a web 2.0 interface. Calls to a GrandCentral number can be received on any of your existing phones. (It can be, but doesn't have to be VoIP!)
  • Teleflip - Email over SMS. (Hey, I like this copy... This is mine!)
    They actually have two services.
    flipMail fetches your emails and then sends them to your mobile phone via SMS. As long as you have text messaging (SMS) capability, you don't need a fancy hi-tech mobile phone.
    flipOut is a simple email-to-SMS service. Just send an email to <phone_number> and it will be delivered via SMS. Plus, the recipient can reply back via SMS and return an email to the sender!
  • Pinger - Voice bulletin service.
    I really haven't tested out this service well yet. Basically what it does is that you record a voice message and then Pinger will send out a text message with a call back number. This text message can be sent to as many people as you want. The goal is, you just record once, and that voice message can be delivered to hundreds of people at the same time.

Probably there are more of these cool services. But I only brought up some that I thought were promising; plus, we don't want to over complicate here. Managing multiple services is not easy.

Just FYI, I don't have a land line and I'm using Gizmo and/or Skype for that purpose. This is another topic, but here, I consider them as land lines because all I need is a phone number. For mobile, I'm trying to make use of my iPhone but I'm not all happy with it yet. I've been contacting support of the service providers and sending them feedbacks and requests. We'll see how well they'll support the iPhone.

In the near future, I will post more details on each service and also discuss how it can well be used with an iPhone. And of course, your input is always welcome.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hot News From Apple - Leopard and more...

Some hot news from Apple. Things we've all been waiting for...

  1. Mac OS X Leopard gets a release date
    October 26, 6pm! Go and get it you Apple freaks! I'm going to try to wait until Apple releases a new MacBook. If I can wait...
  2. iTunes Plus is now 99 cents a track
    The DRM-free iTunes Plus track is now 99 cents from previous $1.29. Are people going to complain about this as well?
  3. Third party apps on the iPhone (includes iPod Touch)
    Finally Apple is going to release a SDK for third party application development on the iPhone. Steve says it will be available in February. Let's see what the hacking community does by then, and if that is going to impact Apple's release of the SDK. Also, wonder what the security strategy is and when Apple will give out more details...

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Get $100 Rebate + Free Phone for a New iPhone!

No, it's not about the $100 store credit from Apple. But honestly, you can get a $100 rebate and a free phone for your new iPhone. That is exactly what I got. Thanks to my wife for helping me out on this.

If you are new to AT&T Wireless, you can get a free phone and even a $100 rebate for it. I think you can go to, but in our case, my wife went to Buy a new phone and sign-up for a plan. I bought a Nokia 2610. Yeah, yeah... It sucks, you should get a better one. But I wanted this because it has not camera, small, light; just really simple. This is going to be my sub phone when my iPhone is activated. For a plan, actually, we got 2 phones so we signed up for a family plan.

Now you got a free phone and you'll get a $100 rebate after a few months. Next, buy an iPhone. If you got a store credit, good for you! Use that as well. Activate the iPhone with your new AT&T number.

Don't worry. There are no tricks or gotchas. It works perfectly fine. Although when you do have problems, AT&T customer support may drive you crazy.

Norton Joins the Super Heros (in Japan...)

Did you know that Norton Anti-virus joined the super hero force?

For more details, go to NORTON FIGHTER's official website. BTW, this is an official Symantec website.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

iPhone Experiment - SIM Card Swap

Just out of curiosity, I did some SIM card swapping experiments. Most of them are probably already reported by others. The test was conducted on the iPhone shipped on Sep. 28, 2007 and before any activation. I am uncertain of the firmware version at the moment.

  1. SIM card from unlocked iPhone
    I inserted a SIM card from another unlocked iPhone (activation without AT&T). Did not do anything.
  2. SIM card from another AT&T phone
    As reported by many, did not do anything.
  3. SIM card from another AT&T activated iPhone
    This also did not do anything...

So, I assume that the phone itself must be activated or unlocked to use it. SIM card has nothing to do with it. Especially #3 was surprising. So if you get a replacement iPhone, I guess it's not as easy as just swapping the SIM card...

Okay, experiments are enough. I'm going to activate the iPhone for real this time.

My First Apple Online Store Experience (second iPhone)

So, we finally purchased our second iPhone!

This was actually my first Apple Online Store experience. How was it? Not bad, but not too good either...

First, my wife got the $100 store credit for our first iPhone. That went smooth. Then, we went on to the Apple Online Store and purchased an iPhone along with some accessories; a total of approx. $480. We applied the $100 store credit and paid the rest via credit card. As soon as we finalized the order, the iPhone was on its way; from Shenzen, China via FedEx Air! My goodness, no wonder the iPhone is expensive... But it's amazing how fast things travel around the world nowadays.

While the iPhone was on its way, Apple notified me that the credit card did not approve the payment and that my order would be canceled. At the same time, my credit card company reported that they detected a fraud. Well, it turns out to be something frustrating. Apple wanted to charge things separately. Accessories and the iPhone w/ $100 credit. So it ended up my card being charged $333 for the discounted iPhone and 50 something dollars for the accessories; 2 separate lines. I'm not sure what caused it to detect as fraud, but just because of this, is was such a hassle calling Apple and the credit company and have each of them understand what was going on. I wonder if this had to do with how the $100 store credit was applied...

Anyways, I got my iPhone today, and my case should arrive tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Amazon Starts DRM-free MP3 Store just opened their DRM-free music download store "amazon mp3" to public. Actually, I was not aware that it opened today, 9/25. It just so happened that when I took a look, it was public beta.

Anyways, it's still beta and it's been only one day, so we'll have to see for a little more while how this turns out to be. I haven't tried it other then browsing around few pages on their website. The pricing is not as simple as iTunes. Although being cheaper is probably not a problem; many tracks are 89 cents.

Now, will I use this store? Probably. It's DRM-free MP3, works with iTunes and other Apple products, most likely to be cheaper than iTunes and just because I know how to add MP3 files to my iTunes library. Will this be my primary store? Probably not. iTunes is just so simple, easy and convenient and humans are so lazy; I think it's hard to beat iTunes by this means. And if you want ringtones for your iPhone, you will need to purchase those tracks on iTunes.

BTW, one thing I thought was funny. The most popular track on amazonmp3 as of now is "1234" by Feist. This music is actually used for the latest iPod nano ad. I don't think this is just a coincidence...

Go To Starbucks Oct. 2 and Get a Free iTunes Card

Now a happy announcement!

Starbucks will be launching a campaign for their tie-up with Apple's iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store. The press release mentions about a free music giveaway for the coffee lovers.

In celebration of this historic launch, Starbucks announced today that it will introduce the digital music experience across all of its U.S. company-operated and licensed stores by offering its customers the “Song of the Day,” an unprecedented free digital music promotion. From October 2 to November 7 at more than 10,000 Starbucks locations, customers may receive “Song of the Day” cards redeemable on the iTunes Store for Mac or PC ( for a complimentary song hand-selected by Starbucks Entertainment. Throughout the promotion, Starbucks will give away 1.5 million downloads on iTunes per day for a total of more than 50 million free songs.

So, everyone, go to Starbucks and get your free music! (Don't get disappointed by going before 10/2. Or after 11/7/2007...)

BTW, Starbucks in San Francisco Bay Area will NOT be providing the actual Wi-Fi Music Store service until early November. So you need to go get your free music before it rolls out in this area. A little weird, but free is free.

Hacked iPhone Will Be Permanently Inoperable (Apple statement)

It seems that Apple made an official statement to the hacking of iPhones.

Read the statement yourself and see how you would take this.

CUPERTINO, Calif., Sept. 24 -- Apple has discovered that many of the unauthorized iPhone unlocking programs available on the Internet cause irreparable damage to the iPhone's software, which will likely result in the modified iPhone becoming permanently inoperable when a future Apple-supplied iPhone software update is installed. Apple plans to release the next iPhone software update, containing many new features including the iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store (, later this week. Apple strongly discourages users from installing unauthorized unlocking programs on their iPhones. Users who make unauthorized modifications to the software on their iPhone violate their iPhone software license agreement and void their warranty. The permanent inability to use an iPhone due to installing unlocking software is not covered under the iPhone's warranty.

First of all, I assume "iPhone unlocking" is the SIM/carrier unlocking which is an attempt to use iPhone on networks other than AT&T. Also, it may include "jail breaking" which is an attempt to install or modify iPhone software; although this, I think in most cases will not make the iPhone "permanently" inoperable.

So, what do I think of this statement? I think this is fair due to the exclusive relationship Apple has with AT&T. And of course a manufacturer would not support their product if it was hacked! But I do support the hacking community. What they do is what the people are asking for. And their effort will be noticed and may change things. Even this statement, I would say, is one success of the hacking community being recognized by Apple. For Apple, good or bad, they get the hype; no negative impact.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Update Curse with Mozilla Firefox

As a network engineer, I pretty much try to stick with good practices especially with things related to computer security; even at home. One important thing is run applications under limited user rights. Very common practice in the UNIX world; in the Windows world, maybe not. Probably that is why Windows has a lot of virus. Anyways, I use my Windows XP under a limited user for safety sake. Yes, I do encounter inconveniences and problems.

One really annoying issue is:

"One or more files could not be updated. Please make sure all other applications are closed and that you have permission to modify files, and then restart Firefox to try again."

This is produced by Mozilla Firefox related to it's automatic update. In this case, I think it's Firefox to blame rather than Microsoft. But it does show that in the Windows environment, it's still not common to run applications under limited rights. Firefox can't really say much about security, can it?

Whatever, but we still have to fix this problem ourselves. It's stupid, but if it's going to save some time and decrease my frustration, let's do it. Here are links to some information I found.

What I did was just deleted the update folder in my limited user account. Worked fine and I am happy now. But I still have to see if this is a permanent fix or if I have to do it for every coming update.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Google Adds Presentation to Docs (and IBM wants the buzz too...)

Google finally added a presentation tool for their Google Docs application.

I tried it out slightly. It's like a simple GUI type HTML editor; like what they have with Google Pages. As of now, I did not see any slide transitioning effects, but it will allow you to save it as a HTML/image file collection to play it on your browser offline. (Worked with IE and Firefox.)

For a basic presentation, I think it would work fine. Plus with the online collaboration tools Goolge Docs has, it may be good for people who work remotely with others.

Also, IBM released Lotus Symphony, another free office suite. This is an installed based application same to and actually supports their primary and open "Open Document Format (ODF)". Let's see how much buzz they get.

Now we have big organizations with their free office suite applications trying to go against Microsoft's expensive Office software. This situation is becoming a very interesting show...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

iPhone Owners: $100 Cash Back is Now Ready

Now, go get your $100 cash back from Apple. Just click on the title above.

Of course, your iPhone needs to be activated with AT&T... What?

Well, I expected this being a requirement. Apple is smart. They are definitely going to take any opportunity to benefit themselves. No, I'm not criticizing Apple. I really think they're smart.

Anyways, as soon as the $100 cash back was announced, I started working with my wife to get our iPhone activated, at least the smartest way we can... We're not done yet, but our plan is to get a couple of free AT&T phones, then activate our iPhone with one of the lines. After we get the $100 store credit from Apple, buy another iPhone for myself and swap it with the second line.

I'm actually going to get a low end no-camera free phone from AT&T. That way, if I need to go to a place where cameras are not allowed or the iPhone might be in danger, I can just swap the SIM card and take my cheap phone.

Now, let's see how this turns out. It's going to happen before November 30. Or else Apple is not going to give us the $100; just FYI...

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Using Gizmo on Other SIP Clients

This is a memo on the basic information you'll need to use a Gizmo account on other SIP clients.

Type: Use proxy
Username: <sip_number>
Password: <password>
Address: sip:<sip_number>

And here are some free or open source SIP clients that works with Gizmo.

  • SJphone: Runs on Windows, Linux, Mac OS and Windows CE. Seems like a great alternative to Gizmo's app. It ran on my Windows Mobile 2003 SE Wi-Fi enabled PDA. I think I can use my PDA as a cordless phone. Really!
  • X-Lite: Runs on Windows, Mac OS and Linux. Tested on Windows and ran fine.
  • Ekiga: For Linux and Windows. Haven't tested this one, but reportedly works with Gizmo accounts.
  • And probably more...
So, I've been preaching that Gizmo is good with GrandCentral, but if you don't like the Gizmo client, just use one of the above SIP clients. Should work fine. FYI, this is not a hack or that sort of thing. SIP is just a common protocol unlike Skype.

Friday, September 7, 2007

iPhone Owners: $100 Cash Back from Apple

Apple dropped the 8GB iPhone price from $599 to $399; a $200 drop in just 2 month. I thought this was coming and there wouldn't be much to do about it. But it is true that this is not nice and rather mean and many people would be very upset about. And I guess Steve Jobs got the message after the September 5th special event.

Steve posted an open letter and I cited the part where I thought people would most be interested in.

Therefore, we have decided to offer every iPhone customer who purchased an iPhone from either Apple or AT&T, and who is not receiving a rebate or any other consideration, a $100 store credit towards the purchase of any product at an Apple Retail Store or the Apple Online Store. Details are still being worked out and will be posted on Apple's website next week. Stay tuned.

So, probably most iPhone owners would be happy with this. As for me, I guess I will use this opportunity to buy our second iPhone; now I won't have to borrow my wife's iPhone. Yay!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

My Wishlist - Apple Special Event

Apple will be holding a special event tomorrow, September 5, 2007 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Their website says that the event is a "private corporate event". Whatever...

Anyways, there isn't much I personally want right now. But maybe what would be nice to see:

  • complete new line of iPods, all flash memory of course
  • major iPhone firmware update
  • release date for Mac OS X Leopard
  • new Mac Book, switch to the aluminum design (I don't think it will happen, but...)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Get an iPhone $100 Cheaper at Apple Online Store

You can now get an iPhone $100 off the retail price. This offer is from Apple at their online store.

Is there a catch? Not really, but it's refurbished. If you understand Apple refurbished products, I guess this is a great deal.

Now, why didn't I think this was coming? And why didn't anyone out there foresee this was coming! I could have waited for this... But this probably is going to make some people consider a second iPhone, huh? Maybe me too?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

iPhone Tips - Index

Activation (Hacks)




Follow-up: Update 1.0.2 Works on Hacked iPhone

Justed wanted to inform that the latest iPhone software (firmware) 1.0.2 worked fine with our hacked iPhone activated without AT&T.

The funny story is that I was actually thinking if I should take the risk and try the 1.0.2 update to see if it would work with our hacked iPhone or just keep it at 1.0.1. But since my wife has be docking to her computer daily, at some point, it had already updated to the latest software. When I checked, it was already at 1.0.2! Great!

So my conclusion is that the activation hack without AT&T doesn't really impact the iPhone software. Hope this is right...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Mail Setting on iPhone (Google Apps)

Of course most people are going to want to use Gmail on their iPhone. There must be lots of information out there on this topic. Plus, this feature is actually built-in to the iPhone.

But honestly, I personally do not like the experience. Gmail seems to be very slow on the iPhone and especially due to the fact that the iPhone communicates with Gmail in an unintelligent manner (Gmail is limited to POP3 access), its very unattractive. I recommend using with AOL Mail.

But on the other hand, I use Google Apps and this I do want it on the iPhone. How do we set this up? Click on the title above to go see Google's article on how to do this, but there is a gotcha. To avoid this, follow the directions below.

  1. Login to your Google Apps email
  2. Go to Settings - Forwarding and POP
  3. Select "Enable POP only for mail that arrives from now on" and click Save Changes
  4. Now, on your iPhone, go to Settings - Mail - Add Account... and select Other
  5. Select POP
  6. Enter your Name and Address (your full email address)
  7. Setup Incoming Mail Server information
    Host Name: ""
    User Name: recent:<email> (e.g., "")
    Password: <password>
  8. Setup Outgoing Mail Server (SMTP) information
    Host Name: ""
    User Name: <email> (e.g., "")
    Password: <password>
  9. Hit Save

And you should be good to go. One other setting you also might want to apply if you are mainly using Gmail or Google Apps is "Always Bcc Myself". If you turn this on, when you send a mail from the iPhone, it will automatically Bcc you and you will always get a copy of the message in your inbox. Why need this? Different from AOL Mail's setup, Gmail uses POP3 and will not sync the sent items on the iPhone to your Gmail account. So if you want to keep a copy of what you send from your iPhone, you will need to enable the Bcc feature.


Free SkypeIn + SkypeOut Equivalent

Skype has changed the life of many with their SkypeIn and SkypeOut service. At least for me, this is very true as I had depended on this service for an international relationship.

But now that I live in the U.S. and time has brought new things on the table, we can get SkypeIn and SkypeOut equivalent service for free. Maybe I should add "for now", since this is taking advantage of Google's beta program: GrandCentral. Users who sign-up (currently in private beta and requires an invite if you want to avoid long wait) will be provided a U.S. phone number, voicemail, call forwarding and "click-to-call" service. All of this is free during the beta period. There is no information on when or how they might charge this service in the future. Anyways, lets get started.

First, you need to sign up for a GrandCentral account. I recommend you get an invite to get started right away.

Next, download the Gizmo Project VoIP software and sign up for an account if you don't have one already. It's similar to Skype but uses a common SIP protocol instead of a proprietary one. Don't worry, we won't be using any of their fee based service. "Can I use Skype instead? It's already setup on my computer." I completely understand how you feel; I wished the same too. But unfortunately, Skype will do you no good here...

Now you are ready to setup the trick for the free SkypeIn + SkypeOut equivalent. Go to your profile in Gizmo. Take note of your SIP number which starts from "1747". Then, login to your GrandCentral account on the web. In the Settings page, click on "Add/Edit Number" and add the Gizmo SIP number. You are now all set!!

So, what does this do? The phone number you got with GrandCentral will serve as the SkypeIn number + voicemail. When a call is received at the GrandCentral number, it will forward the call to your Gizmo via SIP which will be free. If you are not available, GrandCentral can take voicemails. Then, you can retrieve your message via any phone or preferably the web.

What's equivalent to SkypeOut? The click-to-call feature that is. In the address book, a call button will appear next to the phone numbers. Click on it and make GrandCentral call your Gizmo. Again, this is done via SIP and is free. After you pick up the call on your Gizmo, GrandCentral will make a call to the number on your address book on the same line and you will immediately start to hear the ring tone.

This only works in the U.S. where GrandCentral is providing service but so far so good for me. I have been using this method for work and personal use and has been working great!!

So what is the future of GrandCentral and other Google services? What about Skype and Gizmo? Any good ideas using with iPhone or other mobile devices? Let me bring up this topic on another post.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

GrandCentral reports they had problems too... What's up?!

GrandCentral reports that been working over the last several days to take care of a problem affecting about 400 of their users. What's going on with the Internet communication world?!

At least, I am not an affected GrandCentral user. As I stated earlier, I have been using their service with Gizmo smooth and sound.

FYI, the GrandCentral fix is: use a large and reliable carrier. Yeah, go mainstream. How about GrandCentral? Is this large and reliable?

Update: Skype is back. And Microsoft is bad...

As mentioned in my earlier post, Skype network was down.

According to Skype, Microsoft's Windows update made the Windows computer reboot all over the world, and this interrupted the Skype P2P network. Of course! But what about the Mac OS and Linux nodes? Are the Skype supernodes only on Windows computer?

Anyways, Skype said they are not blaming Microsoft. They better not; although that doesn't mean I like Microsoft... Skype said that it was the "perfect storm" that caused this tragedy. Umm, what does that really mean? They also mentioned that they tuned the Skype P2P core to resolve the problem. How did they do that without pushing updates? Or is the Skype P2P core not the Skype clients or the supernodes? Then why were there a problem when the supernodes rebooted? Mystery...

Anyways, the good news. Skype is giving away a week worth of free service. Here is part of the email I received from Skype:

Skype - a little extra for you


As a goodwill gesture to all you faithful Skype Pro, Skype Unlimited,
SkypeIn or Skype Voicemail customers, we're adding an additional seven
days to your current subscription, free of charge. And even if you
didn't miss out on using Skype last week - you can still have a week
free on Skype, on the house!



UNIQLO Co., Ltd. is a Japanese casual wear designer, manufacturer and retailer. (Wikipedia) They have stores all over Japan and quite a few of them around the globe. In the US, they have few stores around New York.

The UNIQLO brand is similar to OLD NAVY and GAP. They recently failed to buy out Barneys in which they were aiming to have a high-end brand as well as spread their main brand in the US.

UNIQLO has various apparel designing projects and I recently found this intresting project that was extended to cyber space. You might even get a specially designed G-SHOCK watch. UNIQLOCK

Friday, August 17, 2007

Skype Network is Down

Skype network has been unstable for the past day or two.

It does seem to be getting better. I was not able to sign-in few hours ago, but when I tried now, I was able to. Skype said they disabled Skype downloads, but that seems to be back and available as well.

Not really sure what they mean by "it's a software issue". Obviously, they did not push updates to fix the problem. Since Skype is a P2P network, maybe this incident indicates that the P2P structure has its limits.

I am a Skype user using SkypeOut and SkypeIn along with it. Although, I just recently started using Gizmo project and GrandCentral as well. No product is perfect, and I thought it would be wiser to not limit myself to one particular solution. Maybe I was right, for this Skype outage really did not impact me since I was able to use Gizmo and GrandCentral to make calls. (I do not have a land line.)

Skype has its strength, and so does others. This incident may drive some population of the Skype users to switch to other networks or encourage them to have an alternate solution. Maybe even back to a land line. I won't though...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Seagate Acquired Maxtor (I didn't know...)

Of course! I should have known better!

The press release is dated December 21, 2005; long long time ago. I feel like I was in hibernation by "carbon-freezing".

Anyways, I used to buy parts and build my own PC. Which means I used to buy bare bone hard disk drives (HDD) as well. But for almost 2 years, I have been away from DIY PC or any purchase of PC parts. Then recently, I started thinking of buying an external HDD so I was looking around and realized; Maxtor is gone...

I just haven't been aware of many things going on in the computer hardware industry. No wonder I haven't heard people say anything about Maxtor drives!

FYI, like many say, I too from my experience recommend Seagate if by any chance you will be buying a bare bone drive. Maxtor was good too, but now they are the same company, so that's great!

Friday, August 10, 2007

New iMac receives CNET Editors’ Choice award

Only a day or so? And the new iMac already receives an award from CNET. Wow... I'm not saying "wow" to iMac, I'm talking about CNET's process in giving awards. What if they start to see some issues after a while?

Anyways, CNET has reviewed the product and you can see the details on their website by clicking on the title above. At least it will give you a 3rd party's point of view on the product if you don't have time to go to an Apple store to see it for yourself like me.

That being said, my impression of the new iMac, without seeing the special event video nor seeing the actual product, I'm not sure if I like the design; at least for now. Maybe I need a little more time to get used to it. It really looks like an iPhone and probably Apple is going to go with this design for all the new products. True, the iPods already have been switching to the new metal look so it would look more consistent. But, previous generation's shinny white design just looked more friendly and warmer. It looked like it would fit more nicely to your home interior instead of looking like "this is a computer and nothing else but a computer!" Of course, people who have the more modern metal look kitchen or wants to put it aside with Mac Pro might like the new iMac better.

Anyways, I'm still a PC user although I don't like it so it really doesn't matter. I'll think about getting a Mac after Mac OS X Leopard comes out.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Apple Chooses Design Over Ergonomics (new keyboard)

Along with the new iMac, Apple released keyboards that match the aluminum design. Wired full keyboard at $49 and a wireless keyboard without the 10-key at $79. Click on the title for more details.

Yes, it looks cool. No, it does not look comfortable. Where did that nice curve go? Well, I guess it's not a big deal anymore. People probably got used to the flat keyboard on laptops and cheap keyboards that come along with many desktop computers. Keyboards used to be better in the older days. At least that's what I think...

For comparison, this is what the previous Apple Keyboard looked like.Oh BTW, Apple did NOT release a new mouse that matches the new aluminum keyboard. Maybe the hardware testers were getting cuts from the sharp metal edges and Apple had to postpone the release.

Sorry, I don't mean to be mean. I know Apple is going to do a Steve job. I mean a good job...

"One more thing..."

Yes, I am fake Steve Jobs. Forget about Forbes whoever...

So, one more thing.
Apple has started a program called "iLife '08 Hardware Up-To-Date". You get to "update your hardware" to iLife '08. In other words, if you buy a Mac and it doesn't come with iLife '08, they let you buy it for $9.95.

Don't be confused. There are no upgrade path for people who have purchased the iLife software package. You just have to by the new iLife. Also, this "hardware update" program only applies to people purchasing Macs after August 7th, when iLife '08 was released. So if you happen to by an older model still sold at the stores that doesn't come with iLife '08, you are entitled for this update program.

Got it? Just click on the title and go see it yourself...

"Apple silently updates Mac mini with Core 2 Duo"

I almost missed it. For whatever reason, Apple was quiet about the Mac mini upgrade. Click on the title to view Macworld's article. Or just check out the Mac mini web page.

The price stays put, CPU starts from 1.83GHz Intel Core 2 Duo (upgraded from 1.66GHz Core Duo), 1GB memory, 80GB HDD and of course the Mac mini gets to start a new life as well.

I Start New Life (at Apple...)

Goodness. Suddenly Apple breaks silence. Because of the iPhone and Apple's strategy on how they have been releasing their products, people were not sure what and when to expect certain things to come out. (Well, most people guessed that a new iMac was coming...) Just click on the title above and you'll see the new life. I mean the new iLife...

Not only iLife, there is a whole lot Apple announced. Just go to their website and see. I have to take a look myself too before I can say more.

BTW, I totally misunderstood the date for this announcement event. I was listening to a podcast that was dated last week and when it mentioned about the special Apple event, I thought it was next Tuesday. Whatever. No big deal. At least I noticed it before Wednesday dawn. And I'm not trying to report this before anyone else in the world...

Monday, August 6, 2007

Mail Setting on iPhone (AOL, very nice.)

The AOL Mail experience on the iPhone was very nice. It was really easy and worked as expected. Wonder why Apple didn't collaborate with AOL?

Anyways, for AOL Mail, I just went to the mail settings and selected AOL account, entered my username and password and that's it. The IMAP protocol nicely synced with all my folders on AOL Mail. When I sent an email from the iPhone, I was able to see that email in the Sent folder when I access with my PC. BTW, I am a AOL Web Mail user.

For the recent AIM Mail users, you will need to set it up a little differently. Select Other in the Add Account... list and then use the following information:

Incoming Mail Server
Host Name:
User Name: (Your AIM screen name)
Password: (Your password)
Outgoing Mail Server
Host Name:

After you set it up, the AIM Mail would work like AOL Mail. Although, I did have the impression AIM being a little slower then AOL. But this maybe due to various factors unrelated to the account setup.

Very simple, but at least AOL did have a document regarding to mail setup on the iPhone. AOL Mail was so easy that you probably wouldn't need any instructions, but to setup AIM Mail, this document is vital.

AOL Mail being an IMAP service, also providing FREE UNLIMITED online storage, there are no reasons not to use it. I think this is going to be my primary email service on my iPhone.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Mail Setting on iPhone (Yahoo! Mail sucks...)

What's up with Yahoo! Mail? Apple said that they partnered with Yahoo! and developed push mail for the iPhone but I can't even set it up...

I had an existing account on Yahoo! so I tried to use that. In the mail account settings, I select Y! MAIL and entered my email address and password. But all I get is:
Cannot Get Mail - The user name or password for "" is incorrect.

So I thought, maybe my bad, I jumped on it without reading instructions, let me go to Yahoo!'s website... And what do you notice? Yahoo! has no information regarding to the iPhone. What! I don't understand. Yahoo! and Apple worked together on this piece which is supposed to be one of the main feature and no documentation?

Well, I was already very disappointed, but I didn't want to give up that easily. I did more research and found this article on Apple's website:
iPhone can't access Yahoo! Mail when non-alphanumeric characters are used in the account password
It mentioned about the same error message that I was getting, but unfortunately it was no help. I changed the password. I even created a new Yahoo! account, but nothing lead me to success.

So again, is this issue related to not having an account setup with AT&T? Whatever the reason is, lack of documentation is an issue with the iPhone. I would like to rename the iPhone to "mPhone, the mystery phone."

But the good news is, I had no problem accessing Yahoo! Mail on Safari, the last resort for all applications on the iPhone. And even better, I don't use Yahoo! Mail.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Voyage of the Acorn (in New York)

There is a classic Japanese children's song about an adventure of an acorn that plunges into a pond.

Well, in this modern day, there is a real adventure of a manned submerging "acorn" spotted in New York.

(New York Times: An Artist and His Sub Surrender in Brooklyn)

At first, I thought this was kind of sad in that being adventurous nowadays is not easy. But after I read the article, I changed my mind. Actually, it's sad that these people don't know other better things to do... (Click on the title of this post to see a slide show on New York Times.)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

So, is it a Defect? (YouTube error)

So, is this a defect or what? Was the activation thingy a problem? So far searching on the Internet provides no solid information.

We've actually never got the YouTube application on our iPhone to work. Right after launching the YouTube application, it will say "Cannot connect to YouTube". It seems like quite a few people are having the same problem, regardless of the way they activated. But I can't find any helpful information on what is causing this problem or how to workaround this. Well, at least this is not a big deal for us...

One more thing I can't figure out is the email setup. It seems so easy, but it just won't work. Yahoo! and Gmail, tried both but having problems. Let me dig into this a little bit more later on.

Many mysteries with iPhone...
Still, it is a cool gadget. iPod feature and the photo album feature is enough to show off and impress our friends.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Defect Again?

It scared me. Well, just a little...

Not sure why, but after I brought the replaced iPhone to life, it just stopped working.

We were playing around with the iPhone a bit and then we put it to sleep. After about 30 minutes, we tried to turn it back on but no response at all. Yes, we tried different button combinations and that sort of things. Finally, we just left it for about an hour, came back, turned it back on and it worked as if nothing ever happened.

Actually, I had experienced the same thing with my iPod nano couple times. So I was pretty sure just leaving the iPhone for a while would fix the problem, but I'm not sure why or how this happens. At some point, my iPod would just simply die. After half an hour or so, it would start working again.

Although this doesn't happen often on my iPod, it's pretty annoying when it does. I wonder if this is a known bug or has been seen among some users. And I really hope this is not the case with for the iPhone and what has happened was just once and for all...

iPhone Defect! (back to Apple store)

We had a defect iPhone. Did I break it? Was the trick to extreme?

Not to worry. It's totally unrelated. It was the casing of the iPhone.

It had a tiny sharp bump in the back of the metal casing of the phone. Probably during the manufacturing process, someone must have dropped something sharp on the inside of the case. It's something that we could have never created unless we ripped the phone apart.

So, the iPhone went back to the Apple store to be returned and exchanged. Uuh, but isn't the iPhone in trouble, the way it was activated?

Fortunately, the iPhone was taken to the Apple store by my wife who doesn't know technically what I had done to it. All she knows is it was NOT activated. Yes, the Apple store did ask a whole bunch of questions, according to my wife. (Sorry...)

Result? We got a new iPhone! The Apple store told my wife NOT to fuss with the SIM card. For some reason, they pulled out the SIM card from the phone we've returned and gave it to us. Whatever that means, thanks for everything, Apple store!

Now, I have brand new iPhone and one extra (probably special) iPhone SIM card. Can I do something with this?

Applying the First iPhone Update

Here is how I updated our iPhone. BTW, it didn't have any problems with the "activation" I did without AT&T.

  1. iPhone connected, iTunes up. Of course.
  2. In the Version section, click Update.
  3. iPhone will show:
    Software Update
    [Apple logo]
    [progress bar]
  4. On iTunes:
    "Verifiying existing iPhone software..."
    (after 1 minute or so)
    "Updating iPhone firmware..."
  5. Gets a little scary but paitience... Progress bar froze for like 5 minutes.
  6. iPhone will show:
    "Incorrect SIM - Please connect to iTunes to reactivate iPhone."
    Click the Dismiss button.

Activating the iPhone (without AT&T. Too easy...)

As a lazy person, I had to do more research for a simple way of activating the iPhone without AT&T. No, I didn’t want to fuss with any codes. This is what I found: Unlock iPhone by PQ DVD
They even got the old version of iTunes that you’ll need for this trick.

But even more lazy! I found out that one of my PCs had exactly of iTunes. Yay!


  1. Launch the iPhone Unlock Toolkit. You'll see this if successful:
  2. Launch iTunes.
  3. Connect iPhone.


The iPhone will display: "Incorrect SIM - Please connect to iTunes to reactivate iPhone." Just ignore it... You will continue on iTunes: Set Up Your iPhone. Do whatever you like and click Done.

Of course, the iPhone we purchased did not have the just relesed firmware update. Let's do an update next.

Breaking News! Apple Releases First iPhone Update

So... (This story happened yesterday, 7/31.)

We, my wife and I, went to the Apple store to get the iPhone. It was my first time to walk in to a store that had a lecture room. They had just started a presentation on iPhone basics so I decided to listen for a while. The guy lecturing said that Apple had just released a firmware update for the iPhone.

Wow! Good for Apple. Yeah, I knew about that news on iPhone's security hole. Apple made it on time to patch it before Black Hat would revel to the public.

Hmm, Apple store workshops are nice...

But wait a minute; is this going to make my activation difficult?

I Love Hot Springs (in Japan)

I love onsen, the Japanese hot springs.

Oh, is this a hot tub? Whatever...

Off topic? Who cares...

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Activating the iPhone (without AT&T. Not so easy...)

Unfortunately, things changes as time goes by. I did some research and knew I could activate the iPhone without AT&T. It seems like the credit goes to a guy know as DVD Jon.

But hey, Apple just released the first iPhone update; like today. Is that going to affect anything? Oh, and I just found out, the activation method required iTunes I thought Apple just updated my iTunes, like just now. Am I doomed?

Come on, I'm a lazy guy. I don't want to go through something messy!

The result is, I got to active the iPhone; without AT&T. So what did I do? Let me prepare that in the next post. It's almost August. I gotta go to sleep...

Buying an iPhone (for my wife)

When iPhone came out, husbands were talking about how they could justify their iPhone purchase and have the wives accept it. I thought, "why don't you just buy it for your wife instead?" Well, I guess most people were too childish to be that generous.

Anyways, long time after the iPhone release, I decided to buy an iPhone for my wife. No, wasn't motivated to by when it first came out. Because our cell phones are still under the term. But since my wife wanted an iPod and we know that the iPhone can be activated without AT&T 2 year contract, why not buy an iPhone?

So I did. Today, 7/31. Well, I fell asleep, so it's yesterday now.

My First Apple (Computer, that is.)

My first Apple experience was the Apple IIe computer. I remember I used to use a word processor, Print Shop (software to create cards, posters, banners, etc.) and some programing with LOGO language; all of this at my school. I must have been around 4th or 5th grade. And yeah, the teacher used to let me play Ghost Busters when I finished my assignment. Although I totally forgot what that game looked like.

Long after that, after I started working, I had chances to use variety of Macintosh that ran System 6, 7 and MacOS 8.

But ever since, I have been away from Mac again using Windows. Not that I liked Windows, but MacOS just didn't work out well in a typical working environment. And honestly, Macs weren't as interesting as Linux got the hype at the time.

As time went by, things changed. Apple releases MacOS X which was UNIX (BSD) based. iPod the music player, iTunes and the online store becomes popular. At first I didn't care much, but when I though it was my time to get a MP3 player, I decided to get an iPod nano. My first Apple product in a long time. Yes, Apple became very interesting again; at least for me, that is how it was.

There are few companies that have a lot of attraction in IT nowadays. Not just that everyone is talking about it, but it really has something it could provide and satisfy the us. It's different from the dot-com bubble days, I think. I hope...

Anyways, in this blog, I'm just going to be blabbing about whatever is worth mentioning to me; or it may not really be worthy. Who cares...