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...