Posts categorized "Gadgets"

Sweet! Apple iOS 5.0.1 Is Available Over-The-Air (OTA) - Faster and No iTunes Required!

For those of use with iOS devices, news of today's iOS 5.0.1 that fixes battery issues was welcome... and along with it the news that this update is available "over-the-air" (OTA). NO iTUNES SYNC REQUIRED!

Just go into Settings, then General, then Software Update. Per this article on Mashable, your device needs to either be plugged in or have over 50% battery.

Here's what it looked like on my iPad:

Ios501 ota

The Mashable piece said that the OTA update was faster and I can personally attest to that. I started the process to update my iPhone 4S via iTunes and the first step was to download the update from Apple. Several minutes later I decided to do the OTA process on my iPad2. The iPad2 finished the update process before iTunes had even finished downloading the update!

So yes, the OTA process is definitely faster!

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Ah, the Apple Fan Dilemma - iPad2 Day, And No Apple Stores Nearby...

UPDATE: I posted this as a tongue-in-cheek post before I had any idea about the massive earthquake that hit Japan in the last hours. Given that incredibly tragic event, things like getting the latest toytool pale tremendously in comparison. My thoughts are definitely with all of those affected in Japan... the footage coming out is incredibly surreal.

Ah, the dilemma of the Apple fan who does not live close to an Apple store. Unless you've been under a rock, you know that today is the day that the iPad 2 arrives... you know, it's the day that cancer will be cured, world hunger will be eliminated, all the wars will just stop, and....

... well, okay, it's really just a day when another expensive gadget comes out. Er, excuse me, a "magical and wonderful" gadget, that is. :-)

I am thinking seriously of buying one because the content creation capabilities seem vastly superior with the built-in camera... and since I won the current iPad I'm using at a conference, I'm okay buying one today.

Well, it most likely won't be today.

You see, Keene, NH, where I live, is a beautiful place to live. But it's about a 1.5 hour drive to the nearest Apple store...


The local Verizon stores have already said they won't have any iPad 2's today. We'll have to see if any other local stores do, but it's doubtful. And... when I looked online Apple is already saying that orders are 5-7 days out for shipping.

So I just may need to wait a bit... perhaps I'll hit the Apple store next week in Orlando... :-)

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Photo of Geeks: Watching the Apple iPad2 Launch - From EnterpriseConnect

As you would know from watching my Twitter stream or the #enterprisecon hashtag on Twitter, this past week I was in Orlando, FL, speaking at the Enterprise Connect conference and trade show. Of course, that wasn't the only event happening last week... there was this wee little gathering happening in San Francisco to talk about a new bright, shiny object... :-)

So on Wednesday at 1pm Eastern, the attention of many of us at Enterprise Connect was not entirely on the speakers or presentations, but rather also on watching sites like the Engadget Live Blog of the iPad2 event. Analyst/blogger Dave Michels happened upon three of us in the press room who were watching the news... and naturally he had to take a picture (and naturally we had to ham it up a little bit)...

In the picture is InsideCTI author Eugene Liu, myself (Dan York), and Ovum analyst Ian Jacobs:


Thanks, Dave, for taking the fun picture.

P.S. And yes, of course I have a Voxeo sticker on the back of my MacBook Pro... would you expect anything less from me?

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Will iOS 4.1 really fix the glacially slow iPhone 3G problem?

As readers know, upgrading my iPhone 3G to iOS 4.0 was one of the dumbest things I've ever done. The iPhone 3G continues to be virtually unusable... this video parody is unfortunately rather accurate.

So when Steve Jobs announced last week that iOS 4.1 would be out soon with a fix for the iPhone 3G, I was thrilled to hear that.  Now Mark Gurman over at 9To5Mac has come out with a "Complete iOS 4.1 Walkthrough" that lists off what is in the forthcoming iOS4.1:


All that other stuff in iOS 4.1 looks great, if you have an iPhone 4... but all I want is my phone to start functioning again and not be so insanely slow.

P.S. Yes, I do know, and have written about, that you can downgrade an iPhone 3G. I haven't done that yet... waiting, mostly for this bug fix from Apple. If it works, I'm all set... if not, then yes, I'll be downgrading this useless piece of ____ :-)

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LifeHacker: How to Downgrade Your iPhone 3G From iOS 4.0 to iOS 3.1.3

lIfehacker.jpgAs I wrote before, I made a serious mistake in upgrading my iPhone 3G to the new iOS 4.0. Now, courtesy of LifeHacker, we who made that mistake now have a path backwards:
How to Downgrade Your iPhone 3G[S] from iOS 4 to iOS 3.1.3

The process looks a little bit involved, but not terribly difficult.

I haven't decided whether I'll go through the process myself, but I think I'll at least download the relevant files so that I can go through the process if I want to.

Thanks, LifeHacker, for giving us a path back to a better performing iPhone!

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Tip: Do NOT upgrade your iPhone 3G to iOS 4.0! Here's why...

snail.jpgLast week I made one of the stupidest IT decisions I've made in recent years:
I upgraded my iPhone 3G to iOS 4.0!

Dumb, dumb, dumb...

You see, the "Update" button was just sitting there waiting to be pressed in iTunes... and caught up in all the hype around iOS 4.0 I forgot all about those articles I had read... and so I did a backup of my iPhone 3G, and hit the button...

I should have perhaps seen it as a sign when after the upgrade my old backup WOULD NOT RESTORE onto the phone! It was an ugly process... and a couple of hours and multiple restore attempts later my iPhone was in a weird state where it seemed to have data for some apps, but not all. I wound up syncing the apps via iTunes and got the iPhone 3G back into near normal operation - only minus data for some of the apps.

It was then I realized that the only real feature I wanted in iOS - multitasking - doesn't work on the iPhone 3G! It only works on the iPhone 3GS and of course the new iPhone 4.0. Yes, there is a way to hack it, but I don't want a jailbroken iPhone.

And what is worse is this...

M... Y...   i... P... h... o... n... e... 3... G...   i... s...   G... L... A...C... I... A... L... L... Y...   S... L... O... W... !

It's VERY clear that the processor on the 3G just can't handle the performance demands of iOS 4.0. Everything is slooooow. Opening apps. Composing messages. Accepting phone calls. Switching to the home screen. Bringing up the iPod player. Everything... is... slow.

Unfortunately, it appears that this was a one-way trip to iOS 4.0... looking online it appears the only way to get back to iOS 3.0 is to go to an Apple store (which there aren't any near me) and get a new iPhone 3G with the old OS. That's not happening any time soon. So it appears I'll probably just use the iPhone 3G less and look forward to the time when it is eventually upgraded to an iPhone 4. (It's a corporate phone, and they're being upgraded over time...)

My question for Apple, though, is this - if you knew this iOS 4.0 "upgrade" was going to make texting, for instance, so painful on a 3G, why did you allow it? Or why didn't you put prominent warnings in place? (Saying, perhaps: "Be advised that after this upgrade you will not have multitasking and your 3G will be slow as molasses.")

In the meantime, if you have a iPhone 3G and have been debating about "upgrading" to iOS 4.0, don't do it! Stick with what you have - you'll be much happier!

P.S. And yes, that snail image accompanying this article was drawn by yours truly on my iPad, demonstrating to you all why I need to leave the artwork to my wife and stick to writing! ;-)

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How to use a USB headset with the Apple iPad

As I note over on the Voxeo web site, I recently posted a video showing how you can use a USB headset with the Apple iPad. The video is available on YouTube and you can see it directly here:

WHY might you want to do this? Well, primarily if you want better audio quality when using VoIP on your iPad... and if you are like me and always find Bluetooth headsets sucking up too much battery power, it's nice to have a wired option.

Next up, figure out what else can be plugged into that USB connector... ;-)

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Is anyone really surprised the iPhone has a "kill switch"?

Are people really surprised that Apple has a the ability to remotely kill applications?

Based on news reports about Steve Jobs statement that Apple does have a way to remotely remove/disable software on users' iPhones, there were a good number of blog posts diving into the issue. Several posts seemed to view this as a way for Apple to remotely disable your entire phone... but let's look at what was actually said:

But the real controversy started when Jonathan Zdziarski, author of the books iPhone Open Application Development and iPhone Forensics Manual, discovered a URL buried in Apple's firmware. That URL links to a file dubbed "unauthorizedApps" where malicious or simply bad apps might go once they disappear from the App Store.
So essentially they are providing the application equivalent of a "Certificate Revocation List" (CRL) used in SSL (a point I was glad to see made by one commenter on a post). If somehow an application gets through Apple's vetting process and is found to do "bad actions", Apple has a way to tell iPhone's they should disable that application.

This very much makes sense to me... Apple needs to protect the trust users have in their AppStore. If something goes wrong, they do need a way to have rogue apps get shut down. A CRL-type of mechanism makes logical sense to me. I do agree with the article, though, that it would have been nice if Apple had disclosed this capability a bit more in advance.

I do understand the concerns various bloggers raised, though, about the centralization of control / power in Apple's hands. It is, however, their platform and so if you want to deploy your application on their platform you have to go along with whatever rules they may put in place. As a security guy, I have other questions, such as:

  • How is access to that list of unauthorized applications protected?
  • Who has the power to add applications to that list?
  • Could an attacker fake the site (via DNS poisoning or something) and shut down iPhone apps within an area?
  • How often does the iPhone "phone home" to check this list? On some regular interval like daily? Or only on power-ups?

The existence of a CRL-like mechanism is a double-edged sword. The company can use it to protect the network/platform... but attackers could also use it to shut down apps. The question to me is not whether or not such a list should exist... but how well is access to that list protected. Those would be some interesting questions to have answered....

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Apple's iPhone as a platform for Skype, Gizmo, Jajah and everyone else...

With the torrent of media hype about Apple's new iPhone, one of the things that has surprised me is the lack of discussion about one of the aspects of the device that I find truly disruptive... it will be running a full version of MacOS X.  Now, granted, with 15 million blogs and countless web sites commenting on the iPhone in the past few days, I'm sure I've missed some where people have discussed this aspect, but to me it's a key element.

Consider this... if you have the full capabilities of MacOS X (which we don't yet know for certain but all of the Apple info seems to indicate it will have full MacOS X) - and you also have WiFi support and/or Cingular EDGE support - why not simply run the Mac version of Skype or Gizmo?   Or Yahoo Messenger or AIM? Or anyone else's softphone that runs on MacOS X?

The phone then becomes an extension of your contact/buddy list and can provide that kind of connectivity wherever you can get a WiFi or EDGE connection.  That to me is one of the fascinating aspects of the whole play.  The phone as an application platform - with a "standard" commercial operating system.

I suppose I should note that first out "announcing their support" for the iPhone was the folks over at Jajah (from where I got the picture), but unless I'm missing something there's not a whole lot for them to do.   You go to a web page, enter in the number you want to call and Jajah calls you!  With that in mind, it could be said that any web-based "click-to-call" service will be "compatible with the iPhone".  I mean... you'll be able to start using Google's click-to-call right away as well.  Now, perhaps there is more to Jajah's "support" than just seizing the moment to ride the coattails of the iPhone announcement (they do, after all have a Jajah Mobile version of some type - I'd try it, but it won't work on my Blackberry from what I can see), but in any event it's a sign of the type of services that I can see being enabled as the iPhone rolls out.

Regardless, the iPhone will definitely be interesting as it allows Mac-based VoIP to be extended out to wherever the phone can have data coverage, be it WiFi or EDGE.

P.S. I'd definitely take one to try it out... oh, wait... that's right... Cingular doesn't offer service (or at least numbers) in Vermont!  I'll just have to live vicariously through others (or suck it up and get a number elsewhere and constantly be explaining to people in VT why I have a phone with a NY area code).

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Round phones and other glimpses of the ITU fair in Hong Kong from Jan in Malaysia...

If you don't follow Jan Geirnaert's weblog, which he is now branding as, it's worth checking out. He's a Belgian living in Malaysia and he mixes in commentary on Skype and VoIP hardware along with interesting notes about Malaysia, Hong Kong and that whole part of the world. Living on almost the other side of the globe from him, I find many of those posts quite interesting.

And he's often finding interesting news out about Skype... and pointing us to interesting gadgets. Take today's post on the "Cat-iq" phone from the ITU fair/trade show he's attending in Hong Kong. He has this picture and another, both of which you can click to see larger views. He doesn't yet provide more details or links... but it's interesting to see a glimpse into some of what people are coming up with over there. (And I'm guessing from the fact that it says "Wahlen" that this is perhaps from a German manufacturer.)

Anyway, do check out Jan's blog as he's often got interesting information.