Sunday, November 23, 2008

Traffic Pilot for the iPhone is in the Works

Berkeley's confirmed that they are working on the iPhone version of the software, that uses the cellphones with the GPS to analyze traffic conditions. The users of this software recieve realtime traffic updates using their cellphone.
This surely will be one of the "killer" iPhone apps out there. There is a gotcha, however. The project is run with Nokia as one of the partners, so I am not sure that they would agree to release an application for a competing platform.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Fix for DIRECTV2PC "Internet Connection is Not Available" Trouble.

So you got yourself a DirecTv box that is capable of supporting DirecTv2PC. You have installed the soft, got your activation code, but unfortunately are not able to activate the DirecTv2PC on your computer due to inability of the program to connect to the web. You were careful enough to unlock the 443 port on you router and enable it in your firewall settings, but it still won't work.

Here what you do to resolve the issue:

Locate hosts file, usually in C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc.
Insert this text:
Save, without changing an extension of the file.

That's it. This works beautifully on WinXP SP3.

Edit Oct 23, 2008: For the info on how to change the content of the hosts file on Vista, please follow this link to the Tim Hibbard post.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

How to Stimulate the Economy.

Scratching the economy on the butt is way less expensive than the 700 billion bailout.

Directv HDDVR Software Upgrade.

There was a software upgrade distributed today to Directv HD DVR boxes. The upgrade took over an hour to complete and promises 1080P.
The more useful feature is alpha input using the number keys (a-la cell phone). It works as advertised.
Also, I can now see my Directv box as a media device on the PS3. PS3 won't play any of the recorded shows, as they are in the format (or format envelope) not supported by Sony PS3.
My attempts to download DIRECTV2PC were not successful: is down for the maintenance.

I haven't notice any improvement in the unit responsiveness, despite the anecdotal testimonies of some users that it is the case. Placebo effect, perhaps.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

AT&T Full of Shit.

I had a guy from At&T ring my door bell today. He was going door to door trying to sell AT&T fiber optics U-verse. He told me that in 2009 my TV, Internet and the phone service I have from AT&T will stop working, because government is forcing them to switch to digital fiber and stop servicing analog [!] copper wire connections I have.

I was not sure I was actually hearing what he was saying correctly. I asked him if he was sure that he is not talking about February analog TV broadcast cut-off. I told him I would not be influenced by it, because it has nothing to do with the phone service or the internet service I get from Astound. To which he replied that my phone and my internet will stop working because government of the United States of America switching everything to digital in the February and that my analog [!!!!!!!!] internet and my phone will stop working.

I told him that he was lying in order to make a sale, he said that he was not.
I could not believe my ears! OK, so I understand that he was full of it, but what about people who are less informed about the technology? I told the guy to get off my property or I will call cops.

I am rather curious if what he told me is what the AT&T teaching their sales people to say, or was he telling lies on hes own to boost his sales.
I just hope that this AT&T U-verse scam sales practice is an isolated occurrence (in Walnut Creek, Ca area) and not a company's official sales strategy.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

iTunes 5002 Error Message. How to Fix It.

In the iTunes click on the Applications in the side bar, without your iPhone/Ipod Touch connected.

 Double click on any of the apps that have a generic app icon instead of the proper icon. You will be presented with the option to locate a missing file.

 Navigate to your iTunes library folder into the Mobile Applications folder and choose an app. 
If the application is missing, then erase it from the iTunes and re-download it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

How to Avoid a Lengthy iPhone Back-up Procces Without Messing With Terminal? Easy!

Lately you could see a lot of posts on the Apple support forums and wonderful sites like Boing Boing and Mac Os Hints about what to enter into a terminal window to disable iPhone (and I assume iPod Touch) back-up process. The back-up might take up to an hour or longer in some severe cases.
There is an easier way that doesn't involve tinkering with the
Just click the "x" next to the progress bar.
The back-up will stop and the sync will continue.

Do let the iTunes to create a backup from time to time in order to have a copy from wich run a restore in case it might be needed! Also, never cancel a backup that is a part of software update process.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Follow Up: iPhone Syncing With iSync

Anna asked in the comments to my iPhone syncing with iSync post, how it actually works.
The software version of iSync on my PowerBook is 2.4 and I am running Mac OS X Tiger 10.4.11.
The procedure as follows:
  • Disable automatic iPhone Syncing in iTunes,
  • Start the iSync utility and go to the preferences.
  • Make sure that Enable syncing on this computer and Show status in menu bar boxes are checked.
  • Quit iSync utility.
  • In the menu bar click the iSync icon and chose Sync Now
  • Your connected iPhone will now sync, even though there will be no indication on the iPhone screen. The iSync icon in your menu bar will rotate. This will only synchronize non-iTunes items.
This will not work if you try to sync from the mane application window of the iSync utility.
Hope it helps.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

New Genius Feature is NOT Like Pandora!

I keep hearing that the new Genius feature in the new iTunes 8 works just like Pandora radio.
That is not true. From the user point of view: when use Pandora I do not need to pay for tracks Pandora suggests. With the iTunes, I do.
The principle of the way Genius runs is more reminiscent of Netflix, where the recommendations are based on what other users that rated the same movies you did the same way you did, say about those movies that you haven't rated yet. Pandora, on the other hand actually knows what the artists or songs specifics and unique features are.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

My App Updates Goes Crazy.

The saga of malfunctioning iTunes software/iPhone continues.
I plugged in the iPhone to download 2.0.1 , and was informed by iTunes that there is 1 (!) update available for my installed applications.
When I clicked the link to check what new joys the app developers have for me I have gotten a page with 41 updates available.
Unfortunately those 41 updates were for just 4 apps: 21 updates for AIM, 4 updates for Break Classic, 8 for Dial O, and 8 for Jirbo Jive.

Check out the screen captures.

After I clicked install all of the updates, iTunes has downloaded only 4 updates.
Upon syncing the iPhone iTunes has informed me of not being able to install the updates: error code 0xE800002E

Update: Tuesday Aug 5, 2008, 1pm. I have uninstalled the apps in question by disabling them from the Apps bar during the iPhone syncing, and then enabling them again. This have seemed to fix the 0xE800002E issue. The multiple apps updates still show up in the iTunes store though.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Has apple nuked the fridge with their app store in particular and with the launch of the iPhone 2.0 in general?

Don't get angry at me, Apple fun boys. I am one of you. I own several Apple Inc. products and I am happy with the most of them. But there is a troubling tendency in how Apple handles many things of the late.

When I bought my original iPhone on the June 29 of 2007 I did not buy it for the superior technological advantage it supposedly had over the competitors. In fact it did not have any technological advantages. There were faster phones, with higher speed networks available, phones with longer spec and features lists. But none of that mattered. What mattered the most was the consumer friendliness, the ease of use and user satisfaction. In other words it simply worked.

So, when the new iPhone was announced, I was happy to learn that all of that user friendliness will now come in a more robust package with the faster network speeds and the GPS. Or so I thought.
Apple began destroying the experience by requiring the in-store activation. My decision to own an iPhone in the first place was partially based on the fact that I would not need to deal with the mindless drones behind the desks of the regular phone company store. You will say that Apple Store employees are much better, and I will agree with that. But I must point out that, even with the friendliness of the Apple retail staff, the wait in line for a few hours was pretty much unbearable.

Then, of course, the app store on the iTunes.
The application updates process is still broken as of August 30th. Application versions are all mixed up. Wrong versions are being downloaded, and there is a difference between what the iPhone thinks has an upgrade available versus what the desktop version of the iTunes thinks. This is anything but "It Just Works" philosophy of the Apple we have grown to love.
Has apple nuked the fridge? Is it becoming a new Microsoft?

P.S. Don't even get me started on how long did it take me to configure a network with an Airport Extreme and an Airport Express on it, after the automatic configuration utility has failed.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A definite proof that is full of it.

People from claim that they have more pages indexed than Google. In order to compare the obvious supremacy of to the shameful inadequacy of Google I did a simple query to both.
I searched for the name Obama, you know, the guy who might be our next president. However, I did not search in English - I used Russian.

The result might surprise you. - 0 results. - 663.000 results.

How did they manage to index almost 3 times the size of the google's index and, yet, return 0 results is beyond me.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

If your iPhone doesn't sync with your PowerBook G4.

So, you plugged your iPhone (or an iPod, for that matter) into your Mac. Your Mac doesn't see it. What to do? It might sound stupid, but I found that simply changing an USB port you plug a cable into might alleviate the problem.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Apple's Remote App Doesn't Know It's an iPhone Application.

Apple has a truly great iPhone and iPod Touch application called Remote. This application is a definitive answer for my search of a good iTunes remote control.
Remote literally puts your entire iTunes library into the palm of your hand. You can browse your songs, shuffle, control the volume, see the artwork. Remote app works seemlesly.
It doesn't seem to be aware though of it being a primiraly an iPhone application.
Let me explain. You know how in the Apple iPhone TV commercials there is a hand that browses for the seafood restaraunt, or a hand that discovers that the new sales contact info was freshly pushed to the iPhones contact list, or the hand that is scrolling through the New York Times web page? Then a call comes through from the hand's only real friend - Johnny Appleseed. And the Pirates of the Carribian pauses, and the Fiest 1234 is on a pause as well. You remember those commercials.
Anyway, when you are using the Remote application on your iPhone and the phone rings the music plays on. It doesn't pause. It takes you a few seconds after you answer to slide to unlock, enter the passcode, relaunch the remote app and finally pause the playback so you are able to speak to and hear the other party. I see it as a minor usability issue, which, however, goes against the concept of the iPhone as an Apple device.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Your portable GPS can be used to create a historical traffic conditions database.

If you are not familiar with a Dash Express GPS, please read about it here. It is truly an innovative product. I am not going however to advertise this product, however awesome it might be, in my post but rather talk about something it made me think of.

Dash Express has an amazing capacity of using a real or near real time traffic data from each individual device which is being redistributed to all other dash devices using a wireless network. When there is no Wi-Fi or wireless network that the device can use it falls back to the preloaded historical traffic info (which, Dash Express People say, is in 15 minutes chunks). So, even the lack of the real time traffic data does not prevent this device from creating a somewhat useful route, better than your run of the mill GPS portable. In a sense, it is an indirect way of knowing "shortcuts", which streets and which roads are faster, which have fewer lights etc, etc.

As far as I know non of the big name players on the personal GPS market use the historical traffic info in their products. Yes, I am aware of the XM Nav Traffic on the Garmin and Pioneer units, as well as OTA traffic broadcast on Garmin, Sony, TomTom etc, etc. Which is nice, but it does not cover surface street, and only works in the major metro areas.
I am not sure that any of those companies use an extra info layer of the historical traffic data in their devices.

How would, let's say, a Garmin device acquire such a data? I guess they could license it from someone, but I am not aware of any companies that posses such a database. I am sure that the Dash Express people do, but I can bet that they are not interested in selling it any time soon.

It is simple, they should just use their own devices to collect such data. I know, I know, non of the Garmin units have a wireless modem built in yet. But, most of the GPS units log your track - a location you were in, the speed you were travelling with, the exact time and date and such. If this is not a historical data info, then I do not know what is. Furthermore, most of the portable GPS devices can be synced with a desktop or a laptop via USB. I connect my own GPS to my PC about once a week for a few different purposes. I will agree that a track log from any single device is worthless in this aspect to anyone than, maybe, your wife or yourself, but the data from many devices compiled over time will become statistically complete. It may be then used - it may be incorporated in the routing algorithms and become an extra data layer on the device maps.
I think it is a good concept. Guess I should patent it. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Colorimeter measurement supports a claim of the iPhone yellow screen fix with the 5A347 release.

There were reports regarding the iPhone 3G screen being too yellow.
It looked absolutely fine on the iPhone I got.

Later still many have claimed [AppleInsider] that the restore to the 5A347 release from 5A345 "fixes" the "problem".
So, I used my trusty Gretag Macbeth i1 spectrometer to see for myself.

First I would measure the white and gray fields on the iPhone with 5A345 set at the medium brightness with the auto brightness adjustment disabled, then I performed the restore to the 5A347, using the iTunes and repeated the measurements under the same conditions.

To begin with the original measurement showed the white point set to 5500K, which is awesome, and as many of you know is a standard for the many industries as far as the color management is concerned. CRI of 75 with white point brightness of 246 lux.

After the software restore the numbers were as such: 5755K, CRI = 74 and the brightness of the wight point at 241 lux.

For those of you unfamiliar with the color temperature concept, 5500K is yellower then 5755K.
The color curve showed no change in the blue part of the spectrum but some (very minimal) tweaking in the green and red, significantly more so in the green. This goes well with the whole change in the yellowishness theory.

So here you go, real, hardware measured data.

Subjectively though, I could not see any difference and I found the color rendition to be perfect on the original release anyway.

Measurement methodology was such: two measurements (averaged) for each brightness, 8 measurements total, with a calibration of the eye-one colorimeter after each sampling.

Questions? Comments?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A 45 minutes iPhone 3G activation wait three days after the launch

It has been three days since the launch of the iPhone 3G. 

As all of you know on Friday there were technical issues with the iTunes store which is used for the iPhone de-bricking and the activation.

Even though the issue with the iTunes seem to be resolves the activation still takes up to a 45 minutes per phone at the Walnut Creek, Ca Apple store. According to the store employees the issue is with the AT&T populating the activation info way too slowly. Interestingly enough, the number transfer procedure from a different carrier is faster then the upgrade for the existing AT&T customers.

From the words of the Apple store employees they are able to process 25-30 activations an hour in comparison with the up to 700 transactions last year, during the launch of the iPhone 2G.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Netflix! She is keeping it!

We spoke they listened!
Netflix is keeping the profile feature!

Hunter Fan Thermostat has a problem! It cannot operate fan properly.

So here is a letter I wrote to the good people at Hunter Fan

Hello. There is a software bug in the thermostat 44860.

According to the retail packaging and the owners manual it is possible to run the fan in the program mode - i.e. the fan will run according to the fan mode that has been selected during the Creation of the custom program (p.43, item 11 of 44002-01 r060607).

In reality, thermostat will not run the fan according to the program. The REFRESH mode, even when selected as the fan mode in the custom program will not ran.

As the ability to use custom fan modes in the thermostat program was purchasing decision factor for me, I was hoping to resolve this issue by calling the technical support. Not so, unfortunately. I was told that the technical writer made the mistake,and that mistake was carried over to the packaging design. I find it hard to believe. As I understand, technical writers use the specifications to create the manual, and so do the software engineers who design the software for the thermostat. It is not like the see it in the dream the night before.

If it was in fact a mistake on the side of the technical writer, why is it even possible {!} to choose REFRESH mode for the fan in the CUSTOM PROGRAM? Obviously it is a software/firmware mistake and from the looks of it, is fixable by literally one line of code.

Alright, let's assume for a moment that it was indeed a mistake on the side of the technical writer (which we already know is simply not true). Does it mean that you don't have quality control? Does it mean that no one is actually responsible for anything in your company? Does it give the right to the tech support to be passive-aggressive on the phone?

Now, I would believe that we are dealing with something unfix able from the software point of view if you were still using mechanical parts mechanically linking the bi-metal to the relay switch, but no - it is actually digital, there is a code involved. When the thermostat starts the fan, or the compressor, when it stops them I hear a click: a command has been send to a switch. Is it really that difficult to put in a line of a code, that would send such a command to a fan switch when the thermostat is in the program mode and the fan is programed to run in the refresh mode? Well, according to your lead designer it is absolutely impossible (from the words of the tech-support person, who supposedly talked to him and relayed all of my concerns to him in just 3 minutes while I was on the second hold). It seems to me it is time for you to either replace tech support personnel, or maybe even your leading designer for you thermostat division with someone a bit more competent. I heard China has plenty of talented engineers. After all, you already manufacture your products in China, shouldn't be much of an adjustment to outsource the Research and Design to the Peoples Republic as well.
I guess it is very naive of me to expect the product to perform the way it suppose to perform. I guess it is not an American way.
Apparently, two biggest fans right now are John and James Hunter. They must be going 1000 rpm in their graves from the shame of what a disgrace of a company their family business has become.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The perfect one

Those of you who know me well enough know that I am a perfectionist.

After long and arduous experimentation, trials and mistakes I believe I am ready to say that I have devised an almost perfect Sugared Candy Pear Martini.

You will need:

1 - 1,5 oz Absolute Pear

0.5 - 1 oz Limocello or other Lemon Liqueur

1.5 - 2 oz sweet and sour mix

1 - 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon or key lime juice.

Use more or less vodka, limoncello and sweet and sour to regulate candyness of the drink. Generally, more vodka/less limoncello - means less candy.
Put all the ingredients in the shaker with ice and shake vigorously at least 10 times. This will chill the drink through liquid - ice contact.
Serve with a slice of a pear or sugared lemon in a sugar rimmed glass.