Lack of Progress Bars

So, despite thinking it would be a good idea to hold off on the iPhone OS 4 upgrade, or iOS4 as it has now been rechristened, a few minor oddities in the current install coupled with the prompt release of the iPhoneDevTeam‘s Pwnage 4.01 tool had me thinking I might as well give it a bash and fire the new hotness onto my 3GS.

In retrospect, this was a silly idea.

Anyway, this particular tale of woe is chronicled below to help any fellow lost souls who tread this path in future.

Backing up your iPhone is always a good idea. Unless of course you have installed AppSniper, a useful price monitoring tool for the iPhone that just plain refuses to play nice with iTunes. For the longest time, it caused all syncs to take an inordinate amount of time, but this was eventually fixed. Seemingly the same does not hold true for the backup procedure, which with AppSniper installed was taking hours. With it removed, minutes. While still a useful app to have, I think it has now proven itself too awkward to fit in with any sensible workflow. Props to RevStu‘s WoSblog for the reminder on that one.

Given that the inordinately useful Infiniboard, as seen on this YouTube link does not yet work under iOS4, and that the new folders are a pretty half baked concept for a replacement, it seemed like a decent idea to remove all but the very core apps from my iPhone until this rectifies itself. On the plus side, this removal of the hundred plus games on the damn thing, weighing in at about 12GB, should reduce the time taken to restore the device.

Why half baked? Well, often I want to play a game. But I’ve no idea which game. With everything in one big flickable page it was easy to zip through until something caught my eye. With things stuffed away in folders, discoverability dives to zero. Perhaps the mini-icons inside the folders are more legible on the IPhone4’s Super Turbo Retinal Hyper Fighting Edition display, but it’s next to indecipherable on a 3GS.

Anyway, with this app bloodbath complete and re-backed up, the games could begin. As is the way of all (Mac based, at least) jailbreaking, we get a hold of the official ipsw firmware package, point PwnageTool at it and let it spit out a customised ipsw archive to play with. I’m assuming that you’ve read the warnings regarding any previous unwanted baseband updates, especially if you’ve had a recent official firmware on there lately.

Now to simply stick the iPhone in restore mode by turning it off, holding (and keep holding) down the home button and powering back on until the restore prompt appears. Plug into the computer, and when iTunes prompts you to restore, hold down the option key, click the restore button and point it at your newly made custom firmware.

While this has worked perfectly well on all previous attempts a jailbreak-o-upgrades, this time it was a bit flaky. First off iTunes spat out one of its ever-so-helpful ‘unknown error’ dialogues, so thinking this might be tied to an increasingly dodgy USB interface on the MacBook I unplugged all devices from USB bar the phone, rebooted and tried again. This seemed to do the trick, until reaching a state of near-completion.

Beyond this point it simply would not move, regardless of how many rubber chickens I waved near it in attempts to appease whatever malevolent gods bestowed iTunes on us in the first instance.

Not to panic. Well, I did panic, but thanks to the Googles I realise I am not the only person to have this issue. Massive, massive thanks to a ‘nicksherb’ on this MacRumors forum thread, as his advice was the exact thing to get over this sticky wicket. For Mac users, we delete the folders “/System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/DeviceLink.framework” and “/System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/MobileDevice.framework”, reboot and reinstall iTunes 9.

Repeating the restore procedure this time went without a hitch. Superb.

Of course, it’s deleted all of my music again, so it’s going to take the rest of the day to re-encode and copy them over again. I’ll let that slide as the restore is a factory reset style solution, and the price paid for the flexibility of jailbreaking. Still, it’s not doing my carbon footprint or electricity bill any good.

iTunes Brains Trust Fail

Sometimes I hate iTunes.

Like today, for instance. I have all my music stored losslessly on an external, network drive, so that any device in the flat can access it, and I can get at it from anywhere with an internet connection. It’s quite slick.

But being a network, occasionally it can flake out a bit, so iTunes might temporarily be unable to find the drive, or something like that. It happens. No big deal.

Unless you attempt to sync your iPhone/iPod/iThing while it’s having one of these snafus, at which point it will arbitrarily wipe everything from the phone because it can’t find its networked twin. So sure is the program that this digital apocalypse is what I’d wanted that it doesn’t even trouble you with the option of, say, not deleting the entire device.

Which anti-genius came up with this idiocy as a default behaviour? Actually, it is best that I don’t know, for then I would have to kill them.

Do excuse me. I need to go and watch a progress bar progress very slowly as it re-encodes and copies three and a half thousand songs.

Thanks, Apple! You bunch of fudds!

Failures in New Media

Given that you are, apparently, on the Internet, I’m going to make the assumption that you know about Twitter. It’s fairly popular these days, and all.

There are some inherent challenges in limiting yourself to a mere 140 characters when trying to make a point, which some believe to be part of the fun. It can, however, come back and bite you on the ass. I followed noted photographer and broadcaster Scott Bourne on the ol’ Twitters, at least until checking out his behaviour after posting this little bon mot:“I’m consulting with a wedding #photog studio selling against a studio doing $500 weddings. Our new ad – “We fix $500 wedding photography.””Fine. Except he was taken to task by a number of people over the Twitter wires for playing a little fast and loose with the details. The underlying assumption to all of this is that the more money paid for a service or product, the better it is. Life, of course, is rarely that simple.

Value is a product of both cost and quality, and there’s no way to know whether or not the five hundred buck shots are significantly better than the (one would assume, otherwise we wouldn’t need the responsive ad campaign) significantly more expensive wedding photography he’s hawking. There’s no way of evaluating this from the frame of a 140 character tweet, so it comes across as reductionist and unpleasantly snobbish.

If you need any more convincing that cost != value, the Oppo/Lexicon Blu Ray fiasco described at Audioholics makes an enlightening case study.

Others found more to question. Folks starting wedding photography businesses, offering comparatively low rates to get a portfolio together, hoping to gain a foothold in a competitive market read it as a direct insult to their professionalism, and it’s easy to see their point of view. Many took him to task or sought clarifications.

Scott Bourne’s response? He called them trolls and blocked them.

I don’t doubt he’s a busy man and just wants to avoid multiple 140 character slagging matches. However, a better way to do this would have been to not throw the stones in the first place, as between that and refusing to answer any criticism at all he comes across as a massive ball of wrongheaded egotism. Which isn’t much of a brand to build for yourself.

I’m not, contrary to what you might expect having gone to the bother of writing about it, really all that bothered by his statements and it wasn’t the primary reason I hit the big Unfollow button. It was, however, the reason I reviewed his recent contributions and found them largely to be plugging his own website articles which I’ll read anyway, so essentially he’s an inefficient manually powered duplicate of his RSS feed. Hence he is consigned to Twitter digiblivion.

I’ll still listen to the podcasts, though. I’m not mental.

Treo 650: The Silent Killer

I have a Treo 650. I quite like it. It’s essentially a Palm OS5 device like my Sony Clie, but with a phone bolted on to it. What’s not to love?

One of the nicer things about it is the presence of a small slider on the top of the phone which turns the ringer on and off, which is a far more civilised way of putting your phone on silent than rooting around in menus. The silent mode on phones out to be used more often by people, especially if your ringtone is La Cucaracha.

Another demand I make of my phones is to wake me up in the morning, as I’m too cheap to buy an alarm clock. The Treo manages this adequately, with a rousing midi rendition of Reveille, although why it can only be set in five minute increments rather than any arbitrary time baffles me.

Except, that is, if you’ve inadvertently left the slider on silent, in which case you are left politely unstirred by a rousing rendition of absolute silence.

I’m not saying that this is the single most retarded design choice in the world, just that it’s in the top five or so.

Leopard: It’s like Tiger, but without the worky!

File this one under “never install any operating system until the alpha geeks play with it for six months after launch to fix the crippling bugs”.

Installing the shiny new MacOS X Leopard on to the less shiny old iBook that I have kicking about as, egregiously enough, a spare laptop (oh! Such wanton excess! Swiftly, to the vomitorium!) would seem to go without a merest hint of a hitch. After slapping the disk in the drive, setting the thing running then forgetting about it for a while, it’s drops one off to the updated Desktop including its really stupid looking new reflect-o-dock and mildly retarded transparent menu bar. Also, whoever came up with the idea of Stacks assuming the icon of the last file to be dropped into the folder needs to be brutally cudgled until they have been suitably chastised.

These, however are mostly eye candy related issues. Of more pressing concern was connecting up to the Network Attached Storage box containing a 750GB drive largely full of music files. Mmmmm. Music. Off we go, connect to server, enter the NAS’s address (, IP fans!). Act slightly puzzled by a new login option that seems insistent on logging in with a name/password, which doesn’t exist as an option on my NAS, or as a guest. Well, guest seems like the better option. Click!


If you answered b) The system crashes like a total feckin’ Colin, congratulations! You win the respect of your peers, should you have any.

Days of alternately changing every vaguely related setting possible and hitting it with a hammer have yielded the vast improvement of it now simply not connecting, rather than seizing up so badly it has to be powered down. Awesome.It’s always a brave move for a company to change their business model. While it might be a laudable example of chutzpah, changing from “it just works” to “it doesn’t work” might not be the crowd pleaser Apple were apparently expecting.

Edit: 12th Feb 2008: The 10.5.2 update seems to have fixed pretty much all of the above. Huzzah! Only took four months!

Vista: still Windows, hence still broken.

I’ve been moving slowly over to MacOS X systems lately, in large part because my MacBook could easily defeat my antique Wintel PC in a cage match and still have energy left to humiliate Ken Shamrock. Once you get your head around the Mac user’s strategy of largely relinquishing control and conforming to doing things the way Apple thinks you should be doing it, it all works rather splendidly. The inveterate hacker part of my hindbrain rankles at it somewhat, but the older I get the more I appreciate something that ‘just works’ with out the endless fannying around that characterises most Windows experiences.

Anyway, the time came to drag my PC into the modern age, largely because I want to play Bioshock. One minor spending spree later and I have a deliciously dinky Shuttle case, 2GB of turbo-nutter RAM, one not-quite-turbo-nutter-but-with-capacity-to-plug-one-in-later Core2 Duo and a nVidia 7600 based graphics card. Nifty. The hard drive, a 500GB beast, for this was repurposed from the existing machine.

Now, here’s the thrust of the piece. When you plug a drive into a Windows XP machine, as the old machine was, and go through the ritual of formatting and assigning drive letters (which itself is an asinine process, but that’s another rant for another day), the default option is to turn it into a ‘dynamic disk’. I wager most people when faced with the options of ‘dynamic disk’ and ‘basic disk’ will have no clue whatsoever as to what the difference is. Certainly I did not. On doing some subsequent reading before writing this, it’s certainly the better technical option. Excellent. No problems, then.

Well, apart from the fact that you cannot install Windows Vista on a dynamic disk, for reasons that seem to be clearly mentioned precisely nowhere. I assume XP is similarly afflicted. No problems though, as the disk was already emptied of everything it ought to be a simple-ish matter of the Vista installer program re-partitioning and reformating the drive into something it can work with.

Except it can’t do that. It just sits and stares back at you with cold, disinterested eyes. It’s not going to install, it’s not going to reformat, it’s not going to budge. You can try to stare it down, but you’ll lose. What an excellent way to introduce yourself, Mr. Vista! Truly, “the Wow starts Now”. Or rather doesn’t. Start. Now. Or at all, without help.

How to progress past this sticky wicket? Delving into my archive of arcane resources I majick up a disk containing Ubuntu 7.04, which happily boots a functional OS straight from a DVD and can run the GNOME partition manager software. This can be used to delete the dynamic disk and leave it in a raw state that Vista can work with. Excellent, now the otherwise blissfully smooth install can continue. Should you find yourself in this situation, the gParted live cd will be a less hefty download that can achieve the same ends.

While I’ve barely used it, initial impressions are that Vista does seem overall a more pleasant OS experience than XP, but I’m not seeing anything to justify the £70 list price of a shiny new copy of Vista Ultimate or any of its myriad derivatives. It’s a little more cohesive, but still nothing like as unified as the MacOS X it’s imitating. It’s a little better, but seemingly not by much more than a nicer skin and a sidebar. It’s not that there’s very little ‘Wow’, it’s that there’s very little new that’s the issue here.

The real thing that gets my goat here isn’t the money it costs, or the seeming lack of advancement over the aged Windows XP. It’s that for something that’s claiming to be the best and most intuitive Windows ever to issue forth from Redmond I had to boot into Linux to install the fecking thing. If this is something that open source, zero cost to the punter operating systems can do, and have been able to do for years, is it too much to expect the same capability from the company that’s by far the biggest dog in the yard?

Clie Nx70 tech support

In today’s “Fringe Interest”, we talk about a problem that affects the Sony Clie NX70 pda, specifically my Sony Clie NX70 pda, and if our lord and master Google is to be believed, no one else. In case anyone is left scratching their heads over this issue in the future, here’s how to rid yourself of this damn spot. If you’ve got a problem, yo, I’ll solve it, check out the hook as the DJ revolves it.

Ice, ice, baby, Vanilla Ice, ice baby.

Um, sorry. While Vanilla Ice is certainly a problem, it’s probably not the one at hand. However, if for some strange reason you’re trying to play an MP3 from this horrible man, it may well be. These sentences come to you courtesy of the Seamless Linking Corporation, all rights reserved.

The problem is described thus – on slapping your MP3 files in the appropriate directory for the Sony Audioplayer app to find them, it bafflingly only plays about two seconds of them before skipping on to the next. This is teeth grindingly frustrating, especially when the solution is something not hugely intuitive, albeit something that admittedly should already have been done as best practise.

Essentially, make sure you’ve downloaded the latest Sony drivers to allow the Clie to support the Memory Stick Pro, not just the standard, out-of-the-box support for common or garden Memory Stick. Yeah, yeah, obviously you should have put this on already but note this – without the driver the Clie happily recognises and uses the MSPro, and most apps save to and run from MSPro without the driver. Also, as the driver isn’t stored in the permanent flash memory, after a hard reset it doesn’t get automatically restored along with the rest of the system.

Which as it turns out was my problem, as I knew I’d installed it so didn’t bother checking, making for weeks of frustrating irrelevant setting tweaking. Conveniently, I’d forgotten about having to do a hard reset that had removed it in the interim. One three second install later and the problem evaporates.

So concludes this episode of “Fringe Interest”, we hope you have found it both entertaining and informative.