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How to kill your iPhone with the wrong case

May 15, 2008

iPhone Proximity Sensor
A lot of the magic of the iPhone is that things just work. Intuitively. A great example is during a call — when you bring the phone to your ear, the touch screen and display shut off automatically, to keep you from hanging up or dialing with your face. When you pull it away, the screen lights back up and the touch screen is activated again. All automagically.

Of course, that auto-magic has some real technology behind it — there is a little proximity sensor that both emits and detects an infrared beam — during a call, when an object (such as your ear) comes near it (within an inch or so), it reflects the beam back to the detector and shuts down the screen. When the reflection stops, the screen comes back on.

The proximity sensor is hidden under the glass just above the speaker hole — the overly-contrasty image above shows the rough location. You can see the actual sensor on this disassembly photo from iFixit.

Amazingly, nearly a year after the introduction of the iPhone, there are still a lot of cases being sold (even in places you think would know better) that cover up the proximity sensor with opaque material. Put one of these on your iPhone, and you too can dial with your face, hang up with your cheek, and get frustrated by not being able to punch in digits during a call.

Worse, there are more than a few rumors out there that if you leave the proximity sensor covered long enough, it can “stick” and just fail to work altogether — even if you take the cover off. If it sticks in the “screen off” position, you’re done until you get your phone repaired.

The moral of the story is be careful of your iPhone case — if you try a new case, double-check that the proximity sensor still works as it should, and if not, take it back and get a different one.

If you’ve found a great case that does work properly — or have a case horror story — share it with us in the comments!

In Egypt, Cellphone Jailbreaks YOU

April 16, 2008

Of course, it wasn’t so much the cellphone that did the trick as it was Twitter:

When Egyptian police scooped up UC Berkeley graduate journalism student James Karl Buck, who was photographing a noisy demonstration, and dumped him in a jail cell last week, they didn’t count on Twitter.

Buck, 29, a former Oakland Tribune multimedia intern, used the ubiquitous short messaging service to tap out a single word on his cellular phone: ARRESTED. The message went out to the cell phones and computers of a wide circle of friends in the United States and to the mostly leftist, anti-government bloggers in Egypt who are the subject of his graduate journalism project.

The next day, he walked out a free man with an Egyptian attorney hired by UC Berkeley at his side and the U.S. Embassy on the phone.

So who still thinks Twitter is useless?

(from Mercury News)

(that title would have worked so much better had it been an iPhone <sigh>)

Fix Apple Earbud Problems with Earjams

April 11, 2008

Apple Bluetooth Headset (with Earjam)
I don’t know who Apple designs their earphones for, but it isn’t me. Every set of earphones I’ve ever gotten with an iPod, iPhone, etc. have been too damn big to fit in my ear. They hurt, and they don’t stay in, period.

I’m sure I must just have tiny ears (they probably came as a set with my big mouth), but I can’t be the only person out there that has this problem.
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Evernote – a go-anywhere synchronizing note app

March 30, 2008

Evernote
I’ve gone through a bunch of note management applications over the past few years. I always like the idea, but most of them require that you adapt yourself to their workflow in order to get the most out of them, or are difficult to access from multiple devices, which usually results in them being more trouble than they’re worth to me.

For the last week, however, I’ve been playing with Evernote, and the more I use it, the more I’m inclined to use it as my go-to organization app.
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5 Ways to copy music OFF your iPod (Windows / Mac OS X)

March 9, 2007

Apple iPod VideoSo, you’ve got music on your iPod that you don’t have on your computer?

It doesn’t matter how you got in this predicament — maybe you’ve lost a hard drive (or an entire computer), or you’ve accidently deleted just a little too much, and for one reason or another, you don’t have the original source of the music.

If any of that sounds familiar, the time to fix it is now — before you lose your iPod (and your music), or iTunes manages to get set to automatically sync your entire library (its default state, if you have to re-install it) and starts deleting all of the songs it doesn’t know about.

Unfortunately, the standard tool for transferring music between your iPod and your computer (iTunes) is one-way — it’ll put music (or videos, etc.) onto your iPod, but it won’t retrieve it back. Why? Uncle Steve wants it that way, I suppose.

The good news is that there are several ways around this, for both Mac and Windows users, ranging from free to cheap ($30 or so).

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