Will Apple Soon be Forced to Unbrick All iPhones?

As the current iPhone 1.1.1 locking proves, there is a VERY dangerous flaw in the current iPhone and iPod touch software. A malformed TIF file can be used to get root access to the device. Obviously that is good if you want to install some useful applications on your iPhone/iPod, however that is extremely bad if you are worried about someone taking over your iPhone. Ironically, this might be a good thing for those who accidentally let Apple Brick their iPhones – try to stay with us here…

Theoretically, the malformed TIF file could be used for more nefarious tasks than updating than installing useful apps or updating the modems firmware…stuff like making a 900-number dialer($$ cha – ching $$), a bot installer (iPhone Spam-bot?), a baseband modem crippler or just good old-fashioned bricking the iPhone….

Hypothetically, one of these malformed tif files could even have the same effect as the “bricker” 1.1.1 update. However, this time Apple’s Safari security will be to blame, not the users who are trying to assert their legal right to move the phone to other carriers. The only recourse Apple will legally have is to unBrick all of the iPhones that their update has caused and reset the baseband modem to factor settings.

One has to wonder if the malformed tif file vulnerability would have been discovered and applied to the iPhone had Apple not closed the Intaller.app development community out of the iPhone originally. Perhaps it is better to have these incredibly intelligent people on your side?

Blu-Ray for MacBooks (finally)

No, Apple hasn’t finally caved into their high end users’ demands and offered a Blu-Ray option on their portable line. Aftermarket specialist Fastmac has, however, and is offering the 50Gb Optical Disc upgrade on some of Apple’s recent laptops and consumer desktops:

- iBook G4
– iMac G5
– iMac Intel
– MacBook Pro (17-inch)
– Mac mini
– PowerBook G3 Pismo
– PowerBook G4 Titanium (667 Mhz or higher)
– PowerBook G4 Aluminum

The $1000 pricetag is hefty for the average Joe, but if you are in the making-movie biz and need to do work on a laptop, this is almost a no-brainer.

We are not sure we’d want to drop a G on Blu-Ray for an iBook but we can’t wait to see the 17 inch HD screen enabled playback version of the device!

From the company’s press release:

http://fastmac.com/press/pr_42.php

Fastmac Announces 2X Blu-Ray Optical Drive Upgrade for Laptops; Low Profile Slot Loading Drive Provides 50 GB of Storage on 1 Disk for Apple PowerBook, iBook, MacBook Pro, iMac & Mac mini; New Drive Cuts Burn Times in Half

October 05, 2007
Salinas, CA – Fastmac today announced the first & only 2X Blu-Ray optical drive upgrade for Apple’s PowerBook, iBook & MacBook Pro computers. The new slimline, slot loading drive uses the fastest & most compatible Blu-ray mechanism available to provide up to 50 GB of storage on 1 disk, without sacrificing compatibility with standard DVD & CD recordable media. Fastmac’s Blu-Ray optical drive upgrade is scheduled to ship within 30 days and is available for pre-order from http://www.fastmac.com for a special introductory price of $999.95. Each drive carries a 1 year warranty and a 30 day money back guarantee .

Fastmac’s new Blu-ray slot loading drive gives photographers, videographers & musicians the ability to save anything, anywhere- now twice as fast. System and database administrators can archive and retrieve large amounts of data on 1 convenient disk. And consumers can now watch today’s latest HD content in true high definition with surround sound anytime & anywhere they happen to be. Blu-ray is the next generation of storage technology & entertainment and it’s available today, only from Fastmac.

Fastmac’s new Blu-Ray slot loading drive has been tested and certified compatible with Adobe’s Premiere Pro CS3 video production software that includes Adobe Encore CS3 and is part of the Adobe Creative Suite 3 Production Premium Collection. Adobe Encore CS3 integrates with Adobe Photoshop & Adobe Premiere to provide a rich set of creative tools for the production and output of full-featured, menu-driven DVD and Blu-Ray Discs. It is the only video production and editing software available for the Mac OS that supports built-in Blu-Ray Disc authoring for playback on stand-alone Blu-Ray DVD players & the Sony PlayStation 3.
About Blu-ray
Blu-ray, also known as Blu-ray Disk (BD), is the name of a next generation optical disk format developed by a consortium of electronics and computer manufacturers including Apple, Dell, HP, JVC, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony & TDK. The format was designed to enable the recording and playback of High Definition (HD) content and to allow storage of large amounts (up to 200 Gb) of data. While current optical drive technologies rely on a red laser to read and write data, the new format uses a blue-violet laser (hence the name, Blu-ray). The blue-violet laser has a 38% shorter wavelength (405nm) than a red laser (650nm), allowing the drive’s optical pickup unit to focus more precisely than ever before. Data can then be packed more densely on standard sized disks. Despite using a new type of laser, Blu-ray drives are compatible with standard DVD and CD media through the use of a combined red, blue & violet optical reader and writer.

In addition to broad support from the electronics, music, computer & video game industry, 6 out of 8 of the major Hollywood film studios support Blu-ray media and 5 out of those 6 (Disney, Fox, Lionsgate, MGM & Sony) have decided to release their movies exclusively in the Blu-ray format. With its forward and backward integration with new and old media, Blu-ray is destined to become the successor to today’s DVD format.
Specifications
Fastmac’s slimline Blu-ray slot loading optical drive supports reading, writing and re-writing to single and dual layer Blu-ray media at up to 2x speeds. The drive is also compatible with standard DVD and CD media and can write to DVD-R and DVD+R media at 8x speed in single layer and up to 2.4x speed in dual/ double layer mode. It can rewrite to DVD-R and DVD+R media at 4x speeds. The drive also supports DVD-RAM reading and writing at up to 5x speeds and standard CD-R and CD-RW burning at 8x speeds.
Compatibility
Fastmac’s slimline Blu-ray slot loading optical drive upgrade requires Mac OS X 10.2.8 or higher and is compatible with the following Apple computers:

iBook G4
iMac G5
iMac Intel
MacBook Pro (17-inch)
Mac mini
PowerBook G3 Pismo
PowerBook G4 Titanium (667 Mhz or higher)
PowerBook G4 Aluminum

Blu-ray burning requires 3rd-party software such as Adobe Premiere CS3 or Roxio’s Toast 8 Titanium, which enables Blu-ray disk support in the Mac OS Finder. Native support for Blu-ray burning within iLife & iTunes is expected in the future via Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, but cannot be guaranteed at this time.
About Fastmac
Fastmac is an OEM designer and manufacturer of innovative upgrade products that add value and extend usability of Apple computers & iPods. Fastmac’s award-winning product line-up includes drive, CPU, LCD and battery upgrades, including the world’s longest lasting PowerBook & iPod batteries & the only replacement batteries for Apple’s latest MacBook portables. More information about Fastmac is available via http://www.fastmac.com/company
Press Contact
Michael Lowdermilk (Mlowdermilk at Fastmac dot com)
Business Development Manager
Fastmac Performance Upgrades
1172 S Main St., Suite 243
Salinas, CA 93901-2204
Tel: 408-850-6233

Pocket Sized Projector Seems like a Perfect Fit

Nobody sent us a flyer and we aren’t getting paid to post this (though we’ve provided an easy link to our Amazon Store), but we just got ourselves a crush on the Mitsubishi PK20 LED DLP Pocket Projector. Why? Several reasons:

  1. It is LED powered so very low power consumption compared to bulbs
  2. Power Consumption is so low that it includes a laptop-sized battery that lasts for up to 2 hours. – a normal projector would require 2 car batteries for that
  3. LEDs are cool – temperature cool – so they don’t heat up your space
  4. SD card slot reader
  5. SO SO Small and getting smaller. The design of the device fitting on the palm of a woman’s hand below says it all. As the Tech gets better we could see much smaller devices and even *gasp* built into laptops
  6. A nice, simple remote for easy access


All of this efficiency of course comes at a price. The device can be found under $500 at certain shops which is a bit higher than the equivelent powered bulb projectors. Of course with LED projectors, the projection isn’t nearly as bright – so you will need to dim the lights. Also, this device being ultra basic, it doesn’t have the finer controls that you need for focus and resizing. Also it is native 800×600 with the ability to do an interpolated 1024×768.

Still though, with Component AV in and a tripod adapter and at such a low price, we can’t help but think this would be a great addition to our gadget gear.

-Even with an iPhone component cable (yeah we tried! We can’t stop talking about it)

From an Owner/Amazon Reviewer:

Pros:

  • -no need to replace lamp (ever)…this feature is worth the price of the projector alone
  • amazingly small
    – 7’x5′ (or smaller) image
    – simple menus
  • tripod mountable makes it very portable & easy to adjust size & position
  • excellent for DVD movies
    – project image on walls (don’t need the hassle of having a screen)
  • very silent
  • auto shut-off if no signal detected

Cons:

  • can’t adjust size of the picture to fit screen, except by moving unit
  • Lights overwhelm the picture
    – no standby mode…will not turn on automatically if signal detected
  • pain to fit to a screen

Wishlist:

  • more powerful/multiple LED
  • more adjustments

Navizon iPhone GPS: the Amazing Hacker Development Continues

Navizon

I feel like it is Christmas every time I open my iPhone installer.app lately.  Along with VNSea, NES and MobileChat, here comes another AMAZING developer-hacker application.   I don’t see Apple having 1/2 of this stuff by the time the next release is out. AS a matter of fact, I don’t see a lot of hacked iPhones going legit any time soon.

Back to Navizon:  Using both cellular triangulation and a DB of Wifi hotspots and ISP IP addresses, Navizon is able to provide a semi-accurate view of where you are at a much faster rate than most GPS systems.  Granted the accuracy of the device depends on a lot of factors, and your results may, of course vary. 

The Navizon.app also just throws your coordinates into the Maps application and puts a little pin where it thinks you are.  So, so clever.  In my informal tests, it was about 500 Meters off at my home and about 200 meters off at work.  Each of these results used cellular data and got the information in just seconds.

The number of applications to deliver content using geograhic location on the iPhone are virtually limitless.  I am sure developers are hard at work on more applications that take advantage of this knowledge.  If Google Adsense isn’t all over this then someone needs to get fired, yesterday.

I can’t wait to see where this application goes, how exciting!  Get hacking!

OH, btw, it DOES work in Europe - at least France.

VNC for iPhone, Now it is Getting Interesting

A very interesting application just hit my iPhone’s installer.app repository.  VNSea, the port of the venerable VNC Client that is used in many remote desktop installations, including Apple’s own Remote Desktop.  Although the application doesn’t appear to be working too well – we got just a flash of the desktop before the application crashed – the possibilities are endless for VNC client like this.  

Controlling a home computer or server from the road would give access to unlimited amounts of applications and data.  This is definitely something to look out for.

From the website:

VNSea is a graphical (duh) VNC client for the iPhone and presumably the iPod touch, based on Chicken of the VNC for Mac OS X. CotVNC is also hosted at SourceForge.

Please note that server passwords are currently stored in plaintext in the
preferences file and shown unprotected on screen. This will be fixed as
soon as the client is mostly functional. Right now, functionality takes
precedence over local security.

16 Sep 2007 - Source has been added to the repository.

16 Sep 2007 – The 0.2 release is now available in the project downloads. This release adds and fixes quite a few features:

  • Vnsea now has very basic mouse control. Scrolling is now done with two fingers, while a single finger controls the mouse.
  • Support for all encoding formats supported by CotVNC, including JPEG.
  • You can control the desired pixel depth from the server settings to cut down on bandwidth.
  • Better error reporting (i.e. no crash) if a connection cannot be made.
  • Shimmer is included so future updates can be performed automatically.

Carbon Copy Cloner 3 Released

Mike Bombich has been making OSX software and instruction guides since there was OSX. In the early days of Macintosh OSX administration, his software was a lifesaver to many a Macintosh administrator.  As Apple started to catch up, his software releases started to slow down and (I think?) he got a much deserved job at Apple.

If you haven’t used his software, guides or fourms, you may want to familiarize yourself with them: 

NetRestore

NetBoot Across Subnets

LoginWindow Manager

Apple Remote Desktop Database Access Manager (ADAM)

Carbon Copy Cloner

The purpose of Carbon Copy Cloner (CCC) is to assist
you in moving your entire Mac OS X installation or selected folders from
one partition to another as easily as possible. CCC can copy all the system
files necessary, maintaining Unix permissions and ownership, to create
a bootable backup of your drive. Moving your X installation to a larger
hard drive? CCC is right for you!

So back to the news: Carbon Copy Cloner get’s its 1st upgrade in like 5 years.  We can’t wait to try it!

From the Website:

Clone, synchronize, backup. Schedule and forget it. Try it ’til you trust it.

The key to a successful backup plan is to actually do the backups regularly. When left to a human, the task often gets tacked on to the end of a very long list of other things to do. When you eventually have a catastrophe, the data is simply gone. You know that feeling — you
just lost six years of family photos. Your kids being born, their first
birthdays, their first everything. The answer to this is consistent and
regular backups, placed on a schedule and handled automatically by your
computer.

CCC 3.0 features a new interface designed to make
the cloning and backup procedure more intuitive and more responsive.
Users have better control over what gets backed up, and are provided
with detailed information about the progress of their backup. In
addition to general backup, CCC can also clone one hard drive to
another, copying every single block or file to create an exact replica
of your source hard drive. CCC’s block-level copy offers the absolute
best fidelity in the industry!

Among the new features are:

  • Support for block-level disk-to-disk clones.
  • Synchronization built-in, not bolted on.
  • Support for backing up across the network to another Macintosh.
  • Advanced
    scheduling capabilities — Backup tasks can now be scheduled on an
    hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly basis, or you can indicate that a
    backup task should run when the backup device is attached (e.g. an
    iPod).
  • CCC recognizes iPods specifically, allowing time for the iPod:iTunes synchronization to complete.
  • The ability to drill down into folders to select exactly what gets copied and what doesn’t (you can drill down indefinitely).
  • Built-in software update feature notifies you when updates are available.

Carbon Copy Cloner is now available as a Universal binary. As with previous versions, Carbon Copy Cloner is labeled “Uncrippled shareware”

Google Presentations at Last

Google spreadsheet

Google today announced their Online presentation application. It isn’t going to win any awards for beauty (baaad templates!) and it is next to useless in the Safari Browser – much better in Firefox – but it is a huge step in the right direction.  

The chat and collaborative features in Google Docs and Spreadsheets are there which opens the possibility of online presentation building and “presenting.” However, it has obvious downsides as well.  It is certainly not as full featured as current presentation tools like Powerpoint and Keynote.  

It doesn’t do:

  • Animations of any kind
  • Advanced image manipulation
  • Advanced text formatting
  • Sound
  • Video
  • Exporting PowerPoint files

What it does:

  • Imports PowerPoint files
  • Exports HTML file
  • 15 built-in themes
  • Text formatting
  • Basic image manipulation functionality (adding, resizing)
  • Versioning
  • Collaboration
  • Online presentation sharing

However,  it doesn’t work too well on Safari – which means it doesn’t work too well on the iPhone either(thought we could write a post without mentioning that?).  Yeah we tried it – it doesn’t work at all – just gives an error message – for now.

So back to industry implications.  It certainly may help break up the Microsoft monopoly on office software (not that Powerpoint was anything impressive) and makes the OS a bit less important.  It really doesn’t effect Apple’s Keynote too much because Keynote’s audience is the aesthetically capable and Google is promoting a bare bones solution (at least now).  It will certainly hurt Zoho Office’s offering.

Really, though, we are waiting for Google’s Wiki tool to come out.  They bought Jotspot like 200 years ago – what are they waiting for already?!  Is it us or is Google’s innovation machine slowing to a crawl?

iPhone GUI Unlock Released

When it rains it pours! 

Not much else to say
but if you have to unlock your iPhone (like us tomorrow) you now have like 10 less steps to do – Amazing work at http://www.freeiphoneunlock.com/unlock/

It is in Beta still and the coders are off to bed for some much deserved sleep.  Perhaps tomorrow it will be more stable – it looks good enough for us!

Download the application in its current state here.

iPhone Liberation Day Has Arrived

True iPhone liberation has really arrived. Kudos to the people around the World who have used the internet to communicate and solve a problem that not one, or ten people alone could have.

The free version of the software unlock is finally out there. We aim to get a new, wrapped in cellophane, iPhone and document the whole process of activating it, unlocking it, and moving to a foreign carrier.

Further Reading (more after the jump):

http://www.freeiphoneunlock.com/guide/

http://iphone.unlock.no/

http://9to5mac.com/iphone-hacking-roundup-223453452

Plan is this (keep in mind, this will all take place in France from unwrapping to calling):

  • Activate Phone: We are tempted to use DVD Jon’s method but are instead opting for the “TUAW method” which involves entering a nonworking SS# and opting to get the AT&TGO pay as you go plan – but of course, never paying – just “GOing”.  This should activate the phone without costing us anything.
  • Unlock Phone: Unlocking the phone with the buffer overflow “movie file” that the iUnlock application yields.  Again, Amazing work people.
  • Use Phone: We have a work SIM from Vodaphone UK (unlimited EU data) and an Orange France Pay as you go plan.  We hope to use both for both data and calling
  • Install 3rd Party Apps like a IM client, terminal Client and other fun stuff that is out there.  We broke down all of the Hacking sites here.

Our iPhone is currently clearing customs at Charles de Gaul Airport. God speed little guy!

CDG iphone

Hidden Feature Makes iPodtouch and iPhone Physical Storage Limitations (a bit) Obsolete

The iPodtouch’s physical storage limitation of 16GB enraged a lot of people.  Why?  Most were worried that they wouldn’t be able to store much of the video that they wanted to watch on their beautiful new 480×320 screens.  However, Apple allows you to play movies over the net.  Don’t believe us?  Point your iPhone/iPodtouch browser over to:

http://www.apple.com/trailers/iphone

Yep.  Links to Quicktime movies.  Full 480×320.  Full stereo sound and amazing video clarity.  They also start up right away and play fully without having to catch up if you are on relatively speedy Wifi enabled Internet connection.

So what is stopping us from taking our incredibly diverse .mp4 movie collection and putting it on the web?  Not much really.

Just point your Web Server directory to the folder that has your media files.  No index.html page necessary – just enable directory listing on the webserver and allow the web browser to open the mp4 files.  Now we have an iPod with 2TB of storage.  

Technically, this can be done with music files and audiobooks as well.  Anything that is read by Quicktime/iTunes should be compatible.  Perhaps Apple should run with this on a Airport Extreme update?  This functionality would be really easy to build in and make simple for the masses.  

As long as we are near some Wifi – which isn’t that infrequent!  Now Bring on the 3G iPhones!

iPhone Hacking Roundup

So with the steep price drop and the hacking community going nuts on the iPhone, we thought it’d be a good idea to start getting into it. Rather than risk our day to day 8Gb iPhone (which was paid for by the day job), we took advantage of the $200 price cut and snapped up a 4Gb iPhone for $300.

Since I work WAAAY outside AT&T’s coverage range (Paris) and don’t feel like being one of those $3000/month AT&T customers who receive 500 page bills, I’ve decided to get a bit pirate on our little 4Gb beauty.

I wanted to go from end to end without touching AT&T.  I was hoping to not have to pay for iPhoneSimFree but worst case scenario I will settle – it looks like it is going for $50 right now from the Australian carrier.  We’ve found a good roundup here: iPhone unlocking and activation bypass roundup.

As for initial activation, I think DVD Jon’s product is the best.

If you do a Google search for