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

Fixing the iPhoto 7 Export Bug

iPhoto plug-insiPhoto 7, part of the new iLife 08 suite, has some great new features, including the much-touted “events” categorization instead of “rolls,” a better levels slider and a new “reduce noise” slider that clears up fuzz (and in the extreme can make your friends look like digital cartoons – nice).

The upgrade is not without its faults, however, and even the most simple of operations

Fun with Solid State Drives

Solid state drives

So there is a bit of a quiet revolution going on in the computer world lately. Solid State drives (drives is a legacy term that needs to go – it is not a drive at all) have been coming way down in price over the past few years to the point where they may actually make sense for some normal power users.  Now I am not saying that you should take out your current hard drive and replace it with something marginally faster and about 10 times the price in terms of Gb/$.  That isn’t fun. 

80 Gb 2.5 inch  HD = $60

64GB 2.5 inch solid state >$600

Yes, MacBook hard drives are easy to replace, but,  last time I checked, it wasn’t that much fun to take the hard drive out of a MacBook Pro.  Plus that is kinda pricey.

So what I decided to do is get a Lexar Solid State Express Card from Amazon.   They happened to be having a sale on the largest current available size – 16Gb and I got it for $199.

They also have an 8GB version for about $100 for the lower budget minded.  Word on the street is that there is soon to be a 32GB version which should clock in at a relatively reasonable $400ish.

The first thing I did after inserting the Expresscard  was open Disk Utility and reformat it to HFS+ format (it came in Fat32).  I then did a disk image of Leopard boot disk which is about 8GB.  It only took a few minutes until it was done and popped up on my desktop just like any other drive would do.   I then went to the Startup disk system preference and chose the Express card partition.  Finally, I restarted.  So started the fun things you can do with an Expresscard:

  1. A Boot Drive -The restart seemed to take as much time as the hard drive overall but with noticeably faster “after login” speed.  The machine was very quick even though very few programs were installed on the machine.  I  was able to watch Quicktimes without any problem.  The machine seemed very quick.  I don’t have any benchmarks but I suspect that the battery used less power when the OS was running from a Flash Drive.
  2. A Backup Drive - The 16Gb Expresscard is an awesome backup device.  It worked great as a Tiger backup using Rsync and even better using Time Machine under Leopard.  It isn’t going to be able to save all of your music and photos if you have a big collection, but it is nice to know that my important docks are being backed up often and without my intervention.
  3. A Parallels Image – The Solid state drive comes formatted with a 16Gb Fat32 partition on it, but if you are handy you can probably fit a Linux and a Windows partition on the little memory card.  I simply moved a Parallels Disk image to the card.  I can now take this image between my two MacBook Pros without even having to reboot.
  4. Your Home Directory – The Expresscard file format may be the perfect storm between speed, size, cost and flexibility.  As the size of these drives goes from 16 to 32 to 64 up to 128GB in the next few ears, it is possible that this is what you will take with you to work and school as your mobile home directory.  The size is big enough that it could even be your mobile boot disk as stated in step 1.

Whatever the case these little guys are sure to be valuable, and could possibly be the next big thing...Here’s a link to Amazon’s store where I picked up my card which was very well priced.

iLife '08 Hits the Torrent Sites in .08 Seconds

EDIT: I know some of you are mad that we linked directly to the torrent site.  The reason we did this is to show people what we are talking about (that it does exist).  People who are going to steal are going to know how to find a torrent.  Those who don’t steal aren’t going to be swayed by our link.  Move along.

Well, that didn’t take very long.  It looks like those Internet “Evil Doers” have  posted Apple’s new lifestyle set of apps on the Internet for all to see.  It is really just unfortunate for Apple, who does not include any sort of serial number or tracking on their consumer applications, to miss out on revenue. I guess at a very reasonable $79.99 price point, they expect most customers to do the right thing and pay to play.   If pirating eats too much into Apple’s bottom line, they will be forced to implement some sort of complicated  hassleware to keep their innovations from being picked up from illegitimate sources.  That would be bad.

On the flip side, I guess it is good to have this sort of thing for people who have defective or lost installer DVDs.

If you are too lazy/scared/morally-not-bankrupt to steal iWork, just head over to Apple’s iWork ’08 trial download page.

People, don’t steal – buy it cheap!