Category Archives: iphone

Roll on July 2010 – Ditch that iPhone

A few weeks back, I updated the iPhone software to version 3.1, a minor release apparently, and since then I`ve had little but random trouble with the beast.

It all started with the update, which failed, resulting in a bricked phone, and 4 attempts at a restore until the device came back to life. I applied the restore, and hoped all would be back to pre-3.1, but alas no. I`d lost all my apps, some settings, and was faced with the boring task of setting it all back up. I had to dig through e-mails from Apple listing everything I`d downloaded, manually download one-by-one all the apps, and re-set calendar syncing. I`d re-installed the laptop at this point, so the downloads weren`t just there to drag across. In the app store, some apps I had paid money for no longer existed. I contacted Apple as it became apparent that this was a little bit odd, and got nowhere apart from “that app is no longer available”. Thankfully I found an old copy of the download on a backup drive, and I`m very glad the app cost a quid and not ten pounds. Bad show, Apple.

The issue I`m now having is that every once in a while, when the phone is in standby mode, it just won`t wake up. It requires a full reboot, and as I`ve said before, this takes a pretty long time. With no progress meter. The longer I have the phone, the more shoddy the software seems.

It seems a lot of people have had similar problems, with the freezing, particularly on the iPhone 3G:
so roll on 2010 when my contract with O2 is up. I`d rather have a featureless but sturdy as a brick old school Nokia than a flashy nice but flakey as dandruff device.

7 More Things I Don’t Like About The iPhone

Having had the iPhone for a few months now, I thought I`d add a few more peeves to the list.

  1. Reliability – I have to say the phone, or more likely the applications, make the phone pretty flakey. It`s necessary to hard reset every 3-4 days due to some application or other hanging. The most annoying thing about this is that the phone takes minutes to start up again, with no progress indicator to show how long it`s likely to take.
  2. Lack of tweakiness – in true Apple style, there are some things you`d like to tweak but just can`t. A specific example would be the Safari caching, which is hit and miss to say the least. Switch pages and back, and there`s a good chance the browser has been hit by severe amnesia and needs to reload the page. Even with all the scare stories over the number of times you can write to flash memory, surely allowing the user to up the cache a little would be a good idea?
  3. Volume control – why are there two volume settings, one for ringer and one for iPod? Adjust the volume down, pop to iPod, with headphones on, and suddenly you`re at risk of blowing your ears off to the freshest beats of the day.
  4. The phone features, or their quick-to-use-ness-ness – any telephone should be easy to use, yet Apple seems to have done everything possible to make it a pain in the arse. I certainly wouldn`t recommend the iPhone as an easy to use phone. Compare and contrast with any Nokia. That said, the voicemail is quite clever, although not instantly “ah yes- that’s how you do it”. Surely, as a phone, the dialler is likely to be the first thing you`re likely to use; why does it not appear first? Maybe I don`t make or receive enough calls.
  5. Ipod controls- having owned an iPod for a few years, the iPhone`s controls are a bit pants. Ok, there`s no wheel as it`s all touch screen, but skipping forward and backward in videos is very hit and miss, especially if forwarding to the end of a video podcast. This seems to be the only way for the iPod to recognize that you`ve watched something. 2 seconds remaining and it`s listed with the half-watched icon. Try skipping to the very end, and you`re forced to watch the last 10 seconds or so. It may not be the end of the world, but it`s annoying. Also, the accelerometer integration goes a little bit mental when tilting and the phone needs the occasional twist-retwist in order to recognise its orientation. On the plus side, it`s possible to shuffle all songs by an artist, something my old video iPod wasn`t able to do.
  6. Spell checker – this can be very hit and miss, and I find myself wondering if the old T9 method would have been more effective for some users. Also, when typing fairly quickly, it seems like soundex word matching kicks in, leaving your messages in a state that would have been likely employed by Lloyd and Croft when they scripted lines for Officer Crabtree in Allo Allo. Good moaning indeed.  And please, I know the difference between “its” and “it`s”, so don`t put “it`s” every sodding time – and “and” for that matter – don`t spell correct it to ANC.  Who types  “ANC” these days (although I`m not dissing South African politics, of which I know little)?
  7. There`s no way back – receive an e-mail, open it, open a hyperlink; up flies Safari. When you`re done, what next? Gotta press the menu button, which brings you back to the menu. So you`ve to open your e-mail all over again. Why is the phone not clever enough to bring you back to where you were?

    Ringtones for iPhone – The Cheap (Free) Way

    I recently became a sad git and purchased an Apple iPhone.  Apart from the not-so-great battery life, it`s a really nice device!  However, having previously owned an iPod, I was a bit miffed to see that Apple is taking every opportunity possible to squeeze more money out of customers and making it more difficult to just chuck stuff onto the device.

    In the UK it`s (at the time of writing) 79p to purchase a song, and the same for a non-free ringtone.  I`m not a fan of buying downloads, mainly because the quality can be utterly shit, and although DRM is decreasing, I just can`t be bothered.  I buy CDs, rip them, and listen to them.  Easy, plus you get a nice little booklet.  Anyway, I thought It`d scoot around the net and find a quick, free way of putting my Mike Oldfield collection onto the phone as annoying ringtones.  So here`s a quick and dirty method to convert your lovely MP3s into ringtones, alarm tones, blah blah blah.  It`s not so quick, however, but it is a free method.


    • Application capable of converting mp3 (or other file you wish to use) into Apple`s m4a format
    • A little knowledge of “fiddling” with Windows Explorer

    The two things we need to do are 1) convert our file into Apple m4a format, and 2) rename the file

    First up, we`ll prepare Windows Explorer
    Launch Windows Explorer, and go to Tools -> Folder Options

    • In the View tab, scroll down the list and make sure “Hide extensions for known file types” is disabled.  We want to see the extensions.  If you`re not too techie, the “extension” is the (usually) 3 letter bit stuck onto the end of a filename.  For example photo.jpg, drawing.gif, etc.

    The application I`ll be using is Audacity, a freebie available for Linux and Windows.  For speed, I`ll use the Windows version – I haven`t tried running iTunes on Linux yet.

    The Windows version of Audacity also requires the FFmpeg input/output libraries so Audacity knows how to do the file conversion to Apple format.  This is probably the trickiest bit of the tutorial – for non-techies, Audacity needs a little something extra to do the job.

    Install FFmpeg Library, Convert the File
    Within Audacity, pop over to the Import / Export menu

    Edit -> Preferences -> Import / Export

    On the top right, you`ll see the FFmpeg area; Audacity will tell you it`s not installed – because it isn`t.

    Click the Download button.  You`ll then be taken to the web page for downloading the library.  When the library has been downloaded, run the ffmpeg<version-number>.exe file (you`ll probably need to do this as Administrator in Vista – god Windows is a pain in the arse), and use Browse to find your Audacity installation (likely to be something like C:Program FilesAudacity <version-number>) and Extract.  This will pop the library files into Audacity`s installation, making FFmpeg functionality available.

    Now for the fun part.  Fire up Audacity – if you haven`t used it before, open your spangly music file, go straight to

    File -> Export

    Press OK – we`re not worried about tags at this point.  Ensure the “Save as type” drop down has been set to M4A (AAC) Files (FFmpeg) and hit Save.  Your machine will whir and spin for a few seconds as the file is written to disk.

    If you`re familiar with Audacity, you can clip the sound file to specific parts you`re interested in, add special effects, etc. before saving.  Be careful not to overwrite your original file, and keep your file to 40 seconds or less – any more and you`ll never hear it as your caller will likely be off to voicemail land!

    Rename The File
    Using Windows Explorer, find your new file (you`ve probably done the lazy thing and plonked it on your desktop – naughty).  As we configured Windows Explorer to show file extensions earlier on, your file should be listed as <filename>.m4a – unfortunately iTunes will not let you use this as a ringtone.  Right click on the file, and choose Rename.  Now change the extension to .m4r, so if your file was banana.m4a it should now be called banana.m4r – hit return to accept your changes – it will then complain that the file may become unusable.  Less usable than Windows…  This is OK.

    Import to iTunes
    In Windows, the icon for the file should change after renaming the file.  Double click the file and it will be squirted straight into iTunes, ready for your phone; just sync it up.


    Updated: after trying a few tracks and successfully transferring them to the iPhone, it seems that a 30-35 second limit applies to the ringtone, otherwise the file will transfer but not show in the options.  That`s useful..  If anyone is bored enough to work out a true figure, be my guest, but 30-35 seconds maximum it seems.  Maybe that`s the 8th thing I don`t like.. it`s nice to lie in bed with the alarm playing something reasonably pleasant instead of “Duck” noises.