Tag Archives: firmware

LCD demo video

People ask me what I do for a liv­ing. There are sev­eral answers to this ques­tion that, effec­tively, mean the same thing but dif­fer based on audi­ence:

* telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions — This is the quick answer that nobody ques­tions. The typ­i­cal response is “oh.” People fig­ure it has some­thing to do with the phone com­pany.

* I design net­work routers — “lit­tle boxy things that let mul­ti­ple com­put­ers talk to each other.” This usu­ally prompts a lit­tle more con­ver­sa­tion than the sim­ple “telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions” answer. Most peo­ple come to the real­iza­tion that this is some kind of hid­den infra­struc­ture at their work that some­one else maintains–it lets them save their PowerPoint slides to the net­work share.

* firmware — “It’s like soft­ware, but in things you don’t typ­i­cally think of as computers–things you don’t usu­ally want to crash: cell­phones, tele­vi­sions, cars, and the like.” This usu­ally prompts a pro­longed ques­tion and answer ses­sion.

But now, I can pro­vide a more visual demon­stra­tion of the sort of things I do at work. I visu­al­ize Matrix Code and cre­ate fire­works.

Okay, so what I do is actu­ally a lot more bor­ing than this, but I thought this was a fun demo of one of the more enter­tain­ing R&D projects I got to do recently.

P.S. that pur­ple thing in the back­ground is my yoga mat.

Posted in: Dear Diary Work

iPhone 1.1.3 Jailbreak, Attempt 2

It turns out that the 1.1.3 jail­break instruc­tions from iPhone Atlas is pretty much the best 1.1.3 instruc­tions I have seen around.

I’m fin­ish­ing the final step of the jail­break right now, after a bit of dif­fi­culty. It turns out the dif­fi­culty (as well as the prob­lem I expe­ri­enced ear­lier with Nate True’s method) wasn’t some­thing I was doing wrong. It’s because *.nyud.net (Coral Cache) doesn’t work on the office net­work, and the iPhone hax­orz, in an effort to save band­width, are host­ing a few of the pack­ages over there. The soft-update pack­age from the other day didn’t show up because of this. The OpenSSH pack­age today didn’t show up because of this, either. I ended up hav­ing to install the VT-100 ter­mi­nal, then use a lit­tle sed magic and reg­u­lar expres­sions to remove Coral Cache from the URLs. Things as slower, but things are now actu­ally pos­si­ble.

EDIT: It mostly worked, except the cel­lu­lar ser­vice was dead. I had to fol­low these instruc­tions then resync with iTunes to turn it back on again: http://guides.macrumors.com/Jailbreaking_and_updating_to_1.1.3#Post-jailbreaking_-_Restoring_your_phone_service_in_1.1.3

Posted in: Dear Diary iPhone

iPhone 1.1.3 Jailbreak, Attempt 1

My first attempt at the iPhone 1.1.3 jail­break: FAIL.

I pre­vi­ously installed 1.1.3 in prepa­ra­tion for the jail­break. In the mur­mur­ings before the jail­break was released, I had heard that you need the offi­cial 1.1.3 upgrade to get the cor­rect base­band firmware for the cel­lu­lar modem chip to work with the Google maps “locate me” fea­ture. You then down­grade to 1.1.1, then upgrade to a jail­bro­ken 1.1.3. In the­ory, it was pretty easy.

In prac­tice, it was a bit more involved. First, I had to down­grade to 1.1.1. This can’t be done with the lat­est iTunes (7.6), so I had to use some switcha­roo frame­work magic and get a very spe­cific ver­sion of iPHUC to make every­thing play well. After some trial and error, I got 1.1.1 installed, but was unable to acti­vate it through offi­cial chan­nels. I then had to use some hack­ery to make the phone think it was acti­vated. By “some hack­ery” I mean stuff like this:

Slide to make an emer­gency call, enter *#307# press call, now use the back but­ton on the top of your screen to remove *#307#, now enter 0 , press call, press answer, press hold, press decline. And you get to the con­tact list. And there­after every time you push the home­but­ton you just slide the “emer­gency call” slide, then enter 0 , press call, press hold, press decline.

I mean, what? From there, things were much eas­ier and involved get­ting the 1.1.3 jail­breaker, run­ning it, and wait­ing. It down­loaded the offi­cial 1.1.3 firmware, patched it, and uploaded it to the phone. It then prompted me to launch Installer.app and run the “1.1.3 soft update.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t there. The FAQ said I needed to update the com­mu­nity sources, then refresh the source list, and it will mag­i­cally show up. The FAQ is wrong.

Since this was pretty much a dead end, I rebooted to restore mode (power+home for 15 sec­onds, then release power, keep­ing home held down) and restored to 1.1.3.

I just hope that when Apple says they’ll open the SDK to all 3rd party devel­op­ers, they really do mean it, with­out any gotchas, caveats, or tech­ni­cal­i­ties.

Posted in: Dear Diary iPhone

Macworld Thoughts

Of the things announced by El Steveo, I have to say that I’m thrilled by the tech­nol­ogy in gen­eral, but not ter­ri­bly inter­ested in own­ing much of it. My thoughts:

* MacBook Air: yep, it’s tiny. My lap­top really serves as a portable desk­top, so a super-thin slightly underpowered/underfeatured lap­top just does not do it for me.
* Movie rentals: I couldn’t care less about the AppleTV inte­gra­tion (as I don’t have an HDTV and likely won’t have one for a long, long time), but may rent a movie or two on the Mini con­nected to the TV just to try things out. It has that faster-than-Netflix imme­di­ate grat­i­fi­ca­tion fac­tor, but Netflix has a huge cat­a­log whereas iTunes will have “over 1000 movies.“
* Time Capsule: I’m inter­ested in the hack­ing poten­tial (for exam­ple, buy­ing the small one and upgrad­ing the hard drive), but my cur­rent backup solu­tion doesn’t need to change. Well, it sort of does, but that’s a topic for another post where I ask about and com­pare offsite/online back­ups.
* iPhone firmware: I’m skep­ti­cally excited about this. I’d really like to install and use it, but I really need to force myself to wait until the 3rd party land­scape (both hacks and offi­cial) becomes a bit more clear. Webapps are great and all, but I rather enjoy MobileTwitteriffic, Stumbler, VNsea, iSoli­taire, weDict, iRCm, and weDict. Many of those things are impos­si­ble to do over the web, or at least would be so slow as to dis­cour­age use.

Posted in: Dear Diary iPhone

iPhone Downgrade

Using “Method B,” I down­graded my iPhone firmware from 1.1.1 to 1.0.2 today. It was pretty pain­less, although I had to re-enter all of my email set­tings, WiFi set­tings, and speed-dials. That silly fea­ture matrix from Wired pretty much sums up the rea­sons. The Wireless iTunes Store would have been pretty handy for lis­ten­ing to 30 sec­ond sound clips, when some­one brings up a song in con­ver­sa­tion (“oh yeah, I remem­ber that song.”) Other than that, I prob­a­bly would never use it. The abil­ity to double-click the home but­ton to bring up the iPod con­trols was slick, but super­flu­ous. I missed hav­ing a fake-GPS, a WiFi Stumbler, a good dictionary/thesaurus/general-reference app, a shell ter­mi­nal, and sev­eral games. It just wasn’t worth it to “upgrade” to 1.1.1.

Posted in: iPhone

iPhone Firmware 1.1.1

I updated to iPhone firmware 1.1.1 yes­ter­day. The upgrade went with­out a hitch–I did a full restore, rather than hope the update played well with the 3rd-party-app hacks. It went flaw­lessly. The wire­less iTunes store is inter­est­ing, but does not have the main things I would be lis­ten­ing to (pod­casts and audio­books.) Live, stream­ing 30-second clips of every­thing in the store is nice. Of course, the iPhone now uses the same (...or at least, a sim­i­lar) lock­down mode as the iPod Touch, mean­ing the iPhone hack­ers do not have a way of installing third-party apps any more. The Wired Gadget Blog sums up the sit­u­a­tion quite well with the fol­low­ing fea­ture matrix:

Iphone Feature Matrix
Posted in: iPhone


Hacking the iPhone

Apple released some new iPhone firmware today. Fortunately, they left in all of the loop­holes for hack­ing your own apps into it. The last time I hacked my phone, it took about half a day. This time, it took about 13 min­utes (10 of which were wait­ing for some­thing to down­load.) This is all it took:

That’s me typ­ing one com­mand, then me select­ing #3. Later on, that was me hold­ing down but­tons to reset the phone. From that point, you’re given an appli­ca­tion on the phone itself for installing addi­tional pack­ages:



For future ref­er­ence, when installing the OpenSSH pack­age...
The root pass­word is: dottie
Code to gen­er­ate a new hash is: perl -e 'print crypt("MYPASSWORD", "XX");'

I won­der how many peo­ple install OpenSSH with­out know­ing what it is, and with­out chang­ing pass­words and dis­abling accounts.

Posted in: Gadgets iPhone Software

iPhone turnkey hackery

springboard.pngBack in my day, we got an iPhone and we hacked it by hand! We fid­dled with shell scripts and USB con­nec­tions and com­pil­ers until every­thing even­tu­ally worked! You kids, these days, with your fancy GUI installers take all the fun out of things!

So, yes, a few weeks ago, I hacked my iPhone. The text file of notes I took dur­ing the process has been posted to my wiki. It’s more-or-less obso­lete now. Not only is there iFun­tas­tic, which lets you fid­dle with ring­tones and files, but there is just now Installer.app, which works like an “apt-get” or “Windows update/installer” sys­tem, pro­vid­ing a list of things avail­able to install. Two clicks later, it down­loads and installs the appli­ca­tion you want.

At this point, “hack­ing” the iPhone con­sists of:
1. Install iFun­tas­tic to copy Installer.app to your phone
2. Launch Installer.app

Posted in: Gadgets iPhone Software

Treo 650 ROM Updates

Please note that all blog posts before 8 April 2007 were auto­mat­i­cally imported from LiveJournal.  To see the com­ments and any LiveJournal-specific extras such as polls and user icons, please find the source post­ing at http://brianenigma.livejournal.com/2005/06/

For any­one with a Treo 650, I would highly rec­om­mend the 1.13 ROM update. The major thing it fixes is everyone's gripe with the filesys­tem. The filesys­tem on the 650 uses a rather huge block size for the types of files it stores, mean­ing lots of wasted space. I did not really notice it since I went from the 270 (with some­thing like 8 megs of space) to the 650 (with 23 megs for the user), plus I had a 1G card slot­ted in there. The card is nice for data files and rarely used apps, but not so great for often-used apps because of load­ing time. Because of this, most of my day-to-day apps are in main mem­ory, giv­ing me about 2 megs free. The new update uses space MUCH bet­ter. Now I have a hair under 10 megs free.

The upgrade required back­ing every­thing up, doing a hard reset (because the updater needs a lot of space), run­ning the updater, doing another hard reset, then restor­ing all of your data. The offi­cial method of backup/restore kind of sucks, since sev­eral impor­tant files do not get backed up this way. For instance, the Bluetooth secrets never get backed up (which is more of an annoy­ance since all you would have to do is per­form pair­ing again.) The more annoy­ing thing is the “Unsaved Preferences” file, which typ­i­cally con­tains your applications' ser­ial numbers–meaning after a restore, you have to dig up all of your ser­ial num­bers and re-enter them.

The unof­fi­cial method of back­ing up and restor­ing is highly rec­om­mended. This involves get­ting BackupBuddyVFS, back­ing up every­thing to a card in the card slot, then restor­ing it later. This is faster, more effi­cient, and gets every­thing. Plus hav­ing “check­point” snap­shots (only avail­able in the pro­fes­sional ver­sion) is pretty cool when you think you are about to do some­thing risky.

P.S. this is my first post with XJournal, which seems to be bet­ter and more well main­tained than iJour­nal, which I was using pre­vi­ously. Having tag sup­port is pretty nice. Previewing your user icons is also rather snazzy.

Posted in: Dear Diary Gadgets