Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Galaxy S Tab: the (real) big iPod Touch?

Giz has a very unfavorable review of the Galaxy S tablet. But I point your attention to this image from that article:

That's an iPhone on top of a Galaxy S tablet on top of an iPad. For those saying the iPad was just a large iPod touch, I ask you to reconsider. Its a really good thing that Apple decided to get close to notebook proportions with the iPad and eschew the 7-inch form-factor, because otherwise you'd end up with what really is a big iPod touch in terms of use-cases / user-interaction.

Giz's review even points out that the UI of apps don't have to be changed at all to be usable instantly on the Galaxy S. Perhaps this class of devices (7-inch Android tablets) will be the iPod touch competitors Gruber keeps asking for. Maybe not though, since the media player type of device he wants would be sub $300.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ars on HDCP Hack Implementation: "Pointless"

From Ars:
The software implementation should be able to decrypt a 1080p30 stream given a suitably fast dual-core processor and about 1.6GB of RAM. The poor performance is due to the nature of the algorithm. HDCP was designed to be cheap and fast for hardware manufacturers, but operations that are quick and easy in hardware are often slow and inefficient in software. In spite of this, the developers believe they have opportunities for further optimization and improvement, making real-time decryption on more modest hardware feasible.

Just wait until someone ports this to FPGA or custom ASIC, bearing in mind that Altera dev boards start at $200. Instant HDCP cracking. What's at stake here is pixel-for-pixel rips of ANY content that plays on your TV.

Friday, September 17, 2010

HDCP Utterly Broken, Intel Doesn't Care

I've been following this story for days now, and it appears Intel has responded saying that the master key that has been released is the real deal. From Ars:

Intel, unsurprisingly, said that it expected HDCP to remain effective. The spokesman told CNET, "There's a large install base of licensed devices including several hundred licensees that will continue to use it and in any case, were a [circumvention] device to appear that attempts to take advantage of this particular hack there are legal remedies, particularly under the DMCA [Digital Millennium Copyright Act]."

In other words, Intel and the media companies don't care that their encryption systems offer only token protection and consumer inconvenience; all that matters is that the encryption systems are sufficient to meet the DMCA threshold for a content protection system: the threat of legal action, rather than cryptography, is their real tool against unapproved uses of digital content.

My thoughts exactly; by using an encryption scheme they knew was easily breakable and easy to implement, they can still claim they tried to protect copyrights with this technology so the DMCA applies.

They are wrong about being protected though; its only a matter of time before someone programs a little custom microcontroller or FPGA to use the key to make perfect digital copies of any content over HDMI. Then of course, they make all the code and PCB designs available for free. Hobyists and grey market peddlers alike will start making these things, and probably selling them on eBay. In other words, once something like this gets out, legal action won't be enough to stop its proliferation.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

iTunes formats converge on 720p, and why aspect ratio matters

While reading some forums about MP4 authoring, I came to the realization that Apple has finally converged on one video resolution for all of its devices. This is pretty nice, since there will be no more iTunes video downloads that are two files, one for your iPods/iPhones, and one for your AppleTV; now, the ENTIRE video playing mobile line (iPod touches, iPhones, iPad) plus AppleTV support H264 MP4 at 720p.

Now, the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad all don't ACTUALLY have this many pixels on the screen, so your video format is always downscaled for viewing on these devices, but the format convergence is a huge enough of a benefit to offset this effect.

But the pixel mismatch is pretty huge too. In fact, the iPhone's/iPod's 960x640 display is two thrids the pixels of 720p, and after you scale a true 720p video to fit on the screen and take the aspect ratio mismatch (black bars) into account, your screen shows "540p" video, for only 56.25% of the pixels of 720p. The iPad isn't much better; it has about 85% of the pixels of 720p, but a 720p video on the screen shows up as "576p" with 64% of the pixels of 720p.

The point here is that aspect ratio really matters when you talk about video formats and video playback devices. Although Apple has converged on a format, they haven't converged on an aspect ratio, and it really makes a difference to your viewing experience. Now, whether or not they CAN do so is a hard question, but it makes for interesting food for thought. With several different film formats, SDTV, HDTV, DVD, recording equipment, etc. all having slightly different resolutions and aspect ratios, and with all the converting that goes on in the media authoring process, its still a big open question. For my two cents, the HDTV standards of 720 or 1080 lines in a 16:9 aspect ratio seem to be driving the digital video revolution we're seeing. Like Steve said the other day, people want to see TV shows, and they want them cheaply. Clearly ABC and FOX are on board for this 99c rental thing, and all of their shows are authored in 16:9 because HDTV standards are 16:9, and so this seems to be a reasonable aspect ratio to pick for the latest and greatest hardware platform. As another example, the majority of Netflix use I hear about is for watching TV shows, which are all 16:9. This aspect ratio also seems to kind of be smack dab in the middle of common formats. Its the least "wide" of the formats we consider widescreen, so its still okay for 4:3 SDTV content, and "anamorphic widescreen" formats don't have TOO much screen real estate wasted.

The problem with this reasoning is that its a tradeoff. Any aspect ratio a company picks for its hardware is a tradeoff between watching different types of content, and its really a sorry situation. What's truly necessary is for the film and TV and camera people to all get together on an aspect ratio; here's hoping that happens with 16:9, driven by the current HDTV zeitgeist.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Netflix comes to iPhone (officially)

Well, my previous tutorial was all for nothing: its been officially released! Hit up iTunes for the download.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Update: Netflix for iPhone with only iPhone and iPad!

I did something similar to the previous post, and it works! I did it without unzipping the IPA file; instead I transferred straight off the iPad onto the iPhone, and installed a user agent switcher so that the Netflix website would think I was an iPad. It just works! Jump after the break for better instructions. Enjoy!

  1. Prereqs: jailbroken iPhone and iPad, with ssh running on both. This is in Cydia as "OpenSSH". Both devices should be on the same WiFi network.
  2. On my jailbroken iPad, I used SSH Terminal to log into the iPad (from the iPad). Login as root (Note: if this is your first time ssh-ing into the iPad, the password is dottie or alpine; make sure you change it to something you'll remember using the passwd command). This is necessary because as far as I know MobileTerminal doesn't work on the newer iOS, it just crashes.
  3. cd into "/var/mobile/Applications", then run a "find . | grep Netflix" to find the location of the folder. It'll be stashed in a directory with a long name.
  4. cd into the long directory name from here, and then use scp to copy over this folder into "/var/stash/Applications" iPhone, something like: "scp -r root@IPHONE.IP.ADDY.HERE:/var/stash/Applications". You can find your iPhone IP address in the wifi Settings.
  5. When it finished, reboot the phone.
  6. Go into Cydia on the iPhone and install "User Agent Faker" from BigBoss repo (Tweaks).
  7. Go into "Settings->User Agent Faker->User Agent->Apple iPad"
  8. Go into "Settings->User Agent Faker->Applications" and toggle on Safari.
  9. Log into in Safari and try and play an instant movie. Safari should go to the background and the Netflix app will come up and start playing the movie!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Netflix on iPhone

This is worth a link and quote so I remember how to do this in the future. From Lifehacker:

  1. Download the Netflix app for iPad to iTunes.
  2. Right click on the Netflix app you just downloaded and select ‘Show in Windows Explorer' if you're on a PC, or ‘Show in Finder' if you're on a Mac.
  3. Rename Netflix 1.0.4.ipa to Netflix and extract the zip file to your desktop.
  4. Look for the Payload folder inside the extracted folder. In there you will find the folder.
  5. SSH into your iPhone and copy the folder to either /Applications/ or /private/var/stash/Applications/.
  6. Change the permission on the folder to 755. You can do this by typing chmod 755, which worked for me, but it looks like some are having trouble. If that doesn't work for you, try: chmod -r 755 instead.
  7. Reboot your iPhone.
  8. Now go to the App Store from your iPhone and download a non-Safari browser with identification options, such as Atomic Web ($0.99) or Perfect Browser ($1.99). In Atomic Web, go to Settings and select Safari - iPad under Identify Browser As. In Perfect Browser, go to Settings and select Safari iPad under Desktop Rendering.
  9. Still in Atomic Web or Perfect Browser, navigate to, log in, and find a movie to watch instantly. Perfect Browser will close and will start playing your movie.
Also from modmyi and vimeo!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Jailbreak for the Lulz

For the moment, the most visible concern for Apple has been pranksters going into Apple and Best Buy retail stores and jailbreaking display models, according to tech blog Engadget. Yet, the security and privacy issues are serious.

Serious indeed.

Monday, August 9, 2010

iSpot released by Clear WiMax; works with all devices!

Clear WiMax is offering a cheap $25 data plan that works only with Apple iOS devices. They sell you a device, and it acts as a WiFi hotspot only for Apple hardware. "How does it know what kind of device I'm using?" is the first question that popped into my mind, because there is nothing in the WiFi protocol that requires a device to identify itself. Well it turns out the hotspot knows which blocks of MAC addresses are issued by Apple. MAC addresses are easily spoofed though, as per the link below. I am considering getting this, I wonder if its available in Baltimore.

Update: Engadget reports that hackers have figured out how to modify the settings on the device to prevent it from MAC filtering!

Saturday, August 7, 2010 blocked at the apple store

As you might know, @comex has released a userland jailbreak that exploits a bug in the iPhone PDF rendering code. He uses it to root your phone and then install Cydia, the alternative app store. Well, it turns out that the Apple WiFi networks in stores automatically redirect you to when you try and visit this site! Fortunately, all the phones in stores have AT&T plans, so you just have to disable the WiFi and hop on the 3G, which unlike the in-store WiFi, isn't controlled by Apple. And just like that, you can Jailbreak phones while the Apple employees watch helplessly.

Not really, they probably would kick you out of the store if they saw you doing it, but how much can they really blame you, the customer, for visiting a website. If anything, its Apple's fault for making a browser flaw that can be exploited in this way. I'll bet if I bricked my phone using this method, I could get Apple to take back the phone and refund me since its a faulty product with a security flaw. Visiting a specific website can't really void my warranty, can it?

Monday, June 28, 2010

iPhone 4: Impressions

It's a small iPad :-)

The screen resolution is ridiculous for this size.

Upgrading from an older iPhone makes it feel like my iPhone just got really fast overnight. By that I mean that since all of my contacts and settings were automatically applied to the new phone, the final user experience is like someone upgraded my hardware, but it's still MY phone. The experience is unlike any other phone upgrade.

The camera performs really well in good lighting. The video at 720p feels like cheap video but is still of a high resolution. By that, I mean that I was expecting a more film like quality, but it is still quite good. The film like aspect can probably be coaxed out by changing the frame rate down to 24 fps in post production.

The multitasking implementation is good enough if the apps support fast switching. They don't all yet.

The front facing camera will be useful once Skype updates to use the new hardware. I haven't made a facetime call yet, but I can certainly say that the camera quality is far cower than the back camera, according to my preliminary camera tests.

iPhone 3G for sale

If anyone is interested, I'm selling my old iPhone on eBay, since I've upgraded. Get it for cheap!

Ebay listing

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

iPhone 4 came in a day early

The last phone I got was the iPhone 3G two years ago; now I have got the iPhone 4! It came in a full day early. Its kind of an incremental compared to the 3GS, but coming from the 3G, its huge. As always, I'll try to post some impressions tomorrow.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Google TV: First Impressions

Damn, looks cool. Doesn't blow me away, yet. I'll have to see the tech demo of one in action.

If it can integrate your regular TV option (Cable, OTA, or Satellite) with web, and make it all searchable, I'd say they have a winner. It seems like any old HTPC (or any PC for that matter) can give you web content on your TV; its the integration with the standard TV options that will make this thing awesome. And they'll have to get the UI really slick and seamless when going between TV and web. Maybe couple it with a DVR that records all your shows (maybe every show for the past few days?), make them all searchable too, so that everything is kind of "on demand". Otherwise, it seems like you'd have two classes of content, one that starts whenever you like (web), and one that is "live" and can only be accessed during broadcast.

Monday, May 3, 2010

iPad Jailbreak: What doesn't work

NES - a NES emulator crashes when you open it
iMobileCinema - Flash movie decoder doesn't seem to work with iPad Safari

This list will be updated as I find stuff.

Spirit Jailbreaks iPad (and all other iDevices)

New jailbreak is out for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touches. I think it works with all models and all new firmwaress. This appears to be a userland jailbreak, so its FAST; one click does it, and my iPad rebooted, jailbroken in about 30 seconds.

Get it here:

Now to test out what Cydia apps work, and which ones will make me crash hard :-)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Daniel Lyons: Say What?

Daniel Lyons is missing something here...

An Apple spokesman says Flash is "closed and proprietary" and that Apple supports other development tools that are "open and standard." But banning Flash also pushes customers to buy movies and TV shows from iTunes rather than watch them on a free Web site. It pushes developers to write apps that get distributed through Apple's App Store, rather than through a Web browser.

This is ridiculous. If you were using flash before to serve free content through a browser, you'll want to stick to the browser and just use the standards in question (HTML5 and H264) to serve free content to the iPlatform now. The user isn't forced into paying for otherwise free content, it'll just come down the pipes in a standard format, and Apple is the pressure forcing developers to use these standards. Look at all the companies who have been rolling out free, standards based (read: non-Flash based) video options like mad since the iPad was announced. To quote Steve:

YouTube, with an estimated 40% of the web’s video, shines in an app bundled on all Apple mobile devices, with the iPad offering perhaps the best YouTube discovery and viewing experience ever. Add to this video from Vimeo, Netflix, Facebook, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ESPN, NPR, Time, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, People, National Geographic, and many, many others. iPhone, iPod and iPad users aren’t missing much video.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Citrix + iPad = Frankentablet

Using the Citrix Receiver for iPad to connect to Georgia Tech Virtual Lab remotely. This is Matlab running on a remote instance of XP. It works well and feels crazy :-)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Use iPhone tethering to get 3G on your WiFi only iPad

I figured out a way to get the 3G service from your 3G enabled iPhone to your iPad, only using these two devices and software! Although there might be other ways to achieve this, this worked for me and is relatively simple to set up.

Jailbreak your phone
There is plenty of info online about how to do this, so google it. As far as I know, the iPhone 3G and 3GS can be jailbroken on the most up to date firmware.

Buy MyWi
Any jailbreak method should leave you with Cydia. So in Cydia, search for MyWi. This application enables the phone's 3G service to be shared over WiFi. I don't condone pirating, so seriously, BUY this, don't steal it via those sinful iPhone repos that are out there that hosting cracked apps. Make sure you get the No Rock version with Cydia. If you are using Rock as your jailbreak package manager, then get the appropriate download.

Enable MyWi
Name your network, set a password. Then hit the on switch to enable to WiFi tethering. You'll know its working when you see the blue bar telling you upload and download figures.

Connect iPad to this WiFi network
Go to your iPad Settings->WiFi. Find the network that MyWi has created. Join it and enter the password.

But be careful of your network operator charging you for extra data, since tethering is technically not part of your "unlimited" service, especially here in the US with AT&T

Friday, April 2, 2010

Preview the iPad Gmail interface

I changed my browser user agent string to the iPad's:
Mozilla/5.0(iPad; U; CPU iPhone OS 3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/531.21.10 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.4 Mobile/7B314 Safari/531.21.10
And Gmail looked like this:

Awesome, iPad interface is live! To do the same, just change your user agent string in your browser too and give it a shot. The interface looks like Apple mail, and it looks like it will look sweet as well on iPad. Of course, I figured this all out this morning before i read this:

I really hope the demand is low at the Augusta Georgia Apple Store, where I'm going to try and pick one up in the morning.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

iPhone Autocorrect makes iPad into "upas"

I'd bet a lot to say that it will autocorrect to "iPad" after the next update.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Regarding PS3 Linux Support

Last summer, Ars interviewed Sony about the Slim not having Linux as a built in option. Here is what they said.

Why was the ability to install Linux removed from the system?

"There are a couple of reasons. We felt we wanted to move forward with the OS we have now. If anyone wants to use previous models and change the OS, they can do so." Koller said. "We wanted to standardize our OS."

There you have it folks. They said if we wanted to use previous models and change the OS, we can. Now they changed their minds. They really can't continue to be so fickle to their customers and expect us to keep coming back for more.

I used to admire Sony products, and preferentially look for them when buying electronics. Sony is now my last choice.

Apple is singlehandedly changing Web video

Apple has said "no Adobe Flash" on their mobile platforms. Its been like this since iPhone 1.0, and although there is a huge install base of iPhones, many websites have remained Flash only. Then the iPad was announced. Between January 27th and now, sites with huge user communities like NYTimes, Time, and CBS have been considering using the open web video standard (HTML5) instead of Adobe Flash. All of these groups have more or less acknowledged that the iPad is a major factor in their choice to offer video using HTML5. All of this influence from Apple is on account of what people expect from the unreleased iPad.

Before the iPad, we didn't hear about many big sites who were willing to deploy HTML5 for video. Apple takes one stubborn position and announces one new device, and suddenly HTML5 video is poised to replace the de facto Flash standard.

Things in technology don't move this fast. I'm awestruck.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sony Open Letter: update

Here is the reply I got from Sony. They are basically saying that the TOS/EULA allows them to update/upgrade my machine any way they please. And that I don't have to install the update if I don't want to, but the fact is that not updating will brick my console for online gaming, PSN, and new games which require up-to-date firmware.

Here is the reply:

Hello Raj,

Thank you for writing to us in regard to the newest PlayStation(R)3 computer entertainment system.

Due to security concerns, Sony Computer Entertainment will remove the "Other OS" functionality through the 3.21 system software update. This will help to ensure that PS3 owners will continue to have access to the broad range of gaming and entertainment content from SCE and its content partners on a more secure system.

Furthermore, consumers and organizations that currently use the “Other OS” feature can choose not to upgrade their PS3 systems, as this is an optional update.

For further information:

Lastly, as stated in Article 11 of the SCEA's End Users License Agreement (EULA), "Such content may include automatic updates or upgrades which may change your current operating system [...]. Such upgrades or updates may be provided for system software for your PS3™ system, the PSP® system or other SCEA-authorized hardware. Access or use to any system software is subject to terms and conditions of a separate end user license agreement found at You authorize SCEA to provide such content and agree that SCEA shall not be liable [...] for provision of such content or maintenance services."

PlayStation®Network Terms of Service and User Agreement:

Please rest assured that we will convey your feedback to Sony Computer Entertainment America's ("SCEA") appropriate management.

Tenera S.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Open Letter to Sony Computer Entertainment

This is an open letter, which as also been sent to the Playstation Consumer Services via this page:

Begin letter:
PS3 OtherOS support is being dropped in a firmware update according to the Playstation Blog. The post advises users that they can choose to not upgrade at the cost of losing access to PSN and newer games. The blog cites "security concerns".

This is unacceptable. The OtherOS feature was advertised at launch, and was one of my main factors in deciding to purchase a PS3 system. I have been using Linux on my PS3 for academic projects in learning CellBE programming. I also enjoy playing games and accessing PSN. I should not be made to choose between the two, since the device was advertised as a gaming machine with the option to install any other OS I choose to install.

Once this update goes out, I will not update my PS3 system. I would like to know how I may access my games and PSN after this update ships. In the event that I am unable to retain my OtherOS functionality and play my games and access PSN, I will pursue other actions within my rights to rectify this situation.

Sony makes a terrible decision: drops Linux support on PS3

Are they kidding?

They are removing OtherOS support for the old PS3. This was a primary selling point when I bought it, as has been documented in this blog. I have Ubuntu installed on my PS3, and now I have to decide between using Linux, or being able to play games/PSN. This is unacceptable; if this firmware update gets pushed out the door, I'm going to Sony and ask for my money back. Sony advertised this support when I bought the console; by my refusing to update, my system will effectively be a brick when it comes to gaming. I paid for a fully functioning Linux machine AND gaming console, all in one nice box. Soon I'll have only half that functionality.

I wonder if a class action lawsuit is already in the works; I should do some searching.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

RedEye mini coming to iPhone; DIY coming soon

UPDATE 11 Nov 2010: it turns out I was wrong about it being the simple option, and right about the "at most" part. Thinkflood mentions the simple option themselves in a semi-technical writeup of the technology, but goes on to mention the shortcomings of this approach. Instead, they use a microcontroller to blink the LED, and the audio frequency signals are only for communicating with and powering up the microcontroller. This of course means that while the communication protocol between the software/phone and the Mini hardware can be reverse engineered, the microcontroller will still have propriatary code to drive the LEDs; it looks like reverse engineering this isn't going to be fun, easy, or cheap any more, so I guess this project is out. Old post follows.

Old Post

I'm excited about this product that claims to turn your iPhone/iPod Touch into a universal remote control.

This takes me back to the old days of my Palm m505 that had built-in IR, and plenty of programs that did the universal remote functionality. Since the iPhone doesn't have built-in IR functionality, ThinkFlood decided to make a "hardware" component that costs $50 and plugs into your headphone jack. There is some free-of-cost software to drive it that has the universal remote functionality. I use quotes around hardware because my sense is that this is probably nothing more than an IR LED or two connected to a 3.5mm connector. All the smart stuff is clearly done in the software, which generates audio signals to drive the LED.

At MOST, the device has a watch battery, a few transistors, a microcontroller and an LED. Lets hope not.

I'm going to try and reverse engineer this thing and make a cheap device that works with the official RedEye app. The audio output should be able to be recorded and analyzed as a starter. Gutting a RedEye mini would be the other part. Stay tuned.

PS: Here are some relevent links that will help in the hacking.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pre-ordered Heavy Rain

On a whim, I preordered this game from GameStop. It seems really different from other games out there, so I think it'll at least be an interesting play through. Incidentally, if you preorder you get access to some additional episodic downloadable content. I'll probably post some opinions here about it after I play.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sync your iPhone with Ubuntu 9.10

Just wanted to post this link. It didn't work exactly by copy pasting his command, but I did the same steps manually and it worked for me.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tethering with PdaNet on Jailbroken iPhone

The PdaNet software provides tethering for jailbroken iPhones. The problem is, after version 1.33 of the software, its no longer free. Luckily, version 1.33 is still available in binary form here:

At the time of writing, version 1.61 is the latest version and has lots of nice new tricks up its sleeve. There are versions floating around the web you can use, you know what to do with the following:

After obtaining a .deb file, make sure you've installed OpenSSH in Cydia on your phone. Then, all that's left is to scp it up to your iphone:

scp pdanet1.33.deb

The password would be alpine or dottie, unless you've changed this manually. Then ssh into your phone with the same password:


And install the PdaNet package:

dpkg -i ./pdanet1.33.deb

Restart your iPhone and there you have it! Tethering over WiFi. If you managed to get version 1.61, then you can tether via the USB cable, but only if your computer is Mac or Windows (no Linux).