Monthly Archives: June 2010

iPhone update

When iPhone iOS4 came out, I was relatively quick to upgrade my iPhone 3G to the new OS to try out the few new features that work on the older phone. One thing I noticed immediately was that the phone slowed down. The iPhone 3G, even running OS 3.1.3 is slower than the 3Gs and 4 but I’ve been using this phone for a year now and there was a marked difference in speed: launching applications especially is slower under the new OS but also some interaction within applications as well, like using the camera and browsing pictures.

Given that we have terrible cell reception here at our house I hadn’t noticed that iOS4 had made any difference in the iPhone 3G reception but I had an experience in New York two days ago that made it clear that iOS4 is at least partly responsible for certainly the 3G if not the 4′s problems with reception.

iOS4 Reception Issues
I was at Kennedy Airport waiting for a friend coming in from China on Delta. The plane landed on time but it’s baggage door wouldn’t open so the passengers and those of us waiting outside waited over four hours for the bags to be extracted from the plane (a 747 400), one by one. Delta was terrible but that’s another story. During that time many people in the waiting area were talking with their passenger friends and relatives stuck inside. I noticed that most of the people with iPhones were having problems with reception, everyone else was happily talking away. I realize that many in New York are not fans of AT&T’s poor coverage in the city but this was different. The woman I was standing next to (an attractive movie producer) had an iPhone 3G like mine running iOS 3.1.3 (the latest OS upgrade before 4). She was occasionally able to get a bar or two and get through to her mother on the other side. I never got service at all. I queried other people with iPhones and only one other person had my setup of a 3G with new iOS4 and he was getting no service. Meanwhile, my friend on the other side has an iPhone 3Gs running OS 3.1.3 and he was able to call me (I had numerous messages from him when I got service again.

So, does this experience prove anything? I doubt it but it sure looks to me like at least part of the reception problem people are having with iPhone 4s is iOS4 which of course is upgradeable.

Downgrading the iPhone 3G
After this experience I decided to downgrade the OS on the iPhone 3G before I gave it to my wife. It turns out it’s not a simple task but it is quite doable if you follow some instructions.

I used this article on Lifehacker: How to Downgrade Your iPhone 3G[S] from iOS 4 to iOS 3.1.3 but Christopher Breen at Macworld has a nice overview you should consider reading as well: Rolling back your iPhone 3G to OS 3.1.3.

It’s totally doable and my iPhone 3G is now working fine with the older OS 3.1.3.

The day after my Kennedy airport experience AT&T called telling me that they had my iPhone 4 so I went down there with a freshly scrubbed 3G and they set up both phones and upgraded our account. Those of you who read my rant about AT&T know that I was not really looking forward to dealing with this particular retail store again. Well, they must have known it; they were extremely nice to me and made the entire process of getting the new phone and setting up my old 3G for Anne fast and easy.

So, now we have two phones and from my very informal testing here’s my verdict:

The old 3G is running as fast as ever with the same reception it had before the upgrade to iOS4. My recommendation for any 3G owners out there is to stick with the old OS, the few iOS4 features you’ll get out of the upgrade are not worth the speed decrease and possible loss of reception until iOS4 gets upgraded.

The iPhone 4 is fantastic. My phone has no yellow marks on its screen and I’ve not seen any drop in bars no matter how I hold it. We went hiking today and found a lost dog. I called the phone number on the dog’s tag halfway up Bear Mountain which is a tough place to get any reception. I’m left handed and hold the phone in my left hand. No problems at all. Of course, I’m not used to having 4 bars on a phone around here so slight losses of signal are part of living where there are few cell towers. I like the way the phone feels in my hand and I’m looking forward to exploring its new features.

AT&T Sucks (I guess I’m late to find out)

Let me preface this by saying I’m in no huge rush for a new iPhone. I can wait, no problem.

I pre-ordered an iPhone at our local, New Milford AT&T store the very first day it was possible. I was told I’d have a phone the day they went on sale. That day has come and gone and each day that store gets new phones in and they say my phone is not in yet. Each day at 7 am there are people lined up outside the store who did not pre-order a phone and AT&T is selling them phones.

Maybe I’m just dim but it would seem to me that they’d fill pre-orders first, then sell what’s left to walk-ins but in fact, they’re being greedy: they already have my money and they’re selling the new stock to walk-ins keeping me on hold.

I just called them and they said they have no idea when “my phone” will be in but I didn’t know ordering a phone meant Apple was custom building one for me (they are not) or that they were ordering a phone through Apple’s ordering system for me (they are not).

This is the worst possible way to build customer loyalty and while I’m not absolutely sure Apple wouldn’t do this too, I’m quite sure I’d have had a phone days ago had I simply ordered it direct from Apple the first day they were available.

AT&T sucks.

iPhone 4 photography: how does it perform as a camera?

iPhone 4 photography: how does it perform as a camera?

Xeni Jardin at Boingboing posts some great shots taken with the new iPhone. Frankly, the camera in this phone is going to eat away at the mid-level point and shoot camera market and of course, if you’re already carrying a phone you have a camera and a way to post images online from it.

Getty Center Abstractions 2

Getty Center abstraction

Los Angeles, California. Every time I get to the Getty I’m astounded by the architecture. The architect Richard Meier put incredible lines, windows, angles, curves, and textures in almost every view. You look up, down, across and through in almost any place you can get to and there are things of interest to see.

Getty Center abstraction

Looking at the details of this architecture abstractly reminds me of the work of Kandinsky and other Bauhaus painters and architects as well as the Russian Supremists and I wanted to make a small collection to attempt to document that.

These images are of the series: Getty Center Abstractions which can be seen as thumbnails or a slide show.

The iPad Keyboard Dock Works With the iPhone 3GS

The iPad Keyboard Dock Works With the iPhone 3GS

If you read both Andy’s notes and the comments below, you’ll note that this does not work with the iPhone 3G running iOS4. Not a deal breaker for me as my 3G will go to Anne who won’t care about this. As a (hopefully) soon to be iPhone 4 user, this is great news for me as I’ll definitely get some kind of external keyboard to use with it, maybe more than one to try out. I do like the idea of a larger keypad to make touch typing easier and more accurate.

[via Daring Fireball]

Ambrose Bierce Quotations

I’ve been collecting quotations for years and figured I’d put my collections online for others to use as they wish. Enjoy these quotations, use the comment form to share any quotations by Ambrose Bierce you don’t find here.

Note: I’ve got quite a bit of The Devil’s Dictionary included here.

More on Ambrose Bierce:

A bird in the hand is worth what it will bring.
- Ambrose Bierce

A cynic is a blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, and not as they ought to be.
- Ambrose Bierce

A cynic is one who never sees a good quality in a man, and never fails to see a bad one. He is the human owl, vigilant in darkness, and blind to light, mousing for vermin, and never seeing noble game.
- Ambrose Bierce

A man is known by the company that he organizes.
- Ambrose Bierce

A penny saved is a penny to squander.
- Ambrose Bierce

Prejudice, n. A vagrant opinion without visible means of support.
- Ambrose Bierce

Prehistoric, adj. Belonging to an early period and a museum. Antedating the art and practice of perpetuating falsehood.
- Ambrose Bierce

Quoting, n. The act of repeating erroneously the words of another.
- Ambrose Bierce

Specialist, n. One who knows everything about something and nothing about anything else.
- Ambrose Bierce

Absurdity, n. A statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one’s own opinion.
- Ambrose Bierce

Continue reading


California poppy

Los Angeles, California. Each time we go to The Getty Center I look down into the garden from above to see what’s in bloom and if it will be worthwhile wheeling my 95 year old mother down there for a look. This past trip we took a spin through the garden because the poppies were in bloom. I love these flowers although in a light wind they’re near impossible to photograph. No tripods aloud at the Getty either and no room for them in the garden so shots like this are tough to do well there.

Smith Rocks Climbing, 1978

Heading toward Asterisk Pass, 1978

Smith Rocks, Oregon. Pete Pollard (front) and me walking along the Crooked River at Smith Rocks toward Asterisk Pass. We went over the pass and hiked back north on the other side to the base of Monkey Face where we climbed a nice route called West Face Variation on Monkey Face.

This picture was taken by Faye Nakamura who did the climb with us.

Yes… in another life I was a semi-serious climber.

Leading the first pitch of West Face Variation, 1978

That’s me leading the first pitch on West Face Variation on Monkey Face. This was a warm-up route for something else we did that weekend but I can’t remember what it was. Pete Pollard was belaying me while Faye Nakamura took the picture.

The three of us swapped leads on this and if memory serves I got the scary lead out of the monkey’s mouth. The free rappel off the top is "memorable" if memory serves.



We hiked from Salisbury, Connecticut up over Lion’s Head and over to Bear Mountain and back (about 11 miles round trip) and this fern was one of many varieties on the trail.

This is a great hike if you’re ever in the area, loaded with lots of great trees, mountain laurel (in season), ferns and more.


A Quick Introduction to WolframAlpha

Wolfram|Alpha’s long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything. Our goal is to build on the achievements of science and other systematizations of knowledge to provide a single source that can be relied on by everyone for definitive answers to factual queries.

Holy shit. Get this, I think they’re doing it.

This is an incredible screencast by Stephen Wolfram and I highly recommend watching it, it will blow your mind. I’d heard about this project but had never seen it demoed and talked about like this. One of the more incredible demonstrations of something that all of us can use right now.

Use WolframAlpha here:

I just downloaded and installed the WolframAlpha iPhone App.

I just found out that I was born on a Wednesday.

Check on the weather in Warren, CT right now.

Enough, I need to get on to other things… Wow. I’m going to be using this, a lot.

[via Dale Allyn]

Ordering iPhone 4: less than fun

Errors Mar Initial Sales of iPhone 4

I own an iPhone 3G. My wife and I decided that I’d get an iPhone 4 and give her the 3G. I called AT&T a week ago to find out how best to do this purchase and change to our account. I spent twenty minutes discussing various ways to go with an AT&T sales rep on the phone.

She told me that she had put all the choices I made and the process for the upgrade in our AT&T call plan in my record and that any AT&T or Apple store involved in my buying an iPhone 4 would have access to that information.

Yesterday I went down to our “local” AT&T store to put in an order for the new iPhone. I went in the middle of the day, thinking that the lines might be long at opening. The store was empty and I was greeted by the same sales rep who had sold me my 3G. He handed me a paper form to fill out and I told him that my choices were in my account with AT&T online. He fed me a line about the folks at AT&T’s call in order center not knowing what they were doing and no doubt they’d messed up my request and that I should just do it all again with him. I again asked him to look at my account for a record of my discussion with AT&T and he at no time told me their network was down. In other words, he lied to me.

I filled out the form and he wrote down my credit card number and added my form to a stack of forms on a table and I left but I was not happy about what had happened.

If this ordering fiasco can be traced back to AT&T I hope Jobs goes through the roof and reads them the riot act. There’s only so much of this crap Apple customers should put up with before Jobs dumps AT&T for another carrier. It’s not just that they’re cell networks aren’t great, the back and front ends of their ordering operation sucks too.