Friday, September 05, 2008

TUAW Hits on iPhone/iPod Touch Instability

When I first began writing here about my stability issues in the 2.0.2 firmware on my iPod Touch, I was disappointed that none of the big Apple blogs and rumors sites had touched on this issue, unlike other bugs and problems users were experiencing.

However, The Unofficial Apple Weblog has finally posted on the issue in a post today. The post was apparently prompted by a discussion on the iPod Touch Fans forum that includes a workaround. Unfortunately, that workaround requires a jailbroken device and some hacking in the terminal. As of this writing, there is no workaround for this issue, other than reducing the number of apps installed on the device or avoiding the device altogether.

I was pleased that the article on iPod Touch Fans called the issue with the watchdog process I discussed in my previous post as a design flaw, making a clear distinction between that and a bug. When adding 3rd party app support, Apple should not have included a timeout killswitch that renders the device useless until restored.

While TUAW has reported on the problem, there is still no response from Apple. Interestingly enough, one of the commenters said they had been in contact with Apple support and Apple engineers could not replicate the problem. I sent an email a few days ago in a desperate attempt to get an answer from Apple as to whether or not they knew about or were fixing this issue, but did not receive a response.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Update on iPhone/iPod Touch 2.0.2 Instability

NOTE: An update to this post (yes I have three posts on this issue now) is available here: TUAW Hits on iPhone/iPod Touch Instability

If you would like to read my original post on problems I experienced with my iPod Touch, please check this post: iPhone/iPod Touch Crashing in 2.0.2

Since writing my original post on this topic and after maintaining a stable iPod Touch for about 2 weeks, I decided to clear off some of the Apps I was not using. iTunes and the iPod started to be unresponsive in the middle of uninstalling the apps and I had to kill iTunes, and restart the iPod Touch. Needless to say, it never came back up and I had to reset it again. This time I tried the Backup I had made the night before, but iTunes claimed it was corrupt so I had to start from scratch once again!

Looking into this issue further, I found the best article I have seen so far on this problem. You can read it here. Incredibly, the article, a post on the Apple Support Forums addresses the issue in the 2.0.1 firmware and is hopeful that 2.0.2 would fix the problems. Based on other responses in the thread (and obviously my own experiences), the 2.0.2 firmware only exacerbated the instability.

To summarize the post, the main issues were problems with the device handling memory, and an unfortunate startup procedure for when the device loads or restarts. Many of the instability issues are created when Apps are installed and memory becomes scarce (whether being installed through iTunes or directly on the device, although the latter is riskier). Once an app is corrupt, restarting the device will cause Springboard, the main process responsible for the Home Screen, to rebuild the Applications map. However, the device will kill Springboard on startup if it takes longer than 5 minutes to load. Once it is killed, the device cannot fully start and needs to be restored.

Apple needs to address the memory handling capabilities of the devices, and additionally the underlying issue that if Springboard takes too long to load, the device decides to prevent loading. It would also be nice if they would acknowledge the issue now, even if they do not have a fix yet.

Monday, September 01, 2008

iPhone/iPod Touch Crashing in 2.0.2

NOTE: I have an update with additional information in a post you can read here: Update on iPhone/iPod Touch 2.0.2 Instability

Due to lack of publicity, I would like to address the topic of instability in the latest iPhone/iPod Touch 2.0.2 firmware. The issues with the firmware that have been well publicized are issues with the 3G wireless, and Apps freezing on loading due to the device's DRM authorization being lost during the upgrade.

However, one major instability in the firmware has not been widely publicized, and unfortunately, I have suffered from it with my 32GB iPod Touch. Apparently, the firmware becomes unstable if the total amount of space taken up my Apps and their data exceeds a certain amount (supposedly 500MB). Apparently I exceeded the limit by installing the American Heritage Dictionary App, which clocks in at a heft 300MB.

Once this space is exceeded, the device will reset at some point (with me it happened during iTunes synchronization). While resetting, it displays the little white Apple logo familiar to when the device is starting up. However, this screen never goes away.

The only way to get the device operational again is to put it into Restore Mode. This can be done while the device is plugged into a computer by holding down the Sleep and Home buttons until the screen goes blank and then continuing to hold down the Home button until the device appears in iTunes. You then must restore the firmware and start from scratch (Thus losing all the data previously stored on the device).

I attempted to restore from a backup but unless the backup is from before the space on the device was exceeded, the backup will fail. Additionally, iTunes has a bad habit of being too quick to delete backups before you get to use them and Time Machine does not backup the folder where the backups are stored (~/Application Support/MobileSync/Backup).

Until Apple produces a fix to this problem, I will not be using the Dictionary app and will be careful not to exceed the 500MB mark. Apple really needs to address this issue and additionally fix iTunes so it does a quicker job Backing up iPhones (A backup takes between 2 and 3 hours for me) and making sure iTunes isn't so quick to delete perfectly good backups. It would also be nice if Apple allowed Time Machine to back up the folder, since currently there isn't even a way to force Time Machine to back it up.

NOTE: Read my update to this post here: Update on iPhone/iPod Touch 2.0.2 Instability

Avoid High-Priced Home Theater Cables

If you've been to any of the big-name tech stores, like Best Buy or Circuit City lately, and looked at their supply of home theater audio and video cables--you know one thing. They can be expensive!

Monster Cable has pretty much cornered the market on audio video cables and have suckered everyone into thinking that any other cable is inferior to their own. However, as one study showed, there is no audible difference between a Monster Cable audio cable and...wait for it...a coat hangar! You can read the story over at The Consumerist. has a large supply of audio and video cables and many of them can cost under $10, which compares to Monster Cable's prices of $100-$150. Recently I wanted a DVI to HDMI cable to hook my MacBook Pro up to an HDTV. Monster Cable's cables went for $130-$150. Even looking at Target I would have needed a $20 Belkin DVI-HDMI Adapter and then a separate $40 HDMI cable. On Amazon I purchased a DVI-HDMI adapter and an HDMI cable for under $13 with shipping.

So the next time you are looking for a cable, check online first. It could save you plenty of money!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

My Take on the iPhone SDK Announcement

Today's big news in the tech world undoubtedly came from Apple, with their announcement of the iPhone/iPod Touch Software Developer's Kit (SDK). Admittedly, I am probably not completely aware of all he pieces of the announcement (there are many). However, I would like to take some time to reflect on what this announcement means.

The SDK has been highly sought after since Apple announced it would be coming. Up until now, very few third party applications have been available for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Unlike other portable platforms, Apple's has a tremendous amount of potential and there is certainly a large pool of developers looking to develop for the iPhone. Although I do not own an iPhone or an iPod Touch (I am waiting for a $399 32GB iPod Touch), the added capability brought to the table by third party software is a major plus for the iPhone. Clearly the interface can facilitate many different utilities and programs Apple has not yet provided and that will be useful to have in your pocket.

The ability for third-party developers to add capability to the iPhone as they see fit is the best way for Apple to insure that the product stays cutting-edge and ahead of the market (with the exception of additional necessary hardware upgrades). I was glad to see that Apple
did not go the way of some of the rumors before the announcement suggested, where Apple would control what applications developers created would be available to iPhone/iPod Touch users. They did announce the App Store, which will be an application on the iPhone that allows the user to pick through a huge library of for-pay and free software for their iPhone. This does allow Apple some control over what products are most accessible to the users, but if it is done
like Apple's current Download section for Mac Desktops, it will be an extremely useful one-stop location for applications compatible with the device, without stifling independently designed software ideas.

From here on out, it will be interesting to see what kinds of apps developers come up with and how these new capabilities change the habits of iPhone users and change the minds of potential adopters.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Much of the previous content I featured on this blog was focused on
Linux. Since that time, Linux has evolved into a more advanced
operating system and is in a position to gain wider use in many
embedded and desktop (as well as server) applications. While it
certainly has its own uses, I have recently purchased a MacBook Pro
and become a fully-initiated member of the Cult of Mac. While I intend
to move this blog toward a greater focus on Mac and Apple news, I
still have a huge interest in other computer topics, and my posts to
this blog will reflect that. I hope you will stay tuned as a begin to
post new tips and tricks for Macs as well as more captivating articles
on all things tech.

Check back soon for my article on the upcoming MacWorld conference,
which should have some huge surprises in store. I will be giving my
take on the rumors, since it seems everyone has their own opinion on
just what Steve Jobs has up his sleeve this time.

Back Online

Well, after over a year since my last post and even longer since the
Killer Tech site was routinely updated, I am returning to the blogging
scene. I have a lot of new material I want to share on this blog and
intend to bring it in a new direction while maintaining the same kind
of interesting content that helped this blog reach over 5,000 unique
visits in the last two years. Be sure to check back often because all
sorts of new information, all tech related, but not necessarily as
tightly focused as before) in the near future. I hope you enjoy the
new content I will be bringing to this blog, and I encourage you as
always to share the information with others and to comment and
interact with me on the blog and elsewhere.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

New Killer Tech Forums

I have set up a new PHPbb discussion forum on This will ad an additional way for readers of this blog to interact. The forum is primarily geared for the same topics covered on this forum: tech, computers, gadgets, and hacks. However, other topics can be discussed in the Off Topic forum. I hope any of our regular readers will take a dvantage of our forums.

In addition, I hope to begin updating the blog more regularly now.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Tech News RSS Feed

I used FeedBlendr to roll up 23 of the best technology-related news sites and blogs into one easy feed URL. I know I will have missed something that someone would like to see in it, but at least its a start. Enjoy!

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Monday, January 30, 2006

What Application Do You Want Ported to Linux?

Novell's Cool Solutions posted a survey asking people what Windows-only applications they are using that prevent them from switching to Linux. The survey also asks current Linux users what Windows-only applications they would like to see ported to Linux.

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