Thursday, August 14, 2008

To Jailbreak, or not to Jailbreak?

So far I have not Jailbroken my iPhone 3G. The App Store has for the most part kept me fairly happy with the things that it offered. Fairly. I will more than likely jailbreak it though at some point: Whatever it will take to get tethering going. I seem to be spending a fair amount of time lately in places where the only electronic communications I have working is my iPhone.

As I write this I am sitting in the Amtrak train station in Houston. It is a total backwater of the Internet. To write this post "natively" on Blogger (I.E., Web 2.0 style, with Internet access to the Blogger built in editor) is just not possible from here: In fact, I am sharing the one electrical outlet I could find in the train station with another guy who is working on a report for his job on his iBook. (addendum from the future: I created the post in HTML in Komposer on the Mac. I uploaded the HTML to Blogger, and then I had to go back and fix all the messed up carriage returns and line feeds that Google had added to the HTML: Instead of honoring the CR/LF and other tags, it made a right mess of the posts... so I had to come back with the online editor and clean it all up. Grumble. Now back to our regularly scheduled blog, already in progress..)

This is in the heart of Space City, just a few blocks from downtown! No Internet at all!

The train is over two hours from leaving yet, so it is the perfect time to write, except that my Macbooks battery is now getting old, and I have to be near power plugs to work.. and to charge my iPhone to the top for the upcoming 15+ hour train ride, in case there is no power near my seat. My handy Lenmar battery is already topped up and ready to go.

In this situation, and in other recent one where Internet access meant iPhone only, I really need to be able to tether. It does not have to be 3G. It does have work. I used to have this with my
Samsung A series phone, and it was way less sophisticated than this iPhone is. Null River ever released a 10 dollar application called Netshare that would allow one to tether with an iPhone. Apple took it down. Then put it up. Then took it down. (As of August 4th, 2008, when I was fixing the CR/LF mess, Nullriver's web site still said they were "working with Apple to get NetShare back up on the AppStore") I do not wish to be subjected to the vagaries of Apple for things like this. I like the App Store, but as soon as I see a Jailbreak app that makes it work, this phone is getting jailbroken. Till then, I will wait. And fume.

My wife tired of the un-jailbroken 3g faster than I did this time. She spent a long and frustrating time getting hers opened up, only to find out that was not yet ready, and that the reason she had Jailbroken it did not really exist yet. It was long and frustrating because the pwnage tool was still a work in progress as well: I read it is easy now.

I watched her in interest to see how well the new tools worked on the 2.0 / 3G phones, and it looked to me that the hackers were pretty close to getting around the roadblocks Apple had thrown up with 2.0. I wonder why Apple even tries?

My son got my wifes "old" iPhone, and we told him to leave it at 1.1.5 and jailbroken rather than upgrading to 2.0 because sadly:
  1. It was more stable
  2. It was better on batteries. My daughter has my original
    iPhone, put 2.0 on it, and can't pass an electrical outlet anymore.
That has been the big disappointment of 2.0 and the 3G for me so far. Well, these three things:
  1. Crashing apps
  2. Crashing OS
  3. Dismal battery life
And that is with 3G turned *off*.

Don't get me wrong. I love the 3G: The GPS and location based stuff are huge fun and deeply useful. And after some testing I have noticed that the WiFi signal reception is better with the 3G than the first gen unit. That is goodness. And badness. I preferred the first generation units aluminum case overall: Less fingerprints and the like. Cooler to the touch. And I preferred the feel in my hand of the first one to the new one, but I am in a huge minority there. Most like the tapered edge case of the 3G. People that have not held a 3G pick mine up and usually saw "ooohhhhh.... I like that". Guess I just have to be different. For me, the Wifi improvement is worth the plastic case, even though I view it as a tradeoff.

I did put the 2.0.1 upgrade on that came out today. So far, the main thing I have seen it do is make a few apps I had installed but that had disappeared re-appear. New apps install from the app store a little faster too. Backups via iTunes still take forever. I have not had it on long enough to evaluate if it does anything for battery life or stability yet. Before I did this I researched the state of the Jailbreak and for 2.0.1 / 3G. Looks like when I get back from vacation it will be ready.

I'm ready now... here in the train station...without Internet.

The only reason I can see not to jailbreak it will be if Apple and Nullriver set the tethering app free again. Or there is no tethering possibility coming anytime soon on the jailbroken iPhones. I guess there is one good thing: I went way longer leaving this one un-hacked than the first gen one. I guess that means Apple is making strides in the right direction.

Still: If I have to buy a different phone that already had tethering working, and flip the SIM back and forth, I am not above that, but it will be silly, and all Apple and perhaps AT&T will have proven with their roadblocks is that they do not want people to use the tools the way that we want or need to.

One last thing about the 3G hardware, and this is on the annoyance side: Why in the world can't I charge off Firewire and other older devices? I get that the data side may be costly to keep dual circuits a around for, and that Apple has capitulated to USB, but still: 5 volts is 5 volts. Use it! It is not just my firewire charger brick that is not working: I have a Maxell USB charging stand that it won't use. And my Altec Lansing portable speakers. My wife even has a battery backup unit that is nothing *but* 5 volts, and the iPhone 3G says "Nope: not gonna use it", but the 1st gen iPhone does.

Stupid. Annoying. Unnecessary.

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