Saturday, 28 November 2009

More essential apps for a Jailbroken iPhone

Back in February I wrote a post about the iPhone jailbreak and the apps available from Cydia which is the equivalent of the app store for jailbreak programs. You can read it here if you've not seen it before Jailbroken iPhone 3G - essential apps.

Since then quite a lot has changed, the iPhone 3GS has been launched and with it an update of the iPhone OS to version 3.0. This introduced numerous new features that addressed some of the most compelling reasons to jailbreak. The new OS gave us copy and paste, MMS, Spotlight search, 3G tethering, better Bluetooth support, a voice memo app, push notifications and other smaller improvements.

However, it didn't address all the issues and customisation still has to be the most compelling reason to jailbreak an iPhone. Fortunately it didn't take too long for people far more clever than I to figure out a new jailbreak for OS 3.0. The even better news is it's now even easier than before!

If you haven't jailbroken your iPhone yet, there has never been a better time to do so! Head over to Blackra1n where you can download a small application that will run either on a Windows or Mac PC. When you run it you will need to connect your iPhone via its USB cord, then simply click the button. A few seconds later and you're all done! It really is that simple.

The first thing you'll want to do is load the new iPhone App "blackra1n" which you'll see has appeared on your dashboard and install Cydia. This is your gateway to all sorts of cool new things you can do with your iPhone!

Some of the previous essential apps are still just as essential as before. Mainly WinterBoard, ToneFXs, BossPrefs, LiveClock, WeatherIcon, LockCalendar and Cycorder (if you don't have an iPhone 3GS).

Of course since February there have been a lot of new developments in Cydia too! The Cydia store is the main thing to know about. Previously 99% of apps in Cydia were free, only a small number required you to purchase a license from a website before it could be used properly. Now the developer of Cydia, Saurik, has integrated store functionality allowing other developers to charge for their apps.

This is a great thing, it encourages some superb apps because there is a revenue stream available to them, it also opens up the door to people disillusioned with Apples App Store. For the end user you get an easy way to purchase and pay for these apps as well as an easy way to download them again in the future because it remembers your purchases!

Right, so onto the main part of this post and the new "essential iPhone apps"! First on your list has to be AptBackup. This app will backup your jailbroken iPhone apps saving you a huge amount of time and hassle when you upgrade the iPhone firmware. You see when you apply a new firmware you lose your jailbreak and all the associated apps, you have to start again from scratch. With AptBackup you simply run the app before you upgrade your iPhone, this stores a list of all the apps you have installed. When you've finished upgrading the firmware and performed a new jailbreak simply go to Cydia and install AptBackup first. Then run this app and hit the restore button. The app will then download and install all your old jailbreak apps automatically. It will save you literally hours if you have a lot of apps installed!

It's important to note that AptBackup doesn't actually backup any files or programs. It just creates a list of apps that you have installed and will download and re-install them automatically. This is perfectly adequate for most situations though. Any customisation to settings you've made are normally remembered. There may be the odd exception, but considering the time it saves, you won't be complaining. You might also find that an old app will no longer function on the new firmware so it's a good idea to do your research first. It may be an idea to wait for apps to be updated so they are compatible, especially if like me you come to rely on them!

My next recommendation is for qTweeter, this allows you to send Twitter and Facebook messages from any application and at any time. You just have to use a gesture and swipe your finger down from the top of the screen. There's a video below so you can see how it works:

If you use BossPrefs, don't worry qTweeter will still work happily. It will change the BossPrefs gesture to a horizontal swipe on the status bar!

Moving on I've got a great little utility that will be a money saver for those on pay & go or with a limited SMS allowance. The iPhones SMS implementation has always annoyed me because I never now how many characters I've used! Step up SMS Helper, this awesome little utility integrates itself into the iPhones SMS app and will tell you how many characters you have remaining and when you run out tell you how many messages you're using. It does this in a cool way by animating the "Send" button. When you are typing it flips around to show the characters remaining, then when you stop it will flip back to a send button again. When you reach the end of the first message the button will turn Red giving you a clear visual indication that you're using more than one text. It's fantastic and even better totally free!

I haven't listed these apps in any order but if I had this next one would probably have to go at the top! It's called SatusNotifier, it integrates itself into the shell of your iPhone and uses the Statusbar at the top to place small icons next to the battery indicator. It will put up a little speech bubble when you have new SMS messages to read, an envelope if you've got unread email and a mute icon when you have your iPhone set to silent. There are more notifications available including missed calls, MMS, IM, Calendar and RSS. They can all be set individually if you have no use for a particular notification.

Another app for you here, this time it's just a cosmetic thing really. If you've taken the time to add photos to your contacts then you might be interested in installing Cyntact. This is another app that integrates seamlessly with the iPhone OS and will place small thumbnail images of your contacts next to their names in the contacts list:

Hot on the heals of Cyntact comes CyDelete, this gives you an easy way to delete apps installed via Cydia. When you delete an app installed via the App Store you can do it by clicking on the 'x' when you hold your finger on an icon. Cydia apps don't do this by default, you have to remove them using the Cydia package manager. It's easy enough and in some cases where Cydia apps integrate into the iPhone OS there is no icon so you have to do it this way. However, for those that do place an icon on the dashboard CyDelete will allow you to remove them using the same method as those purchased in the App store!

Here is another example of how jailbreaking your device can give you more freedom. Have you ever been annoyed that when you receive a text message you have to stop what you're doing and go to the SMS app? Even if you just wanted to send a quick reply? Well now you can forget all that frustration with QuickReply for SMS! I've included a video to show you how cool it is:

Just like qTweeter above it will overlay the SMS functionality on your current app. You can compose a text and send a reply and return to what you were doing before. No need to shut down your browser or other app first! It makes so much sense to be able to do this and will save a lot of frustration.

I have just one final recommendation for my essential jailbreak apps, it's only just been released but it is quite cool. The app in question is called SnapTap and it will give you a physical button to press when you take photos using the iPhone camera. Of course it can't actually add a button to the iPhone, but what it will do is change the function of the volume button when you are in the camera app. You'll never need to adjust the volume when using the camera so it makes perfect sense. With the SnapTap extension installed when you open the Camera you can use the volume up/down button to take the photo. It makes taking photos of yourself so much easier because you don't have to guess where the button is on the screen. It's also a lot more natural and allows you to hold the iPhone in a more traditional camera style to take pictures! It also works when using it for video to start/stop recording on the iPhone 3GS and is compatible with almost all the other apps that use the camera too. There's another short video below:

So that's sums up my updated list, I'll probably have even more in a few months and will end up writing a Part III. Until then enjoy these apps, tell me what you think and if you've found any gems that I'm missing let me know!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Shortest scam email ever?

This was in my inbox this morning:

From: British Tobacco Office
Subject: Prize


send your details to claim one million pounds in the tobacco promo

The scammer didn't even feel the need do disguise his email address so if you want to claim my prize feel free. His address is, of course you'll have to guess what details he wants but I guess bank account number etc.. so he can transfer funds, possibly a good idea to include your credit card number too just in case along with your address.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Goodwood Revival 2009

Last weekend I spent a fantastic day at the Goodwood revival. There was supposed to be four of us in total, but sadly two had to drop out. One because something else cropped up that he couldn't get out of, the other person was ill on the day so stayed at home in bed.

That didn't stop the two of us left having one of the most fun days out I've had all year, and that is a year that includes the F1 GP at Silverstone!

We arrived really early after being told you need to be there as soon as possible if you don't want to spend half your day sitting in traffic. The fact we didn't have to pick up the third person meant we also saved ourselves an extra 20 minutes on our journey time. I think we actually got into the circuit at about 8:30am so had plenty of time to explore before the first race at 10am.

I always like to walk round a circuit to get a good idea of the track so that was the first thing we did. Even though it all opened up at 7:30am, it was still pretty deserted when we arrived so it was nice to be able to wonder around freely and easily. It probably took us about 45 minutes to complete a lap at a leisurely pace, just a tad slower than the 1m50secs the car were lapping in a bit later that day!

While we were walking round lots of aircraft starting landing on the runway in the infield. Some amazing planes were showing up and as there is fairly open access every where we decided to take a trip into the infield for a closer look at some of the classic planes. We also found the Earls Court mock up with a fabulous car show inside the hanger.

Seeing all that the infield had to offer meant we actually missed the first race at 10am and once we escaped we discovered just how busy the place had become! We didn't bother with stadium seating as they were quite expensive, but it was becoming evident how valuable they were. We started to make our way round the track again to find ourselves a suitable vantage point to view some on-track action. We ended up walking over half way around the circuit again before we decided to rest our legs for a while. It wasn't a great spot but we needed some recuperation time having walked non-stop from 8:30am until what was now gone 10:30am.

One race later, from our less than ideal position and we felt it was time to set off again to find somewhere we could see a bit more of the racing. This done we settled in for an hour or so of spectating until we got hungry, time for lunch!

Another trek to the nearest grandstand to find some food wagons, but massive queues everywhere. It was going to be busy regardless of where we went, so we just stood in line for about 20 minutes and ended up with a slightly pathetic burger for an extortionate price. Never mind though, nothing could compare to the £12 they were charging for the programmes!

After lunch we experienced the worst renditions of "Happy Birthday" and "Rule Britannia" I've ever heard. It really was quite embarrassing, it was Sir Stirling Moss's 80th birthday over the weekend. I was great to pay tribute to him, but they seriously couldn't have found anyone with a worse voice to do the job! What was quite amusing was watching the faces of all the spectators, I wish I'd got that on film.

Later in the afternoon one of the highlights of the day was seeing the Vulcan bomber doing a fly past, which you can see below. There really was nothing to spoil the superb day though, we spent over 12 hours at the track and loved every minute of it. If you've never been I really can't recommend it highly enough to you. There's something for everyone, whether it's the racing, aircraft, fairground, live music, dressing up, stunning scenery or the merchandise tents with all manner of period paraphernalia available to buy. They manage to cater to the whole family!

I took my Toshiba Camileo P10 camera with me and took quite a lot of video during the day. Much of it is just cars flying past on the track, but after some editing I put together a 15 minute video. Considering the camera was less than £100 and produces HD footage, I'm quite happy with it. You can see it in two parts for yourself on YouTube, don't forget to hit the HD button though!

Monday, 7 September 2009

Wii fit progress

It's been a week on my new "fitness" regime now... how's it going? Well I've been doing my bit every day for at least 30 mins. The good news is the 1lb it reported I'd lost after the first couple of days didn't come back again, the even better news is that I've lost a further 3lb during the week. So a total loss of 4lb!

In fact it's all pretty positive really except for the realisation that to reach my ideal weight it's going to take me a very long time. I don't really want to lose the weight any faster than that, but I just don't know if I'll be able to keep it up for the amount of time needed!

Still anything is better than nothing and as long as I don't put the weight back on again I'll stay relatively happy. I'll try and do at least one update a week here, it's just another motivating factor for me to keep going if I have to report back.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Wii fit update

So on Sunday I reported that I had picked up a copy of Wii Fit, mainly for the balance board. The game just comes with it really, but I need to get fit anyway so I decided to give it a go, despite me being convinced it's just a gimmick. See my previous post "Getting fit with Wii Fit" for more on that.

Three days later and so far I've stuck to the commitment, I've done at least 30 mins a day, probably nearer to 45 actually. I figure if I do 30mins a day that's probably a reasonable workout for my fitness level. I'm actually quite impressed with its ability to engage your whole body in the training exercises. I've built up a good sweat when I've played it and while it's easy to cheat the system there's no point. You won't lose weight or build up muscle by just shaking the remote a bit. You have to engage with the game and actually work at it, it requires a level of dedication and a willingness to do things properly.

I'm finding some of the exercises pretty tough, simply because my fitness level is about as low as it could possibly be. I can't physically do a push up for example so need to work on my upper body strength first, something that Wii Fit doesn't really address. So I've got some dumb bells and I'm doing some curls to work towards my goal of doing a push up :-)

However, I certainly know it's working to some degree, I can feel my muscles ache where I'm actually pushing them. I'm trying hard not to over do it, I know that can be dangerous. But it's a fine line because if you don't push yourself then you won't accomplish anything.

Wii Fit actually reported I'd lost 1lb today and my BMI dropped very slightly, I'm not sure how much to read into that though. It could be accounted for in so many ways, the only way I'll know for sure is if it stays like that tomorrow and continues to head down over the course of the next week or so. Basically, I'm not going to get too excited yet, and even if I have there are many, many more I need to shed yet!

It's good to see the graph though, it's nice to see how you're improving but only if it's going down. I have a feeling if the line goes back up I'll lose interest pretty quickly!

Having played it I am convinced it will help with my fitness though, especially if I do it every day. I'm certainly going to try, but it could take a very long time to get my body into shape. I don't want to go on any crash diets, they don't work, so I'm doing it the hard way. A sensible balanced diet and exercise!

Stay tuned if you want to follow my progress!

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Getting fit with Wii Fit

It was never my intention to buy this game, I always thought and still do think that the whole thing is a bit of a gimmick. But I wanted a balance board for a couple of other games and to be honest, it really wouldn't do me any harm to lose some weight. So if it did work then that would be a bonus.

Initial set up was nice and easy and the end result was unsurprising. It lists me as being just inside the obese category which I already knew, just confirming (as if it needed) that I have to lose weight.

I took part in a few of the activities and while they didn't seem too taxing at the time, I now realise that it actually has given me a bit of a workout. I can feel my muscles ache slightly, not in a "I can't move" way, but in an "enough to know I've done something active" way.

I'm still not sold on the game being able to help me lose weight in any meaningful way, but I'll give it a chance and see if it makes a difference. It seems most of the activities revolve around you having to keep balance, which isn't surprising as you're using a balance board, but I don't see how maintaining your centre of gravity gets rid of fat!

I'm also not sure what the point of setting targets is, I thought it would create a workout programme for me to help meet my goals. But I just seem to be left to do whatever I feel like, so I have no idea how much I should be aiming to do each day. The "personal trainer" is a waste of time too, apart from demonstrating each exercise they do nothing apart from spout really annoying and unhelpful comments.

Still, let's give it a chance I'll try and play it every day for a fortnight and see if there's any improvement. Watch this space!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Great hosting for Wordpress - WPWebHost

This is my first real post in quite a while, I seem to have been concentrating on my twitter account. I didn't think I'd get it at first, but I really enjoy this micro-blogging format. It's quick and easy and I don't have to think about it!

Anyway, this post is a bit of a plug for a company I've been using for a few months to host my website. I can honestly say I've never used a hosting company as good as these guys!

I can't remember how I actually found them now but I'm so glad I did. When I decided to switch my site to Wordpress from Drupal I was using a standard web hosting company. I had a problem with my Wordpress installation and they just said it's my problem to deal with, nothing wrong with their servers! After a bit of digging on the net I found that it was their service that was the problem, but there was nothing they would do to fix it. I could either put up with it or go elsewhere. That's when I hit on the WPWebHost guys!

I must admit when I signed up I had no idea what I was letting myself in for, I'd not researched them or anything. It was most unlike me to act like that, I'm normally very thorough when it comes to this sort of thing. However, my site was starting to get more visitors and I needed to switch my provider quickly! As they were fairly cheap and gave a 100 day money back guarantee I figured there was nothing to lose, it couldn't get any worse.

Once I'd signed up, their tech support simply couldn't have been any better. They offered to move my site for me from my current host to their service for free. After sending them my account details it was all done and ready to go within a couple of hours. All I had to do was update my domain registration to point to the sites new location. Super easy, amazingly efficient and a real breath of fresh air.

What makes WPWebHost so great is that they have configured and tailored their servers for Wordpress hosting. It means that things just work on their packages and the benefits of that can't be under estimated!

As always I have a had a few problems with my site, normally as a result of me doing something stupid. In every case whenever I've emailed their support, no matter what time of day I've got a response usually within an hour with the problem either fixed for me, or a solution.

The thing that's worth noting here is that it doesn't matter what the issue is. They are happy to provide technical support for Wordpress itself, I've even had them troubleshooting a plug-in I was using.

If you use Wordpress or you have a blog and you're thinking about taking it to the next level, or just considering using it for a project, I cannot recommend WPWebHost highly enough. Take a look at their Wordpress hosting packages and give it a try, if you don't like it you can always get your money back. I'm convinced that won't happen though, you can find a link to them at the top of this article!

Saturday, 25 July 2009

What’s on your iPhone?

A friend made a blog post with all the apps he has got installed on his iPhone which you can read here:

What's in your iPhone

So in reply to that blog, here is my response. This is what's on my iPhone:

Page 1


The first thing to notice is that my iPhone is jailbroken which means I can customise quite a bit on the phone. The most obvious thing is the wallpaper, having a custom wallpaper is normally only possible on the lock screen. Now whenever I see an iPhone with a black background I can't help but feel it looks boring.

Another thing you may have noticed is the reflective dock and the different image for the dock. Also the carrier logo (02) in the status bar at the top is the actual O2 logo rather than the dull O2-UK you would normally see.

Two of my app icons are also different if you look closely. The Clock app is actually showing the correct time and the Weather app has the current weather for my location displayed.

I think the only other thing worth mentioning here is the Cycorder app, this gives the iPhone 3G video capability. No need to upgrade to an iPhone 3GS for that!

Page 2


Nothing much of note here, Tioti TV+ is great if you need remote record for your iPhone. Far better than the offering from Sky! Air Sharing is great for carrying documents around if you don't want to have the hassle of a USB stick.

Page 3


It's the games page, PapiJump is a great little game that is simple yet addictive. Peggle and Flight Control are my favourite games. But probably my most heavily played title has to be B-gammon, I simply love Backgammon and play it as much as I possibly can. It's the only app that has been on my iPhone from the day I got it!

Page 4


Another app page here, and of course some gratuitous cleavage as well. These tend to me my rarely used apps, though Tweetie should really be promoted! WunderRadio is great for listening to radio stations via the iPhone too.

Page 5


This is the page where I keep my "work apps", so there's a weight converter a noise level meter a couple of gobo libraries. A lighting rig remote control (Luminair), a dip switch tool to save my brain working out the binary arithmetic and finally a gel swatch library.

The more observant among you may have noticed there's a bit more cleavage here too!

Page 6


The final page of apps! This is my Jailbreak page, it has Cydia the package manager and installer. Winterboard which lets you customise the theme as I explained earlier and ToneFXs allowing me to have custom SMS alerts etc.

I also have StatusNotifier which puts little icons in the status bar when I have new mail, or my phone is on silent. There are other icons too, it's rather a handy app. Oh and of course more cleavage :-)

I love my Jailbroken iPhone, it gives me all the things Apple should have done!

Friday, 8 May 2009

The car door saga

I have a lovely car, well I like it:

Recently the electric window broke in the passenger door, I did a bit of research and discovered that it was likely to be the window regulator. I had no idea what one of those is or what it does, but I have a good friend in the motor trade who sells car parts to garages. I explained to him what the problem was and he ordered me the part.

I had to wait a couple of weeks for it to arrive as the supplier was out of stock. It arrived last week so at the weekend I went about replacing it. Having no idea what I was doing I searched the internet and found a fantastic tutorial on the Seat forums:

Replacing the front door window regulator

Armed with this comprehensive guide I felt fairly confident and set aside a reasonable chunk of time (3 hours) to do the job. It all went surprisingly well and without too many dramas, though I did have a problem getting panel back on with the new metal guides attached because they were slightly longer than the old ones.

However, almost exactly three hours after I started the job was done. I hit the button and to my joy the window went up and down again just as it should. I was enjoying the feeling of immense satisfaction at a job well done and also saving myself a few hundred quid by not getting a garage involved.

Just then, total disaster struck! I closed the door...... Now normally this wouldn't be a problem, but for some reason I just could not open it again. I tried for the inside, the outside, tried locking and unlocking it. Nothing would let me open the door again!

I eventually gave up and resigned myself to paying the dealer a fortune to put it right. So today I took a trip to my 'local' Seat dealer, some 20 odd miles away. To my amazement the service manager was extremely helpful, he told me exactly how I could fix the problem myself. I was expecting him to just book it in and quote me a three figure sum to do it for me. I left with the reassuring words of the service manager in my ears, "Any problems, just give me a call and if you want we will be happy to do it for you, but it's going to cost you!".

So, armed with this fresh information and worried about the required cash needed to have it done, I was determined not to be beaten! As soon as I arrived home I removed the door panel as explained to me. Immediately I was able to open the door, hallelujah!

I haven't been able to fix the problem totally though. It seems the metal rod that pokes up through the top of the door card and acts as the lock has been bent. This means when the door panel is fitted the lock can't move up and down. So it's stuck and won't allow the door to open.

The service engineer said I could try to straighten it, but it would probably be easier to replace the whole rod. He will have to order the rod, so I've decided to at least try and straighten it. I'll give it a go tomorrow because it's getting cold outside now. I'll let you know how it all goes.

I'm on Twitter

Yup, just like my blog I held off for a long time. But now I've finally given in to the Twitter lure. If you are a fellow twitterite you can follow me at, leave me your details in the comments below and I'll follow you.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Formula 1 and the FIA, what a joke

So the new F1 season opened in Malaysia at the weekend and it was a superb race. In fact it's the most excited I've been about a new F1 season for a long time. The rule changes are set to make things a lot more interesting. But just a few days later, the FIA have managed to turn a fantastic race into a complete farce and potentially ruin the entire season before it's barely begun!

There were a number of incidents in the grand prix, I want to focus on three of them here:

Trulli - Hamilton

Trulli was the one who lost control and put his car off the track. Hamilton gave the position back whilst waiting for race control to give them an answer, just to play it safe. Race control never gave them an answer as to whether he had to do that! So is it the right decision, I think that's controversial. But what's really not right is setting out to make Hamilton look like the bad guy in all this.


How about the first corner where Barrichello caused an avoidable accident taking out other competitors? Ending Kovalainen's race and ruining Webber, Sutil and Heidfeld's race! He finishes second and nothing is said about it. Now what if that had been Hamilton? I can't help thinking it would be a totally different story then!

Vettel - Kubica

Then there was the Vettel, Kubica crash, which in my view was clearly 50/50. Vettel had track position and Kubica did not leave him enough room, I don't see how or why Vettel should have been forced to give up his position there. A 10-place penalty for that incident is harsh.

It would seem there are now three stages to an F1 race, qualifying, racing, and the FIA manipulation of results. What's the point of watching a race when the result can change several times after the event?

Do FIFA go around awarding goals after a football match because of a foul the referee didn't see, or deducting them because the ref awarded a penalty which he shouldn't? In fact is there any other sport where this sort of thing happens?

Monday, 2 February 2009

Jailbroken iPhone 3G - essential apps

No activity here for a month, and then two posts in one day! What's going on? Well I've been finding out lots of cool things about the iPhone and I have to tell people.

I've got an iPhone 3G, I've had it for a while now. It's a great phone in so many ways, but it lacks some pretty unforgivable things, I've mentioned some of them here in previous posts. However, thanks to the wonders of the iPhone jailbreak these shortcoming can be fixed. That is if you are prepared to hack your phone with a little utility.

Just thought I'd post some of the really useful apps you can get on a jailbroken iPhone which lets it do the stuff you would expect it to out of the box. But also discover some of the cool things you can do to enhance the iPhone even more.

First of all though, you need to get your iPhone jailbroken. This really couldn't be any simpler, there are a couple of options but by far the easiest is QuickPwn. All you have to do is update your iPhone to the latest firmware from iTunes, then connect your phone up and run the QuickPwn application on your PC or mac. It gives clear instructions on what you need to do and it really is so simple and painless. You can download the latest version of QuickPwn here:

I'm not going to give you a full step-by-step guide, it's all pretty self explanatory anyway and there are already hundreds of people out there who have done it before. If you're really confused just do a Google search!

Right, so I'm going to assume your phone is now jailbroken and you are free from Apple's closed world. The first thing you want to do is check out a new application installed on your phone called Cydia. It's basically a package installer/manager for the iPhone. A bit like the App Store, but consists of unofficial applications which are not approved by Apple. Most are completely free, but some require you to purchase a key to fully unlock them once installed.

You'll probably have to install some essential upgrades if it's the first time you've run it, so go ahead and do that first. To learn how to use Cydia I recommend this tutorial. When you've got the basic idea take a look below at my suggestions for what's essential for you to install from Cydia to get the most from you iPhone.

The first thing has to be WinterBoard. This allows you to theme your iPhone, from something as simple as adding a customised wallpaper to your iPhones menu (called the Springboard). To a full blown theme changing the icons, sounds, keyboard, clock, battery indicator etc... According to Cydia there are currently 673 items compatible with Springboard that you can download as well as 91 different battery icons, 27 keyboard layouts, 94 lockscreens, 44 sound themes, 103 system themes and much more besides!

For example, don't like the way you have to slide your finger to unlock the iPhone? No problem, just install "A Better Tap to Unlock". It will let you unlock your phone with a tap on the screen. There are so many customisations you can make!

Next on my list is ToneFXs. It lets you change your ringtone easily, but also lets you set sounds for new sms messages, Voicemail, email, calendar alerts, keyboard clicks, photo shutter, lock & unlock sound, charging sound. Check out this rather long video of ToneFXs in action. Can't say I like his choice of sounds, but that's the point, you can have whatever you like!

My next tip is BossPrefs which gives you quick access to turn on or off, 3G, Edge, Wifi, Bluetooth and email. It also gives you access to power options to respring the iPhone, reboot or power off. This can be very handy if you have a problem!

Other cool apps include LiveClock (used to be called LiveTime) which turns your clock icon into a real clock that actually shows the correct time. WeatherIcon, that means your weather icon will show the current weather instead of a sunny 73 degrees all the time. hClipboard that adds a copy & paste capability to your keyboard!

LockCalendar, which puts up to ten upcoming events in your calendar on the Lock screen. This is so useful and was a huge oversight by Apple!

There is also a selection of games available ranging from a Pacman style rip-off called "Macman", to a port of DOOM & Quake, emulators for the NES and Sega Genesis (MegaDrive), a MAME app and more besides.

To sum up, jailbreaking an iPhone really does open up a whole new world of possibilities! I could never go back to a generic firmware now, I've seen the light. Give it a try, but make sure you know what you're doing first. I'd hate you to destroy your precious phone!

EDIT: How could I possibly forget what is almost certainly the best app for a jailbroken iPhone. It's called Cycorder and it gives your iPhone video recording capability. It's truly amazing, the video quality is superb with almost no compression. It captures video at 384x288 which is a 4x3 aspect ratio at 15fps, although this will drop to 6fps in low light conditions. It sound like that might be bad, but trust me. The low frame rate means that the shutter is open longer allowing more light in per frame. This actually allows Cycorder to perform better in low light conditions than many other camera phones because you can actually see stuff... albeit slightly jerky, but in my opinion, that's better than not seeing anything at all!

Take a look at this demo of Cycorder which was actually recorded on another iPhone using the Cycorder app. Video quality looks great, sound is clear, the whole package is very well done.

UPDATE: There's now a follow up post to this article on my blog - More essential apps for a Jailbroken iPhone

Sunday, 11 January 2009


I had to shout out about the iPhone finally being capable of MMS!

A new app is available on the store called "MMS Photo Messaging". It allows your iPhone to receive MMS messages and it works really well. The even better news is that it's free to download and receive messages. While you're reading the rest of this post go and:

Download with iTunes

Right, when you've installed it all you have to do is enter your mobile number and the PIN you use to read your MMS messages on the O2 website. It will remember these in future and just take you straight to your inbox. Once there it downloads any existing MMS messages and will download any new ones as they are sent to you. So, the next time you get the SMS alert from O2 to say you have a new MMS, just load up the new app and it will be there for. It works in a similar way to the email application, so it should be fairly familiar and easy to use.

Now it's not perfect, a couple of things are holding it back, they are:

1) It costs money to send MMS messages, you have to buy credits for approximately 35p per message depending on how any credits you buy.

2) It can only do picture messages.

3) The service can suffer during high demand meaning it keeps asking for you to log in.

Now these are problems that are not too serious, it would be nice to have MMS messages come from your tariff. But clearly that is not possible for a 3rd party application, and it really is simple to buy credits. The price of sending messages is cheaper now than it was when it got released, there are also claims that prices will fall further in the future.

Now the service has been running for a while and it has become a lot more stable. I haven't had it fail on me for a a week or so now. This is great news, it's also great that Apple let this onto the App Store, finally admitting the need for an MMS application for the iPhone. Perhaps we will see MMS integrated into a future firmware, that would be nice. Until then though, this is a brilliant programme that everyone should have installed.