Posts filed under ‘iPhone’

Ad Blocking is stealing

I saw a quote the other day from someone in the online ad industry (I believe) who said that using an Ad Blocker is stealing.

What?

I can see the argument related to movies and music.  I mean, for those items you have to buy a CD or a movie ticket (or buy a digital copy).  Downloading the content without legitimately purchasing it… Yea, I can see that being stealing.

Running an ad blocker and visiting a website, though?

Sorry, but no.  It’s not even in the same realm.

The real question publishers and ad companies need to ask is:

Why has Ad Blocking risen so much recently?

A recent focus has been Apple, with their release of IOS 9 that supports “content blocking”, which thus far has mainly been used to create ad blockers.  Why is this the case?

When I first got an iPhone 3GS, my first iPhone, browsing was fast.  Over the years, more and more advertising has been injected into mobile websites.  Advertising web servers are notoriously slow.  Advertising on mobile platforms has become more aggressive.  All this while bandwidth usage has spiked and most carriers have forced bandwidth caps on their customers.

With all these factors combined, the user experience is very poor.  To see how big of a difference it makes in load time, I invite you to try an ad blocker on on iPhone.  Visit sites that you normally visit, and you’ll see that the site pops up much faster than normal.  I expect that if you surf on your phone frequently, once you see the difference, you’ll want to keep using it.

September 20, 2015 at 9:48 pm Leave a comment

Comcast blocking Plex? Probably not…

Last summer I used Plex quite extensively.  I took my daughters to swimming practice and instead of driving home, waiting 30 minutes, then driving back to get them, I decided to simply stay there and watch something via Plex on my iPhone while I waited.

Since then, I’ve only used Plex occasionally from outside the home.  Some months ago, I noticed that Plex stopped working when I wasn’t at home.  I briefly looked at it but not too closely.

I decided to dig into it tonight to try to figure out what was going on.

To test, I turned Wifi off on my iPhone and attempted to connect to Plex via LTE.  No dice.  In Plex, I went to Settings > Server > Remote Access.  It complained that Plex was unreachable from the outside.  I noticed that my firewall logs did not show any connection attempts against port 32400, the Plex default.  Interesting.  After trying a few things, I decided to try a different port.  So, I changed the Plex service object (TCP Port 32400) on my Firewall to TCP Port 34200, ensuring the NAT rule still pointed to port 32400 on my Plex machine, and updated the TCP Port setting in Plex.  Within a few moments, it showed “Fully accessible outside your network”.  I validated that I could connect from my iPhone.  Worked great.  In my firewall logs?  Yep, I’m getting hits on 34200 now.

So, is Comcast blocking Plex in NE Florida?  (*GASP*)

I’m leaning toward user error on my part (even though I don’t see an error, and it was working at one point…)

Anyhow, I’m working now…  If I suddenly can’t connect on this new port in a few weeks, I’ll revisit my theory…

April 13, 2015 at 7:56 pm Leave a comment

iPhone 6 Acclimation

It happened to me, I realized today.

Until launch of the iPhone 6, I was the happy owner of an iPhone 5S.  My wife inherited it, so I’ve occasionally used it in the past few months, mostly when something wasn’t quite working right.

Tonight, I wanted to test something on my wife’s iPhone.  I picked it up, looked at it, and paused.  There was my old phone, still wearing the case that had held it for the last year, but it seemed alien.  The screen seemed so much smaller.  Confused thoughts went through my head.  Something that I was so comfortable using just a few months ago suddenly seemed foreign.

Having this moment has made it clear to me why Apple had to shift to this new size.  Most high-end Android phones for the last several years have had significantly larger screen sizes than iPhones.  Once you have become acclimated to the larger size, using a smaller phone just doesn’t feel right.

November 18, 2014 at 10:52 pm Leave a comment

AT&T shows their true colors

The Apple SIM (shipping in every LTE enabled iPad Air 2) sounded like a great idea.  Pick the carrier you want for a month or two, then switch to another one, depending on your needs.

Today, however, I found out that AT&T is LOCKING the Apple SIM when you choose to use them!

This doesn’t lock your iPad, but it makes it more difficult to switch to another carrier.   You can do it, but it’s a hassle of having to get another Apple SIM (or a SIM from the desired carrier).  That sort of defeats the purpose of this generic SIM that Apple introduced.

According to the linked article above:

AT&T did not explain why it opted to lock the SIM card to its network, however, with the spokesperson saying “it’s just simply the way we’ve chosen to do it.”

Wow.  That seems to indicate that they didn’t have any technical reason to do it this way.  It’s just how they have chosen to do it.

Basically, they are saying “We didn’t HAVE to make it a hassle to switch service to a competitor.  We just wanted to.”

AT&T will probably get a few people to keep using them month after month with this tactic, but I imagine many more will simply choose to use one of their competitors that doesn’t use this anti-consumer practice.

 

 

October 24, 2014 at 11:13 pm Leave a comment

Switch SIM cards on AT&T

I do something that is probably pretty common.  Every year, one of my cell phones (mine or my wife’s) comes off contract, giving me a subsidized price on a new phone.  My wife, being the loving and less gadgety one, allows me to use her upgrade to get the new hotness.  Doing this, I’ve only skipped the release of the iPhone 5 (due to problems requiring an early upgrade one year).

Today, I got my new iPhone 6, upgraded on my wife’s number.  I moved the SIM from my iPhone 5S over to it, restored it, and all was good.  It was immediately active with my phone number.

I backed up my wife’s phone, restored it to my iPhone 5S…  And nothing…  The number remained active on her old phone.  Since her old phone was a 4S, the SIM from it wouldn’t fit into the 5S.

So, I drove to an AT&T store to get her number transferred to the 5S.  After consulting with a tech, I found out that the SIM card I had removed from the new iPhone 6 was “parked”.  It just needed to be activated.  To do so, I just needed to call 866-895-1099.  It’s a completely automated system.  You just enter the phone number to activate, the billing zip code, and the last 4 of the social of the primary account holder.  Then, it tells you to turn off the device you are trying to activate and wait 5 minutes, then turn it back on.

I somehow doubt the reboot is really required, but I did it anyhow, and her number was active on her phone right after it completed booting.

Now, there was zero documentation in the box instructing me on how to do this.  Perhaps if I had left the SIM card in the iPhone 6 and let it talk to iTunes prior to moving the SIM, it would have activated…

So, I’m partially posting this to help others, but I’m also posting this so I have a reference to look at next year, assuming I order another iPhone…

September 19, 2014 at 6:25 pm Leave a comment

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

What about the I.O.U.S.’s?

iPhones Of Unusual Size? I don’t think they exist.

[WHAM!]

Okay, Princess Bride reference aside, the new iPhones are here, and they are bigger than any iPhone before.

When I saw the initial photos, the 6 Plus looked absolutely ginormous! It practically took up the entire hand in the photo. It’s truly an iPhone Of Unusual Size.

A day or two later, I printed a template of the new phones to get a feel for exactly how big they really were. I have to say that while the 5.5 inch model is big, it doesn’t seem quite as huge as I originally thought.

While part of me thinks I’d be happy with a 6 Plus, I’m still unsure.

I asked my wife if she’d like a phone that size, and she is definitely not interested. Since she’s about to inherit my 5S (she’s looking forward to the fingerprint sensor), next year she should inherit the model of iPhone 6 that I buy now, so this was a factor.

Being the loving wife she is, she suggested that I could buy the 6 Plus and then sell it next year when I’d upgrade to the newer model.

But this is where is gets really easy. I really can’t justify spending the extra $100. If I were a real shutterbug, I might do it for the Optical Image Stabilization, but I’m not. The larger screen would probably be very nice to look at, but the overall size of the phone just seems like it would be awkward to hold/use/put in my pocket.

It’s really a personal preference thing. After a year with the 6, I might be ready to use a larger phone, but I’m just not there right now.

September 11, 2014 at 9:39 pm Leave a comment

New iPhone Time

It’s that time of year again! When people camp out overnight in line at Apple stores across the country, just so they can be among the first to get their shiny new phone.

I like my gadgets as much as the next guy, but I’m just not willing to go that far for a phone.

Several years back, I have showed up around opening time at stores on launch day to try to get a new iPhone, but it has always been a frustrating experience. Long lines, long wait times, and the anxiety of not knowing if I was going to walk away with a phone, or just walk away.

Perhaps growing older (wiser?) has lessened my patience for this sort of thing. However, I am willing to inconvenience myself a little. Those of you who adore your sleep may think this sounds crazy, but last year I set my alarm for about 2:55 AM on the first morning you could order the iPhone 5S online. They didn’t offer pre-orders of the 5S, only the 5C, so this was launch morning. Orders started at midnight PST, so 2:55 was long enough for me to get to my computer and wake up a little.

Am I crazy? Nope. It took about 10-15 minutes to get it ordered, but then I went right back to sleep, knowing my phone would show up in a week or two.

Aside from the slowness of tens of thousands of people hitting their servers to order their phones all at the same time, it was pretty painless. Part of me wants to say I actually ended up ordering it through the Apple Store app on my iPhone 4S, but I don’t remember for sure. Anyhow, this experience was so simple that I’m planning on ordering this way again this year. Since it is actually a pre-order, it might even show up at my house on launch day. If so, that would be great, but if it arrives a few days later, that’s okay too.

September 11, 2014 at 9:03 pm Leave a comment

Cell Phone Upgraders Hold on to your Wallets!

Have you recently upgraded your cell phone?  You might want to take another look at your first post-upgrade bill.

I recently upgraded my iPhone 4S to a new iPhone that uses LTE.  It looks like AT&T may have tried to sneak a little more money from my wallet.

I was on the DataPro 2GB 4G plan.  Since my new phone is LTE capable, they moved me to the DataPro 2GB 4G LTE plan.  Both plans cost the same, so it should be a wash.

On my bill, aside from the insane $36 upgrade fee, there was a Plan Added and a Plan Removed section.  The DataPro 2 GB 4G LTE plan was added at a pro-rated cost of 2.50, for the dates 9/24 – 9/26.  The DataPro 2GB 4G plan was removed with a credit of 1.29, for the dates of 9/25 – 9/26.

So, essentially, AT&T was charging me for both data plans on 9/24.

Yes, it only ended up being $1.21 that I was being unfairly charged, but it’s insane that they would try to sneak an additional fee in there like that.  And while I’m sure they will claim that it was some software glitch or something, I’d almost bet money that this was some “optimization” that was put in place to “earn” money from customers.

What, you don’t think anyone at any major business would do something like that?  How about in the banking industry?

According to Clark Howard, a consumer watchdog, some years ago, some very greedy people involved in the field of banking figured out that they could optimize the order that checks were processed to increase income to the bank.  How so?  They would look at all the checks for each account each day.  If the total of all of the checks for account X would cause that account to be overdrawn, the bank would then alter the order of the checks so they could charge the most NSF fees.  For example, lets say you wrote out 5 checks that all were processed on the same day:

Check 1 for $15
Check 2 for $8
Check 3 for $18
Check 4 for $150
Check 5 for $50

You only had $195 left in your account.  Check 5 was written out to a friend you owed money to, and asked them not to deposit it until Friday, but they didn’t listen.  If they did, you wouldn’t have any NSF fees at all, since the first 4 checks only totaled $191.

Anyhow, if the checks were processed in the order they came in, only the last check would have caused you to overdraft.  You’d get hit with a $30+ fee.  But, since the banks decided to “optimize” the order your checks were processed (probably as a “service” to you), they would take checks 4 and 5 first, causing you to go NSF on check 5, then they would process checks 1, 2, and 3, giving you a total of 4 NSF fees, probably in excess of $120.

The cell phone companies aren’t yet quite as brazen as the banks, but they seem to hold their customers with a similar level of contempt.  It absolutely would not surprise me if this was intentionally done to extract a little more money from each upgrading customer.

October 24, 2013 at 11:21 pm Leave a comment

NetFlix Watch Instantly on IOS via GlimmerBlocker

I recently posted about the possibility of watching NetFlix on an iPad via Proxy…  I like using GlimmerBlocker because it’s really good at blocking Ads, including Mobile Ad networks, but whenever I was using it on my wife’s iPad, it wouldn’t play any NetFlix videos.  I found out that the NetFlix app goes to ihost.netflix.com, which resolves to 127.0.0.1….  So, when GlimmerBlocker is trying to connect to it, it’s trying to connect to itself, and it’s not running the IOS service listening for such connections, so it fails.  The kind author of GlimmerBlocker was able to help!  He put together a quick beta (1.4.10b7) that is hard coded to look for requests to ihost.netflix.com, and if it is found, it redirects the requests back to the IP address that requested them.

It works perfectly with multiple iDevices…

A workaround for any proxy for use with one IOS device would be to simply set a hosts file entry on your proxy server for ihost.netflix.com to point to the static IP of your iPad.

January 20, 2011 at 8:47 pm Leave a comment

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