Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ CategoryPage 2 of 2

Is your iPhone too hot to handle?

I wrote earlier today about my iPhone crapping out and replacing it, and at one point I was so worried that it was unusually hot I nearly challenged the heat by forming a little aluminum foil bed on which I’d rest a cracked open egg, to see if it would turn opaque. Well, this replacement phone is much cooler, I have to say, but I’m wondering if others have hot-handed iPhones that feel way too hot, and would like to hear if they stay safe or fail and wind up needing a fix. All comments welcome.


iPhone crashed, keeps trying to reboot

Four days old and my iPhone has crashed and won’t come back to life. It does not turn on when unplugged from USB cable or power adapter. When plugged into either of those, it starts up with the Apple logo for a few seconds, then goes black for a few seconds, then comes back to the Apple logo again, repeating the same thing all over and caught in an endless reboot/restart loop.

I tried restarting the iPhone by holding both the Home and Sleep/Wake buttons, as described in Apple’s iPhone help – but that’s simply meant to restart a stuck iPhone. Because the iPhone is caught in an endless loop iTunes does not recognize it, which means it cannot be restored.

I assumed there has to be some way to force the iPhone into recovery mode, so on a whim I held the Home and Sleep/Wake buttons through two of the restart cycles (about fifteen seconds) and got a yellow alert icon that instructed:

Please Connect to iTunes.iTunes found the iPhone and stated: iTunes has detected an iPhone in recovery mode. You must restore this iPhone before it can be used with iTunes.

iTunes then downloaded a software update. I clicked the Restore button and iTunes presented a warning message: Are you sure you want to restore the iPhone “iPhone” to its factory settings? All of your songs and other data will be erased, and the newest version of the iPhone software will be installed.

I clicked the Restore and Update button and iTunes popped up the message: Preparing iPhone for restore…

The iPhone then got caught in the endless restart loop again, trying over and over, until finally iTunes gave up after about two minutes and gave me the message: The iPhone “iPhone” could not be restored. An unknown error occurred (1603).

I’ll be going to the AT&T store where I purchased the iPhone with the hope that they’ll simply replace it with a new one, though whether they even have a replacement in stock remains to be seen.Stay tuned for updates.

Update (3:36 pm): I called the AT&T store where I bought the iPhone and the very helpful manager, Jason, said customers with bum iPhones must contact Apple for support. I contacted Apple by way of a public relations contact and was told someone would call me to take care of the unwell iPhone. While awaiting the call from Apple I decided to drive over to the Apple Store in Atlantic City to see if they could help more immediately.

As it turned out the Apple support person who called was going to have me do exactly that, go to the Apple Store, to meet with Sean, the very friendly and pro manager on staff.

Nate patched Sean in on our call and he was on the phone with us as I walked into the Apple store. We hung up on Nate and took care of the phone.Sean grabbed a new, unopened iPhone from the back, same as my defective 8 GB model, and then turned me over to two guys named Chris who were working the Genius Bar.

Transferring my phone account from one device to another took a couple of minutes. Out of curiosity I asked if we could see if we could get the defective iPhone to show up on a Mac (since I was using it on a Vista PC when all of this started) so we could restore it. Not because I wanted the phone back, but rather because I wanted to know for sure that my personal data would be erased and not viewable by others, whether at the Apple store or by the service persons at wherever the iPhone would wind up.

We tried to restore it, but no luck. As earlier, the device kept cycling through the Apple logo in an attempt to restart, over and over. One of the Chris guys said he couldn’t get it into recovery mode, and so I showed him that you have to hold the Wake/Sleep and Home buttons for more than a few seconds until it cycles at least once, and I think twice, before it then puts up that alert triangle icon and tells you to connect to iTunes (see above).

As such, we chose the recovery option from iTunes running on a MacBook, it appeared to be doing something, then the iPhone shut off and iTunes reported the same error as earlier on the Vista PC: The iPhone “iPhone” could not be restored. An unknown error occurred (1603). Chris was about to open the new iPhone box to move my SIM from the defective phone to the new one, but I said I’d already done that. (Before leaving I popped it into my the excellent Nokia 6682 that the iPhone was replacing, and yes, your iPhone-activated AT&T SIM does pop out and work on another AT&T/Cingular phone or, in my case, an unlocked phone.) So I left the store feeling reassured that a brand new iPhone was replacing the defective one – but not very reassured that my data on the iPhone I was leaving behind (contacts, calendar, notes, Safari bookmarks and email) was gone. Had the iPhone died totally and wiped whatever was in memory? Or would Apple’s service team wipe it out, as part of a company policy? I don’t know the answer to that latter question, but I will find out soon after Apple’s PR department gets back to me.

I also asked what do customers who are not in range of an Apple Store do. I guess with any data device there’s a risk of personal information being at risk when said device needs to be sent in for repair. And like other SIM-based phones, the owner must part with the device if it needs repairs, but can generally use the SIM on a replacement phone.

Will Apple offer a replacement phone in the repair process? The AT&T store manager Jason said it isn’t AT&T’s policy to offer customers a temporary replacement phone when a phone is being repaired.Meanwhile, I popped my SIM card out of the Nokia and into the iPhone. It said to connect to iTunes to activate. I plugged the iPhone into the dock, let iTunes find it, and about a minute later it was activated without any additional input from me. iTunes synced all of my data from the automatic backup iTunes made this morning, before the first iPhone failed.Stay tuned for additional updates.

Update (4:43 pm): Just got off the phone with an Apple PR contact. She sent me a link to Apple’s iPhone Service: Frequently Asked Questions which pretty much answered all of my questions. So, if you’re in the first 30 days you can walk into an Apple store and get a replacement if your iPhone is considered “DOA” like mine was. After 30 days you go through the service-by-mail option, by which you’ll ship your iPhone to Apple (minus your SIM) for service, and they’ll ship it back to you when it’s fixed. You have the option of renting a replacement iPhone for $29 while yours is being repaired.

As for AT&T, a spokeswoman for the company said an iPhone you’re unhappy with can be returned for a refund (minus a 10% restocking fee) within 14 days of purchase, but replacing or repairing a defective phone must be taken up with Apple.

In sum: I was lucky the Apple Store had a replacement 8 GB iPhone in stock to swap for my defective one. I was unlucky, however, on my way out of Caesars Casino on my way back to the parking garage. I slipped a $10 bill into one of the nickel slots, pressed the first button I saw (labeled 8X), watched the digital reels spin and come to a stop, and wound up with “Game Over” with nothing more to go on with or about – which is an apt conclusion for this story, as well. (Or so I hope.)

Thanks to all who took my calls and to those who dealt with me in person, and have a great July 4th holiday.


The New York Times: All the Films You Want to See, but When? By Joe Hutsko

All the Films You Want to See, but When?
By Joe Hutsko

Downloading movies over a high-speed Internet connection offers the promise of convenience, but promise is the operative word for this new method.

Read the story on the New York Times.

Related: PODCAST
Tech Talk, June 20, 2007
Tom talks to writer Joe Hutsko about what it’s really like to download and watch movies from the various services vying to deliver video right to your PC or TV.

Listen to the podcast.


On Surfing Safari – Five Tips for using Apple’s new Web browser

Five Safari for Windows tips
by Joe Hutsko

Apple this week jumped into the Windows Web browser world with Safari 3.0, available to download in beta form from Beloved by Mac users for its speed (but begrudged for incompatibilities with certain websites and features, including the inability to use those handy pop-up section navigations buttons on this site itself, for instance), Safari for Windows test-drivers will find some things old, some things new. Here are five tips to help you get started.


On One game, three platforms: Which is best?

One game, three platforms: Which is best?
by Joe Hutsko

Does ‘The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion’ play better on an Xbox 360, PS3 or PC?

“Shivering Isles” lured the author back into playing “Elder Scrolls” on the Xbox 360. But which platform best showcases this epic adventure title — console or PC?


Download Halo 3 Beta via Crackdown: Are we there yet? Major Nelson reverts to plain text!

Today is the day owners of Crackdown for the Xbox 360 may download the Halo 3 beta. As of 11 am EST there’s no download and I’m getting the message: “Check back here at a later date to download the Halo 3 Beta.” All the usual suspects are reporting that Bungie has alerted the Xbox Live group of the hiccup and they’re working on it.

More interesting is Major Nelson’s post on, which appears as an absolutely plain, text message:

We’re aware that some users are having difficulty downloading the Halo 3 multiplayer beta via Crackdown. Bungie Studios is working with the Xbox Live team to resolve this as quickly as possible – stay tuned. Gamers entering the beta through other means, such as the Friends and Family remain unaffected.

I am headed back to Seattle in a few hours, so I’ll be offline while I am in the air. For the most up to date information, keep an eye on for the latest from Frankie regarding this issue.

This site is experiencing an excessive traffic amount of traffic at this time, so sorry for the temporary nature of this message. We’re working on getting back online as soon as we can.

(Click here for a screenshot of the message.)

Personally I’m not crushed by the delay since I’m a multiplayer wimp and will be more into the single-player game when the real thing ships on September 25. My friend Ric, however, is visiting, and he’s an insanely great multiplayer gamer. He came prepared with his profile on a memory card, gripped in his sweaty fist and waiting for the download to happen so he can log in and lay into other Halo 3 beta go-getters.


Review: Xbox 360 Elite & VGA vs. HDMI

UPDATE – Xbox 360 Spring Update “Reference Levels” explained.

Received an updated reply from Microsoft that further clarifies the reference levels enhancement included in the Spring Update. The reply is from Microsoft’s John Rodman, Senior Product Manager, Xbox Global Platform (followed by the original post):

Q: Any chance one of your tech contacts could explain in layman’s terms exactly what VGA level referencing is and how it affects 360 users who connect with VGA?

A: We added a new feature to the 2007 Xbox System Update which is actually fairly common among consumer electronics devices. You may know it by a variety of names; Reference Levels, Output levels, Black Levels, Blacker than black, Enhanced Blacks, Setup, PLUGE -all of this is talking about roughly the same functionality. In Xbox 360 we call it
“Reference Levels” for those using HDMI or VGA cables and “Black Levels” for Component or Standard cables.

At a very high level, this feature is here to accommodate the different methods that TVs use to receive a video signal. More specifically it addresses the different ways that “black” and “white” can be represented in that video signal. If you want to dig a little deeper, the easiest way to think about this is to imagine a scale from 0 to 100. 0 is the dark end and 100 is the light end of the scale.

Because of the multiple “standards” put out by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) there is some confusion around what the term “Black” actually means. Some TVs expect black to be 0 while others expect it to be at 7. So, if the Xbox 360 outputs 7.5 as “Black” and it is connected to a TV that expects “Black” to be 0, it will result in a washed out colors. Conversely, if the Xbox 360 outputs 0 as black and the TV expects to get 7.5, it will end up with a very dark picture.

If video from your Xbox 360 looks too bright or too dark, you should try each of the settings and see what works best for your particular TV. If you are happy with you’re the video from your Xbox 360, then don’t bother changing it.

(Original post, April 29, 2007):

Got my Xbox 360 Elite this morning. I went to Walmart first, found a woman in the electronics section, and asked where are the 360 Elites. She looked at the flyer in her hand and said “They ain’t out yet.” I said they’re shipping today, and asked if she’d check the computer for me, to see if they’re in back. “They ain’t here, I tol’ you – some people axed the same thing yesterday, we ain’t got none.” I said okay, told her to have a nice day, and she said the same in return.

I figured I’d go to Circuit City or Best Buy and wait till they open at 10. On the way there I noticed Target was already open, and on a whim went in to ask if they had the 360 Elite. The nice young guy in the games section said he thought so, he’d go check. He came out with four 360 Elites, selling one to me, and two to another guy who showed up.

I opted for the 3-year warranty for $29.99, bringing my total receipt to $544.62.

At home, I unpacked the 360 Elite and was bummed to find that the rumored transfer cable/kit was not included. I did a search to find out what was up, and learned that even if it was included, using the transfer cable would wipe out whatever new stuff was on the 360 Elite’s drive – not that any of it is very interesting. (A downloadable coupon in the support section entitles 360 Elite owners to a free transfer cable kit.)

I decided to transfer my stuff using the 64 MB memory card I had on hand. One look at the size of some of my saved stuff – like more than 1 GB for Oblivion alone – gave me pause. The I realized that for that game, and most others, I needed to transfer only the actual save game files, which were rather smallish; the rest, such as the 1+ GB Shivering Isles expansion pack I bought a few weeks ago, I could re-download once I was all set up. I also transferred over Arcade games like Uno, Wik, Worms and some others. The back and forth process from 360 to 360 Elite took about 45 minutes.

Now, for my most burning question: Would the HDMI connection be noticeably better than the VGA connection I was already using?

In a word: No.

An email to my Xbox press contact, asking for clarification, received this reply:

As you mention, the console can output 1080p resolution video over both VGA and HDMI. There may be very, very subtle differences depending on a consumer’s display, but we wouldn’t expect many people to notice.

There will be a difference between HD DVD video played over component and that played over HDMI. The content protection policies of HD DVD allow a maximum output of 1080i over component, so if you have HDMI (or VGA for that matter) you will get the full 1080p resolution.

In the end, by supporting HDMI we are giving our customers who have HD displays another option in the case their display doesn’t support VGA, plus they get the benefit of audio and video over a single cable.

In fact, others have reported that the HDMI isn’t noticeably better than the component video connection, either. On that, I disagree – switching from component to either HDMI or VGA is considerably different, and I notice a dramatic improvement with the Xbox 360 dashboard, in games, and when watching DVD movies.

My second biggest curiosity was noise, and whether the 360 Elite would be quieter than my original 360.

In a word: Yes.

When the DVD drive isn’t spinning, the 360 Elite is quieter than my original Xbox 360. When playing a game it is also quieter. Others have reported the drive isn’t actually quieter, just different in tone. That may be the impression for those who are comparing the old and the new in a large office environment, but in my bedroom, the new is quieter than the old. Perhaps that’s because my original Xbox 360 was the earliest of early units – shipped to me a few days before the 360 was released to the public. It’s that “old.”

But is it whisper-quiet? Nope. It’s still a pretty noisy product.

Bottom line: If you’re HDTV or monitor has an available VGA port, use it (by purchasing the optional VGA cable) with your existing Xbox 360 and enjoy video as good-looking as the 360 Elite’s. If my HDTV had only HDMI and component connection, I would definitely buy the 360 Elite for the sharper picture it delivers when connected that way. As for the hard disk, I had at least 8 GBs available on my old 360 and I don’t see filling this one up fast. My media lives on my MacBook (which I can tap into via the 360 with the add-on program 360Connect), and as far as downloading movies, which I do quite often (last night I watched The Parallax View, a 70s conspiracy theory film starring Warren Beatty that I highly recommend), I watch them then delete them, since they’re only viewable for 24 hours once you start watching. Still, others may want a bigger hard disk for their stuff, and the 360 Elite satisfies on that front (albeit at a pretty high price when compared to the GB-per-buck ratio found on PC add-on drives).



Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Shivering Isles patch for Xbox 360 and PC

Bethesda Softworks today released a patch for the Xbox 360 and PC versions of the Shivering Isles expansion pack for Oblivion. Xbox Live prompts 360 players to install the patch when the game is launched; the PC version can be downloaded from Bethesda’s website. My contact at the company, Pete Hines, sent the below info regarding the patch:

On Apr 30, 2007, at 12:33 PM, Pete Hines wrote:

The patch notes on our site cover both versions:

Specifically for this update:

Fixed a crash caused by bad form IDs

Fixes an issue where the game would try to use a form IDs that was either restricted or not available yet.

Fixed an issue where form IDs were not being marked as free properly, causing objects to disappear in game.

Thanks for the update, Pete.

While my first post on last year was about Oblivion being a bit of a bore, my feeling about the game has changed, thanks to the Shivering Isles expansion pack that was released several weeks ago. With so much focus in a single (yet huge) region, my enthusiasm for the game has been reignited, and I’m spending many late nights deep in the game.

I’m nuts about the dual realties of Mania and Dementia, and I’ll be sorry when the add-on ends. But by then I’ll be so much more powerful I’m actually excited about diving back into the main quest.


On Nike + iPod: Be all that iCan be?

On Nike + iPod: Be all that iCan be? by Joe Hutsko

Also: Turn your iPod into a personal trainer & Five spring sports gadgets

In the story I mention how the lozenge-size sensor tucks into the Nike + running shoe, however you can also make clever use of Velcro to attach the sensor to your existing, non-Nike + runners. Better yet, I found a couple of inexpensive products that accomplish the same feet. Er, feat. See below.

Sport Sensor Nike iPod Sport Kit Shoe Pouch for Nike+iPod Nike+iPod Sport Kit Shoe Wallet Nike + iPod Sport Kit MA365LL/B


On Five tips to bolster Windows Vista security

Five tips to bolster security on your computer
by Joe Hutsko

You’ve heard the news – Microsoft’s new Windows Vista operating system is the safest Windows ever. The built-in firewall bests the one in Windows XP, and Defender does a decent job of protecting against sneaky spyware attackers bent on stealing your personal information. Even so, that doesn’t mean Vista is invulnerable – there’s always more you can do to protect your Vista desktop or notebook from picking up nasty stuff. From antivirus protection, to tweaking your browser’s protection settings, these tips will help boost your Vista PC’s immune system for all-around safer computing.

Microsoft Windows Live OneCare 1.5 Online PC Care Subscription [12 Months]Norton 360 All-In-One Security Annual Subscription - 3 PCsMcAfee Total Protection 2007CA Antivirus 2007CA Antivirus 2007Webroot Spy Sweeper


Samsung BlackJack i607 review: Smart, sleek, but bound by data fees

Samsung i607 BlackJack Smartphone (Cingular) The Samsung BlackJack is beautiful to look at and the slightly rubberized finish feels nice in the hand. Using the main keyboard is pretty comfortable, however the center OK button and surrounding directional buttons often lead to mis-taps on either side.

The BlackJack’s screen is bright and ultra-sharp. Out of the box the phone syncs perfectly with Outlook. That means contacts, calendar and to-do items, emails – and thanks to an add-in extra, sticky notes, too. (For some reason Microsoft doesn’t offer Outlook sticky notes sync with Windows Mobile 5 as standard equipment, hence the helpful add-in that comes with the BlackJack.)

It’s worth mentioning that the BlackJack comes with two batteries, which suggests the battery life isn’t the greatest. Such was the case in my test of the phone, which meant I always had the extra one charging with the charger, and when at my desk I kept the phone plugged in to the USB cable to keep it charging at the same time. USB charging is always a nice touch, and one I appreciate on my Palm Treo 680 as well.

The BlackJack’s applications – Internet Explorer, Email, Media Player – run smoothly, but as with all Windows Mobile devices you may want to keep tabs on what’s running in memory, then manually cancel loaded but unused programs in order to maintain an overall snappier responsiveness when opening menus and operating programs. I’ve always found Windows Mobile devices a bit tricky to get used to, mostly because settings are scattered all over the place and require lots of hunting to get to exactly what you’re looking for, and the BlackJack was no exception.

Continue reading ‘Samsung BlackJack i607 review: Smart, sleek, but bound by data fees’


From Times Square, Windows Vista launches around the world

In line for Vista launch event in Times SquareStood in line last night with other journalists, for admittance to Microsoft’s Windows Vista (and Office 2007) launch event. It was cold out, and major kudos to the people managing the lines, checking bags (security was pretty tight; bomb-sniffing dogs included) and looking up our names and passing out badges with their bare hands. Mine own fingers were nearly frozen to the point of frostbite by the time I got inside. Not kidding. So to you folks, thank you, again.

Inside we milled about a bit then gathered in the auditorium to listen to some live music before Bill Gates took the stage, talked a bit about Windows past and then present, showed some slides and videos, was joined on stage by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, some partner executives, and eventually one of the families that’s been beta testing Vista for two years. Their major suggestion/contribution: A burn-to-disc button in Vista’s new bundled photo application (which I like a lot). Nothing new about that since other programs, including Apple’s iPhoto (which I don’t like at all), have had that ability for years, but no need to dwell.

The family’s beta-kids all pressed a touch-screen button to officially launch Vista around the world, and on several screens we watched some pretty cool videos of the event in other countries. It was sort of like watching New Years Eve in Times Square on TV, when you see 12 o’clock ringing in in Sydney, Paris, and other locales.

Afterward I checked out Toshiba’s sweet little Portage R400 notebook/tablet PC with wireless dock (going to request one for a future review, here) and went to the bar to order a Manhattan.

Continue reading ‘From Times Square, Windows Vista launches around the world’


On A Mac user switches to Vista

Update: Video of Joe’s “Mac vs. Vista” appearance on MSNBC news on 2/3/07.
Update: Audio of JOEyGADGET on on 2/4/07.

A Mac user switches to Vista by Joe Hutsko
Reporter trades in his PowerBook for a notebook with Microsoft’s new OS
On A Mac user switches to Vista

Reporter Joe Hutsko made the switch several weeks ago, from his 12” PowerBook to a 17” HP widescreen notebook in order to try out Microsoft’s new operating system Windows Vista.


On Cash-poor but Vista-ready?

BricoPack ScreenshotCash-poor but Vista-ready? by Joe Hutsko
Whether your existing PC is too low on power or your wallet short on enough bucks to spring for a new computer with Windows Vista already on it, these add-ons give Windows XP some very Vista-like personality.

Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate FULL VERSION [DVD] Get Vista Ultimate at – but be prepared to pay big bucks.


On TV Guide: 2006 Gadget Gift Guide

My gadgets, gear and game machine picks for TV Guide’s Holiday Gift Guide for 2006. Happy Holidays!


On HDTV tips, best connections, & non-next-gen HD games

New stories on, for their feature focus on HDTV.

Making the best connections for HDTV
Right configuration is key for the the sharpest picture and clearest sound

Ten tips on buying a high-definition television
Know the essentials about HDTV before you bring one home

HDTV gaming for non-next-gen gamers
There are plenty of titles that take advantage of high definition televisions


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