Huzzah! Throw up the flags! Send off the fireworks! Summon the townspeople! Apple has lost! The people have won! Huzzah!
I’m referring, of course, to Monday’s ruling by The Library of Congress, which explicitly carves out a legal exception for those looking to jailbreak their iPhones. No longer will industrious little hackers (or those who downloaded a one-button jailbreak app off the Interwebs) be subject to Digital Millennium Copyright Act smack-downs over their choice of Cydia instead of the App Store.
In short, so long as you’re jailbreaking your iPhone to make it work with a third-party application that, itself, isn’t kosher on a vanilla iPhone, you’re in the clear. I’m not quite sure what you would do with a jailbroken phone otherwise—perhaps smash it with a hammer to test its durability or something--but there you have it.
Now, we’ve won, right? The choice of how and why you use your iPhone has finally been wrested out of the turtleneck-laden hands of Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The people are in control now, and we all have carte blanche to do with our handheld devices as we please! Yay!
Score a victory for Joe Consumer, who according to the U.S. government, is fully within his legal right to unlock his iPhone, or any other mobile phone, without having to look over his shoulder for Johnny Law. Not that Apple or anyone else would ever go crying to the cops for trivial matters (wait a tick), but it doesn't matter now anyway.
Federal regulators approved a bunch of new exemptions to a federal law that prohibits circumventing technical measures companies put into place to prevent unauthorized use of copyrighted material. Apple has always taken the position that jailbreaking is an unauthorized modification of its software and violates copyright law, but under the new regulation, iPhone owners are within their legal right to unlock their mobile device and install third-party apps.
Regulators also approved the practice of unlocking cell phones to use on an unapproved carrier, another practice that already exists (scores of iPhone owners roll with unlocked phones on T-Mobile's network, even though the iPhone is available exclusively through AT&T) and is now out of the legal gray area.
Palm Pre modder who goes by the name "unixpsycho" is living up to his nick with a new bit of firmware that comes with following disclaimer in big, bold, red lettering:
"DO NOT INSTALL THIS IF YOU LIKE YOUR PHONE!!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!"
If that sounds over the top, consider that his latest firmware -- SR71 Blackbird -- pushes the Palm Pre's OMAP 3430 processor to 1.2GHz. That's twice the speed this little chip was meant to run at, which ships stock at 600MHz.
For those willing to throw caution to the wind, there are some safety measures that keeps this from being a total smartphone suicide mission. Temp monitoring comes built in, and whenever the chip jumps past 55C, the firmware ramps things down to 500MHz, "or at least it should."
For the most part, first impressions of Motorola's recently launched Droid X have been largely positive, but it's the eFuse chip contained inside that's getting all the attention. As was reported all over the place last week, modders who muck with the device's bootloader will set off the chip and end up with a bricked smartphone for their trouble, but that's all a bunch of hogwash, says Motorola, who set out to clear the air.
"Motorola's primary focus is the security of our end users and protection of their data, while also meeting carrier, partner, and legal requirements," Motorola wrote in an email to Engadget. The Droid X and a majority of Android consumer devices on the market today have a secured bootloader. In reference specifically to eFuse, the technology is not loaded with the purpose of preventing a consumer device from functioning, but rather ensuring for the user that the device only runs on updated and tested versions of software. If a device attempts to boot with unapproved software, it will go into recovery mode, and can reboot once approved software is reinstalled."
In other words, altering the phone's firmware won't result in a dead device like many had feared, but it does sound as though the Droid X will be harder to hack than other smartphones. Does that mean it will be impossible? We highly doubt it, given the modding community's never-die attitude, especially now that we know the Droid X isn't any danger of dying either.
Motorola's Droid X has been stirring up quite the stink on the Internet lately, with several websites pointing out how the device's eFuse chip could potentially spell the end of third-party mods.
Here's how it works. The eFuse chip is tasked with verifying the handset's firmware (ROM), the kernel, and the bootoader version. If it detects that something is awry -- like a third-party ROM -- the eFuse chip "ignites," so to speak, bricking the phone. The only way to undo the damage is to ship the device off to Motorola and hope that they'll be sympathetic to your plight. Perhaps you fell down a long flight of steps and through a series of bumps and bangs, you inadvertently downloaded a third-party ROM and installed it.
Sounds pretty gruesome, right? But let's back up a moment. It's now coming to light that the eFuse chip isn't anything new, and in fact it's included on all of TI's OMAP3 processors. Why is that relevant? Well, the gloom and doom scenario being played out in the press hasn't been an issue for past devices with the eFuse mechanism, like the original Droid and Milestone, and it would be odd if Motorola suddenly switched directions with the Droid X.
Let's not forget that the ability to mod is a huge draw for the Android platform, and something like this wouldn't be good for either Motorola or Google.
Would you be okay with Motorola locking down its hardware and bricking modded devices, or does something like this cross the line? Does all the hoopla surrounding eFuse influence your decision on whether or not to get a Droid X?
Steve Jobs and the rest of the Cupertino gang have come under fire recently for an issue with the iPhone 4 that causes it to lose reception. The worst part about this is all you have to do to inadvertently knock out the signal is...hold the smartphone. The issue is most prevalent when holding the smartphone a certain way (read: normally) with your left hand, and until that inevitable revision pops out of the Apple camp, the only solution to this so-called "non issue" is to grip the iPhone 4 differently. Or buy a case. Gee thanks.
Well, there's another solution, one which involves two strips of Scotch Tape. In a YouTube video, user "chedacheese" demonstrates how covering the black strip on each side of the iPhone with a strip of tape prevents the signal from dropping out.
"I have used some Scotch Tape to hold onto the sides here, and it actually keeps the signal bars steady," says chedachese in his out-of-focus video. "We've got full signal strength here. We are holding the device in its normal spots, and it is keeping the signal bars pretty steady. It's pretty well taped on the sides. And no other place but on the sides."
You can view the video here, and for those of you tired of the iPhone 4 coverage, perhaps this video will be more to your liking.
There are lots of things you can do with old motherboards, like give them away to family and friends or build dedicated Folding@Home boxes for Team 11108 (that's Maximum PC, folks). But what about those slices of silicon that don't even run anymore? If you're been looking for a project, here it is.
Some unknown modder got the idea to build a replica of Helsinki, Finland using nothing but old printed circuit boards. This ranks as one of the coolest mods we've ever seen and would make an awesome piece of wall art. We only wish there were more information available, like who built it, how many mobos were harmed during construction, and what other projects the silicon city builder might be up to.
Disassembling a $529 smartphone isn't for the faint of heart, so if you're going to try and tackle a project like this, you might as well know what you're up against. That's where DIY repair site iFixit.com comes in. You can think of iFixit as a community repair manual for all things tech, and one of the neater articles outlines how to take apart a Nexus One from start to finish.
Tearing into Google's smartphone you'll find a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, various logic boards, the touchscreen controller, GSM power amplifier, TI integrated Power Management IC, RF transreceiver, Bluetooth chip, LED flash, and all sorts of other tech goodies.
So why exactly would you want to take apart a Nexus One? Curiosity, out-of-warranty repair, and an obsession with taking things apart just for the sake of doing it are three quick reasons that come to mind. If you fall into any of those categories, check out the complete worklog (with pics aplenty) right here.
ASRock recently stated it wanted to start targeting the enthusiast crowd, and making good on that intention, the company will start slapping a new UCC chip onto its motherboards.
So what's the big deal? UCC stands for Unlock CPU Core, and as you might have guessed, it's designed to make easy-work out of turning AMD's triple-core processors into unlocked quad-core parts. All you do is go into the BIOS, enter one of the options, and if the parts play nice together, you'll be sitting pretty with four cores where previously there were three.
The best part about this is ASRock said it intends to plop the UCC chip onto entry-level motherboards too. This tactic of putting high-end features onto lower-priced parts has helped ASRock build a following, and something like this could go a long way in upping the company's geek cred.
Stealing Internet service is serious business, especially when you've made a business out of allowing others to hop online for free. That's what 26-year-old Matthew Delorey of New Bedford, Mass., is accused of doing, who was arrested for allegedly selling hacked cable modems that gave customers free Internet access. Charged with one count each of conspiracy and wire fraud, if convicted, Delorey will face up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.
Delorey's undoing was when he sold a pair of modified modems to an undercover FBI agent, according to authorities. The U.S. Department of Justice says Delorey ran a website called Massmodz.com, where he allegedly sold cable modems that had been modified to spoof the device's MAC address.
But that isn't all that has Delorey in hot water. He's also accused of posting instructional videos on YouTube titled "How to Get Free Internet Free Cable Comcast or any Cable ISP -- 100% works" and "Massmodz.com How to bypass Comcast registration page with premod cable modem SB5100, SB5101."
Should a court ultimately find Delorey is guilty, what do you think, does the potential punishment fit the crime? Hit the jump and sound off!