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iPhone not backward compatI’m a little pissed right now.  Today I had a long drive downtown and on the way home I was planning on charging my iPhone (since battery life sucks bad) as well as listen to some of the tunes.  I upgraded my car system last year to support iPod connectors and put a dock in my car attached to my OEM stereo.  It was a project I was pretty proud I was able to do myself :-).  You can read and see about it here and here.  At the time I did this I was asked why I didn’t use a Zune…after all I do work for Microsoft.  Well I have a Zune and actually think it is a great device.  The current one brings pretty much parity with iPod from a device standpoint and has some additional features that are interesting to some.  The problem was that Zune didn’t have a great aftermarket accessory story…especially for OEM car integration. 

I researched for my specific vehicle and came across a great solution which I purchased and implemented.  One of the great stories I heard was about how many accessories were available and how they all used the same connector, etc.  This is true and a great story for iPod.  Pretty much every accessory works with every iPod/Phone connectors.  This was true for my car kit that worked with iPod and iPhone v1 (charged and played).  Today I was greeted with the message at the top of this post.  Argh.  I chose either option and the integration didn’t work nor would it act as a charger.  What?!  A bit of researching shows that others are having similar problems.  It seems that there was some significant enough changes to the 3G hardware unit that will render certain accessories useless (namely charging and interactive ones…but what other kinds are there).  I’ve been reading that Firewire support is gone in iPhone 3G and because of that there is some voltage charging requirements (must be 5V) that make some chargers useless…especially the well integrated ones. 

One of the top manufacturers of iPod/phone integration kits, BlitzSafe, is pretty affected by this and I’ve been seeing complaints sent to them.  If there was a hardware change, this could be upsetting to most that spent money on a tight integration kit.  I guess the “same connector” really isn’t and that’s a little misleading.  I’m thinking that the advertisements should really expand that asterisk on their image.

I’ve contacted my manufacturer of the device to see if they are aware of this and maybe they can provide some type of firmware update themselves (for my dock) but I’m guessing it isn’t possible…I’m going to wait to see what they say as options…if anyone know how BlitzSafe is affected and their response, I’d be interested in knowing as well.  Aside from the voltage charge feature it seems that the v1 software commands aren’t honored as well.  Hey Mr. Jobs, can you release a software update that ensures that old docks with interactive commands are mapped to any new v2.0 software commands so that you have backward compat with device accessories?  If not, I really think you should add some truth in advertising and a warning on the features (and if there is one, can someone point it out to me as a part of the official documentation?).

iPhone 3G Max Battery.appAs another aside, in dealing with the battery life for a typical business day (it was dead at 5pm), I’ve decided that I need to manage my own battery life now (oddly enough is there a battery meter that actually shows the % left rather than just the icon on the device?).  This led me to flipping different options all day.  What is funny is that Apple’s own documention on improving battery life pretty much instructs you to turn off all features that make the 3G, well, the iPhone 3G: turn off 3G, minimize use of location services, turn off push mail, minimize use of 3rd party applications.  This cracked me up.  Given that I busted out the iPhone SDK and desired to write an application.  I consider myself not a genius but not an idiot.  I honestly couldn’t figure out how to add an event handler to a button click.  Some of you may laugh…go ahead.  I didn’t find any real helpful tutorials to guide me either.  If there are some, please point me.  At any rate, if there is someone who’d like to collaborate on creating “Max Battery.app” with me, leave a comment and let’s setup a project.  Of course the downside is to actually even test this we’ll have to pay $100 and won’t even be able to give it to others to test (see developer comments in previous post).  My goal would be to write a utility app that would be one place where you could do what Apple suggests.  Currently these settings are in 4 different places.  I’d love a single button to that is labeled either “Make iPhone v1” or “Extreme Savings” or something like that which would automatically toggle all these settings off instead of individually.

Anyhow, first 24 hours.  Disappointing in the key areas that were of interest to me.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution By license.

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well, after my initial quest to complete this task in part 1, i'm happy to report success!

this is a little patting of my own back ... i'm shocked that i actually did it on my own, without cursing, without getting mad at my family, and in the first attempt!  i didn't take pictures of the process as i was on a pace that i didn't want to disturb.  needless to say when my wife came to check on me while doing this project, she was in awe to see my entire back seat sitting in the garage and carpet everywhere.  i was in awe as well and really didn't think it would all fit back together quite the same.

but it just under 2 hours, it was complete and i was en route to the grocery store for a victory mt. dew.  here's the final implementation...no visibility:

DICE Kit installation

and when i want to connect my ipod:

DICE Kit with iPhone

very, very tight integration.  i do have a few after thoughts.  first, i figured i would mentally pay attention to things i was unplugging and would be able to find their way back to their homes.  after completing the core installation i was left with one 4-pin attachment that for the life of me i couldn't remember where it went, nor could i find a glaringly obvious place for it.  luckily the car still runs, i can shift gears, stop when needed, etc.  but i truly do have a "spare part" somewhere...frankly i'm sure it isn't vital (probably a light)...or at least it isn't until my airbag randomly deploys on me when listing to music.

what helped me was preparation...something i rarely do when it comes to handy work in my personal life.  the instructions were awesome...very, very detailed.  they didn't read "remove your back seat" but instead read "you'll find two clips under your seat, life directly straight up on these...if you don't they will bend and you wont be able to put them back.  lift up and then pull at an upward angle to remove the seat..." etc.  every step was like this leaving no doubt what i was supposed to do.  even when i questioned one step (and tried to skip because i thought it was trivial), it proved to be necessary.  the night before i went on this adventure i read the instructions several times to familiarize myself with the carnage i was about to put on my car.  i went to the manufacturer web site to find links to youtube videos demonstrating the steps...awesome.  this truly helped solidify that what i was about to do would be doable in my skill set.  the videos were broken out into 7 minute chunks in about 8 steps...and very easy to follow.  what a great use of the internet and free video service to demonstrate installation -- and they save some trees in the process (although maybe the carbon count increases...who knows).  i wish more companies would do this to the level of detail i had.

in the end i'm very pleased with the product and myself.  i have to learn the less-than-intuitive menu structure (to sync go to disc 6, track 3...wait a few seconds, then back to disc 1, track 4...browsing playlists is a series of different discs, etc. -- note: this replaced my cd changer), but i'm okay with that.  i tried with a 2nd gen nano, an iPhone and an iPod classic.  all worked well.  the iphone was the most disappointing, but i somewhat understand.  once connected it requires it to be in airplane mode to reduce noise in the communication, and also 'locks' the menu (meaning i can't navigate to songs on the iPhone).  the other models work fine and i can choose to use my radio or my ipod navigation itself.  very cool.  it isn't ideally located to see the screens, but i anticipate using playlists anyway.

i'm a happy man.  all my music in one place, portable, using factory features, and a slick installation.  yippeee.

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Be sure to read PART 2 of this adventure to see the completed project!

anyone who knows me knows that i'm a super geek, but not gifted beyond that title :-).  when trying to hang something in my house, i've got about 18 different laser levelers assisting me, but i'll be damned if the thing still isn't hung right.

so for my birthday i decided i was finally going to complete one of my desires...my mp3 player in my car.  i previously wrote about how i have an "older" car (2000) and that it doesn't have an aux jack or anything.  i also had the goal of preserving my factory head unit as well as must be able to control the player through the factory controls on the steering wheel and head unit.  pretty lofty goal for a 2000 model year car.  but alas, i found the kit.  so i bought it for my birthday and it has been sitting in my office ever since.

SIDE NOTE: why no zune?  i wish i could...honest.  i want to support my company in every way.  i might be regretting this ipod investment if new zunes come out that are unreal.  but for me, integration with my car in a deep way was key.  i couldn't wait anymore and the aftermarket for zune just isn't demanding enough for niche companies to invest in what i was looking for.  there are some, but none that met my criteria...so alas, it is not a zune.

why?  well the instructions scared the crap out of me first of all.  when the first three pages of instructions warn you about the product and that "it doesn't just 'work'" you tend to get leery about it...especially since we aren't hanging pictures!  this weekend i decided to embark.  kids were in for a nap, and me -- being the idiot that i am -- decided that an afternoon in the garage in 100 degree temps was a good idea.  so i started.

i read the instructions in detail about 12 times before i started.  i heeded the warnings of "perform a dry run" and was about to do just that.  so out came the metric set, screwdrivers, and wirecutters and i went to work.  everything was extremely simple to set up and the instructions were incredibly detailed.  i went and got my ipod, and plugged it in.  as i watched the dash initialize with the expected commands.  the commands are very funky and going to take a bit of getting used to in navigating the ipod menu through less-than-intuitive commands, but it worked...sorta.  my dry run consisted of wiring everything into the trunk before i made the time investment in cabling to the front cab.

DICE installation assembly

everything that it said it would do, it did.  but no sound.  argh.  i fiddled some more.  then realized that even though one part of the unit might not be getting power, that it would still send data...so, a re-wire to a ground/power and boom, it worked.  you can see a nano (above) being used here (not a new nano, but a 2nd gen one) and the dash view under my tach/speedometer now displays the ipod text info (format: song*artist*album):

e38 Speed/Tach/iPod

to see it in action watch this video of a song playing then switching a song:

so it all works...but that is half the battle.  as the darkness grew on me, i contemplated whether or not i should start doing the cable work...and then i re-read the directions: "well, the most time consuming part is upon us...but it won't take more than an hour" -- i applied the standard algorithm i have for these scenarios:

(((MFR Estimated Time * 3) + Emotional Cost in Hours) * 3) + 1 + 1 Taco Bell break

i quickly deduced that a) there wasn't enough daylight and b) i didn't have any more emotional cost hours left.  aside from the fact that i noticed that step one was to remove the back seat -- all of it...seat belt assembly and all.  yeah, i'm gonna wait on that one.  for now, i'm proud that i got an initial step done.  my trunk is still in shambles, but that is okay...baby steps.

Be sure to read PART 2 of this adventure to see the completed project!