Removing a Broken Headphone Plug from an iPhone

Broken Headphone Plug and iPhone. 😱

The headphone jack is a pretty key port for anyone not on an iPhone 7 or later, so a broken headphone plug shoved in the jack renders a phone pretty much useless. It's also too small a space for needle nose pliers.

So what do you do if something breaks off in it? Well, searching around on iFixit lead me to the existence of a headphone plug extraction tool (for $50!!!) Unfortunately, my daughter actually uses her phone for school, so the wait (plus $50) was unacceptable if we could find another solution.

Other solutions?

  • Crazy glue the broken headphones to its counterpart (and risk sealing it up for good?!)
  • Small drill bit.
  • Bamboo toothpick.
  • Soda straw cut to squeeze around the broken plug.

Ok, the soda straw sounded reasonable and, if nothing else, low risk. So I tried with some IKEA straws and got close to extracting a piece out, but no further. The problem was that there was too much in the plug. (The headphone plug is concentric cylinders that had been shoved all the way in.)

Solution!

So I kept reading... CUTICLE SCISSORS! My wife had a small pair that worked well to extract one of the pieces. Grab what you can with the scissors, push the straw around the remainder and tug to extract. The plug tip slid far enough out in this process to grab with my fingernails.

Below is the final carnage with extraction tools.

Cuticle scissors, straw, headphone plug pieces

My experience with the Starbucks Mobile Card

When I initially heard about the Starbucks mobile card test only being expanded to Target stores, I wondered if the reason was because of infrastructure. After all, there are west coast tests of the mobile card in full scale stores.

After trying to use it, I now believe that the choice of Target Starbucks as test locations was due to their lower volume.

I presented my iPhone app mobile card for payment. It took a minute for the cashier to realize what I was doing (how long into the test?)

She was unable to scan the mobile card after a couple of attempts, and then had to make a couple of attempts at manually entering the card before the system would accept it as payment.

Another cashier was confused with what was even going on with my iPhone and the order. At some point, I can imagine that I would have been public enemy #1 if this were a standalone Starbucks at rush hour.

I successfully paid for my drink with the mobile card, but I don't think I ever will do that again, at least not until I see others in line successfully paying in this way.

Calendar functionality on a smartphone?

It seems that calendars should respond to time zone changes more gracefully.

I don't have another smartphone for reference, just an iPhone, but the combination of automatic time zone updating and calendar appointments should be handled more gracefully.

Now, I know there's a time zone support option on the iPhone, but not all appointment sources are created equal.

Outlook Sync with iphone seems to not handle timezones well. I'm sitting in Las Vegas getting my 4 PM EST meeting invite reminders at 4 PM PST.

Meanwhile, I wouldn't necessarily want my 5:30 AM EST to necessarily translate to 2:30 AM PST.

Given those two cases, I don't think a global device setting is necessarily the ideal method to solve the timezone issue.

Maybe there should be switch on each appointment that indicates whether the time or the timezone stays fixed for a given appointment.

Smartphone users disappointed with handset and application performance

From Fanfare:

Research reveals 57% of smartphone users disappointed with handset and application performance

Closer examination reveals that only 155 members of the public responded to the survey.

One interesting "key finding" that I noted was that whether a problem with the device or the network, 53% blame the device for the issue. If Apple's true intent is to control the quality user experience by keeping the ecosystem closed, this finding supports that strategy. However, it also makes them more legitimately responsible with issues do arise.

Little mention of apps being blamed for the issues

There is no commentary on the quality of the mobile apps themselves being blamed for issues with the phones, but I suspect that a user who has run into a large number of poorly written apps is going to attribute the problems with the apps back to the phone itself. This is unfortunate, because the turnover of applications on a mobile device is much more frequent than on a desktop. When there are a large number of apps available for free or $0.99, the barrier to installation of the app is extremely low.

I, myself, used to download many applications on my PCs, but they were either open source applications from SourceForge or shareware that I had to try and make a conscious decision to pay money for. I doubt that a significant percentage of the PC owners did likewise and I'm pretty sure most of the ones I know that did had malware on their machines as a result of installing something that they really shouldn't have. In contrast, half of iPhone users buy at least an app a month.

With such application development and installation churn comes increased instability, no matter how tightly the ecosystem is controlled.

More rumblings of AT&T iPhone exclusivity ending...

Apple to End AT&T iPhone Exclusivity Within a Year? | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD.

I love the first comment:

I’d pay to end my AT&T contract, and I’m only two months into it.

I get a small discount on my AT&T/iPhone service w/ unlimited text messages, and I'm looking at a bill for one month that's around $89. In order to get my wife on a plan:

  • 700 minutes - $69.99
  • 2 x $30 iPhone data plan - $60
  • 2 x $20 unlimited texting - $40 (I realize that 1500 messages are only $15 each, but if you run over by 100 msgs, that's $20)

That's $170 per month before all the taxes and fees. If another carrier were to offer service, I'd definitely pay the early termination fee as well, and like the commenter, I'm only about 2 months into the contract.

Statistics (you know what they say about them) Apple iPhone Dominates...

Apple's statistics from AdMob have been impressive over the last
year. It seems that iPhone and iPod touch owners are heavy Internet
users. Forrester Research even quoted AdMob's findings in their
"Mobile Internet: Where is Your Audience?" paper.

One thing I've noticed, however, is that quite a few of my free apps
have ads served by AdMob. Do these show up as web page ad views? If
they do, then these numbers might be artificially skewed because of
those apps.

From InformationWeek: Apple iPhone Dominates Mobile Web Usage :

Apple's mobile platform remains popular, and its devices accounted
for nearly 43% of all U.S. ad requests.

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Some thoughts on the 'vulnerability' of the 3G S $AAPL

Hacker Says iPhone 3GS Encryption Is ‘Useless’ for Businesses | Gadget Lab | Wired.com.

Some counterpoints:

  • The iPhone 3G S has to be in the physical possession of the hacker (instead of an over-the-air attack).
  • The iPhone can be wiped remotely (however, MobileMe, push, and Find My iPhone must be turned on, and must be connected to the internet).
  • The iPhone is more likely to be profiled as a valuable piece of hardware than for its data potential--the BlackBerry is a well-recognized business device and would be a more likely target for data thieves.

Some additional thoughts:

  • The iPhone has thus far been a consumer device, although the trickle in enterprise adoption makes this alarm-sounding well timed.
  • Apple does not currently provide enterprise management software for either desktops or phones, which (beyond security) is probably the greatest barrier to enterprise acceptance.

How well has the Sprint/Palm campaign against Apple has been doing?

Article: Sprint Palm Pre campaign wants bite of Apple's pie

Interesting statistics on Sprint's NOW Network campaign and how well it as performed against the buzz that the iPhone creates.

Things that I take away from this article:

  • Sprint and Palm are name-dropping Twitter and Facebook to freshen up their image.
  • Aggressive marketing of the Palm Pre helped Palm briefly overtake the iPhone in terms of search buzz generated, ending when the iPhone 3G S was announced.
  • There was only an 11% overlap in those who searched for the Palm Pre vs. those who searched for an iPhone.

I did notice one of the ad campaign quotes mentioned from the article:

The Palm Pre does things the iPhone can't. Run multiple applications at the same time ...

I have to say that using my iPhone as a chronic multitasker, I don't really notice the fact that I'm only running one application at a time on the iPhone. The context switching is pretty seamless to me, and my usual problem with getting too deep into multitasking on the desktop is that I eventually have more than 21 windows to through. Saving application state is actually much cleaner than having all open applications to switch through. While the Palm Pre has a cleaner way of switching through applications that have been opened that Windows Mobile does, I can imagine being in the Palm Pre card equivalent of hell.

The varied cost of applications (and developing them) for different mobile devices

As I find myself slowing losing resistance to buying an iPhone, I started thinking about all the free and $0.99 apps on the App Store. Granted, I'm using a platform (Palm OS) that is migrating from being "cheap because it's old" to being "expensive because no one builds them anymore." However, there are still Palm OS smartphones being sold by Sprint.

I found one example application across several platforms that is somewhat telling of the pricing model the iPhone has.

Bookworm for Palm OS by Astraware Limited - $14.95

Bookworm for iPhone by PopCap Games, inc. - $4.99

Bookworm for BlackBerry by Magmic Games - $6.99

Bookworm for Windows Mobile Smartphone - $9.99

The (old) Palm strategy appeared to be to make money off of the Palm OS device, and not to help provide access for the 3rd party developers to make the device useful. At one time I was interested in developing Palm OS software, but found that I was looking at a several hundred dollar investment just for the (high quality) IDE (CodeWarrior - $499). The pricing of the applications that are nearly obsolete now is telling.

I've noticed that the Windows Mobile Marketplace registration is now only $99 (per year). That's a much more reasonable entry point, but I believe the iPhone development kit standard price is $99 (one time).

MEANWHILE, the Palm Pre has been out for over a month, and we're still waiting on general release of the Mojo SDK. This is not a good sign to me, and frankly, that aggravates me as a developer.