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Author Archive for Ben Cooper

Middle East Trip - Syria - بصرى‎

was an unexpected pleasure on our second day and a great introduction to Syria. It was not on the itinerary and felt quite special, mostly because the people still lived in some fantastic Roman ruins. A Christian chapel that was home to , who encountered Muhammad in his youth, is considered one of the first Christian churches, lay in ruins. We ate fantastic food and slept on the floor at the restaurant under the welcome sign next to the amphitheatre (see last photo in set).

Click on the photo below to see the entire set.

Middle East Trip - Jordan - عمان

Siew and I have been back a week now from our month long trip to Syria, Jordan and Egypt. It’s about time I started sorting through my photos and posting them to my Flickr account. I’m attempting to post 1 set per place and use this blog as a record of our stay.

All photos are taken with a Nikon D60 with a Nikkor 18-200 mm VR DX lens, my Dad’s equipment. My D70 was out of commission due to dust spots on the sensor that I haven’t gotten around to buying swabs for.

Here’s the first set from our first day in Amman, Jordan.


Skype credit expiry update

After I blogged about my Skype credit expiry problem I raised a support ticket and got the following response:

Hello Ben,

We apologize for the delayed response. Our goal is to respond to all customer e-mails within 72 hours, however due to a recent increase in inquiries it has taken longer to respond to you.

Thank you for your understanding and patience.

After reviewing your case we have decided to re-instate your credit. Your balance will be updated in the next 3 days.

For the future please remember that you must place one call lasting at least one whole minute every 180 days in order to keep your credit balance.

Skype is continually working to improve the notification process to make sure that our customers would remember to make this one call.

Thank you once again. Enjoy using Skype.

Should you need more assistance, feel free to contact us again; we will be glad to help.

Best regards,

Andras - Skype Support

Visit for latest news, updates and tips.

My Skype balance was restored. This is great customer support!

iPhone brick update

It’s about time I posted an update to my iPhone sob story. Two weeks ago I visited an Apple “Genius” at the new store in Sydney.

Despite filming the queue at the opening this was the first time inside the store itself.

The genius I saw was Bobby, who attempted to activate the phone with Siew’s SIM and my SIM without success. He inspected the headphone jack with a torch magnifier before deciding to replace the phone entirely. I made him flash the new one to 2.0.1 just in case the same thing happened again (it was a scary moment when the battery almost died during the update on the MacBook he was updating from but all is good.

I must say, however, that I expected more from a certified genius.

Some shots of the Genius bar and the new phone getting flashed are below. Note that the sign on the bar says that if you jailbreak then you have voided your warranty and cannot get support.

The experience once back home wasn’t so good however. We restored from the latest backup and all the app store apps would crash on startup. This appears to be a problem with setting app permissions on a restore (see for a jailbreak solution to this). We did a fresh install and reloaded the apps manually which worked. It’s a pain having to set everything back up the way it was however. This is what I expected the backup/restore process to remove.

I have since updated to 2.0.2 on my iPhone without issue. Siew refuses to let me update her’s.

MacBook Magic Eye part 4

Here’s a collection of MacBook Magic Eye from both Michael and I, collected over the past few weeks. The latest one was on Thursday.

For me it only seems to happen when I unplug my external monitor.

It’s been quite a month for cloud service fails. I just got this email from Skype:

Hi there Benjamin Cooper,

Unfortunately your Skype Credit balance has expired due to 180 days’ inactivity on your account. We sent you three reminder emails, but as we explained, this now means the balance you had in your account has been cleared.

Below is the Skype Credit expiry policy, detailing why your balance expired.

=== What are the rules for Skype Credit expiry? ===

1. Skype Credit expires 180 days after your last credit purchase or action that used credit eg calling phones, SMS message.
2. Each purchase, call or SMS message resets the expiry time to 180 days.
3. Unfortunately, if you don’t use your remaining credit the balance will expire to comply with normal business accounting rules.
4. You will receive reminder emails 30 days, 7 days and 72 hours before your credit expires.

Talk soon,

The people at Skype

Well Skype have already broken their credit expiry rules. Here’s a screenshot of my mail history:

Skype Expiry Fail

I never got a reminder mail 7 days and 72 hours before my credit expired.

Do I get my money back?

iPhone 2.0.1 brick

Yesterday I updated my iPhone to 2.0.1 without too many issues. I did get the dreaded carrier settings error message which didn’t seem to cause any problems for me (I’m with Optus in Australia).

Then I did Siew’s phone…

For Google’s index I’ll type the error message.

The iPhone “Siew Cooper’s iPhone” cannot be used with iTunes because the information required for activation could not be obtained from the iPhone.
Check that the SIM card is inserted in your iPhone and that it is not PIN-locked.

So I plugged it into my Mac and got this:

Interesting. I put the phone in DFU mode and did a restore with both my SIM and Siew’s SIM and now only get the original error message. I guess a trip to the Optus store is on the cards to see if they can activate it.

The irony is that my phone has previously been jailbroken and Siew’s was completely clean. The only option for me that I can tell is to jailbreak it back to 2.0. I’m not sure what 2.0.1 did to prevent it from doing this however.

It’s not a good time for Apple.

Quality Apple news reporting

I saw the following today while browsing my Google Reader. There’s way too much noise out there and Gillmor’s twitter phenomenon doesn’t help one jot.

Wordpress iPhone app

I’m writing this to test out the newly released . It’s functional, if a little basic. Text formatting is currently HTML only, which is extremely unwieldy on the iPhone keypad (no landscape mode yet).

It’s a novel app but I can’t see anyone doing heavy writing on this device. It’s not the sort of device for it anyway.


Update: Added formatting and link to the app store. It was simply too horrible to write HTML on my iPhone (not to mention lack of cut-and-paste!)

A Chat - World Phone Day!

Pete and Ben chat about the iPhone 3G, a week on. We talk about:

  • Purchase stories
  • Activation
  • Hardware
    • Plastic back
      • Feels good in the hand and doesn’t slip
    • GPS
      • A bit subtle about satellite lock
    • Reception
      • 3G doesn’t drop back to 2G quickly enough
    • Sound
      • On 2G in my bad reception it’s the best phone Peter’s used
    • Camera
      • Disappointing but functional. Lens flare if there’s any backlight
    • Battery life
      • Lasts a day of pretty heavy use
  • Software
    • App store
    • Favourite apps so far
        • Google reader reader (with offline)
        • Always gets a laugh
        • It is now the top free app
        • Ben - The best use of location I’ve seen so far. You see people responding to other tweets locally. Normally these people wouldn’t be able to find each other. Recognised a name mentioned in one (a former colleague of some people at work)
        • Peter lives 5 miles from Ben.
        • Peter - Someone rather menacingly said “we know where you live” after I posted with GPS position outside.
    • Crashing apps
      • Peter - AIM
      • Ben - A few apps crash. Kind of makes me wonder if it’s the apps or the OS?
    • Problems
      • Peter - Push email notification troubles
        • Stopped on Friday
        • Rebooted and then my .mac account came back
        • removed .mac and it works again
      • Ben - Push notification works from the iPhone but not the mac itself. Found I need to sync explicitly or wait for the next sync (even on “automatic”)
  • Data usage so far…
    • Peter - Sent 3.1Mb, Received 42.4Mb = 45.6Mb -> 152Mb / month
    • Ben - I can’t say since I’ve had it reset to some value twice after the iPhone restarted itself. Currently says Sent 2.4Mb, Received 24.2Mb

A Chat - World Phone Day!