Category Archives: iPhone

China Travel Tips, Part 1. Internet & Telephone

Local SIM or Int’l GSM Roaming

That is good question. If you’re going to be in China for 4 days or less, there’s not much point in hasseling with the local SIM card – since the process will probably take 3+ hours inluding: travel time, locating fairly priced SIM card dealer, installing card, verifying adaquate funds in prepaid account, subscribing for international dialing, and testing the process.

If you’re not going to use a local SIM card, you must make sure that International Roaming is active on your phone BEFORE you depart from your home country. Once you land in China, it’s too late. You’re phone won’t work, and it will be a fiasco to get in touch with your phone company.

Note that all GSM compatible phones contain interchangable GSM SIM cards. If your phone doesn’t have a SIM, then it’s not going to work when you’re roaming.

Unlocked Phones and Local SIMs

China is the biggest mobile phone market in the world, and the vast majority of thoese phones are unlocked, paid for directly by the end user, not subsidized by the carrier.

If you want to use a Chinese SIM card in your phone, you must make sure your

Mobile phone coverage is excellent in China, and prices are very reasonable. Even calling internationally via a Chinese SIM card to the USA is only 6¢/minute when you use a 5 digit IP dialing prefix.


Don’t do it. Seven years ago, when I first got to China, Skype worked great. It was hard to call overseas, but anyone could dial inbound via Skype-In, which I would forward to my China Mobile phone.

Then along came the Great Firewall. Every year, the Chinese Great Firewall gets more and more annoying, blocking more and more of the sites that you would like to access.

Now days, Skype is not reliable. Sometimes it works fine, usually for about 15-minutes, but then it drops and won’t reconnect properly for a half hour or more.

If you need to Video Conference while in China, you probably shouldn’t come – because your video conference probably won’t work.

If you just need to make some international calls while you’re here, then you are far better off using 12593 (China Mobile) or 10193 (China Unicom) “IP Call Extension” directly from your mobile phone. The connection will be clear and stable. It works nation wide. It doesn’t drop often, and if it does, you can reconnect quickly.

Ideal China Traveler Configuration

For people who need to stay connected to the world while traveling through China, the best solution is:

  1. Smartphone with Global Roaming from homeland carrier to receive incoming Int’l calls and text messages
  2. Unlocked phone (Smartphone or Feature Phone) with local SIM card from China Mobile or China Unicom
  3. 3G Access Point from China Unicom for Email access and Mobile Browsing via your Smartphone, Tablet and Laptop.
  4. Airport Express or other Ethernet based Hotspot for wireless access while you’re at the hotel or office.

Note that a 3G Card from China Mobile, valid for 3 months will provide 1.5GB of data nation wide. That’s enough for a few weeks of mobile email and mobile (smartphone and tablet) browsing. If you’re going to be trying to use IP telephony, watch any video, or download anything – you’ll blow through this 1.5GB in 2-3 days. Best off getting back to the hotel before downloading a lot.

Most battery powered 3G Access points use a single 1800 mAh battery, meaning you start using it at breakfast, and it’s dead just after lunch.

You combine #3 and #4 (3G hotspot, Ethernet hotspot with AC) with a long lasting 3600 mAh battery (2.5 x size of iPhone 4 battery) in the Sapido 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot available on Amazon for $70.

The Great Firewall

While you’re in China, accessing Twitter, Youtube, Facebook and Google will be cumbersome. If you’re not planning to travel to China frequently, it’s not worth wasting time setting up VPN access so that you can buypass the Great Firewall.

If you absolutely must access the unfiltered world while in China, you’ll need to purchase a VPN account that you can proxy your internet traffic through. These accounts can be installed on Smartphones and Laptop computers, but they are blocked frequently and very slow.

Just Google for “China VPNBEFORE you arrive in China to purchase a VPN account. They are usually around $20/month. Of course these sites are blocked from within China, so you’ll need to have the VPN configured before you arrive.

If you’re curious about the Great Firewall, James Fallows at The Atlantic wrote an excellent article called “Your Connection Has Been Reset“.

iPhone – Runner’s Best Friend

I’ve been running for years, but while running I’ve always had a few issues come up that are quite irritating:

  • It’s difficult to find a running partner with your same schedule and your same ability.
  • It’s easy to get bored while you’re running – unless you’ve got something to listen to
  • If you do try to run with headphones on, they continually fall out of your ears
  • It’s a lot of work to track your progress, and there’s not much sense of accomplishment.

Well, it seems that running with your iPhone is now the perfect sport 😉


First, the Sennheiser PMX 680i earphones hook over your ear, making them the first earphones to not fall out of my ears when running vigorously, the earphones also have an onboard control (volume, pause) and a microphone – just like the standard iPhone 4 headset.

Next, there is an iPhone App called “Jog Log” that supports multi-tasking the way you would expect, including some smart iTunes controls that also work exactly the way you would expect. There are lots of iPhone running Apps, but Jog Log actually lets you listen to your music, and even to pause and skip, but doesn’t get in the way.

Jog Log also gives your a “Ghost Partner” that you can use to train against. First, go into Settings / Audio Cues and turn ALL of the Audio Cues on. This way you get updates on your Average Pace, Current Pace, Target Pace and Heart Rate – typically every minute. You can adjust the Cue frequency if you like.


Then, go into Settings / Target Pace, and set the pace of your Ghost Runner Nemesis. As you’re running, you’ll get an updated every minute telling you how far you are ahead of (or behind) the Ghost Runner.

When using Jog Log, you get all the information you could want while you’re running, and you never need to actually look down at your iPhone until you get home and want to inspect the map of the run you just completed.

Last, there’s the DailyMile, which Jog Log integrates with, and will automatically pump your daily run results into. DailyMile keeps stats on how much you’ve run this week, this month, year-to-date, and lifetime – including maps of your runs, commentary and even blog posts if you like. DailyMile is a whole online community focused entirely around running.

Jog Log also has Heart Rate monitor integration, and lots of innovative Heart Rate related features in store. If you’ve got your own Heart Rate monitoring ideas, join in the discussion.

If you’re using this monitoring solution in Shanghai, be sure to fix your iPhone GPS first.

Google Maps in China: FIXED! (iPhone/iPad)

Google Maps works great in Beijing, but it has never worked accurately in Shanghai or many other parts of China. Countless requests to Google and Apple to fix the problem go unanswered, so we’re forced to take matters into our own hands.

You’ll need to Jailbreak your iOS device (which is completely legal), thereby installing Cydia.

Once you’ve got Cydia installed, open Cydia and choose “Manage” from the bottom menu, then choose “Sources”. Click the “Edit” button on the top right and then click the “Add” button on the top left. In the dialog box that comes up, enter the following address:

Click the “Add Source” button to continue, Cydia will verify the URL, then download a list of packages. Once that’s complete just press “Return to Cydia”, and on the top right of the Cydia window click “Done”.

Now, click on “MirrorDev” in your list of Sources, and choose “Location Fixed” from the list. Click the “Install” button on the top right.


After “Location Fixed” is installed, you’ll see a new entry in your Settings screen called “中国区地图校正” (China Map Correction”) that has two settings:

启动 (Activate) [On/Off]

联通版本(China Unicom Version) [On/Off]

Thanks to the developers at MirrorDev for doing what Apple and Google have consistently failed to do. Better yet, check out MirrorDev’s post about the Google Map Fix.


Roaming on China Unicom in Taiwan

If you are a China Unicom user roaming in Taiwan, and you want to contact a friend in Taipei who’s number is 999-888-777, To send a text message you have to use: +00886-999-888-777 but to make a phone call to the same friend you have to press +886-999-888-777. So, you’re address book is basically useless.

Int’l Text Message: + 00 [country code] [number]
Int’l Dialing while Roaming Overseas + [country code] [number]


我用了中国移动,用了快四年。从前没觉得好,但相对来说平稳。 为用3G服务我换到了中国联通。这个联通服3G服务的确很快,而186号码选择不错,但其它方面都没联通那么承受。


2)“12593″。如你得打国际电话,移动的12593非常优惠。联通的“10193”也不错,但是无法跟3G服务一起用,所以就能通过“17900的美加直通车”,但是这种每次打电话浪费30秒钟在输入电话号码,原来的12593不用等 - 就存号码在练习簿里。


4)国际长途加“+00”。这个很麻烦因为反对国际标准。国际标准电话号码是:+ 国家号 区号 本地号,但联通是“+00国家号”。所以,如同步你的电话簿到联通的手机,而也同步到移动或AT&T或其它公司的手机,永远无法同步。这个真麻烦。

Additionally, China Unicom has supposedly purchased 500,000 iPhones that it expects to resell to customers in China, but I don’t think this is possible with the pricing plan that they’ve created. See iPhone @ CHU.

For a 3GS that does not have Wifi and is locked to China Unicom, if you sign up for a 2 year contract, you can spend: 386元 ($56) or 586元 ($86) per month you can get an iPhone for 1799元 ($264) or 99元 ($15). However, there is a deposit of 5200元 ($794) or 6900元 ($1014).

Meanwhile, for a real 3GS iPhone from Hong Kong – the official Wifi Enabled “Apple Unlocked” version that you can use with China Mobile, China Unicom, or any other carrier on the planet is HK$ 5388 ($695 / 4747元).

Apparently the target is the “186元” per month, on a 2 year contract which gives you an iPhone for 3500元. If they could move the 225/month phone down to 1999元, I think they could move their target quota.

Without the change, I expect the grey market from Apple Hong Kong will take the most market share.

iTunes could not connect to the iPhone “iPhone” because it is locked with a passcode

屏幕快照 2009-10-23 下午07.35.35.png

My iPhone 3GS was working just fine, then it suddenly stopped booting. Now I get a message on the screen saying: “iTunes could not connect to the iPhone “ryphone3gs” because it is locked with a passcode. You must enter your passcode on the iPhone before it can be used with iTunes”. [Cancel] [Try Again]

Of course, while displaying this message, my iPhone simply displays a “swipe for emergency call” message and provides no way to actually unlock the phone.

When going into Hardware restore mode, I simply see “Error 23” in iTunes, which according to some online information may mean my hardware is toasted.

I tried using “irecovery” to get at the source of the issue, but each time I boot up, I get:

Boot Failure Count: 0 Panic Fail Count: 0
Radio failed to respond.
Radio failed to respond.
Pinging Radio Failed, 4
Entering recovery mode, starting command prompt

Apparently I’m not the only one having this “pinging radio failed” problem.

The last ditch effort may be to prepare a custom Apple iPhone RAM disk apparently called “Bypass_Passcode.bin” (created with iLiberty+) and use irecovery to load that RAM disk onto the iPhone, and then use the disk to disable the password. Seems like a lot of work considering that my iPhone is new, that it’s never been hacked, jailbroken, sim-unlocked or anything else.

There’s also some information about downgrading the 3GS from 3.1 to 3.0, but that seems specific to the sim-unlockers and jailbreakers of the world. Sad that even playing by Apple’s rules, the iPhone still isn’t very reliable.

Following the directions of the Apple support website, I entered in my serial number and other iPhone information and submitted my case, only to get an error from the Apple support website saying: “We’re sorry, but we’re unable to complete your request at this time. Please try again in a few minutes or start over now”. Of course after a few minutes I started over and did the process again, and got the same error. Forgive me for being a skeptic about AAPL at $300/share.

屏幕快照 2009-10-23 下午09.39.04.png

iPhone Wallpaper: 30 Years of US/China Relations

30 years ago Nixon and Kissenger agreed with Beijing on the “One China Policy“, breaking off relations with Taiwan as the “Republic of China” and officially recognizing the People’s Republic of China as the legitimate government of China. The US Embassy in China put together a nice logo in honor of the event, and combining it with an iPhone wallpaper template I’ve converted it into a nice iPhone wallpaper. For reference the Chinese says:

30 Years of USA – PRC Diplomatic Relations

Click through the image below to download the “wallpaper” version or the Photoshop template.


China Mobile Gateway Settings 中国移动路由设置

短信服务中心 SMS Message Center: +8613800210500

GPRS APN:cmnet
GPRS 用户 (User): <<leave blank>> <<留空>>
GPRS 密码 (Password): <<leave blank>> <<留空>>

彩信服务(MMS Service)
Menu / MMS Options / Servers / 中国移动 / Connect Via “MMS”  

GPRS WAP Access:
连接安全(connection security):Off 关
传输方式(transmission type):GPRS
GPRS连接(GPRS connection): Always On (总是在线)
IP地址(IP Address):
GPRS 用户 (User): <<leave blank>> <<留空>>
GPRS 密码 (Password): <<leave blank>> <<留空>>

Note that these settings can be used for any type of phone with your China Mobile account. If you’re having difficulties sending SMS’s, or unable to get a network connection to the Internet, take a look at the corresponding settings on your phone. Do note that these settings are often difficult to locate. Also note that you may have to dial 10086 and have GPRS service activated for your account.

摩托罗拉(MOTO)设置说明(Configuration Instructions): UCWEB

上海老外天堂:TREO PRO



  • Screen is too small: Why hardware buttons for Send, End, Windows, Calendar, OK, Mail and the “5 way” button? Could have easily put a scroll wheel plus the other buttons on the left and right edges of the phone and expanded the screen at least to 320×480, possibly even larger. (Note iPhone is only a 320×480 display!)
  • iPhone/HTC Diamond “Multi-touch” interface – support for the stylus is a great way to support handwriting input, but for menu selection/navigation Multi-touch is clearly superior to the stylus. (especially for zooming and scrolling… which brings up why still no “zoom” in WM6?)
  • BlackBerry is still THE FASTEST and MOST RELIABLE email service on the planet. BlackBerry Push is significantly faster than Windows Mobile’s “ActiveSync Push” via AirSync, and if you go direct over IMAP you can only check for new messages every 5 minutes.

It would also be great to have the iPhone’s 3-dimensional accelerometer, improved battery life, and a flash for the camera, but none of these issues is a deal breaker for me.

The Benefits:

  • Built-in WiFi, GPRS and 3G — toggle wifi support with a hardware button (though why a button instead of a switch?)
  • PlecoDict 2.0 – the ultimate chinese dictionary (newest version add 350,000+ new words in addition to the huge base)
  • Plum-SIP Chinese Input Method (input chinese as quickly on your mobile as your laptop!)
  • MSN/Windows Live Messenger – full version – mobile!
  • Plaxo for Windows Mobile – Contact/Calendar synchronization – alternative to ActiveSync – if you’re on a Mac and don’t use Exchange, this is your answer for OTA (over the air) calendar/contact synchronization
  • Skype for Windows Mobile (not even on the iPhone yet! but it does require a wifi connection)
  • Pocket Outlook – Great IMAP support! Great HTML/CSS Email Support! Great for MMS and SMS too! (still can’t MMS on the iPhone!)
  • Opera 9.5 Beta – Renders almost as good as Safari for the iPhone. Would be even better of the Treo Pro had a bigger screen, but it is a great app. Web is totally usable on Opera 9.5!
  • Pocket Putty – SSH/Telnet from your Mobile (great alternative to Idokorro Mobile SSH for Blackberry)
  • Office Mobile – Word, Excel, Powerpoint – the real deal
  • Built in GPS – Route 66 for Windows Mobile has Chinese Maps and Driving Directions
  • Hardware Keyboard… not as good as the BlackBerry’s, but so much more usable than the crashy iPhone touch keyboard.

The biggest surprise is just how STABLE Windows Mobile has become over the years. I used CE years ago and it crashed constantly, but Windows Mobile 6.1 is amazing. It multi-tasks very well (much better than the iPhone) and allows you to manually close any program(s) if you choose. But Windows Mobile’s built in memory manager is always running in the background and will normally just keep is going smooth fro you.

BOTTOM LINE: If your a BlackBerry or iPhone user that needs Chinese Support, then the Treo Pro is likely the one device that you can finally settle on!


The new Palm Treo Pro could be the best device for people who need Chinese and English friendly operation of SMS and Email, and an amazing Chinese <-> English and Chinese <-> Chinese dictionary too.

The Treo Pro will start shipping in September for $550 for Unlocked GSM + Wifi + GPS + 400 MHz CPU + Good Battery + 2MP Camera

Additionally, Opera Mobile for Windows Mobile is supposed to be as good or better than Safari on the iPhone, so with EDGE, 3G and WiFi, this would be a great alternative to the iPhone. Additionally, the Treo Pro is smaller than the iPhone!

Dictionary: Pleco Dict including the 现代汉语规范词典 for Chinese <-> Chinese and the 21世纪大英汉词典 for 280,000 including proper nouns like cities, countries and even 16 Simpson’s TV show guest stars! It’s a very useful $99 upgrade on top of the standard package, or about $200 in total if you’ve never purchased an earlier Pleco version.

Input-method-wise, CE-Star ( has a built in handwriting recognizer and decent Pinyin input but costs a lot of money ($43.50), but there’s a keyboard-only one called ZTA4 ( that’s free and actually really nice – has a slick interface and it does a very good job with intelligently guessing what you’re trying to type. It doesn’t enable Chinese support on English-language phones, though, while CE-Star does.

Of course, Windows Mobile also runs Skype and MSN Messenger

Just need to make sure I can load the Chinese language version of Windows Mobile 6.1 on the Treo Pro and we’re in good shape!

iPhone iPod Sleep Timer…

iPhone iPod Sleep Timer Found

by tino, Monday July 02nd 2007, 20:40
Filed under: Review, Technology

The iPod app in the iPhone does have a sleep timer, it turns out. It’s just that it’s so well hidden that I’d never have found it without clues from elsewhere.

To set an iPod sleep timer:

  1. Enter the Clock application
  2. Tap Timer in the bottom right-hand corner
  3. Set a time using the odometer thing
  4. In the ‘When Timer Ends’ menu, instead of an alarm sound, select ‘Sleep iPod’
  5. Tap Start.

I had looked in the timer section of the clock app before — on the iPod, sleep timers are also set through the Clock menu item — but because I hadn’t explored the alarm-tone picker, I hadn’t spotted the ‘Sleep iPod’ option. Silly me, thinking that a menu wouldn’t logically contain 23 options all meaning ‘make noise’ and one option meaning ’stop making noise’.

Note that you cannot tell the iPod to start playing at a certain time. Though the Alarm function of the clock allows you to be awakened by any one of Apple’s canned ringtones, it won’t let you pick one of your own songs as the alarm sound.


Dialing Int’l Calls from Shanghai ~ 0.4元/分钟


Call direct from your mobile phone. No calling card. Only 2x the price of Skype In, but better quality and you can call out!



Give China Mobile a call and Sign-up for IP Int’l Long Distance. Just send an SMS containing only “3211” to 10086. Each time you want to dial an Int’l number, just add: 1259-00, then the country code and the number.


If you forget your password, just send MMCX to 10086


If you need you current account balance, send YECX to 10086

China Mobile call to the USA for 30¢/minute


If you’re a China Mobile user, you may or may not be aware that you can get inexpensive international long distance (国际长途)by dialing 17951+00 then the country code and number you want to reach. You can actual save the full number in your address book (not like using a calling card) for the people you call most frequently and make the habit of saving a lot. Note that you don’t want to save this as the primary number in your address book, else you won’t be able to send text messages.

That is 2.2元/minute (See complete IP talk Rate Chart), compare this to the direct dial price of 0.8元/6 seconds – or 8.0元/minute, it’s a savings of almost 80%. At the currently miserable USD exchange rate, using “IP Phone” from China Mobile is just over USD 30¢/minute.

If you check the Skype Rate Chart, calling to a China Mobile phone is only 2.4¢/minute, so Skype In is still by far the cheapest way to talk to someone on your mobile for a long conversation. Here’s China Mobile’s post about Int’l Long Distance


Details at Baidu “Know” (chinese) on a variety of Int’l calling options.