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Updated: 2018-04-27T05:44:22-04:00


Repairing the Glass Front Panel on an iPhone 3GS


You’ve dropped your beloved iPhone and smashed the front glass. There are few things more sad. This scenario played out for my wife, who had dropped hers this summer, only 9 months into her AT&T contract. Luckily the phone was still very usable; it was just not easy to see anything on the top third of the display. If you’ve cracked your iPhone, you may already know that your warranty does not cover accidental damage (although, you should check with your credit card company…some, especially AMEX, will pay for a replacement if you bought it with a qualified card!). You’ve probably inquired with Apple and they’ve told you they offer a “service replacement” for $200. Cheap? No. It is possible to repair an iPhone yourself and probably for less than $200. You can find repair kits and extensive instructions online. Let me put this out there as a (former) triple-Apple-certified technician: it is not easy to repair your iPhone. My recommendation is that you don’t try this yourself unless you’re experienced at repairing electronics with extremely small components and tight tolerances. Now that I have that disclaimer out there, I do have experience repairing Apple electronics. So I repaired my wife’s display using a kit and instructions from It was not easy. The instructions themselves rank the repair as “Difficult”. The repair is very simple, but one step in particular is very difficult. Removing the front glass panel from the components that are glued to it is challenging. With the proper tools, it took me more than an hour. I’m writing this post for anyone who has also bought the iFixit iPhone 3GS Front Panel kit so if you get stuck where I got stuck, hopefully Google has lead you to this post and my commentary is helpful.This kit cost me about $40 The iFixit kit I bought included the glass front panel, the digitizer (the part that enables “touch” to work), custom-cut adhesive strips, a metal spudger, a black plastic spudger (which we called a “black stick” in my day), and a modular, magnetic precision screwdriver kit with many small phillips, torx, hex, slotted and star-shaped bits. The kit also has a pair of tweezers, which isn’t needed for this repair. It’s housed in a nice plastic case, and I’m psyched to have a kit like this around again. Lastly, they include a generic suction cup to help you grasp and lift the display. The instructions are not included. You must access these from their web site. I used my iPad to show them. If you’ll be away from the Internet, you’ll need to print them out or otherwise have them ahead of time. For someone who’s good with this sort of work, everything is pretty easy up until step #15. In step #15, you need to remove the glass from the carrier (for lack of a better term—iFixit calls it the “the touch screen plastics”) that holds the glass to the phone, and also houses the ear speaker, the ambient light sensor, the proximity sensor, and, at the bottom, the home button. Needless to say, this part is critical to the operation of your phone! But getting the glass off of it is difficult for several reasons. The adhesive is very strong. The carrier is very thin plastic and easy to bend or break. There’s a bit of a rubber gasket that’s not mentioned in the instructions that obscurs the seam between the glass and the plastic. You’ve smashed the glass, so it may be in 100 tiny, sharp pieces. There are delicate sensors embedded right where you are trying to pry. They suggest you use your fingernail to split the glass from the plastic. This could be dangerous if your glass smashed like mine. Even so, since you can’t really see the seam, you’re not really sure where to stick your relatively thick nail. Since the glass is smashed, it lacks the structural rigidity to pry. That’s a lot of variables. This one step took me one and a half hours. Here’s how I addressed the situation. [...]

What are you thinking Sidney, NY?


The town should have spent its energy visiting the soccer hall of fame. Then maybe it would still be open.

Town Wants Muslim Graveyard Gone (via digg)

p.s. How does NY State get so many hall of fames? They’re all out in the middle of nowhere.

Elvira coming to ThisTV.


(image) The crazy thing about the return of Elvira, Mistress of The Dark to the small screen is that it’s taking place on ThisTV. Crazy because all us people who don’t have cable still have a chance to watch. I was too young in the 80’s to appreciate her sense of humor and the campy horror movies she shared. I’m excited to check out the show.

Update: Missed the first show this weekend because I was out of town. But here’s another article delving into Elvira’s history. (via BoingBoing) acquired by Amazon


Even if you’ve never made a purchase from Woot, and when they sell stuff like “bags ‘o crap” I wouldn’t blame you, you should read the hi-larious post about the acquisition.

I know I say this every time I find a picture of an adorable kitten, but please set aside 20 minutes to carefully read this entire email.

Metafilter community saves Russian women from human trafficking.


This is way too big an event to simply “share on Facebook.”

A user on Metafilter gets contacted by an old friend and student about coming to the States and getting a job in NYC. She traveled from Russia with a friend and her communications started raising flags that she might be in over her head. Worried that human trafficking might be involved and distant from the situation our hero starts a thread at Metafilter and the community goes to work…

Help me help my friend in DC. (via Boing Boing)

First chapter of HTML5 For Web Designers


After reading the first chapter of A List Apart’s foray into books I can’t wait for it to arrive.

After HTML 4.01, the next revision to the language was called XHTML 1.0. The X stood for “eXtreme” and web developers were required to cross their arms in an X shape when speaking the letter.

No, not really. The X stood for “eXtensible” and arm crossing was entirely optional.

More SimpleXML to display OPML


Matt Katz recently sent in an email regarding the code we use to display our OPML lists. He needed a second pair of eyes to go over his new class. Turned out the bug wasn’t in his display function but the once over highlighted some other issues with ours.

The pages here are now updated but we can’t keep this all to ourselves. Here’s the updated code for traversing an OPML file.

function displayChildrenRecursive($xmlObj,$depth=1) {
	$outPut = "";
	if (count($xmlObj->children()) > 0) { $outPut .= str_repeat("\t",$depth).'
    '."\n"; } foreach($xmlObj->children() as $child) { if (isset($child['htmlUrl']) || isset($child['xmlUrl'])) { $outPut .= str_repeat("\t",$depth).'
  • '; if (isset($child['htmlUrl'])) { $outPut .= ''.$child['text'].''; } else { $outPut .= $child['text']; } $outPut .= (isset($child['xmlUrl'])) ? ' [XML Feed]' : ''; $outPut .= '
  • '."\n"; } elseif (isset($child['text']) && !isset($child['xmlUrl'])) { $outPut .= str_repeat("\t",$depth).'
  • '.$child['text'].''."\n"; } $outPut .= displayChildrenRecursive($child,$depth+1); } if (count($xmlObj->children()) > 0) { $outPut .= str_repeat("\t",$depth).'
'."\n"; if ($depth > 1) { $outPut .= str_repeat("\t",$depth-1).''."\n"; } } return $outPut; }

iPad: A shift


There’s a lot of talk every time Apple releases a new product. The vast majority of that judgement comes without ever having seen or touched the new product. Hey, I can do that too. I almost wasn’t going to share my thoughts after reading Jeff Croft’s blog post about the iPad this morning. But I’m hardly one to be shy. I think the iPad is the future of the PC. Period. Looking at the specs, it’s easy to dismiss the iPad as just an up-sized iPhone. The fact of the matter is, it basically is. So how is “now” equal to “the future”? The answer, lies in Japanese mobile phone habits. In Japan, a majority of people count their mobile phone as their primary computing device. Their phones are typically capable of many more things than your typical handset. Until the iPhone went on sale in Japan, non-Japanese phones sold very poorly in the that market, because they couldn’t handle the day-to-day computing that people had become accustom to. For the past ten years, the mobile web has been a part of daily life for many Japanese. Phone use varies quite a bit from culture to culture, as this fascinating Economist feature discusses. The Japanese culture has little personal space, and has strict social rules on where you can talk on your phone. People were practically driven to their handsets for their personal computing and communication needs. The American market is very different from other markets, for several reasons. Compared to Japan, we’re not constrained by the same societal norms. Plus, mobile data plans have been expensive here, when compared to Japan. Landline telephones which are generally more reliable and less costly than mobile phones are near ubiquitous. Many households have multiple computers with high speed connections, and many people have high-speed connections on PCs at work, as well. Up until now, people haven’t seen a need to use the mobile web. Then the iPhone hit. In the nearly four years from its initial release, the iPhone’s success has been phenomenal. Currently, by my math, one in every ten new phones sold in the U.S. are an iPhone. A mobile web has sprung up almost overnight in the U.S., and the iPhone gives you able access to most non-mobile sites. My mother-in-law, someone you would not expect to have a mobile computing device, bought one today. She joins all three of her daughters with iPhones. The U.S. is following in the steps of the Japanese market, although for different reasons. People here are slowly moving to mobile devices as their primary computing devices, they just might not yet realize it yet. One big draw back is screen size. There are many applications where mobile screen size really puts a crimp in your productivity. The iPad, with its 1024×768 resolution, shown with a 163ppi display density, addresses this. Unless you are editing video, audio or photos, or are a hard core gamer (most people are not), you can probably accomplish all your daily computing on an iPad. And then, Apple has added in the capability to replace any newspaper, magazine or book habits you may have in a manner a traditional PC can’t quite match. This change over dawned on me earlier today when I was reading someone’s dismissal of “all the things an iPad can’t do”. This thought entered my mind, Most people need less done well, not more done poorly. Yeah, a netbook can run a full installation of Windows (and all that comes with it), and some can even be hacked into running Mac OS X. But that doesn’t matter. Most average users don’t need all that, they probably use 5% of their machine’s capabilities… and most of that is email and web surfing. The iPad can do all that with applomb. In fact, the consensus report from the few people who have touched an iPad is that it surfs the [...]

Chrome 3 Has Issue With @font-face and letter-spacing.


While working on a friend’s wedding web site an oddity in Chrome’s handling of @font-face came to light. Paul Irish’s code works wonders for enabling the inclusion of alternative typefaces across browsers. Using Goudy Bookletter 1911 on a production site is exciting. But the navigation breaks when I load up my site in Chrome 3 at work.

(image) As you can see here, the letter spacing of .2em is not applied to the typeface.

(image) But as soon as I remove the “Goudy Bookletter” declaration from the CSS it magically starts working.

A search through Google produces nothing relevant so I thought I’d document the problem here. Considering this does not affect the latest version of Safari I have no problem waiting for the fix to work its way into Chrome.

Update: Just to clarify, Chrome 4 fixes this issue.

O'Reilly: Soothsayer or Condemner


Tim O’Reilly is getting a lot of links to his “War For the Web” piece. For the most part it’s worth a read. However, I wonder what goes through a “guru”‘s mind sometimes when they write lofty pieces like this. Do they just run it off all in one blast, (like I will on this post) or do they let it sit a couple days, edit, rethink and then post?

I ask because in the middle of his piece, where he names those who “threaten” the future of the open web, he goes after Apple’s App Store policy, exposé-style:

The Apple iPhone is the hottest web access device around, and like Facebook, while it connects to the web, it plays by a different set of rules. Anyone can put up a website, or launch a new Windows or Mac OS X or Linux application, without anyone’s permission. But put an app onto the iPhone? That requires Apple’s blessing.

There is one glaring loophole: anyone can create a web application, which any user can save as clickable application on their phone. But these web applications have limits – there are key capabilities of the phone that are not accessible to web applications. HTML 5 can introduce all the new application-like features it wants, but they will work only for web applications, and can’t access key aspects of the phone with Apple’s permission. And as we saw earlier this year with Apple’s rejection of the Google Voice application, Apple isn’t shy about blocking applications that it considers threatening to their core business, or that of their partners.

So, because Apple limits what apps can be on the phone, they’re closing down the web? Um… wha? The iPhone is a bit more than just a web-access device, by the way.

He says “one glaring loophole” as if Apple mistakenly forgot to lock down Safari to only approved websites. Name the last time Apple forgot to lock something down in error. The iPhone is not the web. iPhone Apps don’t alone give access to the web. The device, although popular with geeks, doesn’t have the marketshare it’s influence might lead you to believe.

Secondly, there’s nothing in HTML5 that is available in the iPhone that Apple only allows access to by an App. No, a web app doesn’t have access to various APIs available in the iPhone, but those functions aren’t part of the (actually still incomplete) HTML5 specs. In other words, Apple hasn’t broken anything web related. In fact, they should be given credit for a) bringing HTML5 to the mobile world b) being a forebearer of HTML 5 in the first place… hello? WebKit? You know, free, open-source and the same thing Chrome and a number of mobile browsers are based on? C) bringing the real web of any kind to a phone.

I’m all for a transparent App Store review process, and I’d love to see Google Voice natively on the iPhone. But this passage simply lacks logic. It’s more as if Mr O’Reilly needed more big names to bash in his piece.

OpenOffice.Org Mouse - Has to be a Joke, right?


If this isn’t a joke about open-source design, I don’t know what it is.


Is this like Apple’s Magic Mouse?

It’s almost the complete opposite of Apple’s approach with their new mouse. The Magic Mouse has one giant button that can do 10 things, we have 18 small buttons that can each do two or more things. And a scroll wheel. And a joystick. And 512k of memory.

There’s a reason Apple is the most successful consumer goods company in the world, and why your company has the tasteful name “WarMouse”.

How do I hold the mouse?

We have found the most effective way is to rest your first three fingers on the mouse with your thumb on the joystick. Your index finger controls the first two vertical rows, your middle finger utilizes the two middle ones and the scroll wheel, and your ring finger the last two rows.

If you need a FAQ about how to hold a mouse with 18 small buttons, and a scroll wheel and a joystick… then perhaps it’s not the most ideal device for an appendage with only five digits.

Seriously, someone tell me this is a joke.

Firefly cameo on Castle.



Don’t miss last night’s Castle. Along with the Halloween humor there is a glorious reference to Firefly in the first few minutes.

Makes me consider “space cowboy” for next year.

Castle on Hulu

Need a Job? Interested in an Early Stage Startup?


Need a job? Are you a freelancer who knows me? I’ve done some advising for a very early-stage Internet dating startup (they have a clever new angle on the old idea) who are looking to build up a small freelance design and development team, and I’m looking for freelancers I know whose contact info I can pass along to the founders.

Unfortunately, I can’t share many of the details publicly. However, I imagine they would share them with you directly if they make contact.

Here’s what they’re looking for:

  • Front End Designer*
  • Front End Developer (CSS/HTML/JS)*
  • Back End Developer – fans of the LAMP stack preferred. Open to PHP, Ruby on Rails (or others if you can convince them why).

*are you both an amazing designer and front-end coder? These two can be combined if the right person is found.

These are very non-descriptive descriptions, I realize. Right now, they’ve worked more on the business and experience end of the spectrum, and less in the realm of nailing down specific technologies and techniques. This means the people working on the tech side will have a lot of influence on what gets built… a unique opportunity.

If you’re the designer… you’ll work with the founders to bring their idea into a lucid reality. They have a solid idea of their customer’s experience with the site, but need you to carve that into something tangible.

If you’re the front-end developer, you’ll take the tangible interface and carve it from standards-compliant code. Experience with mobile web interfaces is a plus here, as that is also in the cards.

If you’re the back-end developer, you’ll be choosing the tools that are best to serve the data needs of the web app. You’ll have a considerable amount of influence over how this is will all be implemented and scale.

That’s it. If you find this kind of openness exciting, drop me an email at my usual address and I’ll pass your information along. (I’ve disabled comments on this post.)

SimplePie Shutting Down.


Hopefully the open source project will live on in some form. Along with my personal site I just used SimplePie (along with Yahoo! Pipes) to add photos to a blog I keep with some old friends.

So effective immediately, we are ceasing development of SimplePie and shutting down the project. We will shortly be pushing all code to GitHub. The mailing list will continue to serve users for the time being, but my sincerest hope is that someone will take up the charge to fork SimplePie, fix all of its issues, and continue on with this project that’s been such a huge part of my life for the past 5 years.

SimplePie is ceasing development

Free Library of Philadelphia Possibly Closing


It’s a sad state of affairs when one of the original public library systems needs to shut its doors. You may know the Free Library of Philadelphia by the old stories of Benjamin Franklin starting the one of the first public library systems, the Library Company of Philadelphia. Sadly they’re also the first major library to close.

We deeply regret to inform you that without the necessary budgetary legislation by the State Legislature in Harrisburg, the City of Philadelphia will not have the funds to operate our neighborhood branch libraries, regional libraries, or the Parkway Central Library after October 2, 2009.

Via Daring Fireball

Also seen on Boing Boing:

Just look at that list of all the things libraries do for our communities, all the ways they help the least among us, the vulnerable, the children, the elderly. Think of every wonderful thing that happened to you among the shelves of a library. Think of the millions of lifelong love-affairs with literacy sparked in the collections of those libraries. Think of every person whose life was forever changed for the better in those buildings.

And ABC News.


After this was brought to a broader audience’s attention a letter-writing and email barrage has helped save the Free Library of Philadelphia. (via Boing Boing)